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Bandai Armored VF-171 Normal Type - "Proper" Movie Color


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I recently bought a VF-171 (CF Version) and Amored Parts set from a member here (thanks again Kurisama!) and decided to get to work on making it “Accurate” according to the second Macross Frontier movie. The TV version never shows the Nightmare “dressed up” unless it’s the EX version. While the movie version shows the CF version all armored up, but the colours are always grey. What to do?

I figured I’ve got plenty of grey paints and an airbrush, so why not paint them?

Here’s how I did it. After extensive screen caps of the movie, I made an educated guess that what's seen is basically a light and a dark grey. Easy enough. For the light grey, I went with “Light Ghost Gray” or FS36375 and for the darker gray, “Gunship Gray” or FS36118. The darker grey only got used on the chest armour, the "missile box" on the forearm/vertical stabilizer, and hinge parts for the shin armor, as the rest of the parts seemed to offer enough contrast with the darker plastic already there.

Figuring disassembly would be the easiest approach to painting seperate colours, I hit my first hurtle - the chest piece was the only part I had any success breaking down. Luckily the rest of the parts were not terribly tricky to mask.


I painted the bottom portion dark gray, and the top part light gray, being careful to incorporate the darker plastic for a “preshade” effect in the overall paint application. This may not be movie accurate but I like the look and contrast. I'm almost certain the middle chest piece should be the same as the outer parts, but decided to keep it as is.

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And then “tried it on” to see what I thought. Not bad…


So here's what I had, after a bit of playing around, showing some parts painted, others in their natural "Blue" colour.


Moving on to the other parts, I used Humbrol Maskol for the fine vents and grills, and thinly cut strips of Tamiya masking tape for everything else. A combination of tape and blue tac was used for the rocket nozzles (and they were a pain).

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Paint was applied in various coats, always being careful to use heavily thinned, semi transparent layers to give me a lot of leeway in the degree of “preshade” that came through. This was a good thing, because I had a lot of trouble getting the paint to spray properly. I ended up with a lot of spatter, which seems to come from not thinning the paint enough, and it drying on the tip. I usually get the paint consistency right, about halfway through my painting process. This time was no different.

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With it finally all painted, I concentrated on applying a very thinned wash of lightened black acrylic paint. I managed to thin a bit too “hot” with windex on one application, and removed some of the base paint on one leg armour piece. The rest went without too much problem, as I started thinning with plain water instead.

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I also applied a dark grey wash to the Valk itself, to help bring out some of the panel detail. Here it is, all properly dressed up now (with the parts just sitting on the Valk, not snapped in).

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While I'm not completely satisfied "it's done" I do feel it looks a lot more movie like now. Maybe some dry brushing with a lighter colour on the edges of the armor would be something worth trying? Any thoughts?

Edited by mickyg
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Things like the metallic silver accents-they're all almost black if you look at the movie versions. I might still do that. But the overall finish is what I'm not yet sure about. I don't know if it looks "real" enough for my liking.

I should also add a couple of general observations as well.

  • The parts are moulded in blue and a very dark grey/brown. Any part that is blue, appears to be moulded in that colour. However, parts in the dark grey/brown are occasionally painted this colour. But no always. Why is this important?
  • Parts that are unpainted (the nozzles, any blue areas, and any unpainted dark grey/brown) clean up very nicely with Windex or alcohol if you get any unwanted paint on them. Provided you're using Tamiya or Gunze acrylic paints, like I have.
  • Parts that are painted not only don't seem to "let go" of the paint if you use Windex, but if you use alcohol or Tamiya Acrylic thinner (which is alcohol based) it will actually start working on the original paint, and you'll end up with an unwanted mix of your overspray and underlying paint. Does not make for a nice paint job - trust me.
  • Acrylic washes are great, provided you use a very fine brush and don't just "blob it on" like you might with an artist's oil wash. The paint tends to stick a little too well to the base coat and is difficult to wipe off. Might be a no brainer but worth noting as it caught me out more than a few times.
  • Bandai's paint applications are very, very good for a factory applied paint job. There's room for improvement of course but overall I was very impressed with how far things have come in the last 10 years.
Edited by mickyg
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As in too light in the movie or too light on the toy? I aimed for being as close in colour to the movie as I could. I do think there's an awful lot of contrast between the armor and the Valk itself. It's certainly not as pleasing as say, the VF-25 series (especially the G variant).

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If I may throw in my opinion here:

  • The greys are exactly what I would use to achieve what you have here. Good choice of colours, as they stand out as common military selections. This to me really lends realism to the whole model as they remind a viewer of real life hardware.
  • The teal/blue of the original airframe should get some post shading and weathering (like you mentioned you planned to do) to help tie it in to the armour you've painted. I would use a light grey or even white filter to dull it down to make the armour pop more and help it stand out. Dot filtering with subdued hues (adding greys to your dot colours) would work well.
  • Weathering the airframe (space frame?) is a must for me, as is adding oil and grease staining to the normally hidden mechanical bits.
  • Adding a mattefying dull coating to the entire thing (except canopy and lenses) would help create that realism.

Hope that helps! ...What a nice model!

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Thanks! I love your suggestions. I know they're likely to take me an eternity to attempt but I expect I'll give it a crack.

I've never done a dot filter but have seen a few YouTube vids on the technique and it looks amazing. On a FM millenium falcon at least. Come to think of it, that has a very similar look to the armor.

I have no idea how I'd apply that to the teal but as I said, your idea has real merit and I'd certainly e willing to try it out. And, I've got spare wings to practice on...

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That is some great work on the armor parts, mickyg!

Definitely go with a matte coat. I think you'll find yourself being more satisfied with it after that.

On the dot filter, I'd never heard of that until now. I had to look it up and it looks like a neat technique. I'll have to give that a try sometime.

As for things being weathered in space, sure! Space can be a pretty harsh place and isn't a complete void like one might think. You've got all sorts of radiation out there from stars and other sources that could take its toll on paint. Random gases floating around in space. Not to mention flying through natural or battle made debris or smoke and fluids from explosions. Then there's the propellant from the missiles that could leave their mark on the paint. Probably also lubricants between the joints when it transforms. Not to mention valkyries are also used in atmosphere as well. In the end though, whatever the justifications, it's just to give it some "realism" even if it might not be realistically realistic ;)

On a side note, sometimes I make my head hurt trying to figure out how to weather valks because they transform. So things could go a different way while in GERWALK or battroid mode. In the end, I just assume most of the time is spent in fighter mode and just weather according to that.

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Thanks man! Your custom work is partly what gave me the inspiration to how it a go. That and I'm never happy with "out of the box" anymore!

I've been meaning to take some better photos all week and just haven't had time. I think they'd do better justice to what this looks like in person.

That said, weathering is in my plans. Flat coating too. The end result with the painting is a sort of semi gloss. And that won't hold any pastels or much of anything else for weathering. So that's a must.

I've got lots of other things in line too so I expect the "finishing" will be pretty slow. Thanks for the comments all!

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I had a bit of time over my lunch break today to do a mini photo shoot. The colours are a bit more accurate now, compared to the majority of the ones above, which were taken on my iPhone (a few were from the "good" camera). Having said that, the blue on Michael's 25G are not that vivid or bright in real life (at least on my monitor, that is). Everything else looks pretty close.

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