(Fang of the Sun) Dougram +++ 1:72 Abitate F44B Mk.II "Tequilagunner" (Doyu-sha kit conversion)
Can you repeat... vintage? This is another kit from about 20 years ago which I salvaged as a true wreck from the basement. Even though it is a Dougram model (originally from Doyusha and later Takara), my specimen was actually released in 1985 or 1986 by Revell under their hodgepodge Robotech label as "Dromedin". Battletech nerds will know this mecha as "Goliath".
The first time I built it it was OOB in the Revell livery (overall steel grey with white and dark grey stripes), and in my second "mecha phase" in the 90ies I modified it to look like a catalogue picture of Revell's "Commando" version of the huge 1/48th scale Tequilagunner kit: in a pale sand, mid brown and bluish grey livery, and with the typical "balconies" on the vehicle's flanks. This converted kit was also experimentally weathered with coloured plaster, and the result was... horrible! Consequently, the kit disappeared from the “public collection”. Forgotten, until now - for a third build!
I originally planned to scrape the plaster off of the kit, do just some detail work and use its last paint coat with new weathering, just like the recently revived Desertgunner. But the old plaster was so thick and adamantine, the paint so poor and the plastic proved to have become surprisingly brittle with age, that more thorough work became necessary. For example, two hip joints broke off and needed firm replacements, the balconies (these are still the hand-made “things” from 20 years ago…) needed completely (and better) new rails, a nozzle brake from a WWII tank was transplanted and two extra rocket launchers had to be added, too.
Lots of polystyrene plates and profiles went into this project, as well as figures from a 1:72 scale modern tank crew set from Preiser, a mortar crew, plus various scratch-built small stuff like stowage boxes, the sun roof, cammo nets, the telescope, dust protectors on the legs and feet, sand bags, etc.. Every piece is just a tiny bit, but in a sum they add up to a lively look of the kit, and they are important in order to create small, plausible scenes.
The camouflage scheme is nothing specific, although I admit that I was not certain until I finally painted the kit. One plan was a sand base with olive drab and tan stripes, but after I applied the basic sand tone, I left it that way, because weathering and the details on the balconies were supposed to remain the main attraction. As a side effect, the single color livery is also an authentic choice for the F44B.
Painting was done with simple rattle cans - I do not own an air brush (and do not miss it). Main color is a reddish sand tone, RAL 1011 “Brown Beige”, but it was shaded with darker and lighter rattle can colors for light effects and weathering. A total of 3 other tones were used: RAL 8023 "Orange Brown" for undersides (the darkest tone, only little of this tone can be actually seen), then an acryllic hobby paint called "Sand" (very close tothe RAL 1011, slightly more reddish, for the sides, and finally a vintage VW car color called "Mexico Beige" which was applied onto the RAL 1011 on top sides, to mimic sun-bleached paint. Some pictures of the "making of" series for this kit show some painting steps as well as the colors.
After that, details like the sand protectors were painted with acryllic paint (in dark brown). Since I lack original decals, the few which went onto the kit came from the spare parts box:
- the red "2" roundels come from a British Mk. IV WWI tank from EMHAR (1:35 scale)
- the yellow registry numbers come from a modern US Army tank
- the round, red badges (depicting an armored rider/knight) are actually German Luftwaffe squadron markings from WWII, also from an aftermarket sheet
- The small red "eyes" on the Tequilagunner's middle section come from a Ma.K. aftermarket decal sheet.
I wanted the marking to complement the few red contrasts on the Tequilagunner, like the rocket launchers, so that a few details were added, but the overall impression limited to only a few basic colors, reducing distractions.
Next, an ink wash with a mix of black, sepia, ochre and raw umber was applied, and then lots of dry painting created shading, weathering and detail enhancement. For dry painting, I used Humbrol colors 84 (Mid Stone), 64 (Light Grey) and 121 (Light Stone), mixing the colors for varying shades. This treatment already broke up the very uniform RAL 1011 finish, but further work with dry paint e. g. with silver for blank metal or raw umber and burnt sienna for some subtle rust and oil stains, plus some rubbing with grinded, soft pencil mine, enhanced the looks even further. On a camouflage pattern, all these treatments would not have looked that impressive, so I think my decision to keep the kit "simple" was just right, esp. with the diorama (see below)! You can easily over-do such a thing. Finally, everything was sealed under a matte varnish coat, and dust and sand in the diroama' colors were added with grinded artist chalks.
Like its mate, the re-revived Desertgunner kit, this self-made Tequilagunner derivate (hence the “Mk.II” suffix…) would also receive a small diorama for display. In this case it would be a small and generic sand desert scene, where the F44B strides over a sandy dune with a rippled surface, with only little vegetation. The whole diorama is just 20x20cm in size, large enough to house the walking tank on its dune, with little distraction.
The diorama is pretty simple, made from an MDF base with balsa side panels. The landscape’s profile was sculpted with Styrofoam, and then three coats of thin plaster and finally some fine concrete dust was applied and fixated.
Water-based colors, some dry painting and few vegetation details round the thing up. The palm trees were completely hand-made, bay the way, another experiment which turned out to be VERY effective and cheap (pls. see separate picture series in this set for a step-by-step documentation).
The diorama surface was painted with the same colors as the kit, and then also lightly dry-painted. The rest of the vegetation came from the scrap box and consists of various moss variants, model railraod scale grass bushels and bristle, glued to the base and fixated with hair spray. This stuff also received some dry painting to blend with the other diorama elements.
Finally, the F44B was positioned on the diorama and details added, like the motorcycle scout on top of the dune.
Compared with the Desertgunner in snow livery, this modified Crabgunner is not as "good" (the kit was just in bad shape), but it is an interesting and impressive model which was and is IMHO worth "saving". But considering that it was not a newly-built kit, rather a kind of youth heritage wreck, I am quite happy with the result.