HGUC Sinanju

May 13, 2012 at 16:17 | Posted in 1/144 scale, Model kits | 3 Comments
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Introduction

I excitedly bought this kit when volume 2 of Unicorn Gundam OVA aired, and as volume 5 looms, I was finally able to complete it. After watching the Sinanju in action in the OVA, I was very motivated when I started out with this kit. As I started building, I noticed that for a HGUC kit, it sure has a lot of parts. Then I began to ponder about possible color schemes and how to deal with the gold and black parts on the chest, wrist & knees. Before long my motivation started to dwindle. I cut out all the parts from the runners and bundled them somewhere in the corner of my room and has been in that state for months. It was only when I did some spring cleaning recently that I decided to finally complete it.

Materials & methods

As I mentioned previously, there’s a lot of parts in this kit. The parts that need seam line removal are the head, forearms, thighs, rifle and the white boosters at the back. There are some spiky parts on the shoulders and front skirt armor, and I decided to make it even pointy and sharp by adding some epoxy putty extensions. In the end I got lazy and only applied it to the front skirt armor. There’s also the small yellow vents on the shoulder armor that needs to be painted, so I just covered it up with putty to save me the trouble of masking and stuff. I also ‘shaved’ the head antenna to make it thinner. Unfortunately, as I was finishing this kit, i realized some parts were missing; 2 pipe-like things on the forearm. It must have gotten lost or misplaced somewhere and I never did manage to find it.

As for painting, I initially didn’t plan to paint the red parts, but since I used putty I guess I had no choice but to paint it.. I primed the parts using black surfacer and then spayed Mr Color Spray “Red Madder” since I kinda liked the red color. For the chest, knees, neck and wrist collar, I sprayed Tamiya gold evenly and then hand painted the black using Tamiya enamel paint. It works well since the enamel paint seeps between the small crevices and later it was easy to wipe off any smudges.

For the decals, I used the full set of Bandai’s water-slide decals for the HGUC SInanju. The problem was, neither the kit manual nor the decal sheet provided any clues about decal placement. So I searched the web for the manual of the MG version that had such information and used that as a reference. I spent a whole day just for the decals and it was my first time to finish using a complete sheet of water-slide decals.

To finish it off, I applied some paint chipping effects using Tamiya silver (maybe I should make a tutorial for that). And finally I sprayed flat top coat to finish. However, the spraying was uneven since the spray can content was about to finish. Hence some parts received a huge glob of flat top coat while others less so.

Results

Discussion

For a kit in which many things didn’t went exactly a planned, I’m just glad I was able to finish it. Not my best effort by any means but by virtue of it being a Sinanju, it already looks good on my shelf. As with other kits from the Unicorn series, it’s relatively huge. And the design of the head does not resemble anything from the gundam universe, it’s more like something from Guyver. The articulation is rather expected from a HGUC kit, i.e mediocre but the legs do  bend past 90 degrees, which is a plus. The gold & black sleeves look cool, but they limit hand movement when holding the various beam weapons.

Speaking of which, the kit included a variety of melee beam weapons: 2 sabres, 4 axes. Add to that the beam rifle with grenade launcher attachment. It would have been nice if the bazooka which was a separate add-on for the MG version was also made available for the HGUC kit but as far as weapons go, this kit is already fully loaded.

To conclude, it’s neither my best nor enjoyable builds (for a variety of reasons) and in the end, I’m just glad to finish it. Definitely required some work to complete and make it look good. So if you’re looking for a kit that will take up plenty of your time, then this kit is for you.

How to GUNPLA

November 29, 2010 at 17:27 | Posted in How-to | Leave a comment
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After building plenty of model kits down the years, I decided to come up with a basic gunpla-building workflow, summarized in this flowchart:

how-to-gunplaIt’s not necessarily something that you have to follow, it’s just my own Standard Operating Procedure. You can read the TLDR version below:

1. Snapfit your model
Sounds simple enough, just follow the instruction manual. This is where you get acquainted with your model kit. As you build, you should take note of which parts need to have the seam-line fixed, which parts need coloring, masking or modification. Since I usually disassemble the kit again after snap-fitting, its better not to snap-fit the parts too tightly.

2. Disassemble and apply modification/fixes
After snap-fitting and identifying which parts need fixing or modification, I disassemble the kit and sort according to body part (head, torso, arms, legs). Then I do some of the following to the individual parts:

i) Clean up the nip marks
ii) Fix seam lines
iii) Apply structural modifications (battle damage, mobility improvement etc.)
iv) Paint/mask parts that require different color
v) Add detail parts (Wave, M.S.G, etc): *optional*

3. Priming and painting
Priming entails spraying your kit with surfacers or primers, which usually come in neutral colors (white, grey, black). This essentially makes your kit a blank canvas prior to painting. For example: if the original plastic is molded in red, and the intended color is white. It’s better to cover up the red with a layer of primer & then paint it white, rather than painting many layers of white color to cover up the red (in which case it can end up pink).

Other reasons to prime your whole kit are: It makes the paint stick easier to the kit surface & also allows you to identify scratches or imperfections on your kit. I use a spray can (Mr. White Surfacer, Gaianotes Evospray etc.) for priming.

For painting, I used to rely on spray cans (Mr. Color, Tamiya) and hand painting using Tamiya enamels. Now I use an airbrush with lacquer paints (Mr. Color, Gaiainotes). Before spraying, the separate parts are attached to a bamboo stick and then arranged on to a polystyrene block (the white packaging stuff inside boxes) or whatever surface where the sticks can be upright. After painting, I tend to leave it for a few days for the paint to cure.

