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.

The value of work – Commissions & Models for sale

Whenever I have talked with others or had enquiries about commission work, or selling already completed works, it always seems that people massively undervalue the work required to build, modify and paint a kit. Whereas I can understand that if you are new to the hobby, or have never done any modelling then you are going to assume that the cost for a commission, or making an offer on an already completed and painted kit is going to be the cost of the kit + paint + a little time. This is in most instances however, the offer is nowhere near enough. The value is not in the kit and paint, it’s in the work itself.

I can understand too that, if you are into Gunpla or Mecha kits and enjoy building them, that you perhaps just don’t have the time to paint them, and want to ask someone else to do it to a standard level without all the bells and whistles to display in your collection. This is where you need to think – you will be seeing it as just a paint job – most modellers will be seeing it as exercising their art form.

What many people do not realise is that by buying a completed work or by asking for a commission, you are not only putting a value on someones time and material, you are also putting a value on the level of skill – which can take years to perfect.

Anyone can paint a kit. Yes. Anyone. You snap off the pieces, grab a brush, spray can or air brush and cover the plastic in paint. Not anyone however can do it do a degree that has fantastic visual impact. This takes experience, skill and dedication to an art form. This is why when some experienced modellers are offered virtually the cost of a kit in return for work, they’re quite rightly sometimes insulted.

So how much should you pay to commission a modeller for their work? This is of course down to each modeller so there is no way I could give you a right answer, but here’s a few tips to bear in mind when asking.

  1. How good is the modellers work? This one has a little subjectivity to it, and can vary depending on a modellers style, but it’s worth doing your research first. Look at previous works. Compare it to others. Do you want this modeller to work on your kit? Think about how much money you have set aside for this project. It’s unlikely a multi-award winning and internationally recognised modeller is going to work for very little money, but it’s worth asking.
  2. Does the modeller do commission work? This should be your very first question. Save time and ask this first.
  3. Where are they based? Remember that exchange rates and costs of living are very different around the world. You are best off looking for a modeller from the same region as you to not only save on shipping, but also not to end up paying far more than you should.
  4. Have a set budget? Make this clear right away. If you’re noticing no one is interested, it’s likely not enough.
  5. Be clear on what you want. If you want to rely on the modellers creativity, this is fine, just make it clear as to what elements you want. Have a kit in mind. Most of the time the person wanting a model kit painted has the kit, and will send it to the modeller to be worked on. If not, make sure you can get hold of one. Some kits can be tricky to find at a good price. Find examples of other work you liked. Communicate as much as possible.
  6. Make an agreement. Once you are happy with what the modeller is offering, summarise what you want and make an agreement with the modeller. Once work starts, major changes can jeopardise a whole project. Every modeller is different of course so perhaps ask (if you feel you might) if it’s ok to request small changes during progress. Remember too, paying any money up front will require a higher degree of trust. Don’t get scammed. Exchange emails, don’t do everything over messaging apps or Facebook. Get acquainted enough to ensure this modeller is the real deal.
  7. Don’t treat modellers like a company. Modellers are people, not companies. Be polite please, this is not a boardroom deal. You might expect that in any exchange of money for a service, this entitles you to being a customer with consumer rights. It does in a way, but does not entitle you do be an asshole to someone you’ve not given any money to. Most modellers are hobbyists, meaning they will be working on your model in their spare time. As most of the time there is no legal agreement for services rendered, keeping a good relationship will result in a win-win every time. You’ll get a great model, the modeller will get paid for their time, and hey, you might make a new friend.
  8. Let the modeller give you a timescale. You can always ask for a work to be completed in a certain amount of time and if so it should be made clear very early on, however every modellers life is different with varying levels of spare time available. Ask them how long they expect a project to be finished. They will of course know better.

Remember, a multi-million dollar Dali oil painting is not worth the 100 pesetas he paid for the canvas and oil paints.

How much should you offer to a modeller, for a kit already produced? Sometimes the modeller already has a price in mind and will communicate this, and other times they’ll ask for offers. What’s important to remember here is how good the work is, the history of the modeller, perhaps how well known or respected they are among other modellers and most of all, how much you like the work. Remember, a multi-million dollar Dali oil painting is not worth the 100 pesetas he paid for the canvas and oil paints. Give them an offer worthy of their art. I’m not saying offer a million dollars, just be realistic by factoring in craftmanship.

