Ah well, the other shoe has fallen. Toys R Us will be closing all its US stores with the intention to sell all the ones overseas. They previously shuttered 180 stores in the US and all its British stores but alas, too little too late.
Even though I didn’t live in the US until my adulthood, I’m actually a Toys R Us kid! In the 1980s, there was a huge 2 floor Toys R Us store next to Parkway Parade in Marine Parade in Singapore. In those days, TRU didn’t allow kids under 13 to go in unaccompanied so my mom would bring me in, leave me in the store and walk out to do her shopping. I’d then spend about 1-2 hours just browsing the aisles till she came back to pick me up. Good times!
In the 1990s, I moved to Los Angeles to further my studies. Near my apartment was a TRU (Sepulveda) where I’d go with my like-minded friends to peruse the aisles for Lego. I still remember lining up in 1999 for the midnight launch of Star Wars The Phantom Menace toys with my friends at the La Cienega branch. We lined up for 3 hours and I hoarded a few Star Wars Lego sets then.
Now that I’m a parent, TRU is still a must stop in whatever country that has them. I’m glad my kids got the chance to go to a big box store where all you see are toys and stuff for kids. It’s too bad that it won’t be for much longer.
In 2015 I brought my family back to Los Angeles and wouldn’t you know it, the Toys R Us at Sepulveda was still around! We went twice and memories of my trips there during my college days flooded back. The aisles were different but the experience remained the same. The difference being I was spending on my kids now instead of myself.
KB Toys and FAO Schwartz were the other big box toy stores that came and went during my lifetime. But Toys R Us is the one that has stayed in my memories the most, simply because it was around since my formative years.
Good bye Toys R Us. I will forever be a Toys R Us kid.
Tamiya lives up to its reputation of having kits that require minimal seamline fixing and I’m onto the painting stage quicker than usual.
First up, I did a base coat of Tamiya XF-1 Black thinned with lacquer thinner. This is now I preferred primer since I haven’t been able to figure out acrylic-based primers yet. I find them too finicky and scratch off too easily.
Then I did the marble coat with Model Air Light Grey. I decided to do this more carefully this time by thinning the paint and adding Airbrush Flow Improver. The end result is less splotchy but you can still see areas where the acrylic paint acted up and spattered all over the surface. These were buffed with a 3M sponge to even out the surface.
I begin with painting the bottom with Vallejo Model Air Light Gull Grey.
I made sure to thin the paint a fair bit and sprayed in thin coats so the marbling still shows through.
After a day of curing, I started masking off the demarcation lines.
The top color is Lifecolor Non Specular Blue Gray. This was also thinned quite a bit and sprayed in thin coats so the marble coat shows through.
I’ve forgotten how easy it is to use Lifecolor, which mixes very quickly, thins very easily and spatters were minimized. I’ll buff these spatters out after the paint has cured.
Ancillary parts are minimal and while the main body is curing, I went ahead and finished them using botht eh airbrush and handpainting. I decided not to add the external tanks. I read somewhere that the Wildcat only started carrying external tanks in 1943. My Wildcat will be modeled as it appeared in 1942.
Glossing is next and then it’s time for decals and weathering.
My next kit is hopefully a straightforward build of the Tamiya 1/48 F4F-4 Wildcat. This was the workhorse of the USN and USMC during the first half of the Pacific campaign.
When I opened the box, I realized that I had already assembled most of the parts into subassemblies previously. This includes having already painted most of the interior with Interior Green and Futured the canopy. I began this build with masking the canopy. As usual it’s on the tedious side but I was done after an evening of faffing with 1mm masking tape and masking liquid.
The ejection seat is bare and Tamiya doesn’t include the seat belts in the form of a decal. While I don’t think they will be very visible, I decided to scratchbuild some shoulder harnesses and lap belts from 1mm and 0.4mm masking tape. I got this idea from my friend Soon Tuck of Spruecutters. After a re-basing of black and Interior Green over this, I handpainted the belts. They actually don’t look half bad. There is evidence that the Wildcat interior was a deeper green in color than the usual green but I’m going ahead with the usual hue.
While reading other people’s builds I found out that Tamiya molded the floor plate without any cutouts which allowed the pilots to look through for better visibility below the Wildcat. So I quickly marked out the areas and cut accordingly. Again these are probably not visible in the final build but at least they are (not) there.
Like most aircraft kits, the Wildcat requires some pre-painting before assembly but due to the way the aircraft is designed, there are more spots that need to be taken care of than usual.
These subassemblies were given a basecoat of black gray and painted separately.
The interior of the cowl and landing gear were sprayed with Light Gull Gray (instead of the instruction’s calling for white). These were also given a wash of black.
The instrument panel and consoles were all handpainted based on the instructions although the dials were painted Gunship Gray to ‘pop’ them out.
I put the cockpit together after giving it a black wash and edge highlighted with a silver color pencil.
I decided not to modify the engine since it can’t be seen so I painted as per instructions. This was painted in Vallejo Air Metallic Gun Grey and then a drybrush of Vallejo Air Metallic Steel.
Once I have painted these, I quickly put the rest of the kit together. Sure looks like a Wildcat to me!
Being too smart for my own good, I decided to drill out the gun barrels on the wings. Of course I messed it up so I ended up cutting all 6 off and replacing with 0.5mm brass tube.
