Tag Archives: mecha community

A quick look back at 2016

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.

Dear Bandai, the UK wants a GBWC! (I think?)

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!

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!

Update on things + The Mecha Lounge news!

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:

http://www.mecha-lounge.com

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 🙂

 

 

Has Bandai made us lazy modellers?

In a recent discussion with my fellow countryman Bearded Builds, I was given the proposition that, Bandai kits make people lazy modellers. It’s always been an elephant in the room, in that we were talking about working on resin kits, and having just received an adorable GMGouf resin kit from e2046 I was complaining about the masking aspect of the project is somewhat daunting. Then, looking behind me on the shelf I realised I had been building up a collection of resin kits and conversion kits that had not been worked on, at all.

Most resin kits, in case you don’t know are not snap-fit. They’re not colour separated (most of the time) and they require a degree of cleaning up, sanding, gluing and pinning into a fixed position, all before you actually start painting and masking. They have an advantage though – they’re crisp in detail, and you’ll find much more unusual, obscure and cool designs outside the realm of conventional licensing.

So, that reeling feeling that I get when thinking about the work involved in constructing a resin kit – I blame entirely on the ingenious and ease-of-assembly you get with standard Bandai gunpla, where I started my modelling journey. Has this standard, now become the baseline expectation for the majority of mecha modellers? Is the majority of the mech modelling hobby, entitled, even spoiled? or is this just how the hobby has evolved with new technology and innovation, and it’s exposure to newer generations of aspiring modellers?

I thought I was one of the ‘old farts’ of the mech modelling world, shaking my stick at newbies saying ‘you don’t know what real modelling is!’ but I’ve come to the realisation that in comparison to those who have been doing it for decades, I’m a spring lamb naively pouncing in a field of flowers without a care in the world.

Take a look at a 1980’s re-issued 1/144 kit and you’ll soon realise how quirky, unarticulated and lacking in detail these kits are, that required a certain level of skill to actually make look good, and compare it to the most recently released Real Grade kit. You can assemble an RG now and do virtually nothing to it but assemble, and it’ll look as good as a skilled modellers kit from the 1980’s – or better. This is how far we have come, and seeing modellers complain about how a modern kit looks, or problems during assembly put into this perspective will perhaps make you realise just how entitled some modellers are. You can also understand a little better perhaps, why some more experienced modellers are somewhat critical of ‘snap fitters’ and their apparently fickle complaints.

Don’t get the wrong idea, I mean entitled not in a negative, naive sense. It’s acceptable to be critical of innovation, as it’s a vital part of progression, but I also think it’s useful for your own enjoyment of the hobby to recognise just now advanced, and how actually amazing Bandai Gunpla really is. Perhaps you’ll think about this, next time you complain about the ‘proportions not being right’. Get your skill game on, and fix it! Push yourself to try out something more challenging, like a fully resin kit and perhaps knowing this you’ll appreciate just how easy Bandai have made it for you, and you’ll no longer be a lazy modeller.

What do you think? Are we spoiled? Lucky? Or are our attitudes and intentions not so clear cut?

 

Getting started on YouTube

Starting your own channel on YouTube is a great way to share what you are doing in the hobby, so I thought I would share a few thoughts when it comes to creating your own channel. I need to thank Zach (ZakuAurelius),  Henry (Vegeta8259), Jiminboo (Gunpla Fixation) and Justin (JustiniusBuilds) here as this was something we recently discussed in the GunplaTalk and where a lot of this advice comes from. I’m drifting around the 2k subscriber mark and have kind of let up on YouTube for a bit, but my experience does count for something.

First of all, decide what you are making the channel for. Are you making the channel to document your building process? To do a kind of V-log of your life in the hobby? Reviewing kits, paints or tools, or offering some tutorials? Showcasing your completed works?

You can do any mixture of anything really, it is after all, your channel, but I would offer up a few tips to bear in mind if you want to gain a following or produce good, watchable content.

Be yourself!

Goes without saying, but so many new channels attempt to copy other peoples ‘style’ and end up being called out for it. Reproducing the same old tired review format too is not going to get you anywhere – unless you do it incredibly well. Inject your own personality into it, don’t try to be a ‘presenter’. Be conversational. This is not TV.

Talk about stuff.

