I think one of the fun things in the “discovery” of Maschinen Krieger for me has been getting a handle on the shapes behind Kow Yokoyama’s curious designs. For instance, the Falke, which is a crab-like flying machine, gets its distinctive shape in part from the use of two P-38 Lightning engines, spinners lopped off, the whole assembly being turned on its side. The Gustav armored suit is a helicopter’s forward cabin section, turned vertically.
Each model, in its original incarnation, seems to be firmly rooted in simply finding interesting shapes, and then adding on top of that other shapes. The final look is truly unique. I can’t think of anything in scale modeling that is simply so unpredictable in flow and design. Its very “disruptiveness”, if I may use that word, can be startling.
Yet as I’ve built this Super Armored Fighting Suit (SAFS), I think its shape intrigues me the most, simply because of the whimsical basis for its shape.
Creative, Or Imaginative?
By nature I am a creative person. Writing, painting, and building have always pulled me and driven me. Whether it be the scribblings as a child in my dad’s aviation magazines, or sitting somewhere waiting for my coffee and doodling on a napkin, I enjoy the process of artistry. (Though I am quite uncomfortable with that word when applied to myself to be honest…)
What has always eluded me, even confounded me a bit, is my lack of imagination when it comes to seeing the possibilities. While I can draw a thing, or paint a thing, or write about a thing… the imaginative process to actually create the thing escapes me.
A good friend once showed me a display he made for his store, my favorite local hobby shop. It was for Christmas, to show off in their store front window. A small diorama showed Santa, holding an RC control box, and piloting several drones delivering gifts. It was quite creative.
Most fascinating to me were the drones. They were the familiar “four poster” versions – a central body, with four arms projecting out, each topped with a small prop.
He began pointing out the parts…. a water bottle cap, disposable razor handles, and several other parts that basically amounted to junk. I shook my head.
I am creative, and I am thankful for that. But I admire the imaginative people, like my friend at the hobby shop, or Kow Yokoyama. Show them a box of “junk”, and they see the possibilities. My feeble brain just sees fodder for the recycling bin. 🙂
While Bandai is certainly the king of snap fit kits, Wave’s Maschinen Krieger offerings are no slouch. Opening up the SAFS box, I was greeted by a few sprues of black plastic (unlike the pink of the previously built New Rally Pawn), very crisply molded and nicely detailed.
Assembly of this kit is quite simple overall, though a few sections seem a bit fiddly if you have less than 3 hands. Within less than an hour, I had the major components assembled. I decided to leave off the shoulder and hip armor, though, as I didn’t want those parts to make later painting difficult.
This suit features an opening hatch at the top, with a bit of internal detail cast in, and a pilot’s head emerging from the suit. I’d enjoyed painting the New Rally Pawn’s pilot head, though he did end up looking a bit like Mr. Spock. On this kit, however, I wasn’t too thrilled with the figure. While the casting was very nice, it was the expression on his face that turned me off. It has a bit of a smirk, like he just told a joke that’s a bit dry, and is now waiting for his hearers to groan and roll their eyes.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with that, really. In a proper setting, it can help tell whatever story the builder is trying to convey. But for an open hatch build, I wanted something a bit more tired looking, worn out. Weary would be the word, really. Battle weary. I considered ordering a resin replacement, but finally decided for the sake of simply moving things along, I’d just close the hatch and call it done. (Knowing quite well this won’t be my last Ma. K kit! :))
About Those Joints
As much as I am enjoying my early foray into the world of Maschinen Krieger, one aspect I have quickly come to loathe is their soft plastic joints and hoses. Made from a very flexible, almost vinyl like material, they absolutely do not hold any paint or primer I have tried. The usual suspects did not work – Badger Stynylrez and Tamiya rattle can both being tested. The stuff flaked right off with barely a whisper of a touch. Taking a section of the soft sprue for testing, I thinned some Mr Surfacer with automotive lacquer thinner. I figured if it didn’t melt the stuff outright, it would at least etch into the surface and maybe grip it. However, it too flaked right off.
I considered guitar wire, craft wire, plastic rod… all sorts of shapes. However, I decided to experiment with something I’d seen long before I started building Ma. K – using Milliput, combined with soft lead soldering wire to set the shape while it dried, to create alternative hoses. As of this writing, those initial experiments are sitting on my model desk, as I wait for them to cure. We’ll see if that works.
So… if anyone from Maschinen Krieger, Wave, or Hasegawa are reading this… give us some alternatives! I’d rather have zero articulation as an option, if it meant plastic joints, than wrestling with those vinyl joints and hoses.
