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Yamato 1/3000 SDF-1 modification and paint up...

wm cheng

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Well, I got a few hours last weekend to work on this toy. Thanks to Valkyrie who excited me with his laser etched masks for the numbers 01 & 02 for the ARMDs - it gave me the kick in the butt to carve some time out for this baby. I feel Yamato really screwed us first generation adopters when they offered decals and PE parts for the second generation SDF-1 toy. But thanks to people like Valkyrie - that gap is rapidly closing. He has very kindly provided me a sample of his fine work so I can be the guinea pig for his efforts and they worked like a charm!

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Since the void in the middle of the zero is a free floating piece, Valkyrie suggested that I attach a piece of tape to the mask while it was still on the backing so I can properly transfer the entire zero correctly onto the ARMD flight deck. You'll notice that there are these little tabs he included to help you line them up with the first white line and central strip to allow you to position the numbers correctly on the flight deck.

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Once transferred, I removed the tape holding the piece and carefully remove the areas I want paint to be in.

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After some careful double checking with some knowledgeable folks here on this board and my book references, I determined which one was going to be ARMD 01 and ARMD 02

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Then I used cheaper regular masking tape to extend the masked area to prevent overspray - I kind of over did it, but I'm a little rusty with my airbrush, after all it's been years now.

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I laid down a light grey undercoat first since the blue is quite dark and I didn't want it to turn the red paint purple in case there is any translucency to the red. I thought white underlay would make the red too vibrant over top - so I decided on a light grey.I

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Now I just sprayed on a coat of Tamiya red over the light grey once it was dried.

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... and here you see the finished product once I took the masking off - thank you so much Valkyrie!

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Lastly I sprayed some thinned down dark grey as some post shading to take the bright curse off the flight deck - the ARMD 01 on the right has a light treatment of post-shading while the ARMD 02 on the left hasn't received it yet.

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I liked the post shading so much on the ARMDs that I decided to do a first pass on the rest of the SDF-1. I choose a dark grey so that I could tone down the light grey areas (too light in my opinion) and at the same time, lighten up the dark grey legs (too dark in my opinion) so they'd match a little bit more - less contrasty.

Note: I also applied all the photo-etched panels to the toy itself. I think that once I apply the paneling decals and do an oil wash over the PE parts - they should integrate themselves nicely into the overall effect.

It gives me a better idea of how to blend the colours together and the amount of weathering required in the end. Also by doing a little bit of the post shading now, it will lessen the amount I need to apply over the paneling decals.

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Now I'm ready for a gloss clear-coat to seal in the post shading (to prevent scratching) and to provide a smooth surface for the decals (my favourite part!). It's important to lay down a glossy clear-coat especially when applying decals over a dark colour as the decal film tends to "silver" when applied over a dark (rough) matte surface.

Hopefully I'll get some time over the Christmas holidays to apply the enormous quantities of tiny decals!

Edited by wm cheng
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Got another 2hrs last night! I'm hoping to get enough time this Christmas Break to finish this puppy (finally! - might be wishful thinking though...)

My favourite part! DECALS!! I started by cutting the large sheet into smaller pieces so it doesn't overlap onto the major scribed details on the ship.

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I save the leftover bits and pieces to add into tight and hard to reach spots here and there.

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You can see how the underlayer of the lighter panelling adds to the overall depth of the decal panels.

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I hope to spray another layer of lighter panelling (masked airbrushing) over top of these decals so they are "sandwhiched" between two layers of aztec panelling - it should work them into the over paint finish a little bit more, I also want to do an overall grey coat (maybe a lighter grey) as the panelling is a bit dark - that should hopefully blend all the layers together a little bit more. Lastly, I intend to apply the little red, yellow, orange and white 1/144 scale warning stenciling decals after the overall panelling is blended in, so the red "dots" stand out from the weathering (all amongst various clear-coats to protect each step of the way). As you can see though, I still have 80% of the first stage of decalling ahead of me. Wish me luck to get some time this break to work on it more!