Talk about what you are doing, why you are doing it, what your opinion is. Engaging people and drawing them into your subject is a great way to interact through comments. Don’t hold back on what you think too – not every point of contention breeds negativity, it can often draw a great debate that can be helpful rather than shit-slinging. Just train yourself to blank stupid, and engage with those who are offering up valid arguments amicably and respectfully.

Don’t ignore people, especially those offering helpful points.

Some of the larger YouTube channels do this, and it’s incredibly ignorant. It also breeds that ‘ol ‘holier than thou’ mentality that will only result in you losing subscribers. Answer as many comments as you can, where required. You can, contrary to this point’s title, ignore trolls and obvious dickheads.

Show what you are doing, in detail

I often watch a video of a completed model or part and think to myself “wow, that’s amazing! how did they do that?”, or “they used this paint.. but how was it applied?” You may not want to share your secrets, but doing so will encourage you to experiment more, and share your findings – as well as spark conversations.

Edit

Edit your videos. Those moments where you go blank when starting a new sentence don’t need to be experienced by viewers. Slurping from your cup, looking something up online or text messaging someone is lazy. People are taking the time to watch your video, give them a little respect at least by editing out your idle moments. Some YouTubers are blessed with flowing charisma, in which case they don’t even need to edit – most of us are not.

You don’t need huge production values

Just a good camera, good sound and good lighting. You need not be an expert film maker, but you can tell at least when something is watchable, so always watch your own vids back. You don’t need a flashy, graphical 30 second intro, but it helps to have a little something that give’s your vids familiarity, even if it’s just a still.

Be regular

Humans love routine! On a Friday, I get home from work and I watch a few regular shows that are a nice highlight to the end of the week for me. Knowing when the next vid is coming makes watching them habitual – and this is something you want to get people doing. Just make sure the content warrants habitual viewing 🙂

Keep the content consistent, and throw in something different now and again

When I used to do regular vids, I did one every Sunday – normally just a WIP of my current model. Then, every couple of months I would have a kind of “catch up” where I discuss community things, stuff I have bought, new paints, tools and so on. Mixing it up from the usual now and again keeps it fresh.

Don’t beg for stuff

Want to open up a fresh can of hate? Then ask people for stuff. Honestly, this is a very dumb thing to do, especially when you have a low amount of subscribers. Unfortunately, a promise in return for products is not enough. If you are established, have great, regular content and a positive following you’ll know how to ask in the best possible way, because you will know your audience – and they’ll know what they can expect from you.

Don’t be conned into positively promoting shit

Being contacted by a potential sponsor is great, although you should be aware that you need to make it clear that you are being sponsored. Some sponsors may ask you to promote a product you know is terrible – either decline it, or just be honest and say it’s shit in your review. People do not like people without integrity who are obviously lying through their teeth. Honesty is a far better route. A retailer that respects your opinion of a product, positively or negatively is a great retailer to work with.

Don’t misuse Patreon

Patreon is a smashing platform to offer up a ‘tip jar’ to your audience, who can regularly donate small amounts of cash to help you produce more content. Offering up your Patreon page, and just starting “help me do my hobby” is the wrong way to do it, especially when you are just starting out in the hobby and no one really knows you. “help me make better content for you, and offer you some extra nice things” is the right way to do it. I recently too saw a very prominent youtuber make the most terrible pitch for Patreon I have ever seen – offering another video of the same kind of content they had previously done in a completely nonchalant manner. If you are considering this, get a good pitch going and research into what works best for you, and your audience. Speak with some other YouTubers in the community and ask what they did. Look at how your videos can be improved – set a target perhaps to purchase a new microphone or camera to improve the quality – at least then the audience will experience what they have tipped you for.

Personal problems? Need to check out for a while?

Then do. If you’re starting to feel like it’s not fun, then stop – just let your audience know you’re going away for a bit. Everyone know’s we all have lives we need to live, letting people know you’re taking a break is a positive courtesy and allows your return to be welcoming.

Sub-for-Sub

This is the dumbest route to get subscribers who will never watch your videos. It’ll also make you look like you want to ‘cheat the system’ without providing anything worth watching. Don’t be one of these people.

