Kit review of Terry Miesle's SF3D Gustav .

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Starship Modeler: SF3D Gustav Kit Review



[Not Front]


[Left Side]

You can barely make out the air freshener ...


No kung-fu grip here.

[Not Sammy Sosa]

Cubbies in Space!

By Terry Miesle

Nitto’s SF3D kits have been kind of an inside secret for many years now. Those who were able to buy them when they were last produced constantly raved about them while lamenting their disappearance from the retail market. Those of us who never knew of them when originally released never quite knew what we were missing. That changes now. The kits are being re-released under new names. I obtained a Gustav "powered armor" kit, and quickly started to build it.

The Gustav is a single-man suit of powered armor. An engine positioned in the rear provides power for the unit, and a large panzerfaust rocket propelled grenade is also included, but the hand is not sculpted to accept it (no kung-fu grip, either).

The Nitto kits are produced from immaculate moldings in a somewhat brittle styrene. The Gustav also contains a wire mesh – pre shaped to fit perfectly in place, along with wires and springs to fill out the remaining details. No flash, warping, miscasts or blemishes were on any pieces – a really beautiful piece of engineering.

The SF3D universe is a future WWII environment, and the units released now seem to be mostly German types. I wasn’t too impressed with the German uniformed pilots and decided to change mine. More on that later.

Cleanup and beginning

Many of the joints on the Gustav are held with polycaps. The hips are an unusual exception – they’re ball-and-socket joints. This will need care while building. Make sure all your dryfitting is done before applying any glue.

I used Gunze-Sangyo Grey-Blue H337 as interior primer. All the interior pieces received this treatment, as did the inside faces of the hinged armor plates. After that had dried and had been sealed, blackwashed, and drybrushed with lighter grey those parts were masked and the exterior color applied.

I’ll make a quick note here, I painted the base color on these parts in subassemblies. The arms and legs (without ankle and knee armor) were assembled but the other parts remained loose. This kit is fairly tight around the legs, which would make painting difficult at best. The base color on mine is Gunze-Sangyo Middle Stone H71. The arms and legs were impressive when I assembled them – a light pass with the fine-grit sanding stick cleaned the joint, very clean indeed.


While painting the exterior, I started working on the pilot. I decided a ball cap would make a better future soldier appearance. I rebuilt the hat with CA glue and a sanding stick. It wasn’t tough, and looks more American, I think. The pilot has a dark green uniform with white scarf. His face was painted with more layers of acrylic paints than I can honestly remember – it’s not great, but it will do. The cap is Tamiya’s flat blue, the Chicago Cubs insignia is hand-painted. I added wires for the eye display and microphone.

Assembly and painting

The rest of the kit was assembled as per instructions, with a couple of notable exceptions. It went together without any troubles. The glass was left out of the body as were a couple of the detailing parts, such as the hoses, protective bars for the windows, and the pilot. The body top was also left off. The interior of the fan housing was painted Testors Model Master (TMM) Euro 1 Grey, and blackwashed, while the fan was pained silver.

I airbrushed some camouflage patterning with Gunze H84 Mahogany and H303 Green for a nice woodlands look. After this was dry, the model was coated with Future Floor wax, decals applied, and sealed. Several coats of Gunze’s flat clear provided a base for weathering. Blackwash then a mild drybrushing with the GS H71 was all I thought necessary.

The wires from the body to legs gave me some troubles. The inserts supposed to be placed in the body just didn’t work for me with the wire/spring assemblies. I found it easier to superglue them alone. I did find the springs just a bit too long, though, and cut them off. After these were added, the various rails and rods were added and painted flat black. Then the side glass windows were added, followed by the pilot and body top. The front windshield was glued in the open position as was the corresponding front panel piece. I painted a couple of display screens on this part, though it’s tough to see it. I also added a green pine-tree air freshener in the cockpit, though it’s visible in the pictures. The fact that the arms can be left off until the end with poly cap construction is a nice feature.


If you like the low-tech future powered armor look these kits provide, you wont' be disappointed in their engineering and assembly. They cry out for customization. Let's hope the interest in these kits is enough to spur a bit more releases. I enjoyed building this kit, and it took me nearly no time at all.

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This page copyright © 1999 Starship Modeler™. Last updated on 24 March 1999.