Of course, don’t let any of this put you off ever asking a modeller about commission work or to enquire about a kit on sale. Most of us are approachable, decent folks who enjoy the interaction. Just understand that sometimes it’s frustrating to have your time wasted, or your work devalued unintentionally, and hopefully this will make things a little clearer. As I’ve mentioned a few times, every modeller is different and may not even agree with what I’ve written, and it’s all based off experiences I’ve had and others who I have talked too. Receiving a request for a commission is a real honour and gives us good vibes, and getting a good price for our work is equally gratifying. I will always recommend however, if you don’t have the money for a commission or completed work, get yourself into painting and detailing. It’s not as expensive as you realise, and all it takes is time, dedication, education and interaction.

Anything to add? Did I miss something or got something wrong? Got some experiences of commissioning, or being commissioned to do work? Good stories? Bad? Do share! 

 

 

 

 

Dear Bandai, the UK wants a GBWC! (I think?)

As the 2017 GBWC event reaches it’s final heat in Japan, I have been salivating over the incredible work on show from all over the world, and I am left thinking as I annually do, I wish I had the opportunity to join this fantastic competition.

Being from the UK where the hobby is still very niche, and where kit sales are limited by a handful of highly competitive small, local and Japanese retailers without any UK wholesale agreements all vying to take business from the Goliath of international model kit retailers HLJ.com, it’s hard to gauge just how ‘big’ the UK scene really is in terms that Bandai will take notice of – actual sales. I wonder if HLJ.com report their sales by country? Would there be any benefit for them to do this even? I do however know one thing for sure. We have some exceptional talent that deserves a slot in the GBWC, and we would be a fantastic addition to a growing international event.

I find that here in the UK we are at a kind of impasse, where our talent meets the requirements but we’re simply held back by a technicality – for want of a better word. Is there a way to show Bandai how well their kits are selling in the UK? It would require, I would think a direct link to the event organisers and a concerted effort from all retailers selling to, and from within the UK reporting back sales figures, or a large wholesaler to take up the ‘risk’ of stocking Gunpla. I just can’t see this happening. Local UK retailers are working with crazy small margins to aviod been smashed by import charges and to not pass these costs onto customers – meaning smaller Japan-based retailers and individual sellers are able to undercut them on price. This is all business, and completely understandable – the demand is that people want the best prices for kits, and have little to no interest in paying that little bit more for the short term, for long term gains in terms of better deals for UK-based retailers – which would not even be guaranteed at this stage. It’s pretty obvious to state that if more UK retailers where selling Gunpla, competition would increase and prices will drop, but without affordable access to wholesale for small retailers, this is distant goal.

Don’t get me wrong here. This is no hit-piece for any retailers out there, I am just writing this as I see it with the experience of talking to retailers worldwide and wholesalers like Blue Fin over in the US, but this highly competitive nature of Gunpla sales here in the UK is definitely a stumbling block in the way of getting a GBWC event here in the UK. There are some questionable techniques in my opinion too employed by some retailers in social media that create these strange, factional echo-chambers with brand advocates exchanging pointless defamation for causes unknown. If your service, advertising and prices are good, and you have a good and expandable business model – there should be no need for such activity, surely one of the rules of business is to not limit your potential customer base? I will avoid these sellers, but would not begrudge anyone else wanting to get good prices, nor bear any ill feeling towards retailers having to work with no advertising budget and social/organic reach alone. Just like everyone else of course, I will look for the kits I want at the best prices and put ethics in last place (as bad as that sounds, it’s true for most of us on a budget) – and instead advocate for the hobby here in the UK as and where I can, recommending retailers on the basis of who is best for the hobby. In light of this, I am hoping that I can attend next years IPMS show in Telford along with a few other Gunpla fans (thanks to David for working to pull this together), to see if we can gain more interest in the hobby – because this is where it really matters for hobbyists and retailers alike. If you feel the UK needs representation in the GBWC, I urge you to do the very same. Talk about it, especially with your more nerdier mates, get them involved and show them just how incredible this hobby is. If you need a shout-out for anything social you are doing for the hobby here in the UK, have a facebook page, YouTube channel or blog to share, drop me a message. Always happy to help, and of course, get yourself a membership on the Mecha Lounge!

