When I started out in the hobby back in 2012, I genuinely thought it was so niche that an event of this kind will likely never see fruition. I am very happy to say, it’s here. The UK’s First, Gundam convention will be held at York Racecourse on September the 24th, 2016!
Hosted by the good folks at Japan:cool the event will feature a GBWC style model compo, live music, a Gunpla Museum, a mech modelling panel (with top blokes Black Crab Studio and Stuart Lathe) live Gunpla Club podcast and a whole heap more.
A bitter pill to swallow for me, work and life commitments mean I am unable to attend, but I am totes attending the next one! I have had the pleasure of making up a few graphics and things for this event though so happy to have contributed in some way!
I have found on a vast majority of kits, especially HG kits that weapons are often understated, usually made by slapping together just two bits and a barrel with very little colour separation. There are a few exceptions to the rule of course, but if you do find your death cannon is more like a pea shooter, here’s a couple of ways to beef it up without having to invest in additional weapon sets.
Get masking! Yes, it’s pain staking, and especially fiddly on weapons but masking off and creating colour separation, picking out details and adding tiny variations of colour will really make it pop, especially on any exposed ‘inner mechanisms’. If you are finding some areas are just too tricky to mask, I highly recommend experimenting with liquid mask, which allows you to ‘flood’ recessed areas with a rubberising fluid. Here’s what I did with a little bit of common masking, liquid masking and hand painting details on my Duel Gundam Assault shroud rifle:
MG Duel – Colour-separated gun
Modify it! Combining the weapon with scratch building and kit bashing is great fun and can make your weapon more unique – it does however take a little thought. Be sure the model can hold your newly modified weapon. When I saw how pitifully under-powered the MG Nemo’s pistol looked, I had to overcompensate and turn it into a total overkill blaster. I chopped the barrel off, made a box-section in pla-plate and added on some after-market detailing to. Yes, it looks a little insane.. but I liked it. I also modified the standard weapon on the Sinanju Stein, adding a huge scope to the front section to add to it’s ‘medium range’ theme. A little more subtle, but adds a lot.
Modified Sinanju Stein Weapon
MG Nemo – Modified weapon
Modifying weapons – some tips!
If you want to entirely rebuild the gun, and want to make sure the kit can hold it – separate the handle from the gun, and start working from the handle.
Use parts from other guns you have in spare stock.
When gluing, always ensure surfaces are flat. Uneven surfaces may need putty work, and sanding surfaces that will be bonded by putty will help keep it together.
Take a look at other people’s work – think of form and functionality, and how it will look in context with the model.
If there is going to be additional weight and you are unsure the model will grip it ok, consider adding a peg to the handle to slot into the hand.
Do you have any tips or tricks to help with modifying weapons? Anything I missed, or you would like more detail on? Let me know in the comments!
Hello! It’s been some time since my last post, but as always life has been catching up with me and as such some of the ‘ol hobby time has been reduced.
First off, we we’re told last month that the owners of our house have decided to sell, so we had to find a new place to live within 2 months. We managed to find a new place which is a little more costly but slightly more roomy, and will be moving in a little under 2 weeks time. As you can guess, a lot of my time has been taken up packing.
Despite the chaos, I did manage to finish my RE 1/100 Efreet build-off with fellow YouTubers, StyderPrime, Justinius Builds, Zakuaurelius, Jabman025 and 00GundamReviewsV2, you can take a looky here, and see the showcase video here. It was a pleasure to take part in this little jaunt, and some excellent models were produced 🙂
I am also working on the revival of the Mecha Lounge! For those of you who do not know, the Mecha Lounge was a forum that ran a couple of years back for mech modellers all over the world, and was fantastically popular until social media groups started gaining traction. I decided to revive it for several reasons. I no longer felt that modelling groups on facebook, where a useful platform for people serious about mech modelling. Sure, facebook is great for sharing great works and getting advice now and again, but it’s temporary nature means a lot of questions were being asked repeatedly, leading to some people just either not answering or getting pissed off with it. It also means a lot of seriously impressive work just gets missed! The Mecha Lounge had an extensive Q & A and tutorial section, that was a great repository of expert advise and valuable feedback that would never get lost in the noise, or be subject to facebook algorithms that favours advertising over useful content. It also had advise given by verified veterans of mech modelling, so you could always guarantee answers were given with real experience. I want to have a dedicated source, free to access and without restriction. It’s success will really depend on it’s users, so once it’s ready to roll, it’ll be open for a year to see how it goes. It’ll have compo’s and giveaways too! Be sure to give the Mecha Lounge Facebook page a like for announcements on the official launch date. I expect it should be in one or two months time once I get my shit together and have an A-team ready to go 🙂
If you want to see how it’s going (you won’t see much but you can bookmark this page if you like) visit:
I am also on the lookout for any seasoned mecha modellers out there from all over the planet willing to dedicate some time to making this community the best it can be. Send me a message on the GundamUK facebook page if you are interested!
