AMX-117 Gaz-R/L

The legs on the original kit are actually pretty good. The lower leg is fine as is (aside from the usual required joint replacement), and the upper leg is pretty good too, though a little scrawny. There are also some cosmetic problems with the knees.

The first thing I wanted to attend to was the pointy knee parts. They looked pretty soft, not very menacing, as a pointy knee should. In comparison with the huge curvy shoulder design on the Gaz-R/L, it just wouldn't do. So I built up the point with hardware store epoxy putty, first molding the basic shape by hand, then sanding it to a sharp point. The sides of the knee section (basically a cap for the lower leg) were also built out and reshaped using epoxy putty, giving them a more curved shape. I temporarily put the knee on the lower leg when applying the putty to the sides, to ensure a tight fit.

The vent/jet opening in the front of the knee is basically just a hole in the original model, and also needed work. I carved a "negative" of a beveled shape to fill it with, and glued the same arch shaped piece of plastic I used to make the chest vents on the end, then glued the negative on the end of a stick. The I filled the knee opening with Bondo polyester putty, pressed in the negative while the putty was still soft, then pulled it out after the Bondo set. This yielded a much better looking vent, which matched the chest vents in shape and style. You can see the negative plug and resulting opening in the picture.

In the process of bulking up the sides of the knee, I covered up the circular cutaways on either side, so they needed to be replaced. In my usual fashion, I decided to do this by pushing a negative into soft polyester putty. I ground away a rough recess with my dremel, filled it with Bondo, and pressed in the butt end of a hobby knife which had the right diameter. After the putty cured, I sanded it smooth, then glued in a Kotobukiya round mold for the raised circle in the center (not show in the picture).

The Gaz-R/L updates the original Galbaldy design with a pointy toe to compliment the rest of the design (good stuff!). This was simple enough to make out of sheet plastic, though I had to give it a couple of tries to get the shape right. I scribed a border on the bottom of the toe to match the kit sole detail. Again I only needed to make one, since both feet are the same.

The thighs were too skinny for my taste. I glued strips of 1mm thick plastic sheet between the leg halves before gluing them together. The extra thickness is just enough to keep the legs from looking scrawny, and also made some space for an improved knee joint. I also replaced the hip joints with large ball joints from the Kotobukiya polycap starter set 1. I cut away enough plastic to make room for the ball joint socket, and glued it in place with epoxy putty and CA mixed with cornstarch. The ball sections of the joint were glued in the ends of a section of brass tubing, which is attached to a hole drilled though the original hip joint mount. I love these large ball joints, they really hold a pose well, one ball joint can hold the weight of the entire model without moving.

The original kit has next to no articulation in the knee, even though it has a double polycap joint (thanks Bandai!). The Gaz-R/L being the knightly MS that they are, I wanted to be able to get more dynamic action poses out of the kits, so this had to go.
The first step was to saw off the knee section of the upper leg parts before gluing them together. The extra thickness added to the thigh allowed the knee block to fit inside of the thigh, which left me some options for making a hinge which would extend into the thigh when bent, providing a good range of motion.

After gluing together the thigh parts, I drilled holes in the sides for a section of sprue on which I installed a Kotobukiya t-joint. I glued the sprue in place with liquid cement, reinforcing it with CA (you can see the sprue rod in the pictures, surrounded by orange spot putty). Then I ground out the original polycap mounts in the sawed off knee block (these would have held the peg which plugs into the lower leg), and glued together the halves. I put the original polycaps on the kit knee peg, and attached it to the knee block by stuffing in epoxy putty and CA mixed with corn starch (also filling in part of the peg slot with epoxy putty, since I wouldn't need the peg to rotate as much, and the slot was ugly). Next, I drilled a hole in the epoxy so I could plug the t-joint in the thigh into the knee block, and added 2 small plastic tubes to simulate hydraulics when the knee is bent. When the t-joint rotates, the knee block retracts into the thigh a bit. The final joint can bend in 3 places, and provides a much better range of motion (looks better too!).

This image shows the range of motion of the joint by itself, and installed in the lower leg (with resin cast of the customized pointed knee). Note the visible "hydraulics", and plastic sheet used to thicken the thigh.

The design of the lower legs and feet is great, gotta love the 80's style MS bell-bottoms! The large opening at the bottom of the leg fits nicely around the foot, enabling a lot of interesting poses without ever exposing the mechanism that makes the foot poseable This made my job easier, since I just needed a joint that worked well, it didn't have to look nice.
As is, the kit has a decent amount of poseability in the feet, the mounting point in the top of the foot can rotate, swivel front/back and left/right, but I still revamped the ankle joint to get a little more action.

As is often the case, in order to keep the feet flat while spreading the legs a lot, the foot mounting point needs to be able to move from left to right, as well as your basic swiveling. I started to make a hinge just like the one I used in the Hi-Zack, but realized it was unnecessarily complex. The solution I came up with was to use a t-joint polycap (I love them!) that plugs into the top of the foot, and mount it on a section of sprue glued into the lower leg. The polycap can slide left and right on the sprue, enabling some great poseability with minimum fuss. I glued a section of brass tubing over the shaft of the polycap, which had the right diameter to connect to the p-cap in the foot, and added some strength to the joint. Click the image for a simple diagram.
The finished ankle has essentially the same functionality as the original, but the added side to side movement of the mounting shaft makes a big difference in the poseability of the foot.
No longer just a stack of parts, both legs are assembled and mated with castings I made of the abdomen and shoulders, things are starting to come together!

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