One of Gundam’s most important characters is Sayla Mas. As the sister to Zeon ace Char Aznable and heir to the lineage of Zeon Zum Daikun, she has quite a pedigree. Add in the fact that she’s serving on a Federation ship along with a bunch of other inexperienced survivors of a Zeon attack and that she’s a Newtype to some degree, and you can see you have quite a lot of opportunities for character development!
That having been said, her character in the anime is a lot different to that in the Gundam novelization by Tomino. However, in both cases she is a fierce-willed and fiery addition to the White Base’s Crew. Add in that she’s one of anime’s first “Blonde Bombshells” (if you will) and you can see why she is instantly recognizable to anyone who is a fan of the original MS Gundam franchise!
Sayla’s 1/20 incarnation is part of the Bandai character collection issued as a box set for the 20th anniversary of Gundam in 1999. Like Icelina, and all the other kits in the collection, she’s moulded in clear (Seriously?? Why?) with a black base. Just like Icelina and the others, I don’t get it. A clear figure, to me, is pretty much pointless, especially with there still being seams on it. I mean, it’s not like it’s a single piece of Swarovski crystal or anything…
This model of Sayla is very simple, and aside from a few seams and a bit of sanding goes together very well. The detailing on her uniform is quite good, and there are lots of small wrinkles and folds to make it look realistic. The base is a nice and simple affair, although I had to add a piece of rod and drill out a bit of Sayla’s leg to keep her on there. She won’t stand on the base on her own; none of the figures in this set will!
One nice thing about this “official” version of Sayla is that none of her anatomy has been exaggerated for fan-service appeal. That can be a real problem with some aftermarket and third-party figures. Since this is a piece of Bandai product, they have done what they can to ensure tha ther proportions are correct. Rabid, basement-dwelling fanboys may be disappointed, but for those of use who like their figures to look like the anime, this is a nice plus.
Painting and Finishing:
Because she’s cast in so few parts, painting Sayla requires a fine touch with a fine brush. However, thanks to her being in uniform, it’s a lot easier to paint her arms than it was for Icelina!
Just like with Icelina, I used a mixture of Vallejo and Testors Model Master flesh. This did the job, but is a somewhat intractable combination of products, and is not something I’d recommend to those who are going to be doing big areas or a lot of figures at once. It’s thick, but doesn’t cover, and it takes a while to dry.
For her Federation uniform, I used Model Master Acrylic Light Grey for her pants (now she looks like she’s wearing white, but can do so after Labour Day), MMA Brown for her boots and a custom-mixed “dusty rose” colour for her tunic. The trim is in Guards Red and some kind of Frankenyellow, made out of both MMA and Badger acrylics. Her hair is a similar yellow.
The most important part on any anime figure is the face; and for Sayla, that goes double. The kit doesn’t have a particular expression “moulded in”, and if there’s one word to describe Sayla, it’s “moody”! She tends to change expressions a lot, and sometimes frequently. Due to her background, she’s always wary and preoccupied, and sometimes outright hostile, so a normally “happy, cheery” anime look doesn’t cut it for her. Still, I didn’t want a scowly figure, so I tried to give her an expression that matched her body language.
That’s where it gets harder; I find Sayla’s pose to be somewhat awkward. There’s a great amount of motion conveyed. This suits her well, as she’s often direct and a real “get-to-it” type. The pose of the figure makes me think she’s storming down a hall or away from someone she just slapped for being an idiot (perhaps Amuro, or more likely Kei Shiden). However, I wanted to try and capture a bit of a more mischievous look on her face, as if no matter to where she was going, or from where she was coming, she was satisfied with the situation.
As always, the eyes are the key. I put down a dot of white, and then did the blue. After that, the white “pupil shine” was put in. I did the eyebrows and the eyelashes with a Gundammarker. I did her mouth with Gundammarker, too, unlike the reddish paint I used on Icelina. Icelina was a privileged young society girl, all dressed for a party. Sayla is more mature and as a soldier has no real time or use for such frivolities as lipstick. Thus, the black line is perfect for her mouth, and it adds a sense of her having pursed lips, as well. If you notice, I did give her a bit of a smirk; it suits the situation I described earlier, I think.
Sayla is a major character in the Gundam universe, and as such is deserving of a nice figure kit. This might not be it, but it is the only mainstream injection kit of her you’re going to find, so just be glad if you can get one. It’s not a kit for someone who is only into Gundam casually, but it is a nice addition to a more hardcore fan’s display shelf.
If I could redo her, I’d make use of pastels to highlight her uniform’s creases and the lines in her hair. I think that would really make her “pop”. However, I did her before I knew that trick, and I don’t want to mess her up. Still I think she turned out well, and is a nice, personalized alternative to the figure that Bandai released in North America back in the early 2000’s.