I shall keep ya’ll updated on the facebook page as to the status of my move. I need to make a new spray booth, and photography area.. looking forward to this project 🙂
When it comes to branching out into the world of mecha modelling, they’ll perhaps come a time when you want to start developing your own ideas outside of the kit’s ‘out of box’, or associated series. Everyone’s path and learning pace is of course different, but if you have not done any customisation before I urge you to get the basics down first. I have witnessed too many times, beginners creating customs right off the bat that are publicly (and unfairly) shot down in flames due to a lack of experience in the basics of modelling, and sometimes without even applying a little self-critique, and it’s not a pretty sight. This article however is not about modelling per se, but is to advise on how you can develop your own concepts, themes and ‘back stories’ for your kits to start off your process of realising your ideas, if you want to try this route at all.
What is a back story?
Remember this, it really does not matter about canon. The kit is your’s, and you are not bound by any rules on how it should look. If you are fond of canon, and want to make it fit in say, the Gundam Universal Century timeline, then by all means do, just perhaps be more mindful of the type of critique you will receive, if you choose to showcase. You could even do a ton of research to really get it believable. Up to you! I’ve placed a few of my works in canon so far, such as this Geara Doga MG neo-zeon Daikun tribute.
A back story is of course a story surrounding your model. You can think about several aspects, such as who is the pilot? Which side is he / she on? What kind of character does the pilot have that would affect how the model looks? What weapons would he / she favour? Would he / she choose high-mobility? Light-weight armour? Environment is also a factor. Does your story take place on earth? Will your model be subject to weather conditions? Perhaps think about time too – how old is the model? Signs of rust? Fresh off the assembly line? The sky really is the limit here and what’s important is, can you convey it in your model?
Getting as much detail as possible can really help you focus on what you need to do, and can also really push your skills to help you improve. Having made your own story too, is surprisingly motivational since it invests your personality into your subject. Here’s a rudimentary ordered check-list, to help you dig down into a rich back-story:
Pilot’s character: Good / Bad / Neutral / Psychotic / Stoic / Virtuous / Mysterious / Funny / Egotistical / Complex / Dumb / Naive or no pilot at all!
Mech: Completely customised (to fit pilot, or not!) / modified / standard, but with custom paint work / Grunt / Super-boss! / unconventional (maybe it’s got 4 legs?) / inappropriate / Non-combatant or civilian use / Covert / Support / Heavy / Light / Alien / Holy / Factory fresh / Space-weathered / Land-weathered / Battled / Destroyed / Long-distance range / Short range / A model, of a model? Getting all meta now!
Load-out: Standard / Make-shift / Heavy / Light / Overkill / Unconventional / Cumbersome / Ranged / Melee / None?
This is of course, not just tied to a single character or mech. You could include all of this if you are intending to do a diorama with multiple models. You can be as in-depth, or as vague as you like. You could even provide a back story when you are showcasing, if you feel it’ll help. Just bear in mind, most people will not take the time to read it!
