Apharmd the Hatter…just the name of this mech alone was enough to make me scratch my head when I saw it. How do you even pronounce that? Anyway, this kit has a bit of a strange story behind it. It’s actually from the video game Cyber Troopers Virtual-On MARZ for the Playstation 2. When I bought it, I had no idea what franchise it was from, what Virtual-On was, or what kind of kit it would be. It just looked so damn cool, I had to pick it up.
One day in late December, after Christmas and during our winter break, my buddy hit some of our friends up on trip to a few local hobby shops. In retrospect, they were fairly far away, so they’re not local local, but a twenty minute drive isn’t so bad.
Given that this took place right after Christmas – a period when I was pretty much utterly broke – I was a bit more of a cautious shopper than I normally would be. But that didn’t necessarily stop me from still picking something up from a hobby shop called Brookhurst Hobbies during our visit.
Brookhurst Hobbies carries mostly American model kits, I believe. They’re pretty much a modeling supply superstore, with racks upon racks of paints from Tamiya, Testors, Model Masters, you name it. From train diorama supplies to Warhammer 40k miniatures, it’s all there. Unfortunately, their Gunpla selection was a little meager, consisting of half an aisle among the rows upon rows of other models there.
Generally their prices are pretty fair; not outrageous, but still very uncompetitive with Amazon prices, as is the case with most stores. I can’t really justify buying kits from hobby shops when Amazon usually has them for a lower price plus free shipping. However, I did open a membership card with them and do plan to go back often for paints and modeling supplies. They have no shortage of those, and seem to be better priced in that department.
Despite what I just said about their models though, I did manage to stumble upon a jewel in the rabble. The stacks of Gundam models didn’t really catch my eye much; I’ve seen them all before. There were a few Code Geass and Evangelion kits lying around too. However, there was one – just the one – a peculiar mecha design that I hadn’t encountered before, and which had a particularly drawing box art.
Honestly, I could barely even make out what series it was from when I checked out the box, and it was only after posting it online that some people managed to help me out with figuring out its backstory. I had never heard of the company Hasegawa before either; I didn’t know what to expect from one of their kits.
However, despite my complete unfamiliarity with both the mecha, kit, and model company, I decided to purchase it just because I loved the robot design. I don’t usually delve into non-Gundam robot models (I know there are plenty of obscure mecha franchises out there with their own model-kit line-up; one of which I’ve worked on is the Soulgain) but I figured as a one-shot kit to build just for its excellent design, it was worth it.
The price was also pretty fair too; it was originally priced at $40 flat by Brookhurst, and while I did some price checking before purchasing, I found out that it’s so obscure that it’s not even available on Amazon, and the cheapest available on eBay was over $50. I was pleasantly surprised when checking out that it also had a 10% discount on top.
I liked the mecha design enough to buy it without even knowing what Hasegawa’s usual kit quality is like, what size the model would be when built, and how much color correction and painting I would have to do. The box didn’t show any pictures of what the kit looked like straight-built, and I suppose that’s for good reason.
This is what it looks like straight out of the box; no stickers, decals, anything. This is courtesy of another modeler who’s built this kit and did a detailed walkthrough on how to paint it (all in Japanese, sadly).
And this is what the mech’s supposed to look like, taken straight from the manual that came with the kit. Clearly there’s a lot of work that needs to be done…
Upon some further research, this Apharmd kit is actually pretty tame compared to the rest of the designs from Virtual-On. Like, I look at stuff like this, shudder in absolute fear, and wet myself a little bit at how completely impossible and painful that stuff looks.
It’s hard to really compare this to Gunpla in terms of what grade it would be, since it’s pretty unique, how Hasegawa does things. The amount of runners is actually not so overwhelming; there are only 3 colors after all, discounting the small plate of clear blue.
