Thursday, 20 February 2020

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

By now you would probably be sick of the sight of Grandpa Gundam aka RX-78-2 Gundam with its many work-in-progress as well as previously completed photos. So you'll be glad to know that these are the final photos for the Bandai Master Grade 1/100 scale RX-78-2 Gundam Version 3.0 plastic model kit as painted and modeled by yours truly. Let's get straight to it then.

Bandai Master Grade RX-78-2 Gundam Version 3.0 [Completed, with shield and weapons]

Posing Grandpa Gundam with its weapons and shield was anything but easy. Not all was bad. By itself the RX-78-2 had numerous points of articulation equating to impressive freedom of movement. Moreover the joints were stiff enough to maintain most poses. My beef was with the ability of either hands to sufficiently grip the weapons and shield. In all fairness, Bandai had offered a solution by way of an extendable piece of plastic from either hand that could slot into holes on the Beam Saber hilt. This solution was reversed for the Beam Rifle and Hyper Bazooka in which both had extendable pieces that fit into the hands. Meanwhile the Shield had extensions that the hand and arm could slot into for a secure hold. But as you can tell already, there was a caveat to these solutions.    

1/100 scale RX-78-2 Gundam with its Beam Saber and Shield

Firstly, I had already painted the hands, weapons and shield. Frequently moving the extendable pieces as well as inserting and removing them from the corresponding pieces increased the likelihood of paint chipping with each attempt. Something I didn't want happening. Secondly, I couldn't for the life of me get the hand/arm to securely hold the shield. In short, Bandai's solutions didn't work, for me. Instead, I used tiny amounts of adhesive tack (too much and paint tends to peel off when the tack is removed) to secure the Beam Sabre hilt into place. As for the rest, I posed Grandpa Gundam in ways that placed minimum stress on the hands. Not an ideal solution but thankfully it did the job.

For poses, the RX-78-2 Gundam was attached to the Bandai Action Base 1
In hindsight, perhaps painting the Beam Sabre's blade would've given it a better shine effect

Of all the weapons Grandpa Gundam wielded, the Beam Rifle was perhaps the most underwhelming. It looked meh so I only bothered to take one sole photo of the rifle and Grandpa (see below).

Grandapa Gundam brandishing the Beam Rifle, which is the least impressive weapon in its arsenal

In contrast, the Hyper Bazooka looked cool and awesome in the hands of the RX-78-2. I guess size does matter, especially if you're a Gundam. The pose with the bazooka (see below) was intended to mimic a battle situation in outer space in which Grandpa Gundam was bracing himself to fire the bazooka. The left hand is on the trigger while the right hand is braced against the top of the bazooka in order to stabilize its aim. This RX-78-2 Gundam pose ranks as my second favorite after the one with it holding Amuro Ray in its hand. In my opinion, both convey a sense of immense size.

RX-78-2 Gundam wielding the Hyper Bazooka, a beast of a weapon in terms of size
Front view doesn't convey the body shape required cushion the bazooka's recoil
While the right hand is on the trigger, the left rests atop the bazooka to stabilize it when aiming
Floating in space, the RX-78-2 adopts a pose to best absorbed the eventual recoil of the bazooka
Hyper Bazooka's bottom section (near the rear) is shaped to fit onto the RX-78-2 Gundam's shoulder armor

In a previous post I had expressed my doubt as to whether the custom connector provided with the kit could securely hold the RX-78-2 Gundam onto the Action Base. As you can see from the poses, all of which had the mecha secured onto the base via the connector, it was a needless worry. Even poses without the weapons and shield looked more dynamic when done using the base (see below).

