This blog entry is the missing #4 from the sequence of WIP for my Musha Mk-II Gundam. Okay, that's a lie. I must have mistyped when starting the next WIP after number 3 and instead of a 4 hit the 5 key. Ya, that's it. I didn't notice this at all until someone was nice enough to point it out to me. Rather than leave #4 as nothing I thought I would blog about the work I did on the Musha's weapons; the Naginata (薙刀) and the Tachi (太刀).
The shaft for the Naginata that comes with the kit is far too short, so the first thing I did was use one of my plastic rods and make a new one.
I also didn't like the piece Bandai designed as the tsuba (鍔) on the kit so I altered it.
Part on the right, I don't need you!
Now the length is as it should be.
The plastic rod is wider than the original shaft which means the piece that Bandai has for the Ishizuki (鐏) won't attach. I originally considered modifying the rod to fit the Ishizuki but then decided that the Ishizuki would be out of scale with the weapon and so I made a new Ishizuki by taking the existing one and gluing it to a poly-cap I found in my spare parts bin.
I then took a plastic rod of thinner diameter and glued it into the Ishizuki then drilled a hole in the new shaft and inserted it into the shaft (after painting of course).
I used Tamiya Silver Leaf paint for the Ishizuki, Tsuba, and also the blade of the weapon because a gold blade just looks ridiculous.
Because I didn't want a gold blade on my Naginata I went ahead and ordered a part from Bandai , namely the Naginata from the Shin Musha Gundam. I then used the Gold Naginata blade as a test piece for my paint thinner process because I planned to remove the gold plating from all the pieces.
However the blade for Shin Musha's Naginata doesn't mount the same way so instead of modifying the new shaft I had just made I decided to try and paint the Mk-II's blade. And, in my opinion, it turned out looking better than the silver plated blades that came with the kit. The kit's blades are of course very reflective however, because they are plastic of course, upon close inspection they lack all the things that make real forged japanese blades interesting, most importantly the 'grain', or Hada (肌), pattern produced from all the folding. The silver leaf sprayed overtop of my sanded piece produced a result similar to a real blade. So I decided to do it for the Tachi blade as well.
The Tachi as a weapon predates the Katana (刀) and was worn and used differently. To get the aspects of my Mk-II Tachi correct I consulted my reference books.
The Connoisseur's Book of Japanese Sword by Nagayama Kokan. Probably the most comprehensive book about Nihonto (日本刀) written in english.
Here is a picture from the book showing the shapes of the Tachi compared to the Katana.
Generally the Tachi have a deeper sori or curve than Katana and the deepest part of the curve is found nearer to the handle (Koshizori) rather than the center (Torizori). As I didn't intend to bend the blade piece at all I would need to get that effect by bending the handle, or Tsuka (柄). I grabbed a lighter and heated the piece until it was pliable.
Another thing I should mention about Tachi is that the are mostly regarded as weapons used by warriors mounted on horseback. A warrior on horseback would usually have the weapon attacehd by a long rope, or sageo, rather than have it tucked in his belt. It also would come with more elegant mountings. But how to create those mountings out of plastic?
After gluing the parts of the sheath, or Saya, together to remove the seam lines I wanted to add a nice-looking end part to it. The end of a Saya for a Tachi has a metal piece there so what I opted to do was take one of the parts from the second saya that was included with the kit and glue some plastic stripping onto it.
I wrapped this strip completely around the part and let it dry. I then took my pin vice and drilled two tiny hold on each of the long sides and one tiny hole on each of the shorter sides. I then took my side cutters and cut from the edge of the strip to the drilled hole from two angles. Then painted it Silver Leaf. You'll see the end result in the final shot.
The next step was to make the metal pieces that go around the sheath where the knot is tied. For that I took some of the small loops I made previously made from spare parts when constructing the belt and glued some plastic strip onto them, wrapped it around the Saya, and glued the other end on forming a loop.
Once dry I slid it off the Saya and painted it Silver Leaf.
For the Tsuba, or the hand guard, I took my pin vise again and drilled a large hole on each corner so that the corners were drilled off, leaving a star type pattern. For the part on the end of the handle, or Kashira, I rounded off the piece that came with the kit.
It definitely looks more like a Tachi now.
Now the blade. And I spent more time on this than I probably should have considering how difficult it is to see the results. The first step was to remove the silver plating by dropping it into a water/paint-thinner mixture and then to sand off the remaining silver. I then sanded it down repeatedly gradually increasing the fineness of the sandpaper finishing with 2000 grit.
Real Nihonto have hamon! The hamon is the cutting edge of the blade which the bladesmith covers in clay before quenching the blade in water. The result is the very sharp cutting edge Japanese blades are famous for. How the clay is applied determines the pattern of the hamon. It can range from straight (suguha) to wavy (gunome) to some fantastically elaborate examples (sudareba springs to mind).
I don't have clay... or a forge.. or real metal. I'm working on plastic so to produce a hamon on my plastic blade I thought I would try a method similar to what bladesmiths use. I took my silver gundam marker and drew a hamon onto the blade.
Also, each blade has a Boshi at the tip. This is difficult to describe but I decided to try and make one myself. Warning, bad pic on the way...
After the gundam marker I sprayed a coat of silver leaf and the hamon was visible (sorry no pics) but the piece needed a second coat of silver leaf and after that the hamon was much less distinguishable. Just like an older blade that needs a polish. haha.
And here is the Tachi as a finished product, complete with authentically tied knot.