Model and Text, Ken Szeto
Editors Note: It’s a real pleasure to have Ken’s work on MPS. He’s and excellent modeler that demonstrates a command of both the medium (lacquer paints) and the airbrush. Fortunately for us, he explains his techniques as well as he performs them. I certainly learned a lot 🙂 Thanks Ken!
Growing up in the 70’s in Hong Kong, we were fortunate to get TV programs not just from local stations but also from North America, Europe and Japan. Among all the kids’ TV shows I got to watch, one of my favourites was “Return of Ultraman” from Japan that featured Ultraman Jack, a defender of Earth from outer space who fought giant monsters. In the show, Ultraman doesn’t fight alone as he is part of Earth’s defense force called “Monster Attack Team (MAT)”. MAT have supporting aircraft that helped Ultraman during fights. The MAT Arrow 2 is one of those and has been my absolute favourite since childhood.
There is something unique about the MAT Arrow 2 that fascinated me as a kid. Although I was a fan of military fighter jets growing up, the MAT Arrow 2’s semi circular wing design and the conventional fuselage felt like the perfect blend of realistic and science fiction. Growing up, I always wanted a high-quality replica of this aircraft, but the dream didn’t come true until the summer of 2018 when Wave announced they will be issuing the MAT Arrow 2 model. When I found out about this news, I was overjoyed with excitement and wanted to get my hands on this model right away.
The Build and Customization’s:
Wave may not be a well-known model publisher in North America, but their models have always been great to work with. The entire model was cast in light gray and the surfaces were near perfect. There was a small shrink mark on the nose of the fuselage, but a little bit of superglue mixed with baby powder took care of it. The rudders and elevator were flat pieces which I had to take a sanding block and thinned the tail edges, so they would resemble an airfoil.
Other than that, all the pieces fit together perfectly especially the body of the plane which consists of a top half and a bottom half. Minimal filling and sanding were needed to remove the seamline.
The kit came with two sets of weapons: rocket pods and missiles. The way the weapons are mounted would mean choosing one set of armament or the other. Well, I like having the option to pose different weapons whenever I feel like it. To make the weapons switchable, I glued metal plates on the inside of the fuselage just above the weapon mounting points. The plastic pins on the hardpoint mounts were removed and replaced with 2mm circular magnets with 2mm height. In hindsight, I would recommend finding 1.5mm circular magnets with x 2mm height. Simply glue the magnets onto the hardpoint mounts with superglue and it was done.
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The kit also came with a display stand that is way too low to be useful. Still, I also like the MAT Logo so it deserved just as much attention as the aircraft. I don’t know what Wave was thinking but the MAT Logo only has one set of spires and they are usually on the right-hand side. Somehow, they put spires on both sides. Well, I am guessing they wanted the display stand to have some form of stability but given how short the stand is, there is no point in having the extra spires. I decided to saw off the extra spires and filled them with styrene stripes follow by a lot of sanding and filling.
I primed the entire model with Mr. Surfacer 1000 in grey colour first. Once confirmed that all the seams and scratches are removed, I moved on to the Silver basecoat. I neither used black primer nor coated the model with black paint first because I didn’t need the model to be in a mirror-shine finish. I was going to semi-gloss coat it anyway, so a grey primer would work just fine. I used Gaia Colour #121 – Star Bright Silver and sprayed the entire model with an airbrush. Once the base coat dried, I masked off random panels and sprayed different shades of silver by mixing Gaia Colour #121 with small amounts of neutral grey, extra-dark grey or black. This is a technique I learnt from Mr. Spencer Pollard who published a YouTube video on his channel called, “Natural Metal Made Easy!” I used his technique on a different Sci-Fi vehicle model before and the effect was amazing. I simply cannot go back to painting an entire aircraft with one shade of silver. In addition to mixing different shades of silver on various panels, I also used Gaia Colour #9 – Bright Silver on the nose cone and a few panels as well.
The engine exhaust was first painted with Tamiya LP20 Light Gun Metal in lacquer. The heat effect was achieved by spraying thin lines of colours around the exhaust using clear red, clear blue, clear yellow and clear red.
I purposely overlapped some areas with two different clear colours and this is how the rainbow effect was created. After that, I pretty much covered most of the heat effect by carefully layering Modo Paint MK-41 Smoke Effect, so the exhaust appears well used with carbon build up.
