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Gunpla_Geo: Custom Casval (MG) RX-78-2 3.0

Builders! Joel here with USA Gundam. Today we have a special article from Gunpla_Geo. This is something new we are trying here at USAGundam.com. A couple of months ago we provided Geo with SMS paints to try out and he had the wonderful idea of doing a custom Casval RX-78-2. So today we have a write up from Geo explaining his build process, materials used and lessons learned. Let’s get started!

Casval’s Gundam Overview

The RX-78-2 is easily the most iconic Mobile Suit in the Gundam franchise. Not only is it extremely recognizable, but Bandai has released more variants of this MS than any other. The Master Grade (MG) RX-78-2 3.0 was released back in 2013 and it has been thoroughly reviewed by many content creators, so I won’t bore you with information that you already know. This write up is going discuss how I “converted” the standard release kit into Casval’s (Char Aznable) RX-78-2. In 2017 P-Bandai released the MG RX-78-2 C.A 3.0. Until that time, if you wanted an “out of box” Casval’s Gundam, you were stuck with the 1.5 Gundam frame. Contrary to popular opinion, I don’t mind being a slave to P-Bandai, but not for color swaps. The P-Bandai kit only has two pieces that needed to be modified on the normal release (Shield and crotch piece) and comes with appropriate water slides. Not to mention, the pastel pink colors was not going to work for me. So I got my hands on some SMS Paints (Thanks to USAGUNDAMSTORE.COM) and a few detail parts and converted my own and this is how.

Materials:

  • Bandai MG RX-78-2 3.0
  • Bandai Hobby Builders Parts HD MS Hand 01 EFSF (1/100 Scale)
  • Bandai Hobby HD MS Vernier 01 Builders Parts (1/100 Scale)
  • SMS SURFACER GREY
  • SMS SURFACER BLACK
  • SMS PREMIUM RED
  • SMS WINE RED 
  • SMS ITALIAN RED
  • SMS GERMAN GREY
  • SMS RED GOLD
  • SMS GUNMETAL
  • IWATA NEO Airbrush
  • MR. HOBBY Finishing Surfacer 1500 White
  • Tamiya German Grey Enamel Paint
  • God Hands Nipper 5.0
  • Hobby knife
  • Sanding sticks 400 -2000 grit
  • Delpi Decal Casval’s Gundam Decal
  • Mecha Decal 001-W 1/100
  • Micro Set
  • Tamiya 2mm Clear Rods 
  • BSI 133H Insta-Cure+ Super Glue

So if you didn’t know by now, the engineering of this kit is incredible.  I am a huge fan of Master Grade kits for the intricacy of the builds and structure of the inner-frames. The 3.0 doesn’t have what I would consider being a conventional inner frame, as much of the structure comes from overlapping pieces of the armor, but in no way does that disappoint. The MS has multiple shades of every armor color and the order in which you build the “sub-assemblies” really showcase what makes the articulation so good. For the most part, the kit is extremely straight forward and I only had a handful of pieces that didn’t fit as snug as I wanted.  The V-Fin popped out very easily and the small parts under the crotch would fall out. I do recognize that I may have sanded those pieces a little too much during nub removal. Even after primer and paint, they were loose, so I glued them into place during the final assembly. 

While on the subject of final assembly, the center of the crotch (the red piece where the yellow V piece gets inserted) pivots in and out, but for no apparent reason. That part needed to be modified anyway because the CA version has a ZEON logo water slide decal in place of the yellow V. The modification was actually very simple: I filled the gap with CA glue and sanded the piece smooth.

In regards to the unit as a whole, I can appreciate a cool gimmick of a hatch, but when opened you see nothing and once painted it is easy to scratch and the entire waist needs to be removed to close it. So…. That got glued too. The only other modifications I made was adding the Bandai Hobby Builders Parts HD MS Hand 01 EFSF (1/100 Scale) and the Bandai Hobby HD MS Vernier 01 Builders Parts (1/100 Scale) 

*** If you plan on painting this kit, no matter the color scheme, please keep in mind that many of the armor pieces are held together with friction. With a majority of the armor having so much color separation, Bandai had to get creative with smaller pieces. As an out of box build, you won’t notice it at all, but please pay attention while assembling fully painted pieces because you will chip the paint in certain unavoidable spots on the arms and legs.***

Painting

Earlier this year I started to phase out using acrylic paints for lacquers. Don’t get me wrong, there is never just one way to do something or one Brand or material that works for every application every time. I urge you to explore different mediums and find what works for you. I decided to use lacquers for my Gundam builds for the durability of the paint and easy cleanup. Mess up a part? Throw it in rubbing alcohol, let it sit for 30 seconds, wipe it off and viola it’s stripped.

