Archive

Archive for July, 2011

See My Models at Robot4Less

July 15th, 2011 No comments

Recently the Robot4Less store got a nice big glass display case. Roy, the owner invited me to bring in some of my built models. I’m always glad to put up my models because to be totally honest I like to show them off, but also I hope they generate more interest in the hobby. Hopefully it helps Roy sell more models, too! I know I get inspired when I see other people’s work. I took five models, the Cherudim, the Peace and Freedom, the Enact, The Hazel OWSLA and the Sazabi:

I put up a little sign pointing people to my site as well as ThoseGundamGuys.org and the Gamerabaenre Forum. I also got a Southern California Gundam Model Competition sign put up. There’s another thing I want to generate interest in!

I talked to Clem (Gamerabaenre) and he said he might take a couple kits over as well. I’ll probably rotate different models through the case over time.

Roy asked if I would be willing to sell some of the models I brought it. I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I have no idea what to charge for a kit and I’d have to decide which (if any) I’d be willing to part with…

Funakatown Tweaked

July 14th, 2011 No comments

I did a bit of work tonight trying to clean up some things as well as add some more links. I also moved my “Getting Started” links page to its own category as I want it to be prominent so that anybody who stumbles onto my site can find there way to more information to get them further into the hobby.

Categories: Generic Ramblings Tags:

ANA Gundam Complete!

July 14th, 2011 No comments


Check out all the pictures:

CLICK HERE to go to the Photo Page

Anime Expo 2011 Day 4

July 10th, 2011 No comments

The last day of AX is usually kind of slow, but it's kind of nice not to fight through a crowd everywhere.

Ahhh… the last day of Anime Expo. This time I went with Juan and Lucio since we were going to meet up with the rest of the family at the 4th of July Angels game after we left AX.

After we got there we split up since they wanted to see an early movie (The Girl Who Leapt through Time, it’s excellent but I had already seen it) and then take one last pass through the exhibition hall and I wanted to do the hall first and then watch a movie. I went back to Bluefin, of course. Steve wasn’t around, which was too bad because I wanted to work out a deal with him. I took some time and packed up my models. Most had left on Sunday night after the competition since most people had a 2-day pass for Saturday and Sunday. Once my models were gone, there were only a couple of kits left. By then Steve was back so I popped my proposition on him. He owed me money for purchasing supplies for the Unicorn Gundam, and, of course, he had a kit that I wanted, so I traded what he owed me for credit toward a Megasize Zaku. Yeah it’s got seamlines (they’re not as bad as the ones on the Gundam) and ratchety polycap joints but it’s HUGE and in 1/48 scale, my favorite scale from my old airplane days so there will be plenty of to-scale diorama material out there. I’ve already got a few ideas for this kit and if I pull them off it could be a real show stopper. I get kind of giddy thinking about the hugeness of that kit. It’s like when I was a kid and I got that Monogram 1/48 B-29 for Christmas.

With everything packed up I headed back to the car to drop it all off and then made one last trip through the hall. Since I was alone and it was much less crowded I could really check out what people had for sale, but I still didn’t find much. There was an Anaheim Electronics shirt just like one I had seen and passed on in Japan. There were some Haruhi shirts, but I was really after something either Gundam or Macross. So for the first year, I left AX without a shirt. But I did talk to Brandon about getting me a VF-1S shirt like the one he was wearing when I saw him earlier at AX, so maybe I’ll still get a shirt from AX, just kind of indirectly. And that was it, I was done with the hall, and except for this goofy wooden moustache I had picked up for my daughter, the only things I took home were from Bluefin.

The Exhibit Hall was less crowded so I could actually stand back and get full frame pics of these cars.

Itashaaaaaa! I want to get an Itasha car kit some day...

Usually I tell myself not to come home with nothing but Gunpla, but this year there wasn’t too much else I wanted from AX. Just 6 months ago I was in Japan, so I guess I was good on Japanese culture for the time being. I’ve got plenty of Anime to watch, so I’ll just watch it and build and have more things to be into next year. It’s kind of a bummer that found so little to buy this year, but it’s nice to come away from AX with a good chunk of money. My birthday is always right around AX so, I go there with birthday money. I always say I’ll spend my money on tools and equipment when I have a chunk of Birthday or Christmas money but I always end up buying kits. This year I’m actually going to spend my money on tools for my models (resin casting, here I come).

