Book Review
Sazabi Custom
Single Model 03 - Sazabi Custom
  • move

by: Mario Matijasic [ MAKI ]


Gundam is a science fiction media franchise created by Sunrise Inc. that features mecha robots - large, bipedal, humanoid vehicles controlled from a cockpit by a human pilot.

Bandai, Gundam's primary licensee, produces a variety of model kits depicting the vehicles and characters of the Gundam universe. These kits have become popular among mecha anime fans and model enthusiasts in Japan since the 1980s, spreading to North America and Europe through television, video and manga in the 1990s. A Japanese cultural icon, the Gundam franchise generated ¥80 billion in 2014, ¥18.4 billion of which was retail sales of toys and hobby items.

Adapted from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gundam


Single Model book series from Mike Rinaldi of Rinaldi Studio Press (RSP) is dedicated to show the modeling process from start to finish, with an emphasis on painting and weathering techniques, on a single subject. The motto of the series is “all scales – all eras – all subjects”, which allows Mike to tackle a wide variety of model kits in different scales, showcasing his modeling techniques in detail.

The third title of the series deals with Sazabi Custom, a 1/100 scale Gundam mecha from Bandai. Here are the basic facts:

Title: Single Model 03 - Sazabi Custom
Publisher: Rinaldi Studio Press, LLC
Format: paperbound (16.5x18 cm)
Pages: 136
Color: full color
Language: English
ISBN: 978-0-9883363-6-0
Retail Price: $25

The book follows the compact format laid with the previous Single Model volumes. Printed on glossy paper, the book features a very attractive layout: the pages are packed full of large images, with accompanying text in dual narrative format of "how & why" visually separated using "H" (how) and "W" (why). This text format is unique to RSP publications as it describes the theory behind modeling techniques, but also the reason of using the techniques for achieving a particular effect.


The book opens with a short introduction from the author in which Mike explains his idea to enter the mecha robot world and describes challenges of working in small scale. The following pages are dedicated to Mike's modeling philosophy which revolves around precision and control, two fundamental processes for improving the skills and stepping up to the next level. The best way to improve the skills is practicing, and this is the topic of the technique proficiency chapter.

Technique proficiency

The most important take home message from all Mike's books is to practice. When being away from the hobby for a while, trying new concepts or techniques, even when switching genres... the core process to gain confidence in your skills and achieve your modeling goals is practice. In this book Mike presents two Gundam kits as test subjects to refine his skill set to 1/100 scale. The models are far from perfectly built or painted in the precise anime colors, but they serve their purpose well... testing the hairspray and oil paint rendering techniques to the extreme in-scale realism. These pages are full of trial and error in achieving surface wear and tear on a small scale kit, perfectly encompassing the process of evaluation and correction, showing even the great modeling masters need to practice. Mike also offers numerous tips on the two techniques, not just how to apply them but also the rationale behind each step in the process.

Sazabi Custom

The subject of this title is Sazabi Ver Ka in 1/100 scale from Bandai. After a chapter on assembling the kit and a huge praise for superb Bandai engineering, the real fun starts: painting the model. In his vision to create something unique rather than a pure anime paint scheme, Mike uses Mission Models primer and paint in imparting military tone to the color scheme. The model is further processed using hairspray technique, with the author discussing the variances of paint opacity, the amount of hairspray, chipping tools and all the other important factors that affect the final outcome of this powerful method. Windex technique is explained as well, providing a softer contrast to the paint wear and tear than the hairspray chipping. After adding the markings using paint masks and chipping them to match the paintjob, the finishing process commences. Mike uses weathering for storytelling aspects of scale modeling and his oil paint rendering is a perfect choice to achieve a realistic finish. The technique is discussed in length, stressing the vital importance of precision and control in applying tiny quantities of oil paint and thinner for obtaining the desired result. Several step-by-step guides are included in this chapter, showing in depth what oil paint rendering is all about, accompanied with tips and tricks to get the maximum from the technique, building layer after layer of effects until the weathering process is complete. The book closes with a gallery of photos showing the finished model and providing a quick reference step-by-step of the entire build, from start to finish.

Final thoughts:

When I first received the book, I honestly had no idea what Gundam is all about, and was a bit skeptic about the interest for this particular Single Model volume among the military modeling audience. However, after reading the book, I completely understand the appeal of sci-fi subjects... unlike military vehicle models where studying real examples is a must in capturing the essence of a particular vehicle, sci-fi theme allows more guesswork and personal artistic style.

Single Model 03 - Sazabi Custom is an absolutely great book. As with all the titles published in this series so far, it features an extremely attractive layout combining large images which illustrate each step in the modeling process and the dual format text providing wealth of information in simple language, the book tells a complete story of a very interesting subject, from start to finish.

A big thanks to RPS for this review sample.
Highs: A cool subject, far from mainstream for military modelers. Large high-quality photos perfectly combined with detailed description of modeling techniques. Simple yet very engaging writing style.
Lows: None.
Verdict: Highly recommended.
  Scale: 1:100
  Mfg. ID: SM03
  Related Link: Rinaldi Studio Press
  PUBLISHED: Sep 28, 2017

Our Thanks to !
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

View Vendor Homepage  |  More Reviews  

About Mario Matijasic (Maki)

You wonder how did this addiction start? I was a kid when my dad broght home a 1/72 Concord airplane; we built it together as well as couple of other airplanes after that. This phase was just pure fun: glue, paint, decals in no particular order... everything was finished in a day or two. Then I disc...

Copyright ©2021 text by Mario Matijasic [ MAKI ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


Click image to enlarge
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move