Feb 162021

It has been a good minute since I last posted anything. I think that last time I posed up something was the end of September 2020 for the ST Tortois kit from the 80’s. Shortly after that post, the wife and I packed up Bob and Ken and headed off to Yellowstone/Grand Teton for a week.

A few days after coming home, I started showing signs of Covid-19 and 7 days in, it got full blown and I had to stay at the hospital for 4 days while they injected me with all sorts of drugs and did daily blood draws. Not fun, but I fully recovered after a few weeks. Then it was on to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years all back to back with nothing new. Well, right before Christmas, the wife and I went RV shopping. From my experience getting the kungflu and seeing how easily folks in Class B’s were doing in Yellowstone; we decided that we wanted one.

Apparently lots of people are thinking along this line and it is pretty difficult to get our hands on one. We were debating between the Sequence by Thor or the Travato by Winnebago. They are both built on the Ram Promaster 3500 chassis and are fairly similar with the two floor plans we narrowed our decisions on; the Winnie 59G or the Sequence 20K. We ended up picking out the Travato 59G a week before Christmas and was told that a model we wanted would arrive sometime in January. We dropped 5K as a deposit and did the fun paperwork and then just waited for a month before getting called by the dealership to go and pick it up.

More about this and tons of pictures from the last few weeks after the jump.

Happy new year’s and 30 days into 2021 we scheduled to pickup, orientate, and drive home with the new Ram Promaster 3500 converted to an RV by Winnebage and labeled the Travato.

So how much did this thing cost? Negotiated selling price before taxes/license/fees: $113K. Yeah, expensive. The same Van last year at this time could negotiated for about 80-85K. Hell, folks that bought this van last year are selling it after using it for several months to a year for 90-95k. This is a covid effect; the demand is high, the manufacturing was affected so output was dropped, etc. On a side note, we did negotaite the Sequence to about 80k; but we opted for the Winnie T.

Back to pickup day; the orientation wasn’t all that great as I had done a decent amount of research and lurking on a Travato FB group. Getting ideas for improvements and such (which will be covered in some fair amount of detail later). But we go through the rig with our checklist and only find some minor issues and noted this before we signed off on the thing and drove off. It fits perfectly at the side of our driveway.

Inside, behind the cab, there is a table, a seating area that works for two additional passengers, a galley with two gas burners, a fairly decent sized fridge and seperate freezer. There is a TV, a wet bath (toilet and shower combo – folks living in HK are used to this idea), and the fold down murphy bed. Bob’s checking things out but hasn’t ridden in it yet, so that’ll be another fun experience.

One of the main reasons we decded on the T was for the puzzle bed that is composed of the seats and table behind the cab. This works as a second bed and also works for Bob and Ken’s traveling hang out area.

First night out, we drove it out to Torrance and had takeout from Red Rock. Torrance is about 25 or so miles form the house and the T worked as a mobile dinner. Bob’s not happy he didn’t get any beef. Our leftovers went right into our fridge. The corgi’s really didn’t like traveling in the RV. Too many strange noises as we drove. The wife and I hope that they’ll get used to it.

The next day, we decided to do some shopping for the RV and brought along Bob and Ken to continue to familarize them with driving with us. They’re still not comfortable at all, and just crowd us in the cab area. And become hyper anxious when either me or the wife leaves the vehicle.

At night, while messing around with the RV a little more, I discovered the switch under the rear view mirror. I just though it was the toggle for glare, but it was actually a switch that turns on the rear camera and the mirror is actually an LCD screen that shows HD quality video of everything behind the RV. I do some research and this is a new option for the 2021 Ram Promaster Chassis. Good thing we waited, not all 2021 Winnebago Travatos were built on the 2021 Promaster chassis. This make the thing amazingly easy to drive.

Next modification was to add in a cell modem and wifi router. The modem fits nicely in the cubby behind the TV.

Convenience modification include a paper towel rack, black out curtains that seperate the cab from the rest of the RV, and a shoe rack/storage space above the entryway.

Next up, is the house power switch. This is the switch that connects the house batteries and is basically the master switch for the house for all thing s electronic. Poor design location as the boys will definitely switch things off or we may just kick it accidently. I found an STL file online and just printed it out. Cleaned it up. And screwed it into place.

Next up are the headlights. I removed the stock yellowish light bulbs and replaced them with a 6K LED light. A few panel pieces need to be popped off, then the headlight assembly is removed.

With the headlight assembly out, this gives me easy access to the headlights. Out with the halogen bulbs and in with the LEDs.

I used a high temp silicone gasket to stick an adapter piece to the headlight housing. Once set, the blub is easily installed.

Make sure the LED lights are side to side and perpendicular to the horizon.

And of course, the TGG mascot makes an appearence much to the wife’s chargrin. I did add a corgi butt that I designed as well as the name for our RV (小巴) which translates to little bus or mini bus. A staple of transportation in Hong Kong. The length of 小巴 is about the same as thoes speedy green buses so it fits.

Next up is a request from the wife. The original opening holes for the plastic sliders at the bottom of the murphy bed and in the bathroom just suck. She also cut her fingers trying to use it. A few washers and some drawer hardware resolves everything.

The floors are hard, so I ordered some foam interlocking floors and just laid out some new flooring for 小巴. Now we’re ready for our first overnight outing, San Mateo camp ground near San Onofre.

The corgi’s are still not thrilled about riding around in 小巴, but the prospects of a small piece of aged steaks brings some smiles. Our first real meal.

