You thought I’d be sated after building a racecar with Hatsune Miku plastered all over it didn’t you? You thought I would be over Itasha, after the decal hell that the NSX was. I thought so too. I told myself I wouldn’t do it again, but shower thoughts are the best thoughts. About a month before 2017’s SCGMC, I found myself in a quandary – I wanted to enter the competition, but I didn’t really have an idea for anything interesting to build – nothing unique enough to stand out in the sea of crazy builds that populate SCGMC. But then the cold shower water suddenly struck like lightning – Itasha is crazy and unique, and it’s a Gundam building competition – duh! When the idea was first conceived, I went for a more unconventional suit base – I really wanted to do a Racing Miku Heavyarms, if only because I just really like the Heavyarms and thought it had enough surface area to apply big decals on.
But, as luck would have it, no hobby shop in southern California seemed to be carrying a MG Heavyarms at the time, and I couldn’t afford to wait to order it online since I was on a serious time crunch (remember this kit had to be done and ready to show at SCGMC). So, during my last stop at one of my local hobby shops, when I saw that Heavyarms still wasn’t available for some inexplicable reason, I decided to just pick up the cheapest MG that had enough surface area to work with Itasha on – yes, the G3 2.0.
100% unplanned impulse buy. It makes a lot of sense though – the 2.0 mold has super simplified armor plating, with almost every body part being a smooth large surface, so that makes it ideal for Itasha decal work.
The only issue is that the RX-78-2’s base design is very plain – it’s the grandaddy first Gundam, after all. So to make the Itasha interesting and more than just decals I had to plan out how the base armor would be painted – I took a lot of inspiration from builds like these, with unique designs painted on the armor that don’t necessarily follow the body lines.
Came up with something very basic in Photoshop – the triangles and stripes on the limbs are just placeholder designs because they were easy to draw digitally – I could mask them differently, but I needed to see the color breakup first to make sure it looked evenly distributed.
My original rough render with Heavyarms had Miku’s signature teal/pink distributed evenly throughout the body, but with the RX-78-2 I decided it would match the Itasha NSX better if the colors were split from one side versus the other, the way it is on the car.
I really dislike building Master Grades or anything more complex than a HG nowadays, since full paint jobs take forever and I just don’t have that kind of time (or paint) to devote anymore.
To make it easier on myself, I decided to build this kit in segments – start with the legs, completely finish those (painting, building, decal-ing) before moving onto the waist, arms, etc.
The 2.0 frame is old at this point (we already have the 3.0 after all) but it’s still very modern-feeling and impressive.
I normally don’t like doing this, but for want of paint and time, I decided for once to actually just paint the frame after assembly. I usually like to do every piece individually and then assemble to make sure absolutely everything is coated, but needs must here. With so many small moving sections that reveal at different degrees of movement, it took several resprays to get them all covered, but at the end of the day I have to acknowledge that this is a pretty efficient way of doing things at a very small penalty to detail.
I wanted the pink/teal designs on the armor to flow between panels, so to line them up the only choice I had was to assemble all the white armor on the legs and mask the designs then.
The teal turned out really nice – I used Tamiya’s Coral Blue for this color and it’s nearly perfect for Miku’s signature look.
The pink, however, was less nice. Miku’s pink is actually very difficult to find as an aerosol spray – Tamiya’s pink was too light, so I opted to try Testor’s deep hot pink instead, but the results weren’t promising. It’s way too dark and doesn’t pair with the teal at all – at this point I’d rather go with Tamiya’s lighter pink, even if it still isn’t accurate.
The hot pink Testors sections were re-masked so they could receive another layer of Tamiya light pink on top. This really isn’t the best way to go about this – the pink layer will now be extra thick on top of the white, creating a staggered look, but I don’t have the luxury of stripping all the pieces, repainting them white, and then remasking the designs to get the proper pink on.
It’s light and it’s thick, but it’s still better than the Testors hot pink.
Light sanding and white touch up paint was used to clean up some of the masking edges that ended up a bit fuzzy. I knew in the back of my head that I didn’t have to try too hard to get these base designs perfect, since the Itasha decals will really cover a lot of them up and take up more of the surface area, but I’m a modeler dammit.
