Bandai’s 1/100th Master Grade RGM-79SP GM Sniper II

The Master Grade 1/100th RGM-79SP GM Sniper II is finished. And I’m quite happy with how the kit turned out.

And quite surprised, actually.

Now, it has flaws. Many, many flaws, Mahoney. (My model… not the kit! 🙂 ) But I know any model I build, of any genre, is going to be full of flaws. It’s those very flaws that always keep me chasing the next model, trying to refine the process, so that hopefully what I see in my head will one day translate into plastic. (Not the monkeys and alpacas running around in there, though…)

Still, this is one of the few I’ve built since returning to model making in 2006 that I sat back at the end, looked at it, and thought “Yeah, that’ll do, pig. That’ll do.”

And the fact that this is only my second Gundam made me smile.

But as I said- there is a lot that could be refined, improved, added, and perfected. All in good time I suppose, so I keep building.

The kit itself went together without any real hassle, which seems to be the Bandai hallmark. (And I like that… I seriously dread going back to my “part time job” of aircraft commission builds after my Gunpla weekends…)

I followed a build process as I’ve seen several others that post their builds online use. I nipped and denubbed all the parts- and there are a lot of them- then primed all the parts with Stynylrez Black Primer, and then went through, color by color, and painted parts.

The inner frame received a coat of German Gray (Tamiya XF-63), a color I am am growing to like for “tactical” frame use. (Although Funky Blue Frames of Funkiness are cool too…) Frame parts were drybrushed with a light gray, and then some silver chipping was added with a Prismacolor Silver pencil.

For the armor parts, I mixed up custom colors using Tamiya paints, based on the general ratios outlined in the kit instructions. Light blue and dark blue were applied to their respective armor pieces, and then a few red bits completed the major assemblies.

Once the basic painting was finished, I assembled the major components- head, torso, arms, legs, feet, and waist. Each was then given a gloss coat of Future, and a few decals, consisting of kit rub ons, aftermarket generic Gundam decals, and a few bits from the spares box, were then applied.

Then the real fun started.

As I’d never weathered kits in this “armor” style of weathering, I used the process described by ModelMaking Guru in several of his videos, as well as tutorials from Mig Jimenez that dealt with both armor and mecha.

I started with various washes, both enamel and Future based, and then began the paint chipping process. I used Vallejo Basalt Gray throughout the chipping, on all colors. While many modelers use higher contrast colors, I wanted to test the theory on how using one color would look. My logic was simple- machines of war generally have a primer under the paint, and that color is the same regardless of the top coat. So I wanted to see how imaginating (imagining + replicating) that theory would look. While I like it for the “story” it tells in the model, I do think I will try a more contrast based approach on my next Gunpla, as I think some of the chipping “drama” is a bit lost because of the lack of contrast.

Other grime and streaking was added, in what became a bit of a haphazard process. I’d do one area, and then look at it later, and decide it needed more, and then smudge it and streak it and thin it and thicken it.  Happily, this process led to a finish that I feel actually has quite a bit of depth to it.

The thing I was most surprised at was the streaking on the legs. I’d gloss coated the leg parts, and had applied some chipping and streaking. I wanted to apply a dark wash to tint the surface a bit, as a basis for further weathering. As I was concerned that enamel washes slopped on heavily might damage the plastic, I decided to try a wash of Future, tinted with a dark gray and a dark brown, a sort of poor man’s Starship Filthy type color. I’d seen ModelMaking Guru do this, calling it a “magic wash”.

I began to apply it, but instead of the tinted wash effect I was looking for, it began to bead up and streak horribly. In a panic, I slopped more on, trying to even it out, but the effect only intensified. Frustrated, I walked away for a few minutes. In reflecting on this minor disaster, I decided to just sand it back a bit, and repaint. In that brief interlude, the “magic wash” had dried.

And, quite accidentally, magic had happened.

In looking at the part again, I was greeted by exactly the type of grimy streaking I’d wanted to end up with. I’d been imaginating that if this thing were a real live vehicle, the hydraulic pressure needed to work the legs would have been tremendous. Each step would have created excessive g-force as the leg pounded into the ground. And no matter how good futuristic space hydraulics are- principles of fluid dynamics still apply.

And having personally been in a “suit of war” in actual combat, I know that these machines take huge amounts of abuse. When people are shooting at you, the normal procedures for vehicle operation goes out the door. And when that machine is roughly 65 feet tall- and weighs tons- it will leak fluids like a sieve. That fluid attracts dirt, grime, water- everything.

Which makes a huge streaking mess.

So I’d accidentally “discovered” a simple, cheap, and Bandai plastic safe way of doing it. (I will be trying it with other colors too!)

Some additional weathering was added- more engine grime, pastels, touch ups of washes, mechanical pencil, and whatever else I could find was layered on. Finally, a ultra matte coat was applied.

All in all, I was super, super pleased with the result. I will certainly take the things I’ve learned and (hopefully) refine and improve on them in the next build. But this one is on the books, and I had a blast!

Follow up note…

I really, really wanted to take some cool posed photos. So I  gave it a try- and failed horribly. Pieces kept falling off, the legs would not hold a pose (especially at the hip), and after an hour of trying, I ended up with the three lame shots you see in this gallery. (Although I do like the “get down and boogie” pose a bit.) I was so incredibly frustrated- I can honestly say that this had to be one of the most frustrating things I’ve experienced in modeling in the past 11 years. I finally put the Sniper II away, lest it fly across the room and meet the wall at a high rate of speed.

After cooling down a bit though, I think I found the issue. When I flat coated everything, I did it in subassemblies. And while the matte varnish (AK Interactive Ultra matte) gave me exactly the look I wanted, it does have almost a waxy feel on the surface. It’s dry, but very very slick.

I realized ALL THE FREAKING joints were coated that way. Like silicon- they were all super slick, with no friction to grip whatsoever.

I decided I could take one of two courses of action:

  • Carefully experiment with methods to remove all the matt varnish from all the joints, OR
  • Set it on the shelf and enjoy a cup of coffee.

This coffee is really good. 🙂

And next build- I’ll avoid matte coating the joints!

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