For my next build, I decided to tackle a modern aircraft. This time it’ll be the Italeri 1/72 EF-111A Raven or ‘Sparkvark’. The kit is a rebox of a release in the mid 1980s by Esci. Details are good for its age and features recessed panels.
The cockpit features decals for the restraints and the front console but the side consoles are bare so I decided to add some details with randomly cut plastic plates. These were painted Black Grey and drybrushed.
The details aren’t accurate and look oversized but I just wanted to make the consoles look busy. And they should look fine under the canopy.
Fitting overall is OK except for a few areas. First is the tail boom which angles down when attached. It should be straight. So I added some spacers at the bottom to get it to the right position.
The tail boom is originally attached via a butt joint. To strengthen it, I added a rod inside and used superglue. I then layered epoxy putty and shaped it as best as I can to conform to the curves of the structure.
It took a few tries and sessions and I think it turned out OK. Lucky it’s on the bottom. What matters most is the angle of the tail boom is now correct.
There is a noticeable step under the stabilizers on both sides. Since I went to the trouble of fixing the tail, I thought I should fix these too.
Instead of using epoxy putty to fill and shape the gap I decided to just sand down the notch. Much easier.
More fixing of seamlines to come.
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 WikiThe 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.Finishing
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 ‘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
There are various ways of doing paint chipping and one method is using store bought hairspray. Vallejo Chipping Medium claims to replicate the same effect without the mess and the smell that comes with using hairspray. It comes in the typical Vallejo drip bottle. The liquid is thick and has a slight yellowish tint.
As part of my D-Style Iron Kong build, I wanted to have a piece of metal plate in the rubble base so I decided to try this product on it. A piece of cut credit card will serve as the plate. First up I gave it a base color of black grey. Whatever color on this layer will show up after the chipping is done.
Out of the bottle the medium is very thick and I’m not sure if it will spray without thinning so I thinned it in a 1:3 ratio with water. It goes on clear and very glossy which stays that way after drying. I then gave it half a day to dry.
I wanted a checkered pattern for the plate and with bright colors so multiple passes and masking were needed. This will be a good test of the Chipping Medium to see if it’s affected by masking tape. I first sprayed white as a base, then yellow. I then masked the plate and sprayed red. The dried medium didn’t come off when I removed the masking tape. Nice.
Next the fun begins. I first wet the surface of the plate and then used various instruments to try to chip off the paint. I used a soft toothbrush, a piece of pot scrubbing sponge (the rough type), a paint brush, the tip of the handle of the paint brush and also a wet tissue. They resulted in different effects. I find the sponge easiest for edges and the end of a paint brush for beating up the flat surfaces. Once I had the effect I wanted, I dabbed the water away with a tissue to stop the paint from peeling off further.
For the beams below, I tried out handpainting Chipping Medium thinned 1:1 with water. It works fine but the top layer of paint didn’t go on smoothly due to how thick the Chipping Medium was. By swiping the sponge in one direction, I can achieve directional chipping.
Drying time for the Chipping Medium affects how easy it is to chip. The one that was dried for half a day needed some soaking and took more finessing before the paint started to peel whereas the handpainted one which I left to dry for only 15 minutes came off very quickly and easily as soon as some water is introduced.
While sponge and handpaint chipping is probably less time consuming and requires less pre-planning, I think Vallejo Chipping Medium will find a place in everyone’s tool box with its ease of us. I’m quite new at weathering and I find the effects nicer than doing chipping by other traditional methods.
~ Review courtesy of my wallet
When I was studying in Singapore in the 1980s, there was a big model shop in the building right next door to my apartment. Needless to say, I visited the place as often as I could just to ogle at the massive displays they had. In 1984, Hasegawa released these sets:
I never did get any of these. I recently remembered about them and started to wonder why the king of re-pops Hasegawa has never re-issued these since that first release. They were small, transformable and weirdly designed but were charming in their own way.
I have found some on eBay and while the asking price for these aren’t too bad, the shipping costs are at least twice the price of the kits. Too bad.
Media: Injection Plastic
The VF-0 is a development variable fighter pressed into service during the Mayan conflict in 2008 (as depicted in Macross Zero). Introduced in 2004, it is a trial production and testbed using Overtechnology for future variable fighters like the VF-1. Originally tasked with tests and research, production was ramped up and pressed into combat service in 2008 against the Anti-UN Alliance.
The VF-0 is equipped with conventional turbofan jet engines which limits its range, handling and power. The use of the conventional engine also necessitates a larger airframe. Future variable fighters would be fitted with thermonuclear reaction engines which address this major shortcoming.
The VF-0C is a single-seat delta winged variant. The larger wings increased air combat manoeuvrability and a 20% greater payload compared to the A/S variant. The VF-0C was tested by the UN Marine Corps and 6 were produced for this purpose.
This build depicts the squadron leader’s VF-0C from VMFAT-203 ‘Hawks’.
Information from Macross Compendium
Hasegawa released a flurry of kits after Macross Zero premiered. The VF-0C however, did not actually appear in the OVA. While I’m not sure what was going on in the background, the VF-0C and VMFAT-203 Hawks are both canon now. Anyway, this kit is basically a combination of the VF-0A and VF-0D kits. As usual with Hasegawa, the parts are crisply molded with fine panel lines. Details are nice although some ejection pin marks appear in places that boggles the mind: eg. in between the rear facing vanes on the tail. There are also a number of sink marks on some of the parts.
