Softshell Pilot

Takaaki Saito-san has finished sculpting the 1/20s scale Next Generation Fighting Suit “Soft Shell” and it would be on sale in October, 2014.

I love the design of the suit and more interestingly so, the sculpt of the pilot’s face sitting amidst the suit which covers even his neck which gives the impression that this is bulky and well armoured. And with the helmet on, you can say it looks like one of those Bomb-disposal or Hazmat suits. Me? I’d say its Ultra-cool all the way…

One of the shops I have located is Hobbylink Japan, and Ma.K Fans would know what to do. Heh:

You can get this from LoveLoveGarden: or from HLJ


24.09.20154 Softshell Pilot Boxart
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The abdomen area looked bare, so I want to add some detail to it.
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The goggles do look nice but if I need to light it up, I would have to drill through the face/head.
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19112014 My Soft Shell Arrived 001

The week keeps getting better and better! I got a Job yesterday within 30 minutes, my Wife’s job was transferred nearer to home and, well, my Takaaki Saito‘s Soft Shell arrived from in just 10 days! The nice thing about HLJ is that the moment the stock came in, I was notified via email. Yes after his figure was launched, it was a hot item.
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This is also my first Ma.K resin figure! Although I do not have any good modeling experience with resin, as soon as I saw Takaaki Saito-san’s work, I just need to have it. As you can see, the casting is very good and the details are sharp, especially on the face. The resin is pinkish in colour and feels quite nice and light to hold.
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This is a 1/20 scale figure and so, its about 10cm-ish tall (Almost the size of a 3.75 inch action figure?). Ah… the smell of resin is very different from the ones I used to handle.


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This is the best angle for the Soft Shell figure and I just love how his armour bulk up so much, it hides his neck/shoulder giving the impression he is very tough-looking and the suit is body hugging. So, you can see that Takaaki Saito is very talented and the details on the face is amazing.
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Here is what I am planning, Edward DrGunpla. Although the scale 1/20 feels big, it is still too small to put a ‘normal’ LED inside the helmet area. Therefore, I am going to use a smaller SMD LED, which is the 0603. You can see how small it is when I hold it with my tweezers. These white LEDs are dimmer than the 0805 but I am not going for brightness here.
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Soldering these LEDs are very simple. All you need is a 3M double-sided tape and solder flux.
1. Place the SMD LEDs upside down onto the double-sided tape.
2. Note that the green arrow or top hat is always pointing to the negative.
3. Dab a small amount of solder flux onto the four connector pads, then tin the soldering iron and let the tip touch the four connection pads (each touch is about less than 0.3 seconds). The solder will easily flow into them, thanks to the solder flux.
4. Tin the black 7-core Kynex wires. Now, place them on top of the SMD LED’s connector pads (at the negative side) and quickly touch them. The solder will melt from the tinned wires and join to the SMD’s connector pads.
5. Repeat with the red kynex wire (positive) but place it on the opposite direction parallelly.

Please note that I am connecting the two LEDs in a parallel fashion.
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My next challenge is how to hide these wires and I am afraid, I might have to drill a long tunnel through the body and into the leg. Anyway, these are shots of how I plan to put the LEDs: The LEDs and wires would be stuck upside-down inside the helmet.
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As with scale models, a small adjustment can make a big difference. The image on the left shows when I put the LED just at the edge of the helmet’s opening. But if I put it forward by about 2mm, the facial features of the pilot changes! Now we can fully appreciate Takaaki Saito-san’s amazing sculpting skills!
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I have decided to leave the face shield in this position. But on second thoughts, where am I going to put it? I wanted the shield somewhere so what when you look at the Pilot, you know he has a face shield. There was a thought of coating the insides of the shield with white or silver to bounce back the light bit once the face is painted on, the light would be very much reduced.
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My experience with resin is not great but tonight, I made the decision to drill a long tunnel from the back to the bottom torso. Unlike plastic where I can easily create a small path on the surface and then cover it up with putty, I am not sure how it can be done here.

