Here we go again. Picking up the pace and back into the flow of things a little bit. My primary goal is to focus on a solid paint job at all levels. I’m aiming to practice the candy coat / high gloss finishes a bit more since my last build still fell short, but also focus on detailing on the inner frame and all throughout.
In the past for kits I’ve pretty much built the entire kit OOB and then took it apart and painted. In many cases this was more required as I’ve mostly built HG kits, but with these MG kits that have a decent inner frame it’s a bit different. Instead I figured out I can build the inner frame and get an idea of how it fits, but leave off the armor layer for now which will be easy to attach later. On HG kits, I many times there wasn’t such a clean cut line between inner and outer frame, and there were many more seamlines to cover.
So to start, I built the inner frame, didn’t bother with the rest. This would give me an idea of the core so I could paint it, and the rest I can paint and attach as needed. We’ll see how it goes.
For the inner frame I want to go with a gloss finish. Pretty common it seems as many people detail with steel or chrome or gold. I’ll stick with gloss black, stainless steel, and a gloss red (to reattempt my candy red look). I’ll be using Alclad II gloss black base and Alclad II stainless steel, and Mr. color clear dark red (reminder to self, get specific color). After initial test build, I noted which pieces would be which primary color, disassembled, and separated into three piles.
Based on my last build, I learned that the final coat really all depends on the gloss black base being as good as possible. I cleaned the pieces in an ultrasonic cleaner this time around, and did several layers of gloss black (starting light and finishing with a wet coat). I think I did a better job with the black this time around as most pieces turned out pretty good.
For the steel pieces, I repeated the process used for black, and then did stainless steel in light layers, one direction only (saw this mentioned on some video). They actually turned out pretty nice in my opinion.
For red, repeat with black, then steel, then several layers of red. Nothing new. At first I only had a couple light coats of red and I almost stopped, but I’m glad I went several more layers as it gave it a much deeper look.
Trials In Polishing
Overall, the paint job turned out much glossier than on the MG Rick Dias. But I wanted to test further and see what could happen. After watching a handful of YouTube videos, I decided I should try polishing and wet sanding as well.
Wet sanding with fine and ultrafine sand paper seemed to be one method people used while working on gloss finishes. I guess it must depend on the paints used, but I had bad luck trying. I tried 12000 grit down to 4000 grit (about as coarse as I went), but it just caused more work. I used the “Micro Mesh Soft Touch Sanding Pads” found on amazon. With the Alclad II gloss black, and stainless steel, even 12000 grit alone with almost to no pressure still stripped paint (after drying 24 hrs+). 12000 grit did not strip much, but it did strip along the edges and details. Going lower was only worse.
Verdict: wet sanding with any grit (tested as high as 12000 grit) Alclad II still strips the paint.
Next I tried manually polishing. I bought the Novus Plastic Polish Kit, trying Clean & Shine on painted gloss black and stainless steel. Unfortunately, I couldn’t tell a difference. Perhaps it helped, but if so minimal. However, it did not strip the paint and require repainting, so that was progress. I still need to try the other two polishes.
Verdict: Plastic polish doesn’t strip Alclad II, but benefits may be minimal.
Next up, dremel with polish pad! This seemed far fetched, but there was one YouTube video where the author used a dremel with polish pad to polish up a 2k Clear Coat. It looked absolutely fantastic. They also demonstrated wet sanding and above. Of course, the key thing to note was the 2k clear coat, which I didn’t have. It makes a huge difference, because in my case guess what happened? Yes, stripped paint.
I tried by topping with Holloway House Quick Shine (my Future Floor replacement) and then put the dremel on lowest speed and went to polishing. The first half second super light touch was alright. But after that or with any pressure and off comes the clear coat and paint as well. Maybe one day I’ll get a chance to try out 2k clear coat, but it sounds like it’s got a short lifespan once opened and isn’t super cheap, so it may not be the most practical unless I had a good number of kits to put a clear coat on.