The fit has been excellent so far but we’ll see after I give this a shot of primer to check for seamlines. Hopefully I won’t have to spend much time on this.
Brand and Kit Number: Bandai 954034 and Masterbox 35193
Media: Injection Plastic
A Tactical Armor (TA) is a bipedal combat machine with artificial muscles featured in the anime television series Gasaraki. The Type 17EX Shinden is an improved model of the Type 17 Raiden manufactured by Gowa Industries. It features better armor distribution and more importantly, a much improved battery system that allows it to operate for up to 36 hours per charge. However, the strain and stress inflicted on the pilot has not been reduced and has proved to be unsuccessful to overcome.
Info from Gasaraki Wiki
In 1999, to support the anime television series, the Shinden was 1 of 3 Tactical Armor kits issued by Bandai. The kits were on-par with any of the Master Grade Gunpla kits of the time in that they featured: complete snapfit build, decent poseability and molding that was crisp and detailed, a plethora of weapon options and even boasted 2 figures (1 standing, 1 sitting). For 2018 though, the kit is showing its age with its lack of attempt to hide seamlines and the decent albeit limited poseability. However, these are still great kits with excellent representation of Shinki Aramaki and Yutaka Izubuchi’s mecha designs.
The Masterbox ‘Under Fire’ kit is the continuation in the series of US infantry figures in a modern warfare setting. The kit comes with 4 figures that when placed together tells the story of soldiers providing cover fire while a wounded soldier is being tended to. Each figure comes with its own weapons and pouches which by and large can be swapped around depending on the modeler’s preference. The molding is quite good with nice folds on the uniforms although there are prominent mold lines that need cleaning up. More importantly, the faces are well done and convey the emotions of the figures well.
I’ve had the Shinden snapfit together for close to a decade already by the time I restarted it. I’ve always wanted to place it in a vignette charging along with some soldiers but I was intimidated with painting figures and the Shinden didn’t look right placed in a running pose. When I saw Masterbox’s ‘Under Fire’ kit it gave me the idea to replace the SAW gunner in the kit with the Shinden providing cover for the wounded soldier. The soldiers would be hiding behind some sort of cover and the setting would be in wacka-wacka-kistan with a desert/semi-arid location.
Through the years, I’ve slowly worked on the Shinden by filling the hollow areas in the armor with epoxy putty (a mistake in hindsight) and fixing the prominent seamlines. The joints have held up relatively well and while one leg is slightly loose, it can still hold the final pose I had in mind. The kit comes with various weapons for the arms and I went with the chain gun and rocket launcher. The only modification I did on the kit was to replace the open palms with closed fists modified from the Bandai MS Hand 01 set.
The figures required some minor cleaning up of mold lines and filling of gaps with putty. Otherwise though, they fit well and look quite dynamic.
Colors & Markings
Since my Shinden is set somewhere that’s not in Japan like the anime, I figure I can go crazy with the color scheme and markings. The scene is to be a semi-arid place so I went with a desert scheme. To break the monotony of having the mecha, figures and base in brown, I mixed in a dark bluish gray color for the Shinden. One of the shoulders was painted in red as a unit indicator.
The figures are painted in colors of my own making but it resembles a desertized tiger stripe camo. In a call out to my old Crossfire airsoft team logo, I added some red inverted triangle patches on the shoulders.
The Shinden was given my by now standard weathering treatment of chipping with acrylic paint. Meanwhile, oil paints were used for washing, filters and streaks. I have to conclude that I really botched the seamline fixing as there are still visible ones in various spots. There’s just too many of them in this close to 2 decade kit.
The figures were washed with Army Painter Quickshade which were very effective in popping the details of the folds of the uniforms. This was my time painting whole figures and I think I did a decent job although my work on the faces still needs work: they lack the finesse of the great work I see on the ‘net.
The base is cork on balsa. The look of the environment was based on the 2001 film Black Hawk Down. The main cover the soldiers will hide behind is meant to look like a part of an aircraft fuselage that has broken off. I made this with plastic plates and various pipes, I and round beams. I also added a PE mesh piece and made other wreckage from plastic plates. Making the base look damaged and grimy was definitely fun.
Number 2 of 2018
Work on the base begins with gluing the cork pieces together with a hot glue gun.
Then I layer the surface with Vallejo Thick Mud – Light Brown. While it’s drying I pressed in a mix of small rocks from Woodland Scenics and my garden. I cut an Evergreen plastic tube in 5mm long pieces and pressed into the groundwork to simulate spent shells ejected form the Shinden’s gun. Logically they’d be ejected further out but ‘artistic license’.
Once the groundwork has cured, I preshaded with Model Color Raw Umber. Model Color Iraqi Sand is then sprayed over this.
Then the fun begins with gluing the wreckage pieces into place.
Once dried, I weathered all the pieces with more of the Vallejo Thick Mud. This was thinned so it doesn’t look as pebbly.
Then, more weathering with filters, washes and streaks with oil paint were done. I also gave the ground a light drybrush and added tufts of grass in random spots.
The shells were handpainted Game Air Brassy Brass.
Up next is attaching the figures and Shinden, slightly weather them further, and I can call this done.