Mark your model images!

Recently, a facebook group called Gundam Conversion Kit posted images from the well known modeller and friend of mine Ed. Getting added exposure from these groups, websites and youtube channels is great, but not so great when they are used for no other purpose than to provide content for commercial exposure, and have no credits or links back to the original modeller. It appears that this group does this regularly looking through the posts, some identifiable by markings on the images. When i pulled them up on it, as did several other modellers on their page they just played the ignorant card. I suggest dropping them a polite message too if you have the time to let them know we think what they are doing is unacceptable, here.

Another example is recently, we had a troll intercept the mecha lounge, who scraped and posted images of models claiming them to be their own work, when they clearly were not. As this particular, vile and very little man (yes, we know who it is) did little to disguise that fact, but it exposes another potential issue for modellers sharing their work online.

There are several groups, websites and blogs that exist sharing images without credits, having little respect for permission or copyright, and it’s somewhat unavoidable. Some will be doing it of course, just for the love of the hobby, and will happily correct with polite communication.

Now there is not a lot you can do, especially when you are sending your images off to large blogs such as GunJap or Gundam Guy who do credit you for your work, when unscrupulous scrapers copy your images for re-sharing.

Which brings me to my point – there are a few modellers out there posting pictures with no markings whatsoever – so I strongly advise that you do!

It does nto have to be a full-on, across the subject watermark – just a simple bit of text that is not easily edited out with your modelling persona, URL or blog. If your not fussed about being credited for your work, then by all means ignore this message!

We need a real world cup!

I think many would agree, as much as we like the GBWC (Gunpla Builders World Cup), it’s not really a definitive competition of mecha modelling. Although it’s winners and participants are undoubtedly exceptionally talented, I think it fails to highlight the real talent this world has to offer, and (arguably) does not do much for the hobby.

What we need is a real mecha modellers world cup.

First, let’s look at where I think the GBWC fails.

  1. It’s far, far too committed to commercial interests. The contest excludes geographical areas of lesser commercial interest (Where Gunpla is relatively unknown, or where there is no official Bandai distribution of Gunpla). It is therefore on a side note, by definition not a ‘world cup’. All models must be official Gunpla. (Made by Bandai). Understandable this one, but none the less a definitive aspect that makes this a non, all encompassing mecha-modelling contest.
  1. It fails to a degree to inspire people to paint or modify their models by not including a beginner, intermediate or advanced category to the contest. Granted there is a Junior category – but as it stands you have to be an exceptionally good modeller to even have hope of placement. Commercial interest also comes into play here – why bother to motivate people to spend months working on one model, when you can have them buy 10, 20, 30 snap-fit kits a year what look OK instead? There is certainly a bigger interest in Bandai’s eyes towards collectors than modellers.
  1. It allows local organisers to negotiate rule changes, to suit local business interests. This might not sound like a bad thing, but as we have seen in some regions this has lead to some seriously convoluted rules that have affected some modellers ability to even take part.
  1. Judgement is not centralised, or controlled in a fair manner. This point probably needs a little citation since I am making some assumptions here, but let’s look at an example of how judging in a contest works really well, the Kennel Club of Britain. When it comes to judging – judges are selected from previous participants with at least X amount of years within the discipline. They are only allowed to judge once in their entire career within the dog showing world. They are not allowed to judge in any area where a participant has competed against the judge at any point. They are given specific guidelines to follow. This makes a lot of sense to me, and although a little complex it still shows it can be done. I can cite some pretty shocking judgements in past GBWC events, based not at all upon modelling ability but will refrain.

I don’t want to come across as overly critical of Bandai here – after all the GBWC for me and for many is an excellent event to watch and discuss and provides myself and many with great inspiration. They also make fucking awesome models! I just want to illustrate the point that without the commercial gains, the GBWC would not exist.

So how would a mecha modellers world cup even work?

Pretty much the same way the current GBWC runs – but without the restrictions. I would imagine, a central organisation similar to perhaps the IPMS (International Plastic Modellers Society) made up of experts in the hobby would work to produce overall rules and judging guidelines and prizes, and regional representatives would be in charge of putting forward winners for a world contest.

Regional winners can be decided in either venue-based contests, or online, with the world contest being held in different countries each year – depending on the popularity or interest in the hobby in that particular country.

This is of course, overlooking quite substantial cost when looked at in more detail. I would think, the world contest would most likely start out as an online venture. The popularity of the hobby is probably not quite at the same level as scale modelling as it’s less internationally established, but it’s not beyond the realm of possibility at this time.

So i’ll ask the question. Is it time we had a proper, international mecha modelling contest, for modellers, for the community, for us, without commercial or regional restriction? A contest based purely on skill, not defined by the models you buy? The Mecha Lounge proved it could work online, to a degree back in 2012.

I propose the formation of the IMMC, the International Mecha Modellers Committee!



When good models, turn bad!

When we’re talking about what models are good or bad, there’s always an element of subjectivity involved, but there are times when I am astounded by how obviously bad a model is, and yet it’s somehow held to acclaim.

