Tag Archives: plamo

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!

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

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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!

Creating a model theme or backstory

When it comes to branching out into the world of mecha modelling, they’ll perhaps come a time when you want to start developing your own ideas outside of the kit’s ‘out of box’, or associated series. Everyone’s path and learning pace is of course different, but if you have not done any customisation before I urge you to get the basics down first. I have witnessed too many times, beginners creating customs right off the bat that are publicly (and unfairly) shot down in flames due to a lack of experience in the basics of modelling, and sometimes without even applying a little self-critique, and it’s not a pretty sight.  This article however is not about modelling per se, but is to advise on how you can develop your own concepts, themes and ‘back stories’ for your kits to start off your process of realising your ideas, if you want to try this route at all.

What is a back story?

Remember this, it really does not matter about canon. The kit is your’s, and you are not bound by any rules on how it should look. If you are fond of canon, and want to make it fit in say, the Gundam Universal Century timeline, then by all means do, just perhaps be more mindful of the type of critique you will receive, if you choose to showcase. You could even do a ton of research to really get it believable. Up to you! I’ve placed a few of my works in canon so far, such as this Geara Doga MG neo-zeon Daikun tribute.

A back story is of course a story surrounding your model. You can think about several aspects, such as who is the pilot? Which side is he / she on? What kind of character does the pilot have that would affect how the model looks? What weapons would he / she favour? Would he / she choose high-mobility? Light-weight armour? Environment is also a factor. Does your story take place on earth? Will your model be subject to weather conditions? Perhaps think about time too – how old is the model? Signs of rust? Fresh off the assembly line? The sky really is the limit here and what’s important is, can you convey it in your model?

Getting as much detail as possible can really help you focus on what you need to do, and can also really push your skills to help you improve. Having made your own story too, is surprisingly motivational since it invests your personality into your subject. Here’s a rudimentary ordered check-list, to help you dig down into a rich back-story:

  1. Universe: Chaotic / Warring Factions / Feudal / Peaceful / Pirates! / Terrorist / Post-war / Pre-war / Totalitarian / Religious conflict / Alternative reality / Canon / Our reality!
  2. Pilot’s character: Good / Bad / Neutral / Psychotic / Stoic / Virtuous / Mysterious / Funny / Egotistical / Complex / Dumb / Naive or no pilot at all!
  3. Mech: Completely customised (to fit pilot, or not!) / modified / standard, but with custom paint work / Grunt / Super-boss! / unconventional (maybe it’s got 4 legs?) / inappropriate / Non-combatant or civilian use / Covert / Support / Heavy / Light / Alien / Holy / Factory fresh / Space-weathered / Land-weathered / Battled / Destroyed / Long-distance range / Short range / A model, of a model? Getting all meta now!
  4. Load-out: Standard / Make-shift / Heavy / Light / Overkill / Unconventional / Cumbersome / Ranged / Melee / None?

This is of course, not just tied to a single character or mech. You could include all of this if you are intending to do a diorama with multiple models. You can be as in-depth, or as vague as you like. You could even provide a back story when you are showcasing, if you feel it’ll help. Just bear in mind, most people will not take the time to read it!

For some examples, I asked a couple of well known modellers about their projects. Special thanks to them for taking the time to answer my questions 🙂

Child of Mecha has a great example of back-story in canon work within the Gundam Universal Century timeline, more specifically in the wake of the Advance of Zeta series of picture novels, with the hugely impressive MSZ-006C1 (Bst) Zeta+ C1 Hummingbird, and included elements of the back-story on a plaque located in the display base:

CoM-hummingbird1

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CoM-hummingbird3

CoM-hummingbird4As you can see, Tim (AKA Child of Mecha) has created a back story from the Universe (Alternate canon, Universal Century), the Pilot (Lt. Thomas ‘red’ O’Malley, special forces pilot), the Mech (Customised, heavy weaponry, space-faring, long-range travelling off the factory line) andCoM-hummingbird5 the Load-out (Heavy, long range, powerful and customised, even has the pilot’s name as a decal!). Some additional factors Tim has included are what ship it was deployed from, what military detachment and faction it belongs with, and the time period in the UC line in which it is set. Just goes to show, you are not limited to just is it zeon or feddy? I asked Tim what his process was to come up with the back-story for this almighty project:

“Tough one. I think it originated from looking at the history of the Hummingbird online, how it was originally designed as an escort unit for the Plan303E Deepstriker, but since that was cancelled, so was the Hummingbird. Then I wondered what would it look like if the Hummingbird wasn’t cancelled, but yet further refined. I had the idea of a special unit that piloted Hummingbirds and Zeta+’s and the Grim Reapers were born. I wanted to keep the unit name and miscellaneous information somewhat grounded in reality. Since Annapolis is the state capital of Maryland (where I live), and it’s also home to the US Naval Academy, it made sense to think that a ship would be named after the city, so to pay homage, I assigned the Grim Reapers to the Annapolis. To further pay homage to my home I named the pilot, Thomas O’Malley, after, then, state govenor Martin O’Malley. I wanted to tie real world names and places into the background without going full on fanfic, but just enough for people to sink their teeth into when looking at the finished piece.”