For the red strip, the kit came with a nice sheet of water-slide decals which is what I started using until I reached a point that I wasn’t happy with how it was turning out. There were some small folds and material that just refused to become flat despite I used a good amount of Decal Setter and Softener solutions.
The final straw was when one of the decals tore, so I gave up and removed all the decals with masking tape. The good news is that I have a friend who also has this model kit and he scanned his decal sheet and emailed it me. Using his scanned decal sheet, I was able to reproduce all the decal shapes and transferred them onto masking tapes to create a positive stripe.
Once I had the general layout of the strip, I used Aizu 2mm masking tape and created the negative stripe, so the stripe could be painted since I no longer have the decals. The negative space for the red stripe was first painted with a layer of white primer using Mr. Base White 1000. For the red, I chose Mr. Hobby UG12 Sazabi Red because it is a nice bright red and I have a lot of Gundam colours in my paint collection. If you are not a Gundam modeller, Mr. Hobby #68 Red Madder is pretty much the same thing.
In the end, I am glad I painted the red strip instead of using the decals. The finishing was perfect, and I don’t have to worry about bubbles, folds, wrinkles, and scratches since water-slide decals are very delicate.
When painting the display stand, having a circle cutter made life a whole lot easier. While the Aizu 2mm tape was useful to mask off the outer edge of the red symbol and the 1mm tape was useful for the horizontal lines but without a circle cutter, I would not have enjoy painting this piece at all. Also, a photocopy of the display stands and using the copy as a stencil for the MAT letters worked like a charm.
Before using Tamiya Panel line Accent Colour in black to paint the panel lines, the entire model was coated with Mr. Hobby GX112 Super Clear to protect the layers below as well as to give a smooth surface for the panel wash to flow. Any mistakes were removed by using Varsol or enamel thinner.
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Although I am aware of both pre-shading and post-shading techniques, I am almost exclusively a post-shader. I have no good reason for my choice, so I think it is just a matter of personal preference. Having said that, if the panel lines are much closer together, I would have used pre-shading instead. For the post-shading work, I used Mr. Hobby GX101 – Clear Black and GX109 – Clear Brown. Using my brand new PS770 airbrush by Mr. Hobby, clear black was applied first onto the panel lines with a slight overspray to add depth and to simulate dirt trapped in-between panels. For the clear brown, I lightly dusted the area where clear black was applied and “behind” in relation to the airflow direction. Adding clear brown to shading is something new that I only started recently. Two years ago, when I broke out of my comfort zone and started to weather my models, an IPMS member in Vancouver with superb skills told me that it was too bad that I only used black on my shading. His comment made me think and therefore I added clear brown to the mix. In the end, I have him to thank because the shades are blended more natural this way.
Before starting, the entire model was coated with Mr. Hobby C181 Semi-gloss to blend all the layers together as well as giving the model a slightly rough surface for dry-brushing and washes. To simulate scratches on the edges of the model, I used artist oil (Titanium White, Neutral Grey and Black) that comes in tubes. I would mix different shades of grey and drybrush the pigment onto the edges to create scratches. When pulling the paint brush, keep in mind the airflow direction so the result would resemble real life scratches created by particles and small debris. As for the dirt streaks, tiny drops of artist oil or Mr. Hobby Weathering Colour – ground brown is painted onto the model where I wanted the steaks to begin. Using a flat paint brush with enamel thinner, I would pull the colour towards the tail of the aircraft, again; think of the airflow direction. The flat brush with thinner would dissolve the paint and when you pull it, it will become a streak. To further shape the steak to your liking, pull the streak on both the left and right side with a slight angle so it would have a thinner edge in the end. If the overall streaks are too dark, let the thinner dry a bit first then take a clean flat brush with clean thinner and go over the entire streak so some of the paint will get dissolved and picked up by the paint brush. This step should reduce the overall colour of the streak.
This was a fun build, even though I ended up having to remove the decals and do some minor repair because of them. The best part is that I am now a proud owner of a high-quality replica of the MAT Arrow 2 which also fulfilled a childhood’s dream. I would highly recommend this kit to any one who is a fan of “Return of Ultraman” and while you are at it, consider building the MAT Arrow 1 and MAT Gyro as well.
More Arrow 2 Pics Below: