Let there be light! The transforming Unicorn/Banshee Gundam project WIP 1

To those of you who have been following this blog for a time may recall the LED Full Armor Unicorn project I had been working on, which hit some snags and then fizzled out as I lost interest in working on it since I had to do a lot of rework when it came to the whites and light bleeding through the armor. I also stalled on a few other areas of the model and all in all the build stopped being fun so I shelved it.

Enter a re-release of one of the limited kits that I missed out on last year alongside hobbylink.tv’s playing with plamo contest. While the rules state that WIPs must be posted to the hobbylink website between time constraints and other things I’ve decided to forego entering the contest so I can share the WIP here. While I feel like this build did have to potential to at least place I just can’t justify rushing it to beat the deadline and my life is currently just too busy for me to focus entirely on this both time-wise and monetarily. I also worked on the Full Armor Unicorn alongside the Banshee since there were both areas that needed to be reworked and as the Banshee was for a contest, I wanted to use the Full Armor as a testbed for everything before I did it to the Banshee. Luckily I have fairly good intuition and while I only bumped in to something that didn’t work a few times I managed to come up with a solution pretty easily. The extra nice thing is that since all the Unicorn Gundam kits share the same frame doing this project multiple times for a truly impressive display piece won’t be too complicated now that the majority of the groundwork is handily solved.

Modifying the chest definitely required some of the most bold cutting since it’s the core of the kit and also has a lot of parts that move around on it and in general the way everything comes together means teh LED fit is going to be tight…but I managed to solve everything which was a big step over the Full Armor’s progress as I previously couldn’t find a way to get the lights under the A25 parts that fold up in Destroy mode. Unfortunately I have yet to take test pictures of the Banshee’s torso all lit up because I don’t have enough small chip LEDs anymore. I’ve been using the same few that I could find from the Unicorn build over and over while testing everything and because the wires on those particular LEDs are very thin I’ve had the majority of them break on me because they’ve been worked around so much. This does make me slightly concerned for when I have the entire kit together but it comes with the territory and most of the lights won’t be moving near the points where the wires connect to the light or will have some extra room to wiggle to hopefully prevent this. The one big mod to the chest area that isn’t done yet (because I need to order the part still) is the installation of a micro USB terminal (for power purposes) in the upper/lower area on the back of the chest near the M2/M3 part. I’ll have to cut out plastic on one of those parts as well as do a pair amount of destructive work to the psychoframe part underneath as well as make sure the terminal is properly sealed to prevent light from bleeding out of the space that I cut out for it.

Work here was fairly cut and dry and I opted to go with 4 LEDs to hopefully make the light across the part more even, which I think I managed to pull off. One thing that I really like about working on the Banshee versus the Full Armor is that the color of the Banshee makes LED work very easy since light bleedthrough is almost totally nonexistent. I will probably need to cut out some space where the shoulder connects to the main body for the wires to travel though but the goal is to join the LEDs from the arm and shoulders in to one set of wires and then run the two to the main nest in the chest to make sure there isn’t a lot of clutter caused by redundant wires running from the same area to the same place. In general the lights are a bit on the bright side right now but I find that primarily to be due to how it’s running 2-4 LEDs off of 3V whereas the final kit will be running somewhere in the range of 50-65 off of 5V (the max power USB will allow by default). This worked fairly well for my PG Wing Zero Custom (another project I intend to revisit…again) with it’s 25-30 LEDs so there shouldn’t be much problem here. I’ll be putting a little putty over where the lights sit to both hold them in place and so I can paint over them to properly hide them when someone is looking at the kit.

The arms posed a unique problem due to the way that everything comes together. All the parts here stack on top of each other and originally I had only done the first modification picture but realized before long that the LED was just a little too big to put the psychoframe part over without finding a way to make more room for it. Cutting the notch out of the J19 part was damn nerve-wrecking due to how little the margin for error is there but with a lot of patience everything turned out fine. When this area goes together for the final time the wires for the LEDs here (one in the front and one in the back) will go up through the J13/J15 area and up to the shoulder wires, where they’ll all run together and then go out to the chest.

The entirety of the frame is cut out, put together and ready for LED and all of the armor parts are painted except for the gold sections on the head and chest because I need to get some of teh Gaiacolor Star Bright Gold to use for them as Alclad II’s titanium gold just isn’t panning out. This is a good stopping point for now as it covers the majority of the work that had to be done to the upper body though. There are three areas on the legs left to figure out (the lowest section of the leg, the thruster area on the back of the leg and the foot) and there’s also the matter of the back of the waist but so far I haven’t even glanced at how I’m going to do that despite figuring out the rest of the waist. Another update with the rest of the work done so far will be coming soon and with any luck I’ll be plugging away on this more and more even if it’s just getting the Katoki decal hell stage out of the way which I’ll have to do before assembly as I want to flat coat the armor parts. I usually wait until the model is all together to flat coat things but due to the way this kit is being built I’ll have to have everything coated and sealed up before I go to put the armor over everything at the end.

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