How much do we spend on model kits? (a prelude)

While watching a livestream on Alex’s channel a while back, a quite normal conversation developed in the chat about how much we spend on model kits. It lead me to a question, as much as we commonly answer it as ‘too much’, how much on average do we actually spend? So I decided to put together a very quick and dirty straw poll on survey money, and sent it around the gundam community sphere.

The questions where pretty basic, and I really just wanted to also gauge if anyone would actually answer the questions. To my surprise, many of you did, so thanks!

The results are not all that surprising, the four questions where very simple. Just, how much do you spend each month in USD, where you are in the world, and how old you are. Here are the results:

 

So out of 100 responses mostly from the US (I would ignore this part, as it does not take into account where the survey was shared) most are spending $40-$80 per month on model kits, most buying Bandai and most in the typical age range of 26-35.

Not really much beyond what I and most would have expected to be honest, and following quite a few excellent suggestions from the community I thought it might be better to do something a little more comprehensive, and a bit more revealing about who we are in the community in a more empirical form. I’ll also be using not so limiting online survey software.

Why do this?

Well, it’s certainly going to be helpful to retailers. It’ll also be helpful to content creators to help them target content to those who will like it the most. It’s also good for a bit of trivia, and to better understand ourselves as a community. All of the data I gather will be public, but no personal information of course will be given out. I shall give some thought to something a bit more comprehensive, and will throw in a little prize incentive 🙂

Let’s talk about the GBWC and how to fix it, unless you’re bored of it already

First off, a little housekeeping. It’s been a while since I posted. I’ve been busy, and have not found something good or juicy to write about. Secondly, some caveats. This is likely going to largely resemble Tim of Child of Mecha’s recent facebook stream, so If you don’t have the time or are averse to reading things above a certain length, by all means listen to that. In fact, it might be worth listening to that first before reading this. Another caveat, and I really should not have to write this but I feel in this age of major misunderstanding I should, everything here is just my opinion, and I am happy to have my mind changed.

Every model that won something this year, very well done to you all. You are brilliant, amazing and highly skilled builders I have a tremendous amount of respect for. There are some models however, I just don’t like. Not because they’re not well done, but because I have my own tastes. I actually cringe slightly reading back this sentence, it seems you can’t say anything without it being seemed as a statement of objective fact. What a bizarre culture social media is generating. What I want to address as many already have is the massively inconsistent judging, and if the GBWC can even be taken seriously as a contest for modellers any more?

As Tim put it, there seems to be a confusion as to whether the GBWC is a contest of artistic expression, or of technical design. I would rephrase it as, is the GBWC an art, or design show? Should it be constrained within the world of Gundam, or be allowed to go beyond? It’s already constrained within Gunpla, so it fits it’s namesake at the very least, but is that enough to allow a contest such as we have just experienced?

The GBWC every year has some kind of controversy or social media hype, but I think this is the first time the scrutiny of judging has spread into the ‘mainstream’ of the community. The issue is the consistency across the regional events – in particular cases such as the USA by comparison to the Japanese winners, the distance in style between the two is very obvious. The USA’s winner, as stunningly created as it is, is a neon-techno anime dream of gunpla, with virtually no connection to the Gundam universe other than it’s base parts. The Japanese entry looks like a technical drawing from a Dendrobium Haynes manual, complete with cutaway revealing some stunningly meticulous inner detailing. These two are a great example of the obvious contrast in judging style. So what’s the problem with this? Everyone builds a model they like right? on an open playing field. There’s complete, artistic freedom to go either the design route, or the art route. Great right? I disagree. I disagree becuase it is stright up, unfair.

There are builders who have varying tastes, but I also think when you get to a certain level of mastery you’ve concentrated and practiced on so many particular skills that you’re not capable of expressing skills in a completely different style, at least not to a level that could compete. I could not for example, see Seth Tuna put together a piece as artistically expressive as Win Eiam Ong, and perhaps vice-versa. Not to judge these two modellers of course, but I could imagine forcing these chaps to do one style they’re not comfortable with will almost certainly impact their motivation to compete. This to me rules out the GBWC in it’s current form, or the idea of ‘theming’ the contest annually which would make it pretty boring.

And here we arrive at a possible solution, and one I think all Gunpla modellers, worldwide should be advocating for. Categorisation. Tim suggested this in his address and I think this is a perfect solution we should all get behind. At the very least, make 2 categories, one for ‘design’ based builds, that could (perhaps) exist within the Gundam universe or approximation of, and one ‘expressive’ or ‘artistic’ category in which anyone is free to do anything, as long as it uses Gunpla. It’s so simple, and surely would not be all that tricky to implement? It would of course mean 2 winners, or multiple winners, but as much as I hate to speculate on the marketing strategy of a multi-million dollar company, it would in my opinion be a smart and very inclusive marketing strategy for Bandai. How each piece however would be deemed to go into each category would be down to the entrants, and the judges to decide. Contentious perhaps, but fairer than ‘enter it and see what happens’.

