Topp Zaku I

May 24, 2020 at 22:20 | Posted in 1/144 scale | Leave a comment
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Introduction:
The initial plan for this build was to custom paint the HG Zaku I Origin kit into Topp’s Zaku I. But I didn’t like the look of the head and forearms of the Origin kit. So I ended up kitbashing various Zaku parts until the only Origin part left intact was the leg.

Materials & methods:
The work in progress can be found here.
After priming with grey surfacer, preshading lines were added with Gaianotes Pure Black.
Since all three Zakus (Topp, Arth, Dell) have the same color scheme, I decided to paint all of them at the same time. Here are the colors that I used:
Feet, knees, chest: Gray FS36118
Backpack: Gaianotes Blue Grey
Vernier nozzle: Clear red (insides); Burnt iron (outside)
Torso: Mr Color Dark Earth (70%) + Propeller Color (30%)
Head, limbs: Light Gull Grey (80%) + Gaianotes Yellow-Brown (15%) + Orange-Yellow (5%)

After painting, I applied panel lining, decals, clear topcoat, and weathering (in that order) to all three Zakus. Weathering consisted of enamel wash (red brown enamel), paint chipping (german grey enamel), and weathering pastel on the feet.
Then I applied Gaianotes Ex-Clear Flat topcoat using my airbrush.

Results:

Some poses:

Discusssion:
Upon closer inpection, some parts may look a bit rough, but I think I managed to recreate a version of Topp’s Zaku that’s quite close to the original concept art.
It wasn’t a simple kitbash, but the effort was worth it. I don’t think I would be satisfied if I just repainted the Origin Zaku I kit.
So after kitbashing a fair share of Zakus, I can conclude that the best looking Zaku I head is the Thunderbolt Zaku I; best Zaku I body is the HGUC Zaku Sniper; and best legs are the Origin Zakus. Still haven’t found the perfect arms yet. Maybe the upcoming HGUC Char’s Zaku II can change that…

HGUC Ground Type Gundam Parachute Pack

May 11, 2020 at 19:27 | Posted in 1/144 scale | Leave a comment
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Introduction:
There have been several RX-79[G] Ground Type Gundam kits released since the 08th MS Team aired, but I’ve never built a ‘proper’ one yet. So to correct that anomaly, I bought the P-Bandai RX-79[G] Parachute Pack which came with plenty of accessories. The plan was to add additional details and some light weathering effects, while keeping the original colors intact (more or less).

Materials & methods:
The work in progress can be found here.
After priming & pre-shading, the parts were painted as follows:
White parts: Gaianotes semi-gloss white + a bit of neutral grey
Chest: Leftover dark blue from the Zaku Mariner
Red parts: Red madder
Verniers: Gaianotes gunmetal
Parachute pack: Olive drab + Russian green; Gray FS36118
Weapons: Gray FS36118

Panel-lining was done using black enamel, followed by decals. Then clear topcoat was sprayed to protect the decals.
For weathering, enamel wash using dark brown + yellow was applied first. Then additional scratch marks & oil streaks were added using enamel paints & a fine brush. On the weapons & torso, dry brushing was applied using enamel silver. Also added a liberal dab of weathering pastel on the feet & shield.
Final step was the flat topcoat layer.

Results:

Although the kit comes with several extra bazookas, I didn’t build them. Pictured here are the ones I made for the GM Head build.

The kit also comes with a spare GM head, but I’m saving that for the GM Sniper build. Instead I used the head from the HGUC GM Ground Type kit.