I tried both airbrushing and hand brushing the Quick Shine coat as well to see if that made a difference. Brushing it felt like I could get it on much thicker, but definitely not thick enough for this.
The following was with hand brushing the clear coat. Not bad, but there are some parts in the crevices that needed to be put on smoother with a brush (kind of hard to see in photos). Up close you can see the unevenness of the clear coat.
After it started stripping with the dremel, I just stripped it all away to prepare for another few rounds of painting. Below is purely from the dremel polish pad (no thinner necessary).
Verdict: Alclad II paints cannot stand up to dremel and polish.
Trials in Brushing Details
There was a handful of detail I wanted to do but seemed too small or challenging to mask and airbrush, so I opted to hand brush those details. First, I tried hand brushing Alclad II stainless steel (same as I airbrushed), but it’s simply too thin for hand brushing. It comes in the bottle ready for airbrush. Hand brushing doesn’t work well and it just runs.
My next best alternative was Mr. Metal Color Chrome Silver that I had on hand. I went ahead and applied to a few pieces.
Mr. Metal Color is alright on it’s own, but it’s not the same as Alclad II and still looks less metal like and more plastic like in my opinion. I also read that polishing (just with qtip or towel, nothing fancy) Mr. Metal Colors after dry helps clean and shine them up quite a bit.
Unfortunately again, what I missed at first was just how easily Mr. Metal Color comes off. Used a towel at first and you can see below where I accidentally rubbed some of the chrome off where it should be and onto the black (along the edges).
Another piece done more cleanly…
Q-tips are the way to go for polishing up Mr. Metal Color.
In the end, I think polishing Mr. Metal Color helps but it doesn’t make it significantly glossier or anything like that. Instead, it simply smooths out the rough spots and helps it look a bit more even.
The only other downside is since I was airbrushing Alclad II, it’s not an exact match. It would be nice if it were, but I think if I wanted exact I would need to find a way to mask off and airbrush all the Alclad II.
Mr. Metal Color Chrome Silver (left) vs. Alclad II Stainless Steel (right).
Next up, I ordered a Molotow liquid chrome marker (1mm). It actually came out really nice chrome looking, but quickly appeared to react with the alclad black that was underneath. In some places it was very smooth, but others you can see it started bubbling. In the end, I decided not to use it, because I both need more practice applying it and/or it won’t go over Alclad, and also it was actually a bit too chrome-like compared to other parts I had painted and didn’t match. It would likely work better in smaller details than I tried below as well.
Starting To Put Together
At this point I began putting the inner frame back together. One thing I need to focus on next time is sand around joints and parts that rub each other more prior to painting. After adding the paint it’s pretty stiff to move and pose. While there are some differences in the Alclad stainless steel and Mr. Metal Color that I wish weren’t there, it’s not too bad. I guess it gives more variation at the very least.
Next mistake came when I thought I told myself I didn’t need too much masking and could aim the airbrush well enough. Alclad sprays easy and smooth, so I figured a low PSI and proper aiming would be enough. It wasn’t enough, especially given it was next to white. You can see along the edge where I had masked (I’m not THAT bold) and the rest that I hadn’t. When airbrushing, I didn’t notice the overspray and it all looked ok, until I removed the masking tape and realized it had actually oversprayed. This mistake would set me back some more as I had to fix…Should’ve just spent the extra couple minutes up front to wrap the larger piece. Parafilm is great for this kind of thing. I’ve used it more on the resin figurines than Gunpla since gunpla tends to have sharper corners and edges, but it still worked great for covering big areas after proper masking of the edge.
I finally got around and ordered a small Testors enamel paint set (including gold, chrome, and handful of other colors), since I had realized brushing Alclad doesn’t work well and I’ve needed some enamels for a while in case I want to do reverse wash or similar. In addition, I have some of those detail type colors in Mr. Metal Color, but it’s a bit chalky and easily rubs onto nearby areas until a clear coat is applied, and for many small details a simple enamel would work fine.
