9.04.2015

Custom Build: AMS-129 'Weiß Hund Zulu'

Previously on Space Mercenary: Specter GM. "I did it! I finished the core trio of the mercenary team before the end of 2014!"
We find ourselves nine months later with no updates to this project. Frustration after frustration, I could not stand the result of my work. I basically forced myself to finish the Weiß Hund through the winter, but found no satisfaction in the level of work I was producing. I told myself I'd take a brake and touch it up over the summer, but the motivation never came.
At this point it seems best to move on from this frustrating suit. With this article, I plan on bringing closure to the fourth of five mobile suits that make up Space Mercenary: Specter GM. So without further ado, I present to you the custom Geara Zulu I named 'Weiß Hund Zulu.'


If you want to know more about this and other suits, please check out the project page.

Concept Phase
This mobile suit was the last suit conceptualized in the team. After thinking about four Earth Federation suits, I decided the team needed a Zeonic suit to break the pattern. I also wanted to figure out what role the suit would play in the team. We have the Leader/Trap Master (Specter GM), Long Range Expert (Jegan Sniper), Melee Guru (GM Quel Semi-Striker), and Heavy Weapon Support (tentatively named Jesta Cannon Kai). It seemed like all the bases were covered, so as a cop out role, I decided I wanted a 'wild card / mad man' character in the mix. This character type would fit with the suit, since he/she would be the odd one out as the only Zeonic suit in the team.

While still in this concept phase, I started thinking about what suit I could use for this character. I think I narrowed it down to either a Schuzrum Gallus, Geara Doga or one of the Geara Zulus. I chose the Geara Zulu because it seemed to be the most versatile kits, especially with four variants available to work with. From there I picked Angelo's Geara Zulu because I am a fan of the high mobility pack.

For some reason, while thinking about customizing this kit, the Gundam-colored Accguy came into my mind. From there, I started thinking about what I could do to make the Geara Zulu thematically ridiculous. I settled with a White Dingo motif because the team was based in Australia and fought primarily in the ground war where as Specter GM is primary a space-bound mercenary team.

At the end of the concept phase, the idea was to paint a Geara Zulu in White with Navy and Gray accents. I would replace certain items with Earth Federation armaments (including replacing the monoeye with a GM-like visor like Kshatriya Repair) and apply multiple White Dingo team decals throughout the kit. It was to be as lame as sticking Type-R stickers on anything but a Honda vehicle.

Painting Phase
On paper, this custom kit seemed pretty straight forward - paint the kit white, paint parts navy, touch up with some metallic paints, and finish off with some custom weapons. Unfortunately the build was not as straight forward as previous custom builds (namely the GM Quel Semi-Striker). I think this is the part of my adventure in scale models where I started to feel the need for higher precision tools. With techniques like reverse panel washing, sculpting and detail painting, the current tools in my set were not good enough to paint in those details without ruining the rest of the panel. I started getting quite frustrated smudging the paint in reverse panel washing. I became even more frustrated when painting the Testors enamel brass on to certain details. But nothing was as frustrating as trying to turn magenta plastic into a consistent white. Using a spray can of Krylon Fusion White over a late of Krylon Gray Primer, I would end up with either a shade of gray or a shade of pink depending on how much primer was involved. Some might remember the teaser image at the end of the Specter GM article.


The shades of white are uniform only because post-process of the photograph allowed me to wash out any other colors from the paint job. In addition, if you look at the front armor skirt joint (the 'T' shape at the center of the pipes), you'll notice the paint had scraped off while assembling. I knew there are certain parts that require a little bit of sanding before painting and assembly, however, I did not realize how thick the paint would be.

a closer look at the scraped paint
This error threw my motivation and I pretty much stopped working on the kit at this point (notice how the arms are hidden behind the suits in the foreground - the arms were not painted yet at this point). It was quite frustrating knowing the work on the legs was quite smooth, but going up from there just started looking more and more sloppy.


For time reference, these photos were taken in August and I pretty much stopped working on the kit until February.

Re-Motivated: Re-imagining The Weiß Hund
Coming back to the kit in February, I knew I needed to get rid of the high mobility pack idea: it would have fit the crazed-explosive-expert trope, but thinking about the character, I felt such thrust did not fit the character I was thinking of, so instead I downsized to the vanilla Geara Zulu pack. I knew I wanted the weapon rack included on the other Geara Zulus and I knew the high mobility pack blocks the weapon rack attachment, so it all worked out in the end anyway. I picked up a Geara Zulu at Gundam Planet when I was in New Jersey for the second time and as I arrived in Boston, I pretty much went straight to work assembling the essential pieces to add on to my Geara Zulu. Looking back, I probably would have done much better if I just purchased the Geara Zulu Guards Type instead of purchasing both Angelo Sauper and vanilla Geara Zulus (I do like that tiny backpack though).


Continuing to think about Earth Federation equipment on the Weiß Hund,  I decided I needed one of those iconic Ground Gundam shields on this kit. However, the size of the shield did not look right on the Geara Zulu. I needed something a bit taller. Luckily, I had recently finished the GM Quel Semi-Striker and had the leftover shield from the GM Striker. And with the announced Pale Rider Heavy Equipment Version wielding the same shield, I just had to use it.


Another Earth Federation piece is the other iconic Ground Gundam piece: the Type 37 Machine Gun. This Earth Federation standard issue weapon would be useless in space since it uses the conventional shell type ammunition. I really like this aspect of the Weiß Hund Zulu - having this machine gun attached to its back shows how crazy the pilot is.


The next motivation breaker ended up being painting the weapons. I am not sure what I was hoping for, but with the inaccuracy of my brush and a gross lack of skill, I ended up over painting silver on the hand grenades, and doing a not so great job on the bazooka's sight lens. The lack of planning ended up ruining the original paint scheme of the Type 37 Machine Gun - I originally wanted wooden hand grips to give the weapon a classic look, but I ended up painting the rest of the weapon in a terrible color scheme. With such frustration, I painted over the whole thing in black, assembled the weapon rack and considered the kit finished.


As I mentioned before, I delayed on posting this because I was hoping to touch up the kit before writing an article about it. However, the summer has past and I still have not touched the kit. I don't even have any White Dingo decals yet! I decided I would leave the kit as is, write about it to bring some closure, and maybe I can learn from this experience. Though I do not think I learned anything directly through this frustration, I will say I am definitely reminded by Geri's words (from Toy Story 2). "You can't rush art."

One More! The Future of Space Mercenary: Specter GM
I am so close! One more kit to customize and the project will be complete! Unfortunately, the last suit is the one I know the least about.

Photograph from 07 April 2015 in the article "Anime Wrap Up"
I know I want to paint in a lot of the details, however I do not know if I should customize it and how I should customize it. At this point, stepping away from the project for a time might be a good idea. This might help me get an idea of what I want in this Jesta Cannon. So for now the kit and this project are going on the back burner. Hopefully not for too long.