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Posts Tagged ‘those gundam guys’

Robinson’s Raiders Project WIP

February 25th, 2014 No comments

This is one of the largets projects I’ve ever put together and will be a 2-Part Diorama Featuring 2 heavily-modified Master Grade G-Fighters, 1 U.C. Hardgraph Core Fighter and several Hardgraph figures. I started work on it over a year ago but it’s been shelved once and I keep bouncing around to different parts of the project so no single part of it is complete yet. Still, it seemed like I was really overdue to post an update on my site so I decided to sum up the work so far.

Click the picture link below to travel to the report:

October was a heck of a month.

November 29th, 2012 No comments

October was a heck of a month. It was the busiest October I’ve had since I got married 13 years ago. Knowing it was going to be busy my wife and I got together mid-September and planned/negotiated the weekends so we could try to get everything done.

The first weekend of October was the Build Gathering at my house. I hadn’t hosted one since my 6-month-old daughter was born and it was time to get back in the game with Clem getting married. If you read Clem’s blog, you might have missed the fact that he got married. About 10 sentences in he made some obscure reference to extra weight on his left hand. That’s the wedding ring he’s wearing cuz HE GOT MARRIED.

So back to the Build Gathering… I’m not going to sugar coat it. It was pretty sad. Most of the regulars didn’t show up. Clem was too busy with his family because HE WAS GETTING MARRIED, so he just dropped by long enough to say hi, and “Wow nobody’s here.” Brandon’s got a new girlfriend so he was a no-show. Terry had to go to a family dinner or something like that. I don’t know what happened to Dave. Angel was the only really OG member to show up and I guilted him into sitting next to me the whole day so I didn’t feel like such a loser. Xavier and Ed showed up and Ed brought enough ice cream for 25 people. I’m still eating it. Xavier let us know about the upcoming MG Tallgeese which was still a secret at the time. I can write about it now that the whole world knows.

Ed demonstrates how to show a T-Shirt who's boss.

Ed demonstrates how to show a T-Shirt who’s boss.

I had the next Monday off and so did my older daughter so to be a good dad and proactively make up for all the time I’d be gone, I took her to Disneyland. We spent the bulk of the day there and then dropped her off at my mom’s to go to my daughters’ parent conferences and then picked her up to go back to her school for Back-to-School night. Busy day.

She's done this once or twice...

She’s done this once or twice…

A few days later I took off fairly early Thursday morning to go to Las Vegas. I was going to meet a bunch of the guys and their significant others for a kind of Bachelor Party trip because CLEM GOT MARRIED. The drive to Vegas was great. On a random Thursday morning there was no traffic headed out to Vegas and relatively few big trucks and campers. There was a bit of rain at the beginning and end of the trip but not enough to have any impact on the drive and the weather was cool (as opposed to our trip in August where outside temperatures reached above 110). Since I was by myself I drove my TSX (usually we take my wife’s Camry on trips) and just enjoyed the hell out of driving it at speed and taking advantage of the bit of extra power it has to take the hills and pass vehicles with authority. I love my car. Oh, and I just paid it off. Wooo!

I got to Vegas and got settled just in time to go with Clem, Angel and Dave to the Gun Store. Now I’m a peace-loving Democrat and all but my mom’s family is from Kansas and they like their firearms. When I was a kid we’d go to my grandparents out in the desert outside Barstow and shoot target practice from inside a reservoir they dug out but never filled with water. Still, I hadn’t fired a gun in about 8 years when me and my dad went to the firing range with his neighbor, a police reserve officer.

We get there and they’ve got a menu of different guns and gun combos that you can try out. We’re thinking of guns we want to share but come to find out that everyone has to buy their own combo. We thought we’d a couple combos and all get to try out 5 or 6 guns. Sadly we had to all more or less buy the same combo and use the same guns. You could pick whatever guns you wanted, but ordering a la carte got really expensive. I was leaning towards the WWII combo with the 1911 .45, the Thompson submachine gun and the MP40 but I didn’t really want the MP40, I would have preferred and M1 Garand. I didn’t want to pay the higher price for that combo and not get the guns I wanted (don’t wanna shoot no gott-dang Nazi gun). So I went with what everyone else got, the modern gun combo. We all shot the 9mm Sig Sauer and the MP-5 submachine gun (and at $100 that was enough… ouch). Clem got a more expensive combo and also shot the M4 as well.

He's got a gun!

He’s got a gun!

