Starship Modeler - The complete information source for modelers who build sci-fi, fantasy and real space subjects

E.I.C.S. Robert Merrill

By Brad Guy

In 2004 a couple friends and I, who had met on the Starship Modeler forums, got together and formed a small model building club. We called ourselves the CoMMiES- Colorado Modeling Militia Enjoying Sci-fi.

I decided to take on a small model building project. I would scratchbuild a series of battlewagon space craft, each one named after one of the CoMMiES. I called it the E.I.C.S. project, for Enormous Invincible CoMMiES Ship. I wanted to spend about a month on each one, and to keep them around 12'' long. And I wanted to use the exercise to teach myself some scratchbuilding techniques, and to do it quickly. I figured the entire project, in between other model building projects, ought to take a couple years.

I called the first ship in the fleet the E.I.C.S. Robert Merrill. I filled a few notebook pages with sketches, then made proper drawings of each section as needed. Construction started with a bundle of PVC pipes forming the spine. Then I built the structure from front to back with sheet styrene, using the plank on frame method. Right from the start I broke my first rule of the project. Rather than 12'' long, this ship would be 22'' long. By the time the ship was done, almost all the guidelines I set for myself would be broken.

Some people have asked about the design of the ship. To tell the truth, the whole thing was designed for aesthetic reasons. Some parts are built simply because they look good that way. But to sum it up, from front to back:

Bridge: Constructed mostly of styrene, with Aves for the complex curves.

Habitat: I call it that because there is clearly no place else on the ship where people could live. Constructed the same way as the bridge, with layers of styrene and Aves.

The Hockey Puck: I have no idea what this part of the ship is for. It was constructed by building a styrene frame and filling inbetween the bulkheads with pink insulation foam. The skin is a layer of Aves, about 1/8'' thick. The Aves was smoothed to shape with a screed, a simple trowel type tool that is shaped like a hamburger bun in profile. I built the screed out of styrene and acrylic, stuck it in the center hole on the hockey puck, and rotated it until the surface was smooth and even. Even so it took a bit of sanding to get the surface finish I wanted. Under the hockey puck are several bulkheads built from sheet styrene and detailed with Evergreen stock.

The Noodle Machine: The most distinctive feature of the ship, at first I had no idea what it was for. Eventually I decided it was a munitions dispenser. Each pod can be loaded with different munitions, a nuclear warhead in one, a squad of marines in the next, a load of propaganda pamphlets in the third, etc, and then used for planetary subjugation. The core was built by making a cylindrical box from styrene, and detailing the front and rear faces with bits and chips of Evergreen stock. The individual ''noodles'' were made by turning PVC pipe on a lathe, cutting a kerf into the base of each one with a boring bar, and capping them with wooden and plastic beads. This and the base are the only parts of the build where I used machine tools.

Fuel Tank: I started this the same way as the noodle machine, by making a cylinder from styrene. I fitted this inside a large acrylic Christmas ornament with the ends cut off. Again the ends are detailed with styrene chips and a few small model parts.

Engines: The three engines are almost identical. Of all the parts of the ship, these went through the biggest design evolution. As usual, they are made using styrene, with plank on frame construction. The interior details are made from all sorts of things, mostly plastic and aluminum tube, different gauges of solder, Evergreen stock, and a few Wave Options parts. The goose neck at the front of each engine is made by cutting several thin wedges from PVC pipe, sandwiching them together, and sanding everything smooth.

General Electric Plasma Monitor and J-Space Field Sensor: In between the two top engines was a big empty space that needed something. So I built a funky greebly that fit the spot, added an antenna farm, and grafted it in. Don't ask what a General Electric Plasma Monitor and J-Space Field Sensor does, because I have no idea.

What started as a simple one month build spiraled out of control. The E.I.C.S. Robert Merrill ended up taking three years to build. In that time the CoMMiES grew to about forty members, and we became an IPMS chapter. Building a battlewagon for each member of the club was out of the question, especially if it was going to take me so long for each one.In fact the only part of the project that was successful is that I learned a thing or two about scratchbuilding. I've still got a few design sketches for the E.I.C.S. project, and I may get around to building more some day. I just hope they don't take so long.


Engine Cluster



Fuel Pod

Hyperdrive Dome


Left Underside


Right Underside

General Electric Plasma Monitor and J-Space Field Sensor




Right Front


Starship Modeler Home | Site Map | Gallery Main Page | Feedback

This page made possible by Starship Modeler™ - copyright © 2011.