When I went into this build, I kind of just assumed I had a good amount of Good Smile Racing decals leftover from my GSR NSX, and I figured that I could fill in the rest of the blanks with other car decals, of which I have plenty of. Turns out, not really.
I probably could’ve stretched the three Mikus I had left throughout the entire suit, but some help and especially more medium-sized sponsor markings would be ideal. As luck would have it, someone was selling a mini-sheet of the exact year sheet I already had. It’s not a full sheet like the one I used on my NSX, but a smaller version with just enough of what I needed. The seller said it came with one of their figures, and just wanted to get rid of it for dirt cheap. These don’t pop up for sale often online, so it was a golden opportunity.
The process was to try to fit the physical Mikus first, which is exactly how it looks – I just slapped the decal on there and made it conform around the edges. These decals generally won’t have an issue fitting unless they’re going over a compound curve, but to really get them to lay flat and sink into the crevices on the armor, a combination of Mr. Mark Setter and a hairdryer were used.
These black sponsor names happened to be the perfect size, and they came from my Revell Civic Si Coupe. Since this is going to be a companion piece to my NSX, I tried to keep it mostly accurate to the car, meaning since the NSX is a Honda, Mugen could go on there, but I’m not about to slap on a Mazdaspeed or TRD decal just to take up space.
I’m so glad I didn’t end up using any of these chibi Mikus on the NSX, because they’re perfect now for the RX-78-2. This one is going on the calf of the right leg, since there was a full Miku on the kneecap of the left leg.
I tried to keep the decal placement mostly balanced, so it wouldn’t look weird with a Miku on each kneecap and two sets of eyes staring you down.
I was originally going to go deep on the decals for the feet too, but then decided that less was more – the only markings that they would receive would be one sponsor name on each toe area.
Once the decals had all set and had been cut between the armor plates, everything was removed so they could be sealed with first a coat of gloss and then a matte coat.
Final leg pieces matte’d down. I’m really liking the look, even though a matte finish doesn’t match the car. I could’ve done a gloss finish here, but with the underlying paint and some of the decal imperfections from going over curves, it made more sense to choose matte since it would hide some of my mistakes better.
All of the circular joint cap covers on the suit were painted silver.
Moving on to the waist unit now that the legs are done.
The masked designs were mostly random – I just had to take care to make sure it looked balanced.
EFF crest on the crotch painted red, with a metallic black bezel.
At this point in time I was still waiting for the backup decal sheet to arrive in the mail (the damn seller didn’t ship it out the first time I ordered it, so I had to open a case with eBay, wait for the time to pass to close it, then buy it again from the dude in order to get him to ship it – very stressful situation when I was on the clock for this build) so in order not to stall the build time, I had to move on to building and painting the rest of the suit even though I hadn’t finished the last section.
The amount of moving parts and complexity in the chest to allow for extended shoulder movement is very impressive. Unfortunately, this made painting it all gunmetal a bit of a pain in the arse, since I had to constantly move things around to get even coverage.
I only chose to use the G3 as my base model for this kit because the normal MG 2.0 wasn’t available at my hobby shop when I was hunting for kits, but in retrospect this was a better idea anyway, since the G3 is mostly light gray in areas where the RX-78-2 would have bright colors, making painting as a base a whole lot easier.
The frame and armor are all done as far as construction and paint goes – but we can’t go any further until the decal sheet comes in.
Prepping accessories like the beam javelin. Not super sure what I want to do with it yet.
Shield crest painted silver.
Also starting work on the Core Fighter, which in all honesty, I could care less about. I want to build it so it’ll be in the suit, but I would never go out of my way to take it out unless it’s for the sake of a photoshoot.
A lot of parts on the Core Fighter are tiny and must move for the sake of its transformation – this translates to moving joints that aren’t very sturdy, like the wing here that very loosely clips together.
Tiny missile pods for the Core Fighter’s body that I went out of my way to detail, even though I’m probably never going to actually open them after assembly.
So, for the competition I was going to enter this in, I was originally planning on creating a little diorama set that the Gundam could share with the NSX, to emphasize that they were a set.