Interact with other channels

Comment, like and subscribe to other channels you like in the same hobby. The more interactive you get, the more YouTube is likely to feature you in searches – not only this you’ll get to know others who are doing the same stuff as you, which can lead to channel shout-outs, collaborations, build-offs and more.

Let people know what you do

Don’t be too worried about promoting your channel through other social networks or forums, just make sure you read and understand any rules in these places regarding spamming.  Creating Facebook and Instagram accounts for your hobby is a good way to promote what you are doing too, and offer up a little more interaction. it’s good too to separate this from your personal Facebook – it’s likely people want to see what you’re doing Gunpla-wise rather than what you are eating for dinner, or what you think about Kanye West.

Hopefully something here will help you out. There is a ton of really excellent channels out there so you’ve got plenty of inspiration to draw from, so get out there and start interacting and talking. From my perspective, I like to share on a bite-size level the hours I spend making models, and I am glad a few folks enjoy watching what I do. I’m not all that fussed about gaining a huge following (although it would be nice) but I do want to make content that’s worth watching and to contribute something to the community at least. I’m still refining and interacting as much as I can to improve and still have a lot to learn. Hopefully I can get back to regularly posting, I just need to finish off Fallout 4..

 

Misconceptions and echo-chambers

What and what?

I want to write about something that grinds my gears a bit. Misconceptions, and echo-chamber mentalities in the community. I’ll explain a little further.

I have always been an advocate for community, despite my previous complaints, it has done great things for the hobby. I have started communities, been active in them, nurtured them, whinged and moaned about them (hehe) and helped others as much as I can, despite working long hours, working on my own hobby and more importantly spending time with my family – and I expect nothing in return. I am however finding myself getting increasingly alienated by it. What irritates me is that a minority of people, who are incapable of discussing things in a rational manner. Here’s a couple of typical examples I come across from time to time that I’m sure is not limited to just this community – but the internet as a whole.

Having someone initiate a ‘shout-down’. This is an emotive, reactionary keyboard vomit usually in the form of several incoherent paragraphs that flow from someones brain without restraint, and often deviating widely beyond the subject matter. This kind of ‘shout-down’ is the typical reaction of someone who knows, deep down that they are in the wrong or are just plainly incapable of understanding or restraint. Instead of simply retracting and apologising, or even trying to counter with a new argument, the ‘shout-er down-er’ attempts to mask the error with an embarrassing string of emotive pith that gathers ‘sheep’ (usually well-meaning friends in support who have not actually been engaged all that much) in support of their cause. I respect people who can outrightly admit they are wrong, or seek another more rational path to prove a point or prove me wrong. I’ve been proved wrong before, and I learned pretty quickly from a young age that ad-hominem, you-tube-comment style responses in pathetic low-brow sarcasm only served to make me look like a moron, and more importantly not learn anything from the experience. It’s these types who often too, retort incredibly personal insults without accepting any consequence, granting themselves some kind of imaginary license to spout vulgarity, unsympathetic to whoever is targeted for simply trying to engage and somehow confirming to that it’s ok since ‘Im standing up for the victims’.

Another example is the ‘I read between the lines’ type. A person or person (s) who derive a narrative from something as innocent as asking a question or challenging a common belief. Here’s quite a typical example:

Comment: ‘I think what he said about that persons model was mean, he should be helping and not criticising’ Response: ‘Why should he be helping that person? He was only saying how he felt about it’. is translated into: ‘He doesn’t have to say anything about that model, grow up you dick head and stop being such a baby’. Ok, so I embellished that a little, but the point is, reading between the lines is something that is pretty hard when you are not having a face-to-face discussion, and even moreso when you don’t even know who that person is. Over text, there should always be an understanding that the only meaning is the literal. Any such derived conception from a single comment is that of the reader, not the person who is posting – unless of course you have some kind of psychic ability, and this is not even taking into consideration literacy level or language barriers. There may very well be a hidden meaning in there but the point is, never assume anything. This is basic fact to a vast majority of people, but we all for for it from time to time, myself included – and the solution to it is simple – read it again, and take your time to respond. It seems that, in some cases however this basic fact is consistently missing. I’m sure I have gone over this before.. but it has context here.