I started with a long 0.75mm drill and very slowly, manually drilled through the body. This drill is to ‘open’ up the tunnel and create a guide path for the other shorter drill bits. I got these drill bits from Infinite Creation Workshop and sadly, they are now out of stock. I continued with a slightly bigger but normal length drill and widened both ends of the first tunnel. On the final drill bit, which is 1.5mm, I used a motorized mini drill. The widened hole will guide the final drill without any slippage issues and my hands are tired. This last drill but is to create a ‘smooth’ tunnel which the wires can do through easily. Oh, do wear a mask for this.

I was so engrossed that I did not notice I was breathing in the dust. The resin Takaaki Saito-san used must be special because not only is it light and easy to work with, the newly exposed resin has minimal smell and dust. (Y)
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This is the result of the hole where the wires can now easily thread through from the top end to the bottom! I won’t be gluing the wires into the figure in case of accidental pulling. This is because the LEDs are going to be glued inside the helmet so, when you put the helmet on/off, the wires must be loose to follow the flexing while it is being worked on.

Later on, continued drilling a hole through the right leg for the wires to exit. At this stage, I am still deciding if I really want to put lights on the chest or maybe even have the pilot wearing a wrist computer…. either decisions would mean more wiring inside the body and into the leg, which might potentially weaken the figure.
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Now comes the hardest part of this figure. Earlier on, I used some SuperGlue to briefly put the parts on and then when I want to take them apart for doing the electronics, it came off easily. Good at this time but not so in the future! I have tried to drill holes and put in tiny metal rods long ago with mixed success. So, in this case, I will try using the model’s natural peg and holes, then fill with epoxy putty.

This is one of the worries I have with resin. To me, the most reliable bonding agent would be the epoxy. I had a theory which was shot down decades ago, of using activated (as in pre-mixed before applying) resin to glue resin. The reason being is that the activated resin might melt the existing resin and not all resins are the same. I have to discipline myself not to drop them nor handle them as if they are made of plastic which has been bonded with cement glue at the molecular level.

Aha! But will that work? 😛
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I have decided not to put any lighting on the arm or even the chest because I do not want to destroy the figure. This is because I am very bad at doing scale models and through my experience, anything can go wrong 😛

Anyway, I still wanted to add something at the front and the circle at the helmet is a good excuse!

I took a pouch from a 1/35 Dragon Merkava, (which survived a termite infestation but became a victim of the rubber vinyl parts. It is now a source of greeblie and kit-bashing projects) drilled a hole and inserted the 3.5mm tubes from MGS P-112. As for the 1/24 tubing, I got them from Infinite Creation Workshop sometime ago. What is nice about these tubing is that although they have some coiled wires, there is a hole which you can insert you own electrical bendable wire (I prefer not to use solder leads here as they’re not strong enough for bending the tubing in to shape).
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This is my greatest weakness. I do not know how to glue the resin parts together and I prefer not to use Superglue. Tonight, I am going to test this by using Aves Apoxy which not only acts as a gap filler but also to join both the leg and the body together. I love the Aves because of its plastic properties which I found out earlier, is able to work with plastic styrene cement. Alas, it is so hard to come by on this side of the World.

Still, I hope it works in 24 hour’s time!
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The stunt with the Aces Apoxy did the trick and so, I used it on the remainder of the parts such as the two hands, the head, the re-breather pouch and the left leg. With Aves, you need to leave it on for at least 24 hours before it really hardens permanently. But halfway, while its curing, I used a blade to remove the excess putty.
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The aerosol can version of Mr. Primer Surfacer 1000 from Infinite Creation Workshop worked great with the resin. At first, I was worried I had over-sprayed too much as the soft detail on the re-breather pouch was overwhelmed. But 8 hours later, when the primer dried, the details came back again. Phew!
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Coming back from work today, I had a very bad surprise. Already being tired working until late nights continuously for the past few days, this was not something that made me appreciate what I have done so far.

During test fitting, the wires fit into the helmet and there was ample space between it and the head. But now, the helmet could not fit in. So, I had to untwist the wires a little bit and ease them away from the middle of the helmet. It was the coiling of the wires (something I did last minute) to prevent them from being accidentally pulled which complicated things.

