Saturday, September 4, 2010

More about GKs and working with Resin Kits

I was asked once why I chose to work with Resin Kits more instead of the normal styrene plastic kits. Its actually not a choice, but sometimes more towards no choice. Resin kits are produced by GK businesses which helps to accomodate many fans' needs for products that are otherwise not available in the market.

What are GKs?

Avery Models whom I highlighted in my last post is an example of a GK business. In case you're not familiar with the term "GK", it stands for "Garage Kits". These are the innovative people who creates a business producing resin kits in their own backyard, creating kits of ships, planes, tanks, spaceships and even figures of subjects where no plastic kits are available. Its fan based, and due to the time, raw materials and work required, GK kits are normally more expensive.

Advantages of Resin Kits
  1. Fans get access to otherwise difficult to get, or non exisistent kits in the market
  2. Kits are produced more accurately as most do not have the licensing issues faced by established plastic kit companies (they pay more if their kits are too exact to the studio models)
  3. Availability of accurizing parts that makes stock plastic kits more true to their movie/TV persona, or the actual model
  4. Resin Kits are more durable to weather condition
  5. Resin kits or styrene kits that incorporate resin parts when completed and painted expertly makes a world of a difference to scale modelling

My Collection of Ah! Megamisama Resin Kits

Disadvantage of Resin Kits
  1. They're expensive
  2. There's too many different classes of resins used to produce these kits. Some businesses uses brittle resins which are more difficult to work with, and can deter new beginners from working with resin kits
  3. They're more complicated to work on compared to normal styrene plastics. Glueing parts together normally requires a process called "pinning" where joints have pins where you'll need to drill holes to hold them together
  4. Resin kits are heavier
  5. Some kits when damaged cannot be repaired

Can everyone work with Resin Kit?

The answer of course is yes, but a lot of preparations are required. As far as I know, there are actually only 2 reasons why many chose not to work with resin kits, the first being the cost, and the second, they feel intimidated by it. The latter was my demon.

I remembered my very first resin kit was that of the USS Belknap. I bought her when I was still at the University in USA through mail, and was a bit shocked when I received the kit (I haven't heard of resin kits then but was attracted to the build up images). The parts were nothing I expected, and I was really stumped at the materials used. Another thing I remembered, I found the parts heavier than conventional plastic kits.

I began work on her in my spare time, I got out my hobby blade (all my tools were still home in Malaysia then) and "tried" to clean out the excess flashes, and then applied layers after layers of instant glue to get her to stick (cursing most of the time cause she won't stick due to the weight). Then I applied coatings of gloss white with a can spray, and left her by the window to dry, then off to my classes.

My roommate came back first to a room filled with diesel stench. I still remember the lecture I received about using chemicals in my dorm room and the danger associated with it ... I actually painted the kit outdoors and only brought her in to dry. Apparently the enamel paint on the edges of the surface had turned to grease, or something similiar. I tried cleaning off the paint using whatever stuff I could find, alcohol, thinner, etc. Well, not sure what I used but something ate through the resin, and officially disfigured my kit. It look more like a hardened sponge.

At the end, I had no choice but to throw her away. It was a waste, and I remembered swearing off resin kits after that.

It wasn't until I met a friend who worked with resin kits that showed me the follies of what I had done. I surfed through the net for more information and tips, and some other skills I learned from others. Now I know. Its actually not that hard, but you'll need to work a lot on preparations.

Some basic things you need to know when working with resin kits
  1. Inspect your resin kit parts to make sure everything is accounted for.
  2. You will need to wash those resin parts completely to clean her. Basically you need to wash off that separating agent that prevents the resin from sticking to the mold. This agent will prevent anything from sticking including glue, primers and paint. There's a lot of discussion on what you can use to clean the parts but unfortunately a lot of these stuff are not easily available in Malaysia. I just use normal dish detergent, soaking the parts overnight just to be sure - so far no problems.
  3. Use a sharp hobby knife to carefully clean the excess resin flashes off the main parts.
  4. Some resin kits require major sanding while better quality kits only require 1,000 or 1,200 grade sand paper. You'll need to sand the parts to see if there were any air bubbles caught during the curing process. Air bubbles will cause a gap between the resin surface to appear and these need to be fill in with putty.
  5. Test fit the joints together, then you will need to pin the parts to ensure a better assembly. Pinning the parts is a little difficult for the novice but with experience, it can be fun. There are many methods to doing this and it'll take too long to explain here - so go googgle "Assembling Resin its" as there are many tips out there you can follow.
  6. Apply instant glue on the joints and place the parts together. Some may require clamping to ensure a perfect fit. When dry, apply putty to any gap seen in between.
  7. Then mask and paint.

Those are just some basic rules to working with resins, but I'm sure more rules will come once you start working with these kit. And oh yes, one word of advise. When sanding and painting your kit (using airbrush), make sure your work room is well ventilated, and you're wearing a protective face maks. You don't want to inhale all those chemicals.

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