Thursday, September 20, 2012

"HARIBON" MG RMS 108 Marasai vMatX Part V

I haven't been able to touch Gunpla, literally, for two weeks since I got "swamped" with work and had a 3-day on-site seminar that left me a bit drained, even I has a little time to do work on Gunpla. I felt sleepy all the time and sometimes fall asleep in the middle of typing something (I often joke I could do things in my sleep).

Before I took that two-week break to reality, I did manage to do a very simply modification to one of the Marasai's "open hand" manipulators. I find strange that Bandai included a set of manipulators jointed at two places where the only real pose you can do with it is open-hand. I would have been satisfied if they included a pair of solid open-hand manipulators, a pair of closed-fist, and the usual v2.0 manipulators like what is included with the Zaku/Sinanju. I really don't find any logic in this.

More so, it was how the thumb digit was positioned that left me at awe. It's positioned pointing down and into the palm, with no provision to move it outward for a more dramatic pose.

So, I modified it to enable it to do an outward pose, but keep the inward pose as well. Even though this is a simple mod, it is nonetheless a delicate one. I CAREFULLY added a hole on the side of the thumb area and carved through the existing hole. I reinforced and thickened the area with 0.3mm plaplate to keep the ball of the thumb digit snugly into place regardless of its position.

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I also modified and customized the head, but I'll post that much later.

When I resumed the build yesterday, I did so with uneasy hands, especially since I as cutting and bending small parts. I left off the Harbon up to the frame extensions, so it was time to "rebuild" the armor to accommodate the extensions.

First off, the arms. I decided to build the armor extension of the upper arm as a separate unit instead of attaching it directly to the existing armor in order to avoid having to contend with the shape of the base of armor as well as adding detail in the process. I made a 3mm sandwich, aligned and shaped to the cross section of the upper arm.

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This served as the foundation for the shaped 0.5mm WHIPS that wraps around it to form the additional armor.

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Then I simply added 1.0mm WHIPS to the lower arm extension, just enough to fit the wrist armor and align it when attached.

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I used a similar approach with the thigh extension, but this time, I mounted it directly onto the armor since it has a more even shape and has a larger area. I then reinforced the top section with another piece of 0.5mm. This will help the the modification keep its form when it cures.

I used 0.5mm for this since it's easier to bend, and since it's less springy than 1.0mm, I could work faster on having it hold on to the base armor. I used magic tape (I couldn't find my regular masking tape) to hold the shape as it cured for 30 minutes, just so I can quickly do test fits and make adjustments. After 24 hours, it should be fully cured and "solid" as.

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Test fit. I'll still be adding detail to this, but that will be done when I add full details overall.

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Previously, even simple modifications like these will take me days to do, so I can safely say I am becoming a bit faster these days. I estimate I only have around 2 weeks, give or take a few days to finish this build. I'll try to finish the armor detailing and Wings in a week, and paint the week after that. I have another class this weekend, so that will surely eat up two whole days. So I'll probably work on the groundwork for the diorama during that time.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Commissions, Rainy Days and Everything in Between

Commissions.  The next step in the evolutionary process of modeling, where one gets compensated for working on something one loves to do.

Even though I have had a few inquiries before, I haven't really done or have accepted commissions because at the time, circumstances prevented me from doing so.  I've had inquiries where I am asked to do repair work, but it was simple enough, I just told the one inquiring on how to fix it himself.  There were also at least major build commissions that came to my doorstep, but I had projects back then, both Gunpla and otherwise, so I wasn't able to do make a commitment.  There were also hints by people if I wanted to sell my previous builds, but all I can tell them was, "I'll think about it" and never followed through.

The fierce look of the Deathscythe
(Photo credit: Gunpla-Inochi)

Raining Hell.  It was a rainy day.  Someone from Gundam Philippines, a local group of modelers and collectors, issued a challenge that was right up my alley and was too hard for me to resist.  The Challenge?  Convert a PG Wing Zero Custom to a DeathScythe Hell.  I wouldn't have noticed the thread, that group has very active members who constantly post almost anything under the sun aside from the usual stock of Gunpla and toy-related stuff, if not for the fact that I was tagged at least twice on that thread, and once tagged, I get all the notifications when someone posts after the tag.  I got at least 20 notifications on that post alone, and since I was at an off-site training at the time, the notifications I  got ballooned.