Secured on the Bandai Action Base 1, old Grandpa Gundam can adopt dynamic poses without fear of falling over
As is almost tradition now in all my figurine scale model kit poses, the "Arghh! I've been shot and am now falling backwards dramatically" pose is adopted here too by the RX-78-2 Gundam  

For now, the RX-78-2 Gundam is being displayed inside an IKEA DETOLF glass cabinet that has been self-sealed against dust accumulation (see below). I have left it secured to the Action Base with the Core Fighter, Shield, Hyper Bazooka and Beam Rifle also arranged on the base. 

Bandai Master Grade 1/100 scale RX-78-2 Gundam Version 3.0 ...
... secured on an Action Base and being displayed in an Ikea Detolf glass door cabinet ...
... with the Core Fighter, Shield, Beam Rifle and Hyper Bazooka resting on the base

Gundam kit projects are time consuming on the basis of the need to manage and paint many small parts before assembling them. Despite this, I wouldn't have it any other way because the alternative may be easier in the short run but would result in a kit that looks plasticky and toy-like. To me that's the antithesis of what the scale modeling and miniature painting hobby is all about. Leave Gundams in their original state and I could imagine them saying what Formula 1 Haas Team Principal Guenther Steiner told owner Gene Haas after a monumental f**k up during the pit stops saw both cars drop out of the 2018 World Championships's opening race ... "We could have looked like rock stars". So do your Gundams a favor and paint them. Make them the rock stars in your hobby collection!

Saturday, 15 February 2020

State of my Hobby Worktable ... what's in store for 2020

Being well into the current year, it would seem to be a significantly belated exercise for me to analyze what hobby projects I actually have on the worktable and in semi-storage. But things are in such a mess at the moment hobby-wise that I need to take stock before I can move forward. So not including projects already finished but yet to be unveiled, and in the order of most to least likely to be finished by year-end, here then is the state of my hobby worktable and what's in store in the coming months:

A) Projects with significant assembly and paint work completed
Most likely to be worked on (note that I didn't say finished) this year is the best way to describe this group of miniatures and scale model kits. Of the three in this group, the least advanced in terms of progress would be my Bumblebee Transformer in car form aka the Tamiya 1/24 scale Volkswagen 1300 Beetle (1966 Model). At this stage, only the engine counts as significant work done. Well that and perhaps finding a Bumblebee yellow hue I'm happy with. To breathe new life into the project I might just add a 1/24 scale figurine that could, at a stretch, pass off as Hailee Steinfeld. In case you were wondering, she played the human protagonist in the Bumblebee movie. 

Tamiya 1/24 scale Volkswagen Beetle Work-in-Progress (WIP): First section painted with Bumblebee yellow
Volkswagen Beetle's engine prominently shows the muffler, fan belt/housing, intake manifold, ignition coil, etc.
Beetle's oil strainer surrounded by the muffler, exhaust manifold heat exchangers and transmission

Meanwhile, a project that has seen much better progress is the Bandai 1/144 scale Millennium Falcon (Star Wars: The Force Awakens version). In all my time as a miniature hobbyist, I am most proudest of the detail I managed to bring out through paint on the 1/144 scale Han Solo and Chewbacca (see below). A combination of luck and patience played a role in the end results. Both were also part of the smallest group of miniatures I had ever painted. As for the Millennium Falcon itself, the cockpit, forward mandibles as well as upper and lower hulls are essentially complete sans weathering.

Smallest figurines I've ever painted so far i.e. 1/144 scale Han Solo and Chewbacca
All the 1/144 scale figurines namely Han Solo, Chewbacca, Finn, Rey compared to a five sen coin
Bandai 1/144 scale Millennium Falcon WIP: Cockpit and forward mandibles sans weathering
Millennium Falcon WIP: Lower gun turret with its yet-to-be-weathered hull plating attached
Millennium Falcon WIP: Basecoat, Panel Lines & Decals on Lower/Upper Hull

Moving on to something smaller, it has been a long time since I painted a miniature 28 mm or less in scale. And in a classic case of so near yet so far, I had actually painted a large portion of the Dark Sword Wood Elf Goddess before progress on her somehow stopped dead in its tracks. It was as if all confidence to finish up her paint work just drained away from me. I can't explain this one. As near to completion as she is, the goddess may have to wait a while longer for her day in the spotlight.   

