Last time I was finishing the cleanup of this kit and getting the first coats of primer on – more recently I’ve gotten the initial color coats on and made some progress on a few other details that I either couldn’t or simply didn’t address previously.
Since most of the parts were primed and ready for paint, the first thing to do was decide on a color scheme. The Zakus in 08th MS Team had two distinct color schemes: in the first seven episodes they wore a deep olive and forest green scheme, similar to the colors of the Hi-Zack or Zaku Kai, and then from episode 8 onward all the Zakus had a much lighter color scheme, like a combination between a desert scheme and the light colors of the Zakus in the original anime. I always liked the deep greens of the earlier episodes, so for this build I decided to use them as the basis for my build. The two versions of this kit each have their own color guide, and neither one resembles either version of the colors on the show – so I was left to my own devices when choosing the colors. Using the box art as a guide, I experimented with different colors in my collection as well as some promising candidates I’d picked up at the hobby shop.
Once I’d chosen my colors, I started painting. This is a very exciting stage of the project, as it really starts to come together and all the work earlier on pays off. But it’s also a very delicate stage of the project, and a little haste here can ruin hours of work. For this project I decided I wanted to paint with Model Master enamels, a slow-drying variety of paint that I hadn’t used frequently since I started buying Mr. Color lacquers in 2001. The slow-drying nature of enamels is great for hand-painting (as the paint remains fluid long enough for brush strokes to settle, and for the modeler to apply the paint without it getting tacky and catching the brush on successive passes) but it requires patience. Mr. Color dries crazy-fast, and that can be a challenge in itself, but otherwise it’s a very forgiving paint. If nothing else, there’s very little you can do with it that would prevent it from curing. The solvent evaporates, and the paint is cured, that’s pretty much it. Enamels are a different story. The enamels have to go through a more complex chemical reaction to cure properly, and there’s various ways to mess it up. I have heard that painting a second layer too soon, or too late can impede paint curing, or that painting one layer too thick can impede curing. I did wind up with one part that appeared as though it wasn’t going to cure properly: I painted the shield and then decided I wanted to add a heat hawk mount to the back of it, as I did on the HGUC Zaku. I think the process of handling that part while I was altering it messed up the curing process of the paint, so I had to remove some of it and spot-prime and repaint the part.
The rest of the paint job, however, went off mostly without a hitch. The only other problem I had was some paint lifting when masking tape was removed. Apart from that things went very well.
The head wasn’t painted at this stage because of the way I’m approaching the monoeye on this project. In my previous Zaku build, the head was modified so the whole exterior could be lifted off to access the monoeye inside – that takes a fair bit of work, but when it’s done, it makes things very easy. For this build, I took a different: The monoeye was assembled and painted first, and then the head was assembled around it and painted. It’s simpler to do it this way but it takes more time, since the monoeye has to be fully painted before it even goes in the head.
First, however, I had to be really sure the monoeye was ready to go in there. I did a light test and discovered that it was leaking light all over. In retrospect I should have done more light-blocking prior to painting, using adhesive foil or something. I wound up caking on the paint pretty thick to block the light – I just remind myself that people probably aren’t going to be able to see that.
With the monoeye taken care of, it was time to deal with the head. The monoeye was inserted into the head along with the clear visor part, and the head was glued together – and then, since it didn’t line up quite right, it was sanded and the lines on the head rescribed.
Along with the now-assembled head there were a couple other parts involved in this second round of priming and painting: the heat hawk and bazooka were initially left out of the project, but once I had most of the parts painted, I decided to build them after all.
So at this point the whole kit has its colors on. There’s still a bunch of stuff to be done; gloss, decals, gloss, wash, flat and weathering – and if I use enamels for all those steps I can expect it to take a while. I had hoped to have the model ready for the model contest deadline at the end of July, but in mid-July I only had the first round of painting done, not including some of the masked colors – so it became clear to me that I had to give up on the deadline. Kind of unfortunate but I don’t feel too bad about it. It feels great to be in the home stretch toward finishing a new project.