1:72 Armored Core "Bishop" design
AC "Bishop" is pretty similar to the standard "GAEA" kit, structurally: legs, core, etc. are all the same. One of the first changes I made, however, was the addition of a fin-style shoulder radar. When playing AC2 I considered such equipment not only necessary, but emblematic. When you play the game, a high-quality radar unit isn't always worth the weight or the use of the hardpoint - it's often more advantageous to put more weapons there - but I feel like an AC that doesn't have a big radar unit is missing something. I experimented a bit with different weapons configurations: the high-power sniper rifle was an early favorite, but ultimately I settled on the SHADE2 laser rifle because I thought it looked really great with the GAEA design and my color scheme. Before I started working on the "Bishop" design I almost never used laser rifles (apart from the "Karasawa" models) because they consume too much power and are difficult to use effectively - learning to use the weapon in-game was an interesting challenge.
In order to deal with the high power consumption of the laser rifle, EO units, and high-output thrusters in-game, I use the "JIREN" reserve battery units. These are another part that I hadn't used before: I felt like if I needed to rely on them there must be something wrong with my AC design. But since they were available as Kotobukiya parts and looked reasonably cool, I thought they were worth trying. They've proven to be all but essential for my AC design, in-game. My usual pattern of combat when using Bishop in-game against another AC is to hit them with a barrage from the laser rifle and EO's - this drains power too quickly to be sustainable, so periodically I need to activate the JIREN units to get a quick recharge.
The laser rifle alone isn't sufficient weaponry, of course. It has limited ammunition, for starters, so it's not enough to get through a long mission, so I experimented with different back-mounted weapons to complement it. Missiles are a fairly easy choice - if you can lock on with them they're a pretty safe bet, but they're terrible at close range (and not so hot at medium range, either) and most any challenging opponent will be able to dodge them or shoot them down. Nevertheless, there are times when they can work wonders against hard-to-hit targets. Orbit cannons were another option I tried, especially for anti-AC combat: I like how they look with the Bishop design but as a backup weapon they have some serious flaws. (They consume power, they have very limited ammo, and you need a clear line-of-sight to where the orbit cannon's going to go, or they'll just explode on impact.) Shoulder-mounted cannons were another option - I've largely avoided the use of these in the past, because bipedal AC's need to stop and kneel in order to use them. As a result they're dangerous to use against any really formidable enemy but they're good for a bit of extra staying power in a mission. Ultimately I settled on the use of rocket launchers - these are manually-targetted, unguided weapons, but they have a good fire rate and range and pack a good punch. They are tough to use but can be very effective at close range, long range, against all sorts of targets. And they don't consume power - so I can use them as a last resort if I overtax the reactor.
I tried a few variations of the overall design: using an overboost core (C04-ATLAS instead of C01-GAEA), different legs (LH04-DINGO, LH06-JAGUAR instead of LG09-COUGAR2) - these are changes I might like to make to the model someday, but for now I think I need to keep things a bit more simple.
|I chose this part mainly for looks. I had already decided on the "Bishop" theme and wanted something that would fit that. The "Cricket" head doesn't drive the concept home the way, for instance, the "ROOK" head from AC2 might, but I felt it was one of the better candidates from AC3. In terms of performance I don't like it a lot. No night vision, no bio-sensor, no mapping. This head part was recently released by Kotobukiya as part of AC Fox Eye, but I'm not really happy with their sculpt. I'm working on my own version which is closer to the in-game look.|
|This project was begun with the use of most of the "Gaea" kit parts as an assumption - there are some other cores I might consider as alternates but none of them are kitted yet. This is an "Exceed Orbit" core, which means it has detachable weapon pods that can be dispatched to attack the enemy. I don't particularly love the EO concept, and traditionally have preferred Overboost cores. But "Gaea" is pretty cool looking, at least.|
|Initially for the Bishop design I used Mirage A11-MACAQUE, the arms which were included in the GAEA kit. But when I adapted the design to Armored Core 3, and the MACAQUE parts were not available, I decided to try the LANGUR arms. Gradually I decided that I actually liked the LANGUR arms more than the MACAQUE ones - though for a little while I felt I might want to not use the LANGUR arms because I associate them with the Nine Ball redesign. Once I got the URANUS kit which included the LANGUR arms, however, I immediately felt that I wanted to use them on Bishop. So after a little in-game evaluation of the design I decided to make the switch.|
|Again, standard parts from the kit. They're reasonably cool looking, similar to the legs from Klein's AC in AC2. There are other parts I like a bit better, but none of them are kitted yet.|
|I specifically wanted to have the model's thrusters be different from those provided by the kit, because I felt it was an easy way to customize the model. I also wanted the model to be a configuration I would actually play - so I chose the thrusters I felt worked best in-game.|
|After considering various options for the AC's main weapon, I settled on this one. I thought it looked fantastic with AC Bishop's white and black color scheme, and it turns out to be a pretty hard-hitting weapon, too - if you can hit things with it, and if you don't use too much power.|
|This is a part that was recently kitted as part of Kotobukiya's "Armored Core Weapons" line. I had previously favored the Crest CR-WL88LB3 - a boxy-looking, extremely potent weapon - but I've come to favor the '79 for Bishop, as in recent versions of the in-game AC I've had to reduce weight a bit, and plus I think the '79 fits the overall style better. It's a Crest part that looks more at home with Mirage parts than with the "typical" Crest parts...|
|This part was a major factor in my decision to buy the first Crest CR-C90U3 kit (AKA "AC Cascade Range") - I don't like the C90 core itself, or the head that comes with it, but this shoulder-mounted rocket launcher appeals to me - it's potent and fairly cool looking. In recent versions of the in-game AC I've been switching to a more lightweight rocket launcher - but I like the looks of this part better so I may stick with it for the model. At times I've substituted an orbit cannon, such as WB26O-HARPY in place of the rocket launcher: Orbit Cannons are like the Funnels from Gundam - they launch out, pursue, and shoot at your target. Sometimes they're a good way to overwhelm a target with energy weapon fire - a real "All-Range Attack". But in practice they're a bit too easy to dodge - and the advantage of a rocket launcher is that you've got some heavy, long-range firepower you can use quickly even when you've drained your AC battery dry... So mostly I stick with the rockets...|
|The inclusion of a big, fin-style shoulder radar is an essential tradition to my mind. From a practical standpoint there are other parts that could be put there - parts that have the potential to blow things up, for instance - but I feel like the shoulder radar is emblematic. Oh, and I guess it helps me to know where the enemy is, even if he's using ECMs.|
|My attempt to create a high-mobility middleweight core primarily using energy weapons has made the inclusion of this part very helpful: it gives the AC's battery a quick recharge when activated. In addition to the practical aspects, however, I think it's a reasonably cool-looking little ornamental part. In-game the part is frustratingly inconsistent. In the older games you get six recharges out of it - in newer games you get only three. The part is heavy, too: sometimes I think that instead of packing JIREN I should just install a better generator...|