The Arche Gundam construction: Part 3

By Keith

It’s that time again- time for part 3 of the HG Arche build. We’re starting to get to some of the more fun bits, but also some of the more annoying ones, especially for those of us who paint every bit of our kits. A series of paint-related mishaps this week cost me a lot of time, so I didn’t get quite as far along as I would have liked, but hey- that’s what the next article is for. This week I’ll be talking about a number of ways of painting clear parts, as well as a few little tricks I’ve learned for getting around material problems.

Like I mentioned last time, I don’t like to use the stickers they include with Gundam kits. They are thick, obscure molded detail, and always, always detract from the look of a model. This is to say nothing of dry transfers or waterslide decals. The former are rare and a far from ideal solution, while the latter draw a lot of somewhat undeserved ire from modelers more used to Gundam kits than real scale models. That said, refusing to use stickers means finding alternatives. For the GN drives, I decided to tint the clear drive windows and provide them with a metallic backing. To be difficult, and partially as an experiment, I decided to use plain old aluminum foil as a backer. It is possible to achieve quite a smooth sheen on this foil if the wrinkles are flattened out first. I used the side of a Sharpie cap, and used the drive windows as a template to cut out small circles of foil that I then glued to the insides of the legs and chest drive with plain old Elmer’s.

The issue then became how to tint the drive windows. Normally my tint of choice is one of the Tamiya clear colors, like the clear red I used to tint the Arche’s foot-mounted saber blades:

However, Tamiya does not sell clear purple. My first instinct was to mix clear blue and clear red; let’s just say it was a good thing I tried to mix the two in my palette first. For whatever reason, Tamiya clear red + Tamiya clear blue = Tamiya clear brown. The next step was inks. While expensive, I normally default to Games Workshop’s Citadel inks for this. Unfortunately, my Citadel red ink was looooong gone and the local GW didn’t have any more (discontinued?). I ended up heading on down to Dick Blick and picking up a bottle of Higgins Fadeproof Artist’s Color Drawing Ink (violet). This gave me the color I needed, and thins well with water. Now water and ink sprayed straight will turn into a nasty, pooling, beading mess on many surfaces, and one of those is the clear plastic Bandai uses in this kit. The solution? Ordinary liquid dish soap. One or two drops added to your thinned ink will break the surface tension of the mixture and allow for even coats.

The next major source of consternation at this phase of the build was painting the dang frame and joint parts. These are molded in a bizarre pinkish beige color. The first instinct is to match this color, and down that road madness lies. You will find many colors that you think are perfect only to get them home and realize how off they are, and mixing colors can be a lot more difficult than it sounds. In the end, and after looking at the Robot Damashii Arche, which uses a darker brownish gunmetal color for the frame and joint bits, I decided to mix something in between the two that worked. What I ended up with was a roughly 2:1 mix of Vallejo Game Color Gunmetal Metal and Vallejo Model Color Beige Red. This was sprayed on the frame bits and allowed to dry.

Then, it’s onward with assembly. Here’s a leg from the knee down,

and the torso drive.

That’s it for this week, folks. Come back next week for more- exactly what, I don’t know yet.

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