In the end, I reluctantly used Superglue to make the wires stay in place. Its too tiring for me tonight to mix the Aves to cover the underside of the helmet.
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Here is a test shot again, of how the LED lighting worked with all the primer on. I had to leave the LEDs forward and not in the helmet as originally planned since suddenly, the space inside the helmet was cramped. This is very strange and I was still too tired from work to theorise this. Right now, I have to worry about the new light leaks around the bottom edge of the helmet.
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Disaster struck when I forced the helmet on top of the head. The stress of the curing Aves putty being squeezed into shape broke the contact points of one of the LEDs. I need to put the Aves underneath the helmet to make sure the wires does not come off again. To make sure the putty does not stick to the figure’s head, I covered the head with cellophane tape as barrier. Then I pressed the helmet onto the figure again. This is so that the Aves acts as a device to make sure the helmet fits into place and aligns with the heal while making sure the wiring for the LEDs do not go loose.

I guessed I pressed too hard.
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This evening, I was faced with the risky job of replacing the broken 0603 Led.
1. The first step is to remove the broken LED.
2. Then re-tin the contact wires with more solder.
3. Tin the new 0603 LED’s contact points and also the soldering iron’s bit.
4. Place the 0603 LED into position with the tinned wire. Then tap the Led and the Wire with the soldering iron bit.
5. Repeat with the other end of the 0603 Led contact.
6. And you’re done!

Because the Aves is set, there is no way I can reposition the LED’s light direction without breaking the whole putty. So, I just left this alone. And yeah, my soldering iron tip has rusted and because of my work scheduling, it was very difficult for me to get to my favourite shop in Pasar Road and they do not open in Sundays neither.
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To stop the light leak at front of the helmet, I molded the excess Aves into the space between the figure’s chin and the helmet’s opening. Sort of a neck/chin piece. The only problem is, I would need to paint all three parts first. Then insert the head into the helmet and close it up by supergluing the chin-piece. This would lock the head with the helmet.
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I used Aves again to secure the helmet visor. With the excess Aves putty (no point wasting), I created some detail at the figure’s upper right chest as some kind of suit connector and at the back as some more interface connectors, maybe to a SAFS suit. Yeah, the three squares looked crooked but I corrected them after the photo was taken. I had to wait for awhile for the Aves to slightly harden so that I can punch in the shapes otherwise, it would be like shaping tofu… 😛
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Finished! Now, let me decide on the painting colours. Maybe I’ll just send it to a friend for painting…
This is the video of the Softshell Pilot.


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Firstly, I do not know what I am doing but I wanted to create some realistic flesh to the face. 20 years ago, when I was painting faces to those 1/35 Tamiya figures, I would just paint the flesh paint directly and later, wondered why it looked so… weird. Secondly, I do not have any ‘correct’ paints and so, using what I have, I hope to get some nice results out of it… (fingers crossed)

I have seen a WIP shot of a Master doing this on Facebook but I would not like to name him just in case this turned out to be embarrassingly disastrous…

OK, here is my experiment:
1. Brush on some Gaia Clear Red (041)
2. While still a little bit wet, I quickly diluted some small amount of Gunze Flash (no.51) and air-brushed it on. I gave it a few minites to ‘dry’ and then I used a brush in a soft downward stroke to ‘mix’ the paints.
3. Then I air-brushed on slightly less diluted Gunze Flesh to cover up the whole face.
4. I mixed some Mr. Colour Flat Clear (182) with some Mr. Colour Semi-Gloss Clear (181) and sprayed it on, hoping to give it a protective clear coat.
5. The result was bad but a few minutes later, as it was drying, the face went slightly reddish flesh again! Wow.
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I noticed that the paints and brushes that I have, is not great for drybrushing. They tend to dry out very fast! Or maybe, its because of the age of the paint. Then again, my collection of paint varies from a decade to a few months…. 😛

OK, here is my experiment:
1. I used Daler & Rowney liquid masking tape to mask off the face so that I can spray a layer of Mr. Color RLM80 Olive Green #120 for the head cover. Once that dried, I sprayed a layer of Mr. Color Flat Clear #182.
2. With the rubber mask removed, I used a mix of Gaia Neutral Grey V #075 and Mr. Color Tire Black #137 to line the edge of the face where it meets the helmet. Then, using the Neutral Grey V, I lightly added in the eyebrows.
3. With some very old Tamiya J.A. Grey (XF-14), I dry-brushed the raised details of the head cover. It was horrible!
4. Using the same paint, I mixed it with some Aqueous Hobby Colour #H310 to give the lips some colour. Boy, it turned out horribly! How I wised I had some dark brown.
5. Lastly, I diluted some Gaia Semi Gloss White #021 for the eye pupils

Conclusion: My painting skills is terrible!