Dark Sword Miniatures Wood Elf Goddess WIP: Painted in dark skin tones (front view)
Dark Sword Miniatures Wood Elf Goddess WIP: Painted in dark skin tones (back view)

B) Projects unboxed, color schemes researched and awaiting lift off
In this category are projects I had enthusiastically unboxed and researched before one reason or another caused them to be placed on the back burner. First there is the Bandai 1/12 scale Star Wars Scout Trooper and Speeder Bike. This one is going to be slightly different from the other Bandai Star Wars figurines I had previously worked on in that I plan to paint the Imperial soldier's white armor. As good as the armor looks unpainted, I believe it will need a proper coat of paint if it's to endure significant weathering using enamels and/or oils. After all, a Scout Trooper on the Forest Moon of Endor should, in theory, have some of mud, earth and vegetation stains on its white armor. 

Bandai Star Wars 1/12 scale Scout Trooper & Speeder Bike
To accommodate both the figurine and vehicle, eight sprues are tightly packed into the box 

More advanced along the project pipeline is the Bandai 1/1000 scale Space Battleship Yamato Cosmo Reverse Version. Colors for her hull and deck have been prepared and assembly should begin soon. Maybe a binge rewatch of the anime series is what I need to rekindle the spark I had for the Yamato. Or perhaps I could concurrently paint the corresponding anime character figurines from the anime. Either way this is one project I'm optimistic will see lift off in the coming months.

Bandai 1/1000 scale Space Battleship Yamato 2199, Cosmo Reverse Version
Moderately sized scale model kit box for the Yamato is also chock-full of sprues
Space Battleship Yamato Reds and Grays mixed at a paint ratio suggested in an older kit's color guide
While Yamato's decks are molded in blue gray, the color guide recommends a kind of pale violet brown

C) Projects hinted at previously but yet to be unboxed aka Shiny New Toy Syndrome
Spur of the moment scale model kit and figurine purchases, of which I'm guilty of ... a lot, form a large part of this category. Just rewatched an anime favorite Neon Genesis Evangelion? Bam! Cue obsessive search for an old Bandai scale model kit of the Evagelion-01 Test Type mecha. Feeling the need to supplement my Gundam project with a character figurine? Wham! Sourced a resin recast of Sayla Mass, which was originally a PVC figurine only. And as the old Batman theme (get it?) fades away, I can only stare, shamefully ... almost remorsefully, at yet another somewhat unnecessary acquisition inspired from watching the latest flagship Gundam series i.e. Gundam Unicorn

Bandai Limited Model High Grade plastic scale model kit of EVA-01 Test Type
E2046 resin recast of what was originally a 1/8 scale Sayla Mass PVC figurine
Bandai Master Grade RX-0 Unicorn Gundam - HD Color Version with Mobile Suite Cage

And of all the three 'Shiny New Toy Syndrome' purchases above, it's the Bandai Master Grade RX-0 Unicorn in HD Color and with a Mobile Suit Cage base that is least likely to get any work done on it. In contrast, the EVA-01 unit project has a high chance of getting off the ground because I've already test painted the color scheme I want for the Evangelion mecha. That leaves Sayla Mass who may be the first figurine I start work on this year. Or then again, it could be the two below.

D) Projects fully-assembled and primed, yet left in storage
That these miniatures are in storage tells its own story. Sort of. A myriad of reasons that range from from waning inspiration to real life issues to lack of skill set to do a project justice to just plain old forgot, resulted in both the Nocturna Models Battle Chick and the Knight Models Loki figurines being shelved after receiving a primer coat. Being shelved in a display cabinet, however, is clearly distinct from being put away in storage. The former means the figurines are still visible to me, so there is still hope I will work on them eventually. Moreover, the addition of airbrushing skills to my repertoire means the said projects takes on new possibilities when coupled with regular hand brush painting.   

