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.

For those who don’t know, the design of the Zaku includes a bunch of externally-routed “power cables”. In the earliest kits these were represented with solid plastic parts, but starting with the MG Zaku in 1995, kits began providing separate parts for each segment of the cable, allowing cables to flex when moved. Most 1:144 Zaku kits, including this HG Zaku, don’t include cable beads and simply use the simpler solid parts for each cable – but early on in this project I replaced the leg and waist cables with aftermarket beads strung on springs. In the process of finally reaching the painting stage on this project, I had to, at last, deal with the gate marks left over when I cut the beads off their runner. A lot of Gundam modelers seem to hate Zaku kits because of the beads. Either they wind up losing beads or lose patience with cleaning up individual beads one at a time.

Guys, it’s really not that hard. :) The typical method, and the one I’ve used in this project, is to take the beads off their springs and string them onto a solid rod (with tape wrapped around it, to help keep the beads from sliding off). Then all the beads can be sanded at once – and then painted together as well.

I’ve tried to keep modifications to this kit pretty minimal, but a while back I decided that there was an issue with the side skirts I couldn’t let go: basically they’re supposed to have a little circular detail scribed in to the front and rear faces… But it’s not molded properly because the part is molded from the side. Lovely as it’d be to have this detail slide-molded in, it’s a simple enough thing to fix if you’ve got the supplies for it… I drilled out the holes, filled ’em with epoxy putty, then pressed in a “recessed circle” detail with a piece of metal pipe.

The head assembly on this kit is complicated a bit by the fact that I’ve replaced the eye and the head internals – as a result, it must remain in a partially-assembled state until the internal parts are painted and ready for installation. To simplify the process of completing the assembly (and, hopefully, improve the looks of the finished model as well) I decided to replace the “snout vent”. The kit’s “snout” has a molded-in vent, with a seam line running straight down the middle of it. On earlier builds I’ve patched this up with putty, this time around I decided to carve the area out and replace it with a piece of textured styrene.

With all the structural work I did on this kit, it was a safe bet that, no matter how carefully the work proceeded, the first primer coat would show some defects. Sure enough, I ran into a couple problem areas. The one pictured is one of the feet: I didn’t get the contours at the front of the foot aligned quite right, so I had to trim and sand them down. In the case of this foot, the seam still didn’t line up properly, so after priming I had to shave it down, resand, and reprime.

There weren’t too many issues like this, I think it was just this and a few spots on the shield.

It feels good to be in the painting stage. It’s kind of a rare thing for me since I put so much emphasis on the structrual parts of the build and don’t always finish things. I’m eager to see how this one looks when it’s finished, and with a primer coat on I feel like I’m almost there.

2 Comment(s)

  1. Well, first of all GREAT JOB man, really looking forward to see the finished Zaku. As a fellow Zaku lover I agreed that cleaning the beads are really tiresome(For Heavens Sake no more beads)what I usually do its to use a DREMEL (little drill) to help me clean the bead by attaching the beads to a piece of the runner (round piece about 3 Inches long) and connecting to the dremel and then you just need to turn on the drill and clean the beads using a sand paper very simple and clean.

    Alas Zero | 2012-07-27 | Reply

  2. Well, I was kind of joking around when I said cleaning the beads was the worst thing ever. A lot of people complain bitterly about it or cite it as the reason they don’t build Zakus… And it’s really not a big deal. The Dremel method has benefits if you’re trying to be really precise with each bead, but it has the disadvantage that you’re working on just one bead at a time. The approach I used cleans all the beads pretty quickly – not as precisely, perhaps, but quite good enough.

    tetsujin | 2012-08-06 | Reply

Post a Comment

  • Archives

  • August 2022
    S M T W T F S
  • Recent Comments

  • Recent Posts