MG AGE-1 Gundam Test Type Custom

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My third real custom painted kit – the former two being the MG AGE-2 SP Colors and the MG Banshee (the latter of which, as of this writing, does not yet have a review).

I’ve always been weary of custom paint jobs – for the paint fumes, long exhausting process, screwed up kits and pieces, terrible paints, dust, terrible finishes, etc. The list goes on. But recently I’ve conquered my fears enough to move forward and hopefully take my modeling skills to the next level.

I’ve wanted to paint my MG AGE-1 like this ever since I had finished my MG AGE-2. It seemed unfitting to have a custom painted AGE-2 and a straight-built AGE-1, so I decided to make this one contrast its predecessor with a darker color scheme.

AGE-1 Test Colors

Whilst I was looking around for a suitable color scheme for the AGE-1, I stumbled across images of its 1/48 Mega Size model. There were scans online of an officially painted “Real Type Colors” version of the kit, which sported gray and black as its primary color scheme and an entirely white head. It was based heavily off of the RX-78-2’s Real Type Colors incarnation.

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This was the original idea, but upon further browsing online, I saw several custom painted AGE-1’s in the RX-78-1 Test Type Colors. (Special mentions go to Youtube reviewer Prime92’s custom AGE-1 and Gunjap’s model as inspiration)

The Test Type had a more uniform color palette, and while it looked similar to the Real Type Colors, the changes were subtle but noteworthy. Therefore the idea evolved, and here we are.

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I didn’t conform entirely to the RX-78-1 colors, as Prime92 did. (I did like her idea of the black parts on the beam rifle though, which I implemented. I usually don’t color weapons in the least, but seeing it on her kit, it looked to damn good.)

It was rather tough trying to figure out an even color break-up on the suit. While I based it off an existing color palette, I changed some things around. The all-gray head of the original Test Type colors looked out of place for me, so I added some black in there to break it up. In addition, I felt like the limbs didn’t have enough red on them. The AGE-1’s infamous kneecap pieces and elbows seemed like a prime place to throw that on.

The painting process was a difficult, if not very long, journey. I’ll break down some highlights below…

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The color palette. I’m not experienced or rich enough to afford a nice airbrush for my paint jobs, so I make do with your average spray cans. Most of these paints are very affordable, the black and gray being 97¢ a pop. (You can find everything I used above at your local Wal-Mart, by the way).

I’ll say this now – the Krylon Low Odor Clear Finishes do not work well. In fact they’re terrible. The whole reason my AGE-1 has a nasty crinkly crackly finish on the black painted areas is because of that blasted matte spray.

Basically what happened is this: I spray a first coat of black on all the pieces, then the matte finish. This should be the end of it, but the matte finish comes out spotted and dries crinkly, giving it a pebble/cobblestone texture. Not the smooth finish I envisioned. Therefore I covered it with another coat of black followed by a final coat of that Krylon Fusion for Plastic Clear coat shown above.

Unfortunately the added two coats didn’t cover up the texture of the initial matte coat completely, so it still looks rather unsightly. I couldn’t be bothered to go back to sand, clean, and refurbish all the black pieces after the ugly matte coat; opted to just try to cover it all up instead.

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The Krylon Fusion for Plastic Clear gives a nice, fairly smooth semi-gloss clear coat though. All the gray pieces are sprayed with a gray base coat and covered with the semi-gloss coat, which turned out extraordinarily well. It’s now become my go-to spray for semi-gloss and shiny finishes.

The black and gray sprays worked like a charm – absolutely beautiful matte color finishes, you can’t go wrong with them. The Krylon Fusion for Plastic brand also isn’t too bad – used that for the red.

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I should also note that the upper abdominal piece, which was originally red and spray painted gray, still has a bit of a red tinge to it thanks to the plastic bleeding through. Not sure if shows up in the photos, but I hope it doesn’t.

This was the same problem I encountered whilst working on the AGE-2; red and yellow pieces somehow manage to bleed through multiple layers of paint. I’ve never seen any problems with blue, white, and just about any other color. I sprayed the red, yellow, and inner-frame gray pieces of this kit with a silver spray first to act as a primer, then threw on the gray.

The yellow pieces all took to this treatment well – they came out solid gray. But somehow that one red abdominal piece is still showing some red hue despite two coats of base silver and three coats of gray. How plastic colors even bleed through paint I don’t even know and still have yet to figure out.

Overall I had a lot less trouble painting this kit than I did with AGE-2; mostly because of the darker colors (white is always a pain in the arse) but also because the paint generally came out and dried smoothly and evenly, without the need for much sanding or re-coating. (I lost a lot of detail and panel lines on the AGE-2 because of that).

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With its fellow custom unit, the MG AGE-2. Not a bad display, hmm?

I like to think in the large time gap between these two kits, my painting skills have improved some. AGE-2 is almost hard to look at now, with that thick, glossy white stomach…

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AGE-1 does, as many reviewers have pointed out before, have tremendous play value. It also makes for a great introductory Gunpla to the Master Grade line, given that it is essentially a very simple kit. There aren’t too many complex gimmicks and the build is generally straight-forward.

I should also note that maybe it’s just my kit, but many of the inner frame pieces appear to be extremely fragile. Not the painted pieces, but just the straight-cut gray inner frame areas. I had like five pieces break on me whilst assembling this thing – that’s five more than the usual amount of pieces I break while building kits. The largest culprit of this is the waist/skirt area.

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AGE-1’s weapons load-out is also extraordinarily bare. It comes with a DODS Rifle, a Shield, and two beam sabers/daggers stored in the hip compartments. As a result, you don’t get as many options, but there are the Titus and Spallow wear packs for that.

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Some rather traditional beam rifle action.

I’m really liking the black on the rifle. While it clearly isn’t very smooth (thanks, Krylon matte) it offsets the gray quite well. The scope pieces do come in clear green, but I painted mine metallic.

The beam rifle is also shoved into the hand quite tightly – that sucker ain’t comin’ out. Beyond a very secure hold in the hand peg, coupled with a secure thumb grip around the handle, it also has a rod that goes under the arm and plugs into the forearm. It’s quite legitimately a hassle to take the rifle out of the hands – something extremely rare for Gunpla.

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Two-handed wield is possible. The front of the barrel flips sideways, combining the two scopes into one sight, and the second handle flips out for easy access.

You get four sets of hands – closed fist, item holding, trigger hands, and open palms. The MG AGE kits all seem to use the same hand system (sans Titus), and the fingers are all loose when they plug in. Therefore I’d recommend tightening the peg that connects the fingers, lest you want to lose some manipulators.

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You can also rip the front of the beam rifle off for the short beam spray gun or whatever it’s called. Dinky, generally useless in-series, and a more or less useless model kit gimmick. (Unless you like your barrels stubby)

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What gives AGE-1 its tremendous play value is its rather impressive range of movement. The articulation is up to the highest of modern standards; all the limbs have a free range of movement. This comes mainly from the AGE-1’s unobstructed and conservative design, as well as the impressive engineering of the inner frame.

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Onto some saber fun.

The beam saber handles pop right out of the side skirt compartments they’re stored in, but with the paint coats, this isn’t something I like to do often. Just opening them up for this photoshoot scratched off a good amount of paint on the handles, so there’s a good chance I’m never gonna take ’em out again after this.

AGE-1’s playability and articulation allow for some pretty crazy moves with its sabers. They’re basic weapons, and slot into the hands without much of an issue.

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A quick look at the detail in the back. I love the results with the bottom of the feet – all the thrusters were painted metallic red, via a base coat of silver and a coat of clear red over it.

Beam dagger effect parts are also included. Not that these are ever much practical use, but they’re fairly fun to play around with.

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Overall I gotta say – AGE-1 is a solid kit, no question. My third-ever complete custom paint job didn’t turn out too bad – it sure as heck could’ve come out a lot worse, that’s for sure. As I mentioned above when I aired my grievances about the painting process, I wish the black areas could have come out as well as the rest of it kit, but you live and learn. At least from now on I’m just about solid with paint experimenting – I’ve found a workable and fool-proof topcoat and spray brands that do their jobs right.

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