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Anime Expo 2011 Day 3

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…

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