(Fang of the Sun) Dougram +++ 1:72 Soltic H8 "Roundfacer" (revamped Takara kit/Revell re-boxing)
Fang of the Sun Dougram (太陽の牙ダグラム Taiyō no Kiba Daguramu) is a 75-episode anime television series, created by Ryosuke Takahashi and Sunrise, and aired in Japan from October 23, 1981 to March 25, 1983 on TV Tokyo.
The series begins in a desert on the colony planet Deloyer, where the remains of a destroyed robot are resting as a red-haired woman is standing in front of it. The woman hallucinates what appears to be a group of armed soldiers alongside the robot in a non-destroyed state. A man named Rocky appears, leading to the woman running into his embrace where she cries tears of joy. After this, the series flashes back to an earlier time, in order to explain the circumstances leading up to the first episode.
Malcontents on the Deloyer colony agitate for the independence of their world from the Earth Federation. In an unexpected coup, the elected Governor declares martial law and sets himself up as absolute dictator. With the approval of the Federation, he rules the planet with an iron fist. In reaction, a ragtag group (including the governor's estranged son) rises in open rebellion, using a powerful prototype Combat Armor: the Dougram. Their goal is the end of the dictatorship and total independence from the Federation's influence.
The story follows the actions of the guerilla freedom fighters known as "The Deloyer 7." The war is fought across the planet Deloyer as the Federation vigorously pursues the rebels. The series is noted for its realistic use of not just the combat armors and support vehicles, but also military tactics. The series also followed a wide range of characters and political intrigue, with many shady characters switching sides throughout the series.
Crinn Cashim is the show's main character. Son of Governor Donan Cashim, he becomes trained in piloting the Soltic H8 “Roundfacer” standard army robot by Jacky Zaltsev, a Federation Ace, because of his father's political connections. When his father appears to be overthrown by a coup led by Colonel Von Stein, he pilots a Roundfacer while Federation forces battle Garcia's forces. He is stunned to learn that his father has actually sided with Von Stein in a secret plan, and eventually becomes angry at his father's forces in how they deal with the rebellion following the coup. Following a meeting with Dr. David Samalin, who introduces him to a combat armor he has designed, the Dougram, Cashim and his friends form The Fang of the Sun and join the rebellion against the Federation.
Unit type: CB (combat) armor
Manufacturer: Soltic Company
Crew: 1 pilot
Overall height: 10.02 meters
Base weight: 30.5 metric tons
Generator type: Rolls-Royce N8E x 1
Generator output: 54 points per second
Maximum running speed: 45 km/h
Continuous operational time: 324 minutes
1x hand gun (various types, incl. a grenade launcher or a linear gun)
4x 25mm chain guns in the lower arms
1x shoulder-mounted 9-tube missile pod
Optional equipment: hang glider, camouflage suit, shield
Mechanical designer: Kunio Okawara
The kit (and its revival):
This is another model of an 1:72 Soltic H8 "Roundfacer" (there’s already one in my mecha collection), but it's not an original Takara kit, but rather comes from the Revell re-boxing in the mid Eighties among their Robotech line. It was there part of a kit set, called "Armored Combat Team", and came together with a wheeled vehicle set.
However, this model was originally not built and painted by me. It's rather a generous donation from a good friend who made an attempt into mecha when these kits were distributed. It was built roundabout 30 years(!!!) ago and, AFAIK, never 100% finished; for instance, the hoses around the neck were never mounted, and the handgun had never been never painted.
As the only one of its kind it never found a true place in my friend’s model kit collection, and after some years of disregard it even got damaged: the delicate hip joint got broken, the Roundfacer lost one of its legs. In this sorry status the model rested in a dark corner, collected dust...
...until it was given to me many years ago, unfortunately after I had already gone through my hot mecha phase in the Nineties, in which I resurrected many of my own builds for a second life. So the Roundfacer lay (again) around in my spare parts deposit for some more years, until I finally decided to tackle and revamp it in early 2018. Inspiration strikes in unexpected occasions.
At first I thought that I could just repair the leg and add some parts in order to finish the model, but this plan was soon foiled. However, the biggest issue remained the broken attachment point for the left leg - and it turned out to be more severe than first expected. Initially I tried to mend the problem with a metal pin reinforcement, so that the original pintle could be re-attached again. But then the right leg came off, too, and the whole joint turned out to have become so brittle (it literally fell apart) that it had to be replaced completely!
So I scratched a completely new hip joint and a sturdy attachment construction from styrene profiles and plastic-coated steel wire, which would allow a similar range of movement as the original construction, even though not as flexible - but the Roundfacer would be displayed anyway.
The rest of the kit was otherwise in good shape, and the joints free from paint for high movability. I made some changes and improvements, though. This included the cleaning of the seams on both legs (PSR) and the addition of some surface details with IP profile material. This meant that the original paintwork would have at least party to be renewed, but fortunalety I knew the paints and respective tones my friend had used when he had built the kit.
