Archive for the ‘Models In-Progress’ Category

(A Little) Model Building Progress

February 25th, 2012 No comments

I spent most of December and January working on the house in preparation for a baby we’ve got coming in April. When I could spare a little time I worked on a mega-size Zaku for Roy at Robot4Less. It’s all painted and awaiting clearcoats and decals/weathering but in the last few days my focus is on the Bluefin Unicorn. I’m excited to get it done, the shading came out pretty nice.

As if I needed to divide my attention further, I started another project. A couple weeks ago one of my built models sold at Robot4Less and I had some money burning a hole in my pocket. So, I went on a detail parts shopping spree. I bought photoetch parts for 3 Valkyries, 2 Sherman tanks, a truck, a jeep and a Quad Gun Tractor, as well as gun barrels for the Shermans and a resin cockpit set for my Tamiya F-16.

Then last week I got sick and was home two days from work. I hate painting when I’ve got a cold (because of runny nose and sneezing not working out under a respirator mask, yuck) so I didn’t want to work on the Mega Zaku and I had just got the PE parts for the Quad Gun Tractor so I pulled that kit out and went to work on it. I’m doing a bunch of kitbashing/scratchbuilding on it to turn it into a remote-control command vehicle for my Jin-Roh Patlabor (JRP).

The first thing I did was make room for a rear-facing pilot. I cut a rectangle out of the roof and built a box on top of it to give the pilot some headroom and space for a TV monitor so he can see where the JRP is going. Next I built a little TV screen that will have a camera-eye-view decal on it.

I had to swap parts for the pilot, using the arms and legs of the Canadian driver figure that comes with the kit with a Nazi torso and head so he looks right. I’ll have to use some sanding and putty to turn his shorts-and-scrunch-socks-wearing legs into pants-and-jackboots-wearing legs.

I installed some rails across the two center rear seat bases to provide a seat mount for the pilot since he’s backwards and off center. Next I went to town with another new tool, my punch and die set. It makes hole, discs, and if you line them up right, rings from holes in discs.

I used these to make some low-tech-looking electronics for the cockpit. I also installed a base and a mount for a large antenna mast (think news van).

Next I built a little control column using plastic bits, more punched discs and the handles from a 1/35 scale .50 caliber machine gun.

Here’s how the cockpit looks put together:

In this last picture I moved the box on the left that sat on the wheel well to the floor because it got lost behind the antenna mast.

I’ll still add some wiring and maybe a few more bits. It occurred to me that the real Gun tractor has a bunch of hatches/tool boxes that open into the rear and I’ve just made disappear. I’ll probably build something to represent that some of them are still there and maybe make the others look welded shut.

On the outside of the Gun Tractor I sealed off the normally tarp-covered “sunroof” and I’m planning to “up armor” the Gun Tractor in the way that modern Humvees serving in Iraq/Afghanistan are with some plastic plate. I’m also thinking of putting in the windows backwards and framing them to look like thick ballistic glass.

September (and August) Update

September 27th, 2011 No comments

I haven’t put up a post in a really long time but there hasn’t been one big thing to post about, just little things and some slow progress on my kits.

In late July I took a road trip with several of Those Gundam Guys to ComicCon. I had never been before so it was a novelty but I didn’t really care for it. There was a good panel on resin casting but aside from that the most interesting thing that happened was that I went to go geek out on Scott Hards at the HLJ booth but when he saw the vendor pass I had from Bluefin and went totally cold on me. That was awkward. I didn’t try to explain anything because I wasn’t going to throw Bluefin under the bus, but I like HLJ, too. It made me reflect on the state of the hobby. At least here in Southern California we have this great Gunpla store (Robot4Less, no I don’t work for them… but they are kind of my buddies since I’m there a few times a month) and we want to support it, and Bandai is really pushing to get Gunpla into America via American-based sellers so that’s great. Anime and Gunpla seem to be solidy on the rise here in America. But as much as things have progressed, we still don’t have everything. While Scott Hards was giving me the cold shoulder at ComicCon I had a couple kits on the way from HLJ. Earlier in the year I had ordered some Macross items from them because nobody “legit” in the US carries it because of the whole Harmony Gold Robotech/Macross licensing debacle. I wonder in time if gunpla will become so mainstream in the US that regularly checking out the Japanese vendor sites will become a thing of the past?

Anyway, here’s Gamerabaenre’s account of the day:
Comic Con 2011

August included a family camping trip and a build gathering at my house.

