The Blue Berserker: A project in review (and a proper photodump)

So, it’s been awhile since I finally finished my role in the GAF Sinanju Group Build project, giving me plenty of time to reflect on this kit and what I learned by taking part in something like this. When I began working on it I was basically a novice at most aspects of building a gundam- painting, decaling, and modification. Sinanju was the 4th kit I spraypainted (The others being Nu, Sword Impulse and Sazabi), all of the others before it coming out…okay. Nothing spectacular. In addition to that, it was a kit that I had already built- meaning I’d have to strip everything down, clean off all the decals and paint, then essentially start over. This seemed like a really daunting task..Sinanju had been a real test for me the first time around, would I be motivated enough to do it all over and apply even more effort?

Cue a comment from one Gaijin Gunpla on this article. A group build? While I had built models with my friends over at the homestead, participating in something like this wasn’t something I had done before. Not to mention a lot of builders that I looked up to were taking part! Busterbeam, Gundam Guy, Gaijin Gunpla and of course Rob of ASM were all going to be working on their own Sinanju as well, along with a forum full of people able to provide information and advice should I be wary of my next step. Not to mention a bunch of people all working on the same model and getting hyped off of each other’s creative energy is always great. I poked my head in to the thread (glad it was open and the others didn’t mind me just showing up!) and began to toil away on the big red (for now) bastard.

This is the very first piece of information that I learned that comes in handy today. Until then, I had been using rubbing alcohol and just scrubbing vigorously until the paint was removed, or simply trying to cover the mistake up with more paint. Thanks to Tonzo, I now know that ammonia based cleaning products such as windex work a million times better for removing paint after a 24 hour soak. This would help in removing the old rifle paint and the formerly gold trim.

Before painting, I had to figure out what I was going to do about the shield. Like Busterbeam, I thought the default method sucked and looked for something less drastic than combing the forearm and shield parts together. I’m a person who is very stuck on symmetry, so in the end I would up drilling two .104″ (lol, imperial) holes in the forearm armor, which is just barely big enough to accommodate part of a sprue. A PC-C part trimmed down and shoved in to the shield frame and VIOLA! Stability, symmetry and functionality all at once! This was the first time I had done something like this to a kit (barring dremeling out Sazabi’s leg joints, which was a bit different imo), so as you can imagine I was very pleased to see it work out for the best. If only the blark part hadn’t gotten messed up so badly..more on that later.

I decided when I started this project that I would absolutely not cut corners, as that was a big problem I had with the first go. Detail every pipe, thruster, vent, and vulcan. Apply every decal. Get the trim PERFECT. I sprayed the black pieces with a coating of TS-29 semi-gloss black and set to work on the biggest challenge presented by the Sinanju a second time: painting the trim. The X-11 chrome silver I used for this behaved MUCH better than the gold leaf paint I originally used, helped along by the much finer brush I now had. Forcing myself to be patient, I took frequent breaks from painting the silver trim to go spraypaint the now-blue parts outside, also giving those at least an hour between coats. I used a lot of paint on this thing, at least five or six cans. Yeah, it was expensive (mental note: buy an airbrush) but it was also a hundred percent worth it. As with most things, going slowly and being thorough in your work pays off more than rushing.

Hey, great! I was pumped about how great the blue was shining and how the trim came out nice and crisp without much fuss…but wasn’t so happy with the shield. I went to remove some paint via winddex soak, repainted it, still wasn’t happy, then it broke while taking it off. Oh, the depression. This is the ONLY worthwhile shot of the shield since Bandai has yet to get me a new one (something that will be fixed soon, hooray!). It should be noted it was around this time that GaiGun gave the kit it’s alliteration-themed name (Like the Ebon Enforcer and Twilight Terror before it), “Blue Berserker”. Happy with how things were looking thusfar I had to steel myself for the next big hurdle that every Sinanju builder faces: the dreaded decals. It is here that Tonzo once again lends insight and informs me that a clear gloss coat will aid in the application of the decals. Two cans of TS-13 gloss clear and a whole bunch of my time later…

Gorgeous. Even under the too-yellow of my lamp, you can tell that the blue has some depth to it and produces a lovely shine. I finished up the decals with no hiccups and moved on to topcoating, which is when I found out that Tamiya gloss coats are far prettier than Mr. Hobby gloss topcoats. It’s not all bad though as the finish still looked wonderful! The waterslide decals were loads easier to work with than the dry transfers, I honestly think anyone who is serious about building this model needs to buy a set (or if you’re GaiGun, have a set made. Love ya man!) to make it look proper.

