Gundam – Imagination Gone Wild!

jamie-hefferSomething we all enjoy doing when it comes to building our Gunpla, is putting in a little effort to give your own little unique personal touch. Wether it be from something as basic as rearranging decals to a style and placement you prefer, to something a little more advanced like choosing a whole knew colour scheme. In the end you are making something that will satisfy you. Don’t be afraid of spanning out to knew ideas and techniques for that perfect you always wanted!

But what if you are struggling to come up with any ideas? We all have that moment when the Imagination part of the brain is switched off, even for the people who have been in the hobby for years it all happens to us! in that case why don’t you have a moment to sit back and have a little brainstorm? Ask some people in a community page? Any friends who are into Gundam and the hobby? why not ask them for a little brain booster! Or why don’t you take a peek at other peoples work for a bit of added Inspiration?
If you aren’t a people person, thats fine too, why not grab a pencil and have a little sketch of how you want something to look, jotting down notes can be very helpful to look back to when you start building. I always plan out my builds before making a start – I think it helps

I personally don’t think anyone should be scared of sharing their thoughts, their ideas about their plans and designs/completed and ongoing work. You want to make a huge megapartical cannon for that Zaku II? Go ahead and do it! (I think that would be pretty epic to be honest)

We shouldn’t be discouraged from sharing our work with one another, it doesn’t matter about skills, techniques. If you enjoy it, that’s what counts then there is nothing wrong with that! It was your brain that chose to do it that way! Yeah, I know there are some people who do tend to dish out some criticism in this hobby, but then that’s modern life for you. Take it with a pinch of salt. or take it as a bit of advice how you do is entirely up to you! but never be discouraged from trying to expand on greatness!

Missile Pods, Mini Guns or Extra Armour Plating? What do you prefer? When it comes to Mecha building just pile on what you’d like! Or alternatively take some off Maybe you prefer your Gunpla to use just melee weapons? why not make your Gunpla look like it just came out of the Battle of Odessa the choice is yours!

What I’m Getting at is, As personal opinion I think a little bit of thought can go a long way, Imagination is what spawned Mobile Suit Gundam, it is Imagination what gave creation to the mechs we all so love not just from this series, but other mech series too!

Maybe you are a purist at heart? Maybe you just Love the way your Gunpla looks as it is? Thats fine too, sometimes you just can’t improve on perfection as they say! Building out of the box there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as you enjoy what you do in the hobby that’s all that matters.

As for me? 23 Years Old and I’ve been a Gundam Fan for the Last 10 years. I legitimately think it’s the best thing since sliced bread. I don’t enjoy anything as much as I enjoy Gundam, whether it be from watching it, to reading to as you guessed Building it! I’ve only been taking the Hobby seriously for the last Year, so In terms of skill and technique I’m not the best but I love it! I love a good heated debate about Gundam in general – characters from the series  and  Mech designs is a personal favorite, there’s always a “What if” when talking about Different designs and everyone has their own personal preference it’s nice to compare notes and even take some inspiration from such discussions!

I’ve never done a Blog post before, but I’d like to thank GundamUK for giving me the opportunity to do a Guest post!
It was actually kind of inspiring to write this myself (I’M PUMPED!) as some people would say, But if anyone is every interested in Having a discussion about Anything to do with the Hobby, sharing tips and advice, or having a heated debate about Anything Gundam By all means drop me a Message at my Facebook Page.

Thanks for giving the post a read!
Jamie Heffer – Zeonic Gunpla

I’m also Into the Hobby of Cosplaying for Cons Too (As Char Aznable) if anyone has any questions about anything related to that, don’t hesitate to ask too!

What makes a good mech design?

I am constantly surprised when discussing mech designs among friends, that we have such a diverse range of tastes when it comes to design. From a modelling technical point of view, I think we are similar (the more experienced among us often citing some interesting missed points), but as for aesthetics the differences often break out into some lively discussion.

So, I’m going to write a little here about what I like in a mecha design, and a few designs I love. This does not include custom designs or scratch builds. Special thanks to one of my Facebook page followers Solomon for suggesting this topic.

Kit wise, I’m not too fussed on scale, but if I had to choose it would as I am sure many other would choose a Master Grade. I do enjoy HG and RG kits, but in terms of ease to paint and level of detail, MG’s are my favourites. Can’t say much about PG’s since I have no actually built one yet, even with 2 in my possession.

People seem to quite often associate their preferences in terms of timelines. Although there is a small influence and preference having watched all of the Gundam Anime, I don’t tend to favour my buying choices by timeline or series, I just like… what I like. Saying that, a majority of my favourite designs to hail from the UC timeline.

I mostly enjoy a mech, that looks like a mech. A strange thing to write perhaps, but here’s my reasoning. A lot of mobile suits from the CE (seed) era look very slim, athletic, and have more human-like proportion – I would categorise these as less ‘mechanical’. Zakus, Doms, Jestas, Geara Dogas and Marasais have a lot more bulk to them signifying they have an awful lot of electronic gubbins, thrusters, weaponry, power generators and pistons internally – I define them as being more ‘mechanical’ in nature. So to summarise, I prefer the more terrifying, ‘almost obsolete’, angular and less advanced look. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy a few more organic looking suits such as the Astray however. Let’s list up a few of my current all-time favourites.

kagusuchi_kou_gundamuk_1Probably my most favourite non-Gundam designs ever pretty much typifies my preference for bulk and outright fear – and that’s the wonderfully outlandish Kagustuchi-Kou frame arms model. It’s stark angles,  inexplicably elongated fin head, huge weapon-bearing forearms and a pure ‘tank on legs’ look is right up my street. It’s interesting that, despite that comparison to tanks, I have no interest in tanks at all.