After giving up on the Exhibit Hall, I headed off to room 309. It took me a while to find (it’s two levels up just outside the Hall) because I never knew it existed. It was HOT way up there but I found it and settled in with a good-sized crowd to watch Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro It’s only the second Lupin anything I had seen and it was great. Another good movie to watch in a crowd.

Next I had a decision to make. My original plan was to go see One Piece, since I’ve never seen it at all, but I was just coming off Lupin (from thieves to pirates?) and so I went to go see Final Fantasy Advent Children instead. Another reason I went there was because that’s where Juan and Lucio were going, so afterwards we could all take off together.

I wish I had gone to see One Piece. The room was packed and they kept squeezing people in. They even stopped the movie and turned on the lights at one point to do it. Even after that, people kept shuffling people in and out, so people were wading through my row and the row in front of me half a dozen times. I ended up behind this couple with the BIGGEST heads I’ve ever seen. Of course all of them was big. Roundboy had the nerve to shout out “You should get taller!” when people complained they couldn’t read the subtitles. I thought, “You should get thinner, and then get a younger girlfriend.” I said it quietly to the people behind me who had complained, but Clem would have yelled it out, I wish he was there. This guy’s girlfriend was like at least 15 years older than him. I had seen them in line on day one and it’s one of those couples where at first you wonder, mother and son, or couple? Shudder.

But then it got worse; the last guy who settled in next to me was an ultra-fanboy who immediately asked me if I knew who so-and-so Flynn was. I didn’t care, so I guessed it was the guy from Tron but that didn’t stop him (I wish I had come up with the guy from Tangled, that would have freaked him out even more, because he probably wouldn’t have known who it was). He informed me it was the voice actor for some guy in the movie and it was the same guy who voiced Raiden in Metal gear Solid.

Yeah, I still don’t give a rat’s ass. Then he asked me if I knew what some other thing was and I told him I was just TRYING to watch the movie and I think he sensed that my next response was going to be STFU so he then turned around and started explaining pretty much everything to the people behind me.

Maybe it was the circumstances, or maybe Pixar movies just own on whatever Sony and Square/Enix have got going in CGI (even back in 2005 when FFAC was made, Pixar was between The Incredibles and Cars). The characters were flat (and often annoying), the animation was jerky, and the dialogue (much of which was over cell phones) was corny and didn’t make a ton of sense. It was kind of like a Transformers movie. I guess I should blame myself some, lots of people there obviously loved the movie and I DID go to the movie that followed up on a videogame I never finished playing…

Sadly, on that kind of low note it was time to leave if we were going to get to the Angels game. We took a slow stroll out through the LA Convention Center and I soaked up the last bits of AX.

Looking back, I’ve completely changed my outlook on AX. The first few times I ever went were back in the 90’s or early 2000’s when it was still at either Long Beach or Anaheim and I went by myself just to buy the pass to the Exhibit hall so I could buy things. I bought my Perfect Grade Gundam and my MG Sazabi from HLJ back when they used to go to AX. And then I stopped going for several years because the lines were so chaotic and you had to pay to park and pay to get in and it wasn’t worth it just to shop. One year I went and couldn’t figure out which of the massive lines I was supposed to be in (and none of the staffers I could find seemed to know either) and left in complete frustration.

The last 4 years I’ve started hanging out with Those Gundam guys and I’ve purchased a 4-day pass and now I look forward to Anime Expo every year for the experience of being in the nerdy fantasyland that Anime Expo is. It’s fun running into people I know and just hanging out and soaking in all the energy and excitement in the crowd. Being around all those young people is fun and makes me feel both young and old at the same time. As the years go by I’m more and more glad to just go and be in the middle of it all. It’s like a vacation.

And so finally… Cosplay!

Here was a decent Haruhi. I was just going to take a picture of her, but then I decided I guess I should include her boyfriend so I wouldn't seem so pervy.

Titans!

