Gunpla,  High Grade

HG Gundam AGE-2 Dark Hound

P1130252 This kit isn’t actually mine; a female Guntoka friend bought this Dark Hound as one of her first kits probably a year or two ago. She had evidently never finished it and gave up on the kit halfway, so I asked if I could borrow it for a makeover.

P1130048P1130049 She had finished most of the kit, but apparently forgot to assemble one of the wing binders and shot anchors because she thought it was “part of the design.” I went ahead and finished up, then cleaned the whole kit up a bit with some sanding and cleaning. P1130050 From what my comrade told me before I actually saw the kit in person, it sounded like a terrible horror story that would make the most hardened Guntoka shudder with endless nightmares. P1130051 When I actually took a look at it though…it wasn’t even that bad. She built it straight and fairly well, even if some pieces were still on the runners. The nub marks weren’t as horrendous as described; for the most part they were all shaved down neatly. I’ve seen worse on built kits I’ve bought off eBay. P1130052 During our first build session while I was finishing up the Dark Hound she was actually building her own new kit, the Bearguy F. P1130053 At first, I just sanded down most of the uglier nubs and took the Dark Hound home with everything originally included thrown in the box. P1130054 My plan was to give it a matte stock paint job; it would actually be a guinea pig to test out a new technique I learned from a Guntoka master at a hobby shop in the neighborhood. P1130055 Working with the DODS Lancer a bit after taking everything else apart. The silver seam line down the barrel of this thing plus the nubs were particularly gnarly. I cemented it down the middle using Mr. Cement Deluxe and sanded it all down to hopefully achieve a seamless effect. P1130056 That plastic shine though. I went ahead and split the front skirts to allow for more articulation and mobility; it seems all HGs have this attached front skirt feature but are more or less meant to be separated. P1130058 Almost everything was taken apart; I left some parts that were just the same color together, since there was no need to split them for painting. I’m still baffled by how simple HG kits are. P1130059 I tried some cementing for the forearms, head, and anchor shot pieces, but it seems I was actually using the wrong cement. This Mr. Cement Deluxe is actually too thin for use in removing seam lines, according to a Guntoka mage who educated my friend and I on some key points to modeling. I’ve already switched over to the proper Tamiya cement though, which works like a charm now. P1130060 Ended up with a small pile of polycaps and a few parts that would need to be painted silver and white. P1130061 Most of the Dark Hound is gray and black, with red highlights here and there. I went ahead and sharpened the v-fin, since like all HGs it had the little stubs on the end that made it painfully blunt. P1130063 Most of the pieces pinned up, with a different box per color that needs to be sprayed. The frame parts which were originally light gray would be done in gunmetal. P1130064Before I took the plunge with the actual parts though, I decided to try my new painting method that I mentioned above on the display base that came with the kit. P1130065 It was originally dark gray, but I decided black would do better. The first coat was actually some ultra flat black Krylon primer. P1130066 Then some clear Krylon gloss. This is the part that makes this painting process so foreign and strange for me. I’ve seldom done matte paintjobs, and most of those that I do are simple flat coats over bare plastic. When I do those however, the matte finish is always extremely weak, and prone to chipping whenever the plastic rubs against itself. (This is most prominent with my MG Sinanju, which sported nothing but a coat of Testors dullcote; there’s a reason why it still doesn’t have a photoshoot). Henceforth, I’ve only done gloss finishes since they’re stronger, even if they don’t look as good. I’ve outlined this whole scenario and instances in my HG 1/100 Wing Gundam Fenice Custom post. The gentleman I met at a local hobby shop who gave my friend and I a lesson on painting and some very helpful tips mentioned painting a base coat of color, sealing it for strength with gloss, and then applying a matte coat over for the final beautiful finish. This advice made little sense to me, since I tried something similar before and it ended up blowing up in my face. P1130067 As I suspected would happen, the gloss coat over a matte paint resulted in some pretty gnarly textures. However, before I freaked out and panicked, I applied a coat of Testors Dullcote to seal the deal and see if what the Guntoka master said was true. Turns out it was. After it dried, there was no trace of the nasty gloss-over-matte finish. I knocked the base around a few times, and it actually seemed pretty durable. With this, I can finally actually do matte-finished kits. I’m pretty sure what I did on my MG AGE-1 Test Type was gloss over matte, without another coat of matte on top to smooth things out, which is why it turned out as bad as it did. P1130068 Moving onto the DODS lancer, which I first tried with a coat of Testors chrome. It didn’t work out so well. P1130069 I don’t know why, but no matter how I sprayed this thing, it didn’t come out right. I tried spraying, sanding, misting, everything under the sun – but nothing worked. The chrome kept coming out spotted and blotchy. At first I thought this was because there was too much paint on the parts, and if I misted the paint it would be alright, but even that didn’t work. Eventually I gave up on it; there were only three parts on the kit that needed to be sprayed silver anyway so I just went with Testors’ metallic silver gloss paint as an alternative. P1130077 It’s not as bling-bling reflective shiny as the chrome would’ve been if it had worked, but at least it’s smooth. P1130072 Since this is a stock repaint, I’m not getting fancy at all with the colors. I probably could’ve just done clear coats of gloss and matte too, but I did the first layers of paint because some of the plastic is pretty messed up from sanding and touch-ups. P1130073 Black parts done in the same way as the base shown above. They’re turning out really well; I’m finally getting close to those professional matte finishes I see the airbrush masters achieve all the time…not. P1130074 That really awkward moment when you run out of gunmetal spray after just four parts…had to make a run to the local hobby shop like seven miles away to grab another can. P1130070 Strangely enough, Bandai gives the pieces that should properly be white on the Dark Hound as silver. There’s only really one silver part on the actual model, which would be the lance blade. Parts like the Flash Eye in the chest are supposed to be white, yet given in silver. The forehead crest is the biggest farce though – it comes in silver and Bandai decides to include a white sticker to cover it up. P1130071 The red pieces were the biggest gamble for me – I used an untested paint from Testors – Gloss Custom Red Metal Flake. I actually bought this particular paint a while back, intending to save it for my MG Sengoku Astray whenever I got it. I’ve been hunting for some good metallic red paints for a while just for that project, but never actually bothered to test the Metal Flake out until now. P1130183 Turns out, it was actually pretty gnarly. It was gloss, but didn’t actually have much of a metal flake and came out spotted for some reason. At first I didn’t think it was a big deal though; I left it as is and sprayed some gloss coat over it seal the deal. P1130146 I actually completed the entire model with the red like that and even took a photoshoot…but then I took a look back at the pictures and realized how nasty the red was (see v-fin). P1130184As such, I took all the red parts off, sanded them down (and made the v-fin sharper while I was at it) and resprayed them with Krylon gloss red. P1130075Stuff like this is what really scared me half to death when painting the gloss over the matte black. It’s pretty much exactly what happened to my MG AGE-1 Test Type, except back then it wasn’t intentional. The gloss brings out the texture of the matte, making it rough and rocky. P1130079A coat of flat over all that fixes it up fine though. This is pretty much all of Dark Hound’s armor, sans the inner frame parts that are still being sprayed gunmetal. P1130238A single long length of cable was included for Dark Hound’s anchor shot effects. This was way too long for a single anchor though (Burning and Lightning shown for scale). P1130239I twisted it into two halves and cut it so each anchor hook could now have a cable. The ends actually had to be tidied up, since they wouldn’t fit in the hooks otherwise. P1130185 I’m actually really happy with how the head turned out. The flat black is perfect, along with the flat gray for the face and metallic gunmetal for the chin guard. The eyes were painted in with gold craft marker and the one eye-patch done in with metallic green Gundam Marker. P1130076 The paints used on this project. Everything was actually pretty standard fare; the matte effect was simpler than I imagined, and the only problems I had were with the red bits as shown above. I’m for sure not using that metal flake red from Testors again; for metallic red I’ll probably pick up some Tamiya Pearl Red, since the Pearl Blue actually worked really well for my Apharmd the Hatter. P1130285P1130286 Complete. Stock colors, matte painted finish. I was only slightly dejected when I showed the kit to its original owner and her first reaction was, “did you even paint it?” P1130143 Taking a look first at the action base; I’m fond of how minimalistic and simple it is, even if it doesn’t really lift Dark Hound that far off the ground. P1130144 I got lazy and opted out of painting in the bottom though; a neat feature down there is how you can store the extra hands as well as the big ‘ol crotch piece needed for transformation. P1130242 Thank ye gods the red turned out smooth after the last gloss coat to seal the deal. This is actually ironically one of my best works yet; it looks pretty close to how I envisioned it, and all I had to do was add another layer of flat coat on top of my usual gloss to get the effect.