For some reason though, some parts on my kit were weirdly scratched up. See that leg armor above; it has what looks like plastic grinding marks on it. This could be due to the fact that the kit itself is probably just really old, and has been handled in the box for a while, or as a result of Hasegawa packaging all the runners in one bag. Unlike Bandai, who usually packs their models with one or two runners in each plastic bag in the box, Hasegawa just throws them all into one.
There’s also a bit of plastic flash on some of the parts; this is no doubt due just to Hasegawa’s molding process, which seems inferior to Bandai’s. These little issues are hardly problems though; they can be easily remedied.
The clear blue runner’s not bad; it’s for bits that are supposed to light up on the mech, along with the eyes.
Just from looking at the boxart though, I knew parts like these would end up like this. The various yellow/orange strips on the suit were almost guaranteed to be stickers, and would therefore require some meticulous painting. I’ll give Hasegawa credit for including a lot of molded detail on these parts though; it at least makes following the grooves for painting much easier.
The decal sheet. Interestingly enough, these are all water-slide decals, not stickers. I guess that’s a staple for Hasegawa, which is quite a treat. Nonetheless, I maintained my original intent of painting the yellow strips, rather than using the decals, since I don’t think they would look as good as paint on some of the edges where they’d have to wrap around.
That other Virtual-On model I linked above has a decal sheet like this…it’s almost enough to make me give up modeling entirely.
A polycap runner is also included, just the same as those seen in Gunpla. That little runner to the left is a dedicated one for some bendable parts that go around the shoulders.
Brookhurst is one of the first shops I’ve come across locally that sells Tamiya and Mr. Color sprays – Japanese brands that are difficult to come by in the States. I usually use American paints after all – Krylon and Testors up until this point. However, I decided it would be good to see if these professional modeling paints really do live up to what people claim they can do.
I picked up these paints shortly after buying Apharmd; I took a night to consider what kind of paint scheme I wanted to do, and eventually decided to settle for stock colors, since even then it would require a full paintjob. My friend actually bought a can of gunmetal gray at the same time I purchased the kit, so he gave me a day’s head’s up on what the paint was like, and it seemed promising.
I had honestly originally wanted to do an Optimus Prime paint scheme at first, but abandoned the idea pretty quickly. I reasoned that I was drawn to buy the kit in no small part due to its design, color palette, and aesthetics, so it wouldn’t make sense to change what I liked.
Plus, upon some further research into Virtual-On (whenever I get something from an unfamiliar franchise I’ll immediately proceed to become familiar with it) I found that Apharmd the Hatter donned a distinctly Optimus-y color scheme by the end of the game he was from anyway.
When I was purchasing the paints, I decided to go with a completely pearl finish. Part of my reasoning was that the glossy pearl would emulate the look and feel of the in-game renders.
Another reason was that I wasn’t even thinking about doing those camo patterns on the blue parts. Hasegawa gives those pieces to you in just plain blue plastic, meaning to achieve complete accuracy I would’ve had to go the extra mile and do some crazy masking or something. I decided I’d rather do a pearl finish to compensate. I also wanted to just test out what the pearl would look like, since if it worked out well I planned to use some pearl red on my MG Sengoku Astray when I finally get it.
The paints I picked up were: Tamiya pearl blue, pearl light blue, pearl clear, and gunmetal. The pearl white was from Mr. Hobby, because I didn’t see Tamiya carry that color (turns out they did; I just didn’t see it).
The pearl blue would obviously be used on the blue parts that would otherwise be camo print, the light pearl blue on the light blue parts like the hat, and the gunmetal on the frame pieces. The pearl white was supposed to be used on the light gray areas, but that didn’t turn out so well.
I used one piece for each color as a test for the paints. The pearl blue and light blue pieces shown above came out fine. The pearl white however…not so much. I primed the gray pieces first, then applied the pearl white as one coat. That didn’t work out so well, since the pearl white is actually very light and thin, meaning the primer gray showed through it.
After some more testing, I deduced that the pearl white is actually really similar to the pearl clear, only with a slightly more whitish tinge. It isn’t quite strong enough to actually be called pearl white, I think. I really couldn’t see much white on the pieces I applied it to; it might as well have been a clear pearl coat.
