Introduction: Gundam Custom Build: 1/144 Celestial Wing Gundam

The Celestial Wing Gundam is a mobile suit that was said to have descended from the heavens in order to bring peace to a world tarnished by war, blah blah blah...

This is a custom gunpla project that took three months (really, only because 1. school and 2. there were those moments where I didn't know what I was doing), and I have shared this Instructable that guides you in how I turned the Wing Zero Gundam (left, before) into the Celestial Wing Gundam (right, after)

Step 1: The Base Kit / Planning

The Wing Zero Custom has got to be one of my favorite Gundam models. It has a powerful appearance, not to mention having the notable birdlike wings and blaster cannons that are almost as tall as the mobile suit. As such, I based the Celestial Wing Gundam after the RealGrade 1/144 scale Wing Zero Custom EW; by the time I considered this custom build, I already had this model pieced together. That being said, it is always helpful to have the base kit you are working with on hand when planning out the custom build so you can use it as a "testbed".

In terms of planning, I initially set out with a list of things I wanted on this custom gunpla:

  1. Custom paint scheme
  2. Custom equipment, including a way to store the twin buster rifles when not in use***

*** Seriously, if the Wing Zero was wielding the twin busters and all of a sudden wanted to switch to beam sabers, where would the twin busters go? Knowing how powerful those things are, I wouldn't toss them aside in hopes of coming back to pick them up.

Also note that in planning a custom gunpla, I find it helpful to draw it out first. If you suck at drawing, then find a black and white stock image online and work off there. In the 4th picture is an example which uses a stock photo of the Grimgerde, and I used a editor software to give it my own custom color scheme. For this particular project, however, I confess that I skipped this part of the process, but only because this was one of those things that I "envision" for multiple nights in my sleep, but that's just me :P

Step 2: Inner Frame Touch Up

I'll admit, this part of the custom build was perhaps one of the most unnecessary steps since 90% of the inner frame would be covered up in the end. Nevertheless, I did it anyway, and my excuse: this is my first custom.

The paint job was done using a gunmetal acrylic paint (multi-surface line from Martha Stewart Crafts). Normally you would use a spray can or airbrush for this for an even paint distribution, but I had neither of those at the time. Nevertheless, the results turned out to be fine, giving the inner frame a more metallic appearance.

Next was to use the Tamiya Clear Flat spray (TS-80) to give the inner frame a matte finish as well as to add a protective layer over the gunmetal paint: be a real shame if that started peeling off (although most of the inner frame was covered by the armor plating later on...). Also worth noting that the chrome stickers were also applied before the topcoat was added; when you buy the TS-80 spray can, it would state on the top, "Do not spray on decals and stickers". Even though it says this, the chrome stickers did not explode nor disintegrate, and while the matte finish did take away their shininess, it did result in a more realistic metallic.

Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that applying a lacquer spray tends to make the plastic brittle, and as a result one of the arm linkages broke on the inner frame due to the application of the TS-80 spray. For future references, be weary of how much topcoat you put on the gunpla. As a matter of fact, I'd wait until everything is assembled onto the inner frame before applying the topcoat.

Step 3: Painting

One rule of thumb in gunpla painting is to start off with a layer of primer. The purpose of this is to prevent the original plastic colors to show through the paint and to allow the paint to adhere to the plastic more securely. For my build I used the Tamiya gray surface primer. It gets the job done well, covering up the original colors of the plastic while leaving the surface sculpting and minute details intact. However, I would note that early on I had instances where I would see bubbles forming seconds after applying the primer; be sure to start the spraying off the part, and work your way across the part as you are spraying, because often large chunks are the first to come out once you press down on the nozzle. Another cause for the bubbles might have been the temperature settings: do not work in cold weathers (nor super warm ones I guess), and avoid high humidity.

As for the paint, I used Satin-finish Rustoleum brand spray paints as pictured above. These can be purchased from your local hardware store (i.e. Home Depot, ACE, etc.) at relatively cheap prices, especially when considering how much can be covered in a single can. These turned out nicely. However, these paints take days to dry, so I advise leaving the painted pieces alone for at least five days before doing anything else with them. Otherwise, you could leave fingerprints on the parts as you are handling them.

Additionally, I would apply a layer of topcoat (gloss so that you have a smooth surface for panel lining and decals) over the paint to prevent it from coming off in handling them.

Note: the gold details were made using the metallic gold oil-based, extra fine point sharpie. I found this at Michael's. As for the panel lining, I used a Pigma Micron 005 black pen

Step 4: Accessories/Modifications (Part 1)

The first modification was to have a method of storing the twin buster rifles on the gunpla. This was done using the RealGrade Destiny Gundam's weapon holder arms. To mount them to the gunpla, I first started out with a 3d printed piece (x2) that is seen in the 4th picture (link down below). This mounts onto smaller wing, where the beam saber is usually stored, and a ball joint is included for the holder arms to attach to. Additionally, I also pinned the connection piece, meaning that I cut off the original plastic peg, drilled a hole into the part (1/16"), and replaced it with a paper clip with the appropriate diameter (secured to the piece by krazy glue).

The result was clean and simple, and the twin buster rifles can fit into the holder slots with a little push, although they tend to fall out time to time. Furthermore, because of the moving joints in the holder arms, there is an added effect where the twin buster rifles can swivel out and be used without having to come off (5th and 6th photo): something similar to the Build Strike Gundam's cannons.

Link to 3d printed part: (https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2379662)

Step 5: Accessories/Modifications (Part 2)

Looking at the Wing Zero, I thought it really needed some swords... so I gave it two. For the hilts, I used the beam saber hilts that the kit came with. This was so that the gunpla can securely hold the swords in the included gripping hands. As for the rest of the sword, those came from plaplate: cut out the desired shape using a hobby knife, use some Tamiya plastic cement to join the pieces together, take a sanding stick to rub off the extra cement and make any adjustments to the plaplate parts, and paint! The swords were hand painted, using the gunmetal paint from the inner frame detailing for the hilt, silver metallic sharpie (also from Michael's) for the blade, and a gold oil-based sharpie for the thing between the blade and the hilt (I forget what that was actually called :P).

To store the swords, I used the HG Gundam Bael scabbard pack, which conveniently can hold the swords by the hilts. As for mounting it to the gunpla, the backpack has an area to plug a base adapter into; I used this to my advantage and glued a polycap that plugs into the scabbard pack using krazy glue. As a result, I was left with a part that allows me to connect the Bael's scabbard pack onto my gunpla. It gets a little crowded in there with all the wings and the buster rifles, but it works after a bit of adjustment.

Step 6: Accessories/Modifications (Part 3)

Other accessories and modifications included further detailing of the twin buster rifles and tightening the joints on those feathers. As for further detailing of the twin buster rifles, nothing much to say: apply a white coat of paint on the outer plating of the weapon, then go through all the minute details by hand with a copper and silver acrylic paint.

As for tightening the joints on the feathers, I used krazy glue to "enlarge" the diameter of the ball joints. This is so that the feathers are tightly secured in the wings; one thing I noticed in the original gunpla that I based this off of was that those feathers tend to become very loose over time. As a matter of fact, I advise this for most other joints on the wings to ensure that nothing flops down when you try to pose the wings.

Step 7: Final Thoughts

After applying some panel lining, decals, and the final layer of topcoat, I am left very satisfied with the final product, especially since that this is my first ever custom gunpla, although there were things I would like to improve. For instance, the 3d printed parts do not exactly fit with the overall aesthetic of the model, and the swords look rather on the plain side. Furthermore, I was hoping to include an additional accessories, which were "feather bits," which were sub units that come off the wings, fly around, and do stuff, but I didn't have the time nor the skills to implement such.

Nevertheless, in working on this project, I learned that through gunpla customization, we can turn something old and common into something new and fresh from our imaginations.

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