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Merry Christmas everybody and hope to post before the New Year!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks everyone, not much new news but the same old - every few hours I get I continue on the decalling, there are so many surfaces and so many tiny little pieces (I didn't quite know how labour intensive this was going to be). I got maybe another 8-10hrs over the Christmas Break to work on this puppy and I've managed to cover the top and side surfaces. I still have the sides of the upper portion and the entire underside and some interior surfaces that are currently hidden in cruiser mode. I'd say I'm at least 2/3rds done with the aztec panelling, but only 1/3rd done with the overall decals as I still have tones of the tiny data stencilling decals (the tiny hits of red, white and yellow details) all throughout the ship.

After the aztec panelling, I plan on doing another dark/black oil wash in select areas to pick out the darker vents first (while the gloss coat is still there for the decals) and then tone down the overall effect of the decals with a light thin coat of grey - which will lower their contrast against the grey plastic and hopefully lighten up the dark grey areas. This will tie everything together a bit more. At which point I will clear coat gloss again to apply the more colourful tiny 1/144 & 1/100 data stencilling decals that I shown before. This way the colours will stand out a bit more against a more muted background. I hope... at least that's the plan.

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Hopefully I'll post more when I've got something more interesting to show. It's just a stage right now of sloughing through the grunt-work of applying tonnes of tiny decal bits - hopefully it will pay off in the end.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Wow nice work here..

WMcheng, just to seek ur advise and possibly some of the mw'ers advise on unpainted 1/3000 unpainted sdf-1, i am having a filename on getting the completed one or the unpainted one. As a beginner for modelling, I am inspired by the works for sdf-1 at mw forum. But as the price differences between a completed kit and non completed kit is big, I am more drawn to getting the unpainted ones. But is it the right choice to make if I like a model like sdf-1? Or shld i get a completed kit that will shorten my modeling time?

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If the unpainted model was available when I first bought this toy, I'd opt for that version (even if it cost the same as the toy), but I had no choice back then (I hate it when you're punished for being an early adopter!). The unpainted model is not only cheaper, but has more stuff included, the unpainted model includes the extra decals, glow in the dark stickers, resin optional parts and the photo-etched details including the tiny 1/3000 scale valkyries and launch arms for the ARMDs (the toy doesn't include any of these extras). It's mostly molded in all the correct colours anyways, and most of my time was spent taking my toy apart to access the city within the leg. I would definitely recommend the unpainted model over the toy.

However, if you have no time to build or don't feel comfortable putting it together yourself or don't care about the extras - those would be the only reason to go the toy route now. But in either case, definitely get this toy (in either form while you can), I think its the best thing Yamato has put out!

Good luck.

p.s. - nothing more to report but just more decalling - I've just finished the underside of the legs - only the lower main fuselage and the underside/inside front guns left.

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A few hours on the weekend... just some more of the same old same old...

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Next up is to transform it to get at all the areas hidden when in cruiser mode...

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Looking great!

BTW, we increased the number of pics to 25 and the thumbnail size to 400px. In case it's easier for you to post that way.

Thanks is there another way to post pictures other than uploading it to the gallery first?

I remember in the old boards I could just upload them (attachment) in the body of the post - is that still possible?

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This thread is just stunning. Everytime I get a chance to look at this there is always something new to see and drool over. :o :o :o

I'm just wondering, are you also going to apply the "aztek" effect to the darker areas?? The two distinct patterns really throw off the larger than 1/3000 scale appearance.

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yes! and it's better now. Try it out and let me know how it works. This was Shawn's work this past weekend.

How do I do that? When I hit "Image" it just allows me to add a URL and "My Media" just allows me access to the Gallery and my old attachments. How do I add new attachments (right now its a pain to upload them to the gallery first) to the posting inline?

I don't think the aztec panelling decals will show up on the dark grey areas of the ship, I plan on decalling the lighter photo-etched panels on the darker areas to tone them down though and I'm thinking that I'll apply those tiny 1/144 scale decals that have red, yellow and white (shown earlier in the thread) printed onto them to show up on the darker areas as tiny hits of colour like the illustrations - but that's a ways off for now. Thanks for the kudos - I just wished I had time to work on this properly.

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Yay, I got almost 4hrs this weekend!!