It was pretty uneventful except for the part where Clem hit one of the neighborhood kids with his car. Actually, it was more like one of the neighborhood kids hit his car. I was at Robot4Less with a group of people when it happened but when Terry called me and said the street was swarming with cops, firemen and ambulances, I was pretty sure I knew which group of kids the “victim” came from. They’re about 7-11 years old and play back and forth across the street with no parental supervision. It was a matter of time… And what have the parents done since then to deal with the issue? They got some cones to put up in the street when the kids are playing. Still no adult supervision. Nice.

I’ve been working on the GM Team diorama group build thing with Those Gundam Guys. I’ve spent plenty of money locally on that project (I bought 4 of the 6 kits I’m using in it from Robot4Less). We’ve got a pretty good start on the group base and I’ve worked out how it’s all going to look. We got together a couple weekends ago and worked on the base in a coordinated effort to get it… closer to done.

Pinned GMs

Pinned GMs

John Woo GM

John Woo GM

Brandon the Bearded One aplpies plaster paper.

Brandon the Bearded One aplpies plaster paper.

At the last official build gathering a group went to R4L and I worked out a deal with Jeff and we split a pair of the HGUC/UC Hardgraph Ground War sets so that we could each get one MS and one each of the tank, hovertruck, Wappa and troops/accessories. I later sold of my MS kit to another member, so I managed to just get the vehicles for about $13.



I put these little kits together at the build gathering. They’re pretty impressive. The tank and hover truck are each about 20 pieces and despite being only 2 inches long have some really great detail. The Wappa isn’t quite as good but to be fair it’s probably not even an inch long. I’m putting some work into replacing some of the stowage rails on the back of the tank with actual metal wire. On the kit it’s just solid plastic slabs and it’s the only bad part of the kit. The bottom of the railing is mesh on the “real” thing and at that scale I’ll accept solid plastic, but the top is open railing and really has to be replaced (at least according to my AMS). The Wappa has similar issues where solid slabs of plastic are supposed to represent railing. I may fix it or I may just leave it out. The cost-to-benefit ratio is not that great for the Wappa.

The rest of the project is primered plastic. Between these GMs, the not-Rick Dom II and my Super Valkyrie (officially shelved until the group build is done) there is a LOT of primered plastic around my workbench…
Surface prep on the GMs is almost done and after that I’m looking forward to really finishing this build quickly and maybe getting the Valk done by the SCGMC.

The other news is that I’ve given into Roy’s requests and prodding and put some of my kits up for sale at Robot4Less. I have mixed feelings about selling my stuff. On the one hand after going to all the contests and then sitting on my shelves for a couple years, what am I getting out of them? On the other hand, I spent months on these projects and the 6 or 7 models I’m selling represent about 2 years of work and half of my total collection. I’m hoping to make enough from them to buy a DSLR camera but who knows…

ANA Gundam Complete!

June 30th, 2011 No comments

Woo! Just finished in time for AX! I’ll post full higher-quality pics after Anime Expo, but here’s the sneak preview:

Even with ANA’s Japanese-Address-Only rules; I still made my ANA Gundam!

The June Report – Preparing for Anime Expo

June 27th, 2011 No comments

It’s not intentional, but I seem to be posting once a month this year. Usually that’s because it takes a month to make any noteworthy progress, but this month it’s the opposite. I haven’t posted because I’ve spent all my hobby time building like crazy. No time to blog! So I took a little time (mostly at lunch break at work) to summarize what I’ve been up to…

I’ve had some schizophrenia on my model-building lately. I’ve been at work on 4 different projects in the last month.

I’ve put down the GM/Rick Dom project for now since we’re aiming to finish the project for the SCGMC. The last thing I did was to come up with a much better weapon for the DOM:

I then took it apart and glued what could/needed to be glued. All 4 of the kits are now ready for seam work. I’m just waiting for a Powered GM kit to show up somewhere…

About the same time I did that, we had the May BG at my house and late at night, like 1 in the morning I was sitting talking to Tony, Crystal and Jeff and just grabbed my Valkyrie and started sanding it and over the next hour surprised the heck out of myself by sanding almost all of the pieces with light-curing putty on their seams.

So I got back on that project. I masked and attached the canopy and re-primed everything. I then did a round of Mr. Surfacer 500, sanded and reprimed those parts. There are just about ten parts that need some more putty work and panel line re-scribing, and then I can paint.

