Thursday, February 24, 2011

The X Walker Part VIII

I know I said previously that I'll be working on the weapons, but I may have to bring that out in the next update. I'd like to thank Kamm for giving me those Warhammer references for the shin guards. As it is, it's scratch-building time once again.

I had to change the shin guard mounts to accommodate the simpler shin guard reference Kamm gave.

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Using larger pieces of HIPS trimmings, I roughly cut a shape (half of the actual shin guard) using one of the Warhammer pics as reference. Then used that as the template to create a whole one by reflecting the shape on its edge.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The X Walker Part VII

Another quick update:

High Impact Plastic Sheets (HIPS) as they are called, are also polystyrene sheets similar if not the same as branded plaplates like Tamiya, but are a bit softer and actually easier to shape and work with. Tamiya plaplates although sturdy and stiff, actually breaks easier when bent along the grain, whereas HIPS of the same thickness can bend farther without breaking even when bent along the grain. It also has less tensile strength or spring and is less likely to counter its bent shape, hence easier to form as a curved surface.

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Since I'm still avoiding putty at this point, I had to bend the slab two ways; perpendicularly at first, then at an angle corresponding to the curve of the section I'm building to.

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This particular section covers the side that encases the vulcan gun.

Up next, the weapons. Will finish this within the week, and hopefully paint it on the weekend.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The X Walker Part VI

Another Quickie:

Strangely enough, I've actually gotten more work done while "wasting" my time at our new found Skype Chat addiction.

I've had another dilemma earlier on how to connect the thigh to the groin polycap swivel, but after a few musings (which in foresight, was probably why I bulked up the thigh to begin with), I realized I had no other choice but to make another insert "lock." I've encased the thigh in strategically shaped HIPS, and these in turn became the slot for the polycap swivel (red) I customized earlier.

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I'll Blog About It...

So, what do MAC modelers do aside from mangling plastic?

We video conference via Skype, complete with exchanging tips and tricks and cuss remarks in various languages.  It started informally a couple of days ago when Man-Love-Hungry Kamm started the Skype thread at MAC, and all of a sudden, we were all spending our time, free or otherwise, on Skype.

DC23 and I have always envisioned MAC as more than just an International Gunpla Community.  The conferencing idea actually started about a month ago when Kamm lamented that since he was in England, he wouldn't be able to see our ugly mugs in the MAC meet last January 29.  I kinda suggested we could video the Meet, and post it online, and Kamm and the other international members can also post their video reactions.

Little did we know that Kamm initiating that thread would spark this ongoing conference that allowed us to see and hear each other.  Kriz was frustrated at first because his mic won't work, and he "nicked" his mom's camera the day after for the vid conference.  I was only able to join the voice conference a little later mainly because my mic was more for audio recording and wasn't set up.

We got to see Kriz's huge, er, collection. Kamm, who is English, sounds eerily like a Scot or Irish, then again, anyone from that region of Europe sound alike to the ear of the unfamiliar.  We keep hearing those jets passing by since PhantomPain lives near an airport.  I mistook Hummingbird's sister for his mom, but she was very nice about my mistake.  And, for the life of me, we were all wondering what the hell Rzero1 was looking at up there when his video stream froze.

Currently, we have plenty more joining the fray, but the fun thing is when we all exchange cuss remarks.  Kamm remarks that although I seem pretty serious at the Forums, I could take a joke quite good as I give.  Like, I'd let him throw more than I do.

So why the blog title?  It's DC23's favorite line in the Skype conference, but I beat him to it.

And yes, we are learning from each other, not just Gunpla techniques, but also about each other.  MAC continues to break borders, scale-wise, kit-wise and culture-wise...

Friday, February 18, 2011

The X Walker Part V

 A very quick update:

Progress is a bit slow since I'm still avoiding having to use putty for this build, but I've managed to add volume to the main body. I also used a section of a Kotobukiya weapon set I got a long time ago which I've not found a use for until now. I believe DC23 has the same weapon set, since he used the rifle for his Kampfer.

First layer of HIPS.

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Second layer.

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I kinda like how the HIPS overlays form eyes, so I might exploit that when I do the final layering.

That's it for now.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

The X Walker Part IV

Just a quick update.

With plenty of surplus parts still in my bin, I had plenty of options on how the X-Walker's main body would look. I'm sure I won't be able to use all of these, considering they are all mismatched parts that won't really fit what is on my mind.

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Saturday, February 12, 2011

More Sticky Stuff...

I bought a 15mL bottle of acetone to do further testing and comparison. Judging by the smells, I can now conclude that the similarities of acetone. reducer and cement ends there. The don't even smell the same when smelled simultaneously or one after another. Cement has a mild ketone/ethyl alcohol scent, followed by the reducer, with the acetone as most potent in vapor fume. Acetone also evaporates rather quick, cooling skin as it does. Extra Thin and the reducer evaporates slightly slower, but does not cool the skin.

