I prepped the missiles with colors based on their real-life counterparts. In the anime the AIM-120s were all white with 3 blue bands although the AIM-9s looked to be accurate.
As per usual, the first coat is a gloss coat using AK Interactive Gauzy.
What set this build off was me finding a copy of the F-14 Kai decals on eBay. It’s not a legit Hasegawa set so I’m not sure how well these would turn out but the fidelity is quite good on first glance. But the proof is in the pudding yeah?
First impressions is quite good. They are glossy and slide off the backing quickly. They are also quite strong and don’t tear easily although thicker than normal. They also took well to Mark Softer as evidenced by the ‘UNSF-225 01’ marking on the ventral fins.
Halfway through decaling I realized I missed out on painting the gun barrel plate on the port nose. This required some careful masking.
But it turned out well: I didn’t damage any of the existing decals.
I decided to add all the small stencils this time but they turned out to be too stark against the gray surface with their solid black color.
Initially, I decided fade these later on in the weathering stage but thought it might be easier to just do it now. I started with very thinned Model Air Dark Ghost Grey (about 1:1 ratio) and then added about half as much Glaze Medium to knock the opacity way down. I then carefully ‘painted’ the decals.
I think it worked quite well!
The markings don’t stand out as starkly as previously although I hope another coat of gloss to seal the markings in will knock back some of the silvering.
Next is another gloss coat to seal the decals.
Weathering begins with a panel wash using raw umber oil paint.
After a quick wipe down the panel lines are done. I like the subtler effect due to the shallow panel lines.
I then realized I forgot to add a decal on the top of the fuselage. There should be a long dark gray line going across the back.
Since I couldn’t unsee it, I decided to mask and spray the line instead of using the decal.
I used Model Air Dark Panzer Grey to get a more faded color than straight black.
And of course, I fix 1 problem I get another one. In this case, the masking tape managed to lift the port side slime lights. I had to carefully salvage the pieces from the masking tape and stick them back onto the kit using Future as the adhesive. I’ll live with it.
Usually I’d simply start streaking, fading and staining all over the kit. But I decided to try something else: I sprayed a semi-gloss coat over the kit first.
I want to see if a more grippy finish will make it easier to add stains and streaks.
Based on photos, the aft sections of the top and bottom fuselages get the most weathering. I added random spots of AMMO Oilbrusher Starship Filth and Raw Umber oil paint then stippled a damp flat brush over the surface.
I went with more Raw Umber oil paint for the bottom as photos show this area has browner-looking stains.
The area on the wings that go into the fuselage when the wings swing get stained quite badly too. There are also usually quarter circle patterns on them which I tried to replicate free-hand.
There are also stains at the bottom but they aren’t as dirty.
I then worked around the kit in random spots with the same 2 colors and Abteilung Neutral Grey to add some fading effects.
I went more heavy handed with the oil paint on the side where the pilot steps are.
Once everything is cured, I went back in to handpaint the small details like the ECM antenna and fuel dump pipe.
The chinpod sensors were also handpainted.
Instead of dealing with the clear parts for the wing glove lights I tried painting the inside of the housings then use PVA glue to fill the holes. They dry clear but shrinks a bit so multiple passes are required. I think the result is acceptable for the scale.
The missiles were then slowly and carefully attached with cement and Mig AMMO Ultra Glue. 1 AIM-120 looks over-weathered. I’ll just assuume it’s an older missile in the inventory onboard Illustria. Hah!
The engine nozzles were finally attached and thankfully they click in place so there’s no need to fuss around with cement. The tailfin tip lights were also (very carefully) added, painted transparent red then given a drop of Future.
Last on were all the pitot tube, probes and antennas on the nose. These were held in place with Mig AMMO Ultra Glue then handpainted when dry. The masking over the canopy was also finally removed. There were some paint bleeds but these were carefully cleaned up with a cotton bud dipped in Vallejo Airbrush Cleaner.
After attaching the kit to the base, I then friction fit the wings and the stabilizers. Amazingly, no scratched paint this time!
I must say it looks quite striking with the wings extended. Took a damned while to get here though!