Sleeping in one bed is a whole different story. It works, but may be a bit too cozy.

Returning home the next day, we picked up a few other things we felt were necessities. A toaster oven fits right into the storage area. Some RVs have an convection oven/microwave combo, but 小巴’s floorplan only has a microwave. A sacrafice for the larger fridge. So an additon of a convection toaster oven works to fill that need.

The real test came this past weekend after a Chinese New Year’s dinner wth my dad, we packed up and drove out to Hugh T. Osborne look out to camp for a night. We arrived at about 3AM and the place was packed. The RV parking pad was completely taken up. But, we’re in a van, and 小巴 fit just fine within the lines of the parking lot spots. We opened up the puzzle bed and I slept there with a 3in foam mattress topper. Length wise, I could touch both ends with my feet and head, but I slept decently. I woke up at 6:30 for the sunrise and to snap some pictures.

Blue hour/golden hour is important for photography. The dunes were busy all night with riders, but in the early morning hours, it was quiet and I can snap some peaceful pictures.

Here are some shots from a few hours later with the same Samsung S21 Ultra camera phone. Notice the color difference with the sun completely overhead. Definitely worth waking up early for those pictures.

The boys came out with me to poop and pee in this giant kitty litter box. So I snapped pictures of them enjoying the hell out of the dunes. Ken’s been here before, Bob has not. Incidentally, it was after our trip here that we went and picked out Bob at the breeder before going home 4 and a half years ago.

I also fired up the drone. This is BLM land so I can pretty much do as I please. It was pretty windy but the DJI Mini2 held its own and snapped some very nice pictures.

I only snapped a few pictures as it was getting more windy as the day went.

Here are two pano shots I got with the Mini2 before calling it.

I went back into 小巴 and slept for another 2 and a half hours. Bob and Ken cuddled up with me as well. Here are some shots of 小巴’s name and the boys watching us as the wife and I took some more pictures. She couldn’t wake up when I did; and it was much windier now than earlier.

The next stop was Yuma AZ to pick up dog food. We actually forgot to bring dog food even though we bought a container specfically for that purpose. We had test fit the container and just left it in 小巴. So it was a short jaunt over the boarder to get some corgi food, feed ourselves, and fuel up. After this, the next stop was Tamarisk grove campground; which was about 20 miles east of Julian CA. This was a small camp site with over half the spots with cabins. The cabins have no electricity or plumbing, but works as a bunk house for sleeping.

The wife and I swapped beds and the puzzle bed works well for her. Both corgis take up half of that bed sleeping with her. If the boys would work with this bunk bed style, I think it would have been pretty nice for Yuki. I on the other hand, was very comfortable with the whole murphy bed to myself. I also tried out the shower for the first time. It is pretty functional. Yuki learned that there was a switch that turns on the drain. She started freaking out and thinking that the grey water tank was full because the water wasn’t draining when she used the shower. More learning and familarization. The last picture in this set is takend when we got home and Ken was excited to leave 小巴 and go home.

Prior to our trip, I had ordered a replacement faucet for 小巴’s bathroom. The faucet arrived on Friday while we were camping outside of Julian with absolutely no cell service from T-mobile or Verizon. So this mod would have to wait until we got back. And after actually using the original faucet, I’m glade I pulled the trigger on this mod. The original faucet is full on plastic. Every bit of it was plastic. Which meant it was difficult to use as an actual faucet. Difficult to use to switch to the shower, and just all around crappy. First step is to remove the cubby to give access to the bottom of the sink.

Once the crappy plastic og faucet was out, I have two holes. Instructions for the new fauct and where the hot and cold go are not intuitive so I need to pay attention to the instructions. Also, the new faucet’s fixture does not fit in the existing holes. I used a step bit (unibit #9) to open up the holes to the proper size.

Threading in the new lines and connecting everything didn’t go as smoothly as the pictures depict. I did run into some issues with plastic bits on the new hot water line that was blocking water causing a leak. But other than this, everything went together fairly smoothly. With the faucet using only one hole, that left an unplugged hole. Anticipating this, I ordered a soap dispenser, and after widening that hole, installed the dispenser to complete the modification. Putting the cubby hole back into place and applying a silicone sealer around it finishes the project.

Now I think we’re ready for a longer trip! This thing is pretty damn cool.

Sep 222020

I;ve had these 80’s Votom kits for a while and I haven’t built one ever. I’ve seen other modelers build some Votoms stuff and I like some of the styling. I just never got around to doing it. Sometime in August, I cracked open the box which was still originally tape sealed and just started. Oh how I do not miss kits from the 80’s. I’m not even sure if the glue in the box is still good. The last time I build on 80’s kit was a 1/144 Shiki that also had a small tube of glue. I think I was 10, and the kit was actually new *sigh* circa 1985 or so….I like to think that my skills have improved somewhat since, so away we go.

Complete start to finish as well as completed pictures after the jump.

There is a huge potential in adding details. Even easier with these photoetch detail bits. I start off with the head to modify the eyes with more details using koto round detail bits and some jeweled beads I bought ages ago for use in mono eyes. Photoetch details are glued to the neck area for added details. Once primed the details blend in very nicely. Once painted up and beads glued to the tri-eyes, everything there looks pretty good too.

PE details added to the front skirt. The back side needed some attention as there are mold ejector pin marks. Gaps between glued areas needed some putty love too.

Seams are everywhere. Just the engineering of the time. Boy have I been spoiled by bandai. This is only the beginning of what felt like endless seam work.

Plastic cement for the first step; followed by putty to fill in missed spots.

Before the discovery of the polycap joint system, the 80’s kits were plagued with plastic on plastic joints. Here is my attempt at making things a little more pose-able by cutting away the plastic joints and adding a polycap system.

Holes are drilled, and the polycaps are fitted. Some creativity is needed to make sure the parts all fit after the modification. The BMC side scriber tool comes in very hand to hollow out a channel for the polycap. For added strength, I used epoxy glues to attach the polycaps to the plastic surface.

Always test fit. And once this works, time to duplicate this on the other side.

The shoulders needed some toughness, so I molded and cast a copy of a metal shoulder spike detail and glued those resin bits to the shoulder armor. Feeling my inner Zaku reach out here.

More pot hole fixes for the rocket launcher handle. And more PE details. Wave option vents are added here too.

In hindsight, I should have just painted the cockpit pieces separately and glued them after painting. I could have completely skipped out on a few masking steps. The little figure has some gigantic hands, yet small feet.

While building and figuring out what I wanted; I noticed that the cockpit hatch had windows. To help illuminate the cockpit area, I added some LEDs to the back of the cockpit. Two yellow LEDs, powered by a battery attached to a reed switch. Everything glued into position and the back half of the main body fitting over perfectly, that was glued and sealed up. A magnet is glued into the back of the pilot after drilling out a small cavity.

Placing the pilot into the cockpit activates the reed switch.

More gap fixing for parts that glue together. Here there is a rather large gap in the gun handle. I glued some styrene in first then added putty to fill in any small gaps.

I wanted a cast iron look to the armor, so I used a ratty brush and some Mr Surfacer 500 and just stippled the thick surfacer over the primed armor pieces. Once dry, some light sanding to balance out the higher profile and rough areas. The rest of the cockpit is coming together. The backpack of sorts got a load of added PE and wave option part detailing.

I sorted through my paints and found that I had 5 bottles of sand yellow. Guess what paint I decided to use for the main body? Since lots of pieces needed to be glued, there was a decent amount of paint – mask – paint for everything.

The figure was all airbrush/mask/airbrush and repeat. Only the eye lenses and touch ups were hand painted.

The decals were another exercise in patience. I was used to soaking my decals for a second and then having them slide off the paper in 30 seconds to a minute. These were not sliding off. To the point I checked if they were peel and stick. They were not. I just needed to soak the decals for a full 3-5 minutes and they still did not slide off the paper. They needed to be peeled up. I only tore 2 decals, so not too shabby. I made sure I applied lots of decal setter before adding the decal softer. For 30+ year old decals, they held up fairly well. Then again, the box has been sealed and those decals in plastic wrap for 30+ years. The gloss coat really helps the decals stick to the roughed up cast iron surface.

Decal softening solution helped the decals sit and conform over the raised PE details too.

A clear gloss is sprayed over the dried decals and then panel line work and then another layer of clear gloss. I want to protect everything before I start the weathering process.

First step in weathering is the enamel filter. Dots of enamel paints are applied to the kit surface then wiped away using lighter fluid and a ratty brush. This gives the surface some tonal variations and some weather streaks.

Once that is dry, a clear flat is sprayed over everything and allowed to dry before attempting the next step. Pastels. In this case, AK weathering pencils. This is the first time using these pencils. I’m pretty impressed. You can get some very fine details and effects using them in various ways. Dipped in water, wiped by a wet brush, wiped by a dry brush, etc. Some very cool things with these pencils.

Foot comparison of some minute weathering details done to one foot compared with the filtered foot from the first weathering step.

All weathered and assembled and standing awkwardly because of the limited pose and not so great polycap jointing mods. Then off to the corner while I work on a display base.

I had 3D printed a destroyed corner wall and scaled it up to about 1/35. I still think I’m just slightly too small, but this is just background noise, so I’m not too worried. And I didn’t want to spend another 20 hours printing a slightly larger piece. A wood base will be the bottom layer. I measured out a sidewalk from the building walls. Then created a raised section with styrene. Test fit, test fit, test fit.

Once everything fit correctly, things are glued down. Clamps help keep parts pressured while the glue sets. I used some polyester putty to fill in some of the gaps in the sidewalk. And sanded that smooth.

The walls are glued to the base styrene. Once set, I used acrylic clear medium and baking soda to create a concrete/pavement like surface for the road and the sidewalk. Once that is dry, the baking soda is brushed off and the surface lightly sanded to even out the texture. Paper clay is added to create sand hills and collected sand against the edges of the walls.

I picked up a 1/35 scale cinder block mold and cast some cinder blocks with hydrocal plaster to create some debris.

Demolded cinder blocked were glued to the base and everything is primed. Painting started at the lowest level with a carbon black color. This was masked and the sidewalk was painted with a very light grey. The contact edges to the building were masked off and the building was painted in a bluish grey. The sand mounds were freehand airbrushed with sand brown.

Once dry, everything is sprayed with a clear gloss to seal in the colors. An enamel filter is applied as the first weathering step.

I did an additional acrylic weathering filter step and finished off with the weathering pencils to add minute weathering details. The masking around the wood base is removed and a dark stain is brushed onto the wood.

The kit is glued to the base and I’m still waiting for the stain to fully dry so I can lightly steel wool it and apply a few more coats of the stain.

Otherwise, the deadline I sent for this project as part of the #scopedogsofsummer project (yes, this is a Standing Turtle and not a Scopedog; but Dogs of Summer umbrella works for all Votoms kits I guess) for the last day of summer; Today, September 22, 2020 is met! Here are the completed pictures:

**SHAMELESS PLUG*** Remember to buy your Ver Covid 2020 SCGMC shirt!

Store link here!