Coming Soon!

In one of my replies I said, "If this is serious, I'm in.  I'll need references."  I listed the DeathScythe as one of my top ten favorite mobile suits, so it was that more than anything else that made me accept the challenge.  I needed an excuse to get an MG DSH, and surely enough, I got one.  Aside from being my reference, I'll also me modifying the MG DSH to reflect what modifications I will put on the conversion.  Hence, the Hellraiser Project is born.

This is going to be enormous.  My thoughts linger on how I simplified my wing design and construction for the Bathala, but even that is still rather complicated because it is fully articulated in several places, compared to the that of the Deathscythe Hell's wings.  So, it wasn't a stretch that I didn't see the wing as a major thing to worry about, but, it would be the major part of the build since it'll be built entirely from scratch.

The Bathala's Wings
The MG Deathscythe Hell's Wings.

Even though Arvin Ignacio, the one who issued the challenged, and I haven't talked details yet, I was already thinking of how to improve the DSH's wing (I actually have been thinking about it since the MG DSH was released).  I'll modify the Wings as such there won't be any gaps when it is fully spread.  If I am able to do that on the MG, I'll be able to do it on the PG.  I won't be replicating the MG Wing point by point in internal construction because of the scale and like always, weight issues, but the functionality of the two will be similar.

I have leeway on making the PG DSH's wing more stable because it has a solid structure throughout.  I'll also tweak the design, making the the curves curvier and longer, to give it a more organic look.

Second Wind.  In the heat of it all, Bryan Mallorca, one of the people who hinted on having me do a commission (at the time, I thought he was just responding to my joke about him giving me a rare kit if I do a commission) followed through and asked me if I was willing to do it.  He mentioned two kits, and I chose The HGUC Stark Jegan to build as I please and turn it to a "MatX Custom."  He and I met that afternoon over Hungarian sausage (along with a friend of mine) and sealed the deal.  This commission, which I hereby tentatively dub the Hercules, and the Hellraiser are now intertwined.  I will work on the Hercules while modifications on the Hellraiser are curing, using the quick techniques I've developed while building the Bathala ang the Haribon.

A Third and a Fourth, and maybe a Fifth.  The adage, "when it rains, it pours," have more than once applied to me, and literally most of the time during rainy seasons.  I get more projects, more opportunities, more brushes with serendipity during the rainy season, when I often choose not to go out in the rain.  But, I don't see rain as a bad thing any more than one would see clouds in the sky as signs of rains to come.  I just go on my day as it is, even though rain, and the weather in general, affect me directly in more ways than one.

Those people who also hinted on having me do commissions have also finally formally asked, even if it was just hypothetical.  As such, there are a few things for me to look forward to.

Speaking of the Haribon, I haven't touched it, literally, for almost 2 weeks now because of work-related stuff, and it stands on top of my mousepad, eerily eyeing my every move with an almost accusing stare.  The Hellraiser Project will have to wait a month, as my dreams of the Haribon might turn into nightmares, like when I was building the Ronin for the second time.  This is something I need to have done, not because there is a deadline for a competition, but I plan to do more builds as well finish the ones I've started in as short a time as possible.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

"HARIBON" MG RMS 108 Marasai vMatX Part IV

I did say on my previous update that I'll be working on a couple of projects first, but I was able to move them back a day, as such allowed me to work on some additional primary modifications.

I guess I can really work "fast" now because I've eliminated most of the guess work and analysis when I do modifications. Previously, it took me days to think of what to do, but since I've learned from my mistakes, and considering this build has far fewer mechanical and complicated modifications to figure out, with the addition of simplifying most of the stuff I did previously, I could work relatively faster.

First off, I considered using the full backpack and simply stick the additional stuff I was going to build into the notches provided for the Ballute, then considered just simply cutting and using the connector on the back pack and build on that.

