Revell Dune Ornithopter


Sr Member
Hi folks, I recently got hold of a model I've been after for a looong time,
the Harkonnen ornithopter from the 1984 movie Dune. I love it's design,
and would love for one of the talented people here to some time come up
with a studio scale version, but for now, I'm a happy man-child :)

I thought I'd post some progress shots, with some notes for anyone who
might pick this up in the future.

1: The basic form, crudely taped together to give me an idea of where to start.
And also enable me to whizz it round the garden evading sandworms
and spice blows like a giddy 10 year old.

2: From the side - there's some seams that will need attention where the upper
and lower sections of the tail meet.

3: Starting work on detailing the cabin interior with various greeblies from other kits.
I'm an absolute nerd for vessel interiors, the movie can provide some good caps for
the details but I decided to go my own way but try and keep it consistant with the kind
of sparse and unconventional feel of the original.

The ornithopter is yet another vessel that suffers from the Tardis effect, as in the
movie Paul and Jessica are able to lay full length from the pilot seat to the cabins
rear. Yet it doesn't seem possible looking at the model. Also the the width of the
cabin appears to be divided into three in the movie, where the pilots occupy the
central third and a wall or door seperates each end of the cabin. I chose not to
include that aspect, I prefered the idea of the "bug-eye" windows being exposed
to the whole cabin interior. It also let's in more light.

4: Bits part one -

Wow, some parts reeeally need a lot of care. This made me think about the kits age
(over 20 years) and whether its a case of plastic degredation over time or simply
the plastic used was never that great to begin with.

The photo above shows the rear hatch steps and the rear landing gear. I managed
to snap the rear legs multiple times even when I thought I was carefully removing
them. And later when I just tried to roughly assemble them. And I swear later again
when I simply looked at them. They're a pain to fix back, and also bear in mind that
they will be supporting the a fair bit of weight of the model if you're choosing to
display it with landing gear down.

I'm going to try to reinforce these later and maybe at some point in the future would
like to rescratch them from metal sheet for something sturdier.

The steps you just need to watch out for the hand-rails which are very fragile (yup,
both mine have already come off). Both sides of the steps once assembled needs to
be filed a fair bit so it won't jam in the door when they swing up.

More to follow.

Mola Rob

Sr Member
That is very cool. I actually have this model unbuilt. Looking at your progress shots makes me want to dig the kit out of the closet and get to work. Looking forward to more pics.


Sr Member
Definitley dig it out Watchman, love to see your take on it. Trawling the web there's
not many of these babies to paw over so the more the better. Snap a bit of sprue
beforehand to checkout just how brittle this plastic is though.

5: I assembled the rear of the ornithopter and tried to fill in and get rid of the seam
between upper and lower tail sections. In retrospect I didn't think this through, I
needn't have been so fussy on the tail section from cabin to tail mid-point as the
wings actually conceal this area, and any seam tidying can loose some of the
definition of the rings that make up the length of the tail.

Inside the rear of the cabin I used some keyboard buttons for the ceiling and
plasticard/vent greeblies for a rear wall section to cover up the holes where the
tails connect to the cabin. I know no-one will really be able to see this but it
bothered me, and it might bother my pilot too and I can't have a flustered pilot
in command of my ornithopter.

6: Painting the interior with Tamiya Grey-Green (Luftwaffe)

Neither the console nor green windscreen have been permanantly fixed yet.
The whole painting thing gets a bit fangled as I later need access to the cockpit
in order to fix the windscreen in the cabin from within, yet I need the outer cabin
painted in order to get a good finish around the windscreen area, which I didn't
feel could be acheived by simply masking it off.

Anyhow here's the exterior -

- first painted satin black as a base coat. I know in the movie its a black but
I don't feel it does it justice. There's too much of this great design lost in the
blackness. Also there's an amazing ornithopter done here
by Gino Dykstra (which I can only hope mine's at least a tenth as good as)
which made me think that a gold colour is how this flying machine really
should be. Gold really gives it an elegance and makes me see it as
something almost Miyazaki like which suits me fine.

I like to think that maybe the Harknonnens stole the ornithopters from a more
cultured people and in their philistine nature just slapped black paint over them
to mark them as theirs. Heh.

So here it is with a light gold coat -



Sr Member
^ thanks for looking in fellas.

I've added some brass rods across the viewport to make it more accurate to
the original design. Fiddly as heck but something I felt needed to be done.

Also reworked the hinge on the rear door which swings down. The original hinges
were mere nano nubs, I thought the door would be likely to just come away
completely whenever opened.

So I dremeled a portion of the door lip away and fixed onto it some brass rod
(green arrow) and kept the rod attached to the rear body with some very thin
plastic tabs (red arrows).

And here's a couple of the painted interior. The pilot is from my spares box
and only required a little surgery to be ornithopter-ready.


Hand Solo

Sr Member
Coming along nicely. :thumbsup

I can imagine you'll be sure to leave a couple of stillsuits for Lady Jessica and 'The LITTLE One'. :p

Hand Solo

Sr Member
<div class='quotetop'>(blipper @ Jul 3 2006, 07:47 PM) [snapback]1273671[/snapback]</div>
I'm sure I can sort something out for Lady Jessica :D

Beware of 'The Voice'.

" First...cut my son's...buns..." ( Dune fans will get that little joke. )

Good job on the brass windscreen spars. Definitely a nice touch.

Hand Solo

Sr Member
<div class='quotetop'>(blipper @ Jul 3 2006, 07:52 PM) [snapback]1273676[/snapback]</div>
Great gifs btw, Hand Solo :lol

Aw shucks...thanks. I make my own.

Not to hi-jack but here's the album link if you want to check em out. Dune IS on my list to do some .gifs from.

Animations pages.


Ok...back to this awesome WIP thread. :p


Active Member
now if they only made projectors small enough to move the little lines, x's, and diamond shapes across their faces.

Seriously though It's looking great. :thumbsup



Sr Member
<div class='quotetop'>(dropshipbob @ Jul 5 2006, 04:15 PM) [snapback]1274495[/snapback]</div>
I never see enough DUNE models. :)

This looks great, any plans for a base?

I think once I've finished the paint job I'll go with a plain wooden base, but later on when I get some time I like the idea of a rocky perch of some sort. I did think maybe a more sand dune like base would be more appropriate, but you know, landing on sand might be asking for worm trouble. ... actually... that, sounds like a cue for a diorama.


Active Member
I just saw some dune kits recently, but could not afford, due to just buying a house. Yours is looking great.



Sr Member
All the best with the house move Light Tech, hope it's as hassle free as possible. When's the party? :D

Well, I'm just about finished with the ornithopter, there's a stair rail missing which I need to sort out some time and I'd like to do some fine work on the forward aerials to give it a bit more of an insectoid look, but it's basically done for the moment.

cheers for looking.