Brand and Kit Number: AFV Club AR48102
Media: Injection Plastic, Photo-etch, Resin
Aftermarket: Seat from Wolfpack Design WPD48089
Markings: TwoBobs 48-216 F-5E PACAF Gomers #2
The F-5E Tiger II is an upgrade of the F-5A Tiger. Introduced in 1970, it has more powerful engines, a lengthened and enlarged fuselage, larger fuel capacity, better avionics, better aerodynamics and more crucially, a radar. The F-5E would prove to be a successful combat aircraft for US allies, but would only serve the US in an ‘aggressor’ role for training.
In the latter half of the 1970s, the 26th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron received the F-5E from undelivered stocks for the Republic of Vietnam Air Force and an embargoed Ethiopian Air Force order. The aggressor F-5Es were painted in a variety of colorful camouflage schemes designed to mimic those in use by Warsaw Pact aircraft. During this period, the squadron was based in Clark AFB, Phillipines. The unit is currently active as the 26th Space Aggressor Squadron.
AFV Club introduced this kit in 2010 to all modelers’ delight. We finally had a modern take of this popular aircraft (1,499 built with over 20 users). Before this kit, the only game in town for 1/48 was the Monogram kit from 1978. This kit is designed for multiple variants and options in this particular boxing include:
Panel lines are recessed and look good. The kit also comes with a small photo-etch fret which includes rear-view mirrors for the canopy and mesh screens for the intake splitter plates.
Right from the beginning I decided to replace the stock ejection seat with an aftermarket one. I used a resin one from Wolfpack Design.
Overall fit was good but there were some things to note:
I also ended up making a few mistakes:
Colors & Markings
The decal sheet offers 6 options with the most interesting being 75-01561 in the Vietnamese Air Force’s SEA camouflage and a striking sharkmouth. As usual, TwoBobs’ decals went on very easily although they are a bit troublesome with the layering involved. The camouflage pattern as printed on the sheet also did not line up properly in some spots so some guesstimation was made.
Weathering was kept to a minimum with my usual mix of dark gray and raw umber oil paint sludges. Due to the darker colors up top, the effect isn’t very obvious.
The F-5E doesn’t have many antennas and yet I managed to ping 1 off into the black hole that is my room. In my defense, it’s really tiny. The last item on were the exhausts which as mentioned above, ended up not fitting well at all. Serves me right for being careless during assembly.
All in all, it has been a fun build. Putty was kept to a minimum but the really tiny parts were a challenge since I have presbyopia now.
Number 7 of 2017
Brand: Bandai 0191406
Media: Injection Plastic
The X-wing is a starfighter used by the Rebel Alliance during the Galactic Civil War. It is so-named due to how it resembles an X when its S-foils are locked in attack position. It is armed with a laser cannon on each S-foil and proton torpedoes. X-wings are designed for dogfighting and long range missions and is capable of unassisted hyperspace jumps. Like most of the Rebel Alliance starships, the X-wing has deflector shields that greatly enhance its survivability in combat.
The X-wing starfighter is the backbone of the Rebel Alliance Starfighter Corps and was prominently featured in the Battle of Scarif, Battle of Yavin and Battle of Endor.
Info from Wookieepedia
Bandai’s X-wing starfighter is fully snap fit and features:
Out of the box, the markings only builds into Luke Skywalker’s Red Five from the Battle of Yavin.
Well, it’s a Bandai kit, so it snaps together perfectly with only a few seamlines. The only part that doesn’t fit perfectly is the clear canopy: I had to trim a bit on both parts before they snapped together.
Colors & Markings
At first, I was going to model this as Red Five. Then I watched Rogue One and thought I’d do this up as one of the Blue Squadron X-wings. But in the end, I went with modeling this X-wing as Wedge Antilles’ Red Two instead. Wedge is a fascinating character:
And yet, he barely had 10 lines of dialogue in the whole trilogy. Before Walt Disney bought the Star Wars license, Wedge’s story was expanded greatly (http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Wedge_Antilles/Legends). Since the take over, he has been retconned as a young Imperial defector (http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Wedge_Antilles) in the early days of the Rebellion.
So decided, I went ahead to research the markings for his X-wing during the Battle of Yavin. The 2 sources that I relied heavily on were:
I also came across some interesting facts about Red Two and the X-wings in general while researching.
Armed with the reference photos, I went ahead and masked and sprayed all the markings. I also handpainted Wedge’s helmet and his R2-A3 astromech based on the references.
For the base, I only used the Death Star surface plate and this was quickly painted over a black base, washed and drybrushed.
Since trying to replicate all the chips and streaks is an exercise in futility, I decided to go my own way with weathering. I did follow 1 prominent detail of Red Two which is a clean panel on the port upper nacelle. Weathering was handpainted chipping followed by panel wash and streaking with oil paint. I tried to go easier on the chipping and it seems to work out better than my Snowspeeder build.
In actual time spent, this kit didn’t take long to finish, but it was and on and off build between other builds so time-wise, it took a while. As usual with Star Wars kits, this was an immensely fun build with minimal fuss. Highly recommended for any Star Wars or sci-fi fan.
Number 6 of 2017
Brand and Kit Number: Bandai #0148831
Media: Injection Plastic
Markings: Gundam Decal Set #22 and #30
The RGM-79Q GM Quel is the first mass-produced mobile suit deployed by the Titans, the elite peacekeeping force founded by the Federation after the events of Operation Stardust in UC0083. It is designed for deployment inside space colonies for peacekeeping, riot control and suppression. Manufactured in Luna II, it is an upgraded and less complex version of the RGM-79N GM Custom. By the beginning of the Gryps Conflict in UC0087, it is considered out-dated and has been replaced by newer mobile suits.
The GM Quel first appeared in the OVA series Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory. It was on screen for less than a second rolling up on a flatbed and getting readied by technicians.
Info from Gundam Wiki
Part of the long line of kits in Bandai’s HGUC series, this kit was released in 2007. As usual, it’s fully snapfit and is molded crisply in multiple colors. Like other HGUC kits released during this time, it’s much easier to keep this kit in separate subassemblies for painting than ever before. However, the limbs still required some modification to facilitate that. Poseability is also improved from previous generation HGUC kits but still nothing to write home about.
The kit depicts the GM Quel as it appears in the Advance of Zeta: The Flag of Titans, a side story about the Titans Test Team as serialized in Dengeki Hobby Magazine. The proportions of the GM Quel are bulkier here than how it originally appeared in Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory.
As mentioned above, the breakdown of this kit is decent with the only hang-up being the elbow (fixed to the lower arms) and knee (fixed ot the lower legs) joints. I decided not to modify them and simply hand paint the joints later. I find the proportions not quite right on this kit: the head is on the small side, the neck is (typical of HGUC) short, hips are wide, and the knees are too big. I decided to do some slight modifications. First I replaced the whole waist on down with parts from the HGUC GM Custom. The legs are slightly different in design but nothing too major. I then extended both the neck and the waist by about 1.5mm using plastic sheet. I also changed the weapon to the FN P90-looking one from a Kotobukiya MSG weapon set. The pistol grip needed some trimming before it fit into the hand. A very small piece of blutack keeps the fit solid. Lastly was swapping the thrusters on the backpack with those from the GM Custom. During construction I managed to break off the antenna on the head which I replaced with 0.5mm brass rod.
Colors & Markings
I decided to go with the default colors this time and concentrate on seeing if I can add color variations to the finish. I first thinned AK black primer with lacquer thinner to see if it will result in a better finish but I may have overthinned the primer as it split. After re-priming everything with the standard AK primer, I added a thin layer of the main color in random splotches and squiggly lines. Then I added a very thin blending coat of the same color on top of this. However, this didn’t quite work out as the variation didn’t really show through. I decided to move on and finish the build.
The blue on the GM Quel is a very dark blue (purple in some publications) but I went with a lighter shade instead. I went with gray black for the torso. After the primary colors were done I went back to hand paint all the smaller details like the small vents on the upper torso, verniers, the forehead piece and the elbow joints. The green sensors on the feet and the head were given a base of white and then hand painted transparent green. Color-wise, the only change was painting all the verniers and thrusters yellow instead of red.
For the markings, I mixed and matched from various Bandai Decals and a generic sheet. As usual, I went easy with the decals. The Bandai decals have yellowed somewhat but once given enough of a soak, came off the backing quite easily and reacted very well with Mark Softer. No ‘nose art’ for this one which would have gone on the shield.
Weathering is kept mild starting with a general oil wash of black. I then hand painted some light chipping with black gray and dark grey blue paint. I also added some streaks with oil paint. After that it was a light dry brush all over the kit with medium gunship gray. After a final flat coat, I went back to brush on Future on the green parts to gloss them back up and dirtied up the feet using Tamiya Weathering Masters. The last step was to remove the blu-tack masking on the visor which was also given a dip in Future way back when. I managed to chip off some paint above the visor which I had to go back in to fix with hand painting.
This didn’t turn out quite as expected but all in all, barring the failed paint variation, it was quite trouble-free. My collection of Federation mass produced mobile suits are now starting to get off the ground. Hopefully more to come soon and I can get a unifying theme going.
Number 5 of 2017
Brand and Kit Number: Italeri #1235
Media: Injection Plastic
Markings: Cutting Edge Modelworks CED72048 EF-111A Sparkvark Nose Art
The EF-111A Raven was an electronic warfare aircraft designed to replace the USAF’s B-66 Destroyer. Grumman was contracted in 1974 to convert 42 existing General Dynamics F-111A Aardvarks into the EF-111A.
Built around the An/ALQ-99E jamming system, the primary electronics were installed in the internal weapons bay. The transmitters for the system were fitted in an underbelly â€˜canoe’ radome and the receivers were fitted in a fin-tip â€˜football’ pod similar to the EA-6B Prowler. The EF-111A Raven was unarmed, and depended on its speed and acceleration for self-defence.
The EF-111A entered service in 1983 and served until 1998, when the last was retired from USAF service. The USAF would begin depending on Navy and Marine Corps EA-6Bs for electronic warfare support thereafter. While it’s officially named â€˜Raven’, its crews often called it the â€˜Sparkvark’ instead.
This build depicts EF-111A 66-6033 nicknamed â€˜No Fear No Gear’ during Operation: Southern Watch in 1995. Originally named ‘No Fear’, ‘No Gear’ was added after a landing mishap where the landing gear were damaged. The artwork was done by Senior Airman Vanessa Snedeker. The artwork was fairly short-lived: it was removed after returning from deployment.
Info from Wikipedia
Info of ‘No Fear No Gear’ from decal sheet
This is a rebox of the Esci kit that was released in 1988. It features decently done recessed panel lines and parts breakdown is very simple and straightforward. It’s almost as if Esci wasn’t planning on releasing a plethora of variants. How quaint. The cockpit details are decals but the side console decals are not included. The wings are designed to swing in and out but there are no options to lower the flaps, slats and the prominent wing gloves which Hasegawa would offer in 1993 with their own release. There is also no gear-up option.
The canopy is molded in 3 pieces but there’s no option to have it open. The only stores offered are 2 external fuel tanks with the mounting points on the wings already pre-opened. Decal options are for 2 all-gray plain EF-111s from the 27th and 388th TFW. All in all, a kit of its age: just detailed enough to be interesting but can’t compare to modern kits with wiz-bang molding technology.
This was definitely not a shake and bake even though the parts breakdown is simple. Various issues cropped up:
So, by no means was this an easy kit. Still, I had fun building this one which isn’t something I’d often say since I have a distinct distaste for endless seamline fixing and sanding.
Colors & Markings
Well, like most modern combat aircraft, the EF-111 is various shades of gray. I checked out photos on the internet and also like most modern combat aircraft, the grays pretty much look different picture to picture. The Cutting Edge sheet I was using the markings from indicated the main colors being FS36320 and FS36492 with the leading edge of the tailfin and nose being a mix of both. I went with FS 36495 which was the closest one I had to FS36492. I mixed the 2 grays for the rest of the gray parts like the nose and the tailfin’s leading edge.
Inspired by Gary Wickham’s RAF Mosquito build on Scalespot, I decided to try out his method of adding color variation to the paintjob. I simplified the method but it was effective: there is now some color variation on the paintwork even before weathering. However, I wasn’t sure I was over or under-doing it. Anyway, it’s all about learning new stuff for future builds.
The process proved to be quite time consuming as I’m slowly building up the colors with a low pressure and very thinned paint. The results however, makes the kit look more visually interesting with a patchy look that’s quite different from the usual pre-shading method.
After a few rounds of painting it was time for the decals. The EF-111 is quite bare markings-wise which is a good thing as I really don’t like doing stencils, especially in 72 scale. I decided to go with ‘No Fear No Gear’ for the noseart as this marking is rarely done by modelers and it has an interesting backstory. The decals went on easily and reacted well with Mark Softer and I was done in no time.
One common theme about the EF-111 is that they are usually quite well maintained so I went easy on the weathering. It was pretty much just a simple oil wash and some panel filtering with Raw Umber. Another reason for going easy was that I didn’t want to end up covering all the painting variation I had done. AK Matt was last on to tie everything down. With some matt coat left in the cup, I did an overall heavy coat over the kit which resulted in them drying in a patchy pattern under a certain angle. Not a bad look I think.
Next I did the wingtip lights with a silver base and transparent red and blue color and Future brushed on. The lines for the lights weren’t on the kit but I just added based on photo references. Last off were the canopy masking which is always heart-stopping. Turns out the Future hadn’t cured properly and lifted with the masking tape. I went over them with handbrushed Future. Overall, the canopy didn’t quite sit right with gaps between the 3 panels being quite wide. I really should have test fitted everything before I have gotten too far.
So, another modern jet subject for my display case is done. The build didn’t go smoothly and it’s also not perfect with some obvious mistakes and poor workmanship. However, I did have a lot of fun seeing this build to completion and now I’m itching to do more cockpit detailing and experimenting more with painting.
Number 4 of 2017
Kit Number: 35
Media: Injection Plastic, Rubber
The Iron Kong is a Gorilla-type Zoid deployed by the Zenebas and Guylos Empires in the various wars on Planet Zi. It was the second large-scale Zoid deployed after the Red Horn. Developed to counter the Helic Republic’s Gojulas, the Iron Kong featured strong armor and missiles that allowed it to attack from ranges out of reach by the Gojulas. Its form also allowed it to climb, grab, throw and punch. Slow by most standards, it was still twice as fast as its primary counterpart.
Info from Zoids Wiki
This kit is part of Kotobukiya’s D-Style line of mecha that are chibi-fied: huge heads, small bodies and cute in general. The snapfit parts come molded in color and unlike Bandai’s SD line of kits, most of the limbs are not hollow which is nice. Polycaps are provided for the joints and allows for posing of the kit. The arms have a surprising amount of poseability and the mouth opens. The cockpit with clear visor opens and the figures of Rosso and Viola are included, which indicates that this Iron Kong depicts the unit that appears in Zoids: Chaotic Century. All in all, a fully featured kit.
Parts breakdown is uncomplicated so the build was straightforward. Fit was great (Kotobukiya can be hit or miss). I sanded the sprue marks, filled up the major seamlines and was ready for painting in no time. I decided to ignore the seamline on the arms which will come back and bite me later.
Colors & Markings
I decided to go with the default colors for this build. I started with black primer as a base. Then I sprayed white primer at a 45 degree angle from on top to lighten the areas where the sun hits the subject. The parts were then separated as much as possible into the component colors and painted that way with Model Air Red and Model Air Metal Black Metal. I’m not sure I managed to pull off the effect I want so it’s something to work on in future builds. Anyway it was time to move on.
The backpack, shoulder cannon and what’s usually the rubber pegs on actual Zoids kits were painted Light Grey. The clear parts were given a coat of Future and masked for the next stage. The pilots aren’t visible under the green visor but I gave them a coat of Polished Gold in a call out to the mindriders from the original 1980s Zoids releases.
My usual Raw Umber or Black oil wash would not show up with the dark finish so I decided to try gray this time. I think the results are OK but it definitely can be improved. I then did some filtering with black and white oil paint which resulted in a toning down of the metallic sheen of the Black Metal. At this point, I realized that the finishing made the seamline on the arms more obvious. Since it’s too late to fix I decide to move along.
Right from the beginning, I wanted to finish the Iron Kong in a vignette: thumping its chest on top a pile of ruins. I gathered cork board, a piece of cut credit card, zip ties and various (L, I, square and round) plastic rods. Then it was simply a matter of tearing, cutting, stacking and gluing the pieces to build up the pile. I decided that the metal plate should be brightly colored and it also gave me an opportunity to test out Vallejo’s Chipping Medium. I liked how it turned out as it broke the monotony of the ruins which is all gray and black.
The base itself is the cap from a red aerosol paint can. I thought it needed to be brighter so I gave it a base of white primer and airbrushed Model Air Red on it. Thinking that masking tape might lift the paint off the smooth surface of the cap I wrapped it with clear food wrap. Turns out, even food wrap lifted the paint. Happily though, I liked the effect so I decided to â€˜make lemonade’ and not fix the tears.
After pinning down the Iron Kong with brass rod and super glue, I then gave the whole thing a spray of flat coat. Last on was weathering on the feet with Tamiya Weathering Masters.
This was one of those trouble-free builds save for the base. The results aren’t perfect although I think it does make for a striking display. These Kotobukiya kits are quite fun to build though they are expensive for what you get.
Number 3 of 2017