As such, I still had to resort to my old Krylon paints a fair bit. The pearl light blue was also a little too light for my liking, so I sprayed all those pieces with a base coat of the periwinkle first, then applied the pearl light blue over it for a more vibrant finish. The same process was used for the light gray pieces, except I decided to add a little twist and go with beige as the base coat instead, with pearl white over it. The gold was just a test to see if it would match my brushed gloss yellow, which sadly it didn’t.
The first test piece where I used Mr. Hobby orange yellow to paint in the yellow stripes. It doesn’t show up well in this photo because of lighting issues, but the yellow ended up not working so well. I don’t actually know what kind of paint Mr. Hobby is (the label is in Japanese) but it’s either lacquer or enamel.
Whatever the case, it didn’t react well with the sprayed Mr. Tamiya. I don’t know what kind of paint Tamiya is either (probably lacquer or enamel) since I never check for paint types when I buy. I just buy whatever colors I need; I’ve rarely had problems because I usually get acrylic-based paints, which are pretty much go-all.
The Mr. Hobby ended up melting the sprayed Mr. Tamiya pearl blue, mixing the colors up and creating green on some of the yellow striped area. The Mr. Tamiya was completely dry too. Given this, I immediately gave up on using the Mr. Hobby and switched back to my old Apple Barrel Acrylic, which I’ve used on other projects in the past to great success.
All the gray pieces that need to be sprayed gunmetal pinned up and ready. There’s actually quite a lot of these pieces, despite the Apharmd not having an inner frame proper.
While at Brookhurst, I also picked up some Mr. Cement Deluxe, since I was less than satisfied with my Testors Liquid Cement. I was looking for something that was strong and wouldn’t melt paint, since plastic cement seems to do that a lot. Krazy Glue is usually my go-to option, but unfortunately that particular solution usually leaves some fog-like mist on parts after it dries.
Upon talking to the guys at Brookhurst Hobbies though (pretty much all the staffers there are skilled, hardcore modelers who give pretty sage advice) they told me that pretty much every plastic cement will melt paint, and that there’s nothing I can really do about it other than scrape paint away at the connection points to ensure a plastic-to-plastic connection or spray the parts after they’ve been cemented and assembled.
This was pretty saddening news for me, since I almost always spray my kits piece-by-piece to ensure a very thorough paintjob, but it wasn’t impossible to scrape connection points away for cementing. The reason I was so worried about this is because I’ve heard Hasegawa kits do actually require cement, as opposed to Bandai kits that are almost all snap-fit.
The Mr. Cement Deluxe ended up being a bit of a waste though. Upon opening it, I realized that it was the exact same as the Testors cement, since they both smelled the same, looked the same, and had the same concentration. They worked the same as well, with the Mr. Cement Deluxe not providing more of a grip than the Testors cement did. However, at the very least the Mr. Cement Deluxe came with a better brush/cap setup that was easier to use.
I took their advice and assembled some of the pieces before spraying them, although it wasn’t really much. One of my banes is that I hate masking, therefore it kind of rules out the option for me to assemble different colored parts and mask/spray them accordingly.
However, with this Apharmd, there are certain colors on the mech that just weren’t included as plastic, such as the red, yellow, and light blue bits. It seemed that they molded most of the colors as closely as they could, but then gave up and molded some supposed-gray parts in light gray, etc. An example can be seen with the bottom of the foot in the photo above; that entire piece should be dark gray with red bits, but Hasegawa molds the top half in dark gray and the bottom half in light gray for some reason.
The blue pieces pinned up and ready for spraying.
While at Brookhurst I also picked up several of these very useful sanding sticks. Call me ignorant, but I never even knew stuff like this existed. I mean, I knew sanding sticks existed, just not in this particular shape or design. I bought a sanding stick/block made by Testors before, and that thing was a nightmare in design.