Forums vs. Facebook Groups and the return of the Mecha Lounge

Hello, I would like to tell you a little about something I am doing called the Mecha Lounge, it’s history, and a bit more detail as to why I think it’s better for modellers than Facebook groups.

The Mecha Lounge is an old-school style forum, originally started back in 2012 as an offshoot from the MAC forums by the modellers Sneeper, Harry, Mr. Zinc and Kamm (perhaps more, my memory is a little foggy and I was just a member back then so forgive me if anyone reading was instrumental in this) with the support of many prominent and very skilled modellers. The idea was to build up a strong membership sharing tips, works in progress and showcases as well as engaging in quality banter – without restriction. After several hugely successful competitions with entries from all over the globe, popularity of the Mecha Lounge was at it’s peak. Sadly though, the administrators of the Mecha Lounge started to drop out to take breaks from the scene and to pursue other interests, leaving only myself and a handful of others in charge to keep it going, and to keep up the level of interaction required to maintain people’s interest.

With the huge popularity of Facebook groups and the ability to quickly and easily share or discuss anything, the Mecha Lounge seemed to be obsolete, so the decision was made to shut it down.

Now, after a couple of years working with Facebook groups I started to get pretty disenfranchised with the format. Facebook groups are very much here-and-now, and as such anyone new to the hobby is going to ask basic questions – and people already in the hobby are going to react either with nonchalance or sarcasm having seen that same question being asked for the 50th time in one of the numerous groups. I’ve also witnessed some of these questions being publicly screen-shot for the amusement and pretty unfair mockery of others.

It occurred to me too that it was very rare to see any actual, valuable feedback. As memberships are so large in number, posts would either get lost in the noise or only ever be seen by people who don’t have as strong an interest in modelling, or just don’t know how to feedback in a way that’s helpful. I even found myself just commenting now and then with “that’s great” for brevity. It’s this state of instant interaction that I think, is not helping modellers much at all.

The consistent repetition of the same arguments too was getting boring. The mixing of collectors and modellers too would also at times create toxicity, flaring up regularly with accusations of elitism and snobbery, pointless defamation and labelling. The sheer number of groups too is a little ridiculous, each administered with varying levels, some with complex rules and others allowing asian porn links and rayban adverts to propagate. There have been a couple of great success’ run by competent, tolerant, quality people interested in working to build a community like IT’S A GUNDAAAAAAM!!!!!!, but most are just a waste of time. It’s worth noting too that Facebook groups are designed with another thing in mind – to post in your news feed, snippets of what is going on in these groups. It’s likely you are missing an awful lot of very cool work or seeing a lot of the same stuff being shared over and over again.

There is of course a positive side to these groups that do make it worth interacting – meeting new people with common interests and creating new relationships. Sales posts, sharing links to bargains and group purchasing is helpful to the community. I’m not writing them off entirely, but I argue it’s not the best platform for modelling alone.

As an admin in these groups, I found that trying to get people to read basic guidelines with regards to posting frustrating, and people challenging those rules tiresome. The fact was, there are rules for many reasons when you are administrating a group, some put in place to ensure relationships with others are kept on good terms for the overall benefit of that community, and others to keep the content interesting and on-topic. Most people understand this, but a small, vocal minority have an ego to service, a mouth to shoot off, and have a narcissistic need to stir the shit. Banning people from groups for breaching rules to me seemed like a pointless exercise, and removing posts contrary to rules was only met with protest. It also created group divides and misunderstandings, and with your personal information on show it occasionally lead to some unsavoury abuse crossing over into my personal life. I am not one to shy away from conflict – but engaging in the nonsense will not yield a positive for anyone. I won’t let my emotions over-run my logic.