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I decided to ditch the entire thing and simply build a new connector. To make it easier for me, I built this in several parts instead of just cutting one piece of WHIPS at the middle, the main one having an upside down "U" and covers the notch that goes into the back pack, on the top and sides. I then cemented 3mm beams along the length of the notch on the bottom and top for optimum strength and tightness, then covered the bottom part with a piece of WHIPS. I cemented the other piece of the shield support assembly directly onto the 3mm beams, and they align as if this modification was meant to be.

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This now becomes the Haribon's wing mount. I've temporarily mounted the shields itself, since I might use them as the base for the wings. This kinda reminds me of one of the Empire's shuttles in Star Wars.

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Test fit.

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I've modified the rear skirt as a "single" unit for the Haribon's tail. I'm still deciding which design I'll implement, whether a simple layered armor, or long feathers, similar to the Ronin's layered scales.

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I'll try to post an update this weekend.

Monday, September 3, 2012

"HARIBON" MG RMS 108 Marasai vMatX Part III

Lightning update:

After the extending the upper arms, there was something about the forearms that kept bugging me (never mind the bright background lighting):

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It looked too short for comfort. This is the kind of escalation I was trying to avoid (like how the Itch with the Chimera build) since again, I didn't want to do unplanned modifications, but to no avail. I was actually thinking about it while I was posting part II, but brushed it aside, till I could no longer.

Then again, the modification for this is about the same one I did for the ankle joint and rather simple. In this case however, I drilled the hole at the center off the ball along the its axis first, then cut the entire peg at the base. This pre-aligns the extension beam.

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Then used the same encapsulation method I did earlier. In this case however, I was using a 2mm round beam and a pipe with a 3mm inner diameter (the same type I used with the upper arm). To compensate for the difference, I cut thin strips of 0.3mm plaplates (yes, I still have a few of these buggers), and stuffed them in the gap and around the beam, then dropped cement to saturate the stuffing. It's a simple matter of attaching the peg/ball and sealing the entire thing with cement.

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Better, if I do say so myself.

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I'll try to post an update as soon as I can I'll be spending as much free time I have as I can on this build, but I have to work on a couple of projects first.

"HARIBON" MG RMS 108 Marasai vMatX Part II

Wrapped Around. For the abdomen armor extension, I did a modification similar to what I've done with the Bathala.

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I drilled four 2mm holes, one at each "corner" at the bottom of the abdomen armor, where I each inserted 2mm/1.3cm long round beams. These will serve as "posts" for the base of the extension. I made the base by aligning holes through a piece of 1mm WHIPS, and followed the shape of the armor's base when I cut it, allowing a little leeway for corrections. I cemented the base onto another piece of WHIPS, and it served as the "catch" of the posts.

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I then cut an apt-width piece of WHIP and wrapped it around the extension posts, aligning it with the base and the lower edge of the armor.

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At Arm's Reach. I avoided having to extend the arms mainly because, as you can see in the picture, there were "nothing" for me to work on how to extend it because of how small the pieces are relative to their connection points. The peg was too small to core, the upper arm is too short to cut, owing that the frakking polycap is placed in the middle of the <bicep> and there's nowhere good enough to cut either way. I didn't feel it needed it, reasoning to myself that the proportion was still okay, but I lost to my own insistence. I haven't really done any arm extensions before, and I didn't have any ready solution.

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Or did I? The solution, again, was simple; all I had to do was replicate what I did with the thigh extension by encapsulating the peg + the extension with a pipe. These plastic pipes are a bit tricky to work with though, since they don't "melt" with cement. I had to rely on the snugness of the fit, the cement does melt the peg and extension, so their bond should stay because of the encapsulation.

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Test fit.  It now has "human-like" proportions.

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To be continued...

Sunday, September 2, 2012

"HARIBON" MG RMS 108 Marasai vMatX Part I


Haribon. A monicker given to the Philippine Eagle. It literally means "King of Birds," and much rightly so because the Philippine Eagle is said to be the 3rd largest Eagle in the world.  The Haribon is also what will become of the Marasai after modifications. I chose the Marasai as the Haribon's base mainly because its head somewhat resembles a raptor's (at least in my mind's eye, but the power of suggestion is quite, er, powerful, as others have begun seeing what I see. I also chose the Marasai, because it is one of the Zaku-based grunt units I actually liked immediately when I first saw it. I was disappointed with at first, because its frame was also made of PS instead of the usual ABS, but as I was assembling it, the frame seemed and felt like dense polycap (PE) material, was too easy to cut and scratch, especially with a brand new cutter (the old one's spring finally gave way, aside from the fact that it has become dull in 2 years). It behaves like PE material as well; it hugs its fellow plastic, and seem to have a slight elastic memory.