Anyway, I could not help it but I needed to put the head inside the helmet! And so, this is how it looked. With the colours absorbing the LED lights, all of a sudden, it was very dim. I should have also added some more lights at the neck area too…. 😕
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Just had a few minutes to spare this morning and I played with Tamiya’s Black and Brown panel lines. The Black gave a very nice matt sheen to the figure while the Brown makes it a little aged or worn. They looked nice but unfortunately, they are easily scratched off. This means, yep, I would need to get proper matt Dark Grey and brown paints. Infinite Creation Workshop, here I come!
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I must stop myself from enjoying the Tamiya Panel Lines too much! I have smeared the figure with the Panel Line Brown colour to give it a dirty and smudgy look, something which I think my 0.3 airbrush could not achieve easily with my skill level. Once this is dry, I will used some sponge dipped in Zippo lighter fluid to ‘clean’ it up a little.
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The figure has dried this morning. And this time, I only used ONE small drop of the Zippo lighter fluid sparingly into the sponge. Last night’s test was a disaster as too much fluid literally wiped off all the Tamiya Brown Panel liner!

Lastly, you can also use tissue paper but the drop of Zippo can quickly evaporate very fast.
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Just like Edward, I wanted to put some decals onto the figure. Not only that, it would be the first time in my life to ever use those Mr. Mark Setter stuff. I use the 1/144 Gundam decals which I got from Infinite Creation Workshop and also various others fighter decals, thanks to Lucas Gan.
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I only used 8 decals and that’s about it. I do not have much plan for this figure yet as I have never believed that I could have gone this far! 😛

But thanks to Edward DrGunpla and Takaaki Saito-san, it was an enjoyable experience for me when I worked on this figure. There are other things I wanted to put in such as skull & crossbones on the visor, or even colours and designation for group/army markings on the shoulder, helmet and so on. But I have yet to decide.

So, for the moment, I got a nice decal which say, ‘Do not overpaint’ to remind me. Can you guys spot it? 😛
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Later on, I will spray a protective matt coat and then try to dry brush the black areas on the figure and call it done for the moment. Oh, and if you’re asking about the brownish area below the respirator pack and his right side near the groin, I was trying to simulate dried blood over an injury long ago…
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I have sprayed the matt clear and also used a bit of Vallejo’s white to dry-brush onto the black creases of the figure. So, I am going to stop here now and hopefully, Chan Yong Joo will be able to help me with the eyes next week.

After that, I would call it done! 🙂
(Sorry about the photo which looked quite washed out. But the figure looked better actually. Mayhaps I’ll use my DSLR next time.)
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The dangers of overdoing things when you’re having fun…

Yeah, the more I looked at this figure, the more my imagination was running wild. I am now looking at this guy as if he has never took off his suit; it keeps him alive and manages his bodily functions for months. So this explains why the suit is so, um, dirty and worn.

OK, OK. So I had too much fun with the Tamiya Brown Panel Line. Apart from the face, most of the colours were done with Tamiya Black and Brown Panel line over the Grey Primer and streaked over with a brush…. 😛


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While putting the figure away, I came across these Bases which I have been buying years ago. Yeah, I know. There are copies of the Kotobukiya Mechanical Bases which was so expensive and hard to find. This also explains why I do not like to show this model much.

