When I built the Santa Gundam, I thought that would be the end of it. It was a quirky, fun little experiment; a diversion from more serious pursuits. However, like so many things, it didn’t just stay at that. I began to wonder: “If I have a Santa Gundam, what other kinds of Christmas Mobile Suits could I make?”
Now, you probably realize that it’s a bad idea for me to start talking to myself, or asking myself questions. This situation was no different. However, the answer was not obvious. I didn’t have anything that looked like a Snowman, a Yeti or an Elf… so I was at a loss. However, Peter, a friend of mine at IPMS London, had a B’Cue he wanted to sell. Now THAT had possibilities!
A B’Cue is a quadrupedal mobile suit from the Gundam Seed anime. The B’Cue is, in fact, one of the ONLY quadrupedal MS designs period, which makes it uniquely well suited to this project. I mean, what could be more natural than Santa having a reindeer at his side? While the Santa Gundam is from the UC continuity, I really didn’t think there would be much of a problem putting the two of them together.
The B’Cue is typical of a 1/144 HG Seed kit. It is relatively simple, but very well laid out and, for the most part, easy to put together. There are some differences in the B’Cue, however, that make it a bit more interesting that its bipedal brethren. The first is that each leg is also a tread unit. The B’Cue has a “tank” mode that is designed to give it faster mobility on flat ground. The MS squats down (like a sleeping dog) and drives on tank tracks that are on the back of its legs.
These tracks are reproduced on the kit as rubber bands. Now, I know, armour modellers out there are going to be pulling their hair out when they hear that, but let’s face it, this is a model of a giant dog that turns into a rolling giant dog, so we need to keep things in perspective. The tracks go on relatively easily, but the problem is they have to go on BEFORE the leg goes together. Thus, they’d have to be masked during painting, and that’s just too much hassle. To mitigate this, I simply carved a seam down the front of each leg. This got inked in as a panel line when the kit was done, so I could paint everything separately and then assemble them. This is an awesome cheat, and I used it on the Santa’s upper legs, too.
The other interesting part of the B’Cue is the neck. It is made of several separate segments, not unlike a spinal column. To hold these together, there is a loop of wire that runs up one side and down the other. This provides stiffness and flexibility all at once. The neck won’t take repeated bending, but it will hold itself in place and allow you to position it and still hold its shape. This is an amazing idea and I was astounded how well it worked!
The biggest problem with the B’Cue is that it has wings. “No, that’s fine!” you say. “Santa’s reindeer fly, so this only makes sense!” To that I say “Bah Humbug!” Reindeer, even Santa’s, don’t have wings. Thus, I had to find a way to remove the wings without compromising the entire structure of the kit. Thankfully, the wings only bolt onto the body in two slots. All I had to do to cover that up was insert a piece of sheet styrene. I faired this in with a little CA, and you’d never even know there were supposed to be wings! The wings normally are found at the very back of the MS’s front half, if you’re wondering!
The only other mod was to take the B’Cue’s weapons systems off. I mean, really, have you ever seen a reindeer with guns or missiles on its back? Be real… the strange raised pylon on the B’Cue’s hind end is designed for mounting weapons, so all I did was cover the hole in the top of the pylon with some sheet styrene, sand it down, and voila!
Painting and Finishing:
The standard B’Cue is bluish purple, red and yellow. It’s a gaudy mix well-suited to a cannon fodder MS. However, it’s not well suited to a reindeer. To fix this, I painted the top half of the B’Cue in a medium brown Testors Model Master Acrylic that I mixed up from various colours, and I did the belly in a mix predominantly made from Radome Tan MM Acrylic. The colours were all hand painted.
I did the mechanical bits (neck, waist, etc.) in MMA steel, and then black washed and brown washed them to give them a bit of realism. I did the two exhausts (see the B’Cue’s hind end for that) in MMA Jet Exhaust, and washed them similarly. I did the vents on the weapons pylon and the chest breathers in MMA Brass so that they’d match the Santa Gundam. They were washed with both the black and brown as well.
I washed the rubber tracks with both Badab Black and Devlin Mud washes (from Citadel) to highlight the detail on them. I was amazed to find that the washes actually held to the rubber, even when it was bent into shape! Definitely a great thing to remember for Gundam kits, whose polycaps are generally not known for holding paint!
I did the nose on the B’Cue black, because Rudolf is just TOO clichéd. I mean, I want this to be original, right? The head antennae (substituting for antlers) were done in the same colour I used as the basis of the wood in my Sundance Express van. Everything was satin coated using Delta Ceramcoat Matte Indoor/Outdoor varnish, mixed with a bit of Future. The outlining was done using a Sakura calligraphy pen.
It only seemed fitting to have a reindeer to go with my Santa. This was a simple project that didn’t take me much time, but it does make a nice addition to the holiday display!
The next question we should all be asking is… what’s next?? I have a Santa and a reindeer, what else would go with this scene? There I go, asking questions again…
Merry Christmas, all!