The ‘design’ category would be judged by seasoned, actual scale mech modellers, and the ‘art’ category, by seasoned art-based and more expressive modellers. The details of who and how I don’t know, but I know it would be a more gratifying solution. There could of course, still be an ‘overall’ winner from either category, deemed as ‘the best’ and judged by an entirely different mix of judges. At least this way, people can be more confident that their skillset will be judged fairly, and in the spirit of real competition. Put it this way, javalin throwers in the olympics don’t compete with the hammer throwers, even though they’re essentially still trying their best to throw an object the furthest.

 Put it this way, javalin throwers in the olympics don’t compete against the hammer throwers, even though they’re trying their best to throw an object the furthest.

As much as we all discuss and advocate for reforming ideas as a community, there is of course one thing we should all understand. Bandai, does not care about modellers, it cares about sales. Sounds cold, but it’s true, and if you think otherwise you are kidding yourself. Understanding this however should not make you ‘hate the capitalist machine’. This company is responsible for a franchise you love, and without it there would be no Gunpla. Sure there’s other companies doing it, but without the success of Gunpla they wouldn’t exist either. Bandai is either going to take notice, or not – the fact is we don’t know, but we can at least write, make videos about and rant about the GBWC across the internet and at least attempt to be heard. For now, let’s congratulate the winners, even if you don’t like the models. One day perhaps you’ll win, and see how you feel when everyone tells you, you don’t deserve it after spending months and months on a build. You can hate the model, but there’s no point in hating the modeller.

 

 

 

Too many runners, not enough walkers

When you first start out in the hobby, you are likely consistently impressed by the work you discover, and quickly realise that many of artworks you see are customised. It makes sense that in order to get to that level, you need to start customising your models. But if you ask any experienced modeller where you should start as a beginner, the most common advice you are likely to receive is ‘learn the basics first’. Why is this? and what are ‘the basics?’

The ‘basics’ for me anyway are being able to remove nub marks, make seam lines that are not a part of a models original design invisible, and have a basic understanding of paint types and priming. It’s not much at all when you think about it. Especially when there is a whole plethora of online tutorials to cover all of these aspects from a lot of scale modelling perspectives. Whatever is available to you material wise, in whichever country you reside in, you can find a way. No excuses! It does not even take all that long too to master these skills. I would estimate anyone getting it down within 20-ish hours of activity. It’s also worth mentioning too that, if you want to be good at this hobby, spend some money on tools, paints and materials. The model kit that has just come out and you must have, can damn well wait if you are serious about this.

From a combination of social media, forums, websites competitions I see an awful lot of model artworks. Whereas my modelling experience pales in comparison to many outstanding and not so outstanding modelers out there, I still like to think I have a good eye for a well executed model. I can say when something is objectively good, based on more than my own tastes, and continue to be blown away by groundbreaking ideas. What becomes tiresome for me though is seeing attempted customization of models that have not been thought through and more so demonstrate the modelers laziness to learn the basics. Not only are these kinds of models disturbing and sometimes comical, it also frustrates me because I feel as though it’s a tremendous waste of time for the modeler, and it tends not encourage any useful feedback. It can also attract a lot of trolling and nastiness, such is the nature of social media. You can tell in some instances, that hundreds of hours have been ploughed into a project but the end result is a mess of clutter, clashing colour and sloppy workmanship. The time could have been better spent simply making a nice paint job, and ensuring seams are dealt with. I would rather look at a basic, but clean paint job than a mess of jutting plastic. Right out of the box, no mods, no additions, just the basics. Some of the most incredible works I have seen have had no modification, or subtle well thought out and complimentary modification that works with the models original design, along with a knockout paint job. Rarely do I rate one which has 6 out of scale weapons strapped to ugly arms protruding out from a nubby spray can painted HG freedom. Creating an original concept that’s interesting and exciting, can never be fully realised or appreciated without the skill to create it.

To conclude, and I think I have probably written about this very same subject before but it’s worth a revision, don’t run before you can walk. People will not be impressed with your first few models, regardless of how complex a customisation you have in mind. Just knock out some nicely painted, tidy kits. Once you can do that without struggle, get some advice, start a little scribing here and there. Further down the line, try chopping up some plaplate. Become adept at all the skills first, before combining them all. It takes, on average, 10,000 hours to master a skill. If you work on your hobby for example, 10 hours a week – you’ve got 20-ish years to go until you’ve mastered it. Just to put it into perspective!

 

MG Sword Impulse Complete

It’s been a while eh?

I have completed an MG Sword Impulse, this time with a little wear and tear weathering. I wanted it to be in a state of looking as if it had seen good use, but had not sustained any real damage. A bit dirty, a bit skuffed and a little bit of paint peel-age.

I tried out a new method of dirtying up / gunking on the thighs, taken from the mecha modelling book from Mig Jimminez, and it worked great. A little too much perhaps, but I think I got the method down on the first attempt.

