Mar 292018

Coming into some extra spare cash, I decided to upgrade my air compressor.

Was there something wrong with my old compressor? Nope. It is still running. I only had one repair issue done about 10 years ago when the auto shutoff fuse blew. After that issue, I picked up a 10 gallon tank and configured my system to run air from the compressor to fill that tank and then from there, a set of manifolds to run air to the airbrushes. This configuration changed how often the compressor ran and extended the life of the shutoff. The old compressor is an Iwata Smart Jet; 1/8 HP, pushing 35 psi, cost me about $200 before shipping and still works after 18 years in constant service. I think I’ve definitely gotten my money’s worth for the thing.

The old setup had an Iwata moisture trap/regulator assembly that I did not like. The moisture trap was fine, but I did not like the regulator. This assembly was then connected to a manifold that then connected first to the tank, followed by an aftermarket kobalt regulator, followed by two more manifolds with female quick connects for airbrush hoses. Sure, I can run dual airbrushes, but I wouldn’t get equal airflow if both airbrushes were running since the compressor only pushes out 35 psi. Which means the tank, even though it has 10 gallons, is only 10 gallons at 35 psi. But this was the setup and it has worked beautifully for over 15 years of gunpla and resin figure kits. Now when I say it still works, this is mostly true. Flipping the switch, it doesn’t immediately kick on all the time. But it hasn’t completely died, so this new compressor upgrade was a bit of a preemptive strike on the inevitability looming on the horizon.

The new setup required a trip to the local hardware store to get some fittings to connect up the new Iwata Power Jet Plus tubular compressor. The new compressor is 1/4 HP, pushes 60 psi, and has a .5 liter tank attached (it’s the handle that frames the compressor (tubular bit). I have no use for the tank since I already have a tank in my setup. I was originally looking to pick up an Iwata Pro Jet Lite which is a 1/6 HP/60 psi (although the website specs say 70 psi) that runs $89 cheaper than the $455 PJPT I picked up. The shop didn’t have any in stock so I was easily swayed by the bigger motor and gimmicky tube tank that supposedly helps cool the air a bit reducing possible condensation issues. The new compressor’s fittings are standard 1/4 inch NPT thread. So the old assembly coming right out of the Smart Jet to the moisture trap/regulator assembly would not work. I just unscrewed the moisture trap assembly from the manifold and attached a male quick connect bit there. Then a hose with a female quick connect end goes to the compressor which now has a female quick connect screwed into the end of the Iwata PJPT’s moisture trap/regulator assembly. This end of the hose as a male quick connect. The rest of the assembly stays the same.

A flip of the switch and the tank is very quickly filled to 60 psi. Now I have almost double the amount of air running the manifold with potentially 2 airbrushes. According to the manual, I can add an additional 2 more airbrush manifolds and run 4 airbrush simultaneously. I’m sure I can realistically run 3 simultaneously without a drop in performance. But since I never sprayed 2 brushes at the same time, I doubt I’ll do 3 or 4. But it’s nice to have the option.

Now that this is done, I can get back to finishing the Grim Reaper project.

Mar 272018

Last time we left off, I was cleaning up the last bits of the kit with the scythe and the clear pieces. I have no idea why some of these pieces are clear such as the tassels since they’re going to be painted solid colors. I can understand the hair being clear, some translucent painting will come into play here. But these clear parts makes for some different approaches to clean up and filling. The resin is different, so sanding properties are slightly off in comparison to the regular resin. But once cleaned up, they go in for a soak in the industrial strength cleaner then a scrub in the ultrasonic cleaner and then dried.

After drying, the parts are ready for priming. The scythe parts are primed with regular Mr Color Surfacer Primer. The clear pieces are primed with clear gloss. The gloss fills in the tiny little scratches left over from the sanding process and when done, the part is crystal clear. There are a bunch of different methods for this such as dipping the parts into an acrylic clear medium or other products. I have a good amount of lacquer based clear gloss, so I used that.

More after the jump. Continue reading »

Mar 162018

This year’s SCGMC special theme is the Bearguy and all shapes, styles, and variants of the popular kit. To go along with our theme, we created a cute Bearguy themed shirt design. We have one in Pink and one in Blue. Wear them proudly! We currently have a limited number of these shirts, about 30 for each color. Like our other shirts, get them while you can, because you never know when we’ll get a chance to reprint more. Here are what our Bearguy shirts look like:

The other design we have is in even more limited numbers because we’re not sure how many people would really get the tongue in cheek joke here. The term elitist has gotten a bad reputation; but for those builders that have spent time honing their skills and becoming better, and teaching others how to build and get better; this is for you guys. You are truly the gunpla elite. You have helped judge gunpla events, you have helped critique others’ builds, and you have passed on your experience and knowledge to new and experienced builders alike. The granddaddy RX-78 stabbing its eyes out meme has been around and I even built a chess piece version of that meme years ago. Our other shirt we have up for sale now is based off the chess piece designed by our own Bhop: the Gunpla Elitist T-Shirt. Get your elitist shirt while supplies last and wear them proudly at any gunpla event you attend!

This also helps us bring you guys SCGMC every year, so every dollar spent goes right back into making the competition bigger and better!

Mar 152018

Towards the end of the Mercedes build, this kit arrived. The sculptor calls her 死神のデス代 or just “Death/God of Death”, I prefer the less final name of Grim Reaper. I picked her up off yahoo!japan auctions right after Winter Wonfest 2018. Unknown to me was that the sculptor: was already planning on releasing the kit to folks outside Japan through her webshop: Yesterday there was a twitter update with two release times: March 17 @ 22:00 Japan time and March 18, 2018 @ 15:00 Japan Time. So for those interested in this kit, keep a watch on her webstore at these times to get it. Her kits sell out, and I don’t think she does multiple runs; so if you want it, get it now. Build her later if you want. I wanted to build her now, so I started a few weeks ago.

The nice thing about resin figure kits are the parts count. The down side to a low parts count is a decent amount of masking when getting around to the painting. The cleanup work is also a sizeable chunk of work. The first thing I usually do is pin together the major parts. The smaller bits are left off so I can get a general idea of what the kit looks like and what I need to do to approach the build. A visual really helps. Plus, pinning is one of the fun things about resin kits, you get a sneak peek into the end of the project.

Turnarounds done, the real work starts after the jump. Continue reading »

Mar 022018

The body paint is done, or so I had thought.. so on to the fun decal work. The paint for the body is tamiya bright gun metal which is a semi gloss finish. That means I need to clear coat the crap out of the body before getting to the decal stage. I did the gloss coat in the last update so on to decals. This car isn’t too bad for decals, it’s not one of those itasha style cars, but it is a GT car. Luckily, it still isn’t as decal intensive as most race cars. The process is slow, and with how I worked, it should have been even slower.

Once the decals are on the surface, I need to let them dry out completely. Then on goes the decal softening solution. This stuff will help melt the decals into the panel lines and get the decals to curve along the surface as if they were painted. The decal softening solution will wrinkle the decal in the process. It is very important to acknowledge this and leave it the hell alone to dry on its own. It will flatten out. Caveat, it will flatten out if the surface is flat and upright so that the decal and the softening solution don’t pool in any specific direction but flat onto the surface. The spoiler has 3 decals on three sides, and doing the softening solution process really should have taken 3 days – one for each side. But in my haste, I rushed it and did it at the same time. This pooled and shifted the decal so when it wrinkled, it stayed wrinkled. Huge lesson learned here. Paint and surface prep you can mess up on all day long. Those are easy fixes; decals unless you have a bunch of spare copies, is a one shot deal.

More after the jump. Continue reading »