HGUC Blue Destiny feat. Ol’ Painless

May 10, 2018 at 22:04 | Posted in 1/144 scale | 4 Comments
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Introduction:

For the uninitiated, Ol’ Painless is the affectionately named minigun from 1987’s Predator. This build is inspired by that weapon and the character who wielded it.
It involves a kitbash of the Blue Destiny Unit 1 (BD01), fitted with Little Armory’s M134 minigun. To complete the overall theme, I painted the BD01 in a woodland camo colorscheme.

Materials & methods:

The very brief work-in-progress can be found here.

Grey surfacer was first sprayed on all parts, making sure the original plastic color was covered.
The woodland camo pattern consists of black, brown-grey, dark brown and dark green colors. But I decided against adding the black squiggly pattern and just focused on the three remaining colors.

The first layer was brown-grey (Gaianotes). Then I applied camo patterns that were cut off from masking tape.
The second layer was dark brown (80% propeller color + 20% khaki). Then I applied liquid mask (Masking Sol).
The final layer was dark green (50% IJA green, from spray can + 50% Russian green).

I applied the camo pattern to the limbs, while the torso was painted in german gray and neutral gray. The backpack and some bits on the side skirt were painted with olive drab.
For weathering, I did enamel wash using dark brown + yellow enamel paints, paint chipping using Fine Tip Gundam Marker, and weathering pastels on the feet.
After applying decals, I scraped it a little with my hobby blade to simulate damage & scratches. Then it’s the final flat top coat layer.

For the Little Armory M134, I did some modifications to make it look more like the movie version. In the movie, they modified the minigun for handheld use by attaching an M60 handguard. Since there’s no Little Armory M60 kit yet, I made do with M4A1 parts. I glued the M4A1 barrel to the U-shaped part of the M134, like so:

The minigun itself was painted with steel, german gray and black. The backpack was painted with khaki, the railing with olive drab, while the belt-like thing was german gray.

Results:

First, some shots of the Blue Destiny:

Some closeups of the Little Armory M134:

And now Ol’ Painless in the hands of BD01. The M134 comes with a peg that attaches the backpack to Figmas, but it also fits nicely to the BD01 back (technically it’s the GM Ground Type back).

I also took the liberty of posing the BD01 with some weapons and armaments from my previous builds.

Discussion:
My previous attempts at painting camo patterns didn’t really produce satisfactory results. Because I used spray cans, the paint tended to seep underneath the masking tapes, ruining the camo patterns. Another disadvantage of using spray cans is the limited colors available. So this time, using an airbrush, I was able to get a result that I’m quite happy with.
This is also my first time kitbashing Little Armory kits. Admittedly it’s not a 100% recreation of the Ol’ Painless minigun, but I think it’s close enough. The M134 kit comes with some wires and straps, but I didn’t put them on because it would look a bit messy on the BD01.
So while the Blue Destiny Unit 1 is not technically a GM, those red visors are GM-y enough to warrant its inclusion in the Year of the GM lineup.

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Bandai 1/72 VF-25s Messiah

August 16, 2017 at 21:11 | Posted in 1/72 scale, Model kits | Leave a comment
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Introduction:

Remember that post about my first Macross kit? Yeah, neither did I. That was until I found some old, dusty cluster of plastic somewhere within my apartment. Carbon dating of the dust layers revealed that it was from 8 years ago. This meant that this artifact is no other than my first Macross kit, the 1/72 scale VF-25s Messiah by Bandai.

Somehow it was stuck halfway through snap-fitting; half was already assembled, while the rest were still on their runners. To further motivate myself to complete this kit, I bought this book from Amazon with some nice photos of VF-25 Messiahs. I found an image that inspired this build:

vf25_hon1

The color scheme looks challenging, but I decided to give it a go.

Materials & methods:

I cleaned off the layers of dust from the plastic and continued from where I left off. After snap fitting, I separated the parts into internal (joints & moving parts) and external parts (wings etc). I had no intention of modding or customizing this kit because I wasn’t really sure what I was getting into. So for this build I just focused on painting. Prior to that, all parts were sprayed with grey surfacer. I used a combination of spray cans and airbrush for painting.

  • Internal parts: Mr Color Dark Gray (2) spray can
  • Feet: Mr Color 28 (steel) for externals; Gaianotes Starbright Duralumin for internals
  • Landing gear: Mr Color Light Gray spray can. Wheels were handpainted with black enamel
  • Pilot: Tamiya Olive drab spray can. Helmet was handpainted with white enamel
  • Canopy: Mr Color black for the canopy rim(?); clear yellow for the transparent part
  • Aircraft underbelly: Mr Color Light Gull Gray spray can
  • Aircraft surface base layer: Mr Color 307 (Gray FS36320)
  • Aircraft camo layer: Mr Color 305 (Gray FS36118)
  • Gun: Mr Color German Grey (exterior); Gunmetal spray can (interior)

The tricky part was painting the camo patterns. First I sprayed Light Gull Gray on parts that are underneath the aircraft, including wings. Next comes the base color (Mr Color 307); I carefully drew the boundaries using my airbrush and then proceeded to fill in the remaining areas. For the darker colored camo patterns (Mr Color 305) I directly drew the camo patterns using my airbrush instead of using any masking techniques.

For panel lining I used black enamel. Then comes the decals. Instead of using the supplied water slide markings, I decided to use my own catalog of aircraft decals accumulated from various hobby shows. To go with the camo pattern I painted, the decals I picked mimicked contemporary aircrafts; in this case US Navy aircrafts. To get a sense of where to position these decals, I referred again to this book.

vf25_hon2

To finish it off I sprayed a layer of flat topcoat. When I say finish, it’s not really finished yet. The final step is the actual assembly process. This was actually the most harrowing part of this build. According to the manual, you’re supposed to build it into Fighter mode first, and then later you can transform it into Gerwalk and Battroid modes.

As I was assembling, I noticed some joints were tight; maybe due to the layers of primer and paints. Inevitably I broke some of those joints because I pushed too hard. I performed a quick fix using superglue. Miraculously I managed to assemble the Fighter mode after several hours of trying to make the parts fit. After that stressful episode, I made the decision to keep it in fighter mode. Any attempts to transform it into Gerwalk or Battroid mode would risk catastrophic failure.

Results:

Discussion:

After 8 long years, I finally finished this kit. In a way, it was fortunate that I put it on hold. Because within that 8 years, I bought myself an airbrush. Without it, I wouldn’t have pulled off this paintjob. Which I think looks quite alright. The waterslide decals I used were getting kind of old, and were very prone to tearing.

The kit itself feels about as complex as a Master Grade kit, but not as sturdy. This is certainly not a toy that you’d play around with. It’s a shame that I can’t (and won’t) transform it into Batroid or Gerwalk modes, but at least it looks really sexy in fighter mode.

Overall, it was a long, rough ride but I managed to see it through. I think I’ll buy a couple more Macross kits, but probably not anymore transformable kits like this one. Hasegawa seems to have quite a selection of fighter mode Macross kits. Hopefully they won’t take 8 years to finish…

1/144 Ball (Thunderbolt ver.)

October 1, 2016 at 17:38 | Posted in 1/144 scale | 1 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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