Saturday, 28 April 2018

Star Wars AT-ST [WIP - Phase One of the Hull, Drive Engine & Gyro System; Basecoat, Wash & Panel Lining]

There was once a time I would've stopped here. Weathering with washes and panel lining over a basecoat was all it took to momentarily scratch that ceaseless itch to paint up a monotone grey hued vehicle of the Galactic Empire's Imperial Navy or Army. And in most cases it would've been enough seeing that such vehicles are almost always in good working condition hence require minimal weathering. Now though, this step is only Phase One of Five in the AT-ST's weathering process.   

Star Wars AT-ST upper hull armor plating work-in-progress: washes and panel lining

Even at this early stage, a lot of time has already been invested in the painting of the AT-ST. And the amount of work involved so far is perhaps best encapsulated in the picture below. To put it as briefly as possible, phase one starts with a light grey primer coat followed by a basecoat of Tamiya AS-16 (Light Gray USAF) which is then protected with a gloss clear coat. This is followed by enamel/oil-based panel lining and washes (Tamiya Panel Line Accent Colors, Mr Weathering Color and their corresponding solvents), which in turn is sealed with a semi-gloss clear coat in preparation for the oil dot filter weathering technique. Frustratingly though there is so much more to do ...    

Paint, protective clear coats and solvents used in Phase One of the weathering process

.. cue Phases Two through Four for the upper/mid section. Phase Two will see the use of oil dot filter technique to add a more varied chromatic sheen to the AT-ST's monotone color scheme. Meanwhile, Phase Three is expected to consist of the painting of micro paint chips which will then be tied-in with the rest of the color scheme with either a wash or a clear semi-gloss coat or both. And Phase Four should comprise the painting of metallic parts (e.g. flexible steel pipes) which will be given a black wash for depth and definition. All four phases will be repeated for the AT-ST's weapons and legs.

AT-ST top with the open hatch option after initial panel lining, washes and rust stains
Back view of the AT-ST top with its top hatch open

There is an additional fifth phase but this extra weathering process does not apply to the hull, drive engine and gyro system. Phase Five will be localized around the lower section of the AT-ST's legs. It will comprise either mud or snow depending on whether the Imperial walker is situated on the forest floor of Endor or the snowy plains of Hoth. I'm leaning towards Endor as that was when the AT-ST took center stage for the first time and, for me, became one of the cooler Star Wars vehicles. 

Angled view of the AT-ST's work-in-progress upper hull armor plating
Rust stains were applied onto the side armor platings as subtly as possible
AT-ST command view port hatches and side sensor pods

Any vehicle in the Imperial Army that is in working condition shouldn't be over-weathered hence rust stains were applied lightly and sparingly. To complement the stains I'll likely try to paint in micro paint-chips during the third phase. Even the mud (or snow as the case may be) on the 'chicken legs' of the AT-ST will be kept to a minimalistic level. Enough weathering to make the AT-ST look realistic but not overbearing to the extent that the weathering itself takes center stage.

Back of AT-ST upper hull comes to life only after panel lining, washes and yet more subtle rust stains
Flexible steel piping underneath the AT-ST's upper hull will likely be painted in metallic hues later
AT-ST gyro system which sits in between the upper hull and drive engine (aka mid-section)

But one thing is for sure. Panel lining is absolutely essential in the painting of the AT-ST. It's the bare minimum weathering that needs to be done. Even if you do nothing else, at least apply panel lining on the model kit. Without it, the AT-ST will lack depth and look extremely one dimensional.

AT-ST drive engine (mid-section) with initial panel lining, washes and rust stains
Back view of the AT-ST drive engine (aka mid-section)
Bottom view of the AT-ST drive engine (aka mid-section)

Having a five phase a weathering process means the road ahead for the AT-ST is going to be a long one. And knowing myself, that spells trouble as I'll tend to get bored when a project drags out thus affecting the paint job quality. The only solution I've for this problem is kind of a silly one. What I usually do is to flood myself with even more projects. It keeps things fresh and helps me retain a high level of enthusiasm about any given project at any given time. Sure it might result in the occasional abandoned project but the trade off is worth it. So get ready for garage kit resin figurines; mechas; an Empire Wants You 1/12 scale figure pairings (more on this later); cult classic anime figure/vehicle combos; iconic WW2 tanks; and much, much more. Isn't this just the best hobby ever?    

Note: Photos viewed on Samsung devices will have an unnatural greenish tint. 