MP-5

MP-5

Anyway after paying and waiting in line we get our guns. Actually we don’t. The way they run it to maximize the number of people they can put through the range and I’m sure for safety reasons and their insurance policy’s sake is that one of their staff keeps the guns and clips and loads everything for you (I also noticed the staff is packing, not a bad idea when you get a hundred or so armed strangers a day through your business). When it’s your turn, you get handed a loaded gun in battery so all you have to do is point and shoot. Clem was kind of annoyed by this. I didn’t really care. I’m a tourist, just let me shoot.

Speaking of shooting… I’m a pretty dang good shot. I was clearly the best shot of our group and the guy managing our group even commented on my shooting. Not bad considering Clem is ex-military. Of course, as he was quick to point out, he was Air Force. Shooting a gun is lots of fun. It’s just undeniably macho. There’s no way to feel like a wuss with a loaded gun in your hand. Some of the group next to us were firing .45 automatics and a .44 Magnum and even with the ear protection you know when those things go off. You can literally feel the concussion in the air. Lots of grinning going on. Also, for an OCD kind of guy like me shooting accurately I kind of like model building. It’s a skill I enjoy practicing. Firing the MP5 was a new experience. They have you start with short controlled bursts, two or three rounds at a time for about half the clip, and then have you squeeze off the rest of the clip in full auto. I definitely wasn’t leaning into it enough the first time I did it and I literally scooted back about two feet from the recoil. Rather than try to outmuscle the recoil I just kept the red dot on the target and went with it. If I had tried to lean harder into it or changed my footing I would have gone completely out of control. And in a couple seconds the clip ran out and after a lot of laughing (okay, maybe you CAN feel like a wuss with a loaded gun in your hand) I got a new clip, leaned in a lot harder the next time and did better. One thing I’ll say for the MP5, it kicks pretty straight back. Even when it was pushing me backwards I was still able to control my aim. All but a few shots out of the 75 I fired (3 clips total) were reasonably well grouped and not a single one was outside the outer ring.

Dead paper.

Dead paper.

More dead paper.

More dead paper.

One piece of advice I’ll give if you ever go do this and want to actually shoot accurately is select a light-colored boring target to shoot at (I mean a paper target, not a politician. Can I get a rimshot?). You can’t see the bullet holes in the black parts of the black and white target (like say, the inner rings where I counts the most…) and you really can’t see them on the cheesy garish targets with pictures of zombies, terrorists and clowns. I picked two light targets but somebody took one of mine so I fired the MP5 at the dark ringed target. I was shooting a bit low (overcompensating for recoil, I think) but couldn’t tell until I got the target back.

Shooting was pretty much the highlight of the trip. We agreed we’d all do it again. It’s expensive, but you could easily lose as much in Vegas in the same amount of time. I’d like to go with my dad and do it sometime.

After shooting we all headed back to our hotels and got ready for dinner. We hung out in Clem’s big-spender suite for a while and then went to Caesar’s Palace’s Bacchanal Buffet. I looked it up, Bacchus is like the god of wine and orgies. I had neither with my buffet.

So I’m not a big spender when it comes to food (or almost anything else…) so $50 was quite a lot for me to spend. Was it worth it? Probably not for me. I have pretty simple tastes when it comes to food so I’ll take some of the blame (like a lot of buffets, you’re penalized for not liking seafood). I really got the feeling that their approach was to go all-out on the fancy stuff and make the basics, well… basic. About 70% of what I ate was typical meh buffet fare. So for $50 I was pretty ruthless about leaving food half (or quarter or eighth) finished and moving on to something else. The real highlight for me was the lasagna which tasted like the Cannelloni that Olive Garden hasn’t served in at least 10 years. They had something they were calling Machaca (I think that’s what it was supposed to be, the people putting the food out were having trouble getting the nametags aligned with the proper foods across all ethnicities). It was kind of a mexi-souflet. Whatever it was I liked it. They also had little cheesecake lollipops and the chocolate one was fantastic. The desert bar was pretty impressive. But still, no orgy.