Aug 142020

A group of builder and toy collector friends wanted to do a timed group build, so they picked this kit for being new and fairly easy for anyone to grab and assemble. The goal is to just build it within the 2 week span of Aug 1 – Aug 15 2020. That’s it. No requirements for paint, mods, etc. Like the Nike ads say, just do it – or in our case, just build it!

The Gundam Beyond Global kit was picked for being new, easy to build, and most importantly, pose-ability. We are talking a group of toy collectors that generally like to pay with the figures. The kits arrived and at midnight Aug 1st, we kicked off the build. In preparation for the build, I grabbed a bunch of tools and detail parts I had only slightly used in my more recent builds to see about incorporating them more into this project.

Today is Aug 14, 2020, and I pretty much finished the kit last night and snapped final pictures. Complete details of this build after the jump.

I have a stack of photo etch detail parts, and as a quick way to add details to the kit, I’m going to shoehorn as many details as possible. And hopefully not come out looking gaudy. The other side of things are some MG manuals of past ’78 builds, the Ver Ka and the OYW. I”m using these for reference in panel lines as well as for decal placement. When I finally get to decal placement, I actually used an after market waterslide sheet for the RG ’78 and use the placement from the RG manual.

This was a quick build so I didn’t take time to snap many progress pictures with my camera. I ended up snapping pictures with my phone as I was updating the group with progress. So this post will have a collection of pictures from the camera and phone.

The kit has some really tight fittings and some parts (as I learned from the other builders that snap fit to test) will snap in and be near impossible to separate without breaking something. So I pretty much skipped the test snap phase of the build and just started clipping nubs and adding details with each step in the manual. Starting off with the chest, I added photo etch to the vent areas. The kit is small, so these little photo etch details are perfect. The collar piece also got some photo etch added. These parts were glued in using Elmer’s white glue thinned down with a little water. There are mold lines everywhere on this kit! Only 1 seam line to take care of on the gun’s barrel, but just about every piece has mold lines or mold marks that need to be sanded/filled.

Next the shoulders got some styrene pieces added and more photo etch details glued between the strips of styrene.

I laid down some 1 mm aizu tape to start drawing out panel lines on the shoulders but the line placement didn’t look good enough, so I ended up using a thinner piece of aizu tape to draw the actual lines I scribed. I used the MG OYW kit’s shoulder lines as a reference and just tried to copy that detail. I think it worked out nicely.

I didn’t want to go all out and redesign the feet, so a little bit of scribing here to add details. I added a few more photo etch details to the top of the foot as well as the front face of the ankle guards. Skirts got a little drilling and beveling for very small photo etch minus mold details.

Moving onto the shoulders, they looked a little bare and other kits have a small vent detail at the edge of the shoulders. More photo etch to the rescue. But first, I need to build a styrene frame. I used a thin piece of styrene trimmed to fit inside the shoulder at a slight angle and started building sides of the detail with very thin strips of styrene. I tried out a few different vent pieces before settling on a folding piece that worked best.

Here’s what the shoulders look like at different angles with the selected photo etch vent detail.

Moving onto the legs, the lower legs got a little bit of panel line widening using the BMC side scriber tool. The Ver Ka and OYW didn’t have any details for the thighs, so a little online searching found the Gundam Base MG kit and I used that as a reference for scribing in the details on the thighs. A fat scriber is used to cut out an inset at the lower part of the thighs.

A piece if photo etch is glued to the middle of the thigh piece to give the surface a little bit of raised details to finish the thigh detailing.

Backpack details added some beefier thruster bells. The bells are a metal collar piece. For the internals I glued in a small length of styrene tube to the existing bells. Then on top of the styrene tube, I glued in a small punched circle of styrene over the tube and capped that with a thruster detail from kotobukiya option parts.

Here’s the exploded view and then a painted view to see the details of the inner thruster bell better.

All the parts are clipped and sanded, I can get to painting. Primer first, followed by white shading using Mr color character white over all the parts. Once all the parts were shaded, I sprayed the colors of a premixed pink I used for the Char’s Zaku I had in my paint collection; finisher’s deep yellow, and finisher’s super fine cobalt for the blues. The whites were sprayed with a mix of Mr white base and Mr Color Sail for a slight off white covering. The top color layers inherit from the shaded base layers to create a subtle shaded color layer. A truncated color lift technique.

Details are masked and I used the different aizu masking tapes to create some racing stripes down the chest and left shoulder.

I hit up my local hobby shop (robot4less) to pick up an order for one the the group build guys and ended up picking up some supplies myself. As well as another Beyond Global kit. I figured I could snap the sucker together and have a good comparison between an un-sanded and only nub clipped build vs the work put in from above. I wanted to highlight all the mold lines and such that needed attention as well. I was also looking for decals for the kit and didn’t find any, so I searched online and found some at USAGundam. Ordering from them put the arrival by the 12th, so that still gave me enough time to finish by the 15th deadline.

By this time, the kit was gloss coated last Friday, so I needed something to keep me busy. The extra beyond global kit came into play for some comparison photos as well as a vlog for the build progress. I made a 30 minute video of the build process up to this point.

Below are pictures I snapped to add into the video above. Head comparison and tilts to see the mold lines that riddled the kit.

Chest comparison.

Waist comparison.



Shield internals. Note the round mold marks on the bare kit.

Shield work with scribed in details and added in photo etch details.

