Air Drop – Jesta

This was only supposed to be an exercise in simple details.

The Air Drop project began as a simple “out of the box” build meant to showcase what a few thoughtful details could do to elevate a model. It was a refreshing change of pace from my then-ongoing project, the GM Spartan, which had started to feel monotonous. Switching gears to the Jesta proved invigorating, and after months of work and many lively LIVE streams, I’m thrilled to present the fruits of that labor.

As the project evolved, it also became a heartfelt homage to the real-life 67th Tactical Fighter Wing, whose iconic rooster emblem set the stage for the color scheme and overall aesthetic.

True to my original vision, the core Jesta kit remains largely unmodified, with simple details and plastic plating adding subtle enhancements throughout. The most extensive alteration was the scratch-built box magazine I crafted for the rifle.

The Jesta’s head received a sleek update, with Loctite Super Glue filling in the visor’s round holes before sanding them smooth. Kotobukiya minus mold parts replaced the round details on either side, and I added a small chin protrusion along with crisp new panel lines for a touch of refinement.

To emphasize the armored look, I plated the shoulders and incorporated hoist bars on both sides. Small vents and panel lines on the top of each shoulder provide an industrial touch. The arms received similar treatment, with an additional plastic plate, new panel lines, and the left arm adorned with Kotobukiya Diagonal Cross plates for visual interest.

The collar features small added plates, simulated lights, and fresh panel lines, while the chest vents were filled with plastic plates for a cleaner, more robust appearance. Meticulous panel lines now encircle the upper torso, adding depth and dimensionality.

The front, back, and side skirts underwent comparable enhancements, with added plate, panel lines, and notches lending an armored, battle-ready feel.

Plastic strips around the outside front of the upper legs create a recessed effect, complemented by new panel lines. The lower legs sport minimal added plating and panel lines, with a small Kotobukiya vent just below each knee and Diagonal Cross plates on the sides injecting a hint of mechanical flair. Meticulously sculpted vents on either side of the knees, courtesy of my trusty chisels, contribute to the overall realism.

The feet received added plastic plates, details, and panel lines, while Kotobukiya Minus Molds on the ankles compensate for the stock kit’s barebones appearance in that area.

Minor plastic plating and panel lines grace the backpack, and the shield boasts added plating on the upper portion plus a menacing scratch-built serrated edge along the bottom. The shield’s interior also benefits from added plastic plating and subtle panel lines.

As mentioned, the rifle’s scratch-built box magazine represents the most extensive modification to the main unit. Using the existing magazine as a starting point, I constructed the box shape from plastic plate and strip, replacing the vertical foregrip with a custom plastic plate and rod pad. Further panel lines on the rifle itself round out the changes.

Venturing beyond the core model, I scratch-built the jump pack and hunchback using plastic plate, strip, tube, rod, and Kotobukiya detail parts. The thruster bells, salvaged from my parts box, feature inflation needles inside to mimic mechanical detail. Sturdy magnets ensure a secure connection for both components.

The parachutes presented the greatest challenge, requiring four developmental iterations to achieve the final result. Vacuforming proved to be the solution, involving a hand-crafted MDF positive shape that I meticulously refined with an angle grinder, files, and a Dremel. 1mm plastic sheets were then vacuformed over this “buck” to create three perfect parachutes. Assembling the rigging by hand demanded finesse, with thin braided steel jewelry wire enrobed in clear vinyl and adorned with small half-round tube pieces around each parachute’s perimeter. Super glue anchors all the rigging to the scratch-built plastic tube and sheet mounting points, with powerful neodymium magnets guaranteeing a reliable hold.

The versatile MDF base, laminated with plastic sheet and intricately detailed, can be disassembled for convenient travel and storage thanks to robust 1/4-20 bolts and threaded inserts. To sell the illusion of the Jesta gracefully descending to earth, I applied a central radial blur to a terrain image in Photoshop, printing and laminating the result onto thin plastic plate. A custom-cut plexiglass sheet, fitted to the insert, amplifies the sense of depth.

Mr. Color paints and Tamiya Weathering Master sets brought the project to life, with an array of purchased and custom decals adding the finishing touches. The serendipitous discovery of the 67th Rooster logo on a military decal sheet from my local hobby store’s closing sale was the catalyst for the color scheme, weathering approach, and the birth of the 67th T.M.S.S.—a fitting tribute to the 67th Tactical Fighter Wing.

The base’s sky and clouds, painted in varied shades of blue and white, receive a high gloss clear coat on the sky portions, contrasting with a matte clear coat elsewhere to evoke the appearance of windows.

While this project grew from a straightforward “out of the box” build into something far more ambitious, I couldn’t be more satisfied with the outcome. The illusion of the Jesta in freefall is remarkably convincing, making all the effort worthwhile.

Live Streams

For those curious to delve deeper into the creative process, I’ve documented most of this build in my LIVE streams. Over 100 hours of work on this piece are available for viewing on my YouTube Channel and Facebook page, offering an in-depth look at the techniques and strategies employed to achieve these results. I invite you to explore the comprehensive playlist and witness the Air Drop project’s evolution from concept to completion.

GBWC 2019

Air Drop was honored with representing the US in the 2019 GBWC World Championships in Tokyo, Japan. It was my second time going back and I had an absolute blast. Made a few new friends and met a few old friends for the first time. I can’t wait to go back!

Videos from GBWC by my friend ZakuAurelius. These videos really capture the GBWC experience better than anything I’ve seen. The events, all the fun…everything.


Zach GBWC Video 1 copy
Play Video
Zach GBWC Video 2 copy
Play Video
Zach GBWC Video 3 copy
Play Video
Zach GBWC Video 4 copy
Play Video
Zach GBWC Video 5 copy
Play Video
GBWC Trophy

Air Drop Artwork

Air Drop WIP

Click here to see all the Air Drop WIP Photos!

Air Drop Merch

Available in the Child of Mecha Store!

Our Latest Articles

Conquer Burnout: Reignite Your Modeling Passion
Zeta+ C1 [BST] Hummingbird