Monday, February 20, 2012

Alternate Weapon Ideas For A Strike Rouge

Still fiddling with Gundam kits at the moment. I had recently bought the Strike Rouge and Skygrasper/Aile Striker set. A month or so later, I finally completed it in a state that I'd consider "partially acceptable". There's plenty of reviews about the kit, so I'll spare you the crappy assault of "build progress" photos and "poseability" photos demonstrating how the articulation works. This is the Vortex! Only useless information that no one wants will be shared here!

For the inquiring minds, the PG Strike (and presumably all other Perfect Grade kits) stand roughly 12" tall, which conveniently is the same scale as a 1:6 scale figure. Unfortunately, their hands are quite large and don't translate well to a 1:6 scale figure, and feel more like 1:5 scale hands in size. While off scale, this does provide an opportunity to all you PG Strike owners who want something more desirable in their arsenal than the included beam rifle, shield and shiny sword. What if you wanted to give your Strike Gundam something more... interesting?

Let's put on our thinking glasses and brainstorm! Where else could we find some crap to give our Gundam to use? Stuff that's roughly 1:6 scale, and would be used by a military fighting robot? 
 To the gun rack!

 Since the hands are a bit larger than 1:6 scale, the Strike is limited in gun options. Guns like the M-4/M-16 with small thin grips are almost out of the question. Even if you happen to have one that sort of works, the fingers tend to overhang the trigger guard, so you end up like the Heavy Weapons guy holding... practically anything other than the minigun. My solution was to cup the grip with just the fingers, and that placed the trigger finger around the right area so it doesn't look oversized.

Guns with a stock work well, as the grip occupies more space in the hand, allowing you to use the thumb more. So if you want to give your Strike some 1:6 scale guns, stuff like hunting rifles, shotguns and the like work well. Pistol grip weapons, not so much. I'm certain that a MK23 or a desert eagle would fit nicely. A Tokarev... not so well. I also tried out the MGL, and that didn't work. The fingers just didn't want to work with it.

Now, what about heavy weapons?

The Strike's hands seem to fit a Dragon Browning M2HB quite well. All four fingers fit around the rear handles and the thumbs are close enough for the trigger. However, the main issue with giving your Strike the M2HB is that you really need to put your Strike in a trench. It can do some prone poses, but not enough to make the M2 work without putting the gun a little higher. Not quite a satisfactory addition. It's acceptable if you wanted to make a support gunner out of your Strike. 

After a long while, I finally found a use for my ZACCA bazookas. They look great on the Strike Rouge, and the size fits nicely. However, there's a significant problem with giving 1:6 scale bazookas to a PG Gundam, and that's related to how their hands work. They don't have enough wrist articulation like you get out of most 1:6 scale human bodies. They're on ball joints, so you have a limited cone of range whereas human figures get wrists that can almost go 180 degrees. That makes most bazookas unsuitable for a Gundam.

I tried out most of the bazookas/rocket launchers I had and found a lot of not-at-all surprising results. I took photos of the ones that worked best.
Soldiers of the World/ZACCA M20A1: mediocre. Hands fit around the trigger perfectly, but the limited wrist motion prevents you from holding them correctly. Shoulder armor interferes with the shoulder rest, so you'll need to be creative with your poses.
ZACCA Panzerfaust 3: Great.  Nothing interferes, and there's enough range of motion to hold it properly. Can almost look down the scope as well.

ZACCA M136 AT-4: Great. Since you hold it with one hand on top, the oversize hands for the Strike work well. The front grip's easy to hold. The shoulder strap should be glued together on the AT-4, but otherwise a good addition to the Strike. It's one of the more elegant rocket launchers you could have in your collection.

 ZACCA Panzerschreck: Mediocre. You're going to have to hold this with one hand like the M20A1.  No chance in hell you can get the second hand to hold it in any decent manner. Looks great, but you just can't hold the thing. This is where a better wrist motion would help a lot.

Other notes:
I couldn't get the FIM-92, FIM-43 or the SA-18 to work due to the wrists. If you wanted a Strike Stinger combo, it'll look awkward. Don't even bother with panzerfausts. Other models from the ZACCA collection simply didn't work due to the shoulder armor interfering.

There's one outlet left for 1:6 scale weapons: Melee!

Let's say you felt the Grand Slam sword was a bit lacking, and the beam sabers were pretty dull. We can fix that with a Moonfire/Bloodberry! I did find that the fingers worked well to hold the hilts for my Bloodberry and Moonfire, but unfortunately the Moonfire's weight was too much for the fingers to handle. I had to play with the fingers to get them to clasp shut around the hilt. I could use some blue tack to attempt to hold the sword in place, but you will need to use quite a lot to hold it in place. Moonfire's the heaviest sword I have currently, almost twice the weight of the Grand Slam, and without hand pegs to hold it into place. The hands are capable of holding thin objects such as polearms, so it's feasible to have other swords (much like the Red Frame Astray) without relying on the hand peg.

