I recently consolidated all of my "Zoids stuff" to fit in one corner of a room. This space was much needed as I have a semi walking 10 month old and an interested (almost) 3 year old investigating all projects. Now, affectionately know as "The Lab" I finally have a permanent, private, place to work on custom pieces. What better inauguration than a 20 year old Gul Tiger? My absorption in Dead Tiger was absolute, which is precisely the intent of any custom worth devoting time to.

Long have I envisioned a Dark Zoid version of Gul Tiger. I recently acquired a Gul Tiger in miserable condition including glued on parts, a missing triple cannon, ect.

 Perfect custom fodder, I set out to bring my Dark Zoid dreams into reality. I did several mock up's with Dark Zoid colors in various areas.The hardest part was removing the super glue. A quick soak in acetone did loosen up that parts at the downfall of discoloring the pieces. The discolored pieces were to be painted so I didn't mind, but do know this if you plan on using acetone to disassemble a previously "super" glued Zoid. This Gul Tiger was also missing a tail, so I had an extra Shield Liger tail laying around that I thought would be a good fit. I wanted to the unit to appear very sleek so I opted out of attaching any type of tail gun to the unit. I took the dremel and a picture of a "real life" panther and went to work sculpting the tail. 

Getting the perfect look of the nature tail curvature proved harder than expected. It took a couple of hours of fine sanding to perfect the piece. I also filled the holes in with putty.

A closer look at the end of the tail.

The next major issue I had to tackle was the missing cockpit. I crafted a cockpit out of several gundam pieces. 

I also had the idea to try translucent green eyes.

Below are the two cockpits plus the original.

I was undecided as to whether or not add a CP unit to the piece, as I did not want something bulky that would not retain the stealthy look of the Dead Tiger. I had decided not to do anything until I was recently creating "The Lab" and an unused CP 26 presented itself. I liked to look of the missile unit, but it fit vertically and I didn't want an elongated look with Dead Tiger. I decided to cut the main support and rotate it 90 degrees so the unit would mount horizontally. I wanted to avoid the "over-gunned" look, and I think using only the CP26 missile pack fit in with the furtive effect I tried to achieve.

Now with a CP, a cockpit, and tail it was time to mimic the paint scheme of the Dark Zoids. The goal was to achieve the look of the Darconium power core "illuminating" through only certain pieces of the armor. At first, it was hard to envision painting 80% of the unit black. The mock ups proved to be an immense help, as well as comparing Dead Tiger the other standard Dark Zoids. I decided to use a gunmetal grey on the feet and axle bar to break up the pattern. Ready to paint, I laid out the project.

I did the majority of the piece with an airbrush, and hand painted all the fluorescent green highlight. I took a break from the main body to work on the CP.

Below, the CP unit complete.

The paint process took 2 days, and I let the pieces completely dry (another 2 days). I went back three times to "clean up" the green, and tighten up the lines so they looked both natural and original. I truly believe that trying to mimic and existing Zoid pattern is more complex than doing a custom from scratch. I have about 50 hours into the piece total. Below are the dry, finished pieces ready to assemble.

After assembly, it was time to spot paint some minor imperfections, and touch up some areas that need more paint to make them all uniform. Back to the workbench.

For the finishing touches I used stickers from Dead Border, and another sticker sheet (I can't recall what it came with) that had the fluorescent green Dark Zoids markings. It was a perfect match right down to the Demon Skull logo I used to adorn each side of the lower body. I am very pleased with how the unit turned out, and I truly do believe I achieved the Dark Zoid look. Dead Tiger has become one of my favorite pieces. The feeling of making something that exists only in ones imagination, and making it tangible is well worth any effort and time put into it. Presented below, Dead Tiger, enjoy!

I posted this custom over at Pheno's Zoids forum, and got some awesome feedback on the piece. Below is a repost of some of the feeback in the thread located here.

Posted by Warnz: 

I've always loved Dark Zoids, and that, combined with one of my favorite zoids, creates a great, sleek custom. I usually am disgusted by 'repaint' zoids, where the zoid design is barely changed (I have to admit, I am guilty of this myself), but this is just... amazing. The overall look is breathtaking, and very reminiscent of a black panther. Sleek, stealthy, and to the point.

The page itself was neatly designed, also. Showing all the work you went through just to create this miniature masterpiece is inspiring. I would have never thought of puttying and sanding the tail, and customizing steps are always snazzy, especially if a rare and elusive zoid is concerned. You probably are, and most likely always will be, the only person to attempt a Gul Tiger custom and succeed.


Even though any rating, however good, does not do this piece justice, I would give it two thumbs and a 10/10. Great amazing piece. Keep up the good work.

Thanks Warnz, one of the most awesome comments I have received thus far!

Posted by wiequadrat:

cool. i remember gul tiger is my first zoids when i was a little boy. usually i let it walk around my desk until it falls and destroy immediately. your dark tiger make me remind the old days with my first zoids. hiks..

a very cool and dark zoid indeed (10/10). why you call it dead? i though it should be death/ shadow/shade/night tiger

Thanks wiequadrat, I called it "dead" in honor of Dead Border.

Posted by Tilly:

I've never liked Gul Tiger in Dark Zoid colors. It just doesn't have the right design for the awesome layering-fu Deadborder had goin' on...

...but yours is much more Dark Zoidy than some repaints I've seen, and you sold the look a lot better than I expected the Tiger could. It's also really cool to see a sad gluetiger restored and given love. Nice work :D.

Thanks Tilly, it is appreciated.

Posted by Zoidmagnite:

That original color scheme has always kinda grated on me. It's like they took all of the popular corvette colors from that era an used them on that poor zoid.

I think the quality of the rework is excellent and nonetheless the color scheme does work on the Zoid.

Thanks Zoidmagnite, and welcome to the hobby.

Posted by Snowflake:

SO great. One of the best and most appropriate dark zoids...
Though it's a shame the translucent green didn't get used after all, since dark zoids always have opaque eyes

Thanks.

Posted by Maethius:

This is a wonderful custom! I actually have a spare Gul Tiger and he's waiting patiently for "the treatment" as well. Got him off eBay for 30 bucks because he's missing a couple parts and has a break... but as you've shown, it's one of the best Dark Zoids going. I didn't mind the original scheme, but it sure makes a slick TRUE Dark Zoid.

Very nice work! Love the use of the missile pod on the back and, of course, the green!

Thanks Maethius, I really respect all of your work greatly. Your Dark Descat abosolutely rocks, it would be awesome to get a shot of your dark Deacat along with this piece!

Posted by Vig:

That's one hell of an improvement to the colour scheme

beaut

Vig, as always, thanks!

Posted by Darth Daniel:

I can see not much build and kitbash but your attention to detail and its factory fresh feel made it clearly effective. I love the documentation of your custom, very impressive. Takara should see this so that they can reissue Gultigers with similar color schemes, plus maybe unique weapons to come with it.

A amazing display of skills to give an old zoid carcass a new look.

Keep on Kitbashing!

DD, I hold anything you say with the utmost in respect and honor, thank you very much for the kind words.

 

This has been a Zoid.US production. No image may be used without permission. 2007 -WIKD