1:144 Z'Gok Diorama

The Project

Back in 2004 I came up with the concept for this diorama. In order to maximize its impact when the diorama's finally complete, I want to keep some details under wraps until the diorama's finished. For now I'll say that it'll be large, about 16"x20". The subject will be a standoff between one Zeon MS and three GMs. Initially I was thinking of using a regular Z'Gok and three GM Cold Climates, but I ultimately decided I'd rather use a Z'Gok-E (the design which appeared in Gundam 0080) and three GM Commands.

Current Work

So far, I've mostly been working on the GMs. I've done some work on the Z'Gok, but haven't gone very far with the kit yet. Initially the project was on a fairly tight deadline, so I made efforts to limit the number and scope of alterations I did to the kits - but since that original deadline is long since passed, those restrictions have been largely lifted.

HGUC GM Command

What can I say about this kit? It's based on the GM Cold Climate, which was quite well-done, but really the Command kit is a little too much like the GM Cold. They didn't put enough "GM Command" into the kit and that's highly disappointing to me. Katoki's to blame for some of it (notably the rather poorly-defined, spud-shaped head and the ghastly elf-shoe feet), other parts are a result of parts that were carried over from the GM Cold, like the misshapen skirt armor. I'm not sure who's to blame for the arms. They're oversized like most HGUC arms to give more room for polycaps, they're angled oddly at the elbow to give them more clearance to bend (could be a design decision by Katoki or it could be a concession for posability - but if they'd put the elbow joint in the right place they would have gotten the same level of posability anyway and it would've looked right!) But despite all these problems the kit has some strengths, too. I love the elbow joints, they look like they should and they work like they should. Accessories and bits which in the old kit were wildly disproportionate are now closer to how they should be - so no oversized head, no flat shield, no mile-wide torso. Anyway, I've decided that for this project I'm going to combine the HGUC with the old GM Command kit, and "Fix it until it ain't broke."

The GMs are coming along rather well. My initial plan for the GMs was to take most parts straight from the kits, and only recast what I had to (the chest block, skirt armor, and the head, mainly) but as work progresses I find more things which would benefit from recasting for one reason or another. Currently I'm working on the head, chest, and ankle armor. The HGUC head, poorly-defined and featureless as it may be, is actually well-proportioned and close enough to the correct shape that I've had great successes in accurizing it just by cutting extra material away. The chest alteration was one of the first significant pieces of work I did on this project, extending the chest vent area to get the "GM Command" look. However, presently I find that I'd like to further refine that area.


2005-10-14: GM Progress

Cumulative Time logged: approx. 80 hours

The diorama project has been in the works since last spring, and I've included a lot of diverse work under its project heading: the GM work, Z'Gok work, experimental diorama building, and work to create the electronics for the diorama... But for now I'm gonna talk GMs.

I'm still working on the GMs, but a lot of progress has already been made. I think the main areas still needing work are the head and chest. I'm currently working on altering the HGUC kit head for better looks. When that's done I'll make new molds for recasting the chest block and possibly be ready to make some GMs.

As I've worked more on the GMs I've grown more excited at the prospect of completing one, and so I've found myself willing to put in a lot more effort on the GMs than I'd originally intended. The photos show a comparison between the HGUC, the old kit, and my work in progress, along with notes on each. The photos are rather old, but not many changes made since then have yet come to fruition.

2006-1-25: GM Progress

Cumulative Time logged: approx. 109 hours

While I did get a lot of things done on the GMs before the original Otakon 2004 deadline, one thing I had failed to accomplish was to correct the spud-head. I took some time to try to determine where exactly the kit head went wrong, and in what ways it could be a useful part, and came to the conclusion that the main camera housing and the front part of the crest were mostly correct, but everything around them was wrong. In particular, the back end of the head's crest is misshapen, and the top surface of the head surrounding the crest is far too high, with the end result that the crest is largely lost - as though the entire head were over-inflated, losing its distinctive details in the process. So the plan for the head was as follows:

I think I originally had four HGUC GM Command kits to work with, out of which I needed to make three GMs. Through experimentation (and, consequently, failure) in attempting to refine the head, I eventually destroyed three of the four heads, and kept the fourth in reserve as a reference for how the kit head looks unaltered. (One was used in an attempt to make the eye visor area larger - a plan I later abandoned. One was used in an attempt to augment the existing crest parts and cut down the rest - abandoned because it was too difficult to get things level and aligned. The third is my current work-in-progress head, but the jaw part was damaged during alterations so I got a fifth in the form of a space-type HGUC GM Command kit, and got a replacement jaw from there.)

So far, I've created the new head crest and sculpted the back of the head - though it still needs refinement and correction in places where it's no longer symmetrical. I have created a prototype for the "monoeye" inside the head and begun the process of re-sculpting the vulcan cannon areas. I've cut-out the openings for the rectangular nozzles to be installed at the jaw line (mutton-chop thrusters??) but not installed the nozzles yet.

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