4.30.2017

Custom: RX-78-2 Gundam Head Display Stand


Preamble
Hong Kong: a city of a past memory. It had been sixteen years since I visited the hometown of my parents. Back then, the United Kingdom had just turned Hong Kong over to China, most of my extended family still lived in the city, and my family would visit on average once every two years -- it was my playground. The last time in that fragrant harbor, Gundam was the last thing on my mind -- my flavor of obsession was Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh! 

The view from Victoria Peak (not from the tourist balcony)
Though Hong Kong is still a familiar place, much has changed -- cousins growing up and moving away, the gradual disintegration of the Cantonese speaking community, and the inevitable gentrification as old buildings are destroyed for new ones. Even the popular hobby shops have changed! Many of the stores that used to sell scale models have shifted to the demand of airsoft guns and military gear. 
Searching from store to store, I had a hard time finding interesting hobby stores. The big stores chains sold kits I could now easily find in America (thanks to Bluefin and Amazon), and the more exclusive kits were priced too high. It wasn't until the latter half of my time in Hong Kong where something finally caught my eye.


While shopping for photography equipment in Sham Shui Po (深水埗), my uncle, who had known about my desire for Gunpla, showed me to a street in this area that sold nothing but toys. I found my hobby shops -- anything from holes in the wall with piles of kits to the ceiling to something a little more "class." But one thing was certain -- these places were down to sell a variety of kits regardless of origin. There was something...magical about this place.

"something...magical"
The kit I am showcasing in this article is one of the kits I picked up in Sham Shui Po. It is not a Bandai kit, nor is it necessarily a knock off. Nevertheless, Intellectual Property was stolen in the production of this kit. I would not normally purchase these kits, but for 50 HKD (about 6.50 USD), how could I refuse? I present to you the DX Hobby 1/48 RX-78-2 Head Display Stand. 

Out of Box Thoughts
Head Displays were, from what I can tell, originated in 2010 with the Dengeki Hobby bonus 1/48 scale Unicorn Head Display. Other head displays would pop up, like the Sinanju, Banshee, Build Burning, and G-Self (Zeta too?), but overall, it the collection of head display kits was pretty limited. A Chinese company (assumed) decided to play into the recent head displays and make their own based on the RX-78-2 Ver.Ka kit.


Like most head displays, very little color separation exists. These kits are typically produced in monochrome on one or two runners. I was happy to see this kit includes a clear runner for the stand mount and the eyes. It has potential for LED installation!

Unfortunately, like most knock-off kits, the quality of the mold was nowhere on the level of Bandai's kits. Gates were large, flashing was obvious, and pieces would be slightly misaligned. A lot of sanding and cutting was required. If I was anal about the sculpt, I probably would have applied putty to smooth out certain parts too. Overall quality, despite its knock-off status,  was okay -- nothing was outrageously frustrating.

My favorite part of the kit is the fact that the head camera was designed to be removable. This allows for easy LED placement to light up the eyes and the front and back head cameras. For my kit, the front piece of the head camera has a little bit of a clearance issue, but it helps keep the piece from slipping out too easily too.

The worst part of the kit is the beam saber mounting method. Ovals are provided for a friction fit with the ability for a custom position The problem is the underside is not covered, so if one were to view the back, the underside is exposed (refer to image later in the article). It might not be an issue from the front, but even from the side, this exposed underside is clear. The other issue with the Beam Sabers is the position. Typically, the beam sabers are positioned farther apart -- closer to the ends of the torso. It might look a little strange without the shoulders on this head display, but the current positions are not much better. If I wanted to spend more time customizing this head display, the beam saber positions would be the first issue I'd tackle.

...but I'm too lazy, so I immediately jumped into painting and detailing the head display. 

Custom Process
You got an idea of what the final product looks like in the title image, but here it is without the text from the front.


I started with the red portions of the head -- the face is separated between the red and white parts, making the paint job quite easy. Same with the crest with the rest of the V-fin. I used a spraycan of RustOleum Gloss Enamel to quickly paint the parts.
With the inside of the head and the vents, I hand-painted the locations using Tamiya Flat Black acrylic and Gundam Marker Real Touch gray for the panel lines. And with the yellow on the head vulcans, I used a spray can of Tamiya Polycarbonate paint (after masking off the rest of the head).
For the clear sections, I used Tamiya Clear Red acrylic and Mr. Color clear yellow, hand painting the parts. Decals were generic ones from Bandai's MG Unicorn wet application decals. Once the details were set, I top coated with a spray can of Mr. Hobby Top Coat a friend had passed on to me after seeing the problems I was having with Krylon Clear Acrylic.
For the torso, I started off by spraying the underside with RustOleum Flat Black Enamel. From there, I proceeded to spray the same Polycarbonate yellow on the top side. Once the yellow dried, I masked off the neck area to spray the rest a Tamiya French Blue, once again with a spray can. Details around the neck and on the upper "vents" (if you can call those bumps that) were done with Tamiya Gunmetal and Gundam Real Touch Markers. 
I wanted to also put some decal details on the chest, but the Unicorn did not have any generic labels like EFSF and quickly finding decals for RX-78-2 was either hard or costly. Looking through my limited selection of decals, I came across my recently procured sheet of gold decals, which I will eventually use on my Banshee Head Display. Because of the story of the Banshee, the suit has EFSF labels, whereas the Unicorn does not. This turns out to be a great situation -- I can experiment with the gold decals (see what the quality is) and I get a gold decal as an eye-catching detail on a blue background!


The decal was actually pretty tall -- the bottom half of the EFSF had "Earth Federation Space Force" spelled out. I cut the bottom half off for the initial use, but to not let that part go to waste, I found another use for it (as seen in the image below).


I thought the end result was pretty good, but this head display does not come without faults. As you can see on the image from the back (above), the yellow has quite a few blemishes. This was from the flat black sprayed on the underside -- I didn't bother cleaning up the top side before adding the yellow. I knew it would happen, but I disregarded anyway. There are additional blemishes that are harder to find, like tints of yellow and red on the head, and some spots on the yellow neck (closer to the base of the head. I tried my best to hide most of them, but for personal use, this is good enough. With the amount of projects in queue, I'd rather count this as a finished product rather than slaving away at perfection.

On display: HGUC REVIVE RX-78-2 Gundam
As for the actual use of this 1/48 scale bust, I have no intention of using it as a display base. Instead I plan on eventually implementing this piece onto a book end. I'm not sure when that will happen, but when it does, it'll be displayed proudly holding up my collection of Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin (and maybe Thunderbolt too).

That's it for now. This was supposed to be a quick weekend project as I waited for my brother to finish Persona 5, but I ended up working on the details well past his completion of the game. I think I'll go back to stealing hearts now. Until next time, may your cuts be clean!