The decals arrived a day earlier, on Aug 11, so two days were actually spend applying the tiny decals to the kit and adding in the Ver Ka reference, more decals were added over the ultra gloss surface. After a day of curing, the parts were sprayed with another layer of clear gloss to seal in the decals as well as level off any decal edges by sandwiching them to the surface. Another day to fully cure and yesterday morning I sprayed the final flat coat over all the parts. Friday night I snapped sub assemblies together, carefully, so not to break things, but I did see a crack develop at one of the leg joints. I should have sanded down some of the internals. Without paint, the kit was very snug, so adding in paint just made things that much more tighter.

I saw a few posts about posing the beyond global kit and found the sad gunpla curl up in a ball pose hilarious. You will need to remove the front skirts to get this pose, but it looks pretty good. The kit has been sitting in that position while I worked on finishing the painted one. Posing the finished kit on a simple wood pedestal base gave me an idea to add in the balled up ’78 sitting in the corner.

A juxtaposition of the confidently built and detailed standing next to the just clipped and snapped version makes for a cool commentary on how some of us feel when even considering customizing or just even painting a snapped kit. These are HUGE steps in a builder’s growth and once mastered, a giant leap in confidence. So I think the story here is my choice as a builder to have the confidence to try new things over just clipping and snapping. Just moving to sanding the kit or moving to painting are big steps. From there, I moved to detail mods like scribing and photo etch details. Using waterslide decals, using the clear coats, panel lining. This is a story of my growth as a gunpla builder, conquering each step and standing taller with each build and new technique learned and mastered. And with that said, here’s my completed story to date.

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Jul 242020

She’s done!

Before we get to the full gallery, lets rewind from where I last left off. The pieces were glued to the base and ready for the clear resin. I used a very slow curing epoxy resin since the whole base is too big to fit into the pressure port. Also, a slow cure resin means lower curing temp. Fast curing resin will get pretty hot during the curing process and that would potentially melt things down. Since 99% of the kit is resin, this shouldn’t be too big a problem, but why take that risk. The resin I used works well with bandai plastic too. The resin was poured in three stages. To make sure I fill the area and to over flow it a little so I get an infinite top kind of look. I needed most of the resin to cure first before pouring additional layers. Once all the layers were poured and cured; the kit is removed from the dust free drying chamber I had and the excess resin can be cut and pulled away. This sort of ruins the sides of the base, but I’m not too concerned as this was expected.

An orbital sanded was used to quickly smooth out the sides and remove any excess resin. I started with an 80 grit, and moved up to a 180, then 220, and finally a polishing grit of 320.

Once smooth, the sides are wiped down with a damp cloth, dried, then painted on some black to finish the base.

The last bits were painting in the lips, finger tips and small little details such as the wires in between the cable tubes for her bikini strap. And she’s done. A fairly quick project completed in about a month’s time.

Here is a quick video showing her off

Here’s the still photo gallery:

Jul 132020

Lost of things happening in respect to current projects and new merch! First, we have a new pin available, and an old pin that wasn’t available but a select group of people got them in the past few years at SCGMC. Both these pins are now available in the TGG Store

Gouf girl is progressing and in the middle of work and letting things cure, I got the body of the GT4 polished and on to assembly. After all the fixes and clears, the body was quickly compounded, polished, and waxed. Not too happy with the project, but I wanted it off the work bench.

I got it assembled and took some completed pictures.

Back to Goufy, my last project picture got a response from reddit to add an eye patch as it’ll make her a mono eye, and here’s the test fit.

More Gouf Girl goodness after the jump!

The eye patch was a simple add; a little styrene cut and shaped with sanding sticks. Glue in a thin styrene strip and done for the most part. I did drill in to the back of her head and add in a magnet and corresponding magnet to the back side of the eye patch. A little putty on the front side of the eye patch gives a little dimension and depth and it’s ready for paint.

The side skirts are primed and ready for paint. I first laid down a layer of white over the primed pieces. Then using spent dryer sheets, I wrapped them as a masking technique over the parts and painted the rear skirt first as a test. The masking was a little too dense, so I pulled on the dryer sheet to get some holes and loosen the fibers a bit then wrapped and painted a mixed greenish blue color.

I made the mistake on the rear skirt of throwing the part into the dehydrator to dry the parts. It ended up melting the dryer sheet a bit and the paint into a goopy mess. I stripped and repainted the rear piece from the beginning.

Learning from this experiment, I think I did better with the rest of the parts. Pulling off the mask, I get a little bit of a marble effect. I still need a lot more practice with this, but I think I’m getting the hang of this. I’ll try this for a future project. There are a good number of variations for this effect that I want to explore.

I didn’t like how green the paint turned out, so I hit the surfaces with some alclad electric cobalt clear enamel. This was more the look I wanted.

The skirt parts are masked off leaving some of the raised details. I painted these areas with alclad red gold thinned with Mr Color Rapid Thinner. The rapid thinner is the opposite of leveling thinner. It dries very quickly. Which is what works well for metallic paints.

Unmasked the details are starting to pop. I painted up the backpack and new vent details. The small details were hand painted with enamel metallics. The same effect for the marbeling is applied to the shoulder and light blue pieces of the kit.

With the armor pieces out of the way, time to focus back on the main body. Once primed, the surface is riddled with pin holes. I haven’t worked on a resin kit with so many pin holes in a long while. Spoiled by QA of Volks resin figure kits. Even though this is an original kit, it was produced by a small sculpting circle, so there are bound to be quality issues with the resin.

