1 of 1 Zaku Char Custom Gunpla—Lost Decade Statue

This is a story about procrastination.

I purchased this kit close to 6 years ago when I visited Odaiba, you know, the Japanese city where it had the 1:1 Gundam Statue.

Photo taken circa 2013

Besides the RX-78-2 statue, there was a hall in pristine white interior, like a modern spaceship, dedicated to Gunplas (short for Gundam Plastic aka Gundam model kits). A wall was made of rows of glass shelves in blinding LED lights to display the collection of Gunplas from their first releases to the most contemporary models at the time.

While the new models were incredibly detailed and beautiful to look at, what really caught my eyes was the vintage collection. I really digged the rough outlines and clumsy poses.

When I saw the first ever released Zaku were available to purchase, I bought it immediately.

Photo Taken Circa 2013

Fast forward to a couple months ago. If it weren’t for Marie Kondo, the kit would’ve still been collecting dust. I was cleaning out the shelves when I rediscovered it.

Now, did it spark joy? Maybe if it weren’t in a box.

So I began the build.


The Base

This is the 1980’s 1/60 MS-06S Zaku II.

It’s one of the first fundamental models ever released. It’s not as fancy nor as polished as any of the recent gunplas, but I find the simplicity very charming.


The Idea

I want to leverage the attributes of this model that may have deterred others from using it—the relatively over-simplified silhouette, the lack of joints for complex movements, and the less intricate details.

I ended with the idea of morphing the gunpla into a stone statue.

Inspirations

But the statue in itself may be too boring, so to add depth and story to this direction, I want to create a diorama that encapsulates part of the One Year War story—maybe a post-war type situation.

It’s been close to a decade since my last build—the mobile podball. And as it turns out, the worn-out-battle-damaged look is still the aesthetic that I love best. It’s also the most forgiving to compensate for me inadequate model building skills.


The Build

First step, build the model. No paint. No glue.

What a beaut.

Step 2. After confirming that I didn’t miss any pieces, I glue the joints. Also, I smooth the rough edges/corners with wood filler, consider statues don’t have have gaps between joints.

And yea, yea, I know this is not the right material for the job. But it’s all I have.

“Use what I have, do what I can.”

Using wood filler here. Not ideal, but if it works, it works.

Adding complementary elements to to increase detail and scale to the statue. Behold, the deer.

generic model deer from Amazon

Step 3. Prime.

Home Depot.

I think the matte grey looks pretty cool. More wood filler.

Yea, not recommended.

Using the filler to hide the connecting surfaces.

The good thing about building a weathered design is it’s very forgiving. I can mess up tremendously and still attribute it as part of the intentional “imperfection.”

Hiding the joints while roughing up the surface for the worn out look.

Step 4. Adding battle wounds here. Why battle wound on a statue you ask? Why the f not. But honestly, I want to emphasize the brutality of the war. Also I want to direct the viewer to envision that the statue may had been erected before the war ended (similar to statues of dictators or fascists) and many battle might had taken place near this statue. I think the battle wounds can add details and depth to the build.

Not sure if this is the best way to go.
Wounded.
If I were to do this again, I might be more aggressive.

Step 5. Found a cement texture paint by Rust-Oleum. This speeds up the process of emulating the look of a statue tremendously. First coat. Generally just one coat should suffice, particularly for textured paint. Step 6. Adding shades and weathering effect with paint brush and tooth brush. Coming together. Step 7. Consider this would be a statue that’s been standing for decades. I think adding foliage is appropriate. Greens grow from the bottom and areas that have direct sunlight, so I cover the legs and avoid shaded regions. I use mod podge to adhere the fake moss. The cool thing about using mod podge is that it dries clear. Though, gloss. But to play that as an advantage is to use it to mimic wetness. In my case, I use a paint brush and paint various areas of the statue with it to emulate trickles by seasons of rainfall.

Add color variations to the moss and the statue

Not quite there, yet. But close. Step, how many? Adding people. Trying to design more modern clothing that better represents current time to contrast with the statue. Step 26. Tape the edge to begin making the diorama plate. Again, details would be crucial here to make the statue concept less boring.

little generic tree from train models. Purchased on Amazon

So close. Drying time.


The Result

What was once a battleground is now a secret hideout for friends and lovers. The stoney statue that was once the symbol of power is now merged with nature and served only as a background. Here’s the final look at the build. I call it the Statue of Char—A Lost Decade.

 

 

This took 3 weekend evenings (after the kid’s asleep). 10/10 would do again. ’til next time.

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