Nice, but no hamburgers???

lol. It even said GN-0000 on the side. This girl had become separated from her friends and had no cell phone. She was all lost and alone....

Multi-part One Piece!

Somebody call child protective services. Right now.

Ha!

Just for Christiana...

Get ready to toss that bitch! But wait, why is Nick taking pills right now? Noob!

The vanes on this girl's backpack moved up and down via servos. I should have taken a picture from behind.

I came out of a screening and saw this.. thing. So I followed it.

Oh, it's long cat! From behind it was either that or the river spirit from Spirited Away.

A nice Sally. She was with some firends. I wanted to take their picture, too. Heh heh.

Kira!!!! Here's a good Ranka and Sheryl.

Anime Expo 2011 Day 3

July 8th, 2011 No comments

Anime Expo 2011 Day 3

The next day I was smart enough to carpool with Clem, Yuki and Angel. We stopped at Angel’s to pick him up and I got to see Angel’s house for the first time. Man that guy has built a LOT of built models! He’s got four of those IKEA display cases full of them.

We got to AX around noon. Of course we head for the Bluefin booth where we meet up with people and hang out. After a bit I went to go watch Gundam Unicorn 3. There was a panel afterwards but it was all the English voice cast so I didn’t stick around. I don’t know why I don’t care because I have watched plenty of dubs but hearing from the dub actors rarely interests me. I guess I feel like they’re one step removed from the creative process.

Unicorn 3 was good. I had seen a fansub before in crappy quality on a computer so it was nice to see it on the big screen. It’s hard to analyze it too much because we’re mid-plot so I’m waiting to see how it comes out (giant sparkly rainbow?).

After Unicorn it’s back to Bluefin. We hung out a bit and then it was time to judge the Gunpla Builder’s World Cup contest. I judged along with Xavier from Bluefin and a couple members of Bandai’s Gunpla R&D from Japan. One of them was Sayuri Matsuoka, who headed up production on several Master Grade kits, including the Wing series.

So before I get into judging, let’s cover the non-contestant kits on display:

This Wing 0 was one of two kits we found in the Artist Alley for sale. Clem talked them into entering the contest, but they were disqualified since the builder was Japanese.

This was "The Ringer's" other kit. Really nice!

Clem's Panda Guy, not sure why it wasn't entered...

Clem's Gouf Custom (Resin Conversion)

Clem's "Pirate" (Chinese) Nightengale

My ANA Gundam, I hope the Bandai contingent liked it (or were they just worried about copyrights???)

My Cherudim, one guy walked by and said, "That's what the Cherudim SHOULD have looked like!" Nice!

My Hazel GAU, somebody said, "That's part ridiculous and part awesome." I totally agree.

And finally, my Ruby Guard GM. It looked great in the booth's lighting. I wanted to get it judged by the people from Bandai but the judging was too busy and I never asked.

I went through and carefully judged all the models. It’s hard on the first few kits because you have to kind of create a frame of reference. You think to yourself, “Is that rough paint job earn the kit a 7 or an 8? Well, let’s see, I gave that on the rough one a 7 so we’ll go with 7.” But until you’ve looked at a few you can’t do that. You also have to decide thing like, does this kit with mods but some build flaws deserve more points than this totally stock kit that was pretty well-built? You king of add a couple points for the mods and take away a couple points for the flaws and they kind of balance out. The more mods a person can pull off with as few flaws as possible, the more points they can probably get.

Another thing I try to do when judging is score each score category individually, although it’s hard to try and look at a kit and ONLY see it’s paintjob, so you’re making observations on all aspects of the build at the same time and then trying to decide where your observations fit into the scoring schema and then assigning points on a scale that can’t help but be somewhat dependent on the other kits you are judging.

The aesthetics of a kit is kind of hard to judge as well. I like to judge the aesthetics from a couple feet back because I’m looking at the kit more conceptually. It’s more art than science but what gets a little fuzzy is whether or not the model has a base and how nice the base is. Do you reward effort? Is a poor base better than no base at all?

Something I try not to do is total the scores in my head and start picking winners before I look at all the models. So, before totaling everything up I went and took a quick look at some of the models again, especially the ones I judged early on. In a couple cases I moved a score up or down a point since by then I had a complete frame of reference to judge by.

