GM Custom

1/100 Scale Master Grade GM Custom – Ruby Guard

In Progress Page

I’m still spending a lot of time working on the house, but I actually found some time to work on this project I’ve been tinkering with as a side project for over a year. It’s now getting my main focus. I’m going for a light to medium amount of mods to try to modernize the kit, but not change its overall appearance.

Here’s the concept art with the decals I’ve designed:

Progress started with covering up the awful exposed polycap in the knee:

Then I went to work cutting off the ugly non-functional dummy pistons from the front ankle (paste the link to see it on Dalong: http://dalong.net/review/mg/m24/p/m24_n09.jpg) and hollowing out the lower legs to fit a poycap:

Then I will use the pistons from my old MG Mk. II ver. 1.0:

You can also see where I’m going with ver. Ka style feet. There’s a lot of clean-up to do, but the hard work is done. I’m also lengthening the thighs to make the legs a bit longer. The thighs are ridiculously short on this kit.

The other things I plan to do are change the elbow joints and probably add some torso mobility mods. After that I’ll put it together and look at doing some aesthetic mods and detailing.

Alright, a bit more progress on the legs. I think I’m done with them, at least in this first round of structural mods. Once the structural mods are cleaned up, I’ll look into more little cosmetic fixes all around.

Anyway, here’s what I did to the thighs in order to make the legs longer. Stock, this kit has long shins and very short thighs, so I put 3 .020 plastic sheets in. I did them piece by piece (front armor, rear armor, internals) so I could still take all the pieces apart for painting.

So here is the overall leg:

You can see (from bottom to top)

  • Ka-style feet (now fully puttied)
  • Pistons connecting the feet to the ankles
  • Plastic over the exposed polycap inside the knee
  • Lengthened thigh

Here’s the GM with its new legs:

I want to put another ball joint in the torso, fix the head a bit (it sits low and is too wide and flat on the bottom, I’m still putting my finger on it, but see this pic: [url]http://dalong.net/review/mg/m24/p/m24_n26.jpg[/url]), and do something with the arms. The arms are just made of too many pieces, which makes them look stubby, like the GM’s thighs did ( [url]http://dalong.net/review/mg/m24/p/m24_m0016.jpg[/url]).

Last week I went to work on the torso. First, I sawed apart the internals:

Then I cut the bottom of the armor of the chest to allow some room to move (in this pic it’s half way done so you can compare how much I cut out):

Then I installed a ball and socket joint:

It doesn’t give me a huge range of motion, but this is my first time doing this and I’m being a little conservative. Plus, the cockpit hatch rubs on the chest armor between the vents and reduces the mobility.

Here’s this week’s work. I noticed in some of the pictures above that the head looked a lot better and I realized that it was because the collar was removed and it made the neck look longer. Since I also wanted the neck to be more flexible, I decided to go to work on the neck.

I cut the ball joint off the neck and put a Koto hinge joint below it. Test fitting showed that that made the neck way too long, so I had to cut out the top of the neck and lower it to make a recessed platform for the hinge to sit on:

This allows the ball joint to pivot forward and back:

Which lets the head look down:

And up. I really wanted it to be able to do this for the flying pose:

The next thing I wasn’t happy with was the ankle mobility. This is the “before” picture and this was the best leg spread I could get before the work I did on the ankles:

I thought of making the ankle longer, so the foot wouldn’t rub on the leg and restrict its mobility, but I didn’t want to make the legs any longer. So, I shaved down the parts that were rubbing instead.

A – I cut the semi-curcular recess in the leg larger and sanded it with some sandpaper wrapped around a plastic tube so that it wouldn’t rub the gray minus mold that holds the ankle armor.

B – I filed an angle on the ring that goes around the ankle ball joint. I had already filed the back, but I also filed the inside to give it mobility in that direction as well.

C – I filed some off the top of the added-on piston-holder I had added to the front of the ankle.

Now the GM can make this pose and be flat-footed:

That’s pretty much the limit, but for such an old kit I’m happy with it. Any more mobility would risk making the ankle look funny and also require modding the hips as well.

I looked on Dalong to see how old this kit is. It came out in 1999, more than 10 years ago, and if you don’t count all the recolors and variants it was only the ninth design to go MG. If you lump the kits by family, like the RX-78-2, -3 and original GM as one design, and all of the Zakus as one deisgn, etc… then you have 1. Gundam 2. Zaku 3. Zeta 4. Gelgoog 5. GP01 6. GP02 7. Mk II 8. Dom 9. NT-1 I’m counting the GM Custom as part of the Gundam NT-1 family of kits, since so much of it is similar. Dang, this kit is primitive!

