Astray WIP

1/144 Scale High Grade Astray Purple Frame

In Progress Page

The Kits

I decided to work on this kit while waiting for parts from Mechaskunk to arrive for my Jin-Roh Patlabor. I started simply by cutting out all of the pieces from the kit, sanding off the sprue nubs and snapping it together.

Next I spent quite a bit of time cleaning up the flash and “sprues” from the resin option parts.

I got on MS Paint and drew a set of wings that I had imagined. I changed the shape of the wingtips so that the outline of the wings would roughly match the shape of the Astray’s shoulders, and give the design unity. I used MS Publisher to create different-sized sets of wings and printed them out.

Once happy with a particular size, I taped them down to .040-inch-thick plaplate and cut them out. I sanded the edges to round them, then used the front and back of my X-Acto knife blade to add panel lines.

I wanted to mount the multi-missile launcher and bazooka down the center of the backpack, with the bazooka hanging back at an angle like on the Hi-Nu Gundam. However, a test-fit revealed that the Astray’s bazooka is HUGE in relation to the Astray. Unfortunately, I decided to leave off the missile launcher. It would have to sit way over the Astray’s head to fit and it’s just too big to look good up there.

Once I had the spacing worked out, I drilled out holes and installed rare-earth magnets to hold the bazooka in its rack. I also used magnets to stick the beam rifle to the Astray’s right hip, since it wouldn’t fit on the backpack with the mods I had in mind.

Mounting the wings came next. I carefully drilled out the backpack to hold a brass tube so that I could put arms on it to hold the wings. Then I spent a lot of time building boxes to put on the bottom of each wing. They will hold the ball joints that connect the wings to the backpack arms as well as look like rocket booster units.

This was the most worrisome part of the build, the wing mount:

The brass rod fits through a hole drilled in the B-Club backpack. The ball was epoxied into the plastic arm after the rod part of the ball was squeezed in a pair of needle-nose pliers to give it texture for the epoxy to grab onto.

The wings are designed to sit high and to the back so that they won’t get in the way of the the Astray swinging the sword and shield.

Here’s the test-fit:

I decided the wings need fins on top. I’ve taken the resin 8-missile launcher and sawed it in half to make two 4-missile launchers. I’ll mount one of these on each wing above the engines, and then put a smallish rudder on top of each. I don’t want anything big or that hangs outward too much, because I am worried about putting too much stress on those ball joints.

Here are the wings with the missile pods and fins:

In the last couple of weeks I’ve been fixing a lot of little things on this model to get it ready for assembly and painting.

I filled seams on my homemade wings. I added various Kotobukiya detail parts to my wings and also added a vent to the bottom of the backpack to hide a recess that was meant to hold a gun-mounting tab.

Speaking of the rifle, I refined my rifle mount by cleaning up the rifle, sanding a little bit of a flat spot on the hip and adding a small tab that goes through the trigger hole to help the rifle sit in place more securely.

I put together the resin parts that I could, such as the different pieces of the bazooka.

I soaked the sword in 409 to try to remove the silver paint from it. Oddly, the paint came off one side of the sword, but not the other. I also sanded the edges of the sword to make it look sharper.

I also sharpened the V-fin on the head and trimmed off the mounting tab so I can glue it directly to the resin sensor head. (It’s stuck on now with sticky-tack). The V-fin covers up the sensors in the sensor head a little, but I just can’t make a finless Astray.

Finally, I “hid” a polycap under the rear skirt to attach to a clear plastic rod and made a stand so that I can display the Astray in flight. The polycap isn’t really hidden, since the rear skirt is just kind of an appendage… 😕 Still, it’s pretty unobtrusive when the model is on its stick.

This pic shows the stand and you might spot some of the things I mentioned above. No wings in the pic, it’s too hard to sticky-tack them on, so no more wings until they’re glued on in the end…

I’ve become addicted to decal designing. I’ve always wanted to try it and when I found this website that specifically covered how to do things with CorelDraw, I started experimenting and ended up spending 6 weeks creating a 8 1/2 by 11 inch sheet jam-packed with over 350 decals for 18 models!!!

