Hello, hola, and ciao!
If you’re here, I’m going to assume you already know what Gundam kits are, and you may have even built a few yourself. If you haven’t, that’s cool too- everyone has to start somewhere. Our starting point today is going to be the High Grade kit of the Arche Gundam, (Ali Al-Saachez’ mount in the second season of Gundam 00) in 1/144 scale. These kits are an excellent jumping-off point for the modeler interested in moving beyond the confines of the instructions and included kit parts, since they offer a well-molded and reasonably well-detailed canvas to which you can add additional detail and experiment with various paints and techniques without breaking the bank. We won’t go too nuts with the Arche, but this will not be an out-of-box build.
The Arche is reasonably atypical as Gundams go. Rather than your typical mechanical-Samurai looking machine, it resembles more the lovechild of an airplane and a spider monkey, spindly limbs arrayed around the central GN Tau drive, and sports a maroon color scheme in stark contrast to the traditional Gundam color scheme of the three primary colors plus white. The frame parts of the kit are molded in an unusual beige, and some detail parts are provided in yellow or white. Clear parts include the domed windows for the Arche’s three GN Tau drives and two beam blades for its unusual foot-mounted sabers.
A brief word before we launch into construction. While I paint certain parts of my kits by hand, the vast majority of my painting is done via airbrush, and this will be the case for this build. The initial cost outlay for an airbrushing setup can be intimidating, but an airbrush is an invaluable tool for the modeler. It allows for smoother and more even coverage than hand-brushing, and in the long run works out cheaper than using spray cans; with an airbrush, you have greater control over both consistency and placement of paint, and can use custom-mixed colors; once you gain experience, you can start using more advanced techniques like pre- and post-shading, fades, and more.
Anyway, the first step in building any model you intend to paint is identifying sub-assemblies- bits and pieces you can assemble that will cut down on the amount of painting you need to do. This is a little more difficult when using an airbrush, as you have to take into account possible overspray and things like color layering, but you pick it up pretty quickly.
With Arche, a good starting point is the beige frame pieces that will have red armor attached to them. Here you can see I’ve assembled the double elbow joints for both arms, the cockpit pod that mounts to the escape rocket/backpack unit, the core GN Drive piece, and the ankle joint cylinders, which also have the mounting points for the feet and heels built into them.
At this point, it’s also safe to assemble some of the red bits- the shoulders, the jet-pack dingus, the thighs, waist binders, the waist, crotch, and skirt armor, (be sure to separate the halves of the front skirt before closing the crotch) and so forth.
The overzealous modeler must be wary at this stage of certain pitfalls- look out for buildarounds, where pieces must be assembled over pieces of contrasting color, and make sure you save assembly of those for after painting. Notable areas to be wary of this on the Arche include the lower legs with their beige knee-joint cylinders and internal GN Tau drives, the red arms in the GN Shield, and the yellow vents in the upper torso.
Thanks for bearing with me through this first article, folks; join me again next week when we’ll start painting and detailing this beast, and I’ll show off a few of the ways you can take the Arche beyond the instructions and make it your own.
Keith has been building models for close to fifteen years, or more than half his life (whichever is more impressive.) When not building models, he spends his days working as a tour guide at a major New York museum, running a globe-spanning evil organization, and getting into arguments on the internet.