Eli Steenput builds the Laputa Flappter.

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Laputa Flaptter

By Eli Steenput - images & text © 2001

Scale: 1/20, wingspan about 12.5"/ 32cm
Parts: 30-something parts injection mold plastic on 2 trees, 1 normal transparent part and 4 wings in some kind of flexible plastic sheet
Instructions: 4 pages, Japanese and English (sort of)
Decals: None
Molding Quality: 5
Detail: 7
Accuracy: 6
Fit: 6
Ease: 7
MSRP: 840 (about $6.50 USD) (of course not counting shipping, taxes and import) available from HobbyLink Japan
Overall Rating: 7 - Interesting craft, cheap

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This is another Miyazaki retro-sf design of flying craft, from the animated movie Laputa (Castle in the sky). I got this kit from HobbyLink Japan.

[Wings wide open]

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^ Cockpit

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Image: Front of the "fuselage"

Image: Crew area

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The Kit

The Flaptter is a craft used by the air pirates in the movie. The wings flap like some insect's, or are stationary when using jet propulsion. The craft is usually piloted by one person but can take an extra passenger or two.

The kit has parts for the Flaptter, a stand, and parts for two figures representing Sheeta and Pazu. It does not represent any scene from the movie (Sheeta, Pazu and the Levi-stone are never together on a Flaptter like that). The Sheeta figure is somewhat cute, but neither of them really resemble the characters from the anime very much.

The Flaptter itself is moderately accurate. The biggest divergence is in the attachments of the railing bars to the hull, which are much smaller in the movie. Unfortunately this would be very hard to correct as the fit of the windscreen depends on the presence of these oversized attachments.


I built only the Flaptter, without figures, mostly because I didn't want to obscure the somewhat detailed instrument panel.

This instrument panel is more or less based on the movie, if a little more angular. There were a few ejector marks to fill up, and I added some switches and handles from bits of plastic and a sewing pin. I also trimmed the pedals and added the safety belt. The control sticks from the kit look like a cubist redesigned them; I rounded them considerably, and left some of the sprue attachments as the buttons that are there according to the documentation.

Construction is mostly straightforward, except for how the windscreen and railing attachments should come together: this is not very clear from the instructions, and the fit is not great either. I didn't paint the interior surface behind the engine grille, thinking that it wouldn't be visible. It isn't really visible, but now it annoys me to know that it's not painted...

The wings can be positioned in almost any way you like. The most important is probably to not get any glue or paint on them. The plastic of the wings is not the normal transparent stuff, it seems to fog with normal model cement but not with super glue. I considered for a while to make them a bit less transparent in some way (they are almost invisible) but chickened out in the end.


The instructions say: 'for painting, use package illustration and color photos as reference.' There is also a very detailed painting guide besides but it is completely in Japanese.

I used my reference book to determine the colors. The only deliberate deviation being that I painted the underside of the pod-like wing attachments red like the hull's underside. I used model paints from Revell as well as some miscellaneous other paints for different shades of copper.

For weathering I applied a black wash, painted a few parts in different shades of the main colors, and simulated some scraping damages.


This kit is cheap, has few parts and is very simple to assemble, and the resulting model is something very different-looking.

REFERENCES: The Art of Laputa

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This page copyright © 2002 Starship Modeler™. Last updated on 8 January 2002.