Looking at this design, it is very different from the others in the sense that there are no reinforcement grids underneath. Being soft plastic, it was quite easy for me to scribe around it’s ‘trapdoor’ with a scribing tool to get a clean cut.
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With that trapdoor cut out, this is my idea for the figure’s Base. The Softshell pilot will be riding some kind of an elevator to his well, craft. Since I have not planned what type of craft it would be, I’d just do the elevator first.
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Right now, the two pieces are temporarily glued together with glue but I would need some nuts & bolts to make it more permanent. The cut trapdoor would serve as the elevator’s platform and so, I drilled out two holes and inserted the copper rods.
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The picture on the left shows I have taped a pair of strong magnets near the rods. This is because I am going to use JB Weld and since it has metal particles inside, the magnets would pull the putty downwards. It is quite difficult for me to slap in all the putty through the narrow crevice unless I keep banging the part on the table. But this would spread the putty too.
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See the bump? Thats the uncured JB Weld attracted to the magnet below the mixing dish. And also, it looked like some mud-fish peering through, staring at me.
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I was too late to go to a shop since I was required to be in the office every Saturday. And so, I had to improvise by getting other nuts and bolts. Originally, I was looking for some 2.0mm or 2.5mm bolt with a hex head. Now, its a normal 3.0mm instead and I had to cover them up with some other plastic greeblies.

I also needed to widen the holes in the plastic and as a last move, applied some Threadlock from Loctite as insurance.
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Just in case, I gave the base a quick spray with the Mr. Surfacer and all of a sudden, the marker pen which I used to mark out the lines for an old project, came up. I have read this on the Internet what no matter what you do, those inks will appear. Its a good test for this base but because there are less than 5 days for the Resin GB gathering, I do not want to use this method just as yet. So, I got rid of the marker ink.

Also, I warped the cut platform a little by pouring boiling water over it and kept on pressing with a wooden utensil until it looked broken. My idea was to have some sort of explosion/fire on that lift platform sometime ago.
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At this stage, I really had no idea what colour to paint since my original vision was to give it a yellowish white. And since I did not have the proper yellow, I chose to use a mixture of Gaia Neutral greys and Tamiya Panel Lines again. It’s far from over since I need to put some lighting and also, fix the Softshell figure permanently onto the platform. I am doing it this way because once I have an idea for a 1/20 vehicle, this would be part of the vehicle’s Base.

Yeah, the platform’s not even glued yet…
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There is not much time left to get the Base ready before Saturday as I had to work late to get a lot of things done. So, I decided to just do a simple lighting and hope to get the chip programmed by Friday.

For those who are familiar with real life lighting, most of the times, the installer would be using PVC pipes to hide the cabling. So, I decided to replicate it for the Base too. But sorry, after all the soldering, I am too tired to weather it even though it’s now my favourite part.
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I cut out some holes of the four square pieces which is used to hold up the LED and also hide the ugly side of the innards. Oh, the black is actually Krylon Fusion Flat Black.
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OK, this is how it looks and tomorrow, I need to get the correct brass rods from Art Friend at The Curve or else the platform would not be ready. Problem is, I know I am going to be working late again…. 🙁

I am still sore that I do not have time to make two small light boxes as signs to put inside there. Maybe I’ll do this after the Resin GB this Saturday. Since this Base is a part of a bigger base when I decide on a proper vehicle for this Softshell Pilot…
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I had less than 4 hours to get this ready, taking into account the sleep time and work tomorrow. I took a LOT of shortcuts to get this ready. I am not happy but, at least the figure is ready. Almost.

Here was what I did:
1. I used hot-melt glue to fix the new brass rods onto under the platform, then solder the wires direct. Originally, I wanted to create a plastic construction to hide the brass rods.

2. I did not have enough time to make the broken Exit sign light box since I can’t make boxes in a hurry. Plus, forgot to design the wordings and get them printed onto drafting paper. So, I drilled a 3mm hole, stuck a warm white LED through it and hot-melted it in place.
3. Yeah, I used a broader brush and gave all the side walls and edges a good brush-down. Ha ha ha ha.
4. Decal. $hit! I completely forgot about decaling!!!
5. [update] I still have yet to take care of the pilot’s eyes as Chan Yong Joo is away to Japan.

