VF-1S Strike Valkyrie Hikaru’s Final Shot : 1/72 Hasegawa

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This is a Hasegawa 1/72 Strike Battroid kit conversion. The model depicts Hikaru’s VF-1S arriving at the chamber of Baldozer and emptied his magazine in his face. It was simply classic of the classics… no other sequence evoked such emotions!

The Hasegawa Battroid isn’t a bad kit, and amongst the battroid models it’s one of the better ones. It’s a bit too blocky and the chest is too wide, however, but compensated with the abundance of details. Anyway I decided to mod it to the final shooting pose after seeing a similar job done in a hobby mag a long time ago. 

The main changes are of course the shoulders; a substantial portion of the chest-shoulder area needs to be removed in order for the two arms to come together close enough to hold the rifle. At the same time the shoulder joints need repositioning. 

There is also a bit of silliness with the hip area. No kit ever gets the pelvis area right since it’s a bit of a mystery how that actually works, but Hasegawa at least have the option to splay the legs quite a bit had the body cooperated. If you install the 4 tiny wing pieces on the plane’s nose, they are going to block the movement of the pelvis. Great. So I ended up removing them. 

The thing I’m regretting a bit is the wing missile pods, which I bought a supplemental weapon set for. They are in scale with the fighter mode, but in the battroid mode they were too big. The beviled Bandai kit has these skinny pods which would have worked here. In the end it’s not too bad but they look clumsy. 

Obviously the kit is not going to stand. I drilled a hole in the plane’s nose and attached a Bandai action base 1 to it. Overall I’m quite happy with the finish, especially some of the angles were reproducing some of the movie’s frames. 


Due to the final-ness of the scene I gave the Valk a bit of weathering, with drybrushed weapon packs. 







Schpeltor K.O.G. 1/100 IMS kit from Volks

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The Schpeltor (entry in Gearsonline) is the 5th in the Volks 1/100 IMS line, and was my third IMS kit after the Vatshu the Black Knight and Bang Doll. It has a very elegant design unlike the more armored LED Mirage, and I especially like the design of the shoulder armor. 

The IMS kit is another good kit by Volks, and since this is their 5th the pieces were fitting well with minimal clean up required, the exception being the shoulder armor which required seam filling. Color separation was very good. 

I mostly bought this kit, aside from liking the design, to practice painting gold. Although not completely chrome-like, the Alclad + Tamiya clear yellow + clear orange + Alclad gloss formula works very well. 

The kit can stand but it really isn’t solid, so I added a base for support. Although it has polycaps and can in theory move, you probably don’t want to do that and instead treat it as a static kit. I’ll probably pose it drawing sword one day though. 






Jagd Mirage: Both 2992 : 1/100 HSGK Volks resin kit

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The Jagd Mirage was a monster in every sense of the word. You can read the details of the Jagd at Gearsonline, but at a towering 43.9 meters it is 3x the regular Mortar Headds. You can tell from the size comparison with the Schpletor.

I had very mixed feelings about the MH. When the Twin Towers versions (from Volks and WSC) first came out more than a decade ago, I looked with envy how awesome the kits were if they were to be displayed, with the cannon standing almost as tall as an adult! The cost and my apprehension of building something like this however held back my interest, and aside from its size I was franking not completely in love with the design. Moreover, I thought that if you have seen the twin towers version there would be no point in getting the regular Jagd without it. 

Fast forward to 2013, the TT was a long memory away, and Volks had then offered a good sculpt in its HSGK line, and I have looked with renewed interest. I now appreciate the design of the MH as depicted in the manga, and the fact that without the twin tower the kit is about 300 pieces which is totally manageable and I have hopes of actually finishing it, despite its impressive size and details. More importantly, the kit is actually displayable as part of a FSS collection alongside other kits. So I made the plunge. 

I like this particular sculpt of a regular MH “knight stance”, whereas previous versions of the kits were walking or standing in less elegant poses. The kit has appropriate amount of details everywhere, with the “braids” in particular a bit of work. It was however a sight to behold when complete! For painting, I mostly followed Volks’ mix, but the green they offered were too dark so I lighted it in two shades. The sword was done in my trusty alclad chrome. The fit was mostly ok, with some adjustments required for the left arm, and the stand was a lot of work to fit the right height with the “arms”. I bolted the kit to the base for stability, there was no way for that horizontal arm to hold the kit properly as the Jagd’s stance was leaning backwards quite a bit. 

