Sunday, November 19

Read n' Reviewed: Mike Rinaldi's new "SM.03 Sazabi Custom" Single Model Book

We have already looked in detail at two books in the interesting new "SM" series (single Model) in the form of the first - SM.01 Fish Submarine & then the SM.02 S-65 Tractor in review here on TMN, but now, the third in this series is almost upon us, we have read it and now we can take you through what to expect if you were interested in this new volume...

SM.03 Sazabi Custom - Limited Edition
Rinaldi Studio Press
From the "SM" Series
By Mike Rinaldi
136 Pages
6.5" x 7.5" in softcover
US ISBN 978-0-9883363-6-0
Price $25
Rinaldi Studios always seem to make books that interest us here at TMN. The methodical way that Mike models make for excellent popcorn, material while you read, a highly procedural visual style of showing off his work step by step (SBS) fashion as the process evolves in front of your eyes has been the subject of several books we have read and reviewed here on TMN. From the landmark TankArt series that examined a genre of armour modelling each time we saw TankArt 1 giving us German Vehicles, TankArt 2 that provided us with the Allied armour of WWII. TankArt 3 gave us Modern Military, while Volume IV of TankArt showed us more German WWII tanks.

This was a start, next evolution was the building on that series with something that focussed tighter on a single kit in a smaller book that was more specific, but also giving the author a chance to spread his wings into something different. This has materialized in the form of the new series called “SM” or “Single Model” which took the focus from a whole genre, to a single model type with maybe one, maybe two of the same kits being built up for the reader. Having already reviewed the SM.01 Fish Submarine and then the SM.02 S-65 Tractor books here on TMN, we are anxious to see the latest in this series - of "Single Model" books, this time centred on the SM.03 Sazabi Custom robot.

This smaller series of books is no doubt a faster way to get the content of a single model to the reader in a more immediate way, we can follow what the author, Mr Mike Rinaldi, is doing as his books in this series has reduced the lag time of the model to print. It’s an exciting idea for the author/ model maker and the reader alike.
 SM.03 Sazabi Custom - Physical Make-Up of the book
The smaller page count at 136 Pages mirrors the smaller size of the physical book. At 6.5" x 7.5” in dimension, its actually a neat size that makes it easy to take with you to read on the way to and from somewhere like work. The book has been doing the rounds with me for the last month or so while I try and sneak in time to read it amongst boring work and life tasks (sigh) while the softcover portrait format binding for those who are not familiar with it is of a very different type of material to most off the shelf modelling books you might know.

Bound special linen stock that has a unique look and feel to me. It is an environmentally friendly 30% PCW uncoated paper a throwback to the older books that were bound in a similar material you may remember from your childhood. Those – often English - storybooks that had a textured feel on the cover – that is what this reminds me of very much, that quality feel and memory. Those penguin, Bantam books from your treasured almost handmade memories years ago are what I am recalling here.

 See the texture? lovely...and surprisingly hard wearing
The second part of the book that is seen very easily without even looking further is the highly visual style of the volume. Like Mike’s other books, this is also a book driven by visuals and seeing that more modellers are also highly visual beings - I mean we all LOOK at models more than anything else – it suits my own reading style so well to have this SBS (Step by Step) way of following the author’s work. Bright colours like orange mixed with grey and clear and easy to read fonts mixed in with all of the photos make the builds easy to read.

I thought I would take you through the composition of the book in its physical state, then the real chapter to chapter content so you can see a little more about the book you might just – or not, buy for your own. What better way to see than to read through it? Let’s get going then.
You can get your copy signed by the auther if you wish... 
The Book in detail…
We start by reading all about the reason why the Author chose the subject of the not so mainstream SM.03 Sazabi Custom robot. The Author tells why he chose the kit, how he was going to model his – with a unique take on someone who isn’t particularly a seasoned veteran in the genre. Those familiar with Mike’s work will have picked up on a theme from previous volumes that I just mentioned – that of the WHY and the HOW.
Right up until page eleven you are described the experience that the author wants to bring to this series. The difference between saying simply “what” the modeller did is out here – we are shown “why” he made the decision – from the materials and the weathering chemicals used that would not attack Gundam plastic, to the “how” of the way that he applied the process, rather than saying “I applied a wash” etc. I know I see too much of the former “I did this and that” and don’t learn enough ABOUT the process, and that is what Rinaldi wants to give us in his books. I was glued into the pages of the process at this point.
It is at this point that the author starts to show off his main weathering processes. The hairspray technique is first, with a simple rundown of how and why, what material the author uses and why. The proficiency of learning any skill is in the “doing” however, and Mike takes us through the exercises in simple Step by Step (SBS) method on a test model of the same type of Rick Dom kit.

In the "women's magazines" the circles are called "circles of shame" that denote where celebrities have gone wrong - here Mike uses circles to emphasize where youcann go right and to bring attention to these important parts he is discussing.
His process of exposition gives us, matching pictures with captions to illustrate the points he is making so far. This re-enforcement of the process can be used kinda like a cookbook – follow the instructions and practical lessons, it is more like a textbook than any other modelling series of book I know. The lesson is in the doing, not reading what someone else simply did.

Although not using the "lay flat binding" of the Tankart series, these books sit pretty flat on your workbench.
We see the processes of undercoating and the paint going on, the layers of hairspray and then the white/grey and orange make this a striking colour combo to work with, and a contrast to the worn elements in the undercoat that come out through the chipping tests that the modeller shows us. The Oils are next…

We look at one of the techniques Rinaldi is most well-known for next – that of Oil Paint Rendering or OPR as it’s often called here. Mike stresses that he sees this as painting the model, and not weathering it, and I understand his approach as he shows us the basics using Wilder’s new range of oil paints as a testbed here in a process breakdown before he begins testing. The re-introduction is for those unfamiliar or needing a brush up (pardon the pun) on Mike’s own technique and it is brief and to the point, as we practice it with him through this chapter.
Starting at the chip (paint chip), using dark speckling and working our way through the panels and areas little by little, the author builds on his layers to show the power of this technique in the finishing of your own kit.

