1/144 Ball (Thunderbolt ver.)

October 1, 2016 at 17:38 | Posted in 1/144 scale | Leave a comment
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Introduction:
Volume 3 of the Gundam Thunderbolt manga came with a limited edition 1/144 scale Ball. It came in 3 shades of plastic: white, grey, and baby-blue. Also included is an extensive sticker sheet and a stand. One design feature of the Thunderbolt series is the overabundance of verneirs and thrusters. This Ball is no exception. It’s a bit  too much for me, so it was one of the things I decided to modify.
My main sticking point for this kit is that the cockpit canopy is made of opaque plastic. You’re supposed to apply the supplied sticker over it. You may know that I loathe this kind of stickers, so I had to come up with a better alternative.So those are some of the things I modified for this build. Read on for more details.

Materials & methods:
The extra verniers were either completely covered up with putty or replaced with some detail parts.
tballwip_01 tballwip_02
For the cockpit canopy, I bought an 18mm diameter clear acrylic bead from Amazon. First I had to remove the plastic surrounding the canopy. To get a nice, circular cut, I ran a sharp pin along the circumference of the canopy multiple times until the plastic surrounding the canopy was thin enough for me to punch through it. After that I simply attached the clear acrylic bead behind the hole using super glue. Unfortunately, the super glue left a white residue on the clear bead. I scraped off the white residue using a hobby blade, but that left scratches on the clear bead. To get a nice, shiny finish, I rubbed Tamiya compound over the clear bead until the scratches were no longer visible.
tballwip_03
To add some detail to this kit, I glued a square plate near the back thrusters and some square pipes on the landing skids.

tballwip_04 tballwip_05

The final modifications I did were to the two front pistols. I glued some square vents and rectangular verneirs to add extra detail. The gun barrels were not hollow, so I drilled a hole through the plastic.

tballwip_06 tballwip_07
To provide some extra mobility to the pistols, I separated them from the front arms and attached a pivoting joint from MSG. Now the pistols can move semi-independently from the arms.

tballwip_08

For the color scheme, I decided on an urban camo similar to my HGUC Jesta. Unlike the Jesta, I used larger, more angular shapes of masking rape for the camo patterns. Painting was done in this order:
Base coat (Mr. Color Dark Gray 2) -> masking tape -> Mr. Color Dark Gray 1 -> masking tape -> Mr. Color Off White
For other parts, I painted them as follows:

  • The part surrounding the cockpit -> Navy Blue
  • Cockpit canopy -> clear red.
  • Arms and weapons -> Gunmetal, german gray and dark gray 2
  • Verniers -> Light gunmetal

Then its panel-lining, decals and some light weathering in the form of paint chipping.

Results:
tball_05

Discussion:
This is my first non-humanoid shaped gunpla kit, and it was kinda fun to build something different. Actually I put off building this kit until I found a solution for the cockpit canopy conundrum.
I wouldn’t recommend this kit for snap-fitters, though. Although some parts are molded in their correct colors, you still need to apply a whole bunch of stickers. Even then, it wouldn’t look as good if it was painted. The range of movement on the arms is also limited, but I wasn’t expecting too much from a ‘free’ kit anyway.
On the plus side, it comes with a stand; I like that it attaches to the backside of the Ball. The overall design is also unique and well detailed too. And if you’re wondering about the red glow from the cockpit in some photos, it was light from a laser pointer. Since this is not a regular release, it may be difficult to get one. If you manage to find one, be prepared to put in some effort to make it look presentable.

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