Wave 1/24 Rabidly Dog

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My first Yahoo Japan auction came this rabidly dog from votoms. This apparently was sold through direct sales from be-j,Waves stores, circa 2011-2. 

For whatever read RD was not a popular design and there were few kits of it in resin form, whereas Scopedog was a hit. In Votoms Chirico rode through the Quent desert in this machine, got through waves after waves of joint galaxy army and reached the omnipotent Wiseman. 

The kit is molded in colored resin and very good molding, with no seamlines or flash to remove.

There were two thing that wasted so much of my time. First the parts were packed in some micro foam beads, which sticks to parts with some insane electrostatic force and impossible to remove. You cannot brush them off, blow them off or wash them off. Geeeez! The second problem is the blue casted resin appeared to have a layer of crap stuck on them, soaking them in simple green and toothbrush each got some of them off, with the remaining stubborn layer scraped off with wire brushing. Grrrr. The nicety of casting was however impressive. Looking forward to building it!

Adventures in casting

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I’ve been inspired by the Meka Mania’s mod of the 1/24 scopedogs. In fact I was quite curious where his nice fists came from… and after getting the older Takara + resin release from Y!JP auction the puzzle was solved! They were the superior sculpts by Nomoto before they were replaced by the Wave junk injection fists. However since I only have a pair of them and 5 Scopedogs to feed, I needed to cast copies of them. 
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Another need I have is making copies of modified parts. I reduced the circular bulges around the elbows and thinned the forearms, but after working on 4 of those it’s pretty clear that making another 12 of them isn’t fun; it’s quite boring and involves a huge amount of sanding. With that in mind I decided to do some resin casting.

I did that a long time ago (6-7 years?) with the Astray Red, also casting fists. Back then I used the Smooth-on line of products, but unbeknownst to be they have very limited shelf life, in fact you’d be lucky to get half a year out of them. The silicone rubber were long unpourable, the only question was whether the resin could last much longer. 

I made the molds using OOMOO 30 and it worked quite decently. My first molds were failures due to improper venting, but after studying more molds I got workable ones. OOMOO molds are lavender colored as shown above.

Alas, the resin didn’t last. It cured into a gooey mess, so I had to get new ones. I used Smoothcast 300. In retrospect perhaps a resin with longer pot life is better, since the liquid didn’t quite flow into the nooks and crannies well after a couple of minutes, leading to missing chunks in the cast. Venting ducts in the mold helps a lot of course.

Anyway after a bit of work I got the pieces cast, so I’ll continue with my Sunsa squad!

1/24 Takara/Wave Scopedog mania

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I’ve been largely ignoring the 1/24 Takara/Wave scopedog kits in my backlog and written them off as “will not build” after the 1/20 Bandai versions came out. The former requires a lot of work to make them look good enough whereas the Bandais were easier to build into nicer kits. Case closed?

Except I’ve been itching for the 1/35 Last Red Shoulder platoon kit from Wave (also Dengeki’s). Well not exactly 🙂 I’ve seen the Roots of Ambition conversion kits for the Sunsa mission, and the group of 4 in red shoulders, all customized with stowage, was a sight to behold.

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Now these are tiny 1/35 kits unfortunately, they’re really smaller than your 1/144 gundam kits standing around just 11cm tall, AND they cost a lot – with the 14400 yen kit + 9800 yen conversion it’s a couple of hundred down for just these little guys. Since I have one 1/24 STTC finished with a couple still sitting in my closet, I can complete the team with a just a couple of 1/24 kits, with a Lehman/Liman command custom included. The cost should work out better and with more work I can end up with bigger sized models.

In the Roots of Ambitions OVA, the Sunsa battle sees former-enemies-turned-friends fighting in a platoon, with:

Baiman’s custom, having an arm solid shooter and no waist weapons, using a bazooka as hand weapon.

