Last month, I picked up Ortega’s Hi-Mo Zaku II because of that massive heat axe and because I was looking for something to snap at the January build gathering. I ended up working on the Gusion; but I managed to open this box and look at it for a few moments. I got the kit ready again a few weeks ago when we had a live broadcast, but I ended up missing that broadcast, so it continues to sit in the box. I felt the need to use the massive axe; so sticking with the Origin theme; I went out and grabbed an Early Type Guntank as a foil piece.

The Guntank came together fairly quickly as it is a very simple kit. But the thing that really bothered me about the kit are the damn tracks. The are solid pieces with the track wheels and come in two pieces which boggled my mind. There is a horrible gap, and after looking at the tracks, it seems like it is designed to have 4 treads. The kit was snapped together with the thought to do something with the treads.

The Zaku kit came together easily, but it was much more complex. A very interesting design especially for the 1/144 scale. I kind of like the chest gimmick to help poseability. But after snapping the thing together, there are some obvious areas where I will be doing some modifications.

After snapping the kits together, I set them up on a display base to get a look and feel for planning out the diorama. I originally thought about having the Zaku in mid-air with a down swing of the axe into the chest or shoulder of the Guntank. But I couldn’t get anything that looked good enough; so that idea was scrapped. The next idea was to do a “Luke, I’m your father” “oops, took your hand” scene, and that seemed to work a little better.

Two weeks ago, we had a live broadcast and I started to formulate the “Sorry, I chopped your hand on son” idea. And started slicing the Guntank’s left arm. I want to create a flowing effect with some LEDs, so that whole process was worked on during the Feb 9 live broadcast. And you can check that out here:

The basic idea is to glue a piece of clear plastic over the cut areas, have some LEDs behind the clear plastic, then paint up and damage things so that when the LEDs are lit, the cut area looks like glowing metal in the scope of the anime physics of a giant heated axe slicing through a Guntank’s hand cannon.

At this past weekend’s build gathering, I set to working on the tracks. In part of the above broadcast, Dan (Funaka) suggested using the MG Guntank’s treads. And they actually match up fairly well. They’re considerably thicker than the Early Type’s treads, but look so much better and are individual links. Not wanting to cannibalize the MG’s tracks, I took part of the tracks runner, made a mold, and started casting copies of the treads.

With some treads cast, I focused on separating out the wheels from the plastic treads, cutting apart the original tracks to separate out the wheels. As I progressed, I have the comparison for the original tracks with the tracks after wheel separation, then with a test fit using the MG’s Guntank’s track. The resin track links don’t connect as nicely as the original plastic tracks; so I used those for a test look on the Early Type’s wheels. I think this is a vast improvement. I really didn’t like the gap in the original tracks or the fact that they were a single piece of plastic so the natural tread sag is too static.

The tracks are assembled for a quick test fit of a completed track for a more complete comparison. Granted I put the tracks on in the wrong direction, but the general look and feel for how the new tracks looked against the original. It is definitely an improvement on the original.

Next, we move on to the Zaku. The first thing I want to do is to modify the head. I didn’t care for the spacing in the head. The monoeye like most HGUC kits is just a sticker on a bland piece of plastic. No details what-so-ever. So here’s the quick before and after picture. A coat of primer will show the comparison much better; but I’m still doing some work so that will come soon. The idea is to get something similar to a Gouf’s head, making it look a little meaner.

Here’s how that was done. The internals for the head pieces are cut up. Plastic plate is glued to the head, then trimmed down. The process is fairly simple: glue plastic, cut excess, let glue dry, sand down.

The glued pieces take a little while to dry so after several house; the sculpting happens with the sanding sticks and metal files to shape the plastic and conform it to the main head parts. So hopefully after a coat of primer to show any missed glue spots and do some filling, the little Zaku head will look a little meaner. At least that’s the effect I’m hoping for.

While the plastic and glue is curing, I get to work on adding an LED to the mono eye. Looking through the box of electronics, I found a 3mm pink LED that I figured would be perfect for lighting the monoeye. I cut up some styrene tubing, drilled two holes, one for the LED light source and one to fit the metal collar. The LED then sits behind this assembly as the light source. There is some considerable light bleed that will be fixed with more styrene and paint. I’m also looking at adding a piece of fiber optics to help with the lighting.

After getting the LED designed; I moved onto changing out the head cables. For this mod, I used a few pieces of 26 awg insulated wires as the base wire. Metal collars are threaded and 34 awg magnet wires are wrapped between the metal collars to create an inner spring look.

Once the cables are assembled, I did a quick test fit. Once painted this should be a decent little bit of detail to the head.

Next, I will mod the other cables. And see about what else I can do for this kit. I’m currently looking at ideas for lighting the giant heat axe. There is going to be another live broadcast tomorrow, we may see some more live progress tomorrow!

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