These, however, are surprisingly simple and very practical. Brookhurst had a big bin near their checkout stand and sold them as sets of 3 for $0.94. Each color is a different grit, though there’s no numbering to actually tell you what they are.
My face when it dawned on me that this mech was actually designed by Hajime Katoki himself. No wonder why I liked it so much at first sight.
In addition to that small bottle of Mr. Hobby orange yellow I picked up, I also grabbed a bit of Tamiya gunmetal. My intention was to use this for some smaller bits on the Apharmd that would need touching up after I used the Tamiya gunmetal spray, but it turned out to be much more useful than that.
For pieces like these, I was originally going to spray the pearl blue, mask the pearl blue, and spray those bits in the center with Tamiya gunmetal. However, I quickly found out that I didn’t have to resort to my hated practice of masking, since the Tamiya gunmetal brush paint turned out to match the sprayed gunmetal nigh-perfectly.
After the failure with Mr. Hobby, I was really apprehensive about using the Tamiya gunmetal. However, after I applied the first bit of gunmetal on those pieces above and it didn’t melt the spray paint underneath, I was perplexed and decided to actually read the label on the bottle.
It turned out to be acrylic. So the same as my craft paints that I’ve been using up until now, except these are apparently capable of a “professional finish” (the bottle said that, not me).
I was overjoyed to say the least. If this gunmetal hadn’t come along, I would’ve been stuck with doing something like this. I hate masking enough as it is; this is worse than a death sentence for me. Like, look at those little grooves between the two black plates! How is it even humanly possible to fit masking tape in there?!
I felt incredibly proud to have been able to work around the situation with ease. Tamiya acrylics seem to work really well; apparently some people have some trouble with them leaving brush strokes, but I didn’t have any issues. It did take two coats of gunmetal to match the same shade as the spray though, since the paint alone is a bit thin.
Strangely enough, most of Apharmd the Hatter is an off white/beige/light gray in official materials. He’s not actually white; there’s only one small section of white located on his lower back for some reason.
This seemed like a weird bit to have, but I decided to add it there anyway for the sake of accuracy. The small red bits scattered throughout were also painted with my usual craft paints.
Not gonna lie, I really do like the designs on the bottom of the shoes/feet. Only certain areas are supposed to be red, and Hasegawa includes neither red plastic or stickers/decals for this. There’s really no choice but to paint them in by hand.
However, I do have to hand it to them for having such well-defined molding; I’m glad the lines aren’t too shallow or sloppily cut, making it really as simple as painting within the lines.
I still did have to mask one area though. The center of the chest was to be beige, with little light blue tips at the end. I didn’t have any brush paint that would match the pearl light blue, so I didn’t have a choice but to spray them down. Notice how I was a bit sloppy, as there are air bubbles that need to be sanded down on the light blue.
I do immensely regret using the Apple Barrel gloss yellow for the larger strips on the mech though. The paint generally works well, but when applied in lines like that, it tends to dry with a strange texture. There’s a dent in the middle of the painted area because it goes on so thick.
When I think about it, I really could’ve avoided this by just picking up a bottle of Tamiya acrylic yellow, for that much advertised “professional finish”. It would’ve technically been the same type of paint as my craft gloss yellow, but I have no doubt that it would’ve left a better result.
Pieces like this that could’ve been sprayed yellow if I had matching paint are the most painful to look at. The craft yellow dried something gnarly on them, and I can’t do much but lament how I didn’t pick up some Tamiya yellow when I had the chance. It almost makes me want to revert to using the decals.
And while I was spraying the pearl blue, I suddenly got the inspiration to paint the suit in Brisk Iced Tea colors. Or naw.
Gunmetal parts all done with their first coat. The final look of the parts is pretty gorgeous.
Sadly, it seems that the clear coat I sprayed on the gunmetal look away its shine a little bit. Unlike the rest of the pieces, I used my usual clear Krylon gloss coat on the gunmetal, because I didn’t particularly want them glittering pearl. It looks like the Krylon dulled the pieces more than it upped their shine.