It’s individuals like this that drain the fun out of communities for me, and create these awful ‘echo-chambers’ of circular masturbation – each ‘shouter-downer’ and ‘I read between the lines’ person congratulating each other’s work and reaffirming their own unchallenged statements. Statements such as ‘many experienced modellers are elitist’, ‘admins have a god complex’ and ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say it’. These statements have no place in making a progressive community, and are actually too uncommon to be fact – and whereas a vast majority are fantastic, rational and good people it’s a minority who sadly have the loudest voices – despite their consistent ‘victim’ narrative. Competition and criticism are the drivers of progression. Forcing everyone to have the same mentality, results in stagnation. Look at how communism panned out. History is a great teacher.

I don’t want to run, or participate in a community however that limit’s itself by not allowing these types of individuals in, simply because it goes against something I fundamentally accept – everyone is different. I accept that these people exist, despite my complaint, and I live with it without the claim of ‘unfair’. My blogging about it won’t make a lot of difference, but it’s great therapy for me and I hope some people can get something from it or lend some sympathetic eyeballs on it 🙂

I used to think that it’s just a matter of there being a generational gap – differing education, environment, lifestyle – but this minority seems to stem from all walks of life. Perhaps it’s down to the fact that communities are far more accessible? I don’t know – but I do know it’s something that irritates me from time to time. The world is full of different thoughts and opinions on a wide variety of things. To those people who are consistently complaining that other people have opinions different to their own perceived ‘this is what is good for everyone’ and are not even willing to engage in conversation to…you know, learn new things, have fun and be of actual use to the community I’ll say this: Not all questions are rhetorical. Read, react, read again, understand and then respond.

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. https://www.facebook.com/ZeonicGunplaUk

Thanks for giving the post a read!
By
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!

Ye-argh! Are ye in favour of them thar naughty pirates?

Wow, now here’s a subject rarely touched eh? Quite possibly one of the most hotly debated, often misguided, polarising and opinionated talking points that always rears it head like a bad smelling carousel carriage again and again without conclusion. It’s also one of these debates that seemingly divides communities – either by corporate commitment, brand loyalty or by community leaders intent on impressing their own values on its members. Either way, it’s a subject that can get people hot under the collar, and makes some say some really dumb things. So where do I stand on this? Let’s chuck some opinion in the mix.

Let’s start off with some personal, but generally agreed definitions.

A ‘knock-off’ or ‘bootleg’ (a term I will use interchangeably) is a copy of an original kit or a kit produced from an unlicensed design made and sold without permission.

A third-party kit on paper is an original production, based off an original design licensed from another company, to the company producing it – however it can be kit’s with slightly modified design on a short-run from the original, without license. This one is the ‘grey’ area so I’ll deliberately dodge writing about it.

Resin kits, and conversion kits are not really a cause for debate in this since they’re not a concern of the original manufacturer, and on very short runs. You do after all, need a Bandai kit first before you can create the conversion for instance.

When I refer to an ‘original’ I mean a product entirely designed and produced legitimately, and legally by a company such as Bandai, Kotobukiya or Tamiya.

Zoom out for a second at look at the bare facts before we move into the arguments. Selling copies of an original product, without permission, is illegal and in breach of international copyright rules. It’s exactly the same as selling pirated DVDs. Buying these copies for yourself is also illegal. Yes. It is illegal. The same as how downloading a torrented movie is illegal to give a better analogy.

Now let’s look at the arguments. A vast majority of those opposed to bootlegs will always cite the legality and quality of bootlegs, and it’s destructive nature towards legitimate producers. Knock-offs and some bootlegs are produced using a far cheaper process, using cheaper and inferior materials and labor in order to cut costs. With these kit’s being so cheap, they can potentially cut into the sales of the original producer. It also harms future development. If an original producer loses money on a project due to inferior copies (or even better-imagined versions) flooding the market, then the original producer has less money to potentially invest in future projects – or be willing to sell their products in a particular region at a reasonable price.

