I was very fortunate to have been able to acquire the classic Horizon 1/6 scale vinyl kit of Robocop. The Japanese influence on American models boosted quality to a point where today modern kits and, more importantly, toys are so well done that it’s hard to believe that this is one of the earliest kits.
All that having been said, I started with what was a standard vinyl kit element, trimming the parts. On this kit, that went very easily. Horizon did a great job molding this kit. The nature of these kits was also a decent pose-ability due to the design of molded parts. The soft vinyl parts like arms and legs and heads, once heated, can simply be inserted into a central body section and locked in, allowing some freedom of pose.
Theoretically the kit could be built within minutes of trimming and be painted after. Some parts, such as the leg pistons had to be glued on still and I chose to go ahead and do that.
I therefore had to attack the Robokit with a clear idea of the finished piece. He clearly had to be painted totally in advance. So I took him back apart and laid him out for review. The torso consisted of two parts, the upper body which would be mostly of the silver armor area would be painted whatever silver I chose and the lover torso, black. His hands were separate and would go black also. It is unfortunate that his gun is molded in his right hand (permanently) so that would be the last element dealt with. For now, it goes black.
All other parts, including his helmet, go silver but the head, which I would paint by hand.
Most of the time I go with a waterbased acrylic paint on vinyl kits. Problem there is no water based silver or metallic is really the color finish he seems to be in the first film. Too “silver” No steel or metal color worked right for me either. I therefore resorted to another medium, automotive vinyl paint. Very toxic. Even the can said “can cause neurological damage”…OK. I had to proceed with great caution due to fumes. Fine, I can do that. I just don’t recommend it.
I also wanted the vinyl paint to adhere to the vinyl surface, so…NO PRIMING…Just clean the surface and hang on.
So…I found a great warm gray that once dry had the exact basetone that would work well with the proper blueing effect.
Here’s where it does get tricky. As any fan knows, Robo has a complex blued quality that requires major blending (deeper blue for ROBO2…) In some kits I’ve seen, it’s kind of in the eyes of the beholder as well. I wasn’t interested in my ideas, I wanted ROBO.
I was prohibited from airbrushing this paint due to the can-based medium. I therefore found a chemically compatible metallic blue paint that I could mix with the silvergrey and began.
After spraying the parts silver (luckily, a great surface finish) I used the can cap for a mixing bowl and, blue paint handy, sprayed into the cap and mixed my blue paint quickly, and then hand-painted the blueing. Over and over and over. Layer upon layer. This paint dried fast. I slowly worked my blue deeper and deeper, mixing all the while, until I got the desired effect.
I do notice that Robo has a purplish highlighting as well, but it was just too hard to reproduce that without an airbrush as it seems to softly hit the highlighted areas, not the shadowy corners like the easily hand-painted blue.
This all dries very quickly and needs a LOT of ventilation.
I got the metals done then went back over with gloss vinyl black where needed.
Next up, I simply touched up areas in shadow or crevices with hand-painted water-based black acrylic.
His gun was drybrushed and washed with proper gunmetal colors matching the one in the film. It’s also flat, to make it stand out more and not look like an extension of his hand.
Now to do Peter Weller. I first decided to match up the vinyl black paint by spraying the head black. Since the water-based acrylic worked so well on the vinyl, I had no problems going back in and painting a deep, flat fleshtone on the exposed area of the face. I then did my detail work and layered lighter fleshtones on until I had the pale face of Weller in makeup. Hit the mouth and eyes (I always take time there) and the fleshy edges and, of course, the bullet in the forehead, and was finished there.
The back of his head has been tricky since it has the most visible detail of the kit.
Before, I just layered on the above bluetone and left it deep metallic blue as a sort of under-helmet-surprise. Now, thanks to the DVD and the shots available on the RoboCop Archive, I can finally finish him CORRECTLY.
Les Walker, ROBOFAN