The light blue bits turned out better than I expected. I think the base coat of periwinkle really helped.
For the beige parts, I still applied the pearl white over them before I applied the pearl clear. I really didn’t see much of a difference after I applied the pearl white, but it’s the thought that counts I suppose.
Hand painting some of the miscellaneous parts. I actually always thought it a bit weird that this mech just has random bits of red scattered about, but I suppose it’s a nice accent color.
Painting in the actual yellow strip pieces was pretty easy, though tedious because there were so many to do.
Those little black triangles on the top of the shoulders also had to be painted in, where I used my tried and true method of outlining them in Gundam Marker first to make sure I don’t end up with sloppy edges.
Same process here for a piece on the back. It kind of looks like a face, no?
While I was using the Gundam Marker, I actually suspected that the pearl coat I would be applying later would cause some problems with it. Perhaps they wouldn’t react well together, as I’ve had clear coats ruin Gundam Marker before.
Turns out I was right, but only to a minimal degree. The pearl coat certainly did make the Gundam Marker run a bit, but it didn’t cause too noticeable a mess. I’m pretty sure this is due in large part to the black paint I used covering up most of the actual Gundam Marker applied.
After cleaning up that light blue piece I mentioned earlier, I had to mask said light blue piece to paint the rest of the part beige. It’s the only part of this kit that I really masked, and I still messed up. After removing the masking tape, it looks like I didn’t do a good enough job and some of the beige paint got underneath. I was able to clean most of it up, but even on the finished kit this particular area still looks a bit sloppy.
So all these VRs (short for Virtuoids – what they call the mecha in Virtual-On) are apparently powered by a disk of some sort on their backs. I’m told they basically function like a GN Drive (Gundam 00) and provide the suit with power and propulsion.
As a disk though, Apharmd’s came as a completely solid piece. It didn’t look particularly good to me, so I skewered a hole in it to make it look more like a CD.
The two main clear blue pieces that needed painting. The blue square is actually some sort of motherboard-looking thing that goes under the disk piece mentioned above. Hasegawa was actually kind enough to provide a decal to fill in the detail.
For some insane reason though, I still went ahead and painted it gunmetal instead. In retrospect, the decal probably would’ve looked better, but I still held true to my usual habit of painting everything, even when they aren’t sticker-worthy things.
Getting close, most of the brush-work is pretty much done. It makes me strangely happy to see my desk like this; it means I’ve been productive.
All the parts in sealed bags after their final layers of topcoat. Ready for assembly now. Given that I painted legitimately everything on this kit (no bare plastic is left, other than the clear pieces) the entire kit is literally in these two bags.
I actually recently discovered a very efficient means of panel lining with one of my earlier projects. Since acrylic paints are water-based, they come off relatively easily if not topcoated or protected. Given this, I figured it would be easy to rub acrylic paints off of gloss-coated pieces, since gloss coat is usually pretty strong.
I applied some gloss black acrylic paint to the panel lines and quickly took to wiping the excess away with a cotton swab. I suppose it’s a toned-down way to do panel-washing. Dabbing the cotton swab in some water usually helps as well, and the results were glorious. I didn’t have to risk messing up with Gundam Marker now, since that stuff doesn’t actually come off the painted surfaces easily.
Forgot I had to paint the edges of these yellow bits black; they’ve already been pearl coated, but whatever.
Assembly was…interesting. It wasn’t particularly challenging at all; most of the build was pretty simple and easy to get through. I didn’t actually need to apply cement to much of anything, since at this point it was usually the polycaps that did all that work.
I do find this particularly humorous though – I mentioned above that it’s hard to peg this kit in terms of Gunpla grade, right? Modern High Grade kits almost have complete inner frames, so I suppose this kit falls a little behind those.
