1:144 “Sockmonkey” Sandrock

Like many American modelers, Gundam Wing was my introduction to Gundam, and Gundam modeling. Gundam Wing kits were commonly available in two varieties: the 1:100 scale “High Grade” versions which were generally pretty good, and the 1:144 scale cheap kits. Some of those cheap kits were actually pretty good, but two of the show’s main Gundams, the Sandrock and Heavyarms, were generally neglected in the kit line. No High Grade versions were made available, and the kits that were available were pretty bad, even for cheap kits. As a result the 1:144 Wing kit line, and especially the Sandrock and Heavyarms kits, earned the nickname “Sockmonkey” among modelers on the anime modeling newsgroup: kits infamous for their poor quality and gawky looks.

A few years later I happened to find a really good deal on these kits, and so on a whim I bought one. Then for a couple more years it sat around, mostly untouched.

Now there’s a Gundam Wing group build going on, and I figured that this would be a fun kit to enter. I always thought it’d be fun to take on the challenge of making the old Sockmonkey look good, and more accurate to the design in the show at the same time. After studying the problem I came to the conclusion that the kit wasn’t really “ugly to the bone” as I might have earlier assumed: many of its troubles were a simple matter of soft detail combined with just a few bad choices of proportions. The premise of this project, therefore, is that it should be possible to fix the kit without an overwhelming level of effort. It should simply be a matter of identifying and resolving the most significant problem areas.

The worst problem areas of the kit are the head and the lower legs. The head is a bit misshapen (too much upper cranium) and has detail issues (the head’s rather ornate, but they didn’t pack in the detail densely enough, so the head turns out a bit oversized). The lower legs look stubby, largely because of the way the lower leg bridges to the ankle armor while providing clearance for the ankle to move.

I’ve begun by attacking the head parts, refining details of the face and recessing it into the “helmet” a bit, and shrinking the upper part of the head. The next major challenge will be the lower legs: they will likely need some substantial alteration/reconstruction, though I haven’t figured out my exact plan yet. After that, there’s details to deal with: at the very least the kit needs an all-new V-fin and some decent hands. I’ll likely also replace the elbow joints and improve a few details like the vulcan cannons, missiles, and sharpen up the pointy bits…

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