Nocturna Models Necrospace series - 70 mm Battle Chick resin figurine
Knight Models Marvel Universe - white metal figurine Loki, assembled and primed

E) Projects whose assembly is nearly complete, awaiting a primer coat
Not unlike Loki above, the Knight Models Thor project stagnated for similar reasons, just that it stopped before even being fully assembled. But for a project that felt like a chore to complete with regular painting by hand, Thor seems ready made for airbrushing. This Norse God's dimensions such as the flowing robes and clearly demarcated superhero attire make it easier to airbrush than say the Loki figurine with its nook and crannies. At least it looks that way to me. Will Thor overtake Loki in the project pipeline? Or will both get done? Hopefully status quo does not prevail here.

Knight Models Marvel Universe - white metal figurine Thor, semi-assembled

And for the win, garnering the record for the longest period a miniature/scale model kit in my collection has stayed on the KIV or to-do-one-day list is ... drum roll ... the Games Workshop W40K Ork Trukk. It was the first scale model kit vehicle I had worked on ... eight long years ago. Phew! Well I did do some work on it. I removed it from the shelf and carefully washed away eight years of dust. So it's ready for a primer coat. What then are the odds for another eight years of inactivity?   

Warhammer 40K Ork Trukk - semi-assembled with its driver painted

F) Projects with as much sun exposure as a vampire
Aptly marked under 'F' after 'E' for epic fail, these are projects that have been shelved for a long, long time. So long in fact that I won't even waste your time showing you what they are in detail. Suffice to say they are mostly Games Workshop tabletop miniatures that got me started in the hobby. Chances for any project under this category being revived is extremely slim. Not impossible but slim. 

Then there is the wildcard category which arguably makes these what's-in-store-posts an exercise in futility and wishful thinking. Let's call it Category X. Remember the oft repeated resolution us hobbyists are renowned for? How did it go again ... oh yes ... I solemnly swear not to buy anymore scale model kits until I finish some of what I already own. Many had also taken this vow when gently reminded [increase level of domestic violence as per appropriate] by their spouses of the mountain of unopened kit boxes cluttering up the house. In essence, at any time either new impulse buys or existing model kits could (and likely) gatecrash the present project line ... possibly consigning work-in-progress miniatures and scale models into the dreaded Category F. See the pattern here?

Still on the topic of Category X, there are projects with a high chance of making it into Category B. For example, it's almost a given I'll being doing a World War 2 military model in one form or another. Coupled with my wish to learn new AFV-related painting techniques, it's therefore a near certainty work will soon start on a WW2 era armored fighting vehicle, in particular one that has been coined as the Spearhead of the German Infantry. In addition, my clogged up project pipeline could yet see Pixar's most popular duo, more figurines, diorama pieces, etc. join the queue. I won't give specifics as it all may be a lot of hullabaloo for nothing. For now, what can I say except carpe diem. Ironic huh?

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Candy Paint Finishes - A Test On Plastic Spoons

What's candy paint? As I understand it, candy paint refers to a metallic finish which is achieved by applying a clear color over a highly reflective gold or silver base coat and then finished off with an a clear protective overcoat. On this specific test, I had airbrushed clear paint of varying hues onto a silver base coat without applying a final clear protective overcoat. Absence of the final step had a visible consequence in some of the clear paint colors which I'll highlight later. Additionally, I didn't use a gold base coat in order to see the colors as they are without any gold tinting effects.  