4. Choose your path
From here on, there’s two options to take, depending on the final look I’m after: clean or weathered. Admittedly, I tend to favor the weathered look; but sometimes just for the sake of doing something different (or when I’m lazy), I go for the clean look.

The clean path

If you’ve chosen the clean look, there’s only two things to do: add panel lines and apply decals. You can add panel lines first and then decals, or vice versa, it doesn’t really matter.

The weathered path

It takes a bit more effort and time to reproduce a weathered and damaged look to your model kit. The first thing to do is apply decals. To enhance the sense of realism, you’d want the decals to also look weathered, especially the huge markings. Imagine a clean, white, numeral marking on top of a dirty, weathered, shoulder part for example. That would look a bit unrealistic, no?

It should be noted that I exclusively use waterslide decals. Stickers are just ダメ。Now would also be a good time to apply some scratch marks on the decals to further add the illusion of battle damage. Just very carefully scratch the decals with a hobby blade.

Next, you’d want to protect those carefully applied decals with a layer of gloss topcoat.

Now it’s time to add weathering effects. I usually apply the wash method using enamel paints. This step also fills the seam lines so it’s like killing two birds with one stone. Other weathering effects you can do include:
i) Dry brushing
ii) Add paint chipping effects
iii) Apply touch up using weathering pastels

5. Final topcoat and assembly
After I’m done with all the previous steps, its time to apply a final layer of topcoat. You can choose gloss, semi-gloss or flat topcoats depending on how you want your kit to look like. For me, 99% of the time I use flat topcoat. I usually apply the topcoat on the assembled arms, legs & torso separately and then make the final assembly. And that’s it for the building part.

6. Photography
What you want to do with your kit after you’re done with it is up to you. But I’m sure after all the effort put into the kit, you’d want other people to appreciate it as well. You can read about how I photograph my kits in this post.

After photography, I keep the ones I like on my shelf. The rest I keep in a box to conserve shelf space. Maybe I should consider selling them. Any takers?

So if you’ve made it all the way here, thank you for reading and I hope this post was useful. If not, let me know your opinions in the comment section.

How to apply decals

August 13, 2008 at 14:35 | Posted in How-to | 57 Comments
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I don’t know why, but applying decals is my favourite part in building gunpla kits. Maybe it has something to do with my habit of slapping stickers everywhere (TV, fridge, furniture, cars etc…) when I was a kid. Anyway, decals are basically stickers you apply to your finished gundam kit. They add some sense of ‘realism’ and makes your kit look unique.

Basically there’s 3 types of decals:

The green one on the top left are just stickers. You peel them and just apply on the surface of your kits, just like you would for any sticker. The white one on the bottom left are dry-transfer decals and the blue one on the right are water-slide decals. I’ll explain how to use them in a bit. In general, all Master Grade kits come with sticker type and dry-transfer decals, while 1/144 HG kits just come with stickers. The water-slide decals are sold separately; the official Bandai ones cost ~400yen while custom decals vary. Personally, I don’t recommend using the sticker types. They stick out too much and look unnatural. I’ll be showing how to apply the dry-transfer and water-slide decals here.

Dry transfer decals

1. Cut out the specific pattern/design you want from the decal sheet using any sharp blade

2. Using a clear cellophane tape, pick up the piece of decal you just cut out

3. Place the decal where you wish. The cellophane tape helps to keep the decal in place

5. Rub on top of the decal using whatever stick-like material you can find e.g. toothpick. I used the bottom end of my paint brush. The decal will stick on you gunpla surface. In case of large decals, make sure you rub the entire surface. You can peel back the tape a bit to check if there are any bits still left on the decal sheet.

6. Peel away the tape. The decal should be on your gunpla and the tape should have an empty decal sheet.

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Water slide decals

1. Again, cut out the design you want from the decal sheet

2. Using a pair of tweezers/forceps, pick up the decal you cut out and dip in water for roughly 8 seconds. I found that Bandai water-slide decals need less time, maybe 4-6 seconds while custom decals might take longer than 8 seconds. The purpose of this step is to detach the decal from the decal sheet.

3. Using a cotton bud dipped in water, gently ‘tease’ the decal away from the decal sheet and onto your gunpla. If the decal won’t budge from the decal sheet, dip in water for a couple more seconds.

4. Once the decal is on your gunla, you can still adjust or reposition the decal. Once you’re satisfied with the position, use the dry end of the cotton bud to gently roll over decal to absorb extra water.

I would also recommend using Mr Mark Setter. The purpose of Mr Mark Setter is to make the decal stick better to your gunpla surface and to give the appearance that the decal was actually ‘painted’ on your gunpla.
This is how you’re supposed to use it:

  • Apply some on the gunpla surface before applying the water-slide decal.
  • After applying the decal, absorb the remaining liquid with a slightly damp cotton bud. Don’t leave Mr. Mark Setter on your decal too long because it will soften the decal and make it wrinkled.

I use Mr Mark Setter mostly to remove decal silvering. This refers to the whitish or silver-ish outline around the decal, caused by air pockets between the decal and gunpla surface. To remove this undesirable effect, this is what I do:

  • Dab a bit of Mr Mark Setter directly on top of the decal
  • With a sharp hobby knife, gently ‘stab’ the decal so that Mr Mark Setter can seep underneath the decal.
  • After the silvering effect is gone, absorb the remaining liquid with a damp cotton bud.

Another item you can use is Mr Mark Softer.
As the name implies, it is used to soften your decal to make it conform to the uneven surfaces and curves on your gunpla. I personally don’t use it because I feel the softening effect of Mr. Mark Setter is enough for my needs.

I hope that by reading this post you’ll find that applying water-slide decals is a relatively painless process. It is definitely a step-up from regular stickers and will make your gunpla look better. Enjoy decalling!

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