It’s been quite some time since I posted anything about my current figure project, so i thought an update is in order. Luckily, she hasn’t stalled yet!! They say that preparation is half the battle. That certainly would be the case here…

When we last left Mina, her preliminary fitting was done and excess flash was removed but that was about it. After that came the cleaning. Obviously, you couldn’t leave the flash marks and seam lines as they were, otherwise they would show up really badly when you came to the painting phase. (more after the jump)

I used 2 methods to tidy up the kit. First, There’s sanding or you can use a modelling knife to scrape the offending parts to make them smooth. The Sanding option is more universal but relatively slow. The scraping technique is pretty quick, but can only be used on seam lines. For sandpaper, I use 150 grit sandpaper (pretty coarse) to remove the large problem resin and then 400 grit for smoothing out. The pic below shows Minas elbow before and after I sanded it down. Pretty big difference, right?

The sanding is probably the most important and time consuming part of the preparation. If it’s not done right, the imperfections show up when you apply the undercoat/primer and then you have to start all over again.

The other thing you need to do aside from sanding down the imperfections is to do something about any gaps from poorly fitting parts. This is a bigger problem with recasts but originals are far from immune. Most of the parts for Mina fit really well, better than any kit I have previously done, but there were still problems with the hair parts. Small but visible gaps could be seen between the various hair parts. In those cases, you will need to break out the modeling putty. I use games workshop brand stuff cos I still have tonnes left over from previous kits. Standard model shops sell milliput but they work in the same way. Basically, they work on the principle of “red light/green light” from Mission: Impossible. By mixing the 2 different putties together, they start to harden so you apply them into gaps while they are still soft and then wait until they are dry. Applying vasaline to one of the surfaces prevents the putty from sticking for easy removal later. below is a pic of Minas head with the putty applied.

After a little wait to allow the putty to harden, you then have to sand off all that excess to leave just enough to fill in the gap.

Another alternative to putty is filler. That’s a white powder mix which is a little moist to allow the particles to stick together. I tend to use that for pinholes and really small gaps. You can use it on large gaps like the one above but because the substance is powdery, you end up leaving little grains in various areas and they are very hard to remove. I learned my lesson when I tried using that stuff for ren’s hair…

Also, last time I mentioned Pinning. Pinning is the technique of drilling small holes in the parts where they will connect to eachother. You then stick a metal rod into the holes and they provide a peg to hold the parts in place while glue dries as well as provide greater strength to the connection. Below is a pic of a part which has been pinned. Generally speaking, I use brass rods of 1mm diameter, though a simple paperclip would do for the most part.

Another advantage of pinning is that it allows you to connect the parts to longer rods which makes it easier to apply paint to the part as you don’t touch it directly. Once the parts have all been sanded, before sticking in the metal rods for pinning, it’s a good idea to give them a quick wash to remove any resin powder which may have gotten into the small areas. A mix of water and dishwasher powder will do the job. Just have an old toothbrush handy for some scrubbing!

After that has been done, you are ready to prime the parts. Priming is of the utmost importance in figure painting as the primer allows the paint to stick to the resin. Without it, the paint will not stick! For Mina I used 2 types of primer.

Normally I would just use the games workshop white for all the parts but I’ve had a few issues with it in the past so I thought I would try a different one this time. You can also get black primer, which is very good if you plan to paint your kit a metallic colour but not really for anything else. If you use white primer, your colours will look brighter and very few coats of paint are needed. The colours will get darker as you use darker primer and more coats of paint are needed before you cannot see the primer underneath. However, dark primers are best for showing up any imperfections.

For Mina, I though I would try out Grey primer as an inbetween while using the white primer for the base, since it’s going to be white anyways. There were some advantages to using the grey primer such as:

  • Really smooth finishes. The GW primer never did quite give a perfectly smooth surface to work on. Chalk it up to the different paint type.
  • Easier to see parts which needed more sanding
  • Because the grey primer is a lacquer paint, You can wipe out any mistakes made with Acrylic paints with paint thinner and the base coat will not be affected! Previously, if I wasn’t careful, I would accidentally end up removing the base coat as well as the paint so I would have to reprime the part.
  • Really, REALLY fast dry time!!

Cons:

  • The grey primer is more expensive than the GW stuff. The sprays are also smaller and don’t last as long.
  • The paint is really toxic. You should do all your spraying outside, but it’s doubly important for this stuff!
  • It’s easier to overdo the spraying and apply too much of a base coat which ends up covering the details if you are not careful. Also, because the paint is thicker, it’s harder to tell when you have applied too much.

To prime the parts, I stuck the parts to long brass rods, applied 1 layer of grey base coat and then allowed them to dry outside on a “drying rack”

(*note: do NOT take the parts inside until they are fully dry. The fumes are pretty strong!)

By doing the above to the parts, there is little worry of marks appearing on the surface while it is drying. The brass rods can help with the actual painting process too. If any pinholes appear during drying, wait till the paint has dried and if it is very small, you can use very fine sandpaper to remove the problem (800 grit). For larger areas, you will need to use some white spirit to remove the paint (or paint thinner if you use the GW stuff) and reapply.

Once you are happy with the base coat and there are no marks or imperfections present, then you can start the painting process, which I will leave for another time. The kit has currently stalled since I ran out of a certain colour. The project will resume after I get some more. But in the Meantime, here’s what I’ve done so far.

I still need to do some shading on the legs and then I can start work on the body. I decided to go for the original Densha otoko colouring instead of the more recent anime work, which means that the hair colour is going to be annoying…

Next update should, hopefully, cover the painting of the limbs and body. And maybe the carrot weapons…