Hasegawa VF-31 Berkut

August 17, 2020 at 18:21 | Posted in 1/72 scale | Leave a comment
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Introduction:
For my first kit from the Macross Delta series, I decided on the VF-31J Siegfried, used by the main character in that anime. Like all Hasegawa Macross kits, this one is non-transforming, fighter mode only.
Since the VF-31J is a forward swept wing aircraft, my plan for this kit is simple: paint it black. More specifically, the Su-47 black color scheme. Here’s a reference photo:

Materials & methods:
Like all aircraft models, the first place to start was the cockpit. Again I opted for the single-seat configuration. After painting the cockpit and some intake vents, the two halves of the aircraft fuselage were glued together. I decided to cover up some panel lines and diamond-shaped panels on the nosecone using basic putty.
This Hasegawa kit comes in all white plastic. The Su-47 is mostly black, with a white nosecone, and some white stripes on the canards and vertical stabilizers. For those parts, I first airbrushed white paint, then applied masking tape after the paint has dried.
With the cockpit and appropriate parts masked, I sprayed the whole thing with Gaianotes black surfacer. Since this is going to be all black, I decided make it a bit more interesting by applying the black-basing or marbling technique.
This involves airbrushing random squigly lines over a black base coat, followed by light coats of the primary color. This simulates weathering effects on the aircraft surface.
So after my base coat of black surfacer has dried, I used my 0.2mm nozzle airbrush to draw random squigly lines over the model. I used Mr Color Light Gull Gray that’s been thinned more than usual, and low air pressure (~0.05 MPa). The result looks something like this:


It looks quite ugly at this stage. So the next step was the primary color, in this case Mr Color German Gray. To further emphasize the panels, I added some post shading lines using Midnight Blue.
For the rear thrusters/feet, I used different combinations of metallic paint that I have available: Gaianotes Gunmetal, Mr Color Burnt Iron, Mr Color Steel, Mr Metal Color Dark Iron. I added clear orange and clear blue to some parts to simulate heated metal. The inside of the cockpit canopy was given a light coat of clear blue.
I used actual Su-47 decals bought from the Hasegawa booth in one of the many hobby shows I attended. Finally I airbrushed everything (except metallic & clear parts) with Gaianotes Ex-Flat clear.

Results:

Closeup shots:

Discussion:
This is my first attempt at weathering using the black-basing or marbling technique, and the effects were not so obvious. It could be that the primary paint coat (German gray) was too heavy, thus concealing the underlying marbling pattern. Maybe the flat topcoat layer also made the effect less prominent.
The landing gears were a temporary fixture, put in place by some blu-tac. After taking some photos with them on, I removed them and permanently glued the landing gear bay covers.
I quite like the concept of applying real-life fighter aircraft color schemes on Macross kits, so I might repeat it for future projects. Not too sure about repeating the black-basing technique, though.

GUNPLA tools part 2: Specialized tools

March 9, 2020 at 00:15 | Posted in How-to | 1 Comment
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So after introducing some basic tools in a previous post, this time I’d like to introduce some rather exotic tools that I have. These specialized tools are not essential, but if you like to modify your kits, they can make your gunpla life pretty easy.

Ultrasonic cutter:


It’s like a hobby blade on steroids. Cuts through plastic like a hot knife through butter.
Pros: Cuts through gunpla very quickly and easily. Good for someone who kitbashes a lot.
Cons: The blade vibration generates heat, leaving melted plastic around the cut area. Not recommended if a neat & clean cut is required. Also not cheap.

 

Amazing cutter:


It’s like a hobby nipper on steroids. This cutter by Godhand makes very clean cuts on fairly thick (up to 2mm) plaplate or plastic rods. It uses typical box-cutter blades, so the maximum length it can cut is 80mm. Also pretty expensive but if you need to cut a lot of plaplate for scratch building or mods, then it’s a God(sent).

 

Cordless polisher:


Sanding manually can be tedious, especially when sanding excess basic putty. That’s why I bought this battery operated polisher.

It’s like an electric toothbrush, but with a sanding sponge at the tip. The pre-cut circular sanding sponges are available at various grits:

 

Vernier caliper:


Sometimes I need some precise measurements. That’s where the caliper comes in handy.

 

Chisels:
I have a few of these, ranging in width from 1mm to 3mm. I use these to gouge out bits of plastic to make indentations and grooves on the surface of gunpla. The ones here are by Wave & Hasegawa.

