1:100 Zaku Kai (ザク改)

Back when I started building Gundam kits in 2000, I needed to know how to create hollow spheres for some Tallgeese work I was planning – to answer my question, someone pointed me toward a Suku Suku scratch article in which that process, as well as many others, were detailed, repeatedly and consistently, in a scratchbuild of a 1:100 scale Zaku Kai. This article had a deep impact on my modeling work, in part because what the modeler was achieving was so far beyond what I was capable of at the time, and in part because he made it look so easy – even going to the point of building parts multiple times, using two or three different approaches, and getting the same great results each time. I learned from the articles, not only how things could be done, but what could be accomplished.

For a long time I’ve mostly avoided modeling the subjects I have a real passion for. This is because I tend to get carried away in my projects. If I work on something I really care about, then what would normally be a slow process can become downright glacial. I’ve decided, however, that even if I get less done I’d rather work on my favorite subjects, like this Zaku. That realization was how I resolved to finally start this build, after a long time thinking about it. The good news is I learned a lot from those other projects, so I hope to put that knowledge to good use here.

Izubuchi’s designs have long been favorites of mine, and the Zaku Kai is one of those I like best. I’ve wanted a good model of it for a long time, but good models of the subject are very hard to come by. I once tried to turn the old Bandai 1:144 kit into something more palatable, but I feel like it’s better to start fresh rather than let a flawed kit possibly skew the end result. I’ve put a lot into this project in order to make my rendition as good as it can be.

Design Studies


In the earliest stages of the project I wasn’t entirely sure how to create my plans. At first I hoped to gain mastery of the design by practice at drawing it freehand. I thought that when I could draw the design satisfactorily, that I would then be able to translate my own drawings into measurements and create plans. However, after many attempts I failed to gain such mastery. I then started working with measurements taken directly from the original lineart, by scaling the lineart to the size of the model and printing it on metric graph paper. These measurements couldn’t be consistent from one image to another in the case of this design, but they were a good basis for creating my first orthographic drawings of the design, which I then refined through trial and error to establish a consistent 3-D design which I feel captures the elements of the original design which I wanted in my model.
Zaku Design Plans


I think it’s very easy for modelers to get intimidated by the idea of scratch building something. I can say, I have found it difficult at times, but like anything else it’s just another skill to develop. I think scratchbuilding is a psychological barrier for many intermediate modelers, just as painting or seam treatment are often psychological barriers for beginners. But it’s not somehow fundamentally beyond the reach of “ordinary” modelers, or exclusively the domain of kit makers or whatever.

Construction started in mid November, 2006, and is currently ongoing. After having taken the plunge and worked on this project for a while, I’d say that it’s been very rewarding. It is still difficult at times, and the prospect of trying to fix flaws in my work can still be intimidating. Sometimes I avoid working on the Zaku because the project seems too huge. Other times, if I just sit down and find some part of the project to attack, I can surprise myself at how much I accomplish…
Zaku Construction Updates

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