Logically, there are a few factors involved in aesthetics here – settings aside individual tastes there does appear to be a bit of a cultural, or regional difference in what’s an acceptably good model. In my experience, it appears that the more extreme modifications in with extra plating and parts  stem from southern Asia. The more bizarre, clever  and complimentary to the original design models from Japan, China and Korea. The more restrained, conservative and paintwork-orientated from the west. By no means a definitive characterisation but none the less generalised to illustrate my point.

That said, it still remains a mystery to me how some models can be held in such great acclaim, when they have obviously poor aesthetic value, but very high technical value. One such example that frequently pops up is the mecha peacock. The mecha peacock is when you take a normal model, and stick an ungodly amount of wings, guns, missiles and gizmos on its back, making it not only making it look ridiculous, but hideous at the same time. Another such example is over modification. When skirts have been extended or modified so much it’s almost comical, or limbs and torsos end up so contorted it fires off your mirror neurons with an audible “ooo. that just looks.. painful..”. Models also falling foul of the koto curse also fall into this category. A thruster on the models forehead is not a great idea, no matter now original you think it is.

All of the above can be done very, very well to great effect, but a lot of the time it seems like modellers are simply doing it, for the sake of doing it without giving any due care or attention to how the final model is going to look. It’s almost a cliche to see this now, and a rarity to see it done well. I guess, people need practice but do they have to do it so publicly? (lols).

There is also the factor of laziness, and bad feedback. Did you ever hear the story about the king, who was fooled by a tailor into thinking his new, invisible clothes were all the rage? And how all of his loyal subject applauded their ballbag-naked king in spite of him clearly being fooled? I get the impression sometimes that some modellers of acclaim suffer from this. I have seen, on closer inspection some real schoolboy errors from some seriously skilled modellers – and we’re talking visible nubs and jagged pla-plating here, followed by an endless stream of reverence from the modelling community.

Perhaps some people just don’t feel confident enough to point out these flaws through fear of being attacked by the modellers friends and followers, or just don’t want to ’cause any drama’ or be called a ‘noob’, or be chucked out of the ‘clique’.  All the same I think everyone should have a right to opinion without fear of reprise, and i’ll defend it where I see it, even if I don’t agree with it. Undeniably however, it’s apparent there’s no getting away from tribalism in any hobby. I try to see it as that when I am attacked for my own opinion – and avoid any superfluous keyboard warrior-y.   Anyway, I speculate, back to the subject.

I guess in conclusion I am saying, don’t fall for the vajazzle. A Sinanju, with a shiny paintjob and 17 extra wings, 12 gatling guns, a skirt akin to a broken umbrella and a modified dildo may have taken some time and effort to complete, but it does not make a good model. Let models appeal to you on a visual, not conceptual level. See the model, regardless of the modellers popularity. Don’t believe the hype.

The Tenets Revisited: There’s no such thing as a Mecha Modelling Pro!

A few weeks back I wrote a little post on the “tenets of being a mecha modelling pro”, and after a few weeks of thinking about it on a off and discussing it now and again with a few other modellers, it suddenly occurred to me without sounding too obvious, that it’s a whole lot more complex than just a standard tick sheet of pre-ordained requirements. I admit to a degree at the time there was a subtext in that piece along the lines of the last point – having respect for people in the hobby regardless of their skill level, but none the less due to my structured way of thinking I was perhaps a little naive in thinking it could all be summed up.

So why the change of heart? I look at many, many models from all around the world on a daily basis through blogs and newsfeeds, through facebook shares, groups and youtube, and can almost guarantee I will find some aspect that does not agree to either my limited technical experience, or aesthetic pleasure. I’ll also frequently find someone posting an image somewhere, declaring it to be a masterpiece when I feel it clearly is not. Decreeing anyone as a “pro” is surely entirely subjective. Someone else may praise another modeller, and be in agreement with many others that an individual has a ‘pro’ status, but you’ll always find just as many opposing views among thier peers. Even regular competitive winners could, in effect not really be declared as “pro’s” simply because not everyone has the means to compete, maybe due to locale or mobility – or maybe just because they’re not even aware of any such competitions. I have seen plenty of models in my time that could certainly trail blaze any contest, but remain as just pictures on the internet, with little to no acclaim. Perhaps the term ‘pro’ should only apply to technical ability? If that’s the case does it really have any merit?

In a hobby that holds so much subjective opinion, and so sporadic in taste and nature, is there really any such person as a “mecha modelling pro”? Is it that we just simply have our own favourite modellers who vary in popularity rather than skill level – and who are subject to such a title through smaller social circles and local communities rather than a majority of opinion? With this in mind, logically you can draw the conclusion that the title of a universally ordained ‘mecha modelling pro’ just does not exist!

I now find myself being less interested in the term since giving it some thought. I’ll concentrate on what matters – what I like, and who influences and inspires me to be better. These people will always be the “pro’s” to me.