 

Scriber:
The main purpose of this tool is to scribe new panel lines, and to make existing ones deeper. I have a pointy type by Hasegawa:

And a couple of BMC Tagane scribers. Unlike the pointy scriber, the tip of the BMC Tagane is square, like a chisel. It comes in various widths: the 0.15mm wide is mostly for 1/144 scale and the 0.3mm fits 1/100 scale gunpla.

 

BMC Danmo:
This specialized tool is used to carve grooves perpendicular to the edge of gunpla parts. See this guide on how to use it.

 

Spin blades:


Attached to a pin vise, these spin blades by GodHand are used to create flat-surfaced holes on gunpla surfaces. Can also be used as a chisel.

Starting from the top-left, drill a hole with a normal drill bit. The use the same diameter Spin Blade to spin around the drilled hole, and the result is a flat bottomed hole (top-right).

Hobby router:


I got this from a 100yen shop. It’s battery operated and I use it to make holes and gashes to simulate battle damage.

 

Chamfering tool:


This piece of metal is used to scrape the edge of the gunpla part, creating a chamfer. Here’s a photo of it in action:

There’s also a rounded version, called R-Boko:

It’s specifically for smoothening rounded surfaces. Sorry for the Japanese text, but the bottom-left figure shows the benefit of this tool, as opposed to using a flat file in the top-left. I use it to remove melted plastic from seam-lines on parts like a bazooka or rifle barrel.

 

Workstation:


This is a totally non-essential item, but what I like about it is the grill holes that allow small bits of plastic to be collected on the tray below. It also comes with a small cutting mat and nipper holder on the side.

An empty Gunpla box can basically do the same thing, though.

 

Summary:

So that’s what I have so far. I might add to this list if I found any new tools. Like I said in the beginning, these tools are totally non-essential and some are pretty expensive & hard to find. But they do make like easier if you like kitbashing, scratch-building and detailing.

Hasegawa 1/72 VF-25G Messiah

October 2, 2019 at 21:48 | Posted in 1/72 scale | Leave a comment
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Introduction:
This is only my third aircraft model kit and my second Macross kit. This time it’s the VF-25G Messiah by Hasegawa. Unlike my previous Bandai VF-25s, this Hasegawa kit is an aircraft model, meaning it doesn’t transform into Batroid or Gerwalk modes.

The VF-25G is the blue colored Messiah in the Macross Frontier anime, but the whole point of this build is to custom paint it. I wanted to recreate the Ripsnorters color scheme from the VF-25 Variable Fighter Master File book:

Materials & methods:
Like most military plamo, all plastic parts are in the same color; in this case a purplish-blue hue. Unlike most Gunpla kits, some sort of planning is required to sort out the order in which to paint the various parts.
First thing to do was assemble and paint the inner part of the cockpit, including the seats and pilot. There’s an option to make it a two-seater, with Ranka Lee at the back. I opted for the single seater version.
I also decided against attaching the landing gears and instead opted to cover the landing gear bay. The kit comes with some accessories for the wings: 2 pairs of speakers, or 3×3 pairs of missiles. I chose neither and left the wing empty.
Metallic parts (thrusters, intake vents) were painted in gunmetal or burnt iron, and then masked (if necessary).
Then everything was assembled according to the manual. There’s a lot of panel lines on the model, so I made them slightly deeper by scraping them with the tip of a pin. This is to make the panel line washes more visible.
After masking the cockpit, the whole thing was primed with Mr. Surfacer 1000 sprayed from an airbrush. Then I painted some preshading lines using black paint.
The order of painting went like this:
1. Paint the nose cone in white. Mask.
2. Paint the underside with Light Gull Grey. Mask.
3. Paint the top surface with Gaianotes Blue Grey.
4. For the black & white stripes, I first airbrushed white paint over the intended surfaces. Then I laid out 2mm strips of masking tape, followed by a spray of black paint.
Other parts were painted as follows:

  • Weapon: German gray
  • Tail rudder: Black
  • Feet: Gray FS36118
  • Cockpit canopy: Smoke gray
  • Wing strobe lights: Silver, then clear red/blue enamel
  • Clear parts near the cockpit: Clear red

After painting is complete, the next steps went like this: gloss topcoat -> decals -> gloss topcoat -> panel lining -> final flat topcoat.

Results:

Some closeup shots:

And finally some photos with the Bandai VF-25s:

And a rare scene of Messiahs docking in the wild

Discussion:
It’s a nice change of pace to build an aircraft model once in a while. Most of the effort spent on this kit involved painting and masking, but it was worth it.
The overall experience was less harrowing than my previous VF-25s Bandai kit, since there’s no transformation gimmick to worry about. There still some room for improvement in my detailing skills, but overall I’m pretty happy with the final output.

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