Towards the end of June, I got an email from a distributor that will be exhibiting at Anime Expo; as well as Otakon and the San Diego Comic Con. He was asking if I could build a couple of kits to be displayed at Anime Expo. The email came on a Monday, the 22nd of June, and Anime Expo starts on July 2nd; additionally, I’m one of the managers for the Exhibit Hall this year so I need to be there on June 30th to start dealing with all the vendors and my job for AX. Not too bad, if I can get the kits started Monday evening and get some fellow model builders to help out, we can probably do this… Well, a few more issues, the guy was currently in Japan and returning Tuesday, and he won’t have the kits until Friday of that week. The kits in question are the 00 Riser and MG Exia; which has yet to be released.
I email a group, and everyone is excited and confident that we can actually pull this off. So I respond and wait for the kits to arrive. In the mean time; Angel has the 00 Riser kit that was the second kit the vendor wanted built, so we started that Tuesday night, and got a great deal done on the following night as well. On the morning of Thursday, the 25th; I got word from the vendor that the MG Exia kit has come in and that he’ll send a courier up to my work to drop it off.
I got two ziplock bags of runners. One with a small number of runners and some small parts and a small sheet of photocopied instructions; the other bag was bulging in parts – about 15 or so runners, two sheets of stickers, and some other things. However, no instructions. Great, we’re expected to build this unreleased Exia kit without any sort of instructions? Well, not an issue, we’re model builders, we can figure things out.
We start up Thursday night. One of the guys has built a 1/60 scale and a 1/100 scale version, so we’re relying on his memory of what goes where. We’ve also pulled up all the images of the MG Exia we can find online for use as reference. A team of six of us, Angel, Dan (Funaka), Terrence (Shinsetsu), Jay, Mitch, and I; just started clipping and sanding – focusing on specific appendages. Around 10-10:30, Nicky started pushing for Angel to take them home, so naturally, we all responded negatively towards Nicky. We tried getting Helen to distract her with idle women talk; that didn’t really work. With Nicky pulling Angel away, we ended up throwing every Yoko Ono jab at her; as she was really breaking up the band. It got pretty rough; but was hilarious with the random John/Yoko/Beatles crap we threw out. We were fairly close to completion when Angel took off, so it wasn’t too big a deal that he had to leave early.
It only took us about 4 hours, but we had the kit snapped. This was honestly the most fun I had ever had clipping and test fitting any model kit. The sense of accomplishment with the completed kit snapped. Granted there were still a few loos ends and parts that we didn’t quite understand or know where they fit; but we had the kit at 98% completion.
After everyone left, I started focusing back on one of the legs that I built. I didn’t quite pay much attention to sanding, so I went and did clean up sanding, and started to take things apart and put the parts of skewers to prepare them for painting. I ended up separating the entire kit; and doing clean up sanding on parts that had some rough spots. The team of builders are good, there were very few areas that needed additional attention. Amazing.
It was about three in the morning and I was exhausted and was going to head to bed. But after a shower, I caught a second wind; so I brought the wood boards with parts on them into the workshop and started spraying the base paint layers. Wine red for the red areas, wulf blue for the blue areas, desert sand yellow for the yellow, and finally I spray a gray for the white parts. I post shaded the blue with cobalt blue and by then the sun was up and it was about 7 in the bloody morning. Time to crash.
I set the alarm for 11 AM; and woke up around 11:30. I went off to do some errands and to meet up and chat with the vendor, as well as pick up the 00 Riser kit that Angel had cannibalized for his own use. I ended up chatting with the vendor for about an hour. Before getting back to the house, I finished the rest of my errands and headed back. Jay was already at the house when I got there. Angel showed up around 5. I went off to pick up some decals that I ordered from Samuel Decal for the two project kits. It was just the three of us so I went to work on painting the white for the Exia while Angel worked on painting the white on the 00 Riser kit. After finishing the white for the Exia, I went to work on sanding some seamed up areas for the 00. Jay continued to work on the weapons for the Exia. We worked for about 3-4 hours before calling it a night – we were all exhausted form the past few days of pushing very hard on the two kits. It was Friday night, around 8:30 PM, and we called it. I called Mitch to tell him that we were taking the night off.
