Eating a Whale, Eating the Horse, and the Elephant in the Room

My hobby pursuits have been in an extended slump. My last progress update on my Zaku Kai build was seven years ago. Stagnation in the hobby and an unfortunate encounter with Plamo King Jackass and his League of Pretentious Shitbags sent my self-confidence through the floor, and a horrible destructive mishap in my workspace destroyed my gear, making it even harder to get that groove back. In short, as far as my relationship with the hobby has been concerned, things have mostly sucked in recent years.
But when you fall off the horse, you have to get right back up and eat that horse.

Because there has been such a long-ass time since I’ve updated anything on here, there is some work I’ve done on this project but never really shared. Back in 2014 I made a push to fix up the shoulder armor, make it more symmetrical:

I’ve also been experimenting with 3D printing, using my Blender model as a starting point. It’s a bit difficult as the Blender model wasn’t really designed to be 3D printed, so it needs some clean-up to be well-suited to printing. It’s also helpful to design in certain structural bits to make it easier to assemble the printed parts. Ultimately I’d like to have the Blender Zaku model be entirely printable.

In the last month or so I’ve been working on the project more regularly again. I know I can’t rush this kind of work, but I absolutely want to finish it. The key, as with any big project I think, is to take it one step at a time, and just keep taking more steps. During a stream with Those Gundam Guys I sculpted a new head. When I initially created my design drawings for this project I made the head pretty small, about 17mm wide. This is true to the line art I think, but over time I became concerned that I’d gone too far with it, so I experimented in Blender with scaling the head up by 5% or 10% (from 17mm wide to 18mm wide or 19mm wide). This kind of change might sound insignificant but in my opinion seemingly minor distinctions like this can have a big impact on the effect of the model. However, after sculpting this 19mm-wide head I’m pretty sure I don’t like it, so I’ll probably return to the smaller size from my original plans.

Most of my time on the project lately has been spent on refining the lower leg parts. When I last worked on these parts I had them separated so I could take the “common” bits (the front and top of the lower leg) and pair them with parts for the left or right leg. The plan was that this would make the two legs match up better, but I was having trouble getting the parts fitted to one another. So in the current effort I’ve created a simple guide to help line up the parts in a consistent manner, and locator slots so the parts will maintain that same arrangement as I work with them.

Of course, there is one outstanding issue here that ought to be addressed: Why this sudden return to the Zaku project after so much time away? Well, naturally, the fact that Bandai is finally releasing a 1:100 Zaku Kai model kit has certainly helped to motivate me. Of course I really would have preferred to have mine finished before theirs came out, but that train has sailed; my copy of the RE/100 Zaku Kai is already on its way. That said, mine is better. Like, a lot better. I think there’s some fine work in the RE/100 kit but ultimately, it’s not everything I would want it to be. There are some weird creative choices in it that are actually quite fun, and there are also some weird creative choices that are just really weird. I kind of feel like Bandai stole my thunder, but on the other hand, it’s not their fault I got nothing done for the last 7 years. Such is life.

2 Comment(s)

  1. Hooray! It’s great to see this project started up again. Izubuchi’s designs have never received a truly accurate kit, so I’m glad that there’s someone out there with the passion and skill to really do justice to the lineart. You’re going to blow the Bandai kit out of the water.

    Best of luck in your endeavors!

    BR | 2019-07-24 | Reply

  2. Thanks! Yeah, doin’ my best to do it right. I have to say I think Bandai actually did rather well with the RE/100. Evaluating it is a little complicated for me because I’m so invested in my own project to the point where my own work is kind of the standard by which I judge anything else. But Bandai have done a lot of Izubuchi kits where I look at the kit and just think, they totally missed the point of the design – it’s a low bar perhaps, but I think the RE/100 is better than that. I think they at least had the right idea in how they approached it, and that’s a pretty huge difference for me.

    tetsujin | 2019-07-29 | Reply

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