I also like this pistons in general on the kit (HG kits I’ve done certainly didn’t have any), but at the same time it’s a bit odd in how this one works. If you put the cover on (inner frame, there are actually a couple more layers), it’s completely hidden. In theory it may slightly be visible if you were to fully rotate the joint, but it’s not a realistic pose in that case unless you are going for yoga gunpla. I ended up applying some glue to hold the piston up a bit to show inner paint, as otherwise it just falls down and closes completely.
Decals – Why You Should Plan Ahead
The below image probably should give you something else to add to the check list before you start building and painting kits. Back when I received this kit years ago, I had bought the waterslide decals that go along with it – they are after all much better than what’s included (not that the original would fix this issue). Unfortunately, decals for a kit are meant to go with that kits native color scheme. If you change that, be careful. This kit is originally some shade of earthy pink/red/clay (I’m not great with color names). White decals would be fine on that. White decals are not so great if you change that primary color to well, white.
Instead, I had to make do with the orange and black decals, stole some from the Zaku II set on this same decal sheet, and a few gray decals from a generic decal sheet I had (I also have some red generic decals, but it would’ve clashed too much with the dark/deep red of this kit).
I was able to use some of the white decals on the red parts, although my choices of placement were more limited.
There are also some static pistons on the foot I had painted and I would’ve hated to cover completely. However, leaving this front piece off also wasn’t great because there would’ve been holes to fill and it just didn’t look right. I have always wanted to do an open hatch build, and while I don’t really want to get into that project and customization too much on this kit (let’s be real, I’ve been working on this one for months already and kind of ready to move on), I figured I’d do something simple and raise the piece a bit at least. I just used some glue as it’s pretty small and I think it’ll hold fine. We’ll see.
I’m not entirely sure what to do about these seam lines where the white comes together. Maybe it’s just this older kit design, but this is one of it’s weak points in my opinion. Most other places come together pretty naturally and have seems covered well, but here it doesn’t. Not sure if it was always this way or if my painting and handling of the parts made it worse. I could go through the process of gluing, sanding, and repainting to remove this seam, but unfortunately it’s on the outer armor and would need to be done in place essentially on the finished kit. I’ll probably pass for now.
Just piecing more together, trying to get an idea of how I’ll display the finished kit. Since I went through trouble of detailing inner frame, I’ll probably try to display in a couple places, leaving various layers off here and there.
I had waited until I had majority of kit built to decide on paint scheme for the shield, as I wasn’t sure how it would all come together in the end. In my head it was actually going to be more red somehow, but the black of the inner frame is more visible and brings more to the kit than I had imagined.
I decided to continue with stainless steel and red on the shield. However, I think impatience may have gotten me this time around. I think I painted the stainless steel layer in the morning, and went to top off the red in the evening. Applying Mr. Color over Alclad previously hadn’t been an issue, but perhaps there had been more drying time between. Here, you can see it didn’t work so well (or my red had more thinner in it this time around).
It was quite strange actually. At first small cracks started to appear. I thought maybe I had a hair or something on it, but continued to crack a little bit more.
I gently touched with a toothpick as it seemed like a rough spot that I hadn’t properly sanded or something but hadn’t shown up in other layers of paint, and it caused it to simply go wild and expand quite quickly….the image below on the left side shows the part I had barely touched with a toothpick, versus the right bottom side which is what happened naturally without touching with toothpick.
Just when I thought I was done, time to sand and strip and start over on this part, and redo all three layers of paint. I sanded it all down, and then applied an additional layer of Mr. Surfacer 1000 prior to painting the black this time since I had done some heavy sanding and wanted to try my best to make sure it came out smooth.
And I think that brings us to the end of this WIP. I may add more once the kit is fully done if new issues arise, but we’re just about there and just need to finish this shield and a couple other little details, clear coat, and pose.