After most of us were done eating we left to head back to Clem’s suite. Yuki and some relatives stayed behind, getting their money’s worth (and probably my money’s worth) of crab legs. We were going to take a cab back but the line was crazy so we walked. On the way we stopped at a CVS for booze. Angel and Nikki went in and disappeared for a long time. Too long. While we were waiting Clem and I got to talking to a girl selling from the carts in the middle of the mini-mall. While we were talking to her I got sexually harassed by a group of gay guys, one of them brushed up against me as he walked by. Seriously, I checked to make sure I still had my wallet. It was karma working in advance though because a few minutes later the girl said something about cleaning hotel room floors until you saw yourself on them that got me and Clem looking at each other and grinning (see, she slipped and said **on** them not **in** them). Being Drunk Dan I had to go and make some stupid comment and so I paid the sexual harassment forward. Sometimes I’m an ass… but WTF it was Vegas and I was drunk and did I mention I had just been brushed up on by some guy. That was just a bad 5 minutes.

Anyway, once Angel and Nikki finally appeared (we were too distracted at the time to wonder too much, but what WERE they doing in that little CVS for so long???) we started walking back to Clem’s hotel. Again. There was this little bar that looked like it had been made from an abandoned mini-mall store. It was gore themed (I think it was actually called Gore) so they had a lady above the bar that looked like she had been cut in half (and her blood was supplying the bar), a midget in a coffin with fake body parts around him (why???) and a guy out front who was really missing an eyeball and had stuck a little LED light in there so light up his socket in flashing red and blue. WTF?

After walking in some rain we finally got to the MGM Grand and got to Clem’s suite. It had a panoramic view so we turned out the lights and watched the lightning. I know, WOOOOOOOOO!!! Nobody does bachelor parties like Those Gundam Guys. Just 4 guys in the dark. Watching the lightning. Oh wait Nikki was there. Thank God somebody was there to bear witness that nobody took advantage of the romantic sausage fest. All corniness aside, it was the most relaxing thing I had done in months. I sent Vanessa a couple texts along the lines of “wish you were here.”

Part of the panoramic view from Clem's room.

Part of the panoramic view from Clem’s room.

With our fill of romance it was time to go find some strippers. I mean, we’re in Vegas for a bachelor party, there’s got to be strippers, right? Well, no. We got a bitchy PaiGow dealer instead. Fortunately she kept all her clothes on and the only boobs I saw in Vegas were on those cards on the street that those guys hand out. We checked out gambling in the MGM but Pai Gow is $25 a hand there (on a THURSDAY) so we moved on over to New York New York and played there for $10. We had 2 dealers trading off but as the night wore on one of them started basically insulting us because we weren’t tipping enough. She said MGM had better players. At first I thought she meant we sucked at the game (me and Dave are new to it) but it turns out she meant we were cheap. The high rollers are better tippers. That may be true but with your shitty attitude you’re sure as hell not going to make it to the MGM.

About 2:30 we called it a night. Dave and Clem had been ahead in the chips but were back to even. I had been down to almost nothing of the $60 I started with (I was down to just my active bet at one point) but then rallied to be down by just $14 so I was glad to leave with ¾ of my money.

The next morning I got up too early, as usual. I think I was awake by about 7. I read for a while and then when I couldn’t stand killing time anymore got myself all ready and packed up. I texted around 9:30 to see if anyone was up for breakfast and when I didn’t get a reply in the next 10 minutes I headed down to my car to put away my suitcase. Then I headed back into the hotel for some food. Dave texted me that he was already at the airport (I guess he was as ready to go as I was) so I just grabbed some Quizno’s and then checked out. I’m not one to hang around and gamble in the daytime in Vegas and I wanted to hit up some local hobby shops and then head home so I could be there during the evening with my family since I knew I’d be off again the next day.

On the way out of town I stopped at Hobby Lobby. They’re a large Mid-West-based craft and hobby chain that has recently started popping up on the West Coast. They’re like Michaels but with a better supply of kits and accessories, and like Michael’s they have a 40%-off coupon. The one in Vegas didn’t have more kits than Michael’s but they did have a bigger variety with a smattering of kits from Tamiya, Trumpeter, Academy and of course Revell and Testors. I found a Trumpeter 1/72 F-100D on clearance for $11. I also grabbed a circle template for painting tank wheels and a couple other odds and ends. I was impressed that they carried Vallejo paints and Iwata airbrushes and parts. After leaving I decided to just head home rather than go to another shop.

The next day a bunch of us (Clem, Angel, Brandon and myself) all met up again for Orange Con, the local IPMS chapter’s model contest. Brandon’s girlfriend Jackie joined us (poor thing, Orange Con is not so interesting for the non-modeler) as did Clem’s friend Brian from the East Coast, who was in town for Clem’s wedding, because CLEM GOT MARRIED.