Having done that, I started totaling my scores. On my score sheet there were three clear winners, a little gap in the scores and then 4 kits that were tied for fourth place. There were another couple kits just behind them, and then the rest of the field a few points below that.

I felt a little nervous when I saw that 1 2 and 3 on my sheet were Clem, Casval, and Angel. Nothing looks suspicious like a judge picking his buddies’ kits. So I went back and looked again, but didn’t see anything I missed. So then I compared notes with Xavier.

Tied for first on my card with 265/300 points and 28 LED lights.

The other winner on my card, also 265/300. So nice, Casval!

In third with 250, Angel's The O. Nice panel lines and a good scene with the Jupiteris base.

My scores weren’t too far off from Xavier’s, but there were a few glaring exceptions. Where there were we took another look at those kits and discussed why our scores were so different. This mattered a lot in one particular case because when we looked at the Japanese judges’ scores, we saw that they, along with Xavier had scored the MG Hi-Nu much higher than I had. It turned out to be a matter of perspective, literally. I’m probably about 6 inches taller than the next tallest judge and I had noticed the the seam line on the top of the Hi-Nu’s beam rifle had not been fixed. In AMS terms I think you could say it was gaping.

Now, the Hi-Nu is a nice modern kit and with Bandai’s engineering, the kit only had a few seam lines that you had to fix. Other contestants had entered NG kits that were full of seam lines that they had fixed, so it seemed inexcusable to leave this one.

One fatal flaw (and my height) kept this otherwise sweet Hi-Nu out of the winner's circle.

I later learned that the modeler who built this kit had left the seam line on purpose so that the parts could be detachable and you could see the internal details of the gun. So, here’s some constructive criticism for this particular modeler and some advice for all modelers who are going to enter a competition. If you leave some part of your model imperfect to show detail, then you better have your model displayed in a way that shows that detail.

There’s a semi-famous story of a master modeler who took his tank model to the IPMS competition and displayed it with an unpainted tank commander figure in the hatch. He just put it there for scale, and assumed the judges would ignore it. Well, they didn’t. The judges knew the guy was good and otherwise the tank was a winner, but they weren’t allowed to overlook the fact that a piece of the model AS IT WAS PRESENTED AT THE CONTEST was unpainted, and it was out of the running.

When you enter a contest, you always have to display your model in a way that shows off its best features and hides its worst ones, even if that pose or setting is not your favorite. It’s really too bad about the Hi-Nu because aside from that seam line there were only a couple minor flaws and it would have been very hard to choose between it and the kit that eventually won the 1/100 scale prize. And judging aside, from two feet back it was just an awesome model in a beautiful pose on a nice base.

Another "Fatal Flaw" kit, this Gouf wasn't quite painted all the way around. Too bad.

One of the Japanese judges gave really high marks to the MG Gouf 2.0. Again, this was a nicely-built model that looked really good from two feet away, but it had a fatal flaw. When you looked carefully, you saw that in several places where there were curved parts on the model, they hadn’t received an even coat of paint. They had only been sprayed from one direction, and so the edges only got a faint coat of blue paint, leaving them primer gray.

I think the same judge (they wrote their names in Japanese) gave low marks to Casval’s RG Zaku, but we figured out that it was because Casval had intentionally painted the Zaku in different shades of pink, the judge had thought the paint job was of poor quality. It was a little funny that a person from Bandai wouldn’t know that the RG Zaku was supposed to be different shades of pink, but on the other hand I knew the model was supposed to be that way because I had seen it in progress. It bothered me to know that I knew this because of “inside information”, but I felt better because the other Bandai judge had understood the paint job and given the model a pretty high score. I think even if Xavier or I hadn’t been there they would have compared notes and figured it out.

I had scored Clem’s Sazabi and Casval’s Zaku at tied for first with 265 out of 300 points. Basically, the Sazabi’s mods were impressive, but its “Sazabi-on-a-stick” presentation and a couple small flaws kept it from being the clear winner. The Zaku was simple, but it was just soooo well built I’m still impressed by and envious of it.

