The next step after inventory and cleaning is to trim the parts of flash and mould lines, and make sure everything fits together properly.
It is important to study the instructions beforehand to get a feel for how everything fits together before you start cutting. In the picture below it is not immediately obvious where the flash ends and a plug starts (or if there even is one).
Nothing is worse than making a cut then realising you just chopped off a vital connector. Taking a little extra time to be sure the first time will save a lot of time if you don't and make a mistake.
Also pictured are some of the tools I use. The clippers and knives people will be already familiar with, but the saw (known as a razor saw or jeweller's saw) is not a common item for some. It is useful for cutting thick sections that a dremel can't reach, or where a power tool would be too rough.
The flash above, for instance, is so thick and bulky that maneuvering the dremel in place is quite a juggling act.
In addition to the tools above I use a number of files and sandpapers:
I use the files to even out, and the (very fine grit) sandpaper to smooth out. Even with these it may be necessary to use some putty to smooth over any seams.
Another useful piece of equipment is a clamp.
This is a dremel clamp, and can be used to mount a rotary tool. It features a ball jointed base and rubber padded clamps. The moveable base is valuable in that I can easily rotate the parts about for better access, while the padded clamps prevent damage to the soft resin.
Before starting I sort the pieces into 'types', usually bits that go together during construction.
Before cutting I check each piece against the instructions to see how it interacts with other parts, and test fit them together. Usually there will only be a small, obvious amount of flash that needs to be cut away for a smooth fit. Unfortunately there is sometimes a large amount of flash bonded with important connectors.
The knee joints of the Phantom have a guide peg on them that fits into a groove in the shin, keeping them straight. Without test fitting it would not be immediately obvious what the peg is, and it could be mistaken for flash and accidentally removed.
The test fitting will also show if anything needs to be reshaped to fit. For example, one of the Phantom's foot plates needs to be widened to allow the heel plate to fit under it.
Dry fitting the parts together also gives an insight into how the model will need to be assembled to allow for painting, showing points that will overlap or restrict access to other sections (or parts that will become totally hidden).
All this took around six hours, for 68 parts. It may seem like a long time but it is vital groundwork that can cause serious delays later in the construction.
Next up: Magnetising the tertiary weapons.