While working on those and waiting for the GM kit I felt the urge to snap something. So I opened up my Wave 1/72 Tomahawk and got the legs built. They’re in the background in the picture below. The Tomahawk is a real different kind of kit. It’s not Bandai in that the plastic is a lot softer, there are some minor fit issues and there are going to be more seam lines than you’d get with a MG kit of this size/price from Bandai. That said, the engineering is pretty good. Lots of seam lines are hidden by an interesting construction process where the two main halves of a part go together and then a third or fourth piece is a plate that covers the seam. It’s just the way the plate sits in place, it’s not the greatest fit and you end up with an intentional, although sometimes kind of inconsistent gap. The other feature is the mold gates on the back of the parts. It’s generally a good thing, but many of them appear right next to a tab or on the edge of a recessed lip and they’re actually a lot more work to carefully file away than if the nub had just been on the side of the piece.

In the above picture are the Valkyrie pieces that still need work (left side) and the Tomahawk legs (right side) and in teh middle is yet ANOTHER project.

Around the beginning of June I started thinking how Anime Expo was coming up and I wanted to bring something “Gundam” that commemorated my trip to Hong Kong and Japan and the whole Gundam 30th thing for the Bluefin Booth and the Bandai people that were going to come. So I started in on my HG G30th Gundam. I’m giving it the hands and weapons from the RG and I’m going to paint it up in the ANA Gundam colors of the kit I was unable to get on my trip. I got the surface prep done on Friday night (6/24). It took quite a while since the final sinish will be glossy and I have tom make sure I get rid of any surface imperfections. It was extra hard on the seam lines on the legs as they pass through a complex (and very small) topography of raised and recessed detail.

Saturday afternoon I started painting, and miracle of miracles I got the entire paint job done over the weekend. I used Mr. Crytsal Color pearl coats (Sapphire Blue and Diamond Silver) over the blue and white paint to recreate the special finish on the ANA Gundam and I’m very happy with the result. Tonight I’ll put a gloss lacquer clearcoat over the dark blue (it was a flat color to begin with, and ended up just semi-glossy after the pearl coat) and start on the decals. I think I’m going to finish it!

Oh, and there’s one more thing. As usual, Clem and Those Gundam Guys have volunteered ourselves to “Decorate” the Bluefin booth so we’re working on a 7-foot tall Unicorn Gundam that Bandai had built and paid $6000 to ship to the US. We went over the weekend and began the process of putting down a glosscoat so we can put on the decals I’m rendering for it. Clem’s got a stack of do-it-yourself decal sheets, which is good because it needed a lot of little red warning logos.

We had a bit of a mix-up with the decal paper (we thought we had clear but it was white, so we had to rush-order some clear sheets), and rendering the warning decals took a LOT longer than I had planned because the warning logos on the Unicorn are TEXTY as hell and usually run 3-4 long lines of text so all my existing simple warning logos weren’t going to cut it.

After some stressful trial and error with clearcoating the inkjet-printed decals (I’ve never done this before, Samuel Decal always prints my stuff) I finally settled on using Testor’s Decal Bonder. When in doubt (which I definitely was) go with the stuff that’s made for what you are doing.

I printed at least 100 decals for this thing on four and a half 8.5” x 11” decal sheets. I even used the white decal sheets to print “white” decals in negative over a gray and blue background so we could have decals for the gun, feet and backpack. Last Wednesday Clem (Gamerabaenre), Angel and I spent about five hours furiously decaling the Unicorn. It was awesome!

Clem and Angel went back that Friday and did the panel lines and sprayed some pearl in the red psycho frame parts to make them more interesting. I was doing my fatherly duties that night while my wife went out, so I haven’t seen the finished product, but it will be at Anime Expo this weekend, so come check it out!

Oh yeah, it should also travel along with Bluefin to their booths at ComicCon, Otakon and the New York Anime Festival/ComicCon so you can see it there, too.

4 GM (and a Rick Dom) Month

May 20th, 2011 No comments

So with the GMs, here’s what I did. The Quel is basically stock, but I’m arming him with 2 machine guns for dual-wielding and put a polycap in the backpack so that I could mount a shield on the back Gundam-style.

I made a second set of the bulkier GM shoulders and for now they’re on the Wagtail. I may end up putting them on the powered GM. I can’t decide. I like the GM Ka shoulders, but the PGM just needs some more bulk in the arms to match the hugeness of the body with that extra gear. I currently have the wagtail shoulders on it, but I think I’m leaning away from that.

I also did a mod to make the arms easier to take apart and paint. I wish I had come up with this when I built the Hazels, because this mod was much easier to do. It involves sawing the upper arm and inserting some plastic strips into the hollows there so that the lower arms will plug into the uooer arms (with glue, of course).

The one thing I am putting on the PGM is the calf thrusters from the wagtail. The PGM seems under-thrustered to me. If you look at all the bulk it has, it doesn’t really have any more thrusters than the standard Ka.