It was a pretty good Orange Con this year. I was disappointed that my Valkyrie only got 3rd place (probably because I was rushing to finish it, along with bases/diorama for three other entries), but I was really happy that my little OOB Airfix 1/72 Spitfire Mk. IIa got first place. Incredibly, that’s my first 1st place finish at an IPMS competition. In previous years the GP01 Hangar diorama that got me to Hong Kong only got 2nd place at IPMS and my Hazels that got 3rd place in the then BAKUC didn’t even place at this local IPMS show.

I also got 2nd place in dioramas with a few of my GMs from the Those Gundam Guys GM Assault diorama. I used the 4 GMs and 2 tanks I had built for it and split them up between 2 different dioramas.

Clem got 2 first places in Gundam and Sci-Fi Dioramas (bastard beat me in both categories). How his OOB Zaku he threw together in a couple weeks beats the Valk I massively modified and improved over the course of 2 years… oh, wait, it’s IPMS, don’t even wonder. It’s OK I beat him the other year with my dumb little 1/144 Enact from 00 (it beat my own massively-modified GM Custom that year as well). I think the lesson at IPMS is go with a simple kit and build it simply thus reducing your chance of creating any imperfections. IPMS doesn’t really give you credit for modifications and improvements (especially in Gundam/Mecha, where they aren’t familiar with the subject matter), but they deduct like hell for imperfections.

Third.

Third.

Second.

Second.

First.

First.

Angel got 3rd place in dioramas with his Duel Gundam attacking the ship bridge. I want to say he won something else but I can’t remember. Of course, what Angel really cares about is that the same model won this year’s North America Gunpla World Cup qualifier and he’s going to Tokyo. Congratulations, Angel! Brandon got kind of shut out on the trophies this year, although he did win one of the major prizes in the raffle, a Wingnut Wings WWI aircraft kit. All the reviews I see of the Wingnut kits are that they are excellent and I know they’re all worth in the neighborhood of $80 to $100 so that’s not too shabby. At the vendor room I scored an Accurate Miniatures 1/48 B-25G and Hasegawa 1/72 F-18C from the same vendor for $20 (those kits are worth $50 to $60, easy) and a set of decals for my future F-16C Block 42. Now I just need the F-16… (edit: picked one up off eBay) So yeah, good year at Orange Con and we managed not to get into any shenanigans so we can show up again next year in our Those Gundam Guys shirts.

The next Saturday, the 20th was Clem’s wedding dinner. He had already been MARRIED to Yuki on Friday and Saturday was the big dinner. Since it was within a few miles of the Macross World Con event the next day and since my wife and I just needed to get the hell away we got a room in a little motel in downtown Alhambra. Since we were going to split up the day we decided to bring two cars. This turned out to be a problem as this motel was tiny and had about a dozen parking spaces for its 50 or so rooms. Wow, you should really mention that before somebody books… We managed to get Vanessa’s car in but we had to leave my car out on the street AND I had to hike down to the police station to go buy an overnight parking pass. Fucking retarded. Good thing we got to Alhambra early with the idea to have a relaxing late afternoon before heading off to Clem’s dinner. Instead it was a hunt for parking followed by a hike to the police station. Fun. We showed up to Clem’s dinner frazzled and I was burnt out from being pissed off most of the last two hours instead of relaxed. I walk in the door and Clem’s like “DAN!” and we’re taking pictures and he’s talking 100 miles an hour and I’m kind of shell shocked and I’m walking away and he’s like “Aren’t you gonna congratulate me, you bastard?!!” Yeah, I will, let me get a drink and sit down for 5 minutes, crap I should have worn that tie I brought… Shit like this is always happening I’m always hustling to take care of X, Y and Z and then I get to where I’m going I’m just a useless stressed out stupid zombie for a while until I settle in and relax.

Proof that Clem GOT MARRIED!

Proof that Clem GOT MARRIED!

He put LEDs in his own EYES!

He put LEDs in his own EYES!

Those Gundam Guys and their significant others filled out most of a table at the wedding although Terry was promoted to a family table because his girlfriend Christiana is Clem’s cousin. She’s fun. She’s like that commercial for that place in Vegas, just the right amount of wrong… Angel meanwhile wasn’t at our table because he brought the whole famdamily and they filled out a table of their own. Angel’s family remodeled Clem’s house; it’s like a hobby for them.

