Friday, June 05, 2015

30 year old Zaku II: Part 1

So I built a 30 year old model kit, the 1/144 scale MS-06 Zaku II. I don’t have an exact date of production for the model kit, only a rough idea that it is a ‘first generation’ of Gundam action figure model kits that was produced prior to 1985 but after 1980. So the kit is somewhere between 35 and 30 years old. Now I have built several Gundam model kits in the past, but the oldest one I had ever built was from the mid-90s so this was a radical departure from my previous experience in the medium.
The early 80's Gundam Model kit of the MS-06 Zaku 2 mobile suit as assembled and painted by The Resurrected Hobbyist.

Modern Gundam model kits make of poly vinyl parts to allow movement at the joints. This kit has nothing even remotely approaching a similar concept. The closest it has, and in this I’m being extremely generous in the comparison, is in the hips where a dedicated hard plastic part facilitates some extremely limited movement ability. This particular project was also new for me because it was my first real effort with an Air Brush.

Preparing this kit for airbrushing was an involved process which started with cleaning the parts in warm water with a little dish soap. I used a tooth brush to clean off any remaining mold release, which considering the age of the kit I would be shocked to actually find any. Still cleaning the parts is always a good idea and triply so if you intend to paint your kit in any form.  Once I cleaned the parts I left them out to dry over the course of a week end.  

After making sure they were dry I came in with my air compressor and blew off any dust that as accumulated on the parts. Then I went to work prepping the parts with various grades of sand paper. Starting with a 700 grit sand paper I made work across all the surfaces of the model. I then came back with 1000 grit and cleaned that up, then followed that with 1500 grit and then finally finished up with 2000 grit sand paper. 

All of this was to help clean up the surface of the model in order to properly air brush it. Here we can see an example of a part before it was painted in the acrylic-polyurethane surface primer.

the unpainted Zaku rifle from the 80's Mobile Suit Gundam MS-06 Zaku II Kit
It’s sort of a slightly too-bright German camo-green. Which kind of works giving the coloring of the Zaku II from the tv series. Painting the parts comes in a series of steps, the first of which is coating the part in a smooth but even coat of white primer. The second step was using a black paint to pre-shade parts of the model. Here you can see an example of a part that has been pre-shaded.

The back of the 80's Mobile Suit Gundam MS-06 Zaku II model kit having been primed white and pre-shaded with black.Now I will admit I’m new to air brushing, and I will admit to the possibility that my understanding of some of the techniques is wrong, so if you hear something different from what I explain right now don’t be surprised if it’s different. Also, please post a link to the info below in the comments. The entire point of this website is to promote learning and experimentation with models. Now, as I was saying, pre-shading is a process to produce shading and color variation with a model by making use of the transparent qualities of paint. By putting down the white primer coat, and then using the very dark paint to shade sections of the model, the later colors will be darker in those areas while being light where the black paint isn’t present. The best example of the end result I can show is here on the shoulder shield:

The shoulder shield from the 80s Mobile Suit Gundam Model Kit of the MS-06 Zaku II showing the result of pre-shading.
I applied the pre-shading to the shield largely because the shield was otherwise a flat and visually un-interesting surface. Adding the pre-shading helped to break up the plain-ness of the shield. I worked to apply the pre-shading to the majority of the parts, which required that I assemble a means to hold all the pieces between stages. This was accomplish by making a series of mini-mounting arms using small clips and tooth picks. The tooth picks were then mounted on a block of floral mounting foam. This allowed me to quickly switch between parts to paint, while not needing to actually touch the piece.

A selection of parts of the Mobile Suit Gundam MS-06 Zaku II kit being held by home made mounting arms and having been pre-shaded.
That completes today’s post. Monday I’ll continue talking about the air brushing and what I learned from this particular project.

1 comment:

  1. This is so cool! I'm definitely going to be referencing this when John and I start on our backlog of 1980s models.