Here’s the site:

Here’s a sample of what I created:

In the image you can see the “Kerberos” logo I rendered for the JRP, as well as “Junk Guild” and “Astray” logos for the Astray. What you see on the screen is a JPEG conversion. The real decals are all vector-drawn with no jaggies.

Another month has gone by, but I’ve really made progress on the Astray.

All filling, sanding, priming, re-filling, re-sanding and re-priming is done.

I started the paint with dark aluminum Alclad on all the exhausts and inlets. Then I masked that off and painted the white. Unfortunately during masking I noticed some of the paint had scratched off one of the leg missile launchers. When I put some sticky tack on it to test it, the primer and paint pulled right off!

I then remembered that while I was washing the parts for this kit, this piece was sitting on my desk because I had been measuring it for decals. I’ve now learned that the mold release agent B-Club uses is really slippery! After taking almost all of the paint off with sticky tack and lightly sanding off the rest, I gave the part a good toothbrush scrubbing and re-primered it.

After painting the white came LOTS of masking. Despite the pretty good parts breakdown for such a small kit, a good amount of masking is required. Also, all the resin pieces and my scratchbuilt pieces had zero parts breakdown… Masking this model has been just as hard as masking my GP01!

I’ve just finished painting the Purple. The “Lowe” decals I have and the red polycaps had just about made me want to stick with the original red colors. However, the white came off looking a little off-white in the direction of a cooler-toned gray. This put me back to thinking that purple would look better. A quick dig through my spare parts box found me a couple of gray polycaps to replace the red ones in a few very open places. For the rest, I’ll have to hope they are covered up and/or the paint doesn’t flake off…

Here’s a quick test fit of two pieces:

Tomorrow I can unmask the pieces that are done, do a quick bit of masking on the rest and start painting the last colors: gray, black and Alclad Steel (gun, bazooka, backpack and missile launchers). Today, as with all the “waiting for paint to cure” days, I’ll be prepping my MG Freedom Gundam. It’s moved to the top of my next build list because it’ll show off some of the decals I just got (my first-ever custom-designed decals) from Samuel Decal!

Work continues into May… All the painting is done. A significant amount of touch-up paint was required to fix little bits of overspray. The Steel Alclad went on beautifully and I’m sold on it. The only drawback is that this picture of Fichtenfoo’s Strike Torso had me convinced it was darker. I think in the future I’ll use their Burnt Metal for mechanical details.

The model was Futured and decals were applied. This model has a mixture of decals on it. There are some Astray and Junk Guild logos I designed myself, “Lowe” decals from Samuel Decal, and the warning decals are a mixture of the Fichtenfoo-designed decals from MechaSkunk and my own designs from Samuel Decal.

I attempted an oil paint wash on the panel lines but I gave up after a few pieces. It looked terrible. In some recesses, the paint leaked away, leaving no pigment, and in others it left cloudy and even chalky puddles of pigment. Fortunately since it was oil I was able to carefully clean almost all of it off. In the process I did ruin a decal, but it was only a warning decal and I have a replacement to put over it.

I really like using oil washes on the internals of my airplanes, but I think I’ll abandon trying to use it on panel lines (I tried it on the outside of a plane and had poor luck there as well). The one place it looked good on the Astray was on the purple frame of the thighs.

At this point I’m in the middle of doing panel lines with my trusty technical ink pen. The down side is that it will look really clean and sterile. I want to give this model a bit of weathering, but I’m not sure which effect to use. Perhaps a filter and then a few drybrushed stains…

In the end I used oil paint to weather the model by mixing black, white and burnt umber with odorless thinner to create a streaky dirty-looking layer which I applied from top to bottom on vertical surfaces and front to back on horizontal surfaces to simulate dirt streaking from moisture. The streaks are very subtle, especially after the final flat clear coat, but I like the overall unifying effect on the model.

That’s it! I put the model together as the OOB kit first, snapped some photos and then added what I’ve started to think of as the “Super Astray” weapons and wings.

Click the picture link below to see the completed model.

Completed Model

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