So I did manage to get a drink and sit down for 5 minutes and had a good time. Our table was filled out with Clem’s East Coast friends so we all had a few drinks and BSed all night. We were served plate after plate of various Chinese food and there was just enough Duck and Chicken in there so I didn’t need to hit up Jack in the Box afterwards :). Clem made the rounds and came out at one point in some traditional garb. We were next to Brandon and Jackie and we found out Jackie is a teacher and so she and Vanessa (and to some extent myself since I was a teacher for 3 years) started teacher talk for most of the rest of the night. Vanessa really liked the Moscato and I managed to get Clem to liberate another bottle from a table that wasn’t drinking it. That’s cuz they were pounding he hard stuff, Clem’s family REALLY parties! Heh, just kidding. I was kind of surprised to see things winding down by 10:30. The friends hung around longer but by 11:30 we were singing a bad country song (Hey, Clem, WTF are you doing singing country songs, you’re CHINESE! Hahahaha) and it was over.

The next morning we packed up and had IHOP and then Vanessa went home and I went to the other end of Alhambra for Macross World Con 2012. I’ve never been to this event and as kind of a Macross fanboy I was excited to go, although I didn’t really know what to expect. Once I got in I more or less went straight to look for the Customs contest so I could display my Super VF-1D and not have to worry about getting bumped and breaking it. Unfortunately I broke it anyway. Taking it out of the box I was transporting it in I snagged an outboard drop tank on the T-shirt I had it resting on and broke it off. Shit, and I didn’t bring glue so out comes the smartphone. Luckily there was a Jo-Ann’s nearby and I figured they’d at least have super glue. I eventually found Jo-Ann’s (the entrance is upstairs and you come in through the parking structure, not easy to find) and got some Krazy Glue and got the drop tank back on.

After that I was free to roam around and take the whole Con in. All three and a half rooms and one hallway of it. The hallway was full of glass display cases and one of them was dedicated to 80’s-vintage Macross, Orguss and Mospaeada toys. There was one of every 1/55 Valk I’ve ever heard of and one I even hadn’t (I never knew there was a 1/55 VF-1D, unless you count the Super Ostrich). Cool stuff, definitely worth a few grand, even after all the re-releases brought down the prices of the originals.

The first small room was a dealer room. One guy was selling decals and posters (forgot to get a decal for my spraybooth) although he had annoyingly put Robotech logos on a bunch of it. Pfff… Robotech. I mean, I wouldn’t be an anime fan if not for it, but there’s been so much drama in the intervening years around the whole Macross/Robotech thing I’m done with Robotech. Let’s do the math: Southern Cross + Mospaeada < DYRL + Macross Plus + Macross 7 + Macross Zero + Macross Frontier. Can I get a US license, please?

The other guy in that room was selling a good collection of Hasegawa kits. VF-1s in every variety, VF-0, SV-51, YF-19, YF-2, the stands, the weapons sets. Some prices were really good (Super VF-1A for $25) but others were just OK. I almost picked up either the YF-19 or YF-21. Almost… but not quite.

The next room had a couple guys who were mostly selling toys but nothing that interesting to me. The half room was the Anime book store that was at AX. I had already bought two Macross books from them at AX (the only two I could stand the price of, damn, Japanese books are expensive).

The last room was the big room. At one end was a display of Macross memorabilia, several large personal collections, and then the Customs contest entries. At the other end of the room was a small impromptu stage that for the moment had a TV airing Macross footage.

And that was it. It was all very cool stuff but there was nothing planned until 1pm and it was now probably 10:30 and I was starting to wonder what I was going to do until then but then people I knew started to show up. First was Jordan and we went round the whole thing together and then Mike, Yuki and a couple other guys showed up and we went around again and then… Jeff showed up! Jeff used to be a regular at the build gatherings but disappeared about a year and a half ago after he got a girlfriend. I had to poke him in the arm to make sure he was real. After every group of people showed up and we took another lap through the place it was still only about noon so we wandered to a local Rite Aid to get some drinks.

OMG! It's Jeff! And he won a raffle prize!

OMG! It’s Jeff! And he won a raffle prize!

We got back about in time for the Mari Iijima concert. She told stories, sang a few songs, answered a few questions and dropped a couple hilarious F-Bombs. It’s funny to hear a Japanese lady with a cute little voice say Fuck. After the concert an autograph line formed which I got in. Once I got nearer the front one of the guys held my place so I could get my Super VF-1D. For $20 I got a signed CD, my VF-1D base signed, and a Destroid monster kit signed. I’ll probably sell that one.

Mari Iijima in Concert

Mari Iijima in Concert

And I Geek Out!

And I Geek Out!

