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Reposing Small Mecha Model Kits

Article by Paul Nortness

Have you ever purchased one of those model kits of mecha from a show like Macross and built it and been completely disappointed by its stiff pose?

The mecha on the show are so dynamic and move around so quickly, it's a shame to see the model version so stiff looking. Well, I will show you how to cure that. You will need a low powered Dremel, jewelry beads in various sizes, CA glue, razor saw and standard tools for model building. At this point you may want to check out our article about essential model kit tools if you haven't already read through it.

The idea for this came from seeing the "Revoltech" line of action figures. These figures are some of the most articulate figures around and the reason is they use balls for the joints. So, we will be using beads in place of balls for joints in order to create a much more dynamic and realistic pose.

mecha figures

The first thing you want to do is build the major assemblies, arms, legs, torso, etc. When doing this, I typically throw the instructions out the window. These models are typically snap together of a very poor standard, so I remove the pegs and just glue the parts together. Once you have the sub assemblies built, trim off all the posts that would be used to mount the limbs.

With your Dremel, grind a place for your first bead. This bead will act as our hip joint. You should have something like this:

mecha figures 1

Now, take a bead and attach it using CA glue. You may have to grind a little more with the Dremel, just make sure you get a nice fit.

mecha figures 2

We must now make a socket for our new hip joint. Use a tapered grinding stone on the Dremel, create a socket in the legs. Just apply pressure as you go, but be mindful of where you are so you don't go through the leg. Once you are done with the Dremel, clean the new socket out with a hobby knife and make sure it is free of debris. Now, test fit the leg onto the new hip joint. Once you are satisfied with the fit, secure the leg onto the joint with CA Glue.

mecha figures 3 mecha figures 4

OK, now our mecha has a better looking stance. Note the angle of the feet and legs. Normally I would have cut the legs at the knees and added a joint there, but I like the look of these legs so I left them intact.

While the legs are drying, let's address the weapon. Ouch! There is something not quite right there.

mecha figures 5

This will be an easy fix. Cut the handle in half and trim the flange. Then cut off the trigger guard so you have something that looks like this:

mecha figures 6 mecha figures 7 mecha figures 8

That's much better! Alright, while we are at it, let's get the head done. Remove the head from the sprue and clean up any flash there might be. Using a pair of sprue cutters, carefully remove the flange from the "neck". Now with the Dremel, smooth the base so it will fit into the hole in the torso.

mecha figures 9

Alright, our legs are all dried so let's continue on. Put the tapered grinding tool back on the Dremel. Begin by enlarging the holes in the shoulders. Make these holes large enough to fit a medium size bead. As before, clean out excess debris with a hobby knife. I recommend doing this before every test fit. Leaving debris in the hole could throw off your test fit, which might cause you to make a hole too large.

While you are at it, make holes in the upper arm to accept the shoulder joint and in both the upper and lower arm for the elbow joints.

mecha figures 10

Glue your shoulder ball joints into place. Make sure you test fit everything before you start gluing. Once you are satisfied with the fit, it's time to glue your limbs together. Use CA glue for these, I have had problems with modeling cement adhering to the beads. I will assemble the arms at the elbow first prior to attaching them to the shoulder. Prior to gluing, I also envision a pose I want the model in. This makes it easier when it comes time to glue pieces together.

mecha figures 11

The only thing that is left is the paint. These models are about 4 to 5 inches tall, you can approach painting just as you would a miniature. For helpful tips, I would recommend checking out the painting miniatures tutorial found on ModelKits.com.

Here are some more examples of mecha models using the bead method:

mecha figures 12 mecha figures 13 mecha figures 14

Have fun and happy building!

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