The pieces shown here are the inner workings of the thigh areas – the joint mechanism and moving bits are actually fairly complex; it’s designed to allow for armor sliding when the legs are bent. I’d say this is pretty much Master Grade fare.
However, then we get to the lower legs…and they’re just two halves with polycaps in between. I haven’t seen stuff like this since the old 1997 HG Wing kits. It’s rather peculiar that certain parts on this kit are so well-designed and complex while others are confusingly simple.
I actually ran into a bit of a speed bump on the final night of assembly while working on the lower legs though. I never cared about seam lines before (I don’t think I’ve ever worked to remove any before since I considered them such a minor nuisance) but in this instance it was particularly bad.
It wasn’t made much better by the fact that I kept referencing professionally built versions of this kit that had all the seam lines removed and were built to absolute perfection.
One of the edges of the leg pieces was actually darker than the rest, due to the pearl blue paint dripping down that way as it dried. Given this, I simply couldn’t stand for it, no matter how much I wanted to get the kit finished that night. I cemented the two leg halves together with the polycaps in between. Normally I wouldn’t paint like this because there are polycaps, but in the end it really didn’t matter if they got painted because you wouldn’t be able to see them anyways.
I sanded the legs down as best I could after cementing them, but I had a nagging feeling that this still wouldn’t cure the seam lines. I had never done it before after all, so I didn’t really know at what point I should’ve stopped or kept pushing.
Either way, I ended up spraying these pieces with so much pearl blue afterwards that it turned out to look almost purple. To make matters worse, it was at this final, crucial stage that I ran out of pearl clear, and had to go out and grab more. By the end of it, I was so bothered by the multiple coats of pearl blue being too dark that I ended up spraying both pieces down with a fresh coat of primer before applying one more coat of pearl blue and then subsequently pearl clear. I did all this without stripping any of the previous layers of paint either, meaning there are probably six or more coats on the lower legs.
Mostly assembled that night, sans the lower legs that were being painted. Semi-SD Apharmd the Hatter?
Those seams on the ankle and knee armors are also pretty bad, but not as prominent as the ones on the lower legs, and at this point I was pretty done with the model.
And finally…complete. Apharmd the Hatter from Cyber Troopers Virtual-On MARZ, in all of his colorful western glory.
The seams on the legs are still there…mostly. Ironically, the seams on the back of the legs were removed almost perfectly. The same can’t be said of the ones on the front, which is really where they matter.
I also applied pretty much all the detail decals that came with the kit as well; I’m particularly fond of that GUTS marking on the right thigh. I kinda messed up on the MARZ logo on the left leg though; it should be farther down the calf.
I’ve heard some talk about how these Hasegawa Virtual-On kits don’t excel in playability. They seem to be meant more as display pieces if done up correctly.
I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with that notion, but it’s not because of the model’s articulation and range of movement. Those are generally fairly standard and nothing outrageously restricting.
As I mentioned earlier while building the thighs, they do have some neat armor splitting action going on when you bend the knee. It doesn’t actually go much farther than 90 degrees, but the effect is nice. Most of the other joint connections are done via ball joints, so there’s really no large shortage of articulation.
The arms are also pretty free-moving, with the shuolder-to-torso connection being a simple ball joint and the elbows bending a standard 90 degrees. There’s articulation pretty much everywhere you expect it, including the waist and some unexpected forwards/backwards movement in the abdominal area.
The disk holder on the back can pop open to reveal that motherboard-like thing.
Apparently in-game, the Apharmd series of Virtuoids are specialists in close combat. Their primary weapons are known as “Tongfers” (points for creative naming), which are basically standard beam tonfas mounted on the underside of their forearms. I know, I still posed them like guns even though those are technically beam sword emitters.
Standard Apharmds are also supposed to be equipped with a shotgun and bombs, but this particular model apparently has a very up-close-and-personal style.
The Tongfers aren’t actually anything special; they just fold out, that’s it. I decided to cut out an extra decal that happened to be on the sheet and added Apharmd the Hatter’s model number to one of his Tongfers.