Then, this project has expanded somewhat. I’ve added a fourth GM, my Cold Districts type. It doesn’t necessarily fit because it’s a cold-type, but whether I include it in the final dio or not, I can build it with the rest at a volume discount! And I’m adding the castoff Rick Dom II in my collection as well.

Also, I took some time and made some decals for the build. Mostly they’re just rehashed of other decals I had made, especially for my Ruby Guard GM.

I needed a Zeon unit. It’s funny because I settled on a Rick Dom II. I guess the Rick Dom II doesn’t fit the storyline either. Why is a Rick Dom II in a Zeon remnant base on Earth? I don’t know, maybe the Axis fleet made an attempt to resupply the earthbound Zeon… What really matters is I’ve bought enough kits for this project, I should use one I already have.

I talked with Gamerabaenre about using the RDII and he suggested I just have fun with making it a land-type conversion by stripping it of space gear and adding what would look like field-modded ground-pounding gear.

I started working on it over the next week and really got into it during the May build gathering at my house (forgot to take any pics but it was a good gathering with LOTS of people). We had a little debate about whether the original Dom legs had fan-based hovercraft propulsion or verniers. My assumption (that I think was right) was that they were fans. The Rick Dom had verniers for space.

The point of the debate was that the Rick Dom II would lose its speed on Earth. It could jump with the thrusters but not glide like the original Dom. Why am I worried about this? Well, to make the RDII look ground-modified I wanted to strip it of thrusters since in my mind the RDII would now be stuck walking. Of course since the thrusters are all hidden, I cut down the back of the legs to signify the weight saving.

Without the mobility, I figure the RDII is now a large, high generator-output, heavily-armed but slow MS, so I went in the direction of artillery/long range support. So, I equipped it with the Zaku I sniper gear I wasn’t going to use. That huge backpack looked just right on the RDII and you gotta figure that rifle’s gonna kick ass with the RDII’s generator output.

To the top of the backpack I added what is supposed to look like a field-improvised mounting system. It can either hold 2 leg missile launchers (I used 1/100 scale for extra bigness) or one missile launcher and an “RPG” which is just a Zaku I bazooka mated with a Sturmfaust warhead. Still deciding on final layout. That RPG looks like it sits too high, plus it looks a little cheesy…

Speaking of layout, the six of us in the build got together at the BG and figured out the dio layout using the HUGE board that Angel brought. We’re gonna jigsaw it so that we each get a roughly rectangular-shaped piece.

Three GM Weekend

April 19th, 2011 No comments

This last weekend was the April “Those Gundam Guys” Build Gathering (yes, we have a name now). Earlier in the month Gamerabaenre and Angel went and got the Dengeki Hobby issue with the GM Wagtail conversion kit in it. They were nice enough to pick me up a copy. Last week I visited the Robot4Less store for the first time and picked up the HGUC RGM-79C GM Ka kit that goes with it.

Believe it or not I didn’t take this kit to the build gathering, even though the guys were planning a 0083-era GM group build of sorts that would culminate in a large diorama of a Zeon remnant base about to be swarmed by a herd of assorted GMs. But I was going to stick to my plans and work on sanding seams on my Valkyrie and maybe start up the little Tamiya 1/48 Sherman tank I wanted to build as an exercise in weathering.

Meanwhile everybody at my table at the build gathering was excited about their Wagtails and GMs and I thought about it. I had the Wagtail and I had a snapped powered GM I had picked up at the great Gunpla giveaway a year or so ago at Gam’s house. But my third GM kit was a cold-districts type and just didn’t fit.

Well, after having a beer at the gathering and wasting some time dodging Grover (I don’t know if I was extra stressed out or Grover was extra hyper or both but AAAHHHHH!!! I had to get up and move around) I polled the group and eight of us went to Robot4Less. While I was there I figured I was just around the corner from my house where I could pick up my Wagtail and there I was in a Gunpla store with an especially good selection of HGUC kits, a need for a GM and a 21% discount. Now I ask you, what would any sane man do at a time like that???

We all decided we’d have a cheap dinner and spend our money on Gunpla! I narrowed my choices down to a Blue Destiny Unit 1, a GM Quel and a Zaku F2. I ruled out the Blue Destiny pretty quickly just because it was a one-off unit. I debated the F2. It would be kind of cool to have a mixed group and the EFSF was operating Zakus at the time but I went with the Quel. I had seen one painted in regular EFSF colors in one of the earlier AOZ issues and it looked good.

We got back to the build gathering after dropping by my house for the Wagtail. I settled in and joined the GM snap-off. I built my entire wagtail. With the Wagtail I’m going for an in-between Wagtail, I’m not using all of the parts, namely the shoulders and lower legs. I’m going for a look similar to the specially designed GM Ka in Dengeki, but I’m not going to kill myself scratch building every detail, I just want the feel of it.

