Misc. Figures and Collectables

Hasegawa 1/100 Temjin 747J (A Certain Magical Virtual-On Custom)

I think the last time I built a Temjin model I had told myself that I wouldn’t do it again. I had accomplished the ludicrously Katoki-masterminded markings on the last kit via a back-breaking amount of masking and painting, and looking back on it now, I’m not sure how I did it. Ironic, considering I now have to actually do it again.

Of course, Virtual-On and the Virtuaroid designs are cool and all, but I wouldn’t be coming back to one of my own accord so soon – this kit is a commission just like the last Temjin, from the same client no less.

So, this is a 1/100 scale Hasegawa kit, just like the last two Virtuaroids I built from the Virtual-On series. This Temjin 747J is the titular hero mech of the 2003 game Cyber Troopers Virtual-On Marz, though ironically I’ve already built most of this kit before in the form of a palette-swap variant. The Temjin Rainbow White Knight I built previously is mostly identical to this kit, albeit with different colors/markings and some slight armor/weapon differences.

Virtual-On as a series is shockingly niche to me – its last full-fledged installment in the game series was 15 years ago, in the form of the game (Marz) that these designs hail from. Only recently in 2018 was a new game finally announced, though it’s apparently still just a crossover with another series, rather than its own stand-alone entry.

Like the last Temjin I received from this client, it’s less of a straight commission build and more of a refurbishing. He had apparently mostly built and painted the kit when he was little, and has had it sitting around until now, when I get to step in and bring it back to life.

It’s, uh, a little rough around the edges. I recognized the “paint” immediately as Gundam marker – I remember using that stuff many many moons ago, and the Gundam blue in particular is very distinct.

I’m sure the kit has seen better days, as it came to be a bit dilapidated with parts fallen off and all that good jazz. Still, I was reassured that there are no missing pieces, so hopefully that’ll take the trouble out of my day for needing to scratch-build anything.

I’m very familiar with Hasegawa’s approach to the Virtuaroid problem by now – oh Katoki designed the suit with nonsensical markings that don’t follow or match any of the physical design’s body lines? Make literally everything a decal!

Unfortunately, just as it was with the White Knight, using the decals to fill this suit out wasn’t a super viable option. Leaving aside the implications of wrapping some of those markings around bulges or shoving them into valleys, parts of the decal sheets have already been used, so I’d be left with incomplete markings even if I tried (and I’m not about to use the decals on most of the suit and then use paint for the missing areas – you overestimate my ability to match paint to decal finish). So, naturally, I knew I was heading into the circle of masking Hell once again.

But all that talk about using the decals is kind of moot when the customer requests a different-than-stock color scheme for this suit anyway. He sent me a reference photo of the latest Temjin design – the one that appears in the new 2018 crossover game (called A Certain Magical Virtual-On) that I mentioned earlier. This was certainly a unique look – and I was happy to go with this over the traditional white/red/blue/orange Temjin scheme. What I didn’t realize when I said yes was that this new design wasn’t just a palette swap – they’ve actually updated the mech’s base design from its Marz days.

The blue striped Temjin from A Certain Magical Virtual-On takes from what I presume is an updated mecha design (shown left). The old Marz design (which is what this kit is) is shown on the right. At first glance (and even maybe second and thirds, if you’re not a Virtuaroid head geek) they may look the same, but just about every armor surface is changed. The easiest places to tell are the shoulders and feet – the new game design suit doesn’t have any of the distinctive ovals that are part of the Marz design.

So, what does this mean for me building this kit? I’ll be taking the color scheme from a different design and applying it to a suit that doesn’t match up – which is good and bad in different ways. While I get some creative liberty to apply the color scheme as I see fit and ultimately create an entirely unique Temjin, it also becomes difficult when I don’t really have a guide for working around particular design elements (like applying those white stripes while working around the ovals on the kit).

To add to the irony of slapping a new age palette on an outdated kit – I could actually probably recreate the the exact blue-and-white striped suit from A Certain Magical Virtual-On if I had the new Temjin kit from Volks – a different company from Hasegawa that only recently released their Temjin kit based on the new age design.

Ahem, okay, sorry, enough with the background and kit planning – time to finally actually get to the build. The first order of business is a brake fluid bath for the kit as it was given to me, to wash away as much of the old paint as possible so I have a clean surface to work with.

In all honesty the brake fluid was probably overkill, since the Gundam Marker paints aren’t known to be particularly durable, but I used it mostly for a speedy strip – Purple Power probably could’ve taken the Gundam Marker off as well, but it would’ve taken longer. The paint began dissolving immediately when it touched the brake fluid.

