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.

HG Astray Blue Frame

August 6, 2019 at 23:35 | Posted in 1/144 scale | Leave a comment
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Introduction:
The first HG 1/144 kit I bought was the Astray Red Frame. That was a long time ago, and now there’s many more variations of the Astray, including new versions of the HG 1/144 kit.
I wanted to build the Astray Blue Frame, but I’m not too keen on the Second L version. So I decided to build the vanilla Astray Blue Frame using parts from the latest Astray kits.

Materials & methods:
This is another build which doesn’t have a box. I procured all parts separately from Hobby Base in Akihabara. The list is as follows:

The result is a mix of red and blue plastic parts, so priming was definitely necessary. The colors were pretty straight forward:

  • Blue: Cobalt blue + intermediate blue + white
  • White: Off white
  • Torso: Neutral gray
  • Weapons: German gray / Gray FS36118 / gunmetal

The tedious part is the masking. To be color-accurate, plenty of parts needed masking. And some parts like the biceps and calves have complex shapes, requiring all my patience and concentration to apply the masking tape properly.
The white parts on the fingers were paint brushed using white enamel paint. After that comes panel lining, decals, and flat topcoat.

Results:

Weapons and poses:

Discussion:
There have been some improvements in the 1/144 Astray kits since their first iterations. Part separation has improved quite a bit, and the only obvious seam lines were at the biceps. Proportions have changed too, and the range of movement is impressive.
I think the only downside is that some parts are still not color-accurate. Frankly, the masking step was a pain in the ass but it felt so good when I finally got to peel off the masking tape at the end.
Overall, these new HG Astray kits are an upgrade over the earlier versions. But if you want to avoid the hassle of masking and painting to make it 100% color-accurate, go for the RG, MG, or PG versions instead.

HGAC Leo – Work in progress

June 10, 2019 at 23:32 | Posted in Work In Progress | Leave a comment
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When the HGAC Leo kit first came out, I bought it almost immediately, snap fitted it, and tucked it somewhere under my bed as I worked on other projects. Now that I’m more or less done with the Year of the GM project, I can focus on the Leo. Out of box, the Leo looks a bit plain. So the plan was to add a backpack and some additional weapons.

Body:
I simply attached some extra detail parts from Wave on the chest.

I elongated the midriff by using 1.2mm plaplate. First I cut off the peg, attached the plaplate, and re-attached the peg on top of the plaplate.

The waist was also extended by 1.2mm, but the plaplate was attached on the bottom.

Hands:
The Leo comes with only a pair of hands for holding the weapons. So I added a couple of hands from MS Hands (small). I did the same modifications for the fists like the GM Cannon build.

Backpack:
For the backpack , I went for the HGBC Tilt Rotor Pack. It is possible to simply attach it to the Leo using the built-in peg. But then, the wings would be facing upwards instead of being parallel to the ground.
So my solution was to attach the Tilt Rotor to the HGUC Loto backpack. I had to cut off the head(?) of the Tilt Rotor so that it’s closer to the Leo’s body. To connect it to the Leo, I simply used a spare runner, shown by the red arrow below:

On the top part of the Tilt Rotor, I attached some detail parts:

And on the back, I decided to add the gatling gun from the MSG Sentry Gun kit. I used some joints (also from MSG) to connect it to the Tilt Rotor.

Weapons:
I modified the Leo machine gun a bit by drilling holes in the barrel, and replacing the muzzle with some MSG parts. I also replaced the canister magazine with a standard curved magazine from another weapon.

For extra firepower, I added the twin gatling from the old HG Serpent Custom kit.

To go with the Tilt Rotor theme, I decided to paint it in some contemporary military color scheme.

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