Those in favor of knock-off’s and bootlegs can counter some of these arguments. If the original producer sells their kits at seemingly outlandish  prices – the copycats and bootleggers are doing them a favour by making them more accessible, and cheaper to those with less money – it can also make the original kits more desireable. It also allows more experienced modellers to effectively ‘practice’ new ideas on kit’s without having to fork out twice – or have a bank of spare parts available that are ferociously hard to replace using the ‘Japan-only’ parts re-ordering service. It can also be argued too, that the sales of knock-off’s and bootlegs are a drop in the ocean compared to the turnovers of a multi-million dollar company like Bandai – and it’s infringements are so undervalued that Bandai rarely attempts any legal action to halt production of bootlegs, or take any serious PA action to warn consumers. The ‘P-Bandai’ kits also do not help the situation. Limiting the availability of special runs of kits of an entirely domestic market causes huge inflations in costs to those external to Japan, not doing a whole lot of good for brand loyalty.

So where do I stand in this? Well, I’m an empirical fellow – but I am also pro-choice. I know what I am buying, and I know most other people do too.

I think that, if you make a product that is amazing, and someone else then makes a blatant copy of it that is inferior – you really don’t have much to worry about, but when it becomes fraudulent (ie. making the box look exactly the same in order to charge the same price as the original) is becomes criminal, and morally wrong. What Daban or TT Hong Li are doing right now are blatant copies of an original, and you should seriously not be stupid enough to think it’s anywhere near being as good as the real thing and should not have any trouble knowing that when you purchase it. If I buy say, an iPhone and it’s called an iPhoonie, I know it’s going to bear a resemblance to an iPhone, but it’s definitely not, an iPhone. Real free-market capitalism relies on a simple fact – you get better sales when you make a better product – and Bandai are way out in front of the competition. However, the bootleggers are gathering speed and interest in area’s Bandai are failing to address.

I think the original kit manufacturers are well aware of this fact. Japanese companies, as huge and as corporate as they are, are proud of the products they produce, and  don’t pay a lot of attention to the copycats and bootleggers unless there is an awfully high demand or interest in a particular bootlegged product. This recently played out when Elyn produced the highly sought after 1/100 plastic injection molded Kshatriya model and Bandai filed for copyright infringement, limiting the company to domestic sales only – on the basis that it could be produced on a much larger scale. Elyn now does not exist.. and Mechanicore has arrived on the scene. I’ll let you put 2 and 2 together here.

When it comes to buying knock-offs, third party or bootlegs kits, it’s entirely your own choice. I have bought a couple of knock-offs and bootlegs myself, and unsurprisingly they are shit – but the point is I knew they would be. I have also paid out far, far more cash to get a kit that I know will be up to a good standard, from Bandai, and I would say most people know these facts. I also have bought kits that just have never been produced by Bandai, based off designs Bandai own. Why? Becuase Bandai have not done it yet.. and I wanted it.

In a nutshell, I am either for or against bootleg kits. I just accept it for the reality that everything is copied, reverse-engineered and knocked-off these days because hey – if you can make it cheaper and sell it, it’ll happen – especially in places where copyright law is overlooked. I will buy the better product. I will buy, a bad quality product to suit another need where quality is not a requirement. Simple. Is it an insult to original designers? Yes. Is it down to me to champion them? No. It’s likely they’ll get my money first anyway. It’s also a fact that people will identify gaps in the market. Is Bandai making a 1/100 version of this great design? Then let’s make one and make some dough.

The strong actions and comments from more opinionated individuals running and participating communities I find dense – especially without reason. I can wholeheartedly understand the commitment to an original product line if say, the community is for Bandai products only – or has a business or organisational interest in Bandai. It seems that in some places if I say ‘I buy knock-offs’ it’s the equivalent of saying ‘I punched your mum in the face’. The visceral negative response from some folks is worrying at times, and often I might add quite amusing. Still, they stick out like a sore thumb so are easy to avoid. My response to the anti-bootleg position is simple. Can you seriously tell me you have no possessions that are a copy of an original product? It’s the reality of consumerism, and it’s not something that will go away with a few insults to someone who has decided to buy one or advocates their existence. On the flip-side there are also those who accuse others of being ‘Bandai-snobs’ for even making the comment that bootlegs and knock-offs are inferior quality. Well, that’s actually a more o a fact than a statement, and I suggest these people do a little less shooting from the hip before they lose a toe – which can be frightfully embarrassing.

Whatever your position, the reality is unavoidable – unless of course the entire consumer base unanimously rejects and upholds copyright laws by simply not purchasing. Do you ever see that happening? So why even champion either position? Your thoughts?

Special thanks to John for providing me with some very useful factoids and opinionoids.