It's convenient to know that a PG Strike can use about half of the possible 1:6 scale stuff on the market. The biggest problem is the wrists. I would recommend experimenting with other melee weapons than guns or rockets, as they offer the best results. Don't settle for energy blades when you can use a slab of metal to impale your foes.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Presenting the worst implausible plane ever

Decided to take a break and build stuff that doesn't require me busting out a slide rule and protractor. Picked up a Perfect Grade Strike Rouge and the accompanying Skygrasper. I had finished up watching Gundam Seed Destiny recently. That anime makes a good drinking game if you take a shot per every 5 minutes of re-used footage, and have a death wish. I actually don't care for the Strike Gundam much, but I read it was a very good example of a perfect grade model, and I need more puppets/test subjects.

I liked two things about the entire SEED series. The Moebius Zero, and the Skygrasper. Well, three if you count the pilot for both of these. The Moebius Zero model involves a lot of painting. Anything I paint looks five times worse than if I left it in primer, so that was out. What was left was the PG Skygrasper, which doesn't involve painting. Hooray! I decided to roll with that. And since it comes with a Aile Striker pack, I figured I'd get the Strike Rouge so the pack isn't worthless.

I found myself liking the Skygrasper less after examining how the model was designed, as a vehicle and as a model kit.

Landing Gear
This model does not offer any folding landing gear. There's actually NO space in the fuselage or engines to modify to fit the landing gear in. The space under the cockpit  has room for half the wheel diameters before touching the pilot's feet. If you were dreaming of modding this to have working landing gear, no luck buddy.

The front landing gear actually can't fold in even if wanted to. The canards and the region where I presume hardware exists to control them blocks the region where the wheels would fold into, and there's actually a panel that obstructs the wheels anyways. The panel lines don't even suggest that this panel moves. It has a protective flap to top it off. The front flap's existence is to solely allow you to get a fingernail under the landing gear cover to remove it.

The landing gear has four wheels, two on the front and one on each rear strut. The wheels are molded separately, and are attached by friction pegs. They do not freely spin at all. If this is the case, then why did they put a flat on the wheels? To stop the non-existent movement the wheels have from making the model not slide? Now you have to precisely orient the flat sides of the wheels on the ground, otherwise it looks odd. I guess it's to replicate a loaded tire?

The Main Cannon
Oh boy, do I hate this stupid cannon. How bad can it be, you ask?

This gun is a detriment to the plane in so many ways, it's not even funny. Actually, it is quite funny. First off, it's the size of something that should be mounted to the side of a battleship, and not a plane. Its so large, that if you turn it perpendicular to the fuselage, the profile of the gun would theoretically disrupt airflow to the tail fins and create control issues. The turret can spin around and easily smash the tail fins with the cannon barrel, so the tail fins are doubly worthless.

The best part about this cannon is the elevation. It can change the elevation to aim at targets in a fairly good cone. It's great for tracking targets. Its also great if you had a really bad day and wanted to kill yourself, as it can shoot into the cockpit. And the engines too, if you wanted to go out in a fireball.

I can also presume that the Skygrasper has no ejection seats.  If you consider that ejection involves shooting out the canopy first, you'll also need to eject the turret too, otherwise the seat will collide with the long barrel. Then again, pilot safety is low on a Gundam series' mechanical design department.

The turret is the only outlandish part of the design, and it would have been acceptable if the rest of the plane was designed in an absurd manner. I removed the turret and plan on replacing the hole with some sort of cover or fan or anything that isn't an obnoxiously large gun. I find that the plane looks much better without it. If I was so inclined, I'd cut away the turret ring and make it transition to the front fuselage better.

The Color Scheme
I just don't like the blue. It's too bright and not fitting for a military plane.  So despite my original plan, I decided to paint this. I chose to replace all the blue with "gunship grey" which turned out to be the same as "Bandai plastic grey". Whoops. Still looks better than an elementary student's coloring sheet. I did like the yellow though, so I kept it on the intakes. I would have kept it on the engine/gun pods, but I damaged those with a large fissure, and required painting to hide that.

I've finished my first attempt at painting over the blue, and have removed the turret. I think it looks a lot better.  Just need to detail the cockpit.

Anyways, enough about the plane. The kit comes with three pilot figures, which is weird since the plane is a two-seater. I've also never recalled two people being in one Skygrasper in the series.

Gundam Seed was a bit hazy. I recall the pilot's name for the Skygrasper starting with an "M". I did my best to paint him like I remembered how he appeared in the series. I think I was spot on.
And who can forget the scene where the Skygrasper pilot M-something docks with the experimental Mobile Pants, and riverdances over the enemy forces in a might of Celtic flurry.

I still have quite a bit of work to do on the Skygrasper before I'm happy with it. Once that's done, I'll have the Mobile Pants part to fix up. I think I can see where the next few months are (not) going.