I had planned to use the wooden base as a platform to build a track corner out of (like this) to display the car on track and the Gundam standing off on a grass/dirt portion.
The wooden base was painted black and I intended to use finer grit black sandpaper as the tarmac along with flocking for the grass next to it, but the project seemed too daunting for me to successfully pull off in such a short amount of time.
My diorama crafting skills also aren’t very up to par, so rather than do the concept injustice since I didn’t really have time to experiment and learn, I decided to just scrap the base – it was cheap anyway, and the flocking was returned.
I haven’t seen a faceplate with actual slits for the “mouth” of the Gundam in a while. How refreshing to not need to panel line those.
Eyes and camera sensors painted clear blue, because clear blue is cool.
For the first time on this build (surprisingly) I got some of that nasty paint crackling/texturing again, this time only on the teal portion of the shield. To this day, I still don’t understand why this happens, but it’s not irreversible at this stage – some light sanding should take care of it. If this happened to the clear coat on any piece after all the decal work had been done, I would’ve burned the whole thing in a forest fire.
Shield broken up. I had originally meant to keep the shield bezel white or maybe do it silver, but seeing it like this I thought it didn’t have enough contrast, so I wanted something brighter and more in-your-face.
Red was already being used as a trim color on certain parts of the suit, so I thought – perfect! This may have been a mistake. The red ended up looking too in-your-face, and with so much of it around the shield, it clashed quite a bit with the rest of the colors. This is what happens when I don’t proof color layouts in photoshop.
Secondary decal sheet finally came in, so it was time to fit the armor and add the weeb.
The Mikus on the secondary sheet are a bit darker than the ones from my first sheet, so there’s a slight discrepancy between the ones on the upper body and the ones used on the legs, but unless I point it out I don’t think it’s noticeable.
I had quite a bit of trouble trying to figure out where I could get a solid Miku on the chest – I wanted to get one on the upper pecs and have the hair flow all the way across, but it didn’t work out quite as well as I’d hoped.
The new decals are also very flaky. The sheet was bent and crinkled a bit at the corners and bottom, and when I tried to use the decals there they broke and shattered like glass.
I’m so excited to finally get the chance to use a full-body Miku – I always end up having to cut a significant portion of her off because there’s just not enough clear surface area to place her on most cars/Gundams, but we finally get a chance with the RX-78-2’s shield this time. The decal is nearly as tall as the Gundam!
Another thing about this secondary sheet – the decals aren’t precut for you, so if you want tight borders you’ll have to go in with a sharp blade and run all the curves and edges yourself.
She’s taller than the shield…but that’s okay, we might lose her feet but we’ll still have like 80% of her body.
The usual decal soaking container was overloaded.
The shield’s a very simple and non-complex surface, so laying Miku down was at least a piece of cake. Edges were trimmed and the decal was blow-dried to make sure it really sunk into the paint/plastic.
Rolling with the red bezel – at least one good thing came out of it – the white sponsor decals that went around the border looked really cool, methinks.
Final touches on the shield included a big ‘ol Japanese decal reading Miku’s name, and of course we have to make sure Good Smile Racing is on there.
I didn’t really have a plan for how the head would be designed – I deemed it too small an area to bother with the pink/teal marking paint, especially since the v-fin and forehead crest would have a little of that already. On impulse, I decided heck, let’s have more Miku – a head on the head!
I said I don’t care for the Core Fighter (and I still don’t) but that doesn’t mean I won’t go out of my way to work on it.
I’m not entirely sure how well these decals will hold up after the block has been shoved into the torso (it’s already a tight fit with the paint as is) but if it gets a bit scratched up, so be it. If I had cared more for it I would’ve gone the extra mile and painted the pilot figure and the cockpit glass blue, but I was working on a schedule here, so the less important things had to be cut out.
Never to be seen again (until I take it out for this photoshoot, but after that, it’s really never going to be seen again).
And finally, onto the weapons. To be honest, for this build I only wanted the beam javelin and rifle with napalm. I didn’t care for the Gundam Hammer or Bazooka at all, but I still built them for sake of completion so they could also be shown in this photoshoot.
The Gundam Hammer’s chain is made of plastic – unfortunately not metal, though that’s not unexpected.