First step is to take a hobby knife and just open up all those pin holes. The problem with fixing pinholes is that what we see is usually just the top of a bubble and just below the surface, there’s a bigger cavity of empty space. Puttying over the top without opening up the bubbles gives the putty very little surface area to grab. Once the holes are opened up, I can putty like crazy.

Light curing putty is amazing here as it gives me a very quick turnaround time for working on the fixes, getting it primed, and cycling through the repair process. Putty, sand, prime, repeat. And eventually, the surface is ready for real paint, sort of. The legs are also fixed and reprimed.

I had primed and fixed the arm pieces separately since it was easier to work on them that way. Once I got to the point that the arms are ready for paint, time to glue them to the main body and putty up the seam area. Since I removed the bandage details, there’s no reason for a visible seam between the arm and body joint areas. So this needed to be glued and puttied. And after a few putty, sand, prime session, the body is ready for paint.

Skin tones start with priming in white over the grey primer to get a good base color for the skin. If I sprayed the skin tones over the grey primer, I’d have a zombie or dead girl look to the skin tones. Mr White Base is sprayed. Since she has an eye patch, I only need to paint one eye. That one eye is masked off with blue sticky tac. And the base skin tone is applied.

After the base skin tone, I highlight with a very light tone, then blend with a medium tone to level things out and finally, a light tone to lighten up the overall colors.

Silver panel lines for the dark blue skirt pieces. The light blue areas get a black wash for the panel lines.

The original ammo belt that came with the original conversion kit is long gone. No idea where it is and it would take more time to find it than just build one from scratch. And from scratch, I mean firing up blender and designing a new ammo belt on my computer. Once I got the design done, I made some measurements to finalize the print size and sent the design off to the Form 2 3D printer at the highest resolution setting and printed out the belt. I designed the belt pieces with a hole in the center that I can thread some wires through to keep them connected and poseable. Once painted up, I have a new ammo belt for the kit.

Since I have the lower legs painted and I didn’t want to glue them to the main body like I did with the arms, I still needed something that will work with the break between the leg and body. Time to make some stockings. I have light blue stocking material that matches perfectly with the shoulder colors.

Step one is to cut the material and fold the material over held together with some binder clips. Once this assembly is done, the material is run through the sewing machine. Excess is trimmed off and I have a stocking.

To hide the seam, more excess material is trimmed away and the sock is flipped inside out so that the sew seam is on the inside. Slipping the stocking over the leg piece completes the stocking work. Some adjustments in the alignment of the seam are the final touches.

The body paint is done and cured so it can be masked and the bikini straps can be painted. The same technique is used for the bikini straps as the shoulders with white, then dryer sheet masking, then the final blue.

The display base is an $2 Ikea photo frame. Strips of balsa wood is cut to change the depth of the photo frame. Glue and clamps to hold things while the glue sets up. The back board is then hot glued to the cured balsa wood. Some plastic rocks are cut for details.

The rocks are glued into place and paper clay is added as transition and fillers around the perimeter of the display base. White glue mixed with water is used as a sealer and to help keep the paper clay from cracking while drying. The frame is masked off and ready for painting.

Acrylic pigments are used to paint up the rocks using the filter method. The paints are thinned at 1 part pigment to 16 parts water for the first pass. The overall washes are thinned at 1 part paint to 32 parts water.

The flat areas are painted first with a green then a darker green, and then followed by alclad electric cobalt as I didn’t have a dark transparent blue to use.

Back to the figure, time to paint the eye. I start off with a pencil to draw in the basic shape and look of the eye. The eye brows are drawn in as well as small eye details.

The eye is painted with black first to line everything. Then a dark blue is painted followed by a light blue and white for highlight dots. Once this is dry, the eye is sprayed with a clear gloss to seal everything and give the eye a wet look.

With the eye painted and eye patch glued into place. The two hair pieces are glued. I previously painted the base colors for the hair and stopped there. Since I need to seam up the hair, it is easier for me to paint the whole pieces separably first then work on combining them and the putty/sand/paint work to fix the two parts. The face and body are masked off and the two halves are glued together with CA glue. Once the glue sets, light curing putty is applied along the seam and the seam is sanded and shaped.

Primer and a few more putty/sand fixes get the part back to where we started with everything painted brown (mr color sand brown). A custom blond color I had is then sprayed using the brown base as dark highlights.

I found a nice koi 3D sculpt online and made a few modifications and printed a few of them. Once primed, they were painted with white and hand painted to finish. Then everything including the main figure are glued to the base. The last thing, not pictured, is mixing some clear epoxy resin and pouring it into the base to create a pond of sorts. Next update should be the final touches and final pictures of the Goufy project.

Last and definitely least, I have completed pictures of the Mustang GT4.

Jun 302020

Weekly update time. Motivation for this project is still pretty damn high and I’m having a crap ton of fun working on this project. Years ago when this broke, I just didn’t feel like fixing it because it would have required a complete repaint for some of the parts with custom mixed paints I no longer had so getting the color match would have been impossible. Fast forward to last week, I finally started the repair process. Below are comparison pictures for the broken shoulder piece. The curved spike broke off the pauldron. The spike was glued back and epoxy putty is applied when I first started working on the project.

Once sanded down it starts to look close to the original. The spike insert area also had a little bit of a space, so that was scribed in with some BMC chisels. There are some detail bits that were lost on the break, so a small piece of styrene works to repaint that area. Not too difficult a fix, but a little labor intensive.