With all this going on I decided to give up administrating any Facebook groups and stick to just interacting as a member instead, and using it as intended, to share my work and things of interest as GundamUK on my page and to promote activities I am involved in. It was time to revive the Mecha Lounge and give it another shot. The absence of a permanent knowledge base and Q&A, the poor feedback, the lack of decent competition, the removal of anonymity, the lack of ‘community spirit’ and the dilution of modellers with collectors spurred me on to bring it back. Of course, some of the issues in social media will also be experienced on a forum so it’s not a complete nor perfect solution. Going back to an obsolete format does too have it’s own technical issues, but so far it’s working.

The Mecha Lounge allows for categorised discussion, breaking down the noise into what members want to interact with. It provides a higher level of anonymity, allowing people to express themselves with more confidence. It provides better access (with time) to genuine advice from verified experts, and provides a better platform for experienced feedback on showcasing work. It will remove too, many of those posts that are entirely pointless, humourless and self-serving. Attention whores will be duly mocked. Dicks will be called out as dicks, and a karma system will show just how nasty or nice a member is. I hope too, it will lead to more meaningful interaction between members, more co-operation and awesome, competitive competition. To the cynic it’ll all seem perhaps a bit idealistic, but it’s always better to start with good intention and clear goals, than to not start at all. All this of course depends entirely on one thing. You.

If you are a modeller who is interested in joining a genuinely dedicated community, then sign up! I would love to see again 250+ entries into a competition between modellers all over the world, un-tethered by commercial interest – run by modellers, for modellers – but for that it needs membership. Tell your friends, share some links, and let’s get this going again 🙂

www.mecha-lounge.com

As ever, would value any feedback you have. Am I being too harsh or too subjective of my viewpoints on Facebook groups for Mecha Modellers? Is my enthusiasm and bias for the Mecha Lounge unfounded? Set me straight in the comments 🙂

October Updates

Hello, just a few updates.

Firstly, the Mecha Lounge is now back up and running and getting a healthy membership, with some good interaction and sharing of work in progress. I realised how much I miss this kind of interaction, a place where completed and works in progress are discussed by mutual appreciation and genuine query and criticism.

Secondly, I’m still working in the wonderful magic toys 1/100 hazel. Lovely lovely lovely kit. The WIP so far can be seen here and they’ll likely be another this weekend. I would love to post more WIP vids more frequently, but it’ll end up being virtually the same video over and over as I repeat process’ for other parts!

I’m giving some thought to my next project too, I am considering starting work on the PG Unicorn in tandem with Justinius Builds. Also considering working on the Bandai Macross kit I have, or the awesomely overkill-looking Kagutsuchi sniper frame arms.

My fucking LED strip light inside the spray booth died.. means I need to dust off the soldering iron and look forward to burning my fingers again 🙂 For now, I moved it next to the window to use some natural light, which is in increasingly short supply as we descend into winter.

gbwcnycc

Lastly, some congratulations in order. Tim, AKA Child Of Mecha picked up the best in show at New York Comicon and two of my Team Helios brothers Jordan AKA Ed of 00gundamreviewsV2 and Henry AKA Vegeta8259 picked up best small-scale and Bandai Judge’s choice respectively. Very well done chaps, and fingers crossed we get to see one of you in Japan come December!

G-Con 2016 – The UK’s First Gundam Convention!

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.

If you are interested in going / participating than head on over to the G-Con website to purchase your tickets. 

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!

Modding Guns

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:

detailed-weapn

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.

moddesSinStein

Modified Sinanju Stein Weapon

modifiedMGNemo

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!

Update on things + The Mecha Lounge news!

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:

http://www.mecha-lounge.com

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 🙂

 

 

Creating a model theme or backstory

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:

  1. Universe: Chaotic / Warring Factions / Feudal / Peaceful / Pirates! / Terrorist / Post-war / Pre-war / Totalitarian / Religious conflict / Alternative reality / Canon / Our reality!
  2. Pilot’s character: Good / Bad / Neutral / Psychotic / Stoic / Virtuous / Mysterious / Funny / Egotistical / Complex / Dumb / Naive or no pilot at all!
  3. 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!
  4. 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:

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CoM-hummingbird4As 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) andCoM-hummingbird5 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’.

another-late paint-pusher

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!

Thankings!