Several pictures of before and after parts of the test model show the real benefits of the OPR technique as we are talked through the nuances of the technique and just HOW to make yours work in a similar way – he explains the method rather than simply illustrating the result after it is finished. This happens throughout the book and I can say it’s a game changer over other books of the type.

It is page 45, and we now start at the Sazabi Custom model…the real subject of this book.

The Bandai #851352 Master Grade Neo Zeon MSN-04 Mobile Suit Sazabi “Ver.KA” kit in 1/100th scale is new to me, probably too many modellers, but that is not the case in especially Asia and Japan, and not the case with hardened Gundam model makers. Being Mike’s first (after his practice) Gundam kit, he was shy about rushing into the assembly and as he shows us, he used the kit’s parts and colours to help sort out the painting process he would undertake in his own – non-cannon build. This makes total sense to me and I was interested in how someone else tackles a new type of kit.
Painting the kit is next, and we start by looking at the colours that he is going to paint the main model and his parallel “testbed” model we see that is built almost in tandem. The use of the new brand called “Mission Model Paints” from the USA is discussed, and this is the first real time that I have seen these in action in a build that describes their use. I was interested to see how they would perform.
Mike talks us through the little extras he adds to the model, through the priming process, the properties of these new MMP primers and their main benefit to the modeller (especially the soft plastic Gundam modeller) and then the hairspray goes on. We have already seen how he applies this medium but he tips us off again to let it dry between coats and other pointers, again educating on the how rather than the simple showing of the result, we then get to the laying down of exterior paint colours.

As we are talked through how this paint works, it’s application (and notably the huge tick of approval the modeller is giving it by using it in his book) we look at how the ideas of the painting pattern is changing in his mind, the military greens and then on to the lighter orange and white trim are a nice counterpoint to each other the masking and painting continues until the model is at a point that the effects of chipping and OPR can be brought into the process, and this is where the real fun starts as the author lays down his own style into the model’s look and feel.
The Hairspray technique is the next part of recreating the realism in the right scale, here being 1/100 the wear and tear have to be smaller and more precise. The author shows us how the most delicate of touches (notice I said shows us) effect the scale realism of the model. The “whys” (or “W” at the start of each caption) at this point let us know that the modeller is still evaluating his process and results as he continues through the model. The looking at, leaving, then coming back to the model to re-evaluate just how things are going is a great lesson to those amongst us who just want to finish fast, and maybe a prod to those who abandon projects because they can’t get back into them. The impetus to get back in the saddle with a fresh look is interesting.
The use of Windex (window washer) is shown here, an alteration on the hairspray techniques that provides smoother wear, it is illustrated to good effect in combination with the regular hairspray technique to give the option of a combo of softer and harder-edged textures to your model. Innovative and informative is the order of the explanation given here, again and again – just like a lesson.

After a further construction of the pieces, and an examination and more musings on if the chipping and paint areas all naturally blend, the author moves on to the next step, markings and stencils on the kit. With a nod to the Samurai of old, the numbers and markings are masked, painted and worn away all step by step by the author.  The next step is the weathering and finishing of the kit.
The “H” & “W”’s are going off in this next section, when the author combines the already beaten and scratched model with the OPR effect of painting and weathering. The work now turns to a precise application of a limited amount of oils to not flood, but to accentualize the layers in yet another one in this process.

We look at a four-page spread of simple picture with text title to show a process of the OPR in action. Blending, speckling, dust layers, grease, streaks, more grease and dust, paint shades, stippling, blending in the markings, a pin wash, a gritty texture application - this section shows of this process almost like a flick book, step by step as the final touches are rendered into something a lot more than they appeared at the start. This is just the first layer of this modeller.
We move on to the final stretch of the next layer of textures, with more step by step boxes showing how the patina of the models is brought to bear through not just a random, but a precise and almost surgical application of oils one after another, bringing out the a hair dryer in between to speed things up, moving from the dirtiest to the cleanest parts of the kit and working his way around the model to make it scale realistic and to me, well-lit even in the dark with the various bright and dark tones mike injects though his rendering…
And this - at page 115 is the end of the text. The end pages give us a walk around and a gallery of the finished model. What a beauty! Not standard Gundam at all, but this man’s take on a model scheme and a story that he wanted to tell. I must mention just how impressed I was with the photography in the book, both the instructional and the artistic shots are so very well done I cannot fault them. They bring a lot to the already very impressive graphical design of the book.

The last two pages feature a look back at what step came where in the process, what page it was on for easy reference.
This is just another reason I look at this book like a modeller’s cookbook. Something to help you learn a recipe to bring your model out to your own tastes. The book is sometimes a lot to digest – but the end feeling after the “meal” leaves me the most satisfied I have been in a long long time. The book is not so much "fast food" that makes you feel horrible afterwards, but a fine roast meal, with lots of types of dishes that fill you up incrementally.

I could not think of a better book to give to a modeller to learn his trade in this age of modelling and the quest for realism we find ourselves in. Congratulations to the author and modeller – his book and model are something to be truly proud of.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to Mike at RSP for sending this book to us to read, If you are interested in what you see you can get a copy of your own from this link on the Rinaldi Studio Press Website...

Out of interest - if you liked what you saw of Mission Model's Paints on this kit the link to their website is Here