Saturday, 25 January 2020

Happy Lunar New Year 2020

It's the new year! Well, it is anyway for the Chinese all over the world. So here's wishing everyone a prosperous and healthy Lunar New Year. May all your hobby projects see completion this year.

Technically I'm still not celebrating the new year on the account of my dad's passing over a year-and-a-half ago. However to those who are, please stay safe on your journey back to your hometowns. And so I leave you with a quote from the creator of the world's most famous mouse (this is the Year of the Rat after all). When you're curious you find lots of interesting things to do - Walt Disney.

Sunday, 19 January 2020

A belated look back at 2019

Ironically, as I am hit by the umpteenth mid-life crisis brought about by my birthday, I sought to look back belatedly at what I had actually achieved back in 2019. It wasn't much. In fact it was a pretty meager return for what seemed like a lot of effort put in. Mitigating circumstances abound, well two anyway, saw one project coming extremely close to completion towards the tail-end of last year while another project had actually been finished but I had forgotten to post the final photos. Duh and duh.

Bandai 1/12 scale Star Wars The Force Awakens' First Order Stormtrooper
MENG Model 1/35 scale German Heavy Tank Sd.Kfz.182 King Tiger (Henschel Turret)

I'm almost embarrassed to post the following in my look back at last year's projects but things being as lean as they are I was pretty desperate. There were two "semi-finished" mini-projects in the form of the 1/100 scale FF-X7 Core Fighter and pilot figurine Amuro Ray, both of which are part of a larger project namely the Bandai Master Grade RX-78-2 Gundam Version 3.0 scale model kit. On the plus side, Grandpa Gundam will be a bonus project I can add to the 2020 list. So, yay ... right?

Bandai 1/100 scale FF-X7 Core Fighter (forms part of the RX-78-2 Gundam kit)
Bandai 1/100 scale Amuro Ray standing figure in a pilot suit (part of the RX-78-2 Gundam kit)

Moreover in the dotage of my middle age years, I had a face palm moment upon realizing I had forgotten to post the final photos of the atelier iT 1/12 scale Race Queen resin figurine project that I had already completed. (The photo you see below is one of her in the final work-in-progress stage.) At least she will be another project that I get to add to my 2020 list of completed projects. Silver lining, clouds, and all that positive unicorn over the rainbow stuff. Hey, when life give you lemons ...

atelier iT 1/12 scale Race Queen resin figurine work-in-progress

Looking back, one key advancement I pride myself in having achieved last year was improving my airbrushing skills. I'm feeling increasingly more comfortable with an airbrush. Hopefully that will eventually result in works of better quality. Now that's something I can look forward to this year.

Sunday, 12 January 2020

MG RX-78-2 Gundam Ver.3.0 [Part 1 of 2: Completed]

Relief more than elation, although the latter feeling is definitely present, greets me at the journey's end for the Bandai Master Grade RX-78-2 Gundam Version 3.0 scale model kit project. Relief that I could pull off the task of airbrushing and putting together a kit with so many small parts; something I sincerely doubted I could do before this project began. Here then are photos of Grandpa Gundam sans his weapons (that comes in Part 2). Apart from the standalone shots of just the RX-78-2 Gundam, there were also some taken with Amuro Ray (the pilot) and the FF-X7 Core Fighter.  

Bandai Master Grade RX-78-2 Gundam Version 3.0 [Completed, sans weapons]

With hindsight, I cannot believe I had actually contemplated just clear coating the plastic model kit without doing any painting at all. I'm sure doing so would have resulted in pretty decent results depending on the quality of the clear coat used. However, trust me on this, there is just no way a clear coated plastic kit can look just as good or better than a painted plastic kit. Now this might seem to be a no-brainer but the temptation to be lazy and go the former route is so strong that you'll start giving excuses to try and convince yourself to not paint the kit. I certainly did. But I'm glad I resisted the urge to take the easy route and went ahead to paint each and every part of this kit.

Main sub-assemblies of the RX-78-2 Gundam prior to final assembly

Below is a series of photos showing a 360 view of the fully painted RX-78-2 Gundam.

