The One-Week War

It’s a classic story: the deadline for some modeling contest creeps up on me, and then I rush to get something ready to show. It never works. But this time it was at least a lot of fun, and I made a lot of great progress on a new project.

I got this kit as part of a trade, kind of on a whim, but when I got my hands on it I decided I really liked it. Bulky kits are just really cool, and while I wouldn’t call this thing anime-accurate, its chunky design style gives it a very bold look.

This time the event in question was Patcon, the show held by my local IPMS club. This was the first Patcon held by the club in several years, and I was excited to see it back. I wanted to be a part of it, so I took a bit of time off and spent most of the last week prior to the con working on my Rick Dias.
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The arena is empty except for one man, still driving and striving, as fast as he can…

SCGMC is only about a day away, and for me that day is a travel day. So, sadly, the Zaku FZ won’t be ready. I actually realized yesterday that I had run out of time to make molds for the parts that needed to be duplicated. By the time a new 2-part mold would have cured, I wouldn’t have had any time left to cast parts in it… And the parts that needed duplicating weren’t all ready anyway. It’s really a shame that it didn’t work out, I’m going a long way to attend SCGMC and I would have really liked to have something new to show apart from the HG Zaku. But I don’t feel too bad, the trip will be fun, it’ll be nice to see everybody and the model work at the event and so on, and even though this burst of activity working on the FZ hasn’t resulted in the completion of the project, I feel really good about what I’ve accomplished in the past couple weeks of working on it. Even though it didn’t work out, this is the first time with this project that I’ve dared to draw a line in the sand and say, “this is when it’s gonna be done.” Pushing for completion on the project, and looking at it as a practical, tangible goal has made a big impact on this project. I didn’t complete all the parts I needed, but because I treated the project as an attainable goal with a fixed deadline, I was able to motivate myself to focus on the project, and get past some perfectionist obsessions that had been holding me back. The project’s not done, and I didn’t even get far enough to hack together something showable, but I made a lot of progress, and I feel that I can keep on making a lot of progress and maybe finish this thing by the end of the year.
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Try Not

With SCGMC looming, I have at last set myself to work on the Zaku Kai project once again, with the goal of getting it into some kind of presentable shape by the time of the con. Lately the work on this project has been pretty intensive, as I’ve done my best to get back to work on these parts and whip them into shape.
Personally, I can’t discuss scratch building without bringing up the thing that, to me, is one of the greatest obstacles to completing a scratch build project. I have trouble articulating it sometimes but I think it could be described as a lack of confidence. Many people in the hobby see scratch building almost as a kind of black magic beyond the reach of mere mortals. This attitude is poisonous, and it infects everyone it reaches. Kit builders think they can’t scratch build, and since many of them never try, that belief is never challenged. In my case, the problem is a bit different: I have had this project in the works for over six years now, with design drawings going back farther than that. It almost feels as though I have always had this project in the works, and that I always will. I have become too comfortable with that, it’s too easy to look at the parts or old WIP posts and think, “Gee, I did some nice work there.” The confidence issue also comes into play when I consider issues like, “How good is good enough?” I have tended toward an overly rigorous approach to this build, I think, because I lacked the confidence in my own ability to refine a part to precision after its initial construction. But after all that work trying to make the initial build as good as possible (using data from the Blender model, etc.) I wind up having to go through the same refinement process anyway.
Another problem I face is that the way I approach the work can have a big impact on whether I get the kind of results I need. A lot of the time I’ve approached certain parts with the intent of making some good progress on them, improving them or finding a way to check their symmetry or whatever, or starting work on a new part, for which any amount of progress will be a major improvement over nothing at all. The result, it seems, is that by setting these goals short of my true aim, I satisfy myself that the work is still progressing, but without pushing any parts all the way to completion.
This is why I’ve rolled out a Yoda quote for the title of this WIP post. “Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.” I’ve got to stop “trying” and start “doing”. That’s exactly what I’ve done for the last couple of weeks, and so far I think it’s been pretty successful. By aiming for completion, rather than progress toward completion, I have changed my mindset and my approach. I don’t know if I will succeed at getting the model ready for SCGMC, but I intend to do everything I can to make it happen.
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HG Zaku Complete

Every year I attend the local IPMS model show, Granitecon. When possible I like to have something new to show there, so I’ve been working to finish up the HG Zaku in time for the show. Since the model was painted and the decals were on, it was mostly a matter of finishing steps – but there were some complications along the way as well. As usual, the work came right down to the wire, but in the end I think it turned out pretty well. Due to the hectic pace of the finishing work, I didn’t document much of it along the way.

