Tiger Model Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate with Cat Pilot
by Ken Szeto
Editors Note: Coming on the heels….er….paws of the Tiger Model P-40 with Dog Pilot we have a Ki-84 piloted by a Cat. I love it. The paint work and weathering on both the “plane” and “pilot” are beautifully done. Ken Szeto is a top-notch modeler wiling to share his techniques: Many Thanks, Ken! For more of Ken’s airbrush work check out his Arrow-2 Space Plane.
Tiger Model is a Chinese company and it seems that they have launched their own line of “cute” models based on military machines from airplanes to tanks. They are definitely not the same as the egg planes by Hasegawa but they still have their own unique “SD” looks. Although I am typically a Sci-Fi and Gundam modeler, I’m not afraid to try different things when the subject catches my interest. This model kit was brought to my attention from a co-worker who ordered his from Hobby Link Japan. The moment I saw the Cat pilot; I wanted the same kit. The cat pilot exudes so much personality and I love that it resembles an Asian but doesn’t scream “racist” at the same time.
This is my second model kit from Chinese manufacturers, and I found the plastics on the softer side. This may not be a big deal but when you need to fill seams with putty, it is very possible to wear out the plastic before the fillers if one is not careful. The model doesn’t contain a lot of parts but most of the snap fit components like: the tail wings, landing gears and cockpit fit perfectly.
Since the Cat pilot sits inside the cockpit and its right-hand grabs onto the control stick, I had to do some test fitting to see if the cat could be put into the cockpit after the fuselage is put together. Great news! Tiger sculpted the cat in a way that you could put the pilot into the plane once it is finished. The next decision was if I wanted to use the canopy and how much of it on the plane since the cat has its left elbow sticking out of the airplane. In the end, I decided I will only install the front portion of the canopy and will not use the back half at all. Because of this, I filled the slots on the fuselage where the back-half of the canopy would be inserted.
Like all other plane modelers, I constructed, painted and weathered the cockpit first before I put the fuselage together. The fuselage and the main airfoil were fused together using methylene chloride and I purposely applied more than necessary so some of the melted plastic would squeeze out so they could be sanded away without using any putty.
One mistake I made and later discovered is the peg for the prop could be installed with the engine piece during the fuselage construction. I thought the peg would fall out so I purposely left it out and thought I would install it before I glued the main airfoil to the fuselage. Well, there are two supports in the nose area and one of them would have held the peg in place. By the time I discovered this, I couldn’t install the peg anymore. Luckily, the plastic is on the soft side and I was able to take my hobby nipper and cut away the support that was blocking the peg. Since the fuselage was “fused” together, I could get away without the second support in the nose area. Other than that assumption, the rest of the model fit very well.
Color, Markings, and Weathering:
The entire model was primed with Mr. Surface 1000 grey follow by Tamiya XF-13 for the green and XF-14 for the grey. Other details were painted with Mr. Color’s gun metal, Gundam red, silver and orange yellow. For the green colour, I found the XF-13 too dark so I left it as a panel line shade. On the panels themselves, I added some light grey to the XF-13 and then used pre-shading technique to lighten up the overall green. To create the paint chipping effect, I used a tiny piece of sponge and applied enamel-based chrome on it then dry dab the paints onto areas where chipping should occur such as any leading edges of the airplane. Tamiya’s weathering wash was used to darken all the panel lines. Mr. Color’s clear black and clear brown were sprayed on the leading edges and panel lines to add depth to the model. Modo MK-41 smoke effect was used to create carbon build-up from the exhaust and machine guns.
I didn’t have any idea how I wanted to paint the cat, so I typed in, “Japanese cat” on Google image and this was one of the images that showed up. I originally, wanted a “tiger-looking cat with orange and brown then I realized WWII Japanese pilots wore brown uniforms, so I dropped the idea. Grey and white cat it is!
Using my Mr Hobby’s PS770 airbrush with 0.18mm tip, I sprayed the entire cat with lacquer-based white first. A light grey was sprayed onto the face followed by pink on the ears. The rest of the uniform was hand painted with Tamiya’s enamel brown XF-10 neat and mixed with different amounts of black and neutral grey for the uniform, gloves, and boots. Once all the main colours were painted, I applied a coat of lacquer-based clear gloss over the entire cat. Again, mixing different proportions of black to the brown, I washed different parts of the uniform with different shades of washes. Once they were dried, using a white oil-paint, I lightly dry brushed the cat to enhance the highlights on the uniform. Finally, a lacquer-based flat clear was applied to seal and protect all the different layers of paint.
Thank you for reading along and I hope you enjoyed the process as much as I enjoyed building and photographing the kit.