For some examples, I asked a couple of well known modellers about their projects. Special thanks to them for taking the time to answer my questions 🙂
Child of Mecha has a great example of back-story in canon work within the Gundam Universal Century timeline, more specifically in the wake of the Advance of Zeta series of picture novels, with the hugely impressive MSZ-006C1 (Bst) Zeta+ C1 Hummingbird, and included elements of the back-story on a plaque located in the display base:
As you can see, Tim (AKA Child of Mecha) has created a back story from the Universe (Alternate canon, Universal Century), the Pilot (Lt. Thomas ‘red’ O’Malley, special forces pilot), the Mech (Customised, heavy weaponry, space-faring, long-range travelling off the factory line) and the Load-out (Heavy, long range, powerful and customised, even has the pilot’s name as a decal!). Some additional factors Tim has included are what ship it was deployed from, what military detachment and faction it belongs with, and the time period in the UC line in which it is set. Just goes to show, you are not limited to just is it zeon or feddy? I asked Tim what his process was to come up with the back-story for this almighty project:
“Tough one. I think it originated from looking at the history of the Hummingbird online, how it was originally designed as an escort unit for the Plan303E Deepstriker, but since that was cancelled, so was the Hummingbird. Then I wondered what would it look like if the Hummingbird wasn’t cancelled, but yet further refined. I had the idea of a special unit that piloted Hummingbirds and Zeta+’s and the Grim Reapers were born. I wanted to keep the unit name and miscellaneous information somewhat grounded in reality. Since Annapolis is the state capital of Maryland (where I live), and it’s also home to the US Naval Academy, it made sense to think that a ship would be named after the city, so to pay homage, I assigned the Grim Reapers to the Annapolis. To further pay homage to my home I named the pilot, Thomas O’Malley, after, then, state govenor Martin O’Malley. I wanted to tie real world names and places into the background without going full on fanfic, but just enough for people to sink their teeth into when looking at the finished piece.”
You could even go right out of the box with your idea or back-story. Let’s look at the 2015 Gunpla Builders World Cup winner from Thailand, Win Eiam Ong’s (AKA the Paint Pusher) ‘another late night’.
He takes ordinary MG Epyon and MG Wing kit (with a few bits from others), and turns it into a diorama of a battle, carved out of wood by an artist, set in the ‘build fighters’ universe. It’s a theme, within a theme with minimal canon, no pilot, no focus on the mechs even, but the entire back-story is expressed in the work itself without any need for explanation. Conceptually, it’s right out-there, even meta-physical in a way and it’s a great example of taking a completely different approach to creating a back-story. Win’s idea came right out of the idea of no constraint to the expectation, which landed him the top prize in the mecha modelling world – do don’t feel like you ever have to be restrained by the model’s inherent purpose. Win explains this really well here, I urge you to have a read!
As always, I want to ask you, do you find having a back-story helps in your creative process, or do you not bother at all and just paint what you feel like painting? Ever become dangerously obsessed with your back-story and extended it into a full fan-fiction? Got any helpful hints or tips as to how to come up with a theme or back-story? I love to hear from you folks, so please, spill your brains and share your thoughts!
Are you a rivet-counter, or a boy-racer? A very interesting suggestion for something for me to thump my keyboard keys about from Zach, I thought I would tackle the question and ask the community at large – which is more pleasing to do, and to look at?
Let’s start with a couple of definitions if I may,
A stylised model is one of conformity to a paradigm, or commonly showcased style. They’re generally ‘clean’and free to weathering, pretty realistically impractical, with oversized elements to give it that element of action or expression. Details are multi-coloured, tiny and metallic. Paint works come in a blinding array and combination of palettes, hues and finishes, but are commonly pre-shaded from the outside in to provide depth, and visual interest.
A realistic model involves more aspects of weathering, damage and physics. It has a more logical approach, with more theoretical elements. Creativity is found in method and execution. The kit looks more real, and requires arguably a great deal more practical skill to fool the eye into believing that what you are looking at is much closer to it’s proposed existence, and/or situation. It also invites more defined criticism, would it really look like that if it was hit with a .50 calibre rifle at 300m? Are their enough rivets, to hold that panel in place as it’s being smashed to the floor on a planet at 6g’s? I have seen some spectacular disagreements in this style descend into brass infantile insult I might add. Grab some popcorn when you see it!
So which is more popular? A quick gander around the social sphere and on blogging platforms reveals high contrast, bold colour palettes and fine detail win popularity contests. Realistic models however appear to garner a lot more interest from practising modellers, and model fans as opposed to anime fans and kit collectors. Either way, popularity does not indicate which is objectively the best.