Candy paint finishes on plastic spoons, arranged into a color wheel (sans yellow)

Up until now I haven't tried doing candy paint finishes because I couldn't get my hands on the highly acclaimed Alclad II Chrome lacquer paint. And although I still can't source this paint, at least not from local hobby stores, I instead found a great alternative in the Mr Color Super Metallic 2 Chrome Silver lacquer metallic paint. But perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself. Why the need for chrome paint anyway. Well, of all metallic model paints it is chrome or chrome silver which has the most reflective property. And this is key for the metallic shine to retain its visibility through the subsequent layers of clear transparent paint. It gives a smooth shiny look pure metallic paints cannot replicate. 

Mr Color Super Metallic 2 Chrome Silver, diluted in lacquer thinner and airbrushed onto a black primer coat
Chrome Silver was my go-to choice for the metallic base coat solely due to its reflective properties
While there are arguably better brands of chrome paint, the best available to me was the Super Metallic 2 Chrome Silver
Although thinned with Mr Color Leveling Thinner in a 50:50 ratio, the Mr Color Super Metallic 2 Chrome Silver paint actually seems dilute enough to be used straight from the bottle   
Extremely fine pigments in the Chrome Silver allows for a super smooth coat of reflective metallic paint

All in all, you could color me satisfied with the results (pun unintended). In majority of the cases the candy finishes on the plastic spoons look silky smooth and shiny. Combinations that worked particularly well were (in the order of thinner plus clear paint): (a) Mr Color Leveling Thinner with Mr Clear Color GX101 Clear Black, GX102 Deep Clear Red, GX105 Clear Pink, GX106 Clear Orange, GX107 Clear Purple and GX108 Clear Violet; (b) Gaia T-06h Brush Master Thinner with Tamiya X-23 Clear Blue, X-25 Green and a 2:1 mix of X-24 Clear Yellow/X-25 Clear Green.  

Mr Color clear paint hues (from left): red, deep red, orange, pink, purple, violet, deep blue, black
Tamiya clear paint hues: red, blue, a 1:2 mix of green and yellow, green

Unfortunately, some combinations didn't come out perfect. Look closely enough at the list above and the color red, or lack of, stands out. A combination of Mr Color Leveling Thinner and Mr Color 47 Clear Red gave rise to a relatively dull pinkish red while the Gaia T-06h Thinner and Tamiya X-27 Clear Red combo resulted in a shiny yet reddish orange. In short, neither looked anything like the pure candy red I had hoped to replicate. It's entirely plausible the dull surface can be rectified with a layer of gloss clear coat. As to achieving a pure candy red, two possible offhand solutions I can think of is either use the existing clear red paints over a gold base coat, or buy a new clear red paint.  

T-06h lacquer thinner was used on Tamiya and Gaiacolor paints and Leveling Thinner on Mr Color paints

Because off-the-shelf clear paints come in limited colors only, I had to create my own mix to obtain two specific 'clear' colors i.e. lavender and azure (see below) for use in future projects. Results were disappointing because the normal paints, no matter how dilute, tended to mask the metallic layer underneath. Despite some shininess to the paint, it was too muted to be considered as a candy finish.

Use of normal paints diluted with clear paints and thinner did not pan out with the 'candy finish' dull and boring   

There is, of course, a much better (and more correct) way to mix your own clear paints. One way is to use Mr Color Primary Pigments comprising Cyan, Magenta and Yellow in order to mix the specific color required, and then combine them with a clear coat solution and thinner. But I didn't go this route because firstly I didn't know how to mix the lavender and azure colors I needed. Secondly, I thought I could shortcut the process (aka doing it the lazy way) by just diluting a normal paint with a clear coat solution and thinner, although deep down in my heart I knew it wouldn't work.  

Candy paint finishes shot at a slightly less reflective angle in order to showcase the colors more

Even taking into consideration a few less than ideal end results, I would still call this paint test a success. By and large I'll be able to use this method to obtain a reasonable variety of candy color finishes. A great technique to have in my arsenal, I can now breathe new life into previously run-of-the-mill-projects. Most importantly this technique gives me a choice on how to go about a project. As Captain Kirk once said ... Without freedom of choice there is no creativity. The body dies.

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