At the end of the day though, complaining about the topcoat is just me splitting hairs. The glossy finish really brings out the shine as long as I remember to position it so the light captures it properly, something that the other members of the GAF forum have helped me with as well. This model has been the biggest learning experience for me twice now, the first time in the realm of painting and excessive decal application and the second time in refining my technique (with the input of others). As it stands, this model is and will likely remain the crown jewel of my gunpla collection for some time, despite the fact it does not sit on the topmost shelf with the PG kits. I’ve put far more work in to it than any of my other models, past or present. At this point, I feel there is not much else I can do with my current toolset, so I may need to buy myself an airbrush (oh the money I’ll save on paint!) for the next big thing. Big ups to Busterbeam for showing me a good entry-level brush.

Actually, big ups to everyone that helped with this project, commented on the WiPs, told me it was coming along great, or just gave me some input on something to fix. Thanks a ton, I couldn’t have done it without you. This model is my bar for any and all future projects and is something I’m not sure I will manage to out-do any time soon. Like lots of people say, the Sinanju is one of the best MG kits out there in terms of look and design, but is also very demanding. After working on it twice now I can comfortably say that this model has the potential to be extraordinary with the proper amount of work and attention to detail.

You can see the photodump (And backstory, something I drummed up to tie together all of the groupbuild Sinanjus!) on his page.

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  1. #1 by chubbybots on November 3, 2009 - 18:26

    No matter how many times I look at your blue berserker it never fails to capture my attention! Keep up the good work ^^. By the way how many layers of gloss coat did you put before applying the decals?

  2. #2 by lupes on November 3, 2009 - 18:45

    Thank you! Anyhow, I used two if I remember correctly, but that was just to ensure I had everything covered since Sinanju is so big.

  3. #3 by rockleelotus on November 3, 2009 - 20:44

    seriously impressive! love the shine he has and added details that the decals give. hope you can get an airbrush, would be great to see what can produce with that in your arsenal ^^

  4. #4 by Gaijin Gunpla on November 3, 2009 - 22:52

    Still loving the blue. I can never look at it enough.

  5. #5 by Busterbeam on November 4, 2009 - 00:07

    yeah i mentioned a lot of this before but i’ll say it again; this is seriously one of my favourite sinanju’s, largely because of the colour choice (this blue being almost diametrically opposed to the default red), all of you (asm and gaigun as well) used a lot of paint on your armour to get that perfect paint job. i did one coat of metallic black and left it at that! maybe i’m ok because i went for black but still. I was one of the first ones to do a sinanju recolour but to be honest… i think all of your guys did it better than me.

    haha, i know you’re a bit younger than us lupes (and that look up to comment was really nice) but skill wise, we can all learn a couple things from you too!

    first pic with the armour spread out is awesome! and youre silver trim work is excellent. i think all that top coating really went a long way in achieving your final look. i should try that. man i’m so conservative with my paint and topcoat! haha maybe thats whats holding me back!

    i enjoyed this write up very much and looking forward to when, you too, enter your ‘airbrush era’

  6. #6 by Mathai on November 4, 2009 - 00:19

    thats awesome!! Its very inspiring for a gunpla beginner like me. Could you also do a post about detailing with gold and silver paints? I’d like to try my hand at detailing sometime. The silver accents on yours are fantastic!

  7. #7 by lupes on November 4, 2009 - 00:36

    RLL & GaiGun: thank you!

    buster: thanks a ton. Your Sinanju, along with Z’s, sold me on this kit despite the difficulty. As far as paint comsumption goes, yeah one coat may have worked against you, but it still looks wonderful in all the pictures I see. the gold frame and extra detail on the head are one of a kind and if you ever went nuts and got another one, I’m pretty sure the final product would make heads explode. Funny to think that I had planned on this to be my final project, so I went all out…then got back to buying kits!

    Mathai: I wish there was enough content in a post like that to make up a post more than five or six sentences long…but there really isn’t ^^;; I used a tamiya size 0 high finish brush and just…did it. It would appear I’ve got a very steady hand that lets me get away with doing things like that..no thinner, no masking, nothing special at all. one man, one brush, one slightly raised section of plastic. It’s like Thunderdome, but nothing dies or blows up.

    In all seriousness, it’s mostly trial and error until you get a feel for it, so just keep at it!

  8. #8 by Tonzo on November 4, 2009 - 06:10

    What an awesome epilogue. I thoroughly enjoyed reading that and was engrossed until the end. Thanks for the shout outs! Big up yourself, it is an achievement to be proud of no doubt; it is nothing short of spectacular.

    It is, however, just a beginning for you. It’s not something you will find hard to surpass, but a platform to propel you to even greater feats!

    You pointed out the key and you could not be any more spot on. Patience and persistence. All the experience in the world won’t help you if you rush. Take the time to do things right. Persist and you will always win.

    Great read Lupes. Thank you.

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