Which method, is more enjoyable? Making a realistic kit from concept to execution is like riding a unicycle on a telephone wire. It’s either going to be very impressive, or people will think you are very stupid for attempting it in the first place. You could also topple off, making an awful mess on the pavement. Both methods have their painful moments, but realism will at the most basic level for each method, have more steps and take longer to produce. Stylistic models are perhaps a little more expressive in execution, so perhaps modelling without being tied to Earth’s gravity is more liberating? (had to get a Gundam reference in somewhere, I hope you get the point). Perhaps too, realistic models have a very high degree of satisfaction in completion due to the sheer amount of work and research invested in it. I see equal merits and pitfalls to both.
If you are new to mecha modelling, which path should you take? Of course, start at your own tastes, with one caveat – get the basics down first. If you are considering adding battle damage, make sure you can first for example remove a seam line. If you want to make an intricately masked motif in an absurdly erotic pink on a shield or piece of armour – make sure you know how to paint first. Whichever method you choose in the long run, try out both, or even mix it up. Either way, develop your own style!
So what’s your preferred style? Where you one, then switched to the other? mix it up now and again? A complete purist? Did I get something wrong? Let me know, I love to get the conversation going as always, and thank you for your contribution 🙂
I bought a whole bunch of gloss colours from this range some time ago to give them a try-out, and thought I should do a very quick overview of how these perform!
The paint was tested on alclad lacquer primer, twice applied with a round of high-grit sanding between. Was also applied using an airbrush.
Much thinner than Tamiya or Vallejo, and some pigment / binder had congealed at the bottom of the pot. Be careful when stirring, if you find a sticky blob at the bottom, carefully ease it out into the mix and try not to ‘slip’ inside the pot or you’ll find it spluttering out of the pot.
Coverage and thinning
As with many acrylics, coverage can (especially in the case of Vallejo model air) be a little a little inconsistent. In MHA’s (Mr. Hobby Aqueous) case I found that no matter now thin, or thick the thinning ratio was, the coverage was always consistent. Definitely a pro. I thinned using UMP (ultimate modelling products) thinner, and again using Tamiya thinner. UMP performed way, way better mixing very nicely after a little mixing. Tamiya took a little more work and produced a couple of blobs. Definitely avoid. I found for good, strong coverage using roughly a 3:1 ratio worked for me for a single coat, spraying at around 20psi. This does mean however, a pot of MHA will not last as long as a pot of Tamiya. Around 2/3 of a single pot Tamiya on an MG kit with large areas of colour would be enough for me, in MHA’s case I found myself using 1 and a half.
Lovely, lovely lovely. The white is very vibrant (on a white primer!), orange is closer to red to me but equally solid. The range of colours I tested were all consistently gorgeous. Off-white leans towards beige, black is well..an acceptable black.
No problems here. A full cup in the airbrush caused very little ‘dry-tipping’ and did not start to congeal. Cleaning out was a doddle, just a cup of acetone did the trick without any funky blobby mess. Sprayed fine from 15psi to 30, above/below behaved as you would expect.
Drying and durability
I gave it 2-3 hours to fully cure but it was touch dry in around 20 mins. As with most acrylics, MHA is pretty fragile even after a good amount of curing, a little pressured toothpick scraped it off quite easily. Applying masking directly on too, was a little disappointing, pulling up a few flakes here and there. However, a thin coat of Alclad gloss lacquer gave it suitable toughness without dulling out the colour, and allowed me to mask with much more confidence.
Great colour and colour range.
Pretty cheap, around the same as Tamiya.
No probs smashing it through and airbrush.
A little fragile after curing.
Does not last as long as other paints.
Needs protective layer if masking.
You’ll need to test which thinner works best. UMP thinner worked great for me, but depending on where you are it may take a little experimenting.
Will I continue to use it?
Yes, I think so, probably not for large areas of colour though, i’ll probably stick to Tamiya in that case. I’ve also ordered in some metallics from the range. Will write on this too.
In a recent discussion with my fellow countryman Bearded Builds, I was given the proposition that, Bandai kits make people lazy modellers. It’s always been an elephant in the room, in that we were talking about working on resin kits, and having just received an adorable GMGouf resin kit from e2046 I was complaining about the masking aspect of the project is somewhat daunting. Then, looking behind me on the shelf I realised I had been building up a collection of resin kits and conversion kits that had not been worked on, at all.