Angel’s The O scored third, I think he got 250 points. The mods were simple but nice, they helped offset the fact that the model had a few flaws. The base added to the aesthetic score, but took a little away from the technical score, because of it’s not-so-perfect execution. The extra work in the mods and the base were what put it just ahead of that middle pack at 240 points that either had the mods but weren’t as well built or had the fatal flaw or were pretty well built but just too plain, and needed the extra effort to get them up with the winners. It’s all about scoring points, so the more you can add to the model while still maintaining the technical quality of your build and maintaining a nice and consistent aesthetic, the more likely you are to score high.

Is it a diorama or a decorative base? A pretty nice model with a little too much going on.

Here’s an example of an inconsistent aesthetic. The concept of this entry was the new Arios flying over the wreckage of the old Kyrios. There are some problems. The Arios is mounted to a nice acrylic base that has a paper with graphics and text underneath. On its own, this would be a nice display base. However, once you place the Kyrios on top of it, you now either have a nice display base with a battered model just sitting on top of it for no really good reason, or you have a totally unrealistic diorama of the Kyrios laying on top of about about a six-foot deep sheet of acrylic which then sits on a segment of tarmac (which is what the graphics on the paper were supposed to represent) that his huge words and graphics painted on it.

So, the battle damage on the Kyrios was pretty nicely done, but it was so out of place laying on that slab of acrylic that it took away from the aesthetics. A realistic diorama would have had a surface that was a simulation of actual tarmac and the Kyrios, being a metal object weighing dozens of tons and falling from the sky should have been at least slightly embedded in the tarmac.

Another way to incorporate the Kyrios would have been to have it on its own acrylic rod, but falling away behind the Arios, which is surpassing it.

This is NOT an MG QAN(T), but a nice homemade conversion. It needed some more surface preparation, it was rough in places.

This was a great concept and scored high on aesthetics, but it was a little lumpy and had quite a few fingerprints once you got up close.

Posing FAIL! Extremely low aesthetic score. And no weapon/shield is a pet peeve of mine. Otherwise the model wan't that bad. Give it a beam saber and a dynamic pose and get 15 or 20 more points!

A real nice MG QAN(T) in a great pose! Unfortunately the finish was ultra-glossy in some places and semi-gloss in others. It was in the middle groups and a consistent finish might have moved it up by the winners.

Second place in 1/144. We debated if teh rough texture on the pauldron was intentional (I thought it was) but it just wasn't as good as the Zaku.

Another posing fail, and again no armament. Also, armor plates were removed but nothing was done to the internals underneath, not even picking details out with paint...

So if you built one of these kits and you’ve stumbled across my site, I hope you don’t mind my constructive criticism. I’m hoping to teach and share here and most Gunpla builders are new to competition.

Okay, enough about that. Eventually, Xavier announced the winners, with Clem’s Sazabi winning best-of-show and qualifying for the trip to Hong Kong and Angel’s The O winning best 1/100 and Casval’s RG Zaku winning best /144.

I went and congratulated Angel. I remember last year I kind of yelled at him (actually at his wife since he wasn’t there) because his entry last year was one of those fatal flaw entries and I knew he could do better. I’m glad he proved me right.

I went and told Clem that his Sazabi was good, but needed some work if he was going to take it to Hong Kong. He really needs to mount it better to the base so he can include the shield and pose it more naturally so it isn’t a Sazabi-on-a-stick.

I also headed into the Bluefin booth to congratulate Casval profusely and to let him know that he didn’t just win because he was in a relatively small group of 1/144 scale kits but because his model was excellent (I also yelled at him last year for having no weapons on his Zaku, this year his new Zaku had two! HAHA!). I am so impressed by his Zaku. I guess it’s because he accomplished something I still struggle with and that’s making a model with a basically flawless finish. I’m gonna have to pick his brain at the next BG.

So with the contest basically over we hung out a little more and I gave out a lot of post-judging critiques to contestants. I saw improvement from last year and I hope to see more for next year. This year the number of entries was pretty low, just a dozen by the time you eliminated the people and kits that didn’t qualify, but I think the quality was up from last year.