Engine faces are provided both in the (somewhat shallow) intakes and the exhausts which is a nice touch. Another nice touch is the inclusion of a pilot figure. In fact, since this is pretty much a rebox of the VF-0D, there are enough parts for 2 pilots in the box. Nice. Another pleasant surprise is the inclusion of stores although it’s only a pair of rocket pods. Interestingly, there are options to mount the rocket pods dorsally ala the BAe Jaguar and British Electric Lightning.
Markings are for 2 fighters: the colorful squadron leader and a low-viz line fighter.
Construction allows for subassemblies as usual and there is a semi-serious effort to allow for the engines to be installed after final construction (it works but it’s not a drop-in asssembly). Since many components are hidden when everything is put together, I decided to go ahead with having as much of the kit together this time. The wings would prove to be a challenge to fit flush with the fuselage. Given another go I think I would fit the wings first before the legs/engines.
Like my previous VF-22 build, I decided to do this kit wheels up. Like that one, this isn’t supposed to be modeled wheels up so some adjusting and trimming was required. The end result is not perfect. A brass rod was added and reinforced with epoxy putty in a spot that’s not visible externally.
I managed to crack the front canopy so I sacrificed another VF-0 kit for the part. Otherwise, construction was relatively pain-free.
Colors & Markings
I originally wanted a custom camouflage to the kit but ended up with a combination of the 2 kit options: it’ll have the squadron leader’s colorful markings but the color scheme of the line unit. It was a quick matter of black base, base color, mask with blutack, then the dark gray pattern up top. The gun, external tank and rocket pods are in the same color to reduce the amount of work.
After the gloss coat has cured, it was time for the decals. I decided to forego with the small stencils for this one and after about 3 hours of work I was done. Typically of Hasegawa, the decals are thick and need copious amounts of Mark Softer. I also used Mark Setter to get some of the decals to conform around shapes. They look fine after drying overnight.Finishing
After a coat of flat varnish, I added the clear sensors on the nose (which I tinted brown with Tamiya Smoke) and handpainted in the wingtip lights with transparent red and blue over silver. Then it was final assembly with a mix of styrene cement, white glue and superglue.
This kit is surprisingly big and it’s not just because of the delta wing. Overall, it’s wider and longer than an F-14. More importantly though, I have another Queen joining the masses and another Macross jet off my to-build stash. 😀
Number 2 of 2017
Tommy Page’s songs in the late 80s and early 90s basically filled my cassettes through my teenage years. I remember listening to ‘A shoulder cry on‘ on my Walkman while out cycling with my friends on rental bikes at East Coast Parkway in Singapore. Heck, I still have some of his songs in MP3 now permanently on my iTunes playlist. The technology and delivery method changes, but not the songs that shaped my life.
Good night Tommy Page. Thanks for the memories. 46 is way too young…
There’s a very obvious step on the wing joints which I try my best to fix. Nothing too drastic like sanding like mad though. Just an attempt to make the step look less jarring.
Painting begins with a base of black primer.
I’m going with the camo from the kit instruction since I couldn’t come up with something better. So first up the light gray.
Using blutack as a mask, the darker gray goes on. It went quite smoothly this time.
The engine sections on the dorsal were masked off and painted. Then a gloss coat is sprayed to prepare for decals. I decided to skip all the stencils. As usual, Hasegawa’s decals are thick and require a lot of Mark Softer. But once cured, they look fine. Some prepainting was required for the wingtips and the tailfins. This simply means more tape and being careful about overspray. 24 hours of curing later, I wiped down the kit with a wet cloth to remove any decal residue. After that it’s another glosscoat to seal the decals in.
Panel line wash is next with Raw Umber oil paint and left to dry for 24 hours. During this time I notice parts of a formation light decal tore off. I carefully re-attached these back with Future. The result is OK if not looked at too closely.
I decided to try out some pin washes with oil paint following the instructions from my friend Maxwinamp. The effect is two-fold: 1) it weathers the surface to simulate airflow over the mecha 2) I find it somewhat blends the camouflage by giving an overall filter. I went easy on the pin washes though as in canon, the VF-0C wasn’t used heavily operationally.
After a day of drying, I took another look at the kit and decided it needed more weathering. I went with white and black oil paint only for this round. I also added streaks with a 6B pencil and swiping the marks with my thumb.
Final assembly is next along with painting of the small details like wingtip lights.
A few days ago, Bill Paxton passed away due to complications from surgery. For me, his most memorable role was always as Private Hudson in Aliens. So much so that I still quote his character in my daily life. With the news of his death I realized just how many movies I’ve enjoyed that he has appeared in: True Lies, Edge of Tomorrow, Apollo 13, Tombstone, Twister, 2 Guns, U-571, Navy Seals (he played God!), Predator 2 and The Terminator. Heck, even Stripes!. Funnily, he is only 1 of 2 actors with the honor of being killed off by an Alien, Predator and Terminator. 61 is really too young.
Good night sir. Rest well.
Don't mind the missing images on old posts. My server had to be rebooted and I pretty much lost a ton of content.