Music by Stu Phillips.
What the heck is going on? What is that thing? How did we get here? How is KITT not a 1982 Pontiac Trans Am, but a weird-looking humanoid robot?
Well, we started with this:
Box art (front).
Box art (sides).
Like many recent Bandai kits, Hasegawa has designed these figures to be highly poseable and, I suppose, played with. My plan is to have KITT simply standing in a display case, but it was incredibly fun posing him for those shots in the video.
The build is made easy by instructions, while in Japanese, that are clear and easy to understand, pictorially. Also, like many recent Bandai kits, this one doesn't really need glue, but I used some anyway in key areas to make sure nothing ever comes apart in case of a posing or handling mishap.
Views of standard completed robot.
These things look great box stock and yet they're almost like a blank slate, as though they're begging for custom paint schemes or other additions (just Google "MechatroWeGo custom" and have a look at the wonderland of amazingness people have created).
I used just about all the parts but I didn't bother to model the inside or use the young boy figure provided. I briefly considered painting the interior a tan colour and somehow turning that kid into Michael Knight, but I feel this KITT is better off not having a passenger. Instead, my concept is that this iteration of KITT is a unique, self-contained, differently-mobile, artificially-intelligent crime-fighting unit. Like the car was, but now in humanoid form. No "pilot" needed.
And now, the twist:
Knight Rider TV intro.
Knight Rider premiered on NBC on 26 September 1982, roughly two weeks before my eleventh birthday, which made me pretty much the target audience for a show about a guy who fights crime with the aid of a talking car. The "talking car" angle made the premise silly when they could have stressed more strongly that KITT was a sophisticated artificial intelligence, capable of independent thought and action. That's not to say the show wasn't a bit cheesy in retrospect, but to an eleven-year-old, that awesome car was worth tuning in week after week.
There's plenty of information about the show online for anyone interested or curious, so I won't do any kind of review of it here...just a few thoughts and memories to give context to my model build.
Screen grabs from season one.
In season two, Patricia McPherson (playing Bonnie) was replaced with Rebecca Holden (playing April), but I preferred McPherson and her character, so I may have watched it less that season. Bonnie returned in season three, but I was watching only sporadically by that time. Still, I have fond memories of watching the show and that Friday night lineup.
Also, my first mock-up had the red lights in the slit right between the eyes but that looked weird and cramped, so I lowered their position. These are the benefits of doing digital mock-ups.
Sub-assemblies ready for primer.
Seams to address.
Body and limbs (and hands!).
Here and below you can clearly see the dark iron contrasting against the gloss black (the shoulder and hip joints will get covered up by the fairings). These robots come with clamps as hands but I felt KITT needed something more dexterous, so I ordered some Gundam replacement hands and selected the fists for a more action-y look.
Joints before fairings.
Rear cover with tail lights.
The rest of the parts.
Lighting rig standing by.
That slit just above the "belly" will have to eventually be addressed so the wiring inside won't be visible (this isn't C-3PO, after all).
Coming together, now...
The tedious LED process.
It took me a long time to figure out and decide just how to install the LEDs in that little slit just below the eyes on the front panel. My solution was to glue each LED one at a time to a small piece of clear plastic, then install the whole thing into the opening from the inside. I was using canopy glue (which dries clear and is formulated for clear plastic use), but it was taking forever to cure so, after only attaching two lights, I switched to CA glue and used a kicker (to accelerate the drying process). It was a mess but it worked for all six LEDs.
However, when I tried to install this contrivance, it didn't fit...and when I tried to trim the plastic closer to the LEDs, a few of them just popped off the clear plastic. So it was frustration (of assembly) on top of frustration (of not working out).
I had to find another way...
Back to Plan A.
The "other way" I found was actually my initial idea: just install each LED directly into the opening. I used CA glue and kicker again and patiently glued them in one by one. Unfortunately, the space was only big enough to accommodate five of the six lights, but them's the breaks. Six would look better than five, but five is better than the four some lighting kits provide. The car in the show had eight lights.
I've propped the front panel like this so I could pour in some canopy glue onto the lights to make a sort of "lens" to unify them. It sorta worked.
Slit coverage.And if the video up top gets muted or taken down for copyright infringement (fair enough, but this isn't a commercial venture and I'm not making any money from this), I've made this second video with music I composed myself using GarageBand:
Music by me.