Now until this build, I had only used Mr. Hobby, Alclad, and Splash paints. All three brands are great and all three have their own pros and cons, but I’m here to talk about SMS paints. SMS or the Scale Modeler Supply is an Australian based company. I have heard of the paints from incredible Australian builders and friends, NoZakuBoy, Gundam_Tas77, and Craig Flynn. If the paints are good enough for them, I needed to try them for myself.

So for this review, I used an Iwata Neo (.35 needle) at 15-20psi and used the paints as advertised, no thinning. The spoon test of the primers revealed the following: Shake very. Very, very well, stay close to the piece and a post wet sand would get the piece smooth. If you don’t want to do the extra work, thin the primer. The durability of the primers are great, they dry fast and settle nicely into panels. 

Now to the actual paints. They are Amazing and I am not just saying that. Shake the bottle, fill your paint cup and spray. The pigments are super vibrant and you get amazing coverage per pass. I noticed that it takes noticeably less paint to cover a piece than comparable paints like Splash. The paint goes down smooth, dries hard and the colors really “pop.” Clean up is fairly straight forward, I used hardware lacquer thinner to clean my airbrush. I couldn’t tell you if I ran into any issues with “dry tip,” because as a habit of mine, I always clean my airbrush nozzle every time I refill the paint cup. 

In terms of durability, SMS paints stand strong amongst the most popular brands such as Mr. Hobby. Now the internet is riddled with over-eager reviews, running outlandish torture tests on pants. Like taking a razor blade or wire brush to a sprayed piece. I don’t disagree with those tests, as they do show exactly how strong the paints are under EXTREME stress, but I decided to take a more realistic approach. Can the paint stand up to final assembly, articulation for photography and transport to events? The answer is yes to all. I had no issues during the final assembly (except those few pesky armor pieces that were held together by friction). Even after topcoat, the kit still snapped together easily and nothing felt too snug or needed extra force. I was able to bend all of the joints and put the kit into several poses without the paint scratching or scuffing. Most importantly I was to package the kit for transport, set up and break it back down for the Hobby town contest that I entered. To sum it up, I am very pleased. 

In the spirit of transparency, I chose not to use the SMS RED GOLD. That specific metallic paint was considerably finicky. The paint consisted of gold flakes that would layer on top of itself until the piece was covered, rather than a gold liquid pigment. I felt as if the size of the gold flakes did not look good with the scale of the MS. I’m not saying the paint isn’t good, just that I don’t prefer it for this application.

Final impressions

If you have not picked up the MG RX-78-2 3.0 yet, I strongly recommend the kit. Even if your intention is to keep it as bare plastic. If you choose to challenge yourself and paint the entire kit, inner frame and all, it will not disappoint and won’t take much extra work at all to make it look good. There are no seam lines on the kit and only a small mold line on the barrel of the beam rifle and shaft of the bazooka. If you are curious about lacquer paints, or SMS paints, in particular, I really urge you to try them out. Make sure you have a spray booth or a well-ventilated workspace and always wear a respirator. Lacquer paints are inherently toxic and you should never jeopardize your health for your hobby.

 I had an absolute blast working on this build and completing it in just two weeks so I could compete. I also want to thank Adam for sponsoring this build and giving me the opportunity to review these awesome paints. I really wanted to showcase the vibrancy of the colors, so I attempted my first “Open Hatch” build. I was able to get my hands on some Tamiya 3mm clear rods (EBAY) and cut them to length and glued them on. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t the cleanest execution. I gave myself a tight deadline and I definitely rushed this portion of the build, but I think deadlines help more than hinder. I really look forward to future builds and can’t wait to see what you all create. Please let me know if you found this interesting or helpful. I would love to produce more posts like this. Thanks for reading, I’ll catch you on the next one.

-Geo