1:72 Armored Core CR-C75 "Hakuheisen"
When the Kotobukiya Armored Core line first started I was very excited to finally have access to affordable kits of the cool machines from the series, but I felt, for the most part, that I wanted my AC models to reflect how I make ACs in the game: I wanted custom machines, I wanted to design an AC of my own using parts from the game, rather than taking a design from the game and building that, but there weren't yet enough Kotobukiya parts available to do much customization with.
Fast-forward a year or so and the situation has changed a bit. Now there's ten kits from the AC3 line and two from the AC4 line, and more of both coming up next year. The selection of parts is still limited but there's a lot more stuff to work with, so it's pretty exciting.
Nevertheless, I was really excited when, earlier this year, Kotobukiya released an AC that I actually did want to build as-is: the Crest CR-C75 "Hakuheisen", or Close Combat Type. This is one of the machines that appeared in the opening to AC3 - it was an all-new design based on the look of the "hero" AC from the first game's cover art. To me, the design is emblematic of Armored Core and of the new generation of games introduced with AC3.
Of course, in some ways I feel the equivalent design from AC2, the Emeraude XR-00, was a bit superior. The legs on that design were brilliant, and I liked the design of the weapons and overboost feature better - but the Crest design has grown on me a lot recently, and some of the Emeraude design's rough edges have become a bit more clear to me... So at this point I'd say I enjoy both designs, and I'm excited to be working on the Crest.
I think it's worth noting that if you look closely at the opening animation to Armored Core 3, the Crest machines have one feature which the Kotobukiya models (and the in-game versions) lack: the silver part of the shoulders isn't just decoration, it's actually a hinged door with missiles hidden underneath it. You see the Crest C84 (lightweight) pop open the missile doors in its shoulders in the last moments of its battle with the Mirage Selena. This feature did appear in some of the later games as all arm parts included opening hatches as the location of your "inside" weapons: based on the AC3 opening video, though, I think the game designers had something else in mind: something more like a hybrid of standard arms and weapon arms... I considered whether I wanted to include this feature on my ACs, however, and ultimately decided against it.
I decided early on that I wanted this kit to have LED lights, and so I've added some to the head already and am planning to add some to the thrusters. (The tough part of adding LEDs to the thrusters is that the thrusters are too shallow... So I had to hollow them out a bit.) I'll light the back thrusters and the leg thrusters, and that'll be it for LEDs. I had considered lighting every little camera eye on the thing, plus the weapons and the overboost, but I decided that would be too difficult. I want to keep this project relatively simple, but I also want the end result to be really cool... So I must find the proper balance.
The LEDs in the head are surface-mount LEDs, the 0603 type. They're small enough to fit almost anywhere. They're wired together with magnet wire from Radio Shack - it's a type of wire that has insulation painted-on, which means it's thinner than equivalent jacketed wire. They're wired to the outside using 30 AWG stranded Teflon wire, which is my usual choice for wiring in model projects, as it's quite thin and very resilient.
I've been doing more work on this project, hollowing out shallow-molded details like the open end of the grenade launcher barrel and starting the long road of assembly and cleanup work needed to get this thing ready to paint.
Right now I've started with the weapons: the GAST rifle, the grenade launcher, the missile interceptors, and the laser blade: I'm working on getting those parts glue-assembled and ready for paint. So far the interceptors are done and the grenade launcher is shaping up pretty well. The rifle still needs some more work, and I haven't started on the laser blade.
When I get more time I want to work some more on the wiring: I've come up with some ideas of how to run wires down through the legs to the leg thrusters and so on: it's a bit complicated but I think it'll work pretty well. It's a bit daunting to think about it, though. :)