Bandai 1/144 “Elf Mech”

"Who are you calling chubby?" The fully Christmas-outfitted "Elf Mech" is a tiny, yet potent part of my Gundam Christmas Diorama. This is NOT what Bandai intended, I'm sure...

“Who are you calling chubby?” The fully Christmas-outfitted “Elf Mech” is a tiny, yet potent part of my Gundam Christmas Diorama. This is NOT what Bandai intended, I’m sure…

Sometimes, when you buy something you want, the company making it will throw in an extra, whether you want it or not. If it’s a model, it could be some extra weapons or a different cockpit, and if it’s a large Transformer city from the 1980’s, then it’s usually some little robot that turns into a little car or something. It’s not always what you want, but it’s kind of neat and it’s better than nothing. Usually, though, these “extras” are not all that great on their own.

However, Bandai is never one to leave its legion of fans wanting. Not only did they finally decide to make the GM Sniper II in HGUC form, they also decided to include an extra in the box! In this case, it was a small worker mech, the name of which escapes me. This little “bonus kit” is very simple, with only 9 parts and only 2 points of articulation. However, it is in scale (1/144) with the HGUC line, and it is nicely detailed.

The question is, what do you really DO with a mech that size? Well, if you’re like me, and you have a 1/144 Gundam Christmas diorama on the brain, you know EXACTLY what to do with it! “What do you mean?” you ask? Well, think about it! What is Christmas-y, smaller than other beings and kind of cute and rotund, just like a mini-Santa? Why, it’s an Elf, of course!  As soon as I saw the GM Sniper II came with this little mech I was more excited about the “bonus” than the main kit. With this “Elf Mech”, I am one step closer to rounding out my Christmas Display.

While small and of relatively fixed pose, the Elf Mech is a neat design that just screamed out for Yuletidification. He got his wish...

While small and of relatively fixed pose, the Elf Mech is a neat design that just screamed out for Yuletidification. He got his wish…

The Kit:

The worker mech, henceforth just referred to as “the Elf”, is very simple, and as I said has only 9 pieces. However, even THIS little guy has options. It has a choice of two different kinds of arms and two different kinds of searchlights. One type of arm is like an industrial robot, with a two-jaw gripper, and the other is more like a normal MS arm. One type of searchlight is square, and the other round. Depending what options you choose and where you put the lights, you can get quite a different effect.

The Elf is moulded in orange plastic but I don’t know why. The instructions call for one version to be greenish, and the other orangey, but neither is like the plastic. That’s why this guy is a bonus! If you want him to look good, you’re going to have to work for it, I guess. The moulding is nice, but very basic. There aren’t any clear parts or polycaps on this thing, the arms just snap into place as do the legs. However, the arms are ball-jointed at the shoulders, which is nice.

There aren't any clear parts, polycaps or neat gimmicks on this kit, but the detail level is stil excellent. Note the hoses and vents on this thing, despite his small size!

There aren’t any clear parts, polycaps or neat gimmicks on this kit, but the detail level is stil excellent. Note the hoses and vents on this thing, despite his small size!

Building and Painting:

There are several shortcomings on this little kit, though. For one thing, the backs of the “cans” on the shoulders are hollow, and need to be filled. I used a bit of Aves Apoxie Sculp for this. It adds a bit of weight to the top and back of the mech, but it doesn’t seem to affect its balance. This little work suit is actually very stable! In addition, the skirts over the tops of the legs have clearly marked “holes” in them for lightening them, but they’re solid. You can sort of make them look like holes by applying black marker to the circles to make them look “hollow”.

Here's the Elf's body before any painting. You can see that I've already drilled out the "holes" in the skirt armour. It's less evident here than on the finished product.

Here’s the Elf’s body before any painting. You can see that I’ve already drilled out the “holes” in the skirt armour. It’s less evident here than on the finished product.

This view of the skirt shows just how much you can see throug the holes. Just colouring them black wouldn't have worked as well.

This view of the skirt shows just how much you can see throug the holes. Just colouring them black wouldn’t have worked as well.

This sometimes works on larger kits with smaller holes. However, these holes are very prominent, and the best way to make them look good is to actually drill them out. That’s what I did, and it worked out awesomely. It adds a whole new dimension to the kit, and makes it look a lot less like a simple bonus figure. I also used my pin vise and tiny drills to deepen the “holes” in the feet, crotch and back-mounted pod thingy.

I chose the more humanoid arms for the Elf because I wanted it to look as “normal” as possible. I did, however, chop off the one spotlight mounting post on the one shoulder. I elected to use both body mounted pylons for more symmetry.

The paint scheme I chose was red and green, more or less what you’d expect for an Elf, right? I didn’t want all green, because he’s not supposed to be cammoed, but all red would have been a bit much given the Santa Gundam and Sled Jabber. I used the same green as I use on my Gundams’ rifle sights and eyes, which is a modified MMA Gloss Green. The red was MMA Guards Red. I did the skirts in gold with a wash of Devlan Mud from Citadel; I find the brown in the wash really brings up the gold tones, so long as it is put on very thin.

I painted the exposed mechanical bits of the legs, as well as the cabling and manipulators using MMA Steel; the “high heels” on the feet are in MMA Jet Exhaust. These components were given a light wash of both the Devlan Mud and Baddab Black to make them look more realistic.  To make the mech match its other Yuletide compatriots, it was satin coated with a fairly dull mixture of Delta Ceramcoat Matte varnish.

The next question became exactly what to do with this little guy. Well, Elves are known for making toys, but that wasn’t going to work. However, they’re basically also the guys who pack the sleigh for Santa, and since I have both a Santa and a Sled, it was a perfect fit! I found that the Elf was able to securely grasp one of the larger presents like on the Sled Jabber, so I just left him clutching it. It hasn’t fallen out yet, and it makes the Elf look properly busy and useful all at once!

Lift Test! This is not a nugget from the "Silver and Gold" song in Rudolph, but the largest Nerds candy I've ever seen. It was a good test for the Elf; he held it up no problem and I got a sugar high!

Lift Test! This is not a nugget from the “Silver and Gold” song in Rudolph, but the largest Nerds candy I’ve ever seen. It was a good test for the Elf; he held it up no problem and I got a sugar high!

For real this time. Here the Elf is hauling his precious cargo. Even with this much weight on the front, the Elf is extremely stable. What a tiny titan!

For real this time. Here the Elf is hauling his precious cargo. Even with this much weight on the front, the Elf is extremely stable. What a tiny titan!

Conclusions:

The little work mech may not look like much in the pack, nor may it take much time to build, but it’s a cute little doodad and I’m really glad to have one. I wish they’d sell a box of them (like 8 to a box), since they’re pretty useful for a lot of things.

It might not be a kit you want to enter into a hardcore show, but it’s fun and easy to do; a great piece to give to a junior modeller, perhaps, so they can assemble something while you’re building your GM Sniper II! It’s also well detailed enough that it will make for a good painting exercise for anyone wanting to try something new.

I was pleased that a few simple tricks could really bring this little guy to life, and he’s a valuable part of my overall Gundam Christmas Diorama.  What more could I want for free?

Without a present, the Elf just looks like some kind of Christmastime zombie. It's better to put him to work, I think.  Merry Christmas!

Without a present, the Elf just looks like some kind of Christmastime zombie. It’s better to put him to work, I think. Merry Christmas!

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