Anyway, I declare this Takaaki Saito‘s Softshell Pilot done for now. (Done as in for now, until I can think of a vehicle for him). It’s not what I wanted but it’ll be there at Infinite Creation Workshop 2PM tomorrow.
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While I was exchanging ideas with a Starship Modeler Forum member about modifications to the Takaaki Saito‘s Softshell figure, suddenly this image from Pinterest popped up and I must say, this looked like the idea I had if I wanted the Softshell to have pouches or weapons instead of a JetPack or a bigger armour. Then again, I would need to Dremel out a lot of resin to make the additions look convincing!

Hot dang!

Now I think I need another Softshell or two!
14092015 3D Me 005

Well, this is a great surprise when ‘I’ stood next to Takaaki Saito’s Softshell Pilot. But even if I lifted myself 2mm off the ground, I’m still too short.

The 3D figure is about 83mm which is more or less correct as my height was about 1.68m or so. With the shoes and everything, the 3D figure is very much to that scale which means, the Softshell Pilot must be about almost of six feet.

One good thing is, just like the Softshell pilot, both figures can stand on their own without any help. 🙂


I am now more or less satisfied that both the Softshell Pilot Figure and the Base it done. The idea of putting the pair of metal copper/bronze rods in the wall is to:
1. Support the Elevator platform which I can pull out and turn upside-down during transport, and
2. Electrically power the figure’s LEDs.

With the original Kotobukiya Mehcanical base being out of production, they are now rare and expensive. But, they live on, thanks to countless KopyKats which try as I might, I do not think it is a good idea to purchase them. And lastly, I have not even started on thinking what kind of vehicles for this Pilot. It could be that Gears of War or Final Fantasy VII’s Fenrir, re-created in gigantic scale.

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This is how I carried the diorama to ICW yesterday. I did not realise that the height of the metal rods allows me to turn the base upside-down and protects the figure during transportation!
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Underneath the Base are the slightly larger brass rods which also acts to carry the battery power for the figure’s LEDs. I found this brass rod on Frinday night and as there is not enough time for epoxy putty to set, I tried my luck wth hot-melt glue. But in the future, I would need to remove it and replace with a proper plastic construction.
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This is how the base looked like once I slide the platform out.
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And this is how it looked when I switched the LEDs on. I chose warm-white LEDs over normal white as I wanted to make the base look ‘natural’. The white lighting would make it too harsh and unnatural since I used a lot of brown colours
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I have placed 4 3mm warm-white LEDs on each corner of the ceilng. Also, I used some white tubing to simulate the white PVC pipes. The 5th light is me taking a short-cut because I ran out of time to make those ‘Exit’ light boxes. So, I just drilled a hole for the LED and hot-melt glued it. I also programmed this LED to flicker so that it looked as if it was faulty, flickering like the long fluorescent tubes…
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Ha ha ha. I like the sudden lens flare!
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I used JB Weld metal epoxy putty to make the figure stay in its place. But not before I put some Aves underneath his shoes

After cutting out this panel from the base, I used boiling hot water to deform it, to show that went through a lot of abuse when people forced it to carry heavy loads…
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Yeah, it is messy with the hot-melt glue…
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The Diorama takes only 3x AAA batteries and is used to power the Warhammer Board which I designed for other models. Because its so small and convenient, I decided to use this board for the Base.
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Oops. How did this picture turn this way?
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Story: This pilot is coming up through the broken (but still working) elevator to his vehicle. The elevator suffered some fire when the vehicle’s fuel leaked and exploded…
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It is still too bright but it is more or less what I imagine it to be.


Today is the Gathering for the Resin Group Build where we get to see, with our own eyes, the results of everyone’s efforts. This Group Build was organised by Jeff Ho

I did not plan to put my Softshell in the GB but since it was completed, and the Base was almost done, I decided to put it there too.

Sorry for the lack of photos of the other entries as I stayed as long as I could before rushing off to another place. And thanks to Andy Wong who took pictures of every entry, you can go to ICW Modelers Workshop for more:

Edward DrGunpla‘s Softshell PIlot
He completed his Softshell faster than me!
Andy Wong taking photos of my Softshell Pilot with Big Boss Raymond Loke looking on.
Yeah, it is hard to capture the lights inside the helmet.