When I first got the Glorious Series Rick Dom and set to work assembling it, I was amazed by the size and bulk of the thing. It was a truly imposing model. I gave some thought to converting it to a Rick Dom II, also known as the “Rick Dom Zwei” in keeping with the then-recent trend of giving German names to Zeon equipment (like Kampfer, Jager, Dreissen, Sturm Dias, etc.) Of course I came up with all my usual reasons not to do something like this…
- It’s a nice kit, so I should enjoy it for what it is.
- Conversions are inherently bad because the modeler tends to do what is convenient to do with the base kit, rather than what is correct.
- So little of the base kit will actually be used in the conversion that I may as well just scratch-build the whole thing and forget the conversion.
- I was going to do this thing as a quick, fun project, and a conversion will make it a long, complicated project.
- It will distract me from working on other projects, like the Zaku Kai.
…And so on. All good reasons. But not good enough.
In the end it comes down to one simple thing: I want to build a Rick Dom II. It’s a design that keeps the outrageous flare and bulk of the original Dom, but wears it much better. The arms, chest, and head are simply gorgeous. (The same parts on the base kit, on the other hand, are incredibly bland. The head in particular just looks like a lump.) The weapons are very nicely designed as well. It’s kind of a rare set of circumstances that led to me getting this kit in the first place. It’s unlikely I’ll ever get another. So the way I figure it, if a bunch of parts of this kit go to waste, that’s OK: I’m still getting a strong inner frame that can bear the weight of the armor I’ll be putting on it, and perhaps most importantly – I wouldn’t have bothered making a Rick Dom II in 1:60 scale if I hadn’t gotten the Glorious Series Rick Dom. If the kit doesn’t provide a lot of physical parts to the finished model, it will at least provide inspiration.
So first up was to sculpt the arms… Those lovely, lovely arms… First, I stripped the kit parts down to the spindly inner frame. I built the new elbow joint cover from a few pieces of plastic and metal tubing. Then I cut pieces of approximately the right shape from floral foam, fitted them to the frame, and carved them to the shape I wanted. This bit took lots of trial and error. Finally, when I had a part I think would work out well, I rolled out some epoxy putty and laid it over the floral foam to create the part. Also around this time I made a 1:60 scale printout of the Rick Dom II line art, which I’ll be using to establish measurements for parts I build.
Unfortunately I wasn’t entirely happy with the first sculpt, there were perhaps too many problems with the use of floral foam as a base. It was very hard to get things symmetrical. So for the inner half of the forearm I tried again: this time I built up the shape out of styrene sheet, building it kind of blocky and making it fit tightly around the frame – then I used epoxy putty to fill out the curves. I then used this new part as a reference to refine the outer half of the forearm. All the parts went through a bunch of refinement work, carving, checking, bulking things up again with more putty, and so on until it started to reach a state I was happy with.
It’s not quite there yet, certain parts of the arm are just sort of wrong – but I like the direction this is going.
I drew up plans for a new bazooka – but without the large-size plastic tubing on hand to actually build it, it’s just plans for now. There are some scaling issues I need to work out: older model representations of the weapon portray it as being relatively small, about 15m in length, while newer versions pumped it up to about 18m long. Ultimately I’ll just have to see which size I think looks better…
Finally, I started work on the new lower legs for the Zwei. For this part, instead of working from the line art, I decided to use the leg from the original 1:144 scale Rick Dom II and scale it up. I think that old kit part is beautifully executed, so I think it’s worth copying. I transferred the front- and side-view plans for the leg to styrene, cut it out, and glued it together – then filled in with clay and rolled out a 3mm thick sheet of epoxy putty to create the surface of the part. It was time consuming but pretty easy. I think the hard part is going to be building a second one that matches the first.
So that’s it so far. The project’s in a somewhat awkward stage since the Dom is wearing a bunch of Zwei parts but most of the kit is still quite stock. That’s never a good effect in my opinion. The hands in particular are a problem: the Zwei has smaller hands, so the kit-stock hands dwarf the new forearms and mess up the overall look. All these things will be remedied sooner or later.