by: Peter Ong [ ]
Originally published on:
Ammo of Mig Jimenez
In Combat: Painting Mechas
Books regarding modeling tips, tricks, and techniques have been around for a while, with some books of this subject matter gaining fame to almost legendary status. These assembling and painting techniques were also carried on in various modeling magazines that one could view and purchase almost monthly. As time passed, new names in the modeling world arose, with expert modelers rising in Asia, Europe, and Russia with some of those willing to share their model building and painting skill secrets online and in print.
Ammo of Mig Jimenez’s book, “In Combat: Painting Mechas” gives the Science-Fiction modeler a ninety-one page book dedicated solely to painting, and particularly, weathering Science-Fiction combat robots such as Gundams, Votoms, and resin garage kits made by various sculptors. The book provides painting and weathering instructions for these projects:
• Bandai’s plastic 1/100 RX-78-2 by Mig Jimenez
• Bandai’s plastic 1/100 RX-75-4 “Gun Tank” by Oishi
• Bandai’s plastic 1/100 “Zugokku Amphibious Mobile Suit” by Chulho Yoo
• Bandai’s plastic 1/20 Votom B-ATM-03 “Fatty” conversion by Luca Zampriolo
This glossy softcover book comes in 100% full color, one of the best aspects of “In Combat: Painting Mechas,” in that this book does not follow any “money saving printing techniques” by providing some images in black and white. The color photography looks excellent, crisp, focused, and very descriptive to back the saying, “A photo is worth a thousand words.” Page layout also excels with text wrapping and flowing well around photos of the mechs. The image spreads are very nice, with some pages having the mech image occupy the full page, or other pages showing step-by-step progress on the same mech with ten different images of that mech. Modelers should note that the builders in this book use a combination of enamels, thinners, and acrylics in their painting and weathering techniques so those modelers who do not use both kinds of paints may want to consider this. The use of an airbrush appears an important tool in both the painting and weathering process.
Bandai’s plastic 1/100 RX-78-2 by Mig Jimenez
Mig’s article covers thirty-three pages, has eighty steps, and appears as the backbone of this book. He starts with painting the basecoats and preshading the parts with darker and then subsequently lighter shades. Almost every step has a color photo to show the process, with some photos explaining two or four steps of text. Mig’s article does focus mainly on weathering the mech, making it appear used and abused from the rigors of intense combat where tumbles and physical contact with enemy robots and the environment no longer yield freshly-painted and clean mobile suits. He uses sponges to dabble chipping effects along the mech’s edges and a thin brush to paint in streaks, scratches, and chipping effects. Ample use of Mig’s “Streaking Grime” and “Engine Grime” are applied to various areas of the Gundam to dirty it. Mig also uses silver metallic paint to add the effect of paint scraped off metallic parts. The modeler will learn how to apply rust, mud, and engine grime stains, pigments, and also Mig’s “Chipping Fluid,” essentially airbrushing a light shade over a dark basecoat and then using thinner to roughly remove the light shade to expose bits of the dark base underneath. Mig concludes his article with beautiful color photos of the RX-78-2 Gundam before it was weathered (all nice and clean), and after Mig’s weathering techniques and products have been applied.
Pages 30 and 31 provide a centerfold spread of the RX-78-2 with callouts showing the areas where the Mig weathering products have been applied to the mech. I appreciated the centerfold as it magnified the RX-78-2 to show off the cumulative effects and details of Mig’s weathering process.
Bandai’s plastic 1/100 RX-75-4 “Gun Tank” by Oishi
Once Mig Jiminez outlined his weathering process for mechs, one could assume that the following articles mimic this approach, and that is true to some extent since the following articles by the other builders are not as long or as detailed as Mig’s. Oishi’s RX-75-4 “Gun Tank” article briefly covers color modulation painting using an airbrush where the painted surfaces of the robot transition from dark to light shades of the same color, as if the model was placed under a bright light (covered in more detail in a separate color modulation Ammo of Mig book), and the application of dust, rain wash, mud effects, rust, and stuck groundwork in eighteen steps and ten pages. Readers will know how to paint rubber tracks using a combination of brown, rust, and mud. The paint and effects products are clearly shown in the photos, ranging from Ammo by Mig products to Tamiya Diorama Texture Paint Grass Effects. Most of the weathering effects could be applied using a brush. The results appear realistic and impressive, with four pages showing photos of the weathered model covered with streaks, rust, chipping, mud, and caked-on groundwork.
