Table of Contents:
|Colored Markers||Cotton Swabs||Panel Line Markers||Eraser|
|Paints||Masking Tape||Brushes||Decal Solutions|
I'll start with one of the most important tool, clippers. I remember when I was little, using either just my hands or nail scissors to get parts of the runners. Nothing good came from that method, I got sore fingers and I probably cut bits off of parts. This time around, when I got back into Gunpla I immediately ordered some cutters. These are Tamiya Side Cutters, the cheapest one from Tamiya I believe. I have no experience with other kinds, so I can't really say how these compare. From my understand of other Tamiya products though, I think these are a little thicker, maybe less precise than Tamiya's sharp pointed cutter. They have been very reliable so far, haven't dulled much and they get the job done!
UPDATE: Got Tamiya's sharp pointed cutters. These are much better to work with as the cut is finer and you can get more of the nub off the piece. If you're cutting through the runner for whatever reason, the heavier duty normal cutters are probably better for that, but I mainly use the sharp cutters for everything else though. Sorry there's no photo of these.
I don't really use this all that much for prepping parts, usually only if there is a nub that is hard to get to with clippers (such as in a concave curve). It's also good for taking off nubs on clear pieces where any filing could scuff up the clear plastic. All in all, having a hobby knife is useful for certain circumstances, but I did fine without out it for a while, it's just a good tool to have at hand. If you plan to separate the three fingers that are in most MG kits, this is an essential tool for splitting the fingers up. The blades can get dull quickly if you use them for tasks like this, I recommend getting extra blades like the ones that came with this Tamiya knife. I mainly use the knife for cutting out decals and stickers.
My second most used tool: my file! I use as the second step in nub removal. After clipping off the excess runner I file away the rest. Have to work a little slowly sometimes or else you could accidentally file into the part. Can't really say much about the brand (not even sure these are name-brand), I just found them randomly on Amazon. They looked about the right size for my hand and seem to have a lot of shape variations. I only really use the one shown though (the set had two of these actually). As you can see, there's some wear on the file. I don't think the metal has really changed much, but some paint has gummed it up a little. I bet I could take it off if I soaked it in paint thinner or something though.
Sand paper is handy for places that the file can't reach (such as concave curves like I previously mentioned). Specifically, there was one place on Sinanju's shoulder pieces that would have been damaged by a file (as I would have filed more than the nub). It's also useful for touching up work done with the file in nub removal. Sandpaper is malleable enough to reach anywhere and its gentle enough to not disturb much else. However, it can potentially leave very fine, but many scratches. These can be removed easily with markers though.
These are used to match the color of a piece when I either file or sand down nubs (since they leave scratch marks). I just draw it onto the filed area and wipe away the excess ink with a cotton swab. It results in something that barely looks like it was sanded or filed. And when it's Topcoated in the end, it even less noticeable. I picked up these colored pens at $1.50 store in my Japan town, the quality doesn't really matter too much (it did for one color), just have a variety of colors to match any piece. The grey from the set turned out greenish when it dried, so I just a Gundam marker instead for greys. Not really sure why I got an orange Gundam pen, it's not really any better than the cheap one.
Don't know what I would do without my cotton swabs! I use these for wiping away excess colored marker ink (as stated above) as well as smoothing out panel lines. I used to use normal cotton swabs from the drugstore, etc. (the ones for personal hygiene, etc.) but I found that they frayed really easily when used on filed plastic. So instead I got special swabs for hobby uses (they're wound thicker and have special points). These last longer as they take longer to fray.
Panel Line Markers
Nothing special about these, just your average thin-tipped Gundam markers (GM01 and GM02). I haven't really used any other kinds of pen so I can't compare these to anything else. I'm not sure they're made specifically for plastic models (I doubt they are much different from normal pens), but they sure work well. They're easy to clean up, durable, and don't run out too quickly (I used one black pen for probably 3-4 kits). I use black for panel lines mainly on inner frame parts (which are dark grey) or sometimes on dark colors. Grey is used on white parts as well as on most colors (blue, red, green). In general, I like my panel lines pretty light and subtle.