The prizes for winning at AX in the Gundam Builder’s World Cup were kits signed by Matsuoka-san. I wanted one, too, so I borrowed a MG Wing Gundam from Steve at Bluefin (what a nice guy) and asked her to sign it for me. I took it home and traded box tops with the MG Wing I had at home and brought it back the next day to Steve.

Thank you, Matsuoka-san!

With the big event of AX over for the day, we headed home around 6pm. One more day left…

Anime Expo 2011 Day 2

July 7th, 2011 No comments

Anime Expo 2011 Day 2

Saturday was Gundam Day! I knew I was going to be there late so I didn’t even get to AX until about 1pm. I spent the first few hours hanging around the Bluefin booth and walking the exhibit hall with a group of Those Gundam Guys that ranged at times from 3 to 10 people. I was kind of disappointed by what was on sale in the rest of the hall. There really wasn’t anybody else to compete with Bluefin in terms of a mostly Gunpla or Gunpla and figures vendor. I saw very few mecha-related items like Revoltech figures and just about nothing related to Macross anywhere (I have to look elsewhere since Bluefin doesn’t distribute Macross merchandise, thanks again, Robotech). The good news was that the display case for the contestants had really filled out, and the Unicorn was still getting a lot of attention. Now that I mention it, I’ll post up my Unicorn pics here:

The work we did on the Unicorn is patterned on the Katoki version, and all of its dozens of decals:

And I HAD to put an Easter Egg:

Oh, and I remembered to get pics of the other new products, The GM III is half super cool and half retro-dorky. I think the extra equipment would look pretty awesome on a GM Ka or Custom, or maybe just swap out the head and give it a more modern paintjob:

There was the Green RG Zaku:

And the Master Gundam and its trusty steed:

I forgot the picture of the Shinig Gundam but for completeness here’s the MG Delta Plus (it was posed better later inteh Con, but I forgot to get a pic):

After the general disappointment of the rest of the exhibit hall I headed off alone for the Bandai Entertainment Panel (the few people I was with at the time went to go see Escaflowne). There was no line, oh, no, wait, the line is outside and it’s MASSIVE. Fortunately Petree Hall sits a lot of people and again I ran into some people in the line and then some more people inside and we filled in some seats around them and ended up about ten rows back.

There were some technical difficulties which caused about a 20-minute delay. One guy from the audience (yes, ONE guy out of HUNDREDS of people) just couldn’t contain himself and tried to insert himself into the situation despite the Bandai and AX people that were already on it. They sent him away, but he came back. And I know he wasn’t some staffer because, well, he’s one of Those Gundam Guys…

The Bandai panel was basically Bandai’s chance to plug everything they either had just put out or were about to put out. They showed a lot of trailers and that was fine with me. With the delay it only ran about 40 minutes and I enjoyed either watching trailers for stuff I hadn’t seen or cheering for the trailers of the stuff I had seen and liked.

Then the panel segwayed into the first official Bandai Gundam panel in the USA, so that was pretty cool (it’s also the main reason I was there). They started off with a Gundam video montage and the big news was that Bandai will FINALLY release the Original Gundam series in the Anime Legends lineup. It will come out this September and come with Japanese and English audio, so WOO! Bandai also announced that they will bring Turn A Gundam to the US, that was unexpected, but I say bring it on!

Bandai also introduced Gundam AGE and that they will bring it to the US very soon after its release in Japan this Fall. They were also very frank about this series being aimed at what they called the “younger brother”, like ages 7-14.

The one other bit of news that came from the Q&A session was that Bandai/Sunrise do officially plan to animate Gundam Origin (I think they even said they’re beginning to work on it), but they aren’t sure if it will be a series or OVA.

And then came Q&A and the third person in the questions line was that one Gundam Guy again (the AV guy from the beginning of the panel). So almost the first question Bandai and Sunrise get at their first official American Gundam panel is basically, this:

“When are you guys going to stop making series just for the sake of selling merchandise and make one with a better plot and characters?”

Wow.

Of course coming from that guy, the question was a lot less succinct, it was more like, “Hi, uh, rawr, rawr rawr … Do you think rawr rawr rawr… I mean rawrawrawrawrawrawrawr? Or maybe I should say rawr rawr rawr rawr rawr rawr.. and so… rawrawrawrawrawrawrawr, rawr. Rawr rawrawrawrawrawrawrawrawr rawr?”

