Hasegawa’s 1/20 Mk. 44 Ammoknight: Mig-schinen Krieger?

My dad was never a particular eater. Not that he would eat anything, mind you… but generally what was set before him he’d eat contentedly, thankful for the meal. Left to his own choosing though, he had some fairly simple tastes.

One of my most endearing memories of him was his habit of eating saltine crackers and peanut butter after most meals. It didn’t matter the meal, or even if there was dessert. Once all was said and done, he’d get out the box of crackers, procuring six or eight crackers, I suppose depending on his mood. He’d then get the jar of peanut butter – always smooth – and apply a thick coat to half the crackers. He’d then take the remaining crackers, set them on top of the others, and have little peanut butter and cracker sandwiches.

I don’t know that he ever spoke of his reason of his love for this simple confection. Yet he demonstrated it more often than I can remember. 

Of course, I immediately picked up on the habit as a kid, I suppose not only to emulate my dad, but because they were a crunchy, savory treat. To this day I still like to enjoy them on occasion, though I’ve switched to crunchy peanut butter. (Jif Extra Crunchy, to be precise. Accept no substitutes. 🙂 )

Colby Cheese

Dad did have a few tastes that I didn’t warm up to as a kid. The one that stands out the most was his love for Colby cheese.

Colby cheese looks about like cheddar. However, its taste, as I described it as a kid, was a bit like “unwashed feet, wrapped in soiled undergarments”. My dad never thought that comparison was funny, but my mom would laugh and laugh at it.

And he’d eat it on everything. Melt it on toast, as a side to a meal… there was always a block of Colby cheese in the refrigerator. I typically tried to avoid it, but on occasion, if there was no other choice, and the option was plain hamburger, or Colby cheeseburger, I’d stomach a Colby cheeseburger. (Because a plain hamburger is just wrong.)

Over time, though, I began to appreciate Colby cheese. As I grew up, and discovered cheese outside of that which comes in thin slices wrapped in plastic, I found an appreciation for Colby cheese. I realized I was growing more like my dad when I actually opted for it on occasion.

Changing Tastes

Prior to building any Maschinen Krieger kits, I looked on them about like Colby cheese. I got that some people enjoyed them, and that was fine for them. But for so many years, my tastes in modeling stayed along the wider, more trodden path. I always opted for the cheddar kits, or even the sliced American. Rarely did I stray into the exotic.

As I shifted my modeling focus, and moved towards scifi, I began to look more at Maschinen Krieger. The general look of them began to grow on me, and I even began to build a few. But one… the Ammoknight, remained firmly in the “Colby” category to my 10-year-old mind.

But just as my taste for the real Colby cheese changed, my view of the Ammoknight did too. Though it has almost a grotesque shape, there is an odd, whimsical symmetry to its shape. Eventually I was won over.

Building The Kit

After finishing the interior, construction started on the fighting suit proper. Initially I constructed all the separate components as sub-assemblies. Though Hasegawa has never been a favorite manufacturer, this kit went together well. While there were a few seams that would need to be addressed on a “traditional” kit, the fact that I would later texture all the parts meant all that was needed was a bit of sanding things smooth. 

Within a short time, I had a pile of parts which I suppose resembled a robot factory. 🙂 Two feet, two lower legs, a pair of uppers, a somewhat comical waist section that I thought resembled a sumo garment, lower and upper arms, and of course the large, crab-like upper body.

Hasegawa engineered the upper body in a fairly unique way. To allow for it to open, there are two posts that fit into poly caps. The front section can be slid forward, then rotated down, allowing a very good view of the well detailed interior.

Roughing It

The next step in the process was to add texture to the kit. According to Lincoln Wright, who for many years was a studio artist for the Maschinen Krieger property, the process of texturing is part of the lore of the universe, not just a stylistic choice. 

