In the months leading to the 2014 Southern California Gundam Model Competition I had some projects lined up for completion for the show. But in the last weeks prior to the show it became clear those projects weren’t going to be ready, so I decided it was time for a last-minute change of direction. I considered two options: the first was to complete my half-finished HGUC Geara Doga. The other was to start fresh with another kit: a high-quality kit with simple construction and paint scheme. I chose Plum’s Assault Suit Leynos kit. I started work on it about a week before the competition, and quickly dropped the Geara Doga in favor of it.
Finishing any project in just a week is a tall order. I tried it last year and failed: but even so, I did good work and made significant headway on the project. I felt I might have better chances of pulling it off this time due to the simpler paint scheme and construction. It still didn’t work out in the end, but I had a lot of fun with this kit. My initial impression of the kit was that it was way overpriced for what it is, but after working with it, I love it. I plan to buy another one soon.
Leynos originally appeared in a game for the Sega Mega Drive, “Assault Suit Leynos”. It was released in the US as “Target: Earth”. When the kits were released, I became interested in trying the games and bought the prequel on Super Nintendo, “Assault Suits Valken” which quickly became one of my favorite Super Nintendo games. The games then got me interested enough to buy the kits.
I started work on the project at my local IPMS club meeting. At that point I still hadn’t quite decided if I wanted to dig into the Leynos, or save it for another time. I brought both the Leynos and Geara Doga with me to the club, but when I arrived I started building the Leynos and quickly decided to go with it.
While building I did run into a few areas of the kit I wasn’t entirely happy with: for instance, the forearms are relatively small, with a big hollow fender attached. This left a few exposed areas of empty space and undetailed surfaces. I decided I wasn’t happy with this so I grabbed some minus molds and styrene tube and filled the space a bit.
One other area that bothered me with the kit was the thrusters on the backpack. These were rendered without much depth, which unfortunately makes for a rather poor effect. Apart from not looking very nice, this also would have complicated the painting process: there’s not really much you can do with thrusters like that to make them look good, but about the best you can do is to paint the inside flat black, to give it a greater sense of depth. Rather than masking off the inside surface of the thruster to create a mediocre effect, I decided it’d be better to take the time to cut out the insides of the thrusters and put aftermarket parts in there. The process actually turned out to be pretty simple: the hardest part was choosing the best parts to use.
Around this time I was also trying to find a place to hide a battery on the kit, so I could have LEDs in the eye cameras. When I build Zakus and other Gundam monoeye designs, I always light the eye, but with other mecha I’m not always sure if it’s the right decision. In this case I decided to go for it. But hiding a battery on a model kit can be a very difficult process. You need to not only find a place large enough to store the coin cell and its holder, but also a place that’s easy to access and easy to hide. Even on a relatively large kit it can be difficult to find such a place. Alternately, one can build a base for the kit and hide a power source in there. On the Leynos I considered the chest block and lower legs as hiding places: the chest block had a fair bit of space inside, but I couldn’t come up with a location that could easily be hidden by another part. The legs had a conveniently-removable rear panel which might have made them a good hiding place for a battery, but the legs are so squat, with so much space taken by the knee and ankle joint, that I wouldn’t have been able to fit a very large battery in there. Ultimately I decided on the backpack: with a little modification the gray panel with the thrusters could be easily removed, and there was enough space inside for a 16mm coin cell.
Having arranged a power source for the LED, I was in pretty good shape for lighting the eye. It was pretty simple to route the wires from the backpack to the head. However, time was quickly running out. I felt that if I could get the parts ready for paint, I might still have a shot – some primer, some desert yellow and gray, and then bring materials with me to California to do filters and paint chipping and things like that at the hotel on Friday. At this point it was the last night before my flight. I was getting exhausted, and the seam-finishing work was taking longer than expected.
It’s unfortunate this project didn’t work out for SCGMC but I had a really good time with it. And with SCGMC now behind me I actually feel better for not having compromised my work just to hit the deadline. There were a lot of great models at the competition, and while I was very happy to have something to show, I ought to be bringing my best work, not a rush-job.