We haven’t even talked about this guy’s most defining feature yet though – his awesome mecha fedora.
So apparently this suit is piloted by one Sergent Issy Hatter (what a kickass name) who has a distinctive western flavor about him. His treasured fedora is faithfully recreated on his mecha, and in one Super Robot Wars game it can actually be thrown as a pinpoint boomerang (that’s so freakin’ awesome).
From a top-down view, I actually thought the hat had a special gimmick to become a second face or something. Those clear blue bits look like eyes. I’m also very impressed with Hasegawa actually going through and making a hole in the hat to stick the antenna through so everything could fit appropriately.
Given how Sgt. Hatter favors close-up melee combat though, he doesn’t come with much else. The only extra accessories we get is some mecha hair and a pair of specialized hands. I would’ve actually liked a specialized pair of manipulators for holding the hat, but what can you do.
Sadly, I don’t think I did the hair justice. A piece like that really should be sprayed down, but in order to match the rest of the yellow on the kit, I had to paint it in by hand with craft paint. The result is a too-thick glossy finish, along with some messy panel-lining to seal the deal. Admittedly, I didn’t try very hard because I knew I was always going to display Hatter with his hat anyway, so this little accessory option didn’t matter very much to me from the start.
Those beautifully muscular and hot-blooded proportions remind me of the AGE-1 Titus.
The extra hands are honestly a really nice though; I love how they’re just dedicated to creating expressions.
There’s really only so much you can do with a pointing finger, but it does add a lot to the personality of the model.
HEY YOU OVER THERE! YOUR ASS IS NEXT!
…or something like that.
Thumbs up? Thumbs down? I’m getting Samus vibes here.
Something that I was quite disappointed with is how Hatter can’t actually really make use of an Action Base. There’s really nothing on his back or crotch area that would support any sort of clamp; I only barely managed to take this shot before his butt armor gave way.
One of his other amazing moves from Super Robot Wars was some form of HAAATTTTEEERRRRR KIIICCKKKKK…!!! that I had to attempt to replicate here. The legs don’t quite have the range for it, but I tried.
I probably neglected to mention this earlier, but Hasegawa’s Virtual-On kits all seem to be in 1/100 scale. That means they’re about as large as a Gundam in actual size. I’m surprised at how similar it looks standing next to my MG Shenlong; it won’t have any trouble melding into the rest of my collection.
However, compared to a Bandai kit, I have to say Hatter does feel significantly different. Just from handling both this kit and the Shenlong at the same time, I could definitely feel a quality discrepancy. Bandai’s Gunpla generally feels much more solid and sturdy. Hasegawa’s plastic feels thin and brittle, and the Apharmd as a kit feels more like it’s ready to fall apart, even though I know it won’t.
I just realized that there are two small strips on Hatter’s chest that I totally forgot to paint in yellow. This is what happens when I don’t know the mech design inside and out when I’m working on it. I panel lined those bits in and thought they were just that – lines. I didn’t actually think they were outlines for another yellow section. Oh well, I’ll just touch those up in person, though they won’t actually be featured here in photo.
All told, this was an interesting experience as a kit from a company and series I’m totally unfamiliar with. I had really high hopes for it, since I want to start drastically improving my modeling skills now that I have access to more advanced tools and paints, and I think I just barely met my expectations here. It still makes me sad when I look at what other people have done with this kit and how theirs are worlds better than mine, but I take consolation in the fact that at least my work looks worlds better than what this kit looks like straight built, as I showed at the beginning of this post.
While I was working on this kit, I actually did a fair amount of research into Virtual-On and the other kits Hasegawa offers from that series. I’d be lying if I said I’m not tempted to try a Temjin next, even with the ludicrous amount of decals required for that kit.
All in all I think these kits are more suited for those who do a lot of extensive painting, as straight building these really isn’t an option. I can’t say Hasegawa really compares to Bandai in kit quality, but their products are by no means horrid or impossible to work with.