Signed by Minmay! (well, her voice at least)

Signed by Minmay! (well, her voice at least)

After that, it was back to waiting. It was now about 3pm and the Customs contest was scheduled for 5. There was an art contest, a cosplay contest, and a 1/55 transformation contest (for speed and accuracy, I would have been really good at that back when I was 12). That contest went on and on as it was sweet-sixteen style and so they didn’t even get to the Customs contest until 5:30, just after the last raffle of the day and by then everybody was streaming out. Wow.

Leonardo's 1/100 Destroids

Leonardo’s 1/100 Destroids

Leonardo's VF-1J

Leonardo’s VF-1J

EXO's First-Place VF-1D

EXO’s First-Place VF-1D

Somebody produced this resin variant of he armored set for the 1/60 ans 1/48 Yamato Valkyries

Somebody produced this resin variant of he armored set for the 1/60 ans 1/48 Yamato Valkyries

Monster Kai

Monster Kai

I didn't get a pic of this SD Valk before somebody knocked it over.

I didn’t get a pic of this SD Valk before somebody knocked it over.

I took second in the Customs contest. I was happy with that, the guy who beat me had taken a 1/48 Yamato Valkyrie, put a resin conversion on it to turn it into a VF-1D, ripped the arm off and scratch built little Hikaru and Minmay figures to make the famous scene where Minmay falls out of the Valkyrie’s hand mid-air and Hikaru dives down and saves her by pulling her into the cockpit. It was very cool and I didn’t mind losing to it in this take a Macross-related toy or kit and make something cool out of it contest. Part of me thought, “My God, just because they’re toys doesn’t mean you don’t have to fix the seam lines!” I’ve been in the world of competitive model building for 5-6 years and it’s hard not to look at a contest and expect all the entrants and especially the winners to apply all the modeling skills to their pieces. But this isn’t a model contest and model contest rules don’t apply.

So ironically even though I got second place, I got a better prize. The winner, EXO got a Ranka Lee figure that I think was probably worth about $50. I got a vintage Nousjadeul Ger (male power armor) kit and a poster. At first I was thinking, “A poster, cool.” I figured it was one of the ones the vendor was selling. Maybe it was one of the ones where they took the nice Tenjin Hidetaka artwork and slapped a Robotech logo on it. But then EXO was like “I wanted the poster.” At this point I unroll it a bit and it’s a black poster with a cutaway of a Super Valkyrie drawn in white on it. Wow, it’s pretty nice.

Me and 1st Place winner Exo

Me and 1st Place winner Exo

Second Place... For the Win! :)

Second Place… For the Win! 🙂

Exo asks if I want to trade the poster for the figure. Since I have a Ranka Lee Deculture VF-25 that it would go good with I’m about to say yes but I can hear people in the crowd saying, “Don’t do it!” At this point the contest organizers ask Exo if he wants to trade the prizes by his rights as winner. He’s nice enough to ask if it’s OK with me and I’m fairly agreeable to that when the crowd is like, “Nooooooooooo!” I turn and look at them and ask, “Should I do it?” Again, “Nooooooooooooo!” I looked at Exo and shrugged. Obviously I’ve got something good in this poster. Sorry, man.

The contest organizers explain the backstory on the poster to me. These posters were printed to go in a book printed in 1984 to go along with the release of Do You Remember Love? It’s known among Macross fans as The Gold Book. The poster were folded up and placed in the back of the book along with a film strip and the book is now rare and worth a lot. Somehow some of the posters made it out of the printers on their own, in unfolded condition. These aren’t worth as much as the book but they’re also pretty rare and I’m guessing worth somewhere around $30-40. Looks like I’ll have to get it framed.

So with that, the show was pretty much over. I went home and the next day was family photos. The next weekend I took my wife out (belatedly) for our 13th anniversary. We went to the Circle (downtown) in Orange for a Halloween event (horrible parking, not a lot of fun). On Halloween we carved pumpkins (I did a Mono Eye, lol) and then we took the girls to downtown Brea on Halloween for their trick-or-treating event (good parking, good time) and with that the very busy month of October was finally done.

Halloween at The Circle in Orange

Halloween at The Circle in Orange

Halloween at Downtown Brea

Halloween at Downtown Brea

Mono Eye Pumpkin!

Mono Eye Pumpkin!

The Unicorn That Was a Boomerang

March 28th, 2012 No comments

Only in my world would that sentence make sense.