Playing around with the standard DODS lancer. I haven’t noted any shortcomings in articulation on this particular kit; I actually really like it for how stable it is. The MG is a flimsy crapshoot that doesn’t hold itself up particularly well; the AGE-2 Normal was actually my first custom repaint too. P1130287 All the joints are simple, but get their job done right. The elbows actually have a really surprising range of motion, I didn’t think they could bend so far up.

Shot anchors. Unique weapons, though I’d take the DODs lancer any day. They can either be fired right off the wing binder or hand-held. Normally they’d be gray, but I painted them silver for a little more bling. P1130260Dark Hound Kiicckkkk…!!!

Beam saber action. Never underestimate a Supah Pilotoo! I actually sanded the beam sabers down so much that they’re ridiculously loose in the hands now…and in their holsters. Oops. dat blurr doeStrider mode go!

I actually really like this form. It’s a surprisingly sleek and stable flight mode, though the pelvis area did have to get swapped out to accomplish this. I like how the shoulders have to be expanded downwards to allow the neck area to sink downwards. P1130269 I’m honestly really surprised at how fond I am of this kit; here I’ve stuck to nothing but Master Grades, but ironically the High Grade version of the AGE-2 seems to beat out its more advanced counterpart. The Dark Hound’s stability can’t be beat, and I actually really enjoyed messing around with it before I had to return it to my friend. The painting process was revolutionary for me, since I’ve finally found a way to achieve a steady and sturdy matte finish. Painting a simple HG in stock colors was actually a lot of fun, since it didn’t require a serious investment of materials and most importantly, time. I’m honestly really tempted to expand my reach to HGs for good now, though it’ll still bother me in regards to my overall collection, since I have so many MGs and only so much space. I’d have to purge a good amount of my 1/100 kits to make room, since HGs go by so fast I’d be able to grow the collection extremely swiftly.

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