Most resin kits, in case you don’t know are not snap-fit. They’re not colour separated (most of the time) and they require a degree of cleaning up, sanding, gluing and pinning into a fixed position, all before you actually start painting and masking. They have an advantage though – they’re crisp in detail, and you’ll find much more unusual, obscure and cool designs outside the realm of conventional licensing.
So, that reeling feeling that I get when thinking about the work involved in constructing a resin kit – I blame entirely on the ingenious and ease-of-assembly you get with standard Bandai gunpla, where I started my modelling journey. Has this standard, now become the baseline expectation for the majority of mecha modellers? Is the majority of the mech modelling hobby, entitled, even spoiled? or is this just how the hobby has evolved with new technology and innovation, and it’s exposure to newer generations of aspiring modellers?
I thought I was one of the ‘old farts’ of the mech modelling world, shaking my stick at newbies saying ‘you don’t know what real modelling is!’ but I’ve come to the realisation that in comparison to those who have been doing it for decades, I’m a spring lamb naively pouncing in a field of flowers without a care in the world.
Take a look at a 1980’s re-issued 1/144 kit and you’ll soon realise how quirky, unarticulated and lacking in detail these kits are, that required a certain level of skill to actually make look good, and compare it to the most recently released Real Grade kit. You can assemble an RG now and do virtually nothing to it but assemble, and it’ll look as good as a skilled modellers kit from the 1980’s – or better. This is how far we have come, and seeing modellers complain about how a modern kit looks, or problems during assembly put into this perspective will perhaps make you realise just how entitled some modellers are. You can also understand a little better perhaps, why some more experienced modellers are somewhat critical of ‘snap fitters’ and their apparently fickle complaints.
Don’t get the wrong idea, I mean entitled not in a negative, naive sense. It’s acceptable to be critical of innovation, as it’s a vital part of progression, but I also think it’s useful for your own enjoyment of the hobby to recognise just now advanced, and how actually amazing Bandai Gunpla really is. Perhaps you’ll think about this, next time you complain about the ‘proportions not being right’. Get your skill game on, and fix it! Push yourself to try out something more challenging, like a fully resin kit and perhaps knowing this you’ll appreciate just how easy Bandai have made it for you, and you’ll no longer be a lazy modeller.
What do you think? Are we spoiled? Lucky? Or are our attitudes and intentions not so clear cut?
It’s been a little busy since I returned form the land of the rising sun (boy do I miss being there…), so I’ve not found the time to post any updates here for a while.
Excuses aside, modelling wise I am around 50% done with the Typhoon, just need to get on and paint the torso, head, arms, shoulders and weather the legs and waist. Progress on the kit can be seen over on the facebook.
I finally purchased one of my all-time dream kits, the PG GP01/fb, and lordy it’s a big box of plastic I am very much looking forward to getting stuck into. Chances are high this will be my next large project.
I’m currently reading over a few of my older articles at the moment to see if any of my viewpoints have changed. I have always been of the mindset that, in light of new information and / or evidence, your viewpoint should always change to remain with the truth. Attaching an emotion to information can only ever result in a fallacy, so allowing yourself to be proven wrong is liberating. If I find I am still agreeing with everything have ever written, I am either on the right side of truth, or frightfully stubborn 🙂
We’re currently in discussions about running a new compo over on the UK Gunpla Modellers Group. As we’re still talking about it, I can’t really write much.. other than it’ll certainly be accessible to many modellers from all skill levels, and hopefully a lot of fun.
I have launched, albeit with only 2 designs so far my own T-shirt shop! Not neccesserilly all GundamUK stuff but mostly mech / geek culture stuff that I hope you’ll enjoy. If you want to check it out, visit http://www.gundamuk.threadless.com. New designs will be announced on my facebook page.
