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.
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.
- 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.
- Does the modeller do commission work? This should be your very first question. Save time and ask this first.
- 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.
- Have a set budget? Make this clear right away. If you’re noticing no one is interested, it’s likely not enough.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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:
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.
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!
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:
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 🙂
I bought a whole bunch of gloss colours from this range some time ago to give them a try-out, and thought I should do a very quick overview of how these perform!
The paint was tested on alclad lacquer primer, twice applied with a round of high-grit sanding between. Was also applied using an airbrush.
Much thinner than Tamiya or Vallejo, and some pigment / binder had congealed at the bottom of the pot. Be careful when stirring, if you find a sticky blob at the bottom, carefully ease it out into the mix and try not to ‘slip’ inside the pot or you’ll find it spluttering out of the pot.
Coverage and thinning
As with many acrylics, coverage can (especially in the case of Vallejo model air) be a little a little inconsistent. In MHA’s (Mr. Hobby Aqueous) case I found that no matter now thin, or thick the thinning ratio was, the coverage was always consistent. Definitely a pro. I thinned using UMP (ultimate modelling products) thinner, and again using Tamiya thinner. UMP performed way, way better mixing very nicely after a little mixing. Tamiya took a little more work and produced a couple of blobs. Definitely avoid. I found for good, strong coverage using roughly a 3:1 ratio worked for me for a single coat, spraying at around 20psi. This does mean however, a pot of MHA will not last as long as a pot of Tamiya. Around 2/3 of a single pot Tamiya on an MG kit with large areas of colour would be enough for me, in MHA’s case I found myself using 1 and a half.
Lovely, lovely lovely. The white is very vibrant (on a white primer!), orange is closer to red to me but equally solid. The range of colours I tested were all consistently gorgeous. Off-white leans towards beige, black is well..an acceptable black.
No problems here. A full cup in the airbrush caused very little ‘dry-tipping’ and did not start to congeal. Cleaning out was a doddle, just a cup of acetone did the trick without any funky blobby mess. Sprayed fine from 15psi to 30, above/below behaved as you would expect.
Drying and durability
I gave it 2-3 hours to fully cure but it was touch dry in around 20 mins. As with most acrylics, MHA is pretty fragile even after a good amount of curing, a little pressured toothpick scraped it off quite easily. Applying masking directly on too, was a little disappointing, pulling up a few flakes here and there. However, a thin coat of Alclad gloss lacquer gave it suitable toughness without dulling out the colour, and allowed me to mask with much more confidence.
Great colour and colour range.
Pretty cheap, around the same as Tamiya.
No probs smashing it through and airbrush.
A little fragile after curing.
Does not last as long as other paints.
Needs protective layer if masking.
You’ll need to test which thinner works best. UMP thinner worked great for me, but depending on where you are it may take a little experimenting.
Will I continue to use it?
Yes, I think so, probably not for large areas of colour though, i’ll probably stick to Tamiya in that case. I’ve also ordered in some metallics from the range. Will write on this too.
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 😉