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Chirico, having both the SMM missiles and gatling waist mounts and the destroyed right arm, using heavy machine gun.
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Gregor, which I like the most, have no waist mounts and heavy track armor, 6-pack shoulder missile pod and heavy machine gun, with its very distinguished scope “rack”.

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Muza, with short heavy machine gun and 2 waist mounts. Lightest of them all.

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Finally Lehman, who did heavy battle with Chirico, having just gatling waist mount and the huge antenna backpack and a pile bunker. Lehman does not use the turbo custom legs.atm-09-stcc

I’ve also eliminated the option of creating the team from 1/20 scopedogs. There are Sunsa mission conversions for them from Rampage, but they don’t look good. Rampage seems to have them undersized, not to mention they’re way overpriced – they need you to buy the STTC conversion kit AND the Sunsa mission pack. No go.

So I went over to Yahoo Japan auction to look for my 1/24 Sunsa kits, bidding through a proxy service. I didn’t realize it but there were actually two separate issued versions – original Takara kits with resin add-ons, and later Wave kits with resin add-ons. The difference is that Takara kits has resin parts for fists and head, which were later converted into styrene counter parts in Wave kits. They aren’t the same, and after getting the respective kits I didn’t realize the resin fists were so much nicer than the really awful Wave ones. The cost ended up as slight markup from the original kit price + shipping, the latter was quite dramatic unfortunately. But it still works out well. Now it’s just a matter of me grinding through the conversions, all 5 of them!

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Here is the Chirico kit, of the Wave variant. Chirico has a few ammo boxes in his back as stowage, and the special exposed right arm from the damage done by Lehman’s raid. You get a lot of nicely casted ammo boxes as well.

Inspired by a hardcore 1/24 Votoms fan, I not only narrowed the scopedog’s body like I used to, but also added height to the waist. This seems to pull the body up and make the kit look more energetic. I’m not doing the interiors to save time, and the cockpit hatch is glued on.

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After a lot of hack jobs, this last cockout narrowing was the most successful, with carefully sawed off (0.5mm) piece from one side.

wp-1477678001507.jpgHere additional plaboards are added to increase height of the body and the width, so that the pelvis area doesn’t look too wide with the narrowed anemic waist.

Despite the work I’m enjoying this quite a bit. I ran through a number of Bandai kits lately and even though the subject matters differs, the build always feel the same as they’re rather simple to build. Instead it feels like I’m focusing the model kit experience on painting with the Bandai kits, which seems a bit lacking. Doing this hack-and-slash with these oldies bings the “building” part of modeling back and it’s been fun… but I can’t wait for it to be over since doing 5 of these guys can wear thin quick!

 

 

Tools review: Paint bottle stand (paint rack) from Wave

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I was browsing Be-J (the Wave online shop) and found that they have a new (?) product. Wait, isn’t that just like the paint racks you have at the hobby shops?

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Yes it is! I always have all sorts of paint bottles around my paint area and I was always out of space, so I figure this should help! The rack isn’t expensive at 3480 yen (~$34USD) but shipping from HLJ was expensive because 1. the box was pretty big and 2. the stand is made with some pretty sturdy plastic which makes it quite heavy. Best to combine shipping with something else.

Anyway it arrived a couple of days ago and upon opening the box it was indeed a huge box with 3 smaller boxes labelled ABC.

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Assembly required! It’s not difficult but not straightforward either. You build the frame by sticking two sides to the top and bottom trays, and there are 4 beams in the middle, all attached with screw-hex nut combos. The screws are somewhat small and in difficult positions to use power tools for, alas. Took about 30 minutes to get the frame set up.

One concern I had was whether the trays would have space for different types of paints… I’d love it to hold all of my Mr. Color paints but it’d be extra nice if it could deal with the larger bottles of surfacers and base whites. Fortunately the trays are completely customizable!

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You get a bunch of dividers that you can freely use to divide up the spaces. The dividers aren’t too secure unfortunately, which was a bit maddening when you are placing paint and it just slipped off.  Each column can hold about 5 Mr. color jars each column and 3 40ml bottles. It could almost hold 4 of them… but almost is no good. So you waste a lot of space there. Either way it’s a very nice product and now my space is totally organized! It’s about the only type of product out there as far as I could find, highly recommended!