I’ve been working away on the GM Custom (and my lawn…), but I just haven’t made time to post about it. The last real challenge is the arms. There were two things I didn’t like about the arms. They seemed a little short, and the elbow joints were a poor design.

Fichtenfoo suggested putting the NT-1 arms on this GM and I had thought the same thing. I originally dismissed the gatling-gun arms as excessively gimmicky for a GM. But I also wanted to make the forearm longer. While the NT-1 forearms aren’t actually any longer, they look longer since the blue hatch over the gatling guns makes the forearm look longer since it extends back over the elbow.

I did a couple mods to make painting these parts easier including opening the slots that the gatling gun parts slide on so that they can slide completely apart and be put back together after painting. I also cut the tabs on the guns themselves so they can be popped off for painting.

Then got to the elbows. The range of motion is actually good, but I had doubts about their strength in the long run and the way they are built would mean a couple of rounds of paint/putty/mask/paint since the pieces are built around each other in layers.

The question was what to do with them. The easiest thing would be to replace them with the elbows from another kit. The best elbow I had “laying around” was from the MG Ground Gundam. I didn’t want to take these elbows since the Ground Gundam and its variants are actually pretty nice kits. I could take that kit (that I had built Dalong-style in my pre-airbrush days) and rebuilt it and airbrushed it into a nice model.

Before I went with the Ground Gundam elbows I looked at modifying the elbows from the ver.1.0 Mk. II. It didn’t bother me to cannibalize the Mk. II or the NT-1 since they’re both about 10 years old so their joints are shot. They both took a dive in the last earthquake we had and I never put them back up on the shelf.

Unfortunately the Mk. II elbows wouldn’t work. I then made an attempt at scratch-building some elbows before I gave the idea up as just insane and more trouble than it was worth.

So I went with the nuclear option, which was to take the elbows from the Ground Gundam.

To make it work I cut out the elbows from the rest of the arm and added plaplate to shim the lower part of the elbow into the forearm.

I would have used the upper arm from the Ground Gundam, but it was too skinny so I gutted the upper arm f the GM Custom so it could take the Ground Gundam elbow and then added plaplate spacers on the inner sides so that the elbow wouldn’t float in the middle of the arm.

Here’s the end product, but it’s stuck on with sticky-tack so it looks a bit wonky.

In the time since I’ve disassembled the model and glued, puttied and almost finished sanding it. So looks like I’ll be firing up the airbrush soon, even if just to prime the model.

I had puttied the GM and was sanding it but decided that before I started priming I really needed to work on the gun and shield, which I had put off until later. I started with the shield. I needed to adapt it to fit the different shield mount that fits on the NT-1’s arms, but I also wanted to give the shield a range of motion. So, I cut the square peg off the inside of the shield and replaced it with the ball from this large hand (I think it was from my old Gelgoog kit). I pinned it with part of a thick paperclip.

I then cut off the bottom of the mechanical frame of the arm of the Ground Gundam I had already butchered, and voila!

Not liking how the shield stuck out in space on a stick, I drilled a hole in a Koto thruster bell and glued it upside down so it looks like the ball sticks out of something meatier.

Next I turned to the rifle. I’m giving it an upgrade with the same feel as I gave the same kind of rifle that I put in the off hand of my Hazel Hummingbird.

I lengthened the thick part of the barrel and shortened the thin part of the barrel. I added a brass tube below the barrel as well. I’ve smoothed out the basic gun, now I need to add the details, which will include a bayonet. I would have done a beam saber bayonet like I did on the Hazel, but the GM will already have a “hidden” beam saber so I skipped the one on the gun.

____________
April 8th 2010

I’ve been working but not posting, so here’s the latest. I finished detailing the gun:

And have built a bayonet to go underneath it, I forgot to take a picture when it was closer to done:

Since I was including the gatling gun arms from the NT-1, I had an idea to change one into a beam saber, so I cut off the tab for the gun and placed a ring to be a receptacle for the beam saber:

And cut down a beam saber to fit inside:

Since then I’ve just been detailing the model up. I’ve been scribing some panel lines and cutting out lame plastic detail to replace it with better stuff.

MAY 06th 2010

Blah blah blah… more mods… I’ll sum it up quickly:

1. I installed a polycap in the groin for in-flight posing.
2. I finished replacing all all but the 2 main boosters on the backpack.
3. I cut out the vent slots in the backpack and put some mesh behind them.
4. I puttied a bunch more stuff including some fun ejector pin marks….