I actually got a full night’s rest and it felt damn good! I woke up around 9:30 and got to removing the internal frame parts from the painted armor pieces. For parts such as the leg, arms, shoulders and various other areas, to keep the paint from being so obviously misshaded in different tones, keeping such parts together while painting helps reduce that issue. The parts were removed and I did some clean up on the areas to prepare for the day’s work.
The internal pieces were set and ready to be painted. I left the house around 11:30 to meet up with my step dad and a couple of my mom’s friends for lunch. I didn’t get back to the house until about 3. Folks started showing up, and we were back to work. Mitch took over with the painting on the Exia and painted the internals, first with a gloss black, then with alclad II steel. Work on the 00 Riser continued with Angel resuming the white painting for the kit. Angel did a much better job on the white than I did for the same areas on the Exia. The issue with such rush jobs is that I feel the need to exhaust myself to get the damn thing done – or I’d worry that I wouldn’t meet the deadline. And exhausting oneself has a detrimental effect, especially when it comes to model building.
A few people were lounging around waiting for things to do. Once Mitch was done with the internals, we put the Exia kit together and started working on the decals. The issue with Samuel decals is that there are times when the clear coat over the decals is too light, and the slightest touch will disintegrate the ink or the decal itself. The second problem we ran into was completely my fault. I had foregone the step of spraying a clear gloss over the painted parts prior to doing the decal work. As a direct result, the use of Mr Mark softer ruined a few areas on the painted surface. We immediately switch over to using Micro Sol as the decal solution. In hindsight, it would have save us a ton of problems and the decaling session would have gone much more smoothly if a clear gloss was applied to both the decal sheet and the painted kit. Big lesson learned here. Granted I rant and rave about the proper steps to take, and when I think I can get away with it, it comes and bites me on the ass, hard.
Mitch does some creative masking to fix the issues resultant from the Mr Mark Softer.
The rest of the night goes fairly smoothly and we get the kit decaled. Angel working on the 00 Riser with Jay helping out towards the end, and the rest of us working on the Exia. Everyone leaves around midnight or so. Once everyone is gone, I spray a clear gloss over the parts to prepare the kit for panel lines. I crash out around 4 in the morning.
The first thing I do after waking up is to panel line the kit. I get up around 10. Once the kit is panel lined, I run off to do AX related things; and don’t return home until about 3 in the afternoon. I get back to work on cleaning up the panel lines and Dan shows up and starts working on decals for the 00 Riser. With the panel lines for the Exia completed, I spray a flat coat and apply finishing touches here and there. Once the kit is dry, I did the final assembly. Now this was an interesting experience since even now, Sunday, June 28, we didn’t have the instructions. So there were a few areas for trial and error in the final assembly. Once everything is assembled I decide to further examine the two extra chrome pieces we had; and when comparing our kit to the pictures on line, I found the area where these parts belonged. So the parts were taken into the workshop and painted. Finally the kit is done, and it is about 6:00 PM Sunday June 28. We finished the kit in about 4 days, with about 30 hours of work put into the bloody thing. Well, part of that time was also put into the 00 Riser; but that kit was slightly ignored for focus on the Exia.
The final product isn’t too bad; I wish I had more time to work, so that I wouldn’t have rushed or pushed so hard on the damn kit. But I had some excellent help from very experienced and seasoned model builders. I enjoyed the build. I’m utterly exhausted from it, and at the time of this writing, I need to get some good rest as AX is coming up. Hopefully it’ll get some good attention and reviews from AX and possibly Otakon and Comic Con. The last tidbit of fun for the kit was later that evening, I received an email from the vendor. He had gotten a hold of his contact at Bandai, and a copy of the instructions were scanned and emailed to him. Time stamp on the email was about 10:30 PM. I had finished taking pictures and for the fun of it all, I snapped one with my cell showing the date and time, which is June 28, 9:56 PM. We had finished the kit about 4 or so hours before we got the instructions. The instructions however did provide some insight to how certain gimmicks worked on the kit. Pretty cool.
More pictures here: http://gamerabaenre.com/mg_exia_prog.htm