Back To The Fun
For the joints, I decided to try what I’ve seen several builders do. Using Milliput again (though any putty of that type should work), I began to build on top of the vinyl joints. I made a good-sized portion of the putty, and then tearing off a small parts, pushed it into an assembled arm join to test the theory. At first I was using small bits, added on top of each other. This seemed to work OK, but in adding later bits, sections starting moving around and tearing off.
I found that adding a larger chunk – enough to fully wrapped the joint, seemed to work well. I could then mold, shape, carve, and cut my way to something resembling a flexible part. The process didn’t take too long, and though I’d been a little intimidated of “ruining” the model, I quickly realized that it was far less daunting than I’d feared. It was more like playing with Play-Doh… only I couldn’t eat this stuff. 🙂
The resulting joints, once dry, will hold paint perfectly, and though the kit now has almost zero articulation, the trade-off, in my mind, is worth it. It doesn’t look too bad, While it reads well from arm’s length, close examination will show that a middle-aged balding man with poor eyesight tried to sculpt joints with Milliput for the first time. 😀
Painting An Egg
With the joints sorted out, I used the same procedure I’d followed on the New Rally Pawn for texturing the model. Thinning some Tamiya Basic Putty with nail polish remover, I stippled it over most of the suit with a square brush. (Note to self… next time use cotton buds and avoid ruining the brush!) To be honest, I don’t know why most Ma. K builds are textured as such. It looks cool, certainly. And I feel the best way to learn a new genre’s aesthetic is to copy its leading artists. (I’ve been binge watching Lincoln Wright and others.) So texture away I did. Still, I don’t know if its done for a Maschinen Krieger lore reason, or if it’s just one of those things that develop in certain modeling genres, and builders just follow it.
Though the texture certainly acted as a primer coat, I did go ahead and use a traditional modeling primer to coat the whole model. This did two things. First, it made sure that all parts were covered in a primer for paint to grip to. While I’d textured most of the surface, some bare plastic was left. Priming got everything ready for paint. The second reason was simply to “reset” the whole model to a single dark color. Again going with what I saw on the Tubes of You, I resorted to a mahogany colored primer for the undercoat. Any that showed through would look as if it were the “real” primer, and areas that missed any paint would have a proper shadow.
On the New Rally Pawn, I’d used some gray colors that I thought did not end up with enough contrast. I also thought the full gray look seemed a bit boring visually. For this one, I wanted a somewhat traditional gray/green look for the suit. While I had some Vallejo Model Air RLM 02 – which would have worked nicely – I ultimately opted for Tamiya’s XF-22 RLM Gray. It looked about right to fit into the Maschinen Krieger universe, and being Tamiya, it sprayed wonderfully well. I wanted the overall color to be a bit light, so I mixed up some of the XF-22 with XF-2 Flat White, to make a nice tone of the original color. That was sprayed over the entirety of the model.
I then switched over to the straight XF-22, and carefully sprayed a simple camo pattern, again being careful to stick with a somewhat canon look. The result was OK, but because my hands shake a bit, it could have been better. Thinning some of the lighter tone with Mr. Color Leveling Thinner, I switched from my Badger Patriot (.5 nozzle) to my Badger Patriot Extreme (.3 nozzle), and carefully misted the lighter color along the edges. This helped clean up any over spray, and tightened the lines up a bit.
The last two steps to complete this stage were painting the joints with Vallejo Model Color Back Gray, and giving the “lawn mower engine” on the back a treatment of a dark rust color, as a basis for later weathering.
Blurring The Lines
So far, I am really happy with not only the kit, but my own work on it. Too often a kit will really impress me, but the efforts I put into it do not. While this one certainly has warts, I am happy with it right now. After a few struggles on the New Rally Pawn, the lessons learned there are paying off here.
It’s fun to hold this model, and to look at its egg-shaped torso. Part of me wonders what the genesis was for this design. Was it cracking open an egg for breakfast, or perhaps seeing one in a bird’s nest? That imaginative process fascinates me. I think it would be fun to meet Kow Yokoyama, and just discuss the actual things that motivated the vision for each build. Insight into that serendipitous process would be enjoyable I believe.
And I would certainly express gratitude for his artistry to provide the palette for my own work. While my imagination to create the shapes is lacking, hopefully I can bring some creativeness to the table that makes them fun to look at. Even if only at an arm’s distance. 😉
Next up will be the weathering – the fun part!
If you’ve never built a Maschinen Krieger kit, I’d highly recommend giving it a try. They’re great fun, not too complicated, and allow the scale model artist to be as creative as they want!
Which is always fun. And fun is what the hobby is about, right? 😀