Vulture Droid in Walk-Mode

scratchy-bashy conversion
of the Estes Droid Starfighter


Stated scale:


Actual scale:


Vulture Droid Gallery


Overall length:



ABS & scratch

Number of parts:

1 initially

Stand included?


Decals included?


My Source:

KayBee Toy

Cost (w/o s&h):

US$5 clearanced

Estes released several model rocket adaptations of spaceships from Star Wars Episode 1. Among them was a droid starfighter in attack mode. I picked them up on clearance at a KayBee toy store and put them on my “someday” pile, intending to rework them into models from the movie. This is a rebuild of the fighter into the vulture droid of Episode 3. I began by assembling references. The main reference is the Incredible Cross Sections book from Episode 1. Frame-grabs from Episode 1 and Episode 3 provided additional reference material.

To begin the conversion I had to dismember the droid fighter. Using a razor saw (both large and X-acto tool size), I cut away the four wing / leg pieces and the “head,” then trimmed away the four body panels which, when closed, cover the leg struts. I used Dremel tools, files, and sandpaper to clean excess material away from the inside surfaces of the four panels and to open the “eyes.”


I had to reshape the nose on the droid head, since it was more rounded than it should be. Sheet styrene and thinned green putty accomplished that. After the putty dried, I sanded it down to shape. I painted the interior of the head black to reduce light bleed-through from the LEDs that would be installed.


Eye Lights

The eyes are clear resin castings. I pressed fast-set RTV putty into the inside of the head to obtain an RTV positive. I coated this with liquid latex for a negative mold which I filled with clear polyester resin to obtain the final eyepiece. This piece was trimmed and pressed in place to fill the eye openings in the head.

I painted the eye piece with a mix of Tamiya transparent red with a bit of Acryl pearl white. I then scored the casting slightly to let more light through for the brighter forward area.

Two white LEDS (wired in parallel, with a 100-Ohm resistor in series) inside the head illuminate the eyes and are powered by 3 lithium coin batteries in series (9 volts). The 'white' LEDs have a distinct blue tint, so I painted them with a light coat of transparent yellow to rebalance the color. The wire leading out of the head will go to the batteries. I put together a small armature out of strip styrene to fit inside the head and hold the LEDs in position.

I covered the bottom of the head with sheet styrene formed to a compound curve, made by stretching heated sheet over a suitably-shaped bottle. I added sheet pieces and parts box pieces to detail out the area where the neck struts attach. I used strip styrene to build out the side-aft flanges so they have the correct rounded contour, drilled out the inside of the flange and install small bits of 1/16” aluminum tubing for the detail piece.



Does it all work?


Sigh of relief and...

On to Part 2