My best friend's reaction wasn't what I was expecting. His model kits looked clean, for straight kit builds with no detail. They were simple and plain, but nice nonetheless. He had assembled his right off the bat, with no aftermarket changes made. Mine looked like somebody had ruined it, and it was no longer a worthy weapon of war. It was more akin to a poor action figure that had been stepped on and abused, not a battle-hardened weapon of war.
My next model kit was just like the last one, in that I felt compelled to paint it up like it had been through a tough fight. However, I did so with much more care and detail than the first. The artificial blast marks looked more realistic (for a piece of plastic); the parts stayed together much more readily, due to the higher quality of the kit. Every thing that I had done on the first one that made it a horrible abomination somehow made this second one an excellent model. I couldn't put my finger on it, but I figured I would try yet again with this upcoming third model.
My friends were impressed briefly by the new model, but quickly their attention would move on. The third model kit construction began, and I spent a good deal of time constructing, the minor details of the kit were on my mind once again. Every last inch of the thing was adorned with the wounds of the battlefield, but this was not the greatest attraction of the kit by far. No, the main thing that I had been toiling away at was adding lighting to the mono-eye of the Zaku II FZ that lay before me.
When you find yourself at college, drilling a hole can be a daunting task. And so I tackled it as best as I could: by spinning my screwdrivers in place as fast as I could, so as to slowly whittle away little shavings of plastic. Millimeter by millimeter. Speck by speck. It took hours upon hours to completely drill through the little head section that was smaller than my finger tip, but it happened. My hands hurt afterword, but it was worth it. A tiny little LED was permanently encased in the tiny little Zaku head, and the leads were fed down the neck of the kit, into the backpack of the beast. Hollowing out the backpack took a fraction of the effort, and soon it was full again, but this time with a button battery.
The worn look was applied to this one just as it was to predecessors. But that light-up mono-eye was what made it a fantastic model. And damn it, it was a step in the right direction.