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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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!

Are you a modelling realist, or a stylist?

Are you a rivet-counter, or a boy-racer? A very interesting suggestion for something for me to thump my keyboard keys about from Zach, I thought I would tackle the question and ask the community at large – which is more pleasing to do, and to look at?

Let’s start with a couple of definitions if I may,

A stylised model is one of conformity to a paradigm, or commonly showcased style. They’re generally ‘clean’and free to weathering, pretty realistically impractical, with oversized elements to give it that element of action or expression. Details are multi-coloured, tiny and metallic. Paint works come in a blinding array and combination of palettes, hues and finishes, but are commonly pre-shaded from the outside in to provide depth, and visual interest.

A realistic model involves more aspects of weathering, damage and physics. It has a more logical approach, with more theoretical elements. Creativity is found in method and execution. The kit looks more real, and requires arguably a great deal more practical skill to fool the eye into believing that what you are looking at is much closer to it’s proposed existence, and/or situation. It also invites more defined criticism, would it really look like that if it was hit with a .50 calibre rifle at 300m? Are their enough rivets, to hold that panel in place as it’s being smashed to the floor on a planet at 6g’s? I have seen some spectacular disagreements in this style descend into brass infantile insult I might add. Grab some popcorn when you see it!

So which is more popular? A quick gander around the social sphere and on blogging platforms reveals high contrast, bold colour palettes and fine detail win popularity contests. Realistic models however appear to garner a lot more interest from practising modellers, and model fans as opposed to anime fans and kit collectors. Either way, popularity does not indicate which is objectively the best.

Which method, is more enjoyable? Making a realistic kit from concept to execution is like riding a unicycle on a telephone wire. It’s either going to be very impressive, or people will think you are very stupid for attempting it in the first place. You could also topple off, making an awful mess on the pavement.  Both methods have their painful moments, but realism will at the most basic level for each method, have more steps and take longer to produce. Stylistic models are perhaps a little more expressive in execution, so perhaps modelling without being tied to Earth’s gravity is more liberating? (had to get a Gundam reference in somewhere, I hope you get the point). Perhaps too, realistic models have a very high degree of satisfaction in completion due to the sheer amount of work and research invested in it. I see equal merits and pitfalls to both.

If you are new to mecha modelling, which path should you take? Of course, start at your own tastes, with one caveat – get the basics down first. If you are considering adding battle damage, make sure you can first for example remove a seam line. If you want to make an intricately masked motif in an absurdly erotic pink on a shield or piece of armour – make sure you know how to paint first. Whichever method you choose in the long run, try out both, or even mix it up. Either way, develop your own style!

So what’s your preferred style? Where you one, then switched to the other? mix it up now and again? A complete purist? Did I get something wrong? Let me know, I love to get the conversation going as always, and thank you for your contribution 🙂