Tons of pictures and more progress details after the jump.

Working on the skirt and getting the correct position with the different pieces was a pain in the butt because things kept slipping. Using sticky tack works, but the skirt pieces are not flush to the figure kit, so it’s not exact. With the pieces flush against the figure kit, I just drilled holes through the skirt pieces and into the body. This creates a perfectly aligned area for adding magnets. As the magnets are added, I can continue with the correct placement of the skirt pieces.

Once the skirt pieces are in a good position, I can now add back material so that the parts fit even better against the surface curves of her body. I used smooth type epoxy putty this time instead of the quick type just to change things up. Smooth type also gives me a little more working time in comparison to the quick type. I’m still a bigger fan of quick type over smooth type. Vasaline is painted onto the surface of the body and the puttied parts are pressed against the waxed up surface. This imparts the curvy surface to the underside of the armor pieces and I get a fairly seamless transition from the figure to the armor pieces. A funny little by product of this process is her lower “man in the boat” detail when her new panties were pressed in, I got the mirror details on the panty armor.

The same process is done with the backpack to get a better fit.

The head and hair came from another kit and since I was only using 3 pieces from that kit, I didn’t want to completely ruin that kit by taking these three parts. I made some lego boxes, added some playdough to the bottom of the boxes that works to hold the parts in place. Then poured silicone into the boxes.

I like working with two part molds even though they have some drawbacks. The first part of the molds were removed and cleaned up to remove any residual playdough. The lego boxes are rebuilt around the molds and the second layer of silicone is poured. A little vaseline applied to half the top areas ensures that the mold stays two parts.

With the mold setup, I can remove the originals and prep the molds for casting. I used a 5 minute urethane resin that allows a little more work time than my usual 3 minute. And then I have fairly perfect copies.

Once I have the head pieces, I can now test fit this against the body. Since they are not from the same kit, this is important to get the correct look and fit. The neck are of the head is sawed off and the head is pinned and glued to the body. Putty fills in some gaps and everything is sanded down. I think it looks fairly good. I can even test fit her goufy hat.

Back to her panty armor. I cut the original panties and just glued them to the armor piece. To create a smooth transition, light curing putty is used. This allows quick work in sculpting the panty armor.

A comment on reddit got me thinking about how to deal with the legs. Up to this point, I was still trying to figure out how to mash the Gouf Custom’s leg armor to the legs and it just didn’t look all that great. Do I keep her open toed, or boot her up with giant goufy feet? The suggestion was for a bust, so off comes her legs. I made some marks and the saw came to amputate. The original kit had the legs and arms bandaged. Since I don’t need that bit of detail, the bandages are in the process of being sanded and filled with putty to smooth things out.

With the legs cut, I worked with the upper thigh armor to see about wrapping them around her thighs. And it just didn’t look right, so I’m abandoning that idea for something else.

Next up is the mods to the left hand that holds the shield gatling gun. More magnets and epoxy putty to fill in gaps.

Once that is setup, I can do a quick test fit and see how well the left arm holds the shield assembly. I will definitely have to glue this area solid; but this also depends on my final pose and display assembly.

The gouf’s chest bikini top isn’t going to hold itself up. So the first idea was an epoxy putty back strap that was too delicate and too much work to sand down and sculpt. So time for another idea. A solid wire works for holding the shape. Magnet wire is wrapped around the wire.

Once the wire is wrapped, a quick test fit to check clearances, we’re ready for the next step. A styrene tube is cut to recreate the gouf’s energy cables as her bikini back straps.

Another piece of wire is glued for the neck straps.

Moving to the backpack, I drilled a hole into the underside of the backpack. A piece of sticky tack is pressed against the back of the body and then pressing the backpack into the position I get the position for where to drill a corresponding hole for more magnets.

On the flip side of the backpack, I had originally had some mesh details glued into the top indented details for the backpack. Rather than reused that trick, I’m doing something a little different this time around. First step is to clear out that area. Most of the material is removed first with a drill, then some excavating dremel bits are used to clear more materials. Fine lines and final shaping is done with metal files and a 3mm BMC chisel that just effortlessly removes resin.

A quick design on the cricut to get vent shape drawn, a .1 mm sheet of styrene is loaded into the machine and the new vent pieces are cut and each piece is identical. Using the new cavity as a guide, the vents are built and glued together. I used some magnets and the tin paint trays to hold the parts together while the glue dried. A binder clip is too much clamp strength for the delicate piece so the magnet have the perfect amount of force to hold the pieces while the glue cures.

A little more sanding and refining finishes things off. I still need to refine the vent a bit, but at least the look is there. The last bit of detail is to fill in the area that used to connect the waist energy cables. Since that cable is no longer there, the empty cavity is just asking to be filled and detailed. Styrene tube are glued into position and a little photo etch detail is glued into place.

Mr Hobby’s light weight epoxy putty is used to fill in the gaps in the arms. The arms are being re-positioned from the original pose so there will be gaps. I used the light weight putty just because I haven’t used it in a while. The white part of the putty has gotten a bit dry and doesn’t mix too well. Note to others, air tight seal your moisture sensitive stuff to keep it from drying out over the years of neglect.

I went a little overboard with the magnets. But everything is pretty secure with the magnets augmenting the pins. Now these ares need to be puttied to hide everything.

Light curing putty for quick putty work. Epoxy putty for stuff that I’m not in a hurry to work on, or if I’m getting close to being done for the day, epoxy putty. Light curing putty is perfect for continued workflow. Light curing putty cannot be used as thickly as epoxy, as light needs to penetrate the whole putty to cure it, so there are limitations with each putty type.

