Mobile Police Patlabor might be my favorite mecha anime. I am all about down and dirty war shows like VOTOMS or Gundam 08th MS Team, but the combination of more civilized real robot action and the fantastic characters make Patlabor a fantastic series. In Patlabor, mecha (labors) have become an everyday thing for everything from construction to war. As with all new technologies, labors are abused, so special police divisions are created to combat labor crime with their own Patrol Labors (‘Pat’ ‘labor’).
The MPL-97S Python is the aging Patlabor of choice for Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department Special Vehicles Section 1, seen in one or two episodes of the TV series.
In the 90′s, Bandai made a ton of Patlabor merch, including a venerable line of 1/60 scale plamo kits, even going so far as to offer B-club aftermarket parts for some. In addition to the plastic line, there were three 1/60 scale vinyl kits of machines that had limited screen time, the Python, Saturn, and Economy Ingram. These kits are awesome, because they basically build up into a posable figure similar to the CM’s Corps vinyl labors released a few years back alongside the excellent Brave Gokin Patlabor figures, which are give or take 1/48 or 1/60 scale, so they all look good together.
I’ve been having a lot of fun spraying kaiju and resin figures and having a grand old time, but I decided that it was time to get back to the ‘heavy’ modeling, and a vinyl model kit seemed like a good middle ground to ease the transition. With the release of a couple new Monster Kolor colors, inspiration hit, and I knew exactly how to blend my newfound airbrush skills with a ‘proper’ model that would still build into a fun figure.
The Patlabors are all extremely well-maintained and clean, but they invariably get beat up every time they leave the station and get into a scuffle. I used Monster Kolor and some masking to make a shiny, clean labor with a proper automotive finish. I even borrowed a trick I learned from Dead Pre$idents himself to apply the kit’s stickers after painting, and then MK Glossing over them, eliminating the edges to the stickers almost completely. Then came the joint work, some detailing, and a little weathering. The Python still came out a littler dirtier than it probably should be, so we’ll call it the machine after a battle.
The next thing to do is look at scratch-building the riot shield and baton the Pythons wield in their TV appearance.