Another challenge were the characteristic hoses that lay around the Roundfacer's neck like a scarf. I was lucky to find leftover parts from a vintage 1:144 Gundam Zaku in my stash, the fit almost perfectly. Otherwise, they had had to be scratched.
The original missile launcher was re-fitted, even though it had to be fixed since the original attachment construction had also fallen victim to the styrene's brittleness over the ages. The handgun - while complete and available - was replaced by the weapon from a H-102 Bushman, which looks a bit more beefy, like a grenade launcher instead of the OOB assult rifle.
Painting and markings:
I was not certain whether I would re-paint the Roundfacer, which would have meant stripping it off of of its original enamels - but I eventually rejected this for two reasons: First of all I thought and still think that the brittle material of the finished kit made any surgery or chemical intervention hazardous. Esp. the joints were delicate, the loss of the hip joint was already trouble enough. And then I liked the fictional scheme the Roundfacer had been given, a kind of winter camouflage in black and light grey, separated by thin white lines. I simply wanted to keep the original concept, since it looks pretty unusual - and also in order to honor my friend's original approach.
So, instead of a new or additional layer of paint I limited my work to the areas with PSR and added details, and the original (and highly translucent!) decals had to go, too.
The original colors are Humbrol 64 (Light Sea Grey), 33 (Flatblack) and 34 (Flat White). For the repairs the same tones were used, just the pure black (which had suffered in the meantime) was replaced by Revell 6 (Tar Black). The result is pretty good, you hardly recognize the touch-ups.
In order to take the model a step further I also did some thorough weathering, at first with a dark grey acrylic wash, which was also texturized with vertical brush streaks along the flanks, and some later dry-brushing on the edges, emphasizing the robot's shape and details.
The new markings were puzzled together from various sheets, including some Dougram models.
For an even more unique look, and in order to hide some flaws, I decided to add a thin coat of snow – also in line with the small base I created for display (an somewhat in order to justify/explain the paint scheme).
The display base:
This is certainly not a diorama, but I wanted a small, scenic setting that would show surroundings in order to justify the Roundfacer’s strange black/grey scheme.
The foundation is a small MDF wood board, 8” x 6” in size, leftover from a street base gone bad many moons ago. On top of the wooden base, the landscape was sculpted with Styrofoam, using the Roundfacer as benchmark for the overall layout. The idea was to show an unpaved path or street, flanked by rock formations. Due to the base’s small size the rocks had to be limited in size. Since the robot would dominate the scene, anyway, I placed it further in the background.
In the foreground, some space was saved for a small vehicle, which would add some variety and create some kind of scene. Since I did not want to invest too much effort into building or even converting or scratching a scout car or something similar.
After some search I settled upon a modern Bundeswehr “Dingo” from Panzerstahl, a completed plastic model. I found it to be a very good match for the base and the Roundfacer – and for the scene I took it OOB and just re-painted it in black with light grey mottles and dusted it with snow (see below), too.
With the positions of the vehicles determined it was time to add details to the landscape. Most inspiration came from Antarctica and Iceland – you have volcanic rock formations, namely black basalt, with hexagonal structures, and ice and snow on top. Anything that the Roundfacer’s livery reflects.
The hexagonal rocks would be the most prominent structure on the base, and these were created with bits from …pencils. They were tailored to size with the help of a paper cutting machine, then glued into bundles and finally stuck into the Styrofoam ground and arranged into bigger structures.
Once dry the rest of the surface was covered and sculpted with plaster. A coat of thinned plaster was also spread over the pencils, blurring their shapes. On the street, track marks were created with a truck model kit wheel and the Roundfacer.
Once the plaster had dried, the diorama received a coat of thinned white glue, mixed with black paint, into which different grains of sand were strewn. Around the rock formations, broken shell gravel (from a home decoration shop) was used to mimic bigger chunks of rock. Again, things had to dry thoroughly.
Next came an overall basic coat of black – applied with a rattle can, so that the paint would evenly reach all recesses. After more drying time the landscape received washes with dark grey and dull olive green. Into the wet paint some grass fiber and wood pieces were glued, in areas behind the rock formations which would offer some protection against the weather.
Another drying period followed, for the second-to-last treatment: a thin coat of snow (which was also added to the Roundfacer and the car). I prefer white tile grout for this task, because it is easy to handle, sticks well to wet surfaces and remains white and stable in the course of time. For application, I put some of the dry material in a glass and cover it with a nylon stocking, and shake it over the wetted (water with drop of detergent) surface. This makeshift device is easy to handle and has the charm that you can gradually adjust the grit and amount of tile grout that rains down.
The street area received some additional treatment with thinned black and grey paint, simulating a mix of snow and dirt.
In a final step, the base and the vehicles received a coat of acrylic matt varnish from the rattle can for protection and snow fixation.