Ian McQue inspired 1/35th scale diorama build log.

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I've long been inspired by the incredible art work of Ian McQue who has been an artist for the video game industry, a conceptual artist for the new Star Wars movies and has done some truly amazing work with recently published editions of the Mortal Engines series by Philip Reeve (among many other things). If you aren't familiar with his work, just google his name and discover the grimey quasi-dystopic and well-lived-in world he has created. Thus, I was really excited to stumble upon some models of Ian McQue ships made by Industria Mechanika. I started building the Waldo last year and upon nearing completion, had the idea to build the larger Remora and then pair them together with a scratch-built docking station of some kind in a diorama. Also a fan of "build-logs," I'd like to use this thread to document my plans, morgue files of McQue images and progress photos.

These are the kits I will be starting with - both are resin models with brass photoetching components, various metallic attachments and some kit-bashed add-ons.

The vision is that these two ships will be levitating as depicted in the box illustrations, but moored to a docking station of some kind. I'd also like to enhance the diorama with some creative lighting using LEDs and a system of switches to allow the viewer to illuminate certain parts of the scene as they would like.

Onward and upward!


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Building the Remora's wheelhouse. Pretty straightforward construction. The only thing I'm struggling with is color choices. After committing to a red and robin's egg blue, I then applied a large number 3 to the roof. I was thinking that if these anti-gravity ships were really bouncing around the airspace, then having large roof and deck numbers to allow for identification would seem to make sense. To make this large '3' I just picked a font I liked in Microsoft Word and printed it off on regular paper. Cutting it out with an Xacto blade and supergluing it the surface of the roof resulted in a pretty good effect, I think. Adding in some weathering brings it all together.



Well-Known Member
In looking at a LOT of McQue air ships, one of the intriguing details is all of the lights that adorn them - tail lights for the stern and headlights and floodlights on the bow and various rigging. See this McQue painting for reference:


Those red stern lights are just such an amazing touch.

So, I've purchased some 1.8mm red LEDs and am going to try to retrofit the kit's stern lanterns with them to make them look like tail lights.

All the parts laid out:


I drilled out the housing for the LEDs first, and the pre-painted and weathered those. Then I needed to color the transparent "lens" of the stern light red - so used an alcohol based magic marker. It wasn't as intensely red as I wanted, but think it will work. A thinned oil paint would have probably worked better? Then I assembled everything.


Then a quick dry fit to the transom.


I already don't like the color choices for the lanterns, but can change those down the line. Now to test the lights along with a dry fit of the wheelhouse to judge the effect.

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New Member
Ahhhhhhh- AT LAST I would say.
Well- reading your explanation I found myself inside. I came along Master McQue absolutely by chance (searching a shop which offers this:


I was immediately fixed in. Abolutely great art for my taste.
The kits seem to be quiet expensive, so I made my mind up to scratchbuild something. I will do so definetly in the future.
Well- anyway- good to have your explanation here and I will keep an eye on your work, which is amazing so far. Also the paint job.


Well-Known Member
Thanks so much turambar. You are correct that the Industria Mechanika McQue models are not exactly cheap - and I struggled a bit taking the plunge. But after constructing the Waldo, I was pretty much hooked and committed to wanting to tackle the larger Remora. They are just so unique and fun to create. I think the main reason is because they really do allow for so much creative variability. In looking at McQue's paintings, you will be familiar with how varied all of his airships are with respect to greeblies, cargo, paint jobs and states of disrepair. So these kits really do allow you to let your imagination run. I love your plan to do a scratch build of a McQue ship. I too am planning on trying my hand at this, after seeing some impressive scratch builds of his ships here on the RPF. Definitely keep me posted on that front! We should start a McQue appreciation club here - his world is so vast and interesting. Cheers.

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I've started work on some of the elements that live at the bow of the Remora - namely the deck-mounted crane and the head lights.

crane and lights arrows.jpg

Crane work: After removing the sprue from the various parts and washing everything thoroughly with warm water and dishsoap to clean the oil from the resin, I assembled the main elements of the crane and added a coat of thin white to act as a primer.