This time around, I cut several pieces of red ABS runners from the PG Astray and soaked them in reducer (left) and acetone (right). Note that I've prepared the acetone soak a full 10 minutes earlier than the reducer.

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The X Walker Part III

Major Update (well, kind of)!

I was stumped on how to do the upper main body of the X-Walker, though I do have a preliminary design in the works (and cemented). Not wanting it to look too much like ED-209, I scrounged for more scrap parts in my bin for the groin.hip assembly. I have plenty of polycaps from the PG Astray, as well as a few parts from my Strike Freedom EBM. With a few pieces of 1.5mm HIPS, I made this.

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The resulting design has a 3-point articulation on either side, allowing the X-Walker to raise its body a bit without extending its legs, pivot its body up and down, and the swivel allows for human-like leg pivoting for faster turns.

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The groin mount is a dual-end polycap sandwiched between customized holders, which in turn interlocks with the front-end of the groin. The hole on the top is the mount for the main body fo a 270ยบ swivel.

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Using more surplus parts from my Astray, I removed the ball joints from the end of the upper thighs, made a few cuts here and there, and added bulk to the thigh ends for the groin mounts. I used a 3mm round beam to plug the joins since this would be a high stress point. The joint will also probably be an interlock modification.

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Test fit.

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Minor addendum:

I forgot I actually took earlier photos for an earlier update, but totally forgot about it somewhat. Anyways, I've simplified the ankle lock so that the toe assembly locks into the ankle assembly, reducing the interlocks to just two main assemblies. The previous one easily slides off even with the lock in place when I tug the toe. This eliminates that problem.

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I carved a recess into the slot the toe goes into, that was, I can keep the dual-part separate but keep the integrity of the assembly while I still make adjustments and test fits.

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sticky Stuff...

I've upgraded this former part of my Concept Mecha X-Walker build into a full-blown tip/tutorial.

I discovered a very nice and CHEAPER alternative to Extra Thin Cement, courtesy of new friends from IPMS Manila. I've been wanting to try this stuff for months, but, I still had a couple of bottles of extra thin, so I delayed getting it until I ran out, which was during the Concept Mecha build.

It's called Hudson Polyurethane Reducer. As it is, Tamiya Cement, or any branded plastic cement for that matter, contains "synthetic resin" and "Organic Styrene Solvent." Tamiya cement smells much like clear nail polish or acetone, and some people do use nail polish as an alternative to cement. The PU reducer smells much like acetone and has a stronger scent than cement, so I suppose acetone is the "Organic Styrene Solvent" component of cement. I've tried it on this build and I'm satisfied with the results so far. At 133~140 Pesos a liter, I've got around 20~25 40mL bottles of extra thin cement for the price of one.  It also comes in a 1 Gallon can, and the liter can I bought was the last one on stock.

The thing is, with this, I've got an alternative for extra thin, but, I also use regular cement heavily for most of my scratch-builds so I thought of making myself a batch. (which, I noted, I have to buy a glass beaker and graduated cylinder to avoid spillage).

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Using a leftover amount from a batch I poured (which yielded a total of 3 extra thin bottles and two hybrid/mixed bottles, one of which is PVC cement and the other Tamiya Regular), I soaked a few pieces of scrapped styrene build parts from the Angelus. The picture above is about a few minutes into soaking, and as you can see, the PUR has started doing it work. In as little as 30 minutes, the solution has turned milky white, and more than half of the styrene has melted.

The picture below (l-r) shows the pure batch, the hybrid (half regular/half PUR), and the batch I made. Testing the stuff proved successful. I believe that because of the melted styrene, the bond it created between my test slabs is quite stronger than with regular cement. I tried prying the sandwich from each other with my knife unsuccessfully, whereas using the same amount of force, it was easy with regular cement.

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Testing the "MatX Cement" Formula.  I've been using my own cement concoction for the Concept Mecha build, and so far the results have been most favorable, if not better than Tamiya Regular and Extra Thin Cement.  Since I do a lot of modifications that involve marrying ABS/ABS and ABS/PS and have successfully achieved it with just a combination of Tamiya cement variants, I wanted to see if the stuff I mixed will work on cement-hardy ABS plastic.

I've tried the solution to both ABS label slabs and runners from my Red Astray stash, and was quite amazed with the results.

That's OOZE coming out from between the ABS slabs.  I believe the PUR alone can melt ABS, but the melted styrene also helps with the overall bond.  Although I've experience color staining when combining red ABS with white styrene using Tamiya cement, I haven't seen ABS ooze out like this when I apply pressure.