The black ink dries quicker than the grey and it's harder (or impossible) to smudge after a lot of time has passed. The grey ink is a lot more watery and can be smudged completely off a piece even hours after applying, so I have to be a little careful when handling grey panel lined pieces. Because it's watery though, it's easy to smudge and smooth out with a cotton swab if there's excess or uneven ink (also possible with black ink).
I use these plastic erasers to clean up ink from panel lining. They soak it up really well, leaving nothing excess on the piece. For easier use I just cut off thin pieces from the block which are malleable enough to bend around curved parts, etc. After a while, the eraser bits become less functional as they soak up more and more ink. It takes a while though, so one eraser should last a long time.
I mainly use these acrylic paints from Tamiya. Although they aren't specifically stated, these dry pretty glossy. The metallics are really nice to use (chrome silver and gun metal) as they have a nice consistency (not too thick). The gold is a lot harder to use as its not as liquidly and harder to brush on. The other colors are somewhere inbetween. The clear paints are a little more viscous it seems, so they're a little more difficult to use. In general, these paints take about an hour to dry (as stated on the label). Although to be safe, especially with the thicker paints like clear colors and gold, I let them dry for longer, sometimes overnight. These clean up with water, paint thinner works too if you need moar power.
These would be my less used paints. The Citadel paints are left over from my Warhammer 40k days and are also acrylic. Oppose to Tamiya's paints, these dry matte, not glossy. I mainly use these for obscure colors, such as on pilots where matte colors make sense (I also have a "Bronzed Flesh" color). Since these are old, many are a little (or completely dried out), but I think I can revive them by stirring in water.
I used to use Gundam paint markers more, but they're a lot harder to use and clean up. The pen tip isn't ideal for small detailed work. These are alcohol based so water won't work for clean up, you either need the Gundam clean up marker (which is basically paint thinner) or just paint thinner. These also dry glossy.
Just recently acquired this brand of tape. It's Tamiya's 6mm masking tape. It comes in other widths as well, but this size seemed versatile for smaller or larger applications. I've only used this once (for some Sinanju gold trimming) but it's a lot better than the non-name brand that I had before. This is thinner and sticks better, it's clear it was meant for hobby uses such as masking.
I don't really too much about the size charting for brushes. I got these a while ago when I was doing Warhammer 40k figures so I can't say much about the brand or how they compare to others. These four brushes are probably my most used, the nearest ones (mainly the first) are best for detail work, while the ones in back (mainly the last) are best for covering larger areas.
When I first started using water slide decals I got a bottle Mr Mark Setter. I would apply the decal directly onto the part, wait for all the water to dry, then brush on a layer of Setter. It worked more or less, the decals were secured, although some (the larger decals mostly) came out a little wrinkled. Later I got Mr Mark Softer, which I believe is the proper solution for applying onto decals. The label for Mark Setter says its supposed to be used brushed onto the part before applying the decal. I suppose the two might work well in conjunction, but I just use the Softer. I put a couple of layers over each decal when they're dry and that locks them in place. It doesn't wrinkle the decals like the Setter did, but there can be some residue (which can just be scraped off).
These spray cans are for placing a matte finish on a model. The solution takes away the plastic's shine and leaves the plastic feeling more or less like clay or a softer plastic. It also protects painting work and decals. I apply only one coating usually per side of a model and weapons. If you spray too much of from too close, the solution can pool in places and leave a white residue that's a little difficult to scrape off. It also fogs up any clear plastic, so remove any clear pieces or mask them before spraying. Be sure to dust the model beforehand as well, as any dust/dirt/etc. will be set onto the plastic. I've only used this brand before, I wish I knew of something similar as unfortunately, these have become a rarity with increased Japanese export laws. I believe they can no longer be shipped from Japan, so most sites don't list them anymore. When this was first announced, I quickly bought as many as I could find (only 3). Hopefully I'll be able to make them last a while, I've gone though about 1 and half cans already from five in total (bought 2 cans originally). Anyone know of a good substitute?
Well, that's it! These are just my methods and tools. They are, in no means, the best or most accurate options. So far, they've worked for me though so maybe reading all this can help out a potential beginner to Gunpla. I recommend finding and reading as many guides or tips as possible and try out as much as you can, see what works for you! My methods were heavily influenced by Z's guide, check it out!
Questions, comments, criticism welcome!
Last edit: 8/26/2010