Gunpla,  High Grade

HG Gundam AGE-1 Spallow (Hotsuma Custom)

 

So, uh, this isn’t my kit, nor my custom idea. The same client who’s commissioned my work on the Virtual-On Temjin kits in the past requested this one as a quick repaint/mod build.

The AGE-1 Spallow always had a very ninja/shinobi motif going for it, what with the emphasis on covert speed and its armor design. The client’s request to model it after the character Hotsuma from the game series Shinobi just takes all that up to eleven.

I’ve built a HG AGE-1 Normal before, but never really cared for its main variants, the Spallow and Titus.

So the commission request was basically to take the AGE-1 Spallow and give it a Hotsuma-style color scheme. It looks like one of the character’s defining features is the long red scarf and the katana over the back, which the customer provided on their own. My only job was to get the colors down, make some minor design changes, and integrate the sword.

I had offered to do the scarf at an extra charge, but it looks like the customer took care of that on their own already. The kit is straight built out of the box.

The katana provided by the customer seems to have come off a HG 1/144 Astray Red Frame. I remember building and owning one as a kid many many years ago.

The customer didn’t ask me to snip the safety flags on the v-fin and sharpen them up – I just do it out of habit now with my HGs.

One minor change we talked about doing for the Spallow’s body to make it look more human is the removal of the shoulder armor completely. The big blue pieces are only attached via two large cylinder pegs that make up the shoulder segment itself, so it was a relatively simple job to just leave the blue pieces off and cut the pegs off to end up with smooth, small shoulder units.

The only stipulation my client put forth with the back of the torso was that they didn’t want the AGE-1’s iconic spoiler wing (how will the suit possibly get downforce on the track now?!) but I thought it would look funny if I just left the rear thruster assembly off too. I decided to go out of my way and cut the small upper back thrusters out of their bezels and slot them back into their original pegs, rather than shaving the pegs and ending up with some weird flat points in the back armor.

I forget that the AGE emblem on the chest relies entirely on a sticker – it’s not even remotely the correct color underneath, thanks to Bandai splitting their plastic colors so the emblem bezel is one piece with the yellow chest vents.

Rear torso armor drilled out so we can peg the sword in. Thankfully the Astray’s katana already came with a peg integrated into its sheath.

The customer never really specified what to do with the Spallow’s original weapon – a little butterknife dagger. Bandai actually had the audacity to make nearly the entire blade of out of a sticker – would it have killed them to include it as a clear green piece?! Probably.

I took it apart and sharpened it anyway.

Filled some of the more obvious seams I found throughout the kit – the thighs were pretty much two halves with lines down the middle on the back. The front has a nice piece that covers the front seam though.

 

One of the things I generally dislike about slapping one character’s color scheme on another is that the areas where the colors break often don’t line up. Hotsuma’s outfit was of course mostly gloss black, so I started there.

One of those examples of weird color breakup decisions in order to homage something else. Painting only the outer half of the thigh armor silver isn’t how I’d normally approach painting Gundam armor, but because that’s how it looks on Hotsuma’s ninja outfit, that’s what’s happening here.

There’s no green on Hotsuma’s chest, but I thought it would be way too weird if I left it red and had it blend into the chest. The “A” on the AGE Gundams is too distinctive a design to not be brought out, I think.

Pretty much everything painted. I tried to vary the finishes in order to get a more authentic look – the inner frame is deliberately flat gray to give the look of Hotsuma’s gray undersuit. The exterior armor parts are gloss black, with the red finished in matte since it’s mostly supposed to be fabric.

The head/face was one of the harder parts to figure out how to break down. The entire lower half is basically a facemask that’s integrated with his scarf with only the bridge of his nose visible and then his eyes are covered by some silver forehead mask with four eyes??

Looks a little funny now because there’s no sword or scarf, but I’m generally happy with the color breakdown.

The Astray katana the customer supplied had some old paint (it was probably Sharpie) gunk left on it so I let the parts soak in brake fluid for a day to strip all that old stuff off and get them ready for paint. Went ahead and sharpened the katana tip while I was at it.

The sheath and crotch codpiece are like the only parts on this build that needed to be a dark maroon, but I didn’t have that color on hand and really didn’t want to go out and buy a can of maroon spray just for these. So I kind of cheated and sprayed the parts black first, then hit them with a light coat of metallic red (because I ran out of regular red on the rest of the suit and only had metallic left). They’re then finished with a matte coat and…it actually looks pretty cool with the flat metallic flake?! See, good things can definitely come out of me cutting costs.

The blade itself was sprayed silver first, then all the other details on the hilt/guard were filled in by hand later. I could’ve probably just left the scabbard all dark red too, since Hotsuma’s actual scabbard is plain, but I decided to fill in the raised details with gold Astray-style to make it look better.

Nailed it? Maybe not exactly, but I think the compromises I made were for the kit’s benefit. An all-red scabbard and red chest emblem would’ve technically been more accurate to the character it’s trying to look like, but heck it’s still a Gundam!

As cool as the katana looks, I still have to admit I think the overall suit plays better with the little dagger knife.

Good thing this was always a free-moving mobile suit design – it can thankfully still reach the sword that was never designed to be on its back.

I kind of wish I had been given the chance to make the scarf myself, since the way it is now doesn’t feel like it flows super well with the rest of the kit, but overall the look is there. Palette swaps don’t always end up working this well, but most areas lined up from the Hotsuma character to the Spallow suit design pretty nicely.

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