Kit review of Bandai's Gundam Ascculapius.

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Building Bandai's 1/144 Gundam Ascculapius

[Mobility mode -front] Mobility mode - front By Allison Cottreau - images & text © 1999

Value: 10 - It's small, but goes for about 800 yen at Hobby Link Japan (under 7 bucks USD)
Detail: 9 Lots of panel line and surface details
Accuracy: 8.5 Some details on the head and armor varied from the illustration on the box
Parts Fit: 10 went together beautifully, but some of the snap fit needed some coaxing
Instructions: 8.5 The instructions were in Japanese, but were very well illustrated and easy to follow
Overall Rating: 9

The reason I built this kit was not because I am a fan of Gundam specifically (I've never even seen an episode or movie) but because I've always been a fan of the whole giant robot genre, especially ones from series such as Robotech/Macross, and Patlabor, and have always wanted to build a mecha kit. So one day at my local hobby shop while flipping through the Previews catalog from Diamond Distributing, I came across this kit. I liked the look so I ordered it.

The kit itself is made by Bandai's and based on the G-Unit Gundam comic book series. It's an HG grade kit meaning High Grade if I'm not mistaken. Even at it's small scale (1/144 and under 6" tall when finished) it has very nice detail all through the kit. It's a snap kit and molded in colour, the parts count came up to about one hundred Injection molded pieces plus polycaps, a sheet of adhesive decals and a sheet of foil stickers for the golden "blades" of the armor. I didn't use most of the decals provided choosing instead to either use paint and a water slide decal that I had printed myself for his chest emblem.

First Step: Cleaning and Trimming

The first step I took as with any model was to clean and trim the parts. This took a few hours, not because the kit was full of flash and mold lines, but because of the amount of small parts. I washed the part trees in warm soapy water to remove the mold release agent then with a pair of spur cutters carefully cut all the parts from the trees, trimming and sanding them all smooth. After the parts were cleaned up I grouped them into their proper sub assemblies and placed them in little ziploc bags so I wouldn't loose them.

Then The Fun Part... The Test Fit

So after all the parts are trimmed and ready I put this bad boy together and see how everything fit. I couldn't see any major problem with the fit - almost everything came together flush. Anything that didn't just needed a little persuasion. And being a snap kit made it easy to test fit together - but taking it apart again is a different story: a few of the "Tab As" snapped off and stayed in "Slot Bs", but that didn't affect the final assembly.

Painting and Assembly

So now come some of the tough choices. Should I go with the factory colors or go with a custom paint job? I finally decided to go with a more or less mild customization. Instead of using the foil stickers for the blades I went with gold leaf paint and settled on the colors from the box but instead of using regular purple for the armor, I choose to go with a candy apple paint job.

Unfortunately I couldn't find any candy apple purple for my airbrush so I had to go with a spray can. This was the start of a bad idea, but more on that later. I started by painting the pieces that would be white. In general I only use Tamiya acrylic paints, and this kit in the end was no different, so for the white I used a 50/50 mixture of Tamiya white and flat white. I painted the head, shoulders, upper torso, forearms as well as the lower leg plates and other trim using the semigloss white mixture. For the midsection, hand, feet and thruster assemblies I used gun metal, drybrushed with chrome silver. Moving on to the upper arms, legs and miscellaneous other pieces I used a mixture of chrome silver, white and medium blue. I I felt that this combination gave me a good result. /P>

Now came time to paint the armor. I had to glue the white armor plates for the front of the legs into place between the larger purple armor pieces first, since placing them in between the purple pieces after gluing and painting would be impossible. This was one of the trickier spots. So I finished the trim on those pieces by painting the gold around the knee cap, using Tamiya gold leaf. The two bulges about halfway down were painted gun metal. After this was done I masked them up, glued the armor around them and cleaned up the seam on the back of the leg.

So now I was ready for the candy apple paint. To produce a candy apple finish you need two things: a metallic base coat and a transparent-colored top coat. This combination gives a very nice deep finish. I used gold as a base coat because I would be able to paint the whole piece gold and just mask off the blades to apply the colored clear coat finish. This is where the idea turned bad. I'm used to painting with an airbrush, and an aerosol can is an altogether different beast. I had trouble getting an even finish. After a few coats I set it aside for about a week, at which point I buffed it to try to even it out. Well, that didn't work and it's a shame because where it went on right it looked really sharp, but where it went on bad it looked absolutely terrible. So what to do? I ended up stripping all of the paint from those assemblies and and started from scratch, this time using regular acrylic paint. I lost about week and a half of work and wait on that little fiasco. So now I was back on track and airbrushing Tamiya purple, white and gold leaf on the remaining armor. I trimmed the little recessed bolts and other details with gunmetal. On the rest of the kit I used a pencil to do the bolts. I chose to accent only a few panel lines and for those I used a pencil as well.

Click on each picture for a (much) larger view. Warning - these are BIG files!


^ Parts - a whole lotta parts ....

[Battle Mode - Front]

[Battle Mode - rear]

Above - Battle mode, front and rear. Below - Mobility mode, rear.

[Mobility mode - rear]

[Sub assy's]

^ Subassemblies, after painting.

[Close-up of the legs]

^ Close-up of the leg detailing.

Now came time to start putting the subassemblies together. I started at the head. After painting the recessed area around the eyes flat black, and the eyes red I glued the helmet around the face. The "v" on the forehead posed a bit of a problem as one of the antennae snapped off. I was able to glue it but it kept falling off whenever touched a little less than gently. I used the red foil sticker provided with the kit for the piece that protrudes up from the head and holds up the mohawk (that way it covers up the seam where the two parts meet). Everything else went together pretty easily, though I had some trouble with one of the arms not holding on that tight. Apart from that everything just popped together and moved all about.


I though that this was one slick little piece of engineering. Everything fit together beautifully, and it even has limited transforming ability from high mobility to close combat. It was molded from plastic sturdy enough that you can almost play with it. Even with the instructions in Japanese it was easy to build, the only difficulties encountered were my own fault. I was definitely impressed by it's quality and in closing I can think of no higher praise then to say that this won't be the last Bandai kit I'll be buying, (mind you next time I'll probably be buying a larger scale, because this one came up to a towering six inches).

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Last updated on 2 May 1999.