This is what a Zaku looks like.

It’s been a while since my last update to this project: the Zaku project goes on and on, but there’s always other things I want to do, too. After all, I still haven’t finished my Armored Core group build entry. (close, though) Still, there’s a fair bit of new stuff to share.

In the last update I showed the shoulder mechanisms and the upper arm part: since then I’ve refined the upper arm part quite a lot, and gotten a good start on a forearm and a leg.

One thing I was really going for in my Zaku design plans was to capture the curvy, bulky look of the lineart. To my eye, Bandai kit designs are always a bit timid in this regard. Whether it’s for broader appeal or better posability or whatever I couldn’t say. The leg is probably the part of the design I worked on the longest, going through five or six big revisions on paper before making the Blender model and then tweaking it further. So for me, finally having the leg in physical form (even in kind of a rough state) is very exciting.

As with the shoulder joint, I’m building my own hinge joints for the knee joint, to be cast in resin around a polycap. The barrel part of the joint was made by turning poly putty around an axis, and then chucking it on the drill press and block-sanding it to get the sides right. The cap at the end I made out of Aves – I was able to sculpt the rough shape pretty well by hand before refining it with sandpaper on the Dremel.

As for the forearm – I actually built those parts not long after my last post about the Zaku, but never got around to posting them. Both parts were turned poly putty, but I recently added more detail to the “elbow hubcap” part by carving out the middle and resculpting it with Aves.

The recent work has relied heavily on Aves, as opposed to a lot of the earlier work that used more Bondo – I think Aves has given me a lot of trouble when working on the shoulder armor, so I was wary about building more parts with it, but I decided to give it another try. A big change from most of the other parts is that the leg parts are built from solid Aves, rather than being built as a hollow shell. As a result, I will need to hollow out some of these parts myself later on – even so, I think this may prove a lot easier than trying to rough out the shape of the hollow with clay, then layer on Aves and try to get a uniform thickness and a good exterior surface. Working solid also makes it easier to change the contour of the surface if I need to.

One feature of my leg design that isn’t present in the parts I’ve built is the asymmetry around each leg’s center line. The upper legs have to have hip joints and cable points on opposing sides for left and right, of course – but the lower legs are, in my plans, actually longer and bulkier on the side that faces outward. I did this because I felt it made the design look more natural in a wider stance. But the part I built is like the smaller half of one lower leg, mirrored and stuck together. There are a few reasons I did this. First, left and right sides each need a version of that face of the leg, and it’s a bit simpler to make them consistent if I build them together. Beyond that, however, I am thinking of recasting this symmetrical lower leg and then modifying it to produce the left and right lower leg parts per the original design plans. I think that modifying a copy of the inboard side of the leg to produce the outboard side of the leg will probably be easier than rebuilding that whole half of the lower leg.

I didn’t take photos of it, but I’ve also been working on a rear skirt part. I am somewhat eager to make more progress on the skirts, because they’re one of my favorite features of the Zaku Kai. I’ll probably continue with the legs and feet for a while, though…

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