Some kits just work for you! And they even help you improve!!
That’s what I got from this kit. The Bandai HGUC MSM-08 ZOGOK (Unicorn Ver.). Perhaps it’s the simplicity of the design where there isn’t much panel lines to detail or color separation to configure. Having a larger area of blank canvas allows you to experiment with more confidence and try things you would avoid with a regular detailed Gundam. Add that to the fact that it looks like an awesome ‘Grunt’ like retro mecha, and the possibilities are endless!
I chose this kit after much contemplation. Guess I was too spoilt by the standard looking Gundams that I gave this a miss many times. Well, I’m glad I did because this kit gave my a lot of joy to build, paint and weather. Plus it was a platform to work with some AK weathering products I have been dying to use for the first time.
The process began the usual way of working in sub-assemblies. Torso, arms, legs, hips, feet, etc. Part count was little and each was chunky. Some time on the internet threw up some really cool looking paint jobs by other modellers. I settled for a simple grey scheme and enough weathering to show some age yet not overbearing. More neglected.
Paint of choice were some Citadel paints for the greys and metal areas, with Vallejo Mecha Metal paints for most of the metal areas of the arms and legs. AK paints were their streaking products namely grime and rust. After blocking in the base colors I moved on to some washes and dry brushing. Citadels Nuln Oil was used in the head interior and the vents to pick our those lines. Then came dry brushing with Citadels Necron Compound. What I learnt this time round was to take my time and really think ahead while I dry brush. Ensuring patience, I slowly built up the highlights and scratched areas around the metal and armor edges and sides. One thing I took away from this is that it is better to build little by little and stop when its enough, or if you think you need more, continue. If you over did it from the beginning, removing or over painting, could end up with a uneven surface or a finish you won’t be satisfied with, which will bug you for a long time.
Chipping was next and I used Vallejo Mecha Metal Light Steel with a small brush. I splurged on some good quality small brushes for this! This paid off as I could load my brush with enough paint to tap at the surface to create controlled tiny patches of paint as well as lines that simulate scratches. And no, I haven’t top coated the model yet as the paints were all acrylic. I still had one more acrylic thing to do and that was the rust areas.
Vallejo Mecha Color in a dark brown was used with a piece of torn off sponge from those you would use for dish washing. I tore off smaller pieces then usual and held them with the painting clips for some precision work. The same approach as dry brushing where I worked little by little building up the area to simulate rusted aged neglect.
Whilst I worked, I felt as if I was planning ahead with each stroke, dab, press of the sponge. I was thinking ahead on how the next spot would work and look, and even where it should be. Pausing often to take a wider look, contemplating, and then going back at it. Suddenly I was overcome with the need to be precise! I wanted it to be there for a reason! I became….an Artist!!! HAHA! Well almost I guess, but you get what I mean.
Now all the acrylic work was done, I gave the Zogok a top coat of Gloss and let that dry for a day. The next step was weathering with my newly acquired AK stuff!
Prior to this, I did watch some videos on the internet on how they are used and what you can really achieve with them! I admit that I was amazed how easy it would be especially they being enamel based! All you do is slap it on, let it dry, brush away with enamel thinner for a filter like shade, or pull for streaks! You could even let it blotch for splatters here and there! I thought to myself, “Why didn’t I buy these darn things in the first place!!” They make work so much easier and takes the guesswork away!
These AK enamels dry matte and the process began with the grime in corners and crevices of the Zogok. After letting a swipe of the Grime to dry for about 30mins, using a clean brush soaked in some enamel thinner, and wiping the access away, you can start to remove what you put down controlling where it goes, leaving some pooling for effect and pulling downwards as if dirty water dripped down it’s side! If the effect was too light, you can let it dry and repeat the process again till you get the shade you desire! Easy! The most enjoyable one was the Rust streaks! It dried to a look very close to the real thing! AK make these Rust streaking enamels in 3 shades of rust. This time I went it heavily in corners and recessed areas to allow it to collect, as if water collected there and rusted the surface from neglect. I applied some rust to edges in small spots. After it died, I pulled them downwards to simulate streaks from rain or flowing water down the armor. In some areas, I used a smaller brush tip and put splotches leaving them to dry as is hoping to replicate rust spots!
Other minor processes done where some Tamiya Weathering Master Pastels in lighter grey, black and brown in some areas to give some shadow or darker surfaces.
Overall pleased with the finish and it gave me confidence to grow as a modeller. This wasn’t a kit that needed fuss in detail or getting right. It was a perfect canvas to be creative. There were no specifics to follow allowing freedom to do as you please. Plus, the AK products used allowed me to experiment and have more understanding of them and how to use them effectively. The Zogok is one kit that I would recommend to anyone for something like this. I think no matter how you finished it, it will still look awesome!
What can I take from this journey? Well a lot really!
I had confidence that with my limitations, and allowing my self to have that freedom trusting in what I have and what I know I can do, it is possible. It took awhile to stumble on this moment and I am glad I did. I can comfortably know that what I have so far invested in can work and is possible to create something good enough for my shelf and good enough for the eye! I don’t model for competitions, and doubt I ever will, I can’t fuss around that much! I prefer having fun! The kind of Fun where failure won’t get you down or deter you away from the hobby! The kind of FUN where you can just go for it without worry and trusting in your limited ability! There is so much affordable and available nowadays that it’s hard not to try!
Now it doesn’t mean one should go and splurge. However you would never know till you do. Yes, there will be days when even the simplest of builds can go wrong. I remember those and countless kits, halted and stored away, some even binned immediately in hate! But without those moments, one never realizes that they are actually there to not do those mistakes and take a different approach instead. That lead me to where I am and who I am even in Real Life! And this little Chunky Zogok Fella can sit proud in my display cabinet as a reminder of my journey in life and in my modelling!