I worked until dinner on it and then came back and worked some more. Once I finished it, I kind of looked around for a bit. I had brought my blu ray of Evangelion 2.22 to watch and by this time of night usually we’re drinking and playing Rock Band, but several of us were on a mission to make this GM build happen so I opened up the Quel and got the legs and torso done by the time I packed it up around 2 a.m. This was definitely the most Gunpla I had snapped in one day and it was a really nice break from all the detailing and decal rendering I had been doing for the last couple months with my Valkyrie.

Sunday I finished snapping the Quel. We’ll see if I get back to the Valk or just tear through these GMs for stress relief.

Super VF-1D Gets Paint (and More Decals)

March 31st, 2011 No comments

I haven’t been posting much because I’ve spent what time I can on my hobby with hands-on-plastic, and the time I’ve spent on the computer lately has been rendering a few extra decals to supplement the Hasegawa Minmei Guard decals.

See the completed cockpit at the bottom of the WIP.

More Super VF-1D Progress (Finally)

March 12th, 2011 No comments

I finally had time to post up some of the progress I’ve made in the last month or so. You can check it out on the VF-1D WIP page.

More Progress on the Super VF-1D

January 29th, 2011 No comments

Just posted some more progress on the Super VF-1D WIP page. The highlight of which is the color scheme I’ve worked out.

Check out the WIP page and scroll down to the latest info…

Upgrading the GP01 Hangar

December 14th, 2010 No comments

Since I won the US leg of the Bandai Gunpla World Cup I’ve realized two things about my GP01 Hangar. First, I’d have to make it so you could break it down int components that I could fit into a box and take as an airline carry-on . Second, I’d have to fix some things and improve others so as not to be embarrassed at the World Cup since most other models there will be much better than mine.

So, even though I had just started on my Super VF-1D, I shelved it and got to work on the hangar. The first thing I had to do was an inventory as several of the little 1/100 crew members had come off the dio and one was missing, although I found him on the third attempt.

Once it was all found, here’s what I had:

The first thing I tackled was the cherry picker crane thing. It’s composed of a rod that pivots on a rectangular beam. But, the rod was too thick for the original beam and when I first built the dio I cheated my way around this my shaving down the sides of the rod to fit… definitely cheesy:

So, I replaced the rod and then built out the beam so that it would be able to fit the rod without cheating:

Next I took a look at the inside of the bottom of the torso where the core block mounts. There isn’t much detail there, so as a start I added some Kotobukiya bits (I also added some to the tops of the hip armor and knees) and then painted the entire inside the dark gray internal color. If I have time I’ll do more later.

Next I made the gun and shield mounts removable using evergreen telescopic tubing. I mounted the larger tubes in the framework of the gun/shield mounts and drilled holes in the base for the smaller diameter tubes that fit snugly inside. Friction holds the frames in place, but I also built some side braces from sheet styrene both for detail and to keep the frames perpendicular to the base:

I also picked up this 1/100 scale Vaught A-7 Corsair II kit from Tamiya. 1/100 scale airplane kits are pretty rare. Tamiya first made these kits in the 70’s but the scale didn’t take hold. Fortunately they were re-released in the last few years. The A-7 and F-104 kits have sidewinder missiles, and now my core fighter will have sidewinders as well. IIRC The PG GP01 comes with missiles, but the MG does not.

Next was the core block mount. Since the mount is just a kitbashed GP01 ankle, it has a socket polycap inside it already. So I dug the unused GP01 leg I had out of the spares box and cut off the ankle ball. It fit perfect into some plastic tube I had so I drilled a hole and mounted the tube into the base and then glued in the ball. Voila, ball-and-socket removable core block:

The last thing I’ve done so far is to make the main frame for the GP01 torso to sit on removable. I did the front end like I did the smaller frames, with two layers of tubing. But the rear had to be held in place to keep the whole stand from tipping forwards. So, I swung by Clem’s and “borrowed” a couple of 1/8″ rare-earth magnets. I matched these with some 1/4″ ones I had. I put the 1/4″ ones in the base and put the 1/8″ ones inside some tubing (so it wouldn’t pop out, I couldn’t glue them really well) and glued the tubing into the framework. I tested it by placing the GP01 torso on top of my metal miter box and it held.

Now that the basic structural fixes are in place, I have to do some touch-up painting. What I really want to do is to now add as many small details as I can to make the diorama more competitive. But I’ve only got a week and a half to go, and because I’m dealing with a built model that I can’t (CAN’T!!!) mess up I’ll be somewhat limited.

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