If you were to nitpick, you could say the RX-78-2 Gundam was bottom heavy ...
... but despite that it still looks pretty awesome on the whole, in my opinion
Joints on the RX-78-2 Gundam are extremely flexible thus allowing for various poses
Bandai Master Grade RX-78-2 Gundam Version 3.0 (back view)
Exposed metallic innards of the RX-78-2 Gundam (e.g. back of knees) give it a cool look
Bandai Master Grade RX-78-2 Gundam Version 3.0 (side view, from the left)
Pose adopted by the RX-78-2 Gundam is one of the mecha taking a step forward

Most important in any scale model display is to give it proper context in terms of an appropriate reference object for scale comparison purposes. In this case, the objects came in the form of the 1/100 scale pilot Amuro Ray and the similarly scaled Core Fighter. When displayed next to Grandpa Gundam, both showed how big the mecha is when compared to a human and a fighter plane.

Grandpa Gundam holds Amuro Ray in the palm of his right hand
What's that on the ground? Why it's the FF-X7 Core Fighter
Flexibility of its leg joints allows the RX-78-2 Gundam to get down on one knee ... 
and reach out its left hand for the FF-X7 Core Fighter on the ground
Like Amuro Ray before this, the Core Fighter represents a readily identifiable object for scale comparison purposes
When folded up, the FF-X7 Core Fighter actually fits into the hollow torso of the RX-78-2 Gundam
Long forgotten perhaps is the LED gimmick (see below) that lights up Grandpa Gundam's eyes and his headpiece. Unfortunately, the LED lights were too dim for my taste and were near unnoticeable when the whole mecha was placed under strong photography lighting (aka plain IKEA lamps). Access to the LED switch was via the back of the mecha. And this switch was only accessible when the Ransel (Backpack) was removed from the kit. All in all, the LED gimmick held no wow factor for me because the lights were too dim to be seen unless you were looking for it in the first place.   

Total blackout except for the LED lights shining through the eye and headpiece of Grandpa Gundam
With the camera lighting back on, the LED lights are still visible but less so
LED lights from the headpiece is more noticeable when Grandpa Gundam's head is tilted slightly forward
To access the LED light switch, the Ransel (Backpack) had to be removed first
Zoomed out view of Grandpa Gundam with its back exposed and the Ransel on the ground
RX-78-2 Gundam aka Grandpa Gundam cuts an imposing figure even without its weapons

Bear with me though as I'm not yet done with Grandpa Gundam. He still has pose with his weapons and shield à la the scene in Ready Player One, which made me want to start the project in the first place. Although the weapons and shield have been painted, decaled and assembled, it will be difficult to pose them with the RX-78-2 Gundam without some stabilizing anchor. This said anchor comes in the form of a specialized display base. I plan to assemble this base and cover it with a high quality flat clear coat before using it for poses. (And yes, I know that sounds contradictory seeing that I said clear coating can never beat painting. But there is a reason I'm doing in this way and all will be explained in the next post.) So that's next for this project. A final lull before the last storm.

Sunday, 5 January 2020

MG RX-78-2 Gundam Ver.3.0 [WIP: Shield]

A shield is perhaps a fitting subject for my first blog post of the year seeing that I plan to safeguard the exhaustive effort put into this hobby, preventing time wastage. In the spirit of the KISS principle, what all this entails is that I stop working on too many projects concurrently, lest I end up finishing none. It also requires me to stop buying too many new scale model kits before I even complete the ones I have. That, I guess, is my 2020 hobby resolution. But I digress. Below then is the last sub-assembly post for the Bandai Master Grade RX-78-2 Gundam Version 3.0 plastic model kit.

Master Grade RX-78-2 Gundam Version 3.0 Work-in-Progress: Shield

Parts count for the shield was relatively low with good separation, at least that how I see it for modelers who want to paint each and every part. Color scheme comprised white, red, yellow and silver. The metallic parts were intended to be dark grey but I sprayed on a metallic color instead.

Fully painted parts of the Shield: before assembly and before decal application

Putting it all together was as easy a task as it was to paint the separate parts. Everything fit extremely well and the actual task of assembly was an effortless one. No glue was needed. That's how good the fit was. Most importantly, it all looked good to me once it was fully assembled.

Only the red colored section of the Shield required the application of sticker decals
Good parts separation meant the yellow cross and metal sections could be painted first before assembly
At this point all parts of the Shield had been assembled sans the metal sections ...
... which were to be attached to the white colored, back of the Shield
RX-78-2 Gundam Shield, fully painted [back view]
RX-78-2 Gundam Shield, fully painted [front view]

In comparison to the other weapon accessories of the RX-78-2 Gundam, the shield lies in between the Hyper Bazooka and Beam Rifle in terms of size (see below).