After that had dried, a coat of yellow. I mix my own colors and added in a touch of burnt sienna and just a hint of black.


The next day I added a wash of very thin black and really let it collect in all the crevices of details before gently wiping the excess free.


I'll continue to work on weathering the crane over time, adding scratches and rust staining and then fading the entire paint job with some whitewashing. But while that was drying, I started working on the headlights.

Bow lamps: Again, I wanted to equip these with functioning lights and planned on using 3V 1.8 warm white LEDs. First step was to drill out the existing housings so I could fit the LEDs into them. I also "frosted" the clear transparent lenses that will fit over the LEDs by applying a thinned coat of off white acrylic and then some very gentle sanding.


The lamp housings were then painted and assembled with lenses and protective photoetched brass cages, securing the LEDs internally from behind using superglue.


After dried, I drilled two holes in the bow plate of the hull to pass the wires through and "dry fit" the lamps and crane to the unpainted main structure to get a feel of how the bow end will come together, and to judge my color selections which differ quite a bit from the original McQue painting:


And then a test of the lights.

I have always really admired the work of this artist and also the concept. One of my favorite google image searches.
Looking great so far keep the build pics coming.

AT - Mike


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Thanks, Mike - really appreciate it. Yeah, I've lost count of the hours I've spent googling McQue's images. He really has created an entire world that you can get lost in. That's why I knew I had to get the Industria Mechanika kits. There are a couple more in the McQue series - another ship called the Wasp and a Sky Buoy which I'd love to have, but I'd also really like to stay married.

- Derek


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As detailed in my original post, I’m about 90% done with the kit based on Ian McQue’s painting of the anti-gravity tug, the Waldo. This ship, paired with the Remora which I’m currently building, will be the focus of the larger diorama that I’m planning. I thought I’d post some photos of the Waldo in its current state.



Master Member
Superb work! I think we had a member build one of McQue´s ships from scratch a few years ago, but I do neither remember the member nor the thread title :(

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The Suggestion of a " ... McQue appreciation Club ..." is not wrong.
Well, the other "ship" you mentioned is a set of TWO ships, the WASPS, which I planned to buy . . .
Concerning the Waldo I discoverd while having a holiday in Scotland this spring, that those kind of shapes do really exist.


Derek- your painting skill is extraordinary and the result seems to be perfect for my taste.
Cheers Chris
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Well-Known Member
Naboo: thanks so much. Really appreciate it.

Joey: YES! I absolutely LOVE your Last Airborne scratch build. I've actually studied it in great detail hoping to do a scratch build of a McQue ship of my own at some point. That is just some incredibly fine work. Thanks so much for linking to your project in this thread - everybody needs to check that out!

Chris: Great news about the Wasps. I forgot that the kit actually comes with two ships - that is pretty exciting. Please keep us posted if/when you get them and your progress. And fantastic photos of a pair of real-life 'Waldo's.' What great references and inspirations for projects like this!


Well-Known Member
Work continues on the deck arch element that sits just aft to midship and holds two deck lanterns.

arch arrow.jpg

Again, I'm gonig with a different paint scheme that what is shown in the original McQue painting so this will look a bit different. The first step was to construct the deck lights. Again, the original kit from Industria Mechanika doesn't have any functional lights so I'm retrofitting the kit with LEDs. These lights are really small so I had to purchase LED chips which are about 1mm across (not including the wires and backing which doubles the size). As with the other lanterns, the housing was carefully drilled out, the lens applied, the housing painted and the chip LEDs superglued in.


One thing I've learned about writing a build log like this. Photographing your work like this REALLY shows you how crappy a job you've done on certain things. The right lens was put on crooked and the paint job sucks and these look generally awful in this photo. Thankfully, all ships in the world of Ian McQue are weather worn and in rough shape. That's the REAL reason my parts look crappy and I'm sticking to that story.

