A Builder's Journey 01: HG RX-78-2
Read time: 5-9 minutes
Hello everyone, this is Apollo, aka Gundam Workshop of GSquad with a premier blog post! I’d like to spend a moment to go over the concept for my blogs, dubbed “A Builder’s Journey”. Ideally, I’d like to highlight my growth and process as a builder from one build to another, documenting it as well as I can. For that purpose, I’m going to attempt to address every aspect of my builds, while highlighting both successes and failures. We grow through our experiences, after all, and I don’t want to portray my skill as something that improves without setbacks or mistakes.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Tools Used
- The Build
- Painting: Different primers, different tops
- Painting: Gloss Coat
- Painting: Topcoat
(Disclaimer: Any links below are Amazon Affiliate links; if you’d like to purchase anything I’ve linked, it’d be a great help. There’s no extra cost on the customer’s end, and every little bit helps me keep building.)
For a bit of background, I’ve been building Gunpla off and on for most of my life. I’m 28 now, but I remember one of my first kits being the Endless Waltz series of MGs released back when Gundam Wing was still actually airing in the US. My first kits were done without any kind of tools, parts roughly snapped off of sprues, stickers haphazardly slapped down almost where they needed to go. It wasn’t pretty, but it was fun. Later, I started actually looking at tools, playing around with more advanced kits, and generally considering doing some proper customization, but I never really made that leap. Enter 2020 when COVID-19 happened and I found myself with a degree I couldn’t use due to my industry getting shut down for safety reasons and me with enough free time to finally commit to furthering my Gunpla skills.
I chose the old-school HG RX-78-2 as my first “custom” kit because I wanted something simple and inexpensive to play around with. As my first painted kit, and the first kit I’d be scribing, I didn’t want to ruin something I knew I’d love from start to finish: if the RX failed, while it’d be sad, I’d only be out about $20 USD. If I’d been paying more attention when I made my purchase, I’d have probably gone with the Beyond Global version, as it seems to be a much better kit in every regard, but by the time I learned that it existed I’d already committed to the old-school High Grade.
As far as my paint concepts go, I just really like the Principality of Zeon and their red themes. I was originally intending to do most of the kit in a nice salmon colour as a Char tribute, but my paint tests showed that a black primer paired with Mr. Color’s Hermann Red produces some excellent results.
Build by build, I’ll be listing the tools I used for that specific build; expect new and better tools to be listed in later posts. As a reminder, any Amazon links are Affiliate Links; I earn a small bonus with every sale, which helps me to keep making content.
- GPaint (Use Promo Code "GUNDAMWORKSHOP" to save 5%!)
- Tamiya Basic Tool Set
- Prime Model Scriber
- Madworks Scribing Tape
- FANTASTICAR Craft Knife
- GodHand Nippers
- Photo Booth
- Tamiya 74545 Spray-Work HG Airbrush III Super Fine
- ZENY Pro 1/5 HP Airbrush Air Compressor
- Spray Booth
- Ultrasonic Cleaner
- Digital Scale
- Tamiya Airbrush Cleaner
- Tamiya Sanding Sponges
- Pledge Floor Gloss
- Tamiya Panel Line Black
- Tamiya Extra Thin Cement
There’s not a whole lot to say about the build itself: a High Grade is a High Grade, more or less, and an old High Grade is definitely an old High Grade. If you’ve ever built anything that isn’t one of the early Real Grades before, you’ve probably got a good idea of how the process works out. The RX-78-2 doesn’t have any particular build challenges, or any fun gimmicks that you have to account for, or look forward to. It’s a solid little kit, with an emphasis on little. The default colour separation isn’t the best, but we don’t worry about silly little things like default colours here anyway.
The only real challenges that I faced with the actual build process are minor, and easily fixable with a bit of glue. I found the shoulders to be a bit resistant to staying together during posing; the seam lines there love to loosen and pop out, especially when trying to fold the arm into position to hold that nightmare of a bazooka; a bit of glue and pressure solved that problem. Likewise, the chestpiece has a bit of a loose connection, and can be easily fixed in a similar fashion. Like most High Grades, the V-Fins come with those awkward nubs on the end, presumably to make sure that if a young builder stabs themselves in the eye, they’re stabbed with a small blunt object instead of a small, slightly less blunt object. A few quick cuts with nippers or a blade can sharpen them right up, although in my case, I did accidentally overcut the RX-78-2’s left fin.