Well, this decal job was a lot more than I had anticipated (I can't imagine if I had to mask and paint all those details!!). This time I transformed it into the robot mode to see all the areas I had missed decaling and I found out areas I had missed doing the dark oil wash to pick out the details too. So I took this opportunity to oil wash any missing areas including the photo-etched plates that were added (they contained some really fine etched panel lines. Now here's a tip I had to find out the hard way - do the dark oil wash over the PE parts BEFORE you decal over them - the decal film was just thick enough to have filled into some of the fine etched lines so the dark oil wash didn't remain in those areas. The PE parts that didn't have the decals over them retained the oil wash nicely and showed off the details nicely.




An overall shot - showing just how much farther I have to go!! Argh. I think I'll apply some more aztec decals over the lighter PE panels on the dark areas next (as I don't think the decals will show on the dark grey areas). Then next is the coloured data stencils in the 1/144 scale sheets I had ordered before - this will add the hits of red, yellow and white colours sprinkled throughout the SDF-1


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I love getting this photo attachment feature back! Soooo much easier to post for me - I really appreciate it.

Close up of the front of the leg chins (which I'm rather pleased at how its turned out). It's a little dark at the moment, but I will do a light thinned grey overspray over top of this to tone down the contrast so it seems more blended in the end.


The upper chest portion is now just begging to have the thrusters and details highlighted in a silver with a dark red clear coat over top (but that's a step after all the weather and decals are sealed in). The more I do, the more steps seems to still be ahead. I think what started out to be a simple detail/paint up of a toy has turned into something else... it's a testament to how much detail Yamato has put into this toy - I just can't put it down!



The lighter grey PE panels on the dark grey areas took on the dark oil wash really well. I will add the aztec decals over top of them as my next steps. I plan on having some of the decals spill over the edges of the PE panels to work them into the dark grey areas even more to "blend" them in. Note, I used the self-adhesive PE panels from the sticker sheets directly, but when I added the dark oil wash, the varsol in the oil wash must of reacted with the adhesive and some of the panels came off and needed to be re-glued (crazy glue) to the ship - should of done that in the first place instead of relying on the sticker sheet.


I was worried that some of the nice PE panels were buried underneath the cool aztec panelling decals before (especially here at the top of the leg) - but luckily, the oil wash "popped" them back out and gave a bit more depth to the decalling.


Here's a parting shot for a few weeks (as next weekend is Family Day - we'll be away for the weekend with the family!)


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wm cheng, I've showed this to numerous friends and you've single handedly converted them into Macross fans. Your work is truely inspirational. I'll be picking up my first model set shortly.

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...

Just finished up on my last job and have a week in between jobs so I thought I'd finish up this baby! Unfortunately, I got really sick on the last day of work (just as your body slows down, it thinks its a good time to get sick!) and I've been in bed the last few days. However, as soon as I had a bit of foggy vision, I hit my bench to start decalling again! OMG!!! I have never decalled so much... - I've must of spent days and days just applying decals. The aztec panels were a huge job to cover the entire toy, now comes hundreds of these tiny warning stencils all over to give it that mottled scale look with splashes of red and white like the animation. I think its these hundreds of tiny decals that will give it a sense of scale in the end - but the process is tedious. After 3 days of decals, I thought it looked pretty good, at a point I would stop and possibly clear coat it to protect them. So I stop here to take some photos, and oh man! it doesn't look like much in the photos, especially in the full shots, it looks like I hardly decalled it at all!! So I took some close ups, but you really don't see how many decals I put in unless you're in person, it is one of those models that look really different in photos than it does in real life (or maybe I've been working too close to it!).

This overall shot looks like I've done nothing!! so discouraging...


I zoomed in closer and start at the front...


I liked that the decals on top of the panelled decals are so small that you can't make out any words...


I chose all the smallest decals I could find from those sets (they are fantastic for this application)


I couldn't resist putting the bridge on, even though I'm not finished with it...


There are these yellow caution stripes that I thought worked pretty well around the launch bays...


Everything still has the gloss coat over it so its shiny and allows the decals to adhere better - after I will seal it in with a matte flat coat which should lighten the overall tone and blend it all in...


All those odd Photo-etched panels now work themselves into the darker grey scheme a little better and the decals provided a much needed layer to tie them into the overall darker leg area...



I tried to pan along the length of the SDF-1 (might work if you enlarged the web browser)


I almost forgot about the underside! so many tiny pieces... Mico pieces? ;-)



Final parting shot for now...


Hopefully something more to post in the next 2 days!

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