Clockwise from the top: the RX-78-2 Gundam Hyper Bazooka, Shield and Beam Rifle

With the shield completed the RX-78-2 Gundam is ready for its final photo shoot. Well, there is a special stand-alone base to be clear coated and used to help in posing the mecha. But I will be posting a full set of photos with just the RX-78-2 Gundam with minimal posing and sans weapons so there will be no more delays to the mecha's final reveal. That being said, I plan to split the final reveal into two parts ... the first as mentioned, and the second of the mecha with weapons and more complicated poses courtesy of the said stand-alone base. So I leave you, my dear readers, with a quote from Ruth Bader Ginsburg ... "So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great, good fortune." And with that I wish you a belated Happy New Year!

Sunday, 29 December 2019

MG RX-78-2 Gundam Ver.3.0 [WIP: Hyper Bazooka]

With the holiday season in full swing, my hobby activities seem to have come to full stop. Inertia has set in but not in a bad way as I find myself enjoying other hobbies instead such as PC gaming and watching the English Premier League's insane schedule of football fixtures over the festive period. Thankfully I still had some photos of previously completed steps to upload and write about, although such backup hobby content is rapidly dwindling as I remain inactive for the third straight week. Well enough with the negatives; here then is the RX-78-2 Gundam Hyper Bazooka in all its glory.  

Master Grade RX-78-2 Gundam Version 3.0 Work-in-Progress: Hyper Bazooka
RX-78-2 Gundam Hyper Bazooka (angled, rear view)

As has been the case for the RX-78-2 Gundam's previous weapon (i.e. the Beam Rifle), the color scheme for the Hyper Bazooka is fairly boring but functional. It looks good enough in dark greys, whites and a thin ring of red at the muzzle. Add in the parts which I decided to paint in metallic silver and gun metal as well as the strategically placed sticker decals, and the Hyper Bazooka actually takes on a pretty cool look. One nice thing about having the weapon come in a myriad of different parts was that I could paint them separately without having to mask anything (see below).

Parts of the Hyper Bazooka: painted; before assembly and before decal application

Assembly of the Hyper Bazooka was straightforward and easy. Thanks to Bandai's brilliant design, all the parts snap-fitted securely into place without the need for glue at all. That's a great attribute for a model kit to have, especially for a modeler like me who always paints the individual parts before assembly. As you should well know, glue and painted parts are not a good combination. 

Start of assembly process: painted and decaled pieces of the Hyper Bazooka all laid out
Most of the Hyper Bazooka's sub-assemblies are completed at this stage apart from the barrel
Hyper Bazooka's barrel is attached to the trigger sub-assembly; while rear sub-assembly is done
Hyper Bazooka of the RX-78-2 Gundam, fully assembled, painted and decaled

Simple as it is, the design of the Hyper Bazooka looks really cool to me. The ratio of rounded edges versus sharp edges leans more towards the former, a design style which I personally prefer. However, as much as I like the aesthetics of this weapon, I'm still not completely sold on it. At least until I see how it 'performs' with the RX-78-2 Gundam e.g. can it be attached to the hand easily and securely.

Hyper Bazooka of the RX-78-2 Gundam (side view, from the right)
Hyper Bazooka of the RX-78-2 Gundam (side view, from the left)

In terms of size, the Hyper Bazooka seems to be more than twice as big as the Beam Rifle, if not more. Meanwhile, the greys on the Hyper Bazooka comprised a lighter mix then the ones found on the Beam Rifle. Having learned from my mistake with the Beam Rifle, I added more light grey to the overall paint mix in order to get a much lighter dark grey, one that I was finally happy with.

Size comparison between the Hyper Bazooka (top) and the Beam Rifle (bottom)
Hyper Bazooka is roughly twice in overall size compared with the Beam Rifle

So the year is at an end or near to the end anyway. I don't know if it's just me but as the years roll by it seems harder and harder to find the time to hobby in. All this could just be psychological as time always seems to fly by faster as one gets older. To add insult to injury, I seem to be adding more scale model kits to the to-do pile rather removing them from the completed pile. As such, in the spirit of the coming new year I hereby declare that I will finish more projects in 2020. And as I remove my tongue-in-cheek, I leave you with yet another quote from the Rick and Morty animated series ... Break the cycle Morty. Rise Above.Focus on science, said Rick Sanchez to grandson Morty Smith.

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