|Plan ahead! Some planning before assembly will greatly ease the painting process, especially with these new MG kits. I hate having to put all the zillion little amour parts on skewers in order to paint them, so I work from "outside-in", with the amor all attached to the internal skeleton and painted first, then the armor is detached and the internal skeleton is painted. Of course this is only an advantage offered by the newer MG kits, but it sure made me very happy.|
|Of course if the parts require gluing, you have to do that first. With this Mark II arm for example, the elbow joint needs to be assembled before the upper arms are glued so that you can remove the seam lines in the upper arm. The traditional wisdom is to paint the elbow assembly, apply masking tape, and glue the upper arm. However, if you're good with brushes, it's easier to assemble the whole thing and hand paint the elbow. As you can tell I'm not a big fan of masking.|
|To glue parts I use Tamiya plastic glue. First I apply an adequate amount (i.e. no flooding of glue) on both sides to be mated, wait about 10 seconds then put the two halves together and squeeze a little. This glue works by melting & welding the styrene together, so when you squeeze the melted plastic will ozze out. If you do this right, you wouldn't need to putty later on. If possible use clamps to hold the parts, but be careful not to marr the plastic surface.
| There's also Tamiya thin glue in green caps. You can hold the parts together and run glue through the seam (it's suppose to work via capillary action, but doesn't always), and the same thing as above would happen. You can do the same if your local hobby shop offers Tenex 7-R. It's a super fast reacting glue and your plastic will melt and reconsolidate in a rather short period of time.
The time it takes for the glue to dry depends on how much you applied, but overnight is usually a safe period. Then sand down the ozzed out styrene. I check the surface against light to see if the filed area is smooth, or wether there's a trough that requires filling. You can also prime the area to check this.
|Some people use superglue. I'm not a big fan of this method, because super glue cracks open if there is pressure between the two halves, whereas properly glued parts are more resilient. But super glue is very fast to work with.|
| If there's a seam/trough, you need to fill it. Superglue is a quick way to do it, especially if you follow up with acclerator (Zip kicker). Sand immediately after it dries because superglue will be very hard to sand if it cured completely.
Many people fill with Squadron green putty, which you can thin with nail polisher remover (acetone), or Tamiya grey which can be thinned with lacquer thinner. Thinning these to a gooey mass will allow the putty to flow into the cracks; unthinned paste is very hard to work with. These putties work by evaporating the solvent they contain, and depending on how much you apply and the humidity, the putty mass will dry in 2 hours to days, it's better to apply multiple thinner layers than one thick blob. Drying properly is essential, because the shrinkage in these putties will cause the trough to reappear if you don't let it dry thoroughly.
I prefer Mr. Surfacer 500 for filling. It has the right consistency and I can count on it to completely fill the trough, and it sticks to plastic very well. It shrinks a lot however.
After filling, more sanding. If you use putties, 400grit sandpaper works well enough, coarser grits tend to remove too much too quickly. Superglue dries quite hard so 320grit works better. Again it dries very hard overnight so don't wait before you sand. Try each putty if you have the chance and see which method you like the best.
|At this point, you can start doing some wear and tear. Mecha armor edges are subjected to banging and scratching. For example in 08MS team, a few of their static background shows these wear on their RX-79G, especially close shots of Shiro's banged up Gundam. And here I use a motor tool with a retangular engraving steel burr to scratch up the edge. Do that irregularly and in separated clusters; uniformly scratched edges looks fake.
The second picture shows the results on the right thigh of Ez8.
I defer any armor surface damages to after decal application. I always apply decals, and it shouldn't be the case that all damages escape those decaled areas. Therefore I apply decals and damage the area later on. These armor edge wears however do not usually have this restriction.
|Some people advocate priming the kit to (1) check the putty work and (2) make the paint stick better and (3) provide a uniform base color. It's really up to you. Factor (1) is important, (2) not so much if you use Mr. Color line of paint and (3) is pretty subjective. I usually do this if (1) is involved. Here the Valkyrie is primed and GM Ground not. For a smooth surface I prime with Mr. Surfacer 1000 in an airbrush, and for a rough one Surfacer 500.|