Bandai’s plastic 1/100 “Zugokku Amphibious Mobile Suit” by Chulho Yoo
Chulho Yoo’s article on his Gundam “Zugokku Amphibious Model Suit” has seventeen steps covered in six pages. Unlike Mig’s and Oishi’s Gundams, the Zugokku Gundam could submerge and travel underwater only to rise up from the sea and attack on land. The amphibious operations resulted in a mech model that appears brighter and cleaner than the previous two articles since the Zugokku gets washed by the sea. As such, Chulho kept the dirty weathering effects to a minimum; he essentially added pigment mud to the base of the feet and used dark washes in the recesses. He used gunmetal paint to enhance the appearance with chipping at the edges and subtle rust and water streaks. Chulho also painted his Gundam using the color modulation technique and his subtle use of weathering makes his mobile suit appear in better condition visually than the others in the book.
Bandai’s plastic 1/20 Votom B-ATM-03 “Fatty” conversion by Luca Zampriolo
Luca Zampriolo’s article has thirty-eight steps covered in twenty-two pages with the last eight pages devoted as a photo gallery. Unlike the previous four articles, Luca decided to modify and convert this Votom mech with hovering jets, an eighteen missile tube backpack, and extra armor, details, and thrusters so his article appeals to the more advanced Sci-Fi model builder looking for a new and unique construction challenge. The step-by-step photos offer good visual information for any model builder willing to follow Luca’s footsteps and convert their “B-ATM-03 Fatty Ground Custom” into Luca’s “Chubby” Votom mech using putty, spare parts, and styrene. Luca’s article covers scratchbuilding, puttying, salt and hairspray masking technique, tape masking, kitbashing, and mech weathering techniques covered in the previous articles. Unlike the previous articles, Luca’s Votom converted mech doesn’t have a lot of decals on it and therefore the photos present a nice visual example of how he weathers the painted lettering and different colors such as the diagonal red and white striping. Luca decided not to use pigments for his Votoms and instead opted to airbrush on diluted Flat Black to define shadows and blend his airbrushed paintwork.
A Photo Gallery of mechs built and painted by Oishi and Luca Zampriolo compose the final twenty pages of the book. I noticed that the mechs were not labeled in the Photo Gallery, perhaps because the authors didn’t want to promote any particular kit and instead just wanted to showcase their weathering and painting methods. Nonetheless, the Photo Gallery serves its purpose well by exposing the reader to very good examples of dirty and combat-veteran robots of various colors and settings. Each mech in the Gallery has at least two or more photos taken at different angles to give informative visual reference, and best of all, with the weathering painting, the mechs really do look used and almost realistic. There is one pristine mech by Oishi (page 79) that doesn’t have any edge chipping or stains and is painted in dark gray, bright red, and chrome to stand as a stark contrast to the book’s other mechs in military colors and showing combat use and abuse. A few photos show mechs in snow, desert, and forest vignettes to give the builder some idea of what base environments to use.
“In Combat: Painting Mechas” reads well, with each step being no more than a paragraph. The text explains the step-by-step photos well and all photos are focused and taken at excellent angles. Spelling and grammar (in my English text version) are generally good with only a few errors such as needed commas and some spelling mistakes (examples: “the steaks were” [the streaks were] and “toned done” [toned down]).
Do note that this book focuses on painting mechas and does not cover how to model and paint battle damage such as scorch marks, bullet holes, carbon scoring, or hits and internal damage. Naturally, the book highlights Ammo of Mig paints and Mig Mecha Weathering products, but does show other brands when necessary.
Mig’s (English language) “In Combat: Painting Mechas” book adds much needed painting and weathering information, reference, and support to the Science-Fiction modeling market, a topic where most of the literature and coverage comes from Japanese hobby books in only Japanese text. Overall, “In Combat: Painting Mechas” is a very helpful book with beautiful color photos, great page layout, and informative text and descriptions in step-by-step instructions. The photos really do the explaining (the cliché of a photo is worth a thousand words rings true throughout the book) and the finished mechs look realistic and visually more interesting and eye-catching. It’s not entirely a photo book as there’s enough descriptive text in it, and yet it’s not a magazine article heavy on text with few photos. Instead, this book has the proper balance of stunning photos immersed with informative paragraphs so that each article makes for a good (quick) helpful read. Highly recommended.
Special Thanks to Ammo of Mig Jimenez for the book review sample. Photos with the Ammo of Mig logo were taken from Ammo of Mig Jimenez's website and are used with permission.