Real-looking Hydraulics

Thought it’d be nice to share how I pulled off the smooth shine on the hydraulic pistons of my MG Zaku II, so this is my first how-to guide here. Too bad I didn’t spam enough pictures of the leg area despite loving how it turned out.

The drawback to painting the hydraulic pistons on MG kits is that the paint can be scraped off with play and it doesn’t look like the smooth shiny steel one would see in real life.

One could replace the plastic rods with steel tubes with a bit of effort, but the easier method I learnt from A Certain Professional Among Professionals was to use my trusty silver tape. (Said Professional Among Professionals is none other than keita.)

Here I have a pair of thigh pistons from the MG Zaku II Ver.2.0. They have already been painted except at the areas where they are supposed to be silver.

In most cases, the pistons fit snugly into the tubes, so some work is needed to enlarge the holes and make space for the tape layer we’ll be adding. I spent several hours sanding the tubes with some sandpaper around a straightened paper clip. On the tubes which have closed ends, you should clean them by digging the dust collected inside.

This is my trusty roll of silver tape that a friend gave me. I’ve used it to cover the backs of sensors and cameras on several models to make them more reflective. This tape is quite thin and the reflective layer gets lifted off easily especially if you touch the sticky side (which isn’t very sticky to begin with) with your finger.

Using a piece of tape, simply wrap it around the piston, starting from the back so that the seam would be hidden from view.

Ending at the back again, cut off the excess tape. It’s best to end exactly where you began so that you don’t make the piston unnecessarily thick with overlapping layers of tape. Also cut off the extra tape at the end of the piston. Insert the piston into the tube and see if the fit isn’t too tight as it may wear the shine off the tape, especially if the tape tarnishes easily like mine. If the fit is still too tight, sand the inside of the tubes and try again.

Done. Way easier than using steel rods.


8 thoughts on “Real-looking Hydraulics”

  1. Fwah, nice simple tutorial for the pistons!!! Thanks for sharing man ^^

    By the way where did you buy the foil or can I replace with the foil stickers that all the bandai kits come with?

    1. The tape was given to me by a friend. It’s a kind of wrapping tape that’s very thin plastic. I think you can find it in Daiso where they sell it as a pack with other colours which means you need not paint clear pieces if you use coloured tape :). It’s a little hard to find because most places only sell those with patterns on them.

      I would advise against using leftover foil stickers because they are quite thick. You have to sand down a lot of plastic just to fit the piston in.

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