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Bandai’s Decals Have Herpes

In reality, this post is just another WIP post for my HG Zaku, showing the work I’ve done applying decals to it. I have a whole collection of decal sheets from which I pick out markings that I want to use on a particular project. Often the decal sheet I’m using isn’t specific to the kit I’m building, so it’s just a matter of finding a sheet that has a marking I want.
However, when dealing with these decals there is an issue I can’t avoid: some of these Bandai decals have really terrible half-toning on them which makes the markings look terrible up-close, or even at a moderate distance. These images should give you an idea of what’s going on here:

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Paint it a slightly different green

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.

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The Greatest Challenge in All of Modeling

Since the last update, I’ve been focusing on parts cleanup and so on in preparation for the first coat of primer, which finally went on tonight.

Along the way, however, I had to deal with the dreaded curse that has plagued everyone who has built a Zaku in the last 17 years… By all accounts the most hideously deranged challenge ever incorporated into a model kit: the power cable beads.

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OOB is bullshit

While working on the HY2M Rick Dom Zwei I found myself needing a little break. For me there’s a kind of performance anxiety associated with scratch building. When I build parts I can do it pretty well, but it’s hard to dive in to a project like that and start working on parts. For that reason I decided to do a quick project involving an old favorite of mine: the HG Zaku from the 08th MS Team line. The kit has its flaws but it’s still the best-looking Zaku kit in 1:144. For this project I am trying to address the kit’s flaws quickly and without too much complication.

As with the Rick Dom II, this kit is an entry for the contest that’s now hosted on mechalounge. One trend with this contest that’s kind of disturbed me is that people will be working on some project, doing some fine work… But because they’re entering in the contest’s “Out-of-box” category they’re avoiding even the simplest fixes to their kits, to avoid getting pushed into the presumably stiffer competition of the “modified plastic” category. I hate to see that happen, so I’m calling you all out on this one: OOB is bullshit. If there’s something wrong with the kit you’re working on, and you can see it, and you can fix it, you should. With all the effort that goes into other aspects of the kit it’s silly not to fix a few simple things along the way.
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If at first you don’t succeed, zwei, zwei again.

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.

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BUFF with a Panzerfaust

A while back I won a set of Perfect Grade kits in the kit giveaway… That was very cool. But the prizes really weren’t my style. In descending order of desirability they were PG Astray Red Frame, PG 00 Raiser, PG Wing Zero Custom, and PG Strike Freedom… Ah, yes, Strike Freedom. You know, it’s quite an accomplishment, making Freedom Gundam look tasteful by comparison…
Anyway, since the prizes weren’t my cup of tea I decided to trade ’em off. Fortunately I found someone with a pretty good collection of stuff to offer who was willing to make a trade. Even though I was getting rid of the Perfect Grades, I felt like I still wanted to honor the spirit of the original prize by getting some unreasonably large, terribly overpriced, but fun Gundam kits. So I got this beastie: The HY2M “Glorious Series” Rick Dom.

I probably would never have bought this kit – It struck me as really expensive for what you get. In terms of construction, it’s kind of like a big High Grade with a lighting gimmick, but it’s priced like a Perfect Grade. Most likely I never would have given this kit a shot if I hadn’t gotten it in trade. But having built it up, I’ve developed an appreciation for it. It’s not my first 1:60 Gundam kit (I have a PG Zaku assembled) – but the large scale combined with the bulk of the Dom makes it a really impressive piece. So I’m really looking forward to building this guy up and I’ve even given some thought to buying another HY2M “Glorious Series” kit (either another Dom or the Gouf) in the future.
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