I have also created a kind of start-to-end video on the whole Sword Impulse, which will be uploaded next week. For now, here’s the gallery:

MG Sword Impulse

 

 

 

Everyone is going Logic

Joshua Darrah it seems had inadvertently started off a bit of a phenomenon across the community over the past couple of months with this beautifully conceptualised vision of what is the perfect design for a Gundam – the Ver. Logic.

The cubical marvel was conceived between Josh and a friend of his, encompassing a simplistic solid 3d shape with 4 thrusters and a single canon, it’s staggering to think such an object could ever be conceived by human minds I think you will agree. The Ver.Logic follows these tenets:

1. A single piece of armour, without any breaks or vulnerabilities.
2. 4 x Thrusters for maximum mobility
3. One single beam cannon to get the job done.
4. Pilot is safe inside, having been built into the gundam with no chance of ever being let out. It is an honorable sacrifice. (and they don’t even have wi fi, because the armour is so thick)

 

omnes cubi grandinem – omnes cubi grandinem – omnes cubi grandinem – omnes cubi grandinem – omnes cubi grandinem – omnes cubi grandinem

(all hail the cube six times for six sides)

I added the last bits.

You can listen to the discussion we had on GunplaTalk on the Ver.Logic here too. 

What started of as concept however has become a challenge / gathering of the chosen ones in the community, with several hundred modellers world wide each providing a different take on the original, and while never attaining the same holy immortal infinite zen of the original drawing the models being created have been incredible.

Such scratch building on this scale has been pretty amazing and great fun to see, and it’s been fantastic to see modellers of all levels working on Ver.Logics – and some software 3d modellers have also had a bash with some very cool results. If you would like to see what the world has been up to, join the official facebook group right here and become a member of the holy flock of hexadron. Fancy a go? Well, you’ll never ever build the perfect logic but you can certainly have a go!

Tim came very close to attaining deity status, but only attained the rank of Cuboid Pope.

I’m also having a go, and have finished, but just need to take some suitably cheesy pictures.

 

 

A quick look back at 2016

Well that’s 2016 nearly done, and it’s been an interesting year although not as productive as I would have liked (I feel I say this every year?). First off, congrats to Win AKA the Paint Pusher for his second place entry in this years GBWC, and to Tim AKA Child of Mecha for placing 7th. Seeing these works in progress and following they’re time at the GBWC event was a fantastic rollercoaster. Congrats too, to everyone who entered and to Kasuke Yokota for that stunning winning piece that was an incredible testament to the hobby

Looking back over the past year, I think modelling wise I have made some improvements, I feel my detailing skill and air brushing is improving having tried a few more differing styles of light modulation, and new types of paint. I now understand why so many people love using Mr.Color lacquers. It seemed like the UK was never going to be able to get a supply of this stuff and the moment it was available, I stocked up without regret. The coverage, durability and boldness of colour is fantastic.

My favourite kit worked on this year is most certainly the RE/100 GP-04 Gerbera. I find the proportion and design very pleasing, as well as the solid construction and engineering. Painting and detail was a pleasure, and I would even consider getting another for an alternative colour scheme. My experience with the RE/100 line is limited to only 2 so far and both have been fantastic kits. I think I’ve been won over, but would still prefer MG’s, as all good fanboys probably should.

Painting wise, I really enjoyed the Typhoon Cerberus. Although it was a tad laborious, the final result was satisfyingly spiky and battle-ready, and it’s a model I still get much enjoyment from in the display cabinet. The Efreet too was great fun, whereas it’s not in my top 5 kit’s aesthetically, it holds a memory of a nice challenge among fellow YouTubers that I hope we can repeat in future.

I sometimes forget too that I went to Japan this year – it all seemed to go by so quick and it was such a pleasure to take one last look at the 1:1 Gundam in Odaiba. It’s sad it’s coming down next March, but it does get me kind of excited as to what is going to happen next with the 40th anniversary looming. A walking, moving Gundam perhaps? The mind boggles at the thought.

The relaunch of the Mecha Lounge was a nice addition this year, and where the membership is (as expected) slowing a little there remains the beginnings of a community all about the modelling. Hopefully 2017 will bring some new contests and build offs to really get those creatives in gear. I honestly did not expect it to do well at all, and quickly dry up in interaction but members are still logging in and posting, despite it’s seemingly archaic interface. Thank you to everyone who has joined up so far, you’re all the ones making it work.

GunplaTalk, now on it’s 20th episode has been a real pleasure to be a part of. I have met and chatted with some great chaps throughout the year and made some new friends. I look forward to doing more of these in 2017.

YouTubing has been admittedly slow. I think it’s down to the fact I feel like I am delivering more and more of the same content in the form of WIPs, where I am repeating the same processes over and over. I don’t want it to get too dull, but at the same time I want to start posting vids weekly again. If not, the facebook page will be hosting the odd live video feed now and then. We shall see how goes.

I’ll round this short ramble up with a thank you, to everyone in the community and all mecha modelling nerds out there. You’re a genuinely super community, with a gratifyingly low amount of dickery. Much love and respect to you all, have yourself a bloody Merry Christmas and a blooming marvellous New Year.