Classic Hasegawa. Not a speck of blue plastic – they really do give you the base kit as nearly all white with a splash of gray and orange. I do think for Hasegawa this demonstrates a gross over-reliance on the decals to bring the kit to life. They could’ve at least tried to mold some more colors instead of giving you giant flat sheets of water slides that are meant to wrap entire panels in blue or red.

So, while the Gundam Marker and any extra paint/panel lining gunk came off with no problems, there was still some challenges with some of the pre-built pieces – namely, a lot of stuff was glued together. Sadly, it looks like a lot of the clear blue pieces were glued in, and most of them were inserted crooked or off-center, so I didn’t even have the option of leaving them in and just painting over them. Removing the glued parts usually meant having to break them – made worse in that the clear plastic is much more brittle than standard plastic, so prying them out will almost always guarantee that they come apart in more than one piece.

I’m not particularly surprised at the clear parts having been glued, since Hasegawa doesn’t supply pegs or clips for them, so the only way you’re expected to put them in is via glue or cement, but even other sections of the suit like the backpack and arm joints had thick glue buildup. To make it worse, some sections with glue were applied extremely thick, which marred and irreparably damaged plastic detail.

This is the worst timeline. The center of the main visor has assimilated itself into the plastic of the helmet, so there’s really no taking any of it out without having to re-make the visor from scratch. I promptly just pressed it all back in – looks like there won’t be any clear pieces here.

The front skirt peg that allowed the section to articulate was also glued in place, so the only way to separate the front skirts was to break them off their pegs.

One of the legs was in extremely bad shape – the knee armor section that was meant to articulate and bend had been glued to part of the shin armor. Again, like the rest of the glue, this was no surgical attachment – the glue had become a filler and closed any gaps between the two pieces, marring their surfaces and effectively making it all one big part. I eventually managed to cut it apart, but the plastic was irreparably marred. The most I could do was sand away the jagged sections and hope the areas that are missing chunks don’t manifest prominently on the finished kit.

Hasegawa gave most of the lower half of the body in halves, so lots of cement and seam filling work was needed.

Putty was also used for certain parts that were cut from their runners unevenly, meaning there were gaps too large for cement to bridge.

Most of the actual armor is painted gloss white first as a base coat. After that’s dry, it was finally time to enter the dreaded masking Hell. The design of the A Certain Magical Virtual-On Temjin is a departure from the usual seemingly random markings I’m used to on most Temjin models. It’s mostly just thin white/blue/purple stripes patterned throughout the armor, which seemed simple enough. The catch is that cutting my already-thin 2mm masking tape into 1mm and 0.5mm strips became a tedious chore very quickly.

I also already knew that masking over the molded armor detail was going to be a bad time. The grooves and panel lines weren’t large enough for the tape to really lay into, meaning those areas are going to be prime for paint bleed.

Still, once I got the stripes masked, I decided to just send it and see what would come of it.

It ended up being…very okay. It was a lot worse before this – this is after some white touch-up paint to clean up bleeding edges and some red and black hand-painted to break up the giant panels of white and blue.

This is what it actually looks like after I peel the masking tape. Some good ‘ol scrubbing and white touch-up paint tends to help clean it up well.

Thankfully the two stripes on the visor came out clean.

So, the red – the original design has subtle red striping on highlight sections of the suit, like the inside edge of armor panels and the like. I would have liked to run that effect, but decided to move the red to the valleys surrounding the ovals on the Marz armor instead. This will give me a clearly defined area to use the red – the grooves also seemed very appropriate as areas to use a trim color.

Now, the A Certain Magical Virtual-On design primarily made use of blue and white, but also a lot of what appeared to be a indigo-like purple. I had initially decided to use this color for the ovals in the armor as well as the actual sections that needed to be indigo, but I had a wrench thrown in those plans – Tamiya stopped making that color.

TS-57 “Blue Violet” was perfect for this application on the Temjin. I had always considered this color an enigma – I liked it so much because it was so uniquely between blue and purple, but I didn’t have any good places to use it. I wanted so desperately to make use of it that I decided to make it a primary color on a HG Kimaris, though that probably wasn’t the right play. Still, the greatest irony comes when it becomes the perfect color to use now, but Tamiya has just recently discontinued it, meaning I’m unable to get any more at my local hobby shops, and I only had a tiny bit left in the can that I had. It hurts more knowing I used up most of what I had left on the Kimaris now.

There’s really no other spray that I could find that replicated that indigo color quite as well as the Tamiya TS-57, so my next option was to use a combo of colors – standard Tamiya purple with a mist of Pearl Light Blue on top.

The pearl light blue is a thin color, so it’s easy to get an opaque mist on after the parts have been coated in a vibrant purple first. This doesn’t really get me the same effect as the Blue Violet, but it’s an acceptable one given the source material, I think.