5. And finally (since I’m so OVER modding for this kit)… I primed and started round 2 of sand and putty. 2 whole months til Anime Expo but I’m starting to feel the pressure of time ticking…

May 25th, 2010:

After priming, I put some Mr. Surfacer 500 over the bondo, which was too grainy. I sanded that down and re-primed and then added a few more dabs of touch-up Mr. Surfacer,

Ditto for the thighs I had extended. There were several rounds of putty/sand/prime with each round yielding about half “done” parts and half that needed more putty.

I cheated on this tricky bit of seam by adding some half-round plastic rod so we still get nice detail but the seam is all covered up.

The gun… :( I was in denial about how crooked my extended barrel was . Once it was all painted the same color there was no denying it. So, I sawed it off and shimmed it straight and filed it back to a straight line…

Which explains why it was one of these last few pieces to be finished:

Now the parts are finally ready to paint!!! There won’t be much masking, so hopefully it will go fast.

July 31st, 2010

Work ground to a halt on the Ruby Guard due to a decal problem. In the rush to try to get the Ruby Guard GM done in time for the Gundam World Cup at Anime Expo, I didn’t put an adequate clearcoat on the decals and I had a couple of decals fall apart on me. Since my decals are custom printed by Samuel Decal in Hong Kong, getting them replaced in time for AX would be impossible.

I just got my replacement decals a couple days ago (it didn’t take Samuel that long, I only got around to ordering them last week), and the decals were fixed last night.

Some pictures of paint and decal progress:
Initial paint work on Ruby Guard

Paint and most decal work done

Decal closeup

The bottom half of this sword is missing. The decal fell apart and I put it back together pretty well but it looked a bit cracked and frayed so I scraped it off.
Broken sword on the Ruby Guard

After getting my replacement decals, it’s fixed:
Decals repaired

August 22, 2010

I had painted my final flat clear coat either Sunday or Monday night and I was sure that the model would be done by mid-week, but several issues came up.

First were the seams around the knees. There is one that runs up the calf armor that is only partly obscured by molded detail. This runs right up to a seam in the knee parts of the internals. I figured I could leave the 5mm seam on the calves (the pictures of the kit on the box don’t have the seam fixed) but I thought I should fix the knee, so to make it a little easier I covered the seam with a tiny strip of plastic:

I was going to use some Aurora film I have from an Ako conversion kit on all of the lenses. I wouldn’t have thought it would wrap around the complex curve of the face visor, but Ako built this so it must be possible, right?

http://www.akocreation.com/pages/decal015ex01.html

Not so much… it came out all wrinkly so I had to peel it off, mask all the lenses and spray them silver (in some cases) and then a mixture of transparent green and transparent yellow.

I had another fix to make when I realized that the internals of the forearm guns weren’t as covered up as I thought they would be, resulting in some really ugly gashes showing, so I filled them with CA glue and masked and repainted them.

The real pain in the ass was that I ran out of my old supply of Mecha Skunk 1mm straight tube beads mid-model. I knew I would run out so I ordered more months ago. It turns out, Mechaskunk’s new 1mm beads are significantly smaller than the old ones. They fall right through the holes I pre-drilled all over the model. I had also planned to use them inside of these beads I found at Michael’s that when combined look like a tiny little thruster.

I had some other 1mm beads from Michael’s but they’re crap and had to be seriously de-burred before placing them in the holes I had drilled. I eventually got them all in place but instead of just popping them in each one took several minutes of filing and test-fitting to get in place. Also, no amount of de-burring would get them to fit inside of the larger beads I had, so I just plugged those holes with 1mm plastic rod and painted it black to keep daylight from showing through. The whole experience thoroughly sucked.

Anyway, there it is:

Complete:

It’s got several scratches to touch up from the difficulties I had putting it together. As uptight as I’ve been about getting everything perfect on this model, I want to fix them before final photos but right now I can barely stand to look at the thing, the assembly process was so frustrating.

Anyway, that’s it for the In-Progress on the GM Ruby Guard.


Click the picture link below to see the completed model.

Completed Model

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Return to the In-Progress Launchpad

  1. October 7th, 2011 at 06:41 | #1

    Where did you get your decals? I have a secret project going on and I would like to get some custom made decals for my units.

  2. admin
    October 8th, 2011 at 07:13 | #2

    I design my decals myself for the most part using Corel Draw. I have them printed by SamuelDecal in Hong Kong (samueldecal.com). I’ve been using him for years and overall I’ve had great service. See my decal design page for a ton more information on designing decals:
    http://funakatown.com/tips-and-advice-and-things/decal-design/

  1. January 20th, 2010 at 17:38 | #1
  2. February 24th, 2010 at 21:46 | #2
  3. May 24th, 2011 at 11:01 | #3
  4. May 24th, 2011 at 11:07 | #4