This was going to be a post, but this was a pretty massive project, so I decided to make it into my usual In-Progress and Completed pages.

In mid-January I called up Steve at Bluefin and had him send over the Unicorn (again) for refurbishment. We last left the Unicorn in a case of Star Wars-like “used future” weathering in an attempt to make lemonade once the clearcoat on the Unicorn turned VERY yellow from sun exposure, and it suffered a fair amount of dings and staining in being shipped cross country. We started with this:

Unicorn_Redo-7

We last left the Unicorn looking like this...

Stripped parts - Decals and most yellowing are gone.

Stripped parts - Decals and most yellowing are gone.

And ended up about 6 weeks and 123.5 man-hours later with this:

Love the red!

Love the red!

Completed rearview

Completed rearview


Follow this Link to the Unicorn WIP

Follow this Link to the Completed Unicorn Gundam Gallery

GM Assault Diorama DONE!

November 23rd, 2011 No comments


After a little more than six months of work, my part of the Those Gundam Guys GM Build diorama is done. 6 mobile suits, 2 support vehicles, 1/6 diorama base and a lot of paint and weathering. On the one hand quantity took precedence over quality and there are lots of small flaws. On the other hand these little models came out pretty cool and I got a lot of good shading and weathering practice, which I needed.
Follow this link to the completed Diorama launchpad page which leads to pictures of all the subjects

SCGMC – 24 Hours to go!

November 11th, 2011 1 comment

So… 24 hours to go. Let’s take an inventory.

From the left we have 1:48 mega Zaku parts that have to be shaded and then brought up to various points in the clearcoat/decals/panel line wash process for my demo at SCGMC. Then there’s the orphaned HGUC Zaku that needs panel lines and paint chips and assorted clearcoats. Then there’s 4 GM’s that are mid-paint-chipped (3 more to go) and then need some pastel work, lenses painted and battle damage painted. Then I have to go to Robot4Less to get my models that I’m taking tomorrow and pack up all the models I plan to take. then I’m gonna go borrow my parents’ minivan and swing by Clem’s to pick up stuff to take tomorrow morning.

Holy crap it’s a good thing I don’t work today!

Unicorn Done!

October 5th, 2011 No comments

During the week, Casval dropped by on the way home from work at Bluefin and brought me the Unicorn’s head. It was in terrible shape! It was much yellower than the rest of the Unicorn, especially the left side. Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture before I started work, but here’s how it looked after an hour or two of sanding:

Those really yellow areas… the whole head looked like that. This was much yellower that the other yellow parts on the body of the unicorn, which presented a problem because the pastels weren’t going to cover it and painting over it all would make the head whiter than the body.

My solution was to mask off all the non-white parts of the head and apply a mist coat of white from a spray can of Mr. Color Gundam Color White (or whatever it’s called). At this point it was whiter than the body, but hopefully close enough that the pastels would blend it in.

Next, I got to work with the pastels, though I never got a good after picture because near the end I was rushing to get it done so that Steve could deliver it to be carefully boxed up in a new crate for its next cross-country trip.

I fixed a couple of other issues. Casval pointed out that the leg thrusters were still their original gray, so I pulled them off (a pain in the ass given that I couldn’t get a straight shot at the screws that held them in place) and stuck them on skewers (they barely held…).

Another thing I did was to glue on one of the backpack thrusters that had stripped out and could no longer be held in place by its screw:

The thumb was broken and the beam rifle was swinging loosely in the hand, so I expoxied it securely in place:

I then wiped off the excess epoxy with alcohol. The large Gundam statues I had seen in Hong Kong had similarly damaged hands, but they had been kind of sloppily fixed, so I wanted to do better.

After the glue dried, I painted over it with Tamiya Medium Gray. Luckily it was a near-perfect match.

Back to the head, I sprayed a flat coat over the pastels on the head and then paint chipped it with Testor’s Steel. About this time it was Saturday morning around 10 AM and Steve called wondering if I could wrap things up. So I let the steel dry as much as possible and then flat –coated it again, so I could mask off the V-Fin:

It had gotten a bit scratched in the sanding process, but then when I pulled that masking tape off after painting the head, some of the paint came off, so a repaint was necessary.

As soon as it was dry I took off the tape and within 15 minutes Jose was there with the big truck to pick it up. I never got a good after picture, they’re all either backlit or in super-bright sunshine, but I did get one final shot…

In all, I put in about 9-10 hours on this project. I’m glad it came out looking a lot better, but I had a real alte night last Friday, first working on the Unicorn, then working on my own model. I’m still scrambling to finish My Dom for OrangeCon.