I have a little time at the moment so I thought I would write a little about my trip so far here in Japan. I have been here for a little over a week now, and have visited Nikko, had a nice meal in Tokyo (staying in a place called Shobu in Saitama, just a 40 min or so train ride out from Tokyo) and eaten so much Japanese food I fear I will be carrying more body weight on my return. Setting aside the family visits, dressing up as a Samurai and watching my son graduate Ninja School (so much awesome there), and local shopping trips, the highlight for me so far has been a day trip to Akihabara to peruse some kits and pick up a whole load of modelling supplies. I have been doing some filming on this, so the proceeds from the visit along with some hastily filmed and badly planned snippets will be presented on the youtube channel in a couple of weeks time.
I have made a few personal observations since being here. Firstly, the Gundam franchise from what I have seen is definitely less popular than it was when I visited in 2012. It has certainly declined since the last time I was here was at the peak of Build Fighters, when more or less every convenience store had some build-fighter branded/sponsored product in stock, and adverts featuring the franchise frequented the tellybox. I have witnessed only a sporadic presence in Gatchapon dispensers and toy stores I been to. It is also much harder to get hold of HIQ metal parts, much to my frustration. I also wanted to get some BMC chisels, only to discover that all of the stores I visited were limiting sales to 1 per customer! The local hobby store has also, quite disappointingly closed, meaning I can no longer have a wonder around while the wife spends hours clothes shopping. Sad times. The shop has (sob) been replaced by a girly girly girl girl accessory shop. Its not all bad news though, the local toys r us store still stocks gunpla, and surprisingly, some modelling tools and fluids! There is also a Yodobashi store within driving distance, so I am hopefully going to persuade my Father-in-law with the help of a Sake bribery to take me there. I also hopefully want to find a local “book-off” second hand book store as last time I was here I managed to pick up some really excellent mech modelling instruction and reference books at great prices. Sadly, second hand stores, normally a goldmine for rare and cheap kits are coming up dry (bar Mandarake, which I did not have time to get this time, and “hobby off” opposite Yodobashi Akiba which was dumb expensive for second-hand stuff).
So, on with the holiday, loving it here, don’t want to leave… Thanks for reading 😉
What a smashing kit. Being my first re/100 I was very impressed with the quality of detail and engineering. It’s definitely a leap forward from the old 1/100 ‘no-grade’ kits of old. Assembly was quick and painless, the leg assembly causing a little bit of trouble is disassembly but upon realising the tiny orange circular vent below the knee was the key to holding it all together it was figured out. Mods wise, only really drilled out some holes in the thrusters, added in a pinhead on the shoulders.
Painting went ok, primed everything as usual in Alclad primer and microfiller, and black enamel for the metallic parts (joints, weapons mostly). Used Alclad stainless steel for the thruster bells as it has a nice dark shiny quality. Used gunmetal as a base for the guns, and duralanium for the joint parts, detailing some parts out with a little brass, gold and silver. Blue parts I used vallejo model air, was not overly pleased with the finish being a little on the matt side, but persisted using french blue as a base, highlighting in RAF azure blue. Again, some details picked out hand painting in gold and silver model air. White parts, pretty standard – Tamiya blue for a base, Tamiya white for the highlight. Everything sealed in Alclad Aquagloss. Panel lined in Humbrol black enamel and sealed with 2 coats of Aquagloss again.
Decals sucked balls. This is the third set from Samuel decal now that has sucked, and I think it’s because it’s ‘mass produced’ I don’t know. The protective layer was non existent meaning I had to be super-careful with application, some just crumbled away so had to source a few from other sheets. You can see a little silvering on the shield decals where I was too paranoid to add softer! Not all of Sammy D’s decals are shit I should say, it’s just pretty hit-and-miss. Oh well.
For the head, cut a small square of iridescent paper for the head camera. Reverse-washed the eye’s using Alclad brass and enamel. Finally, top-coated in Tamiya Flat Clear. Done in just over 6 weekends (2-3 hours here and there!).
Overall, an enjoyable project! Will definitely have another go at a RE/100. I felt I could have done the panel lining a little cleaner and perhaps masked off a few more areas of off-white on some more of the armour parts, and perhaps even a different shade of blue on the blue parts. Highlighting over Tamiya blue is a bit time consuming since it’s so dark, so I think next time I’ll go for a grey?
You can catch the WIP series here on YouTube, or see the gallery below: