Brand : Max Factory Combat Armor Max 02
Media : Injection Plastic
Markings : Kit
Fang of the Sun Dougram (Taiyō no Kiba Daguramu) is a 75 episode anime TV series created by Ryōsuke Takahashi that aired in Japan from 1981 to 1983.
In Space Century (SC) 152, an independence movement is growing on the planet Deloyer. Crinn Cashim, the son of the leader of the Earth Federation government on Deloyer, pilots the Dougram and fights for the ‘Fang of the Sun’, a small team of guerillas fighting for the independence of Deloyer.
The Roundfacer is the standard Combat Armor deployed by the Federation. It is versatile and would revolutionize mechanized warfare. It is easy to produce and would serve the Federation throughout the war with the insurgents. It is armed with a handheld linear gun, a shoulder-mounted 7-tube missile pod and 4 arm-mounted 25mm chain guns.
Info from Wikipedia and instruction manual
Note: Western audiences would probably recognize this mecha as the GRF-1N Griffin, a BattleMech from the board game Battletech.
This is the second release in Max Factory’s modern take on the mecha from Fang of the Sun Dougram. The kits are by and large snapfit and come with water slide decals. Somewhat poseable with the use of polycaps, they also have a retro aesthetic to match the design sensibilities from the 1980s. Parts breakdown is quite simple and can be easily separated into subassemblies. However there are some oddities: the pilot figure will need to be cemented in place since there’s nothing holding it in the cockpit and the right hand won’t hold the gun properly. A pleasant surprise though is the canopy which already comes with a pre-painted frame.
The overall fit is a mixed bag. Some of the joints fit well, others are loose. The shoulder ball joints are about 1mm too large so there’s no positive fit to the sockets on the body. Luckily for me, the easiest fix worked: I carefully sanded down one side of each ball joint. In any case, the overall design of parts are quite simple where Max Factory doesn’t try to avoid obvious seamlines. All in all, it slots in between a modern Bandai and Wave kit.
Colors & Markings
I went with a modified version of the standard colors for the Roundfacer. It’s now a 2-tone green painted in a splinter pattern. The 2 shades of green (RLM 2 and RLM 71) are what the Luftwaffe used for their machines in WW2. Otherwise, I followed what is shown in the instructions.
As usual I went easy on the decals. I initially wanted to add a custom artwork on the shoulder shield but changed my mind in the last minute. The kit decals are a mixed bag: they separated quickly from the backings but they have a satin finish to them and the white colored decals tore easily. Initially it looks like they didn’t react well with Mark Softer. Thankfully though, once cured and given another spray of gloss, they actually looked quite good.
I decided to weather this kit slightly more than usual which I wrote about here. TL:DR, it was panel lining with oil paint, then panel filtering with oil paint, then chipping and drybrushing with acrylic paint, then streaking with oil paint, then dusting with Tamiya Weathering Master, and lastly adding dirt on the feet with pigments. I also made sure to cover some of the paint that had flaked off with chipping. Unfortunately the weathering revealed some seamlines that I didn’t fix properly. Oh well, lesson learned and moving on.
So that’s it. My first completed kit of the year. And one that was relatively trouble-free. While not the best fitting, I like this series of kits. Definitely more to come.
Number 1 of 2018
Brand : Italeri No.1236
Media : Injection Plastic
Markings : Kit
The Sea Harrier is a further development of the Harrier Jump Jet. It is a naval short/vertical take-off and landing (S/VTOL) subsonic jet fighter designed to replace the de Havilland Sea Vixen. Largely based on the RAF’s Harrier GR.3, it features a ‘bubble’ canopy for better visibility, a longer fuselage to fit the Blue Fox radar and corrosion resistance alloys and coatings compared to the land-based variant.
The Sea Harrier features 4 rotatable nozzles which can be pointed down for the aircraft to lift off and land vertically (VTOL). Angling the nozzles also allows STOL operations, reducing the amount of runway needed for take-off and landing.
The Sea Harrier FRS.1 entered service with the Royal Navy in 1980. Affectionately called the ‘Shar’, its principal role in the Royal Navy was to provide air defense for task groups centered around the aircraft carriers. 57 would be built for the Royal Navy starting in 1978.
Sea Harrier FRS.1s took part in the Falklands War of 1982, flying off the carriers HMS Hermes and HMS Invincible. Primarily flown for the air defense role and armed with the latest AIM-9L Sidewinder missiles and Blue Fox radar, the 3 Sea Harrier squadrons totaling 28 aircraft would shoot down 20 Argentinian aircraft in air-to air combat and suffer 6 losses (2 to ground fire, 4 to accidents).
The lessons learned from this war would lead to an upgrade to the FA.2 standard starting in 1993. The last Sea Harrier FA.2 would retire in 2006. This build depicts a Sea Harrier FRS.1 ‘XZ 451’ flown by 801 Naval Air Squadron off HMS Invincible in the subdued color scheme applied in the run-up to the war. XZ 451 is credited with 3 air-to-air victories and 1 damaged during the conflict. She would be written off in 1989 off the Sardinia coast.
Info from Wikipedia
This kit is a rebox of the ESCI kit that was first released in 1983 so it’s actually an old kit. Features/options include:
The mold has held up and the panel lines are fine and quite nicely done. There’s not much flash and injection pin marks (one big one on the seat’s headrest though). Typical of Italeri, the plastic is softer than what you get from Tamigawa. Also typical of Italeri, the clear parts are a bit thick and lack clarity.
So, definitely a mixed bag. This kit has been superceded by a more modern tooling by Airfix. However, it’s still a good representation of the Sea Harrier by most accounts. It’s also cheaper. More importantly, it’s much easier to find here than the Airfix.
Kit manufacturers of this era hadn’t caught on to the idea of designing kits to accommodate various versions of the same aircraft so there’s a general lack of cutting and fitting of different parts together. So while lacking in finesse and details, they usually come together quite quickly. Fitting can be issue but that’s not really the case with this kit, which on the whole, fits well. Problem areas include:
It’s not all doom and gloom though:
Even with these problems, this is one of my faster aircraft builds due to the small number of parts.
Colors & Markings
I decided to go with the Falklands War option, which features a subdued color scheme and markings. The color scheme is a uniform Dark Sea Grey over every surface, including the missile rails. After seeing some photos, I decided to break up the monotony by going with Medium Sea Grey with the rails. To add some fading of the main color, I sprayed white over the black base first before the Dark Sea Grey went on.
In hindsight, the red color in the decals seems too bright but I don’t have aftermarket one for the kit so it will do.
I used a light gray wash for the panel lines. With the panel lines being so shallow, the effect is quite subdued. I also did some further fading over the top of the kit, since that’s the part that sees the Sun the most.
Doh! After the final photos were done, I realized I didn’t attach the small vane in front of the canopy. I decide that I should move on and not try to deal with the really small part.
Number 8 of 2017
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, The Philippines. 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