Springing Forward (day 28)

Yeaterday was the first in-person meeting of my local model club since the Before-Times (the long-long-ago) – I spent most of my time there (and later, at home, in the evening) working on the new Hasegawa Regult. As a long-time Macross fan it’s very welcome to see Hasegawa finally making this kit, and overall I think they did a great job with it. So, no Zaku progress for day 27.
Tonight I worked on the interior for the Zaku’s head. This is something I do with virtually any Zaku build these days: I build out the interior space and build up the track system for the monoeye. This provides a little bit of detail and visual interest (which Bandai often neglects in their kits) – but for this scratch build, it provides other benefits as well.

Creating this structure gives me a place to install a monoeye and the surrounding details. It also fills the head so people looking through the visor won’t see a bunch of empty space and polycaps, and (since this is a scratch build) building the structure with grid-plate styrene allows me to use the head interior structure as a new centerline guide to identify and correct issues with the helmet sculpt. The structure is basically three styrene plates, stacked with around 3mm gaps between them. The top and mid-plates sit above and below the monoeye, they will hold the monoeye mechanism and provide the detail visible through the eye visor. The bottom plate sits more or less flush with the bottom of the helmet. It helps to align the assembly and provides a physical connection to the torso. I started by making the top plate, using data from my Blender model of the Zaku Kai to get the dimensions and shape for the part, then cutting it out from grid-plate. Creating the top plate is often the most difficult, because of the curvature of the head, the top plate has to be cut at an angle to sit inside the head properly.

After making the top plate I started on a bottom plate: again using data from the Blender model. As with the top plate it took a few iterations to get it right. Then I duplicated it and modified the duplicate to make the mid-plate, sandwiched them together (carefully aligned) with 3mm styrene square rod and tried it out inside the head. Some more work is still needed to create the monoeye mechanism and correct the look of the head interior but it’s all going rather well so far.

I mentioned that this head interior will also serve as a new centerline guide for the helmet sculpt – this is going to be very valuable moving forward but it’s also a bit complicated. The complicated part is that if I’ve aligned things so far by one method (i.e. visually relative to the glue line joining the two halves of the helmet) and I create a new guide and switch to using it – things probably aren’t going to line up to it unless I take a lot of care to start by aligning this new guide to what’s already there as well as I can. But the benefit is that, if I mount the helmet to the interior structure in a way that’s very stable, having that new (better) centerline will make it a lot easier to make the helmet sculpt symmetrical. I think in some of the pictures the new centerline already makes it clear that the snout is a bit crooked, so I will probably need to address that.
One of the things I’m most looking forward to with this work is getting to the point where I can actually mount the head to the body. For the past week I’ve mostly been focusing on the torso, trying to get the whole torso to a state where it’s “mostly done”, in part because when I show the work I’ve been doing, I want to be able to do it in the context of how it will look on the finished model. If I start with the chest and head and then work outward from there, all the work from here onward can have that kind of visual context. It’s a milestone I’m excited to reach, and I’m almost there.

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