MODIFICATION - SCRIBING
One of the major things I wanted to practice on this build was scribing; it was largely why I decided to start with a High Grade kit, as again, if I ruined everything it wouldn’t be a huge loss. That plan began and ended with the shield, as I ran into one major problem: High Grades are small. The RX-78-2 High Grade is particularly small. While half of the shield turned out decently, the rest did not. Scribing is something I love seeing on kits, and I’ll definitely return to it, but ultimately I don’t think that a High Grade kit is a decent scale to learn on. I’ll definitely revisit this skill in the future when I’ve got a bit more surface area to work with; I might even get some Pla Plates to practice on.
PAINTING - PRIMERS AND COLOURS
To achieve the colours you see in the final product, I went through some fairly extensive paint testing; it’s worth noting, however, that there was zero paint mixing in this particular build. I’m still learning as far as painting goes, and wanted to start slow. The lighter reds, such as the V-Fin and the shield, were accomplished by using GPaint Red over Mr. Finishing Surfacer 1500 Grey, while the darker reds were achieved with light coats of Mr. Color GX Hermann Red over Mr. Finishing Surfacer 1500 Black, which allowed the black to show through and provide some nice depth. I did experience some inconsistencies with my layers, which is particularly telling in the arms; in the future I plan to look into assembling as much of the kit as I safely can before painting in order to assure even coats and colour matching, or to improve my technique to reduce the variance between parts. The eyes were painted with Alclad II Gloss Black Base and then left untouched thereafter, as I wanted a deep, shadowed look, instead of the usual stickered or hand-painted glowing eyes.
The inner frame - as much as an older High Grade really has an inner frame - was painted using a grey primer, and then covered up with GPaint Dark Iron, while the weapons were painted with GPaint Gun Metal over that same primer. The accent parts, such as the various joint caps and the vents in the chest were painted with GPaint Gun Metal over Mr. Finishing Surfacer 1500 White. As I mentioned before, I did see lots of inconsistencies across various parts, but this is more user error than the tools I was working with; the more builds I do, the cleaner and more consistent my coats should be across each part.
PAINTING - GLOSS COAT
I accomplished (using the term “accomplished” loosely) my gloss coat using Future Floor Polish, as linked above. This is something I’ll need to revisit and take another pass at in the future, as I didn’t quite get the effect it’s supposed to have. My parts were much glossier, yes, but the actual texture had a slight stick to it, which made my attempts at panel lining far less effective than they should have otherwise been. I’ll be revisiting this in a future build, perhaps as a dip instead of a spray, but in the meantime I’ll be using Mr. Color GX112 instead.
PAINTING - TOP COAT
Deciding on a top coat was a struggle as I loved the glossy finish that Mr Color GX Hermann Red naturally provides, even before adding a gloss coat on top of that. Ultimately, however, I decided that the RX-78-2 is definitely designed for function over form; while it still looks nice with a matte finish (as provided by Mr. Color GX114), I think the resulting lack of gloss provides a more industrial, functional feel.
All in all, this project took me roughly four months of real time, from start to finish. The build portion of the project took about a week of light work, mostly while running Netflix in the background. Scribing - what little bit I did - only took a few hours. Disassembly was fairly quick, and was followed by the kit being sorted out into plastic bags for painting and then it all ended up sitting in a box until late October when I finally got my workshop up and running. Painting took one week, accounting for missing a day or two due to unfortunate heat waves, time spent with family, and waiting for coats to dry.
I learned a lot about painting and cleaning parts up to be primed, and nowhere near enough about scribing. If I could go back, I would’ve opted for a different gloss coat, and ordered some water slide decals so I could practice panel lining and decal application, just to avoid doing a water slide trial run on a kit I really don’t want to ruin. It was a fun experience, however, and I’m excited to take what I learned here and to apply it to the next build.
If you’d like to keep up with future builds, and see a WIP timeline of my process, feel free to check out my Instagram. Twitch and YouTube are coming along eventually, once I have the means to put together a proper setup.
Thanks for reading! This is Apollo from Gundam Workshop, signing off.