F91_008Slightly deviating from the paradigm is the F91 Gundam. A smaller suit from the latter UC timeline with a more ‘organic look’ that has just a few extra features that appeal to me on other levels. It’s broad shoulder pads with the F and 91 symbols, human-like faceplate (when it goes into overdrive mode, correct me on the terminology if you feel it’s appropriate) and the maneuvering ‘flaps’ within the calves are some of my favourite features. It also happens to be one of my favourite animes, might be an influence in there somewhere.

geara_doga_gundamUK_11The Geara Doga is the SS shock trooper of the UC timeline. It’s Wehrmacht-esque aesthetic just screams ‘military dictatorship’. The distinct bowl-shaped head with menacing visor covered mono-eye, armour-clad musculature, external tubing and insane leg length just look as terrifying as a zeon mobile suit should. Gloriously brutish. Love it.

A popular choice is the Astray frame series of suits from the latter CE timeline, I think for the main reason that it looks like it would perform as efficiently as a ninja. It’s drawn-back armour revealing it’s inner frame, combined with it’s piercing gaze and long, 12_astray-redframe_12shogun-style v-fin – and of course that insane katana blade on the red frame model is striking – and not surprisingly the most popular mech design that is yet to feature in any full-length anime series. I hate to admit to being a part of the masses of people who love the design of this kit, but I am.

Finally, the Gundam GP-01fb. The Full Vernian/burnien version in particular because of those peculiar shapes. The bulbous shins, oddly large cone-shaped rear thrusters and sheer experimental ‘bulk’ really appeals to me. The 0083 stardust memories OVA is my favourite of all time, not just for the anime but for all of those wonderfully military-style designs, bridging the gap wonderfully into the Zeta era style kits. The GP-02 on the other hand, just (for me) takes it just that little too far.

TOY-RBT-2547_26These are pretty much my favourite designs right now, but the list goes on much further, and at times changes. Right now for instance, I have the feelies for the Tsugomori (knights od Sidonia) style designs, that comprise of some strange proportions, mixing spindly feel and arms with elongated heads, chubby little bodies and utterly nuts-long guns (yes, this kit does come with that rail gun). My taste tends to change depending on a huge range of factors, but I am yet to lose interest.

So how about you? I love to hear what people like, and I find it even more interesting when people tell me why. There have been times when someone has pointed out an aspect they like on a design I hated, that I gradually changed my opinion on. What floats your boat?

Common mecha modelling mistakes

We all mess up from time to time, but I think a lot of mecha modellers make the same common mistakes, often resulting in some colourful self-cursing and in some extreme circumstances, putting us off the hobby entirely. Here’s a handful off the top of my head that I’ve experienced.

Wrong thinner!
Working with enamels, lacquers and acrylics all in one project is pretty common, and having different thinners for each of them can cause the occasional mix-up resulting in a quantity of paint being lost – or in the worst cases a model being wrecked. The good thing is, it’s a mistake you’ll very quickly discover and produces some weird chemical gloopy mixes.

Paint on a ball-joint.
I keep on falling for this and I don’t know why. When you apply paint to a ball joint, it’ll become stiff when you assemble it, and put a ton of extra stress on the plastic holding the ball. This can result in snaps and time-costing fixes with brass rods. Always, mask your ball joints.

Mis-assembly after painting.
This one for me is the worst. Your paint job is done, it looks great, but when you reassemble the kit you forgot to put another part in first – or assembled the wrong parts together. If you’ve been attentive you would have already either drilled out the holes or trimmed any connecting pegs, making disassembly a less stressful action – if not, be prepared for frustration trying to find a discreet spot to prise apart the pieces doing  minimal damage to your paint job as possible. Trim those pegs, loose-fitting can always be fixed with a small dab of glue later on!

Bad colour choices.
Sometimes what is in your head just does not work. Either the combination of colours, or the choice of base coat or pre-shade was just incorrect. The only thing that can fix this is a chemical bath and a toothbrush (unless you used lacquers in which case you’ll need to look up another method).

Missed a bit.
You’re all assembled and top coated, but you’ve just noticed that one detail part is not painted the same as the other, resulting in annoyance. Unless you can remove that specific part and strip it, or paint over it, you’re going to have to live with it.

Posing scratch.
You’re all done and top coated. I always add a couple of top coats o make the paint job as strong as I can make it – however when you’re trying to pose a kit to take some nice pictures there is always that one time that you’re not paying attention, and one part horrifically scratches against another creating a clearly visible scratch. Take your time posting, small movements, careful balancing!

Un-explainable missing parts (ok, not really a mistake, more of an annoyance).
I don’t have a very big studio, it’s barely 2x2m, so how is is physically possible for a part to completely vanish out of reality when it hit’s the floor? There is no solution for this. This is black magic and should not be explored unless you have a clean soul.

Missed masking.
Masking can be a chore, especially if you have multiple parts of the same thing. Every so often I’ll have a momentary lapse in concentration, resulting in missing an edge or a section, that I only notice while I’m painting. Luckily, this one is easily fixed by just letting it dry and masking again to fix any issues.

Got any to add? As much as these annoyances can be terribly frustrating it’s an inevitable part of the hobby. Do share your horror stories!