Category Archives: News

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!

My Japan Visit, So Far

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 😉

Re/100 GP04G Gerbera – Complete

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:

Here’s some pics!

Making some changes, plus some updates

It’s been a little while since I wrote here, mainly due to life-based activities. I have a few plans currently in motion with regards to the hobby and my on-line presence.

Firstly, here in the real world I’ll be moving my hobby room which sounds fairly inane, but it does however give me an opportunity to properly plan it out and make it more efficient. The room I’ll be moving into is unfortunately a lot smaller than my current one, but it will no longer be shared with my wife’s things and will be solely for my hobby activities. Being only around 2x2m, it’s going to be tricky and will require some planning, and will not be able to accommodate the rather depth-hungry spray booth I currently use, so it’ll need a suitable replacement. The shelving will also be a bit of a problem since the door to the room seems to be fitted to open inwards, away from the wall in order to satisfy either a bizarre joke, or just planned by a genuinely dim or uncaring builder. I’ll see if I can document the toil fun over this coming weekend. Any tips my beloved readers can share will be appreciated 🙂

In the realm of the internets, I’ll be replacing the current ‘look’ of the GundamUK website and all it’s associated social media places with a fresh new logo and colour scheme. I have been feeling for quite some time that it’s about time for a change. I would, ideally like to change the GundamUK name to something else since I’m getting a little board of it. However, it’s kind of stuck now and who really wants to be referred to as ‘that guy who used to be called GundamUK’? ‘ll give it some further thought I think.

I am also in the process of doing some hardcore learning on Premier Pro and After Effects, with the aim to produce some nicer looking videos, and to help out my brother who is currently working on a new YouTube channel as an outlet for his unique sense of humour. I will let you know about this channel at a later date. Going on the amount of laughs we have had making said videos I’m hoping others will find it funny too, and if not, just plain weird. Either or is fine.

Modelling wise, I’m still working on the Nemo. This weekend was spent scratching lines into plastic, cutting teeny tiny peices of pla plating and adding the first base coat to the internal frame. The plan was to film it, but time did not permit. It seems likely that I may be away from YouTube for a little while now while I get everything sorted out. Should be back on in a couple of weeks I expect. In the meantime, I’ll continue to update over on my facebook page. I’ll also be making appearances in the regular Gunpla Talk google hangouts, click here to be taken to the Gunpla Talk facebook page to be kept up to date on all the happenings.

I’ll also have something to announce in July I think.

Later 🙂

February Update and Stuff

Since I last posted things have been a little slow, mostly down to a spate of wintertime illness’ and catching up on life activities. I have a couple of bits of news.

dreissen

Firstly, I came first in the gunpla builders showcase facebook group modelling competition. I was super-chuffed and this one was pretty special to me as it’s the first compo I have ever won! The model was the HG Dreissen, completed at the end of 2014, the start-to-end build you can have a gander at here. Special thanks to all the chaps running the group, and to everyone who participated 🙂

Secondly, as you’ve probably heard, the Mecha Lounge is no more. It was all down to time really. Myself and the admin team just did not have the time required to put into it, and to get it modernised and promoted enough to keep up with social media. Sad times, and will be missed for sure. I met some thoroughly awesome people there, made some great friends, learned a crap ton of skills and am very glad to have played my part in it.

Thirdly, I’m working still on the MG Duel Assault Shroud, which is already in my top 5 favourite MG’s of all time. I love it. You can see my most recent WIP video (part II) by clicking here.

Fourthly, We have launched our first, inaugural ‘free-style’ build off over in the UK Gunpla Builders group on facebook, running from February 1st until May 1st. If you fancy a bit of a challenge feel free to head on over and submit an entry.

Fifthly, try saying that when your mouth is full of cheese. There is no fifth bit of news, only that I am planning to put together one of my prizes from the contest, the G-Reco over the weekend. Should be fun, although i’m kind of stuck right now without any filters for my paint mask.. gah.

Goals for 2015

I’m not normally any kind of decent long-term  planner, often resorting to off the cuff or spontaneous decisions, and I certainly do not make any kind of new years resolutions when it comes to everyday life, much to my wife’s annoyance. However, this year I decided to put together a list. A small set of modelling related goals I would like to achieve in 2015, time and life permitting. Let’s break it down, and give it a review next January.

  1. Complete the PG unicorn, fully painted, detailed up with the LED set and the full armour parts.
  2. Complete a fully resin kit.
  3. Do at least one model, fully weathered and battle damaged.
  4. Take better photo’s, and improve my lighting set-up.
  5. Post more videos.

And that’s it! Not much.. I know.. but considering the amount of time I have available to me at my workbench, this will be challenging. Let’s see how it goes.

Happy new year everyone 🙂

 

Dreissen Lunar Interceptor Type

My final project of 2014, a HG Dreissen. See below for the whole WIP!

Just a quick update

So, I have been a little quiet of late but have been working on a couple of things. First up, I am working on a HG Jegan, in conjunction with a mecha modelling buddy of mine in which we each chose each others model to build. A full build video from start to end will be going up once this is done (probably in the next couple of weeks).

Also working on the F-95 conversion kit, prepped the wing frame and cleaned up the resin parts, not a lot of progress admittedly but progress all the same.

So.. thats it really! I will be putting out a few different style vids int he coming weeks thanks to some fantastic feedback I received over on the facebook page.

Hope you’re all good, catch you later 🙂