September (and August) Update

September 27th, 2011 No comments

I haven’t put up a post in a really long time but there hasn’t been one big thing to post about, just little things and some slow progress on my kits.

In late July I took a road trip with several of Those Gundam Guys to ComicCon. I had never been before so it was a novelty but I didn’t really care for it. There was a good panel on resin casting but aside from that the most interesting thing that happened was that I went to go geek out on Scott Hards at the HLJ booth but when he saw the vendor pass I had from Bluefin and went totally cold on me. That was awkward. I didn’t try to explain anything because I wasn’t going to throw Bluefin under the bus, but I like HLJ, too. It made me reflect on the state of the hobby. At least here in Southern California we have this great Gunpla store (Robot4Less, no I don’t work for them… but they are kind of my buddies since I’m there a few times a month) and we want to support it, and Bandai is really pushing to get Gunpla into America via American-based sellers so that’s great. Anime and Gunpla seem to be solidy on the rise here in America. But as much as things have progressed, we still don’t have everything. While Scott Hards was giving me the cold shoulder at ComicCon I had a couple kits on the way from HLJ. Earlier in the year I had ordered some Macross items from them because nobody “legit” in the US carries it because of the whole Harmony Gold Robotech/Macross licensing debacle. I wonder in time if gunpla will become so mainstream in the US that regularly checking out the Japanese vendor sites will become a thing of the past?

Anyway, here’s Gamerabaenre’s account of the day:
Comic Con 2011

August included a family camping trip and a build gathering at my house.

It was pretty uneventful except for the part where Clem hit one of the neighborhood kids with his car. Actually, it was more like one of the neighborhood kids hit his car. I was at Robot4Less with a group of people when it happened but when Terry called me and said the street was swarming with cops, firemen and ambulances, I was pretty sure I knew which group of kids the “victim” came from. They’re about 7-11 years old and play back and forth across the street with no parental supervision. It was a matter of time… And what have the parents done since then to deal with the issue? They got some cones to put up in the street when the kids are playing. Still no adult supervision. Nice.

I’ve been working on the GM Team diorama group build thing with Those Gundam Guys. I’ve spent plenty of money locally on that project (I bought 4 of the 6 kits I’m using in it from Robot4Less). We’ve got a pretty good start on the group base and I’ve worked out how it’s all going to look. We got together a couple weekends ago and worked on the base in a coordinated effort to get it… closer to done.

Pinned GMs

Pinned GMs

John Woo GM

John Woo GM

Brandon the Bearded One aplpies plaster paper.

Brandon the Bearded One aplpies plaster paper.

At the last official build gathering a group went to R4L and I worked out a deal with Jeff and we split a pair of the HGUC/UC Hardgraph Ground War sets so that we could each get one MS and one each of the tank, hovertruck, Wappa and troops/accessories. I later sold of my MS kit to another member, so I managed to just get the vehicles for about $13.

TinyTanks

TinyTanks

I put these little kits together at the build gathering. They’re pretty impressive. The tank and hover truck are each about 20 pieces and despite being only 2 inches long have some really great detail. The Wappa isn’t quite as good but to be fair it’s probably not even an inch long. I’m putting some work into replacing some of the stowage rails on the back of the tank with actual metal wire. On the kit it’s just solid plastic slabs and it’s the only bad part of the kit. The bottom of the railing is mesh on the “real” thing and at that scale I’ll accept solid plastic, but the top is open railing and really has to be replaced (at least according to my AMS). The Wappa has similar issues where solid slabs of plastic are supposed to represent railing. I may fix it or I may just leave it out. The cost-to-benefit ratio is not that great for the Wappa.

The rest of the project is primered plastic. Between these GMs, the not-Rick Dom II and my Super Valkyrie (officially shelved until the group build is done) there is a LOT of primered plastic around my workbench…
Surface prep on the GMs is almost done and after that I’m looking forward to really finishing this build quickly and maybe getting the Valk done by the SCGMC.

The other news is that I’ve given into Roy’s requests and prodding and put some of my kits up for sale at Robot4Less. I have mixed feelings about selling my stuff. On the one hand after going to all the contests and then sitting on my shelves for a couple years, what am I getting out of them? On the other hand, I spent months on these projects and the 6 or 7 models I’m selling represent about 2 years of work and half of my total collection. I’m hoping to make enough from them to buy a DSLR camera but who knows…

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.