After painting up the arch, the lanterns were attached with the wires intentionally left unconcealed as they are in the painting (a gift from McQue!).


This was then temporarily dry fitted to the hull to see how it will fit in.


And then the obligatory light-test photo because I just couldn't resist:


Next up - rigging the crane.
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Ok, for those of you who have not built the Remora kit, allow me to give you some advice. Secure the lines to the hoist winch BEFORE you attach the boom to the mast. Because once you DO attach the boom to the mast, you can no longer access the hoist winch where the lines have to attach. Got it? DO NOT ATTACH THE BOOM FIRST. Take a wild guess at which order I did things. What a pain in the ass to get all that rigging in there after the structure was already assembled. Yet, here we are:


Also, I cut out three disks of 3mm styrene to match the diameter of the crane's base, glued and painted them and attached them. The effect is to have the crane sit higher off the deck. The simple reason is that I absolutely love the details around the winch and they get hidden behind the gunwales as is. Adding this spacer under the crane will lift this detail up a bit higher and I think looks a bit better.

After adding some more weathering detail, some leaked oil and a touch of rust, plus a black accent on the boom, a quick photo of it dry fitted to the deck to check its appearance.


Next up - painting the hull.
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Well-Known Member
The hull comes in one giant solid block - and is actually quite heavy. This is really different from the Waldo model in which it is just a shell and comes in two halves without the deck attached. In the Remora kit, the deck and hull are all one unit. This is going to prove problematic for me when it comes time to run all my wiring from on deck to through the hull and out the bottom to conceal it all - but I've got a few ideas on that I'll get to later. (Translation - I have an idea that I will try and screw up only to have to come back and salvage another way and chalk up the after effect to the Ian McQue rough "aesthetic."

This photo should give an idea of how large a piece the hull is. Everything grey is all one piece.


I had a general idea of the colors I wanted to use for this build, but had I been smart, I would have actually laid these out on a palette in advance initiating construction and really looked at them to make sure they compliment one another. As is typical of me, I tend to plan too much on the fly. That said, Here's what I'm going for:


So, the bluish color for the bow and wheelhouse elements, the deep read for the stern and wheelhouse, the warm grey for the hull body and yellow for the crane and accents. Here's a first attempt at this:


The deck plating is beautifully modeled with a great diamond stamped steel that I want to accentuate and simultaneously look weathered and grimy. So I've started with some grey/black washes to let the paint collect into all the crevices while exposing and highlighting the diamond tread. I will continue to work this as time goes on, but I think this be an OK start. Adding in just a few bronzed highlights to the fuel tank lid and some other caps and grates and it's not terrible...

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Well-Known Member
I was able to get some solid time put in on the aft portion of the engine block and four stern engines. Here too I wished to add some LEDs to the kit. How the engine block looks coming out of the box.


After scrubbing and and removing the sprue, I drilled out each of the individual jets to accommodate a single 3V 1.8mm LED.


The jets fit fit into the block via a ball and socket joint, the socket of which was also drilled to accommodate the wires.


Then, before securing the lights, all parts of the block were painted.


The lights were then secured within the jet housings and the aft portion of the block assembled.


Then a quick dry test fit...


And a a test of the lights...


And after adding the stern tail lights and wheelhouse.

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New Member
I really appreciate your blog.
Very interesting to see the parts of the kit themselves. The quality seems to be high enough.
Also interesting to get knowledge of „secrets“, for example that the body is casted in one single piece. Your advices are more than helpful. As I said before, I love your way of painting. The metallic effects are fantastic. I prefer oil colours as well and made only the best examples with them.
( I should post something here . . . ) So- please – keep on going.


Well-Known Member
Thanks so much, Chris. I appreciate your feedback. Having built the Waldo before and now being halfway through the Remora, I can attest that the quality of the models is very, very good. There is a fantastic level of detail on the resin molds and the photoetched compliment the finished piece beautifully. Michael Fichtenmayer, the modeler and owner of Industria Mechanika, really has done a beautiful job interpreting Ian McQue's paintings.

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