Kit Review: Lynn Minmay 1:20 Minimum factory (Max Factory / Good Smile Company)

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As I mentioned in my review of the fairy kit, I love this Minmay sculpt and I disliked all others that came before it. Part of the difficulty is perhaps the very expressive 2D design by Haruhiko Mikimoto isn’t quite translatable into a 3D design; the nose was always wrong amongst other issues such as odd shaped head and rigid poses.

Anyway back to the kit, which comes in a surprisingly large box. Didn’t I buy a tiny figure?

The reason why the box is so big is that the runners are big but the pieces are really tiny, haha!

The instruction leaflet is huge as well, with its back a full poster of Minmay. Not caring too much.

The decal sheet is great with 5 pairs of identical eyes and 2 sets of the dress’ triangular patterns.

The glaring omission in the instruction booklet is colors. Can we at least try please? I don’t absolutely need it, but it’d be nice to have! Certainly the color separation is good enough for you to go without painting, but it makes a difference if you do. The instruction said so itself 🙂

Now onto the actual kit – probably a lot of people would wonder whether this is a snap fit kit – it isn’t. It has this aspiration wanting to be one, with the parts interlocking in ways that are like the prepainted figures. But the joints are not tight enough to hold any pieces together unfortunately.

The shoulder is the area where you need a little putty work… not a great area for seams.

Complaints are really minor and I applaud Max Factory for producing this line of figures especially from Cheri’s wonderful Minmay. It’d be awful if this were only available in expensive resin. As a side note I have no idea why the small 1:20 scale is chosen; this seems to be the trend for many recent figures and even mechs… perhaps it’s a cost thing, with smaller items begetting a better sales/profit ratio. 1:20 is a great scale for me however; it displays nicely alongside any scaled Macross kits, be it 1:72 or 1:48, the figure doesn’t look out too out of place. A 1:6 figure can only be displayed by itself because it simply dwarfs those scaled Valkyries and such.

 

Scopedog Red Shoulder Custom – 1:20 Bandai

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First of a few 1:20 Bandai Scopedogs that I finished with weathering. I’m very much drawn to the Bandai kits because their proportions are very spot on, and they are easy to build when you compare it to the 1:24 Wave variants or the tiny 1:35. There are a few gimmicks like the “bolts” on the armor plates, but those are minor benefits. I had slaved through some Wave kits before with massive mods, but why go with that when you have something nicer?DSC_6253

The Red Shoulder Custom or RSC is the first of the many custom Scopedogs that Chirico rides on in the show, and although it’s pretty heavily armed it is later dwarfed by even heavier variants (that I’m in the process of finishing). Anyway the box art for the RSC is heavily weathered and that’s what I went with as well. In the episode the RSC literally busted out of the hanger and started shooting everything around it down while receiving surrounding fire, so the weathering suits it well. DSC_6259 DSC_6256DSC_6257DSC_6258DSC_6265 DSC_6250 DSC_6255

RE/100 Nightingale – Bandai 1:100

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This was a really exciting kit back when it was released – started the RE line with a BOOM! The sheer size of the beast was impressive. But the kit has much space for improvements and various people had done detailed ups and conversions for it. I modified it using a combination of suggestions from Hobby Japan and Dengeki Hobby’s build ups. I’m not much of a modder but this kit demands it.

The “wings” or binders are enlarged and sharpened to have pointed edges using Apoxie sculpt.

The funnel bits are extended using brass pipes.

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The leg armors are reshaped to give give more spread to the legs.

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The regrettable thing with this kit are the decals, which were stickers. I made the best of it. Then I added a ton of other decals from other kits. The kit is relatively simple so it could use a bit more details. The head and “crown” were also reshaped.

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The fuel tanks’s connection to the back are adjusted so that they are lifted upwards. DSC_6314

The angle of the binders are changed. Previously the binders are laying flat, but lifting them upwards and backwards definitely improved the menace factor. DSC_6328
DSC_6277The groin part was beefed up in volume. Oh and the chest as well, protruding further.
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I love it! It’s one big meanie. How it lost to Hi-nu Gundam is beyond me 🙂DSC_6296 DSC_6300 DSC_6304 DSC_6308 DSC_6310 DSC_6313 DSC_6317 DSC_6318 DSC_6320