Now that the purple has changed, I decided to go ahead and change the colors on the ovals too – they’re now going to be painted Brilliant Blue, a different shade from the rest of the armor’s French Blue.

I was originally going to just swallow the seam that ran down the middle of the torso from the side, since the chest is really just made up of two halves clamping stuff in between. The shoulder “pillars” ended up being very badly uneven though, so I decided to just cut the pegs for all the stuff that needs to go in between the two chest halves so I can slide them in later. The shoulder joints will need to stay in since there’s no way to put them in after the two halves are joined, but they’ll be masked.

Oh the humanity. Even drilling holes in the underside to pop these glued clear pieces out isn’t fool-proof.

I’m re-using what clear bits I can (the ones unmarred by glue) but remaking most of them from pieces of pla-plate.

All clear parts will be finished in gloss Coral Blue.

The sensor color pops surprisingly well against the rest of the white and French Blue.

More body parts masked.

The entire process of getting these pieces cranked out is tedious – part of why this build took the better part of two months. Masking all the lines is tedious, going in and touching up the paint bleed with gloss white is tedious, and filling in all the little details like the red is back-breaking.

I like to think the result is worth it though. I more or less rushed to get just one unit of the suit together first (in this case the left arm) to see if all the colors and design choices would blend together (because lord knows I didn’t test this out in Photoshop first). It still needs gloss and pearl coats to really get the finish to pop, but the important thing now is that the overall unit flows.

Disk driver whatchamacallit was painted Coral Blue first, then filled in with gloss acrylic black.

Gunmetal detail then added on top via brush. I believe the original kit just gives you a nicely filled out water slide decal to achieve this look, but getting a single square water slide to sit flush over all those subtle raised edge details almost sounds more horrifying than just painting it all by hand.

The chest and abdomen were tough calls- I was worried there would be too much red, since on the original design there’s not nearly as much on those areas. At first I was scared the prominent red stripes on the chest were going overboard, but after seeing most of the pieces together I think it ends up working with everything else after all.

Front skirts glued back into place since the original rod that allowed them to swivel is basically fused with the crotch piece’s inner frame now. The saving grace is that these skirts are so small that even having them stationary should barely affect articulation, if at all.

The disk drivers or whatever they are on the backs of these Virtuaroid designs are still a really cool touch.

Meaningful progress! Upper body mostly done – just waiting on some miscellaneous skirt pieces, and we can move onto the nightmare that is going to be the legs. I also only realized after looking at this shot that I totally forgot to fill in the black bezel on the edge of the right shoulder. That’s what happens when there’s so much going on with the design and paint work – you start missing some details.

Thighs just require some seam-filling, since they’re more or less made up of all halves. Thankfully on the original design they’re just all white, albeit with a prominent decal marking on the left thigh (which we’ll tackle later).

The Marz suit design at the legs and feet is very drastically different from the design that the A Certain Magical suit takes from. Simply overlaying the colors from the original design wouldn’t be as easy, since the Marz suit lacks the vertical line that bisects its calves front-to-rear.

In the end, I just went with a color separation that I thought would balance the lower half most evenly. It’s actually kind of interesting that I never noticed before now that the Magical design uses blue most heavily on the upper half of the suit – most of the legs and feet are actually that purple/indigo color.

The sockets for the clear parts on the knees are really jacked up from the glue the original owner used. I figured painting them black would hide most of the nastiness, but I ended up just trimming the sockets flat later anyway, so my custom pla-plate “clear parts” (they are now Coral Blue) would be able to sit flush enough in.

Turns out my original pla-plate parts were too thick to allow the knee to fit properly into its socket in the leg, so all four bits had to be remade with thinner pla-plate. Cutting/sanding the originals down would be more trouble than just rebuilding these from scratch, since I would’ve had to keep a close eye on them ending up the same thickness.

The feet and ankle armor started becoming very tedious work when certain parts needed to be both purple and blue. This means I’ll have to paint the part white first, mask it for blue, paint the blue, mask it for purple, paint it for purple, and then tear all the tape off and go in with brush paint to touch up the bleeds. It feels very inefficient, but I’m not skilled or creative enough to know of any other shortcut to get these effects.

The feet in particular were a process. There’s so much going on.

I decided to say screw it to masking those curves on the bottom of the feet – both shades of blue were done with decanted spray paint, while the red is standard bottled acrylic. I’m really banking on panel lines cleaning up the edges of the paint where the blue meets the white later.

Final bits of silver added to finish off the feet – there are so many colors and segments that getting all the color lines neat and not grossly jagged ended up being a disproportionate amount of effort compared to the rest of the build.

I put the backpack “wings” off until near the end because I’m super unfamiliar with their design. It’s one of those things I never really took a close look at so how they work and what parts comprise them are a complete enigma to me – until I finally got around to taking them apart.