Friday, 20 April 2018

Nendoroid Wonder Woman (Hero's Edition) - Unboxing and Review

A short break from hobby projects has always been a necessary evil for me to avoid creative burnouts. And I'm using this one to post a quick review of the second Good Smile Company Nendoroid figurine that my son and I got as a gift for the missus i.e. Wonder Woman. It's her second figurine after the highly impressive Belle. Thus far nearly all her collectible figurines have been of strong female characters e.g. Funk Pop Daenerys Targayen. Her collection started all those years ago with Ritsu Tainaka, a mutually beloved character from one of our favourite animes K-On! (see middle figurine in last picture, sandwiched between two non-heroine characters from Star Wars).

Good Smile Company's Nendoroid Series #818: Wonder Woman (Hero's Edition)
Front angled view of the still-in-the-box Nendoroid Wonder Woman
Back angled view of the still-in-the-box Nendoroid Wonder Woman
Pictures at the back of the box show off Wonder Woman's many possible poses
Belle is figure #755 in the series but as I write this the latest one is Nendoroid #910 ... I think
Box-art for Nendoroid Wonder Woman is simple yet nice

Similar to the Beauty and the Beast heroine, Wonder Woman comes with her own accessories which include the lasso of truth, a second face option with an angrier expression, a set of crossed arms, two different hands in which to grip weapons, a sword, a shield an importantly a display base. Because unlike Belle, this DC super heroine isn't as stable - a result stemming from her inability to literally stand on her own two feet. Poses of her seemingly standing on her own feet are actually camera trick shots of her lying on her back. Her legs are too fragile to support the weight of her oversized head.

Nendoroid Wonder Woman and her many accessories encased in sturdy plastic packaging
Instructions for changing Nendoroid Wonder Woman between her many poses

Paint-wise Nendoroid Wonder Woman looks great. Her costume is suitably shiny à la the metallic armor worn by Gal Gadot in the DC movie reboot of the iconic super heroine. Meanwhile her dark brunette hair has subtle shades which make it look voluminous. Sadly such subtle shades weren't properly captured on camera partly due the black background I was using. And while her skin is rather monotone, that's fairly common among figurines comprising this 'chibi' design.

Nendoroid Wonder Woman in her first pose straight out of the box
With the help of the display stand, Wonder Woman is able to strike much more dynamic poses

Posing options are many and varied with the accessories available. This being a quick review, I went ahead with just the more recognizable and movie inspired poses like Wonder Woman with her sword and shield, with her 'wakanda' pose and with her famous lasso of truth (see photos above and below).

Here she is in one of my favourite poses although in hindsight the angry face option might've been better
For some reason this pose evokes nostalgic recollections of Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song

What matters most of all was that the missus loved it. And as much as I would love to get my hands on a pair of Nendoroids myself i.e. the Evangelion pair of Rei Ayanami and Asuka Langley, I would prefer to spend the limited budget on adding to the missus's meager collection (see last photo).

Nendoroid Wonder Woman comes with two face options i.e. angry and not
Wakanda Forever! Oops, sorry ... wrong universe
Lasso of truth in the deployed configuration vs  

For the moment though, none of the super-heroine figurines are on her desk. There's still the problem of finding suitable display cases for them. But more importantly, she's determining the pros and cons of displaying the Nendoroid figurines in an open office environment. 

Currently at the missus's work desk are Bee-bee-ate, Ritsu Tainaka and Darth Vader

Anyhoo, the next post should see a resumption in work-in-progress project updates. Even as I work on the All Terrain Scout Transport (AT-ST) there are so many other ideas running through my head. To give you a peek into my jumbled thoughts, I've plans to paint 1/8 scale anime resin garage kits to accompany topic-related scale model kits (e.g. Yurisha Iscandar with Space Battleship Yamato, Sayla Mass with RX-78-2, etc.); paint larger miniatures from 1/20 up to 1/6 scale; apply more advanced weathering techniques on AFV kits such as a King Tiger tank and other Star Wars vehicles; try using pastel and oil paints on projects ... the list goes on and on. I guess my short break is officially over.

Friday, 13 April 2018

Star Wars AT-ST [WIP - Pilots seated in Cockpit Interior]

Well duh but a model kit is always greater than the sum of its individual parts. So while both the AT-ST pilots/drivers looked bland on their own, the meh-factor lessened somewhat when they were both seated inside a fully assembled and painted cockpit interior. Well it's either that or I just want so bad for this section of the model kit to not suck that I'm imagining things that aren't real. Either way, the Bandai Star Wars 1/48 scale AT-ST pilots as well as the walker's cockpit interior are finally done with the corresponding macro closeup photographs shown below.  

Work-in-progress: 1/48 scale AT-ST pilots/drivers seated in the cockpit interior
Closeup of AT-ST pilot seated on the right; note the screen display with freehand digital text
Closeup of pilot seated on the left; circles in the square panels have been repainted red like in the movies

One color change I alluded to in a previous post was carried out with minimum fuss. As you can see the tiny circles at the center of the square panels (right hand side of the back control panel) has been painted red. And I must admit they give off a much better vibe than previously. Also if you look closely at the rear control panel (see first photo) you should be able to notice some freehand paintings I did to simulate indicator readouts e.g. digital grids and wave functions. 

