The Armored Trooper VOTOMS: Pailsen Files OAV fits into the Armored Trooper Votoms canon just after the 1988 OVA movie Red Shoulder Document: Roots of Ambition and a few months before the events of the original VOTOMS television series. Meant to establish an origin story for the main character of the core series, (Chirico), it is told from the perspective of Red Shoulder Battalion’s Cashiered commander, Colonel Yoran Pailsen.
An excellent runthrough of the narrative can be found here, and I’ll not get too deeply into it in this review.
From the Ground Up
So… If this review is not going to be my normal rambling, what will it be?
Well, it is about time I spoke to the new builders out there and spoke about some of the tips, tricks, and tools which can be used to improve your own modeling.
I’m not saying I can turn you into a GBWorld Champion (none of my entries ever get higher than prefectural level), but with the increase in kits being produced by Bandai that are designed for all levels it is worth touching on the tools which are out there which can help turn an utter newbie (of any age) into a better kit builder – and, thereby perhaps give them the confidence to go farther.
I have used an airbrush in this build, but I do so only because I think all modelers really should think about getting hold of a decent double or single action airbrush and delve into its magic. They are not hard to learn, and, when cared for properly (and used with proper protection) can help you achieve results which would be nigh on impossible for anyone but a master by hand.
True, though a really high quality Evolution series, or other top-of-the-line airbrush might set you back hundreds of dollars, there are some very capable items on the market which can be had, compressor and all, for less than a hundred USD. Now, also true, you get what you pay for, and I in the end went with an Evo 4 brush and an Air Star compressor (with tank – very important, that. A compressor with a tank and a moisture trap works much more effortlessly), I still keep my old Amazon-bought, Chinese-made brushes about, and none have failed in all these years.
I run multiple brushes to allow me to keep several colors going without too much cleaning…
However, as I do not want to make this specifically about the dos and do-nots of airbrushing, I direct the person who is tempted to go down the path to these pages, wherein you will find all manner of info on airbrushing…
However, this build was done with as little as possible airbrush work, and as little paint as I could get away with, as I wanted to try my now well-worn method of exploiting Bandai’s ability to mold in correct colors.
To this I added only Citadel washes (though washes can be made onself too), and Tamiya, the so called ‘Model Makeup’, AKA the Tamiya Weathering Master pigment blocks and stick, as well as the obvious clear undercoat – in this case, my old friend, Matte Coat.
Now, in fairness, topcoat varnishes are not strictly designed to go on bare plastic, but if you choose well (Mr. Super Clear, Flat UV protection) you will be right on the money. This is important as some top coats simply will not cling to bare styrene properly, but the Mr. Super Series (as well as others, like Tamiya) has been made with this in mind
Still, just to be on the safe side, I always scrub sprues down with pure alcohol (or Tamiya X20A thinner) before spraying – and *sometimes*, in the case of older models a quick spray with a tool cleaner, to soften up the surface slightly before I go over with the clear undercoat. I stress though that can be a risky move, as tool cleaner will do unto styrene what God did unto the Sodomites if not handled correctly.
However, with the sprues all sprayed in the correct clear undercoat we begin. I do recommend spraying the parts on the sprues, and we shall get to the demerits of that in due time.
Normally I would break out the filler here but as you can see, to keep it simple, I have just run some extra thin liquid poly into the main joints. Most of this will not be seen when installed, anyway.
With the figure modeled in a bright, but correct, shade for a Gilgamesh pilot, all I painted were the accents above using standard Citadel color. The paint adheres to the top coat as well as any undercoat, so there is no concern there.
No painting for the interior. All molded as it should be.
However, to give the pilot a more worn look, I gave him a wash of Nuln Oil. I’ll admit it was a bit heavy handed (and I refer you back to the video above to see where I went wrong), but even so, it works out very nicely.
Minimal exterior cockpit details finish off this unit. You really do not have to do much to bring a model to life.
Less is more in modeling, too. The idea is to give the impression of plausibility. You do not need to go overboard.
Another time the paint came out. Using Citadel Mechanicus Grey, I matched the interior of the upper hull with the cockpit, washed it down and added some simple contrasting touches in silver, before washing it all back.
And, as you can see, it looks rather nice already.
My name is Darren Ashmore, and I am a Bandai Gundam Marker addict.
I know lots of folks who do not like them, but they do make quick work of panel lines and adding contrast points.
BEWARE though: If you are working on clean plastic, all well and good, but if you are using the pens on coated materials, give the paint a good 24 hours to cure in a warm, dry environment, or the marker will forever become gunked up and need cleaning – which can be done by dipping in Tamiya thinner and wiping or, more practically, gently scrubbing the tip on card.
Another warning, be sure of the size of the panel lines you are filling. Bandai only makes one size of panel marker really (not true at all, but the larger markers are used more for painting than lining) so you will soon find that your marker is worked down to a stub by working through so many narrow lines.
Whilst I do use the Bandai markers myself, I always have ultra fine draughting pens on hand as well — in my case the Copic Multiliner SP as they are available in sizes from 1mm to 0.01mm in diameter. If these are hard to find in your area, Staedtler also makes a series of ultra fine lining pens (though these are not refillable like the Copics).
Here is where the airbrush came out for the first time, to add some patches to break up the uniform color of the plastic. Not strictly to add wear or dirt, but simply to make the model seem less uniform in appearance.
The concept behind this model was an Elite Gilgamesh forces AT hunter, who had snaffled the weapons from a downed Scopedog, and here too the airbrush saw some use – mixing 70% thinner (Mr. Leveling Thinner) with 30% Tamiya XF1 flat black, I lightly dusted the joints and panel lines to add contrast.
NOTE: I use Mr. leveling thinner to act as a retardant in the airbrush, as using normal X20A results in a fast drying time, and can clog up the nozzle. You will have to experiment with your own thinners to find the correct types for you (the guide posted above has excellent advice).
Now, out comes the eye liner for the first time. With a quick swish, one pass with the powder gives the gray plastic a much more appealing look.
One has to be careful with how much is put down, but these weathering blocks are worth their weight in gold.
A work about panel lines and sprue marks.
The former? If you are building like this, you sometimes just have to such them up. If you are not painting fully, there is little point in filling and sanding back to an even coat (which is what I do on a full build). However, you can mitigate their effect by running thin cement into the line and compressing them for half an hour. This will cause the joint to bulge slightly, and you can, once fully cured after a day or so, sand back.
Not to worry about the undercoat, as you’ll be sealing the whole kit again with the flat coat at the end.
Masking tape is your friend. I have all too often matte coated over the canopy of an aircraft not to recognize the import of this little tape.
Airbrushing and bullet holes…
Weathering Masters and Bandai Gundam markers for weathering on this alone (though I did paint the ammo hopper and part of the for grip).
Again, nothing more that Weathering Master and panel liners here.
The pigment blocks can be worked easily once down on the model and blended very easily.
Once slight cheat here, I mixed in some fine texture paint from citadel to create the mud effect on the feet.
Just enough, and No More.
The moral to this story is that anyone can produce more than acceptable work with a little effort and the right tools.
Not to say that this should be an end point.
There is always more to learn, and more to improve, but I feel that the sort of modeling products we have at our disposal now can make all the difference between a person giving up because they think they will never ‘get there’ and giving them the leg up they need to the level of the experimental modeler.
I am sure that all the pros would agree.
Use all the tools at your disposal, if they give you the right results and always be willing to learn.