I guess to be fair you hear complaints like that about Bandai just being in it to sell Gunpla on the forums and blogs, but is this really what you want to hit these guys with the first time they come to your con? Do you really need to insult them to their face because you wish their heroes were better so you could like the model of their mobile suit more?

So the translator takes a few uncomfortable minutes to translate this messy insulting question. People in the audience are kind of murmuring and the guy, maybe sensing what he’s stepped in, adds, “I mean, I know you guys are in business and all, but rawrawrawr…”

So then there’s some more translating and then the panel member basically says, “Gundam is a diverse universe where we target different audiences but we always try to make good characters and good stories. We know not everybody liked SEED”

Anime News Network said this about it:
“A press member complained that he felt some shows were more geared towards merchandising interests than strong stories, and asked how Sunrise maintains a balance between the two. After a lot of discussion amongst the panelists (and, separately, the audience), Sasaki responded that the universe is diverse, so there are a lot of different target audiences. Gundam Seed was made for a younger audience, for example, so a lot of Universal Century fans have not come to accept the show yet.”

So what do you expect Bandai to say? “You are right, oh gravelly-throated American, we will make Gundam series from now on with a lot more character development and a lot less mobile suits. And we will still make models of those mobile suits, and we will give them away for FREE! Thank you for showing us the error of our ways.”

I really felt the urge to apologize to Kojima-san and the Bandai Hobby contingent afterwards. I saw the guy on Sunday and Monday and both times he brought it up and was doing spin control, asking if I had written my post about it yet. I talked to him about it, basically saying that I know people feel that way, but to ask that question was kind of rude, and especially tactless at Bandai/Sunrise’s first ever official US Gundam panel.

Once the awkwardness was over, it was straight to the 00 Movie, Awakening of the Trailblazer. We ran back into Clem, Brandon, Angel and my Brother-In-Laws and I think we had the whole Gundam Guys contingent in attendance. The movie started late since the Bandai panels had run late (and they gave you the impression that the disc was being carried around like the nuclear football) so several of us made the dash back to our cars to get our kits to work on during Clem’s Gundam Model panel.

I hadn’t seen Awakening of the Trailblazer yet and had no idea what to expect, other than some really ugly Gundams (the Braves were nice and there were some pretty sweet-looking GN-X variants flying around, but those new Gundams are fugly IMHO) and a fight against aliens, a first in the Gundam world. The movie starts off REALLY cheesy and then it’s kind of shocking when they show all the Gundam pilots and they’re, um diverse. But then you realize that’s because it’s really a movie within a movie, and the cheese is intentional.

So I’m not going to do any spoilers other than to say that the enemy was completely faceless so that wasn’t very interesting and the ending… oh, the ending. It was 100% WTF??? It’s pretty Char’s Counterattack, you know, giant sparkly rainbow, except worse than a rainbow. There’s kind of an epilogue that saves it a little but the general impression was, “Whaaaa?” Sometimes those are really good endings but this movie didn’t have the emotional weight to make the WTF ending seem profound, so it just came off a little silly.

I felt like the Gundams had become so powerful that they were all super beam-spammers (except for the QAN(T) which pretty much shows up late as a plot device). I don’t normally make this kind of complaint, but I was disappointed that the Gundams had lost their Sniper/Heavy/High Mobility/Melee specialties. I guess as the technology advanced, the Gundams became multi-role mobile suits.

But the movie had its moments and it’s always more fun to watch a movie like this in a crowd where people can cheer for the good stuff and laugh at the cheesy stuff. Watching anime in a big crowd is always one of my favorite parts of AX.

After the movie, with a lot of tanks on empty, people then head to Clem’s panel. I think all the tired in the room made the crowd a little dead. I know I tried to make some smartass cracks but I think they just came out grouchy. Clem managed to plug our upcoming Southern California Gundam Model Competition several times, as well as the Robot4Less store, which came pretty naturally since he’s like, “I use this product to do this thing.” And someone in the crowd asks, “Where can you get that?” And for a change instead of, “You have to order it from Japan.” He can say “You go to this store off the 91 in Fullerton called Robot4Less.” See, I just did it myself.