The parts are dipped in some hardware store lacquer thinner to strip the paint. During this process, the strongest resistance to the thinner were the decals, I had to scrub them a little to completely remove the decals. The last picture is a comparison for before and after.

And another test fit for the monotone.

The side skirts have a holder piece for the waist energy cable. Since there is no energy cable, this needs to be removed too, and the cavity filled with a small amount of detail. A strip of styrene is cut and glued into the now empty space and on top of this, another few pieces of photoetch details is glued onto the sytrene strips with white glue mixed with a small amount of water.

The area under the skirts can be visible if one were inclined to look. So for those creepers, I marked in the area for some panty lines. Once penciled in, a BMC scriber traces out the line removing some resin as a guide. Then files are used to cut and widen the area a little more. A thin strip of styrene is glued into place and slightly sanded to finish off the panty lines.

Once I was done with getting the chest piece shaped, putty is added back to the underside of this armor. Vasaline applied to the figure and the armor is pressed together to get a seamless transition from body to armor.

The project has progressed decently and soon I can start slinging some paint. I still have more detail work to do to finish up the body to armor transition areas, but this is a good point for a sizable update.

Jun 222020

I love build gathering for the simple fact that a ton of my goofy ideas result from build interactions with my friends. I’ve been struggling to work on projects for the past two virtual build gatherings. The Ford Mustang GT4 stagnated from frustration. And then I started on an RG Sazabi that I have an idea for, but the motivation for that kit just wasn’t there. I’ve managed to snap the legs and part of the waist in May and started back on it to finish off the waist and upper torso this past build gathering before just boxing the damn thing up and moving on to a more interesting project.

There is a little history for this project. And I have been known to take previously finished projects and just rebuild them. The Neograde Gouf Custom conversion for the MG gouf 2.0 kit was finished almost 10 years ago: Neo Grade Gouf Custom Build. This one is a little different, it was displayed at a local hobby shop and was damaged from a customer handling it. (I have no idea why a hobby shop would allow a customer to handle kits in their display case). But it happened several years ago, almost 5 years ago: Broken Neograde Gouf Custom. And since then, it has sat in a box. Well, not really, it was taken out and used as a reference for the Gouf Custom Zaku Exceed Head conversion and Bust kit I made; that is still available for purchase here: Gouf Custom Zaku Exceed Conversion kit and bust for sale!. But back out of the box and this time, really ripped apart.

More details for this “new” project after the jump.

Some time during the last half of June’s virtual build gathering, the idea to make an MS Gouf Custom Girl popped up. I went digging for a suitable figure kit to butcher and unboxed the damaged Gouf Custom. After looking at my collection of recasts and some originals, I picked 2 kits. Two original kits. An older Volks kit Hibachi from Rance that I’m taking the head and hair from to make a mold and cast a copy as I only need these three pieces. And a kit I got from Yahoo!Japan auctions back in 2008 from AB=Flug sculpting circle for their 1/6 scale *NSFW* Villetta Nu from Code Geass. The sizing and pose for these two kits look good enough for the Gouf Custom. So on to just cutting and resin removal. A very rough fit to see if we could even do this was done with some blue tack.

Most of the armor is just resin, so it is easy to remove the excess material to get a better fit against the curves of her body. I’ve got a semblance of a skirt from the Gouf and not too much material is removed for the fit; so this kit was perfect. A nude kit is almost the best choice in these kinds of bashes as there is much less material that needs to be removed from the original figure kit. But it’s all resin anyways, so a dremel with a sanding bit will cut though this in no time.

The Gouf’s chest piece was three pieces when I pulled it apart. I glued the three pieces together as it is much easier to work with as a whole piece. Lots of cutting and hollowing out to fit the new goufy bikini top. I also needed to do some reduction surgery, completely removing the nipples and changing the profile of the boobs to better fit the new bikini. Since I’m not planning on making the top removeable and I only have so much room on the Gouf side of things for material removal; this is a good compromise. Some areas on the Gouf chest were thinned down too much and I ended up making holes that will need to be filled.

Here’s a quick test fit with the new proportions and it is starting to take shape. I’m still holding things together with blue sticky tack; so those clearances will need to be checked later once I have the fit locations and such figured out.

The backpack will be just that. A backpack. I’ll add in straps and create an actual backpack for her. The fit wasn’t perfect here so the sanding bit did some work in slimming areas here and there for a better and more centered fit.

The original kit came with panties, and if you clicked on the link earlier in reference to the Villetta kit, you’ll have more insight into that naughty little bit. Cutting the panties in half, they fit well with the cut up crotch piece from the Gouf. Some glue and putty here will help the transition. This is still all very rough for the time being.

The other thing I started is to apply epoxy putty to the areas that I sanded down on the Gouf’s armor. Some vaseline applied to the body keeps the putty from sticking and pressing the parts together, I get a better transition from the armor to the main body. I will be doing this with all the armor pieces.

The putty used is tamiya’s 2 part quick type. I guess if I wanted a longer working time, I could use the smooth type which is softer and takes a lot longer to cure, but I have that much more time to work. The next pieces I will probably try out the smooth type and see how I like it. The putty is mixed together and pressed into place for the backpack and the rear skirt.

Excess putty is used to repair the over zealously sanded chest piece.

I’m pretty motivated for this project; much more so than the Sazabi idea; so finally a return to gunpla, of sorts. Hopefully motivation continues and I’ll have much more to update as I continue.