These polycaps are clamped in with circular sockets in the plastic. One of those sockets is completely filled in with old glue. Awkward.

Thankfully we had a drill bit that was just small enough to open up that hole again and the polycap was (mostly) undamaged enough to continue its service of making parts move.

Some putty to fill the seam that made up the halves of these binders.

Masking Hell.

The cool little patterns in the wing flaps and thruster binders were painted in with decanted Coral Blue, since I’ve realized some things simply aren’t worth masking.

The weapon is hilariously almost made of complete halves.

Parts like the main barrel of the gun is also really just one piece (once you combine the halves) and it needs both blue and purple, so we’re in for extra masking Hell with parts like these.

Are some of the white stripes at different angles from each other down the barrel? Absolutely. Was it intentional? Duh. Who do you take me for, an unprofessional?

Last bit for the weapon were these little winglets – they aren’t part of the Magical design in any capacity, so I didn’t really know what to do with them other than leave them white (even I burn out and get a little lazy this late into the build).

Once all the color is on and there’s no more masking work, most of the suit is separated into large components and ready for some gloss clear. I’m really banking on the clear coat bringing a uniform finish to a lot of the brush paint sections, though that may be some misplaced faith in what gloss can do.

After the gloss clear, we’re of course injecting a little Pearl – mostly because I’ve used a Pearl finish for every other Virtual-On kit up until now, and this one customer happens to own all of them, so it only makes sense to keep the lineup consistent. My original reasoning for using Pearl finishes for these Virtuaroids was also that I thought it gave the kits a look more akin to their in-game bloom glow.

The sparkles over heavy gloss do a little bit to hide some of the areas with more obvious blemishes (i.e. heavy or uneven brush paint) but obviously none of it is a magic cure that will just make that stuff completely disappear.

Panel lining before final assembly. I didn’t intend to go for such thick lines, but I found it unfortunately necessary to cover up a lot of the messy edges where one paint color met another.

Right weapon hand glued to the weapon handle.

The original Magical design relied somewhat heavily on marking decals that had its unit number/codename. Unfortunately a lot of those markings are custom and blue-colored – I could only make do with what few white/black name decals that came with this kit originally. Their placement and font style aren’t ideal to match to the rest of this build, but I figured for accuracy’s sake it was better than nothing.

Very blue. But that is how it should be.

I talked about how these Hasegawa Virtual On kits aren’t really known for their spectacular range of movement before. As with my previous Temjin and Apharmd, the plastic quality feels more brittle than the Bandai standard, so I’m not keen on moving the parts around much at all.

One of the main parts of the build that I accidentally flubbed was the thigh armor – I didn’t realize as I was putting the kit together that the right and left sides were exclusive to each other, since the design of having those dots on the sides of the thighs were only meant to face outwards, not inwards. By the time I noticed it was already too late to take it apart, especially given that I had applied that big 01 decal to the left outer thigh already.

I’m really happy with the Coral Blue used for the parts that were meant to be glowy/clear. The metallic green I used on my last Temjin was cool because it was metallic, but it didn’t stand out enough against the rest of the suit.

If I had done it proper, the bottom of the feet would also have stripes that match the rest of the suit, but I got lazy and used the excuse that there really isn’t any source material that shows what the bottom of the feet are actually supposed to look like, so I made do with just coloring in the shapes that were already there.

The only real accessory you get with this kit is the one extra left hand meant for Temjin’s iconic salute – unfortunate that you don’t get more options for a variety of expressions.

I don’t know if Hasegawa has their own dedicated action base line the way Bandai does, but clearly their kits aren’t designed to work with any sort of stands. I wish I had remembered to drill a hole in the crotch so it can be used with the modern HG stand system, but alas we made do with the classic crotch hook.

The wing binders on the original kit were also originally supposed to articulate, but given their previous state of already having been glued together, I merely cleaned it up and glued it all back together in a fixed position. With more time and effort I could’ve rigged up a new peg and joint system to allow them to move again, but I didn’t deem it a requirement this time.

I didn’t think the front skirts (which, recall, were also glued into place so they don’t articulate anymore) would hinder articulation much at all even if they were static, but turns out that was a false hope. They broke several times during this photoshoot alone when I kept trying to push for more aggressive poses out of the legs – I can only hope my customer doesn’t push it as far as I did and end up having to glue parts back on his own (I warned him).

Ironically this kit really ended up being more than the sum of its parts, because I really happen to like the overall aesthetic and how it’s presented when you take it as a whole. When you start to look at the individual pieces on their own though, it falls apart a bit – I won’t sit here and pretend like this masking/paint job was anywhere approaching flawless, though I’m not sure if as a builder I notice the flaws in my own work more or if my customer just has a higher regard for my work, since they mentioned that they were supremely pleased with the results (yay).

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