Gunpla Double Feature: Removing Paint and Kitbashing Ramba Ral’s Zaku, Part 1

By Loran

If you’ve been building kits for as long as I have, chances are you have a bunch that you worked on a long time ago, and look back at them now and say, “Wow, I really screwed that up!”. Or maybe you have kits that you broke and didn’t know how to fix. Or heck, maybe you just don’t have any new kits and are looking for a little project to keep yourself busy.You probably want to go back and redo them to make them look all nice, after you’ve learned new techniques, gotten better paints, or what have you. I’m going to teach you my method of restoring kits to not just their former glory, but make them look better than they did before.

In this multi-part series, I’m also going to be teaching you how to do a kitbash I’ve been wanting to do for ages now. It’s a very simple one that unfortunately requires a lot of models to do. This again, is HGUC-specific, as there’s been a Master Grade for this kit for quite some time, but even that is starting to show its age. The suit I’m talking about is Ramba Ral’s Zaku I.

Ramba’s Zaku I first made its debut in the video game Gihren’s Greed way back on the Sega Saturn. I guess it was added to give him a suit for the early parts of the war, before the Gouf was developed. And as you can see here, the in-game and cutscene designs are almost completely different! You can tell right away that not only are the colors different, but the cutscene one has a different chest, and different arms. So which one will I be doing? Well, the more difficult/expensive one of course!

As it should be obvious, the base kit you’ll need for this is, well, the HGUC Zaku I-a personal favorite of mine from the HGUC line. So where do the rest of the parts come from? Well, for once it seems that Bandai catered to the kitbashers, and released a little kit called the Zaku I Sniper.

It’s not a design I particularly care for, but it’s a great spare parts goldmine, and has all of the parts you’ll need to make this kitbash. In fact, you’ll still be able to build something similar with the leftover parts from the Zaku I, but it’ll be missing one piece of shoulder armor. The parts you’ll want from the Sniper include the left shoulder assembly, the forearms, and the entire torso.

Optionally, if you’re looking to give the kit some extra weapons, you can pick up the HGUC Zaku II FS, which includes a Heat Hawk similar (but not quite the same) to the one Ramba’s uses.

Here’s my Zaku. Originally, I bought those two kits to slap together a Zaku I A-type, a very similar design. It was the project that kickstarted me into painting all of my models, but I didn’t exactly glue or sand this one. So, now I’ll be using the parts from this, plus one of the shoulders from my Zaku Sniper, to make Ramba Ral’s Zaku I.

You’ll want to start by disassembling your kit almost completely. Some parts that would normally be snapped together anyway, like arm joints, can be left as is. When taking it apart, don’t force the pieces out-just wiggle them until they get lose. It’s the best way to reduce damage.

You’ll notice that you might accidentally break off a few pegs while taking stuff apart. This is nothing to fret about-in fact it actually saves you some steps down the line. It’ll just give you one less peg to cut down when you’re gluing the thing back together!

Now that some parts from the kit have been taken apart, you can start removing the paint. This is where things get a bit messy. When I originally did this, I didn’t have much of a paint library, and used two different brands of paint… not exactly something I’d suggest. On the left is Tamiya Gloss Brown, and on the right is Testors Camo Green.

If you read my “tools of the trade” article, you’ll remember that I mentioned Acetone Nail Polish remover. This stuff is crucial for removing paint. It smells terrible but it gets the job done.

When taking the paint off, you should not-I repeat, NOT dunk the parts in this stuff. That is a BAD IDEA as it will damage them. Instead, pour a bit onto a paper towel and rub the paint off. It can be messy, but this assures you that the parts won’t be too damaged. You’ll also notice that the Testors paint came off much easier than the Tamiya paint. I’m not sure what it is about the composition of Tamiya paints, but they just don’t like coming off.

That’s all I have finished on this project for now. Next week, I’ll have a new write-up ready where I show how far I’ve gotten in this project, with some new tips to offer. See ya!

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