I’d previously used two methods on other Ma. K kit. Some were given a lighter texture with a stippled application of Mr. Surfacer 500. Others received a heavier texture with Tamiya’s Basic Putty. However, for this build, I decided to combine the two. I’d seen another artist show his work online, and he’d opted to use both smooth and rough sections in his work. I like it well enough I decided to rip it off emulate it. 😉

On the majority of the suit, I stippled on Mr. Surfacer 500, giving everything a nice, lumpy texture. This also served to fully cover any seam lines. For more prominent armor parts, such as the knees and skirt armor, I used Tamiya Basic Putty. I thinned it with nail polish remover, and used a brush to heavily texture those areas. I liked the result – a slight bit of visual interest that helped those sections stand apart a bit.

With the texturing complete, everything was given a coat of Badger’s Stynylrez Primer to prepare it for paint.

Not A Migstake

As I’d mentioned in the previous blog entry about this kit, the colors of the interior were inspired by a Somali Mig I’d had the opportunity to sit in while “visiting” Mogadishu in 1993. I decided to let that experience also inform the scheme for the exterior of the suit.

The Mig-21MF I’d sat in many years ago had upper surfaces painted in a sand color, with an olive camo pattern sprayed over the top. As with any Mig-21, the nose cone was a brighter green, with the same green color adorning the upper vertical stabilizer.

For my Ammoknight, I started with Tamiya’s XF-60 Dark Yellow. The entire suit was given a full opacity coat of this. Once dry, I used my Badger Patriot Extreme, which has a .3 nozzle, to freehand on the olive color. For this, I used Tamiya’s XF-81Dark Green 2 (RAF). I considered Tamiya’s Olive Green color, but I felt it was a bit too bright.

The pattern was easily sprayed thanks to Tamiya’s wonderful paint properties. Thinned with their own X-20A thinner, I found it quite easy to get a nice, tight demarcation line in no time. Badger’s Extreme Patriot also helped in this regard, as the small air adjustment knob on the lower front of the airbrush helped me really dial in the precise airflow I needed.

Distressed? Not Really

The second part of my Ammoknight build is available to Patreon subscribers. In this video, I demonstrate the techniques discussed in this article, including texturing, freehand camo, and distressing.

The next step was a process I call “distressing” the paint. The technique is not unique to me, of course, and I doubt the name is either. The basic explanation is that a lighter paint is “scribbled” over the darker in a random, tight pattern, resulting in a nice, multi-tonal finish that is a solid first step in the fading and weathering process.

For the green, I mixed in a bit of Tamiya XF-55 Deck Tan with the XF-81. This gave it a very faded look, but also desaturated it a bit, though not as much as gray would. Heavily thinned with X-20A, I applied it to all the green areas.

For the tan areas, I initially tried to lighten up the XF-60 with the XF-55, but there wasn’t enough contrast for my taste. Instead, I decided to use straight XF-55, again heavily thinned, as my “distressor” for the tan-colored areas.

The distressing step is not mean to be a full weathering job for the paint, but much like modulation, it serves as an undercoat for later steps. (Distressing and modulation can be combined for another interesting effect!)

The final major color application was simulating the bright green panels and nose cone on the Mig-21. While the traditional Ma. K look would likely never use such a bright green, I was quite happy to employ it. I’ve always wanted to build that Mig-21, but for reasons I won’t bore you with, I’ve never been able to bring myself to do it. Choosing these colors for the Ammoknight was quite honestly a bit therapeutic. So canon or not… I went with it. Tamiya’s X-5 Green fit the bill to my eye.

Changed Views

The kit comes with a nice pilot figure that I am looking forward to painting.

My dad passed away a few years ago, taken long before I was ready. My fondness for Colby cheese has taken on a new, special significance. A few slices of it now bring on pleasant memories, and a few tears at times, as I recall him and his life. I can honestly say I now like the stuff. A few slices of Colby, and a side of saltines and peanut butter, are a wonderful time of remembrance. And it tastes good too. 😉

With the Ammoknight now painted in the colors of “my” Somali Mig, I’m quite happy with it. There’s still more work to follow – weathering, chipping, staining, and so forth. Plus I’ll need to paint the pilot figure, and I may even make a small base for it.

I don’t know that the color scheme is terribly original. Many may find the bright green parts a bit odd. But I’m OK with that.

Just give it a while. Like Colby cheese, it just may grow on you. 

Now hand me those saltines… 😀

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