Here's something I've tested just a few days ago.  With enough curing time, the bond holds well (notice that I'm forcing the sprues), even without my usual "plug" reinforcements.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Top 10 Favorite Mobile Suits

I'm not really planning to make any top 10 list, though I did start a blog named the X-List a while back but that's an entirely different story.  I first posted this at MAC Forum, and owing that I'm still a tad slow on the updates, I'll just put this filler for the meantime.

1.  The Sinanju - this monster, as the lore has it, was based on the Sazabi's frame.  For me, it's quite an improvement from the Saz, with all the right curves on the right places, a very balanced contrast of smooth curves and pointy edges, and a balanced overall weight to width to height ratio.  Lore-wise, it's the meaner brother of the Unicorn (which I actually didn't like up until recently when I made the Chimera) in terms of development since both were developed and created by Anaheim.  Full-Frontal, as it turns out, specifically directed the development of the Unicorn for him to have a worthy opponent.

The MG construction itself is sturdy, and looks good as it is out of the box.  There is little one can do in improving its look, but the likes of Toymaker has done wonders for this beast.

2.  The Exia - I first saw this MS design three years ago when one of my artists gave me a "copy" of the series.  I was no longer collecting Gs at the time, as my previous other collections were "destroyed" by my kids (mine proof that Gundam kits AREN'T toys since they don't stand up well enough against playfull hands).  It was a gradual liking of the design itself that led my to buy the NG version a year after and thus restarted my Gundam collection. 

3.  The Red Frame Astray - After the Exia, this was the kit I got from Great Toys (which was still at Goldcrest/Glorietta at that time).  This is the ONLY kit I really like from the Seed series.  I mangled my NG version quite fast, as it turns out, this kit has rather brittle plastic as compared to the NG Exia.  Because I like this MS design so much, I got the PG version as soon as it came out, and has just recently acquired the MG.

4.  The Full Cloth Crossbone X1 - There's something about this kit that drew me in after having bought the F91.  It's a tad small, only 15 cm in height, so it was but natural for me to wish it was bigger.  As it turns out, scale-wise, The MS in the series itself is actually small because the developers didn't have enough money to make the Crossbone taller (which, if you ask me, is a load of bull if you look at the Xbone's armaments).

5.  The GN X - I'm not much for protagonists MS design (I don't like the Zaku or any of its incarnations a redesigns much, and the only one that grew on me is the White Wolf), but this is actually one of those fresh ideas that is neither Gundam nor Zaku in terms of design. 

6.  The Wing - Like most people I know, I started my first collection AFTER Gundam Wing was shown here in Manila.  The MG was a bit of a disappointment in ways I'd rather not discuss.  I have both the vKa and the MG versions, and I'm torn between the individual flaws of each.

7.  The Deathschythe - 'nuff said.  I had the original 1/144 HG TV version of this a while back, and got a1/100 on sale at Landmark more than 7 years ago.  Suffice it to say that this was one of those that got mangled up pretty quick.  As far as the MG version and the DS Hell are concerned, I have the same issues as with the MG Wing, and have delayed getting one.

8.  The Hi-Nu - I am impressed mainly with how the MG was constructed.  This was one of kits that really drew me in back into collecting, and was the first kit I ever painted.

9.  The Turn A and Turn X - These two share the same spot because both are also radical designs that don't quite look like Gundams nor Zakus.  Unlike the Unicorn though (which didn't make it to the list), I actually liked the Turn A rather easily maybe because it's human-like in structure, and the Turn X because of how fierce it looks.

10.  The Dynames - I like the concept behind this Sniper Gundam, especially its very long range sniping capabilities of hitting a target at low earth orbit.


Congratulations to Elbert Isaac for winning the Best Straight Category of GG's G-Shot Photo Contest with his Cleanly built MG Exia Ignition Mode.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The X Walker Part II

Just a quick update:

As luck goes, I had classes from Tuesday to Thursday, at the same time my month-long pending projects got green lighted, and then some. I also had a job interview, which I had to reschedule because I was so exhausted after my class, leaving me with no time for plastics. I only got to work on this Friday night, and my lunchtime rendezvous got canceled as well because I had to rush something.

Anyways, I was able to finish most of the basic leg construction.

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I've built "ankle locks" using using plaplates and HIPS from my scrap pile, and so far I still have to work on a few kinks of the design. This is the second design since the first one failed miserably. I'm limited by the small space I have to work on with regards to connecting the toe part to the main feet assembly, and I might have to cement the swivels permanently to keep its integrity and for me to be able to simplify the assembly.

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The 1.5mm HIPS is actually rather sturdy and ideal for building parts that require bulk and strength.

And These Came in the Mail

Rather, I had these sent to my school since I was on an off-site training.  Bosny Philippines has once again graciously sent me free...