Discussion:
Compared to the old HGUC kit, this new RX-79[G] has much better proportions. The range of movement is more or less similar to the old kit, but the new one has better torso movement.
In general, seam lines are well hidden, except for the forearms and parachute pack. Speaking of which, the size of the parachute pack can cause some balance problems when attached. But it does look cool, though.
While I much prefer GM heads than Gundam heads, I think in this case the Gundam head looks better than the new GM Ground type head. But the old HGUC GM head head looks better than both of those.
Overall, this is a solid kit with plenty of extras. It’s a shame it’s Premium Bandai only…

Topp squad Zaku II – Work in progress

April 25, 2020 at 19:47 | Posted in Work In Progress | Leave a comment
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For the remaining two Zakus from Topp’s squad, I decided to merge the work in progress posts since I’m working on both at the same time.
Both are using the Zaku Origin kits as base, so some mods are the same for both kits. The differences between the two Zakus are illustrated below:

The major characteristic of Arth’s Zaku II is the exposed right shoulder, left knee guard, and the armaments: a GM shield and a heat hawk. Dell’s Zaku II is probably the most battle-damaged of Topp’s squad, featuring a shattered left shoulder armor, broken power pipe and the lack of left skirt armor.
For Arth’s Zaku, I’m using the Origin Char’s Zaku II kit as base. For Dell’s Zaku, it’s a kitbash of various Zaku II parts from Yellow Submarine, but it’s mostly parts from the Origin Zaku II C6 type.

Head:
For both kits, I covered up some panel lines on the top of the head using basic putty.

The monoeye was also modified as follows: drill hole -> attach round plate -> attach clear lens

Body:
There’s a seam line running through the middle of the part that holds the shoulder socket. I disguised it using both techniques mentioned here.

On the Char Zaku II backpack, there’s two bulges near the bottom thrusters. I cut them off and covered the holes with MSG parts. The top thrusters were also cut out and replaced with plaplate. For Dell’s Zaku backpack, I simply covered the top thrusters with putty.

For both Zakus, I cut off some piece from the front skirt armor.

On the back skirt armor, I covered some holes with detail parts and added some pla-plate for additional detail.

For Dell’s Zaku, the left power cable is severed. I recreated it by doing some cut and paste job on the original power cable part. In the original art, the cable goes all the way to the knees. But I decided to keep it short. At the end of the severed cable, I inserted a copper rod.

Shoulders:
To recreate the exposed right shoulder on Arth’s Zaku, I used the shoulder joint from the HGUC GM Striker. To it I attached some round plates from a tank model, and a detail part from the HCM-Pro Ez-8. At the bottom, I cut and pasted the peg from the Origin Zaku shoulder.

On the left shoulder, I filled the small holes and panel lines on the spikes using some putty.

The shoulders on Dell’s Zaku are more damaged. On the right arm shield, I carved out some bits of plastic using my Ultrasonic cutter. It melted the plastic a bit, but in this case I think it adds to the damaged effect.

On the left shoulder, I carved out a hole using the Ultrasonic cutter. The melted plastic left smooth edges, so I made it more ‘edgy’ using my hobby blade.

Hands:
I decided to use RG Zaku II hands for both builds. Instead of attaching the RG wrist socket to the HG forearm, I just transplanted HG hand ball joints to the RG hands.

Legs:
On both Zakus, I filled some panel lines on the thighs with basic putty:

On Arth’s Zaku, the left knee is a slightly exposed. I cut off some parts from the left knee:

The left knee armor was cut into shape, and some holes were drilled in, according to reference photo.

The thrusters on the lower legs of both Zakus were filled with putty:

The same with the foot. I also scribed a simple panel line on the sides:

Armaments:
Arth’s Zaku is armed with a heat hawk and a generic GM shield. I’m using the shield from a GM resin kit from C3 hobby. I cut off the Federation star/cross(?) and carved out some holes to recreate bullet damage. The handle at the back is made up of some MSG detail parts and plaplate.

Dell’s Zaku is armed with a Magella cannon from the old HGUC Garma Zabi Zaku II kit. In the anime, the cannon has a magazine on top, but the HGUC version doesn’t. So I cut off the magazine from Char’s Zaku anti-ship rifle and attached it to the Magella cannon.

Here’s Arth’s Zaku after test fitting:

and this is Dell’s Zaku:

It doesn’t look too pretty at the moment, but I’m planning to paint, weather and finish all three Topp Zakus at the same time.

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