Clem’s panel ended and I hung out a bit and answered a few questions and gave out a couple of cards then we said our goodbyes and I left with my brothers-in-law.

Anime Expo 2011 Day 1

July 1st, 2011 1 comment

After getting up early I took off to go get Juan and Lucio (my brothers-in-law) and we all headed to AX. We got there about 9 and found this:

At first we were freaking out because the line wasn’t moving, but it turned out that our line wasn’t moving. It turns out they had subdivided the lines into three parts and so once one section finished the next section got to move. It actually moved along pretty well, but we were still in the blazing sun for an hour. Good think I’m Mexican. I saw a poor Gurren Lagaan Yoko who was a very uncomfortable shade of pink. Who would expect to get a sunburn at Anime Expo?

Finally we’re back in air-conditioned comfort.

I split off from Juan and Lucio and headed to go see Toshio Furukawa.

He was the voice of Ace in One Piece, Piccolo in Dragonball Z, Shinohara in Patlabor AND Kai in Mobile Suit Gundam!

He also likes figures… like JRos!

Later in the afternoon I got him to sign an Action Base I made up with a picture from the HGUC Guncannon instructions so there’s definitely a Guncannon build in my future.

I really wanted to do something like this with Megumi Nakajima (voice of Ranka Lee) and the Ranka Edition VF-25 last year at AX but I was too disorganized and indecisive. I learned from that and this year I was ready!

I went to the exhibit hall but I actually never made it past the Bluefin booth. Between talking to Steve and Xavier and Casval and Jordan and Travis, and James and Kojima-san from Bandai and setting up my models and checking out the new kits I had plenty to keep me busy. It was VERY cool to see some preview models of kits that aren’t yet right here in the USA. I only got a picture of one, the MG Delta Gundam:

I forgot to take pictures of the HGUC GM III, HG Master and Shining Gundams and RG Zaku (Green). I’ll get those tomorrow. On a much larger scale, the Unicorn seemed pretty popular, there was a crowd around it taking pictures every time I looked.

I took advantage of the fantastic lighting in the display cases at the Bluefin Booth to get a good shot of my ANA Gundam:

I took a break from lunch and was joined by Jeff and Eun (I think I’m spelling that right…) from the gatherings and some of there friends joined us and we had a nice little lunch group. It’s nice to be part of Those Gundam Guys and be able to just go to AX and meet up with people like that. After lunch we went back to the exhibit hall, and ended up at… The Bluefin booth!

Then I finally got around to some shopping. In the corner, right after you look at all the displays of the built kits, there’s the “bargain section” where they have some kits in bent boxes (I got an HGUC Sinanju, the box was smooshed but the parts were mint). Then there was a funny exchange where Jeff and I were standing there with an MG ReZel (only $34!) and an MG V-Dash Gundam (only $55!). He had the ReZel, and I had the V-Dash. And we were drooling over the kits and then convinced each other that we each wanted teh other kit. So we swapped. Then we drooled some more, and swapped back again and then finally decided we both wanted the ReZel and they only had one!

Xavier let us know he’d be getting more the next day and I hadn’t even checked out the rest of the hall so I let Jeff take it. By then it was time for Furukawa to do autographs, so I got that and went to go see The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. It’s LONG, like 3 hours and I missed the beginning because I was getting Furukawa’s autograph, but Jeff let me know that the beginning as just setting the mood and he was right. Kyon even tells you about a half-hour into the movie, “That’s all just prologue…”

I really enjoyed the movie. Nagato gets to really break out of her Rei-like zombie girl schtick (kinda like Rei does in You Can (Not) Advance, now that I think about it) and the story really makes the most of the characters and their personalities so I totally dug it. I’ll have to see the interveneing episodes between season one and the movie some day.

So anyway, by then it was 7:30 (the movie is three hours long) so I headed home, I’ve got a loooong day tomorrow with nonstop Bandai panel, Gundam panel, Gundam 00 movie, movie panel and Clem’s panel from 4:30 to midnight and before that I’ve got to check out the exhibit hall! I didn’t even go through it today!