Cleaning each spike off the Gundam Hammer wasn’t fun. Normally I would’ve also cleaned up the seam from the ball of the “hammer” being made up of two halves, but in this case I didn’t deem it worthwhile.
I’ve always liked the “Super Napalm” missile pod that attached to the Gundam’s beam rifle. I finally get a chance to build it here with the MG, and Bandai even went out of their way to include full missiles for the barrel. Painted red because missiles are red, duh.
Ah, now the beam javelin. I wanted something a little more unique to present with the build at SCGMC, and as I thought of Racing Miku, I was reminded of a version of her figure that I’ve always coveted but will never have the balls to purchase: the 2013 Sepang Circuit version. A flag/pole-card was not unique to that version of Racing Miku, but it’s where I drew the inspiration for this bit.
I took the end of the beam javelin pole and went in with an exacto and later a dremel cutting wheel to get a groove out of it, so I could mount a plate of pla-plate as a flag.
I chose pla-plate as the flag material just because I had it on hand, and I don’t think a fabric flag would look as good if it weren’t stiffened with wire or something, plus fabric wouldn’t allow me to apply decals.
It’s a small, simple thing, and very much the last piece I threw together as the kit’s main accessory for the competition.
I later went back and put together the actual beam javelin head since I thought it was too cool an effect part to go to waste – and there was still enough material at the end of the flagpole to attach it. Normally I’d rail on Bandai for including this in simple clear plastic and not clear pink, but in this case it worked better for me since I got to paint it clear blue on my own.
I couldn’t find any other Itasha Gundam builds, though I think this style is somewhat common with Macross and their VF mechas.
I’m really happy with how the decal placements and color breakup turned out, too-red shield notwithstanding.
The giant Miku on the shield is the coolest thing ever, IMO.
I was already marveling at the 2.0 frame during the build process, but having it complete and moving it around is even more impressive.
Everything moves very smoothly and naturally, so I never really feel limited, but the very blocky throwback design makes dynamic posing a bit harder for me.
The only real gripe I have with movement is the waist – it doesn’t turn much thanks to the crotch piece riding up so high and the (somewhat) delicate Core Fighter connection there.
Speaking of which, yes I built it and painted it and decal’d it and gave it the same treatment as the rest of the suit, even though after this I’ll probably never be seeing it again. If I cared more I would’ve cleaned it up a bit more and painted the canopy clear blue, but alas.
As Core Fighters go though, it’s really a well-engineered little thing with even some auto-morph functions (the dorsal tail tucks in on its own when you flip the canopy down). I do particularly like the clear display stand that comes included – very minimalist and matches the craft well.
The lower body was really decked out exactly as I wanted with the decals – but by the time I got to the arms and torso I was running out of good ones to use, which is why I ended up using the mini BMW Z4 on the right arm, even though this is supposed to be a mascot for the NSX.
I was really worried at first that I would end up with too many Miku faces on the body and it would end up looking very uncanny valley, but thankfully I think the final breakup works. Chibi Miku on the left shoulder really added the variation I was looking for.
Bazooka was thrown together as an afterthought just so I could show here that it exists.
Ditto of course for the Gundam Hammer.
In retrospect, a Miku face on the hammer would’ve been hilarious.
I wish I made the flag larger and the pole longer, since at this point it’s a very awkward thing to pose with.
Ideally it would be taller than the suit itself so it could lean on it or use it as a walking pole to pose, but as it stands it’s just the original javelin length.
What are you talking about?! I am NOT a Miku fan! I would NEVER be that mainstream!
Ahem, anyway the kit didn’t win any awards at the show – unsurprising, given the stiff competition – but it seemed to catch a lot of attention just for being Itasha and being ridiculous, so mission accomplished. It was particularly fun asking one dude what he thought of the build, only to be met with, “well, I like the car…”
I’m a bit late to the MG 2.0 party (I’ve built a MG 2.0 Zaku before) but it’s nice to see how well the frame and design as a whole has aged – it’s really one of the more attractive RX-78-2’s out there, provided we’re talking strictly Gunpla. All the Itasha decal work was actually also a very enjoyable experience – it may even happen again soon, though likely on another car before I decide to build a Super Sonico Gundam.