It is as beneficial as it is troublesome in some aspect when it comes to modifications. Drilling a hole on it is easy mainly because it's soft, but because of that property, it's quite hard to enlarge the hole. It's easier to score and cut, but that easiness somewhat give it the disadvantage when trying to cut it precisely by freehand, as I was able to do so with regular PS armor parts. But, since it's still PS, cement remains the hero of the day.

Waist Not, Want Not. I modified the frame first to make extensions. I started with widening the shoulders by 5mm on each side. This was done by cutting the chest/shoulder frame near alongside the area where the shoulder armor is attached. This resulted in 3 pieces each for the back and front ends of the frame. I then rebuilt the frame, back parts first (waiting around an hour to let the cement set), so I can align the front parts freely as I add reinforcements using 1mm WHIPS and 2mm beams.

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I then proceeded with the waist/abdomen extension, but this is in conjunction with the groin joint placement. I will "explain" the groin mod first and you will see why later on.

The groin joint of the Marasai, like that of the Zaku 2.0 is a side swivel and not a center swivel like that of the MG SInanju and the MG Hi-Nu. It also does not have front<>back swivel like the Hi-Nu and The O does (as well as some HG kits), which changes the kit's upper body equilibrium point from front-heavy<>back-heavy. This is a bit problematic for me, since I plan to give the Haribon some heavy backpack additions. The detail of the groin part does indicate that it should have that feature.

Simply turning the leg/groin joint won't work, as it will put the thigh way up front into the front skirt's domain, so a radical, but simple mod is needed. I had to cut the whole groin placement section and reverse its placement relative to the front of the groin assembly.

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I then rebuilt the part by sandwiching WHIPS and beams within the inner section to act as dovetails for the outer section to hold on to. When this was done, as I mentioned earlier, I cut the ball part of the waist/abdomen joint, drilled a 2.8mm hole into the ball, stuck a 5mm<1cm>5mm piece of 5mm round beam, with ends shaved down to 3mm. I also mentioned earlier that the frame material act as if it was polycap material, so I'm careful to make the hole big enough for a snug fit, because the material will do the rest. When done correctly, the mod can stand without cement, but, I wasn't going to take any chances especially with high tension parts.

As such, this is a 2-4-1 modification.

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Height comparison with the Shin Matsunaga Zaku.

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Thigh high. With the waist/groin modification curing, I proceeded working on the thigh extension. I had lofty ideas of cutting the lower peg that connects to the thigh away and extending it at the middle, and extending the thigh frame itself, but I guess my experience with the Bathala's modifications learned me a thing or two about thinking out of the box to see a simpler and faster solution.

And give me one it did. Instead of doing either, I kept the peg intact, and instead cored it (I cemented the parts together first, stuck a 5mm<2cm length of 5mm beam, and encapsulated it with an 8mm clear pipe with a 5mm~ inside diameter (Note, these pipes I've had since I started heavy mods 3 years ago). The extended peg goes way into the thigh frame, and since it's held only by a 2mm thick PC part, it's a bit too wobbly for comfort (I exaggerate, it's not really that wobbly, but I'm not taking any chances), I reinforced one side the inner section of the thigh with another piece of 8mm pipe, to "hold" the extended peg within the thigh.

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Ankles Away. Though extending the thigh didn't visually drastically affect the proportion (at least to me, because of the Marasai's huge feet, and you know what they say about huge feet), I "cheated" by extending the ankle joint instead of the leg, and will later thicken it up.

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I'll instead lengthen the armor parts, or, I might just cover them up with "feathers" similar to the scales I did on the Ronin, but longer, or I might not use them at all for an exposed frame effect with a few details here and there.

Height comparison, with the Zaku, and my headless, dilapidated Zeta A1 (this proves Gunpla ARE NOT TOYS, especially since I wasn't even playing with any of them).

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That's it for now...

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...