Zaku I WIP

1/100 Scale Master Grade MS-05B Desert Zaku I

In Progress Page

Ankle Modification

The ankle joints in the early Zakus are some of the worst in MG history. MG kits have come a LONG WAY. When I built my HGUC Garma’s Zaku II, I saw how they increased the ankle/foot gap to allow for more flexibility (and it still looked fine), so I decided to do the same.

Here’s my simple low-tech mod. I sawed the middle of the “ankle bone” (part D9) with my X-acto saw where it has a square cross section. You don’t have to cut it straight, or perfectly centered. Just leave enough “meat” on either side to glue onto. You’ll have to sand the sides down a bit to get them to fit inside the 1/4” square Evergreen plastic tube. Cut the tube about 3/8th” long. Test fit the ends of your ankle bones into the tube. When the fit is good, take one end off and put a drop of CA glue down the tube. Stick the other end on and turn it over so the drop runs down and sticks the other end too. The result is a little chunky looking, but it poses quite well, and it will be hidden by the ankle and foot armor around it and the piston in front of it (and the piston doesn’t bind, which I was worried about).

Here’s a comparison of my modified MG Zaku I, stock MG Zaku II and stock HGUC Zaku II.

Shoulder Modification

To modify the shoulder armor, I sawed off three pieces (about 3/32” thick) from a K&S 1/4″ round plastic tube. For this I liked the K&S because the plastic is thicker in cross-section than the Evergreen. I then sanded the tube pieces flat (and equal to each other) on my T-bar sander.

To fill in some detail inside, I cut some 3/32” K&S round tube and glued it centered inside the opening of the ¼” tube AFTER I had already glued it onto the shoulder.

Then I went around the outside of the big tube with thinned-down putty to blend it into the shoulder armor. I also added a rectangular vent from the extra pieces you get in the kit to the outside edge of the armor. Why not?

The Antenna

I took the spare anime-style antenna from my green MG Zaku II to put on my Zaku I. To give it a cocky raked-forward look (as seen in the pic.) I left the tab on the back of the base on it so that it would lean forward.

Normally this tab would fit in the slot on the head cover and the antenna would lean back. I did sand down the tab some so that the antenna would fit flush (see my cheesy diagram).

I also glued the antenna on as far forward as possible so that it would continue the line of the brace in front of the mono eye lens.

The Shield

I was so happy with the clean lines made by the masking on the stripes that I decided to go ahead with my skull design on the shield. I put two overlapping pieces of Tamiya masking tape on my tile (picked up the tip for tiles as cutting boards on the FSM website). Then I took the printout (shrunk to scale) of a skull design I had made on Corel Draw and taped it on top of the tape. The skull was influenced by the skulls painted on the big noses of P-40s in the Pacific in WWII. With a brand new blade in my X-Acto, I carefully cut out the outline. The blade goes right through the paper and the tape. Take off the paper, tease the inside of the skull out of the masking tape and voila, the tape remaining on the tile is a skull stencil. I carefully pulled it off the tile and put it on the shield, sprayed the white and took the tape off. It looks very sharp, although there is a bit of a lip on it because of the thickness of the many coats of white. If I don’t screw up inking the outline, it should look good. Plus, it cost nothing.

A note on using Rapidograph Ink (water-soluble) with Future Floor Acrylic (also water soluble). In two places on this model where I had a lot of ink and laid on my next FFA clearcoat too heavy, I got runs in the ink. Unfortunately one was here on the skull on the shield (see the completed pics). The other was on the back right ankle. The upside is that as long as your parts dry oriented with gravity, you can say it is weathering, but I wish my shield was still “perfect” as seen in the pic below:

The Chest

Okay, Top’s Zaku has a different cockpit hatch/chest plate. I chose not to do this modification. My Zaku isn’t exactly Top’s Zaku, and I wasn’t going for Zaku I Kai. It just didn’t seem worth the effort.


    This model is nearly done. I’ve painted it, post-shaded it (ahh… the joy of airbrushing!), clear-coated it and I’m now adding the “wash” to the panel lines with the Koh-i-noor (easier to find as Rapidograph) .013 technical pen. I’m very happy with the post-shading. I was really nervous about this step and I almost skipped it. I do lack control with my new airbrush (aim, mainly) but my color mixing was pretty subtle and the soft edges given by the airbrush were pretty forgiving, so even though the lines aren’t real straight, it still looks good overall (IMHO).

    Here’s a tip for airbrushing tiny details that I haven’t seen on the internet… Maybe it’s too obvious, but I also didn’t see it in my airbrush’s manual. If you have a dual action AB, you can adjust the max paint flow with the needle lock nut (or chuck nut, as some call it). My Iwata has it in the back and it’s exposed. My old Paasche VL had one, too, under the red plastic cover. Put your AB together like normal, then loosen your needle lock nut, slide the lever back about ¾ of the way, then tighten it. Your lever will now only go forward that far, which means it will only pull back ¼ of the normal travel. This means ¼ paint flow. You’ll have to experiment to get the flow you want, but it makes control so much easier. Just pull all the way back and get the perfect amount of paint every time! My finger just isn’t smart enough to do that by itself (yet)…

    The down side is that without being able to “blow out” the buildup, paint will clog the needle tip unless you make the paint thin enough (yes, I strain my paint before airbrushing). The paint just builds up and dries (I assume). Periodically I had to wet a Q-tip with 91% alcohol and gently clean the excess paint off the tip. UPDATE: I have since used this technique again with thinner paint and not had the same problem.

    Finally I to finished the black lines, clearcoated the model, put on some Models4U decals (from the “Ultimate UC Decal Sheet”, plus some misc. warning decals from other sheets), and dullcoated the model. Here’s a pic of the shield and one last pic of all the parts right before assembly.

Click the picture link below to see the completed model.

Completed Model

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