Recreating the Classic Blue Beetle
Luckily at McAnally’s Pubcast, we have tons of talented guests. We introduce you today to our friend Michael from @veekerstudios on Instagram, whose passion for showcasing his interests through art shines through in this project. A newcomer to the Dresden Files community, he’s a big fan of Sanya and White Knight. He has a knack for creating customized models that tell a story and has recently completed a massive project set in the Alien universe, so be sure to check out his Instagram! Alternatively, you can find Michael hanging with us in multiple episodes, starting with 5.6!
Michael gifted me this model amidst his Dresden-Files-Summer-Binge, and it became the instant jealousy of our Dresden-obsessed circle. It sits proudly on my shelf, surrounded by everything else Dresden. Michael has been insanely kind enough to write out his process on building the Beetle, which you can find below. Without further ado…
Tamiya model 24136 1/24 Tamiya VW 1300 Beetle.
Tamiya TS-8 Gloss Red spray can
Vallejo Air 71.266 Dark Blue RLM24
Vallejo Air 71.001 White
Vallejo Model Colour 70.890 Reflective Green
Tamiya X-10 Gunmetal
Vallejo Model Colour 70.862 Black Grey
Woodland Scenics Black C1220
Woodland Scenics Asphalt ST1453
Woodland Scenics Concrete ST1454
Hobby knife with a No.11 and No.17 Chisel blades
Assorted jeweller’s files
Excel Sprue Cutters
Tamiya Extra Thin Cement
Bob Smith Industries Insta-Cure+ Cyanoacrylate Adhesive
Assorted paint brushes
Badger Anthem 155 Airbrush
Thin metal wire
Photo paper [for the license plate and magazine]
Recycled PJs cut to size
Playmobil Objects [Revolver, book, bags, bottles, machete] Fire hydrant: Assorted bolts, drywall anchor, and LEGO pieces
“The Beetle, stalwart crusader against the forces of evil and alternative fuels”.
Creating Harry Dresden’s Blue Beetle in miniature was one of my favourite modelling projects, so I am thrilled to have been asked to write this blog post detailing its construction. This model roughly represents the Blue Beetle as it would have looked at the end of Proven Guilty, though it is primarily a compilation of the Blue Beetle’s most iconic appearances. This project let me use my research and modelling skills to capture my excitement for the series and produce a gift for Jessica to thank her for introducing me to the Dresden Files.
All great gifts require sacrifice, and the chosen victim in this case was a Tamiya model 24136 1/24 Tamiya VW 1300 Beetle.
I mostly built it according to the instructions, albeit with plenty of modifications added along the way. Let’s begin with the externals. I started by researching and applying the various damages the Beetle had suffered. The bumpers and body have received plenty of hard knocks in the books, and doubtless many more that Harry did not deem exciting enough to inform us about, so I started by adding these deformations. To apply these damages, I heated up the pieces over a candle to make the plastic soft and malleable. I then used the hobby knife of my handle to bend, dent and contort these poor parts.
The hood got it the worst, as Harry fearfully describes how the Chlorofiend’s fist crumpled the hood like tin foil in Summer Knight. We know in Dead Beat that Mike Atagi had since repaired the hood and repainted it in grey primer, but I broke with accuracy here to retain this distinctive feature. Sue me. We learn in Death Masks that Harry has resorted to keeping the hood closed with wire from a coat hanger.
The clear components weren’t saved from the grave peril of this destruction. The headlights got smashed up by cutting the lenses in half and carving cracks in the glass. The back window was shot out at one point, so I simply left this part off the model and used a piece of clear kitchen wrap to depict a cost-effective repair Harry may have made. Incidentally, adding this last also let me access the interior of the model after I glued the body on the chassis to do some last-minute touch ups.
Choosing colours was not an issue; choosing where to apply those colours was. My notes on colour placement devolved into madness as the series progressed, so I went with what I liked best. This is largely the colour layout seen in Storm Front, but I did choose to make the trunk an inaccurate silver. This was done because yellow, as mentioned in Dead Beat, is an absolute pain to paint smoothly, and the dark silver complemented the other colours so nicely.
Here’s a list of where I applied which acrylic colours on the exterior:
Hood: Tamiya TS-8 Gloss Red spray can
Body: Vallejo Air 71.266 Dark Blue RLM24
Left door: Vallejo Air 71.001 White
Red door: Vallejo Model Colour 70.890 Reflective Green
Trunk: Tamiya X-10 Gunmetal
Mike’s Hood Primer Addition: [Not the actual primer I used before painting the model]: Vallejo Model Colour 70.862 Black Grey
I don’t remember what colours I used on the inside, but I do remember enjoying turning the interior into Harry’s mobile office.
Harry explains in Blood Rites that mold demons ate the interior, and his conversation with a disgusted Thomas informs us of the absolute horror Harry expects his passengers to endure. I cut pieces off the vinyl seats, cut holes in the dashboard and ‘repaired’ them with scale stripwood, removed the backseat, and used a chisel to remove any details that looked easy to damage. I did elect to not model Harry’s innovative wood-and-camping-gear seats for the sake of time, and instead focused my efforts on the backseat. There’s a blanket back there, probably to give Mouse the comfy ride he deserves, and I cut a piece from old plaid pajamas to fill this role.
Harry’s tools of the trade were another fun challenge to create. My family grew up playing with Playmobil toys that just so happen to be roughly 1/24 scale, and I secretly looted our toy stash to find parts that looked like they belonged in the Beetle. From this search I acquired parts to depict Harry’s revolver, a book that I repainted into a bible, bags to hold holy-water balloons and some bottles of Coca-Cola.
With the model assembled, it was time for the finishing touches. These included a liberal application of the handyman’s secret weapon: duct tape. Thankfully, real duct tape scales well and is self-adhesive, so it was easy enough to cut small pieces from a roll and apply it to the model. I used Microsoft Word to produce a replacement licence plate suitable to Harry’s tastes.
Every chariot needs a battle ground to roam. I created a diorama out of insulation foam and poster board I carved and painted to represent the streets of Chicago, framed by balsa wood painted black.
Crime, let alone magical crime, has a nasty tendency to disregard parking conditions, so I built a fire hydrant out of various bits and bolts to capture Harry’s frustration with rules. But fear not respectable citizens! He has received a parking ticket in the form of a fragment of a yellow notepad slipped under the wipers.
Finally, Chicago, being the windy city that it is, has plenty of papers and magazines flying about, and one curious magazine [also made in Word] has found itself trapped against this particular fire hydrant (see the above magazine mock up).
Jessica and I read Changes together on the day I gifted her this model, which just so happened to be the book where a Ik’k’uox crushed the Blue Beetle to smithereens. Consider this model as my tribute in memoriam to our beloved Blue Beetle; You shall ride eternal, shiny and chrome.
I take great pride in the community’s reception to this model, and am considering beginning another Dresden Files-themed project soon. In the meantime, please leave any comments or questions you have down below, and I might respond to them in an upcoming podcast. Thank you for reading!
-World Famous Freelance Writer Who Also Does Cool Models.
(AKA Michael @veekerstudios)