If you ask me the interior seems a little too small to fit two ewoks and a wookie
Hues are fairly muted but that's in keeping with the official color scheme
Upper hull plating have yet to be attached to the cockpit interior ...
... because the hull plating will all be painted separately first before being assembled

When assembled the interior space looks a tad too cramped to be able to fit in both pilots. Maybe that's why the pilots look as rigid as they do because any other pose could have hampered the figurines ability to fit into such a small space. Still, a slightly turned head or even a partially extended arm on one of the pilots wouldn't have hurt. It would've upped the level of realism for sure. 

Cockpit view of the AT-ST walker from the pilots' perspective

What comes next will be the upper hull exterior of the AT-ST walker. In addition to the usual washes I would always apply to the Bandai Star Wars vehicles, this time I intend to break up the monotone hull color with some oil dot filter weathering. Until then, enjoy the weekend and see you next week!

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Star Wars AT-ST [WIP - Pilots / Drivers]

What was Bandai thinking, molding a rigid looking pair of AT-ST pilots/drivers to accompany their 1/48 scale AT-ST model kit. Any form of dynamic pose - e.g. having one of them reach for a side control panel - would've made a lot more sense. The alternative was to use a Chewie figurine provided in the kit but I wanted this version to resemble one under the control of the Galactic Empire as opposed to the walker co-opted by Ewoks and the Wookie in Return of the Jedi. So I proceeded to paint them with gritted teeth in the hope it will all come good ... eventually.

AT-ST pilot/driver (to be seated on the right) work-in-progress
AT-ST pilot/driver (to be seated on the left) work-in-progress

Apart from the pilots' face, visor and helmet strap, everything else was painted using lacquer paints. This I usually wouldn't do. But with Bandai's color guide referencing only GSI Creos Mr Color lacquer paints, combined with the fact I'm itching to use my new airbrush setup - something I'm doing only with lacquer paints for now - I used Mr Color paints on the figurines.   

Visually there isn't any distinguishing feature between either pilots/drivers
Figures received a combination of lacquer and acrylic paints via airbrush and hand brush

Because the pilots will largely be hidden from view in the final build, I kept things simple with any depth provided only by a wash which was applied after a protective clear coat had been applied over the basecoat of colors. Essentially this is what I did:
  (a) Helmet - Mr Color Khaki Green (054), airbrushed;
  (b) Visor and helmet strep - Vallejo Model Color Black (169), hand painted;
  (c) Skin - Vallejo Model Color Rose Brown (038), Light Flesh (006), flesh wash, hand painted;
  (d) Seat belt straps - Mr Color Dark Green 2 (023), airbrushed;
  (e) Uniform - Mr Color White (001):RLM75 Grey Violet (1:1), a pinch of Black (002), airbrushed;
  (f) Boots and gloves - Mr Color Black (002), hand painted;
  (g) Vallejo Polyurethane Satin Varnish, hand painted;
  (h) Tamiya Panel Line Accent Color - Black:Grey (2:1), hand painted.

Pilots' back weren't well defined paint-wise because they aren't going to be visible in the final build

To give you an idea of how small these 1/48 scale AT-ST pilots/drivers, they were placed next to the same old, same old i.e. a paperclip and a five sen coin. Anyway, do permit me one final rant about these figurines. In addition to how stiff both pilots looked, their proportions were not very good too. Rant over. I'm just hoping they won't look so bad once seated in the assembled cockpit interior. 

Scale comparison using the good old paperclip and five sen coin

There was one other detail that needed sorting out. AT-ST pilots wore uniforms with Galactic Empire insignia patches on both shoulders. Initially I thought I could use the decals provided on the pilots. However, the decals turned out to be too big so I'm guessing these are meant for other uses. As to what those are I have no idea because no visual guide was provided and I can't read the Japanese instructions. In the end I simply doodled an unintelligible design using a 0.05 mm copic multiliner. At this scale and partially hidden from view, I figured that drawing an actual insignia wasn't worth it. 

Choices were to either use decals or doodle the Galactic Empire insignia on the pilots' uniform
But all decals of the Galactic Empire insignia were to big for the uniform's shoulder patch
In the end the 'insignia' was nothing more than a rough doddle with the copic liner

Isolated as they are in the photos above, both pilots are visually boring in the extreme. In theory, they should look much better once seated inside a fully assembled and painted cockpit interior (which you can see in a previous post). That will be determined for sure in the next work-in-progress update post. Until then, thanks so much for taking the time to read this post and enjoy the weekend. Cheers!

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