I had always wanted to do a custom Frame Arms Girl (FA:Girl) since the moment I saw my fellow hobbyists from Japan doing it. They would blend model airplanes and tanks etc with FA:Girls so seamlessly, they made it look like so much fun.
I was particularly drawn to the aircraft characters because I saw awesome Fighter Jet customs as well as WW2 Spitfires and everything in between, and this gave me an idea for my own custom work. This is how Avril - The Avro Arrow came to be.
The first of her kind and uniquely Canadian, Avril's design was inspired by the Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow. The aircraft was a delta-winged interceptor that could reach supersonic speeds and was built not too far from where I currently live.
I sought out to find some accurate decals at Wheels and Wings hobby store in Toronto, and began the task of coming up with a custom look for the FA:Girl Stylet that was to be the base figure. I didn't have much in the way of aviation parts laying around, so I tried some Gundam EZ-sR wing parts, as well as some MSG parts from the "Killer Beak" pack. I also had some smaller looking wings from a Megami Device kit weapon which I used behind the lower leg. She looked cool, but overall did not embody the look or spirit of the real Avro Arrow.
I put the project on hold so I could come up with a better look, but before I knew it lady luck smiled upon me in the form of a text from my pal Stealth. He was doing some shopping for Gundam kits and supplies and found the perfect set of wings for me to use from a Catsith model. He sent me a pic and I instantly knew it would be perfect.
Now that I had the parts all settled on and got lucky to find a connector bit for the wings to hook up to Stylets back (a part from the Killer Beak parts set) I was ready to start planning the colors and painting them on. This was a fairly easy task as I wanted her to look unmistakably like the real Avro Arrow. So I got white, black and red (AK Signal Red RC005) paint, and some silver for any metallic details. The whole kit was primed white, minus the flesh parts.
I used the 3 available brown colors I had on hand to give her a more realistic and genuine look for her hair color. I blended them the best I could and tried painting some subtle highlights in places. I used some bows from another FA:Girl kit (Baihu) to add on to her twin-tails and painted them, along with her skirt in a black and red plaid motif. I kind of screwed it up though when I wasn't paying attention to a tutorial. Luckily the end result was good enough not to be really noticed unless you conducted a close inspection.
Once the painting was completed I gave it a nice Flat top coat before adding some Tamiya panel line wash. I added Tamiya weathering pigment to her cheeks and such to give her a bit more life and make her feel a bit more cold to reflect the Canadian winter climate. Once that was done it was on to the fun decal placement! I used a reference to place the markings as accurate as I could to the real Arrow, and gave her the model number RL 225 as if she was a not too distant relative to the originals. I also couldn't resist placing my own unique Canadian stamp on it XD
I am really happy and excited with how well she turned out and also overjoyed at the great response her pics got on twitter. I knew she would be something special from the moment I conceived the idea. Having said that, creating her has taught me a bunch about how I could improve. Some design flaws and paint mishaps now stand out to me. Her twintails are too long and interfere with her wings, making posing very difficult and limitted. I have had to glue them back into place more than once because of this. I also learned to pay closer attention to painting over polycaps and connections so that the parts fit back together with a bit more ease.
Avril - The Avro Arrow will hold a special place in my collection, being my first real kit bash custom, my first custom FA:Girl and my first painted FA:girl. She won't be the last though! Plans are already being made for another Arrow to join her in protecting the skies over Canada.