You could even go right out of the box with your idea or back-story. Let’s look at the 2015 Gunpla Builders World Cup winner from Thailand, Win Eiam Ong’s (AKA the Paint Pusher) ‘another late night’.

another-late paint-pusher

He takes ordinary MG Epyon and MG Wing kit (with a few bits from others), and turns it into a diorama of a battle, carved out of wood by an artist, set in the ‘build fighters’ universe. It’s a theme, within a theme with minimal canon, no pilot, no focus on the mechs even, but the entire back-story is expressed in the work itself without any need for explanation. Conceptually, it’s right out-there, even meta-physical in a way and it’s a great example of taking a completely different approach to creating a back-story. Win’s idea came right out of the idea of no constraint to the expectation, which landed him the top prize in the mecha modelling world – do don’t feel like you ever have to be restrained by the model’s inherent purpose. Win explains this really well here, I urge you to have a read!

As always, I want to ask you, do you find having a back-story helps in your creative process, or do you not bother at all and just paint what you feel like painting? Ever become dangerously obsessed with your back-story and extended it into a full fan-fiction? Got any helpful hints or tips as to how to come up with a theme or back-story? I love to hear from you folks, so please, spill your brains and share your thoughts!

Thankings!

 

 

 

 

 

Mr. Hobby Aqueous: Quick review

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.

Consistency

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.

Colour

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.

Application

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.

Overall

Pros:

Great colour and colour range.

Pretty cheap, around the same as Tamiya.

No probs smashing it through and airbrush.

Consistent coverage.

Cons:

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Just a plain old update

Just because it has been a while.

It’s been a little busy since I returned form the land of the rising sun (boy do I miss being there…), so I’ve not found the time to post any updates here for a while.

Excuses aside, modelling wise I am around 50% done with the Typhoon, just need to get on and paint the torso, head, arms, shoulders and weather the legs and waist. Progress on the kit can be seen over on the facebook.

TOY-GDM-0795I finally purchased one of my all-time dream kits, the PG GP01/fb, and lordy it’s a big box of plastic I am very much looking forward to getting stuck into. Chances are high this will be my next large project.

I’m currently reading over a few of my older articles at the moment to see if any of my viewpoints have changed. I have always been of the mindset that, in light of new information and / or evidence, your viewpoint should always change to remain with the truth. Attaching an emotion to information can only ever result in a fallacy, so allowing yourself to be proven wrong is liberating. If I find I am still agreeing with everything  have ever written, I am either on the right side of truth, or frightfully stubborn 🙂

We’re currently in discussions about running a new compo over on the UK Gunpla Modellers Group. As we’re still talking about it, I can’t really write much.. other than it’ll certainly be accessible to many modellers from all skill levels, and hopefully a lot of fun.

I have launched, albeit with only 2 designs so far my own T-shirt shop! Not neccesserilly all GundamUK stuff but mostly mech / geek culture stuff that I hope you’ll enjoy. If you want to check it out, visit http://www.gundamuk.threadless.com. New designs will be announced on my facebook page.

That’s it for now, later.

 

 

My Japan Visit, So Far

I have a little time at the moment so I thought I would write a little about my trip so far here in Japan. I have been here for a little over a week now, and have visited Nikko, had a nice meal in Tokyo (staying in a place called Shobu in Saitama, just a 40 min or so train ride out from Tokyo) and eaten so much Japanese food I fear I will be carrying more body weight on my return. Setting aside the family visits, dressing up as a Samurai and watching my son graduate Ninja School (so much awesome there), and local shopping trips, the highlight for me so far has been a day trip to Akihabara to peruse some kits and pick up a whole load of modelling supplies. I have been doing some filming on this, so the proceeds from the visit along with some hastily filmed and badly planned snippets will be presented on the youtube channel in a couple of weeks time.

I have made a few personal observations since being here. Firstly, the Gundam franchise from what I have seen is definitely less popular than it was when I visited in 2012. It has certainly declined since the last time I was here was at the peak of Build Fighters, when more or less every convenience store had some build-fighter branded/sponsored product in stock, and adverts featuring the franchise frequented the tellybox. I have witnessed only a sporadic presence in Gatchapon dispensers and toy stores I been to.  It is also much harder to get hold of HIQ metal parts, much to my frustration. I also wanted to get some BMC chisels, only to discover that all of the stores I visited were limiting sales to 1 per customer! The local hobby store has also, quite disappointingly closed, meaning I can no longer have a wonder around while the wife spends hours clothes shopping. Sad times. The shop has (sob) been replaced by a girly girly girl girl accessory shop. Its not all bad news though, the local toys r us store still stocks gunpla, and surprisingly, some modelling tools and fluids! There is also a Yodobashi store within driving distance, so I am hopefully going to persuade my Father-in-law with the help of a Sake bribery to take me there. I also hopefully want to find a local “book-off” second hand book store as last time I was here I managed to pick up some really excellent mech modelling instruction and reference books at great prices. Sadly, second hand stores, normally a goldmine for rare and cheap kits are coming up dry (bar Mandarake, which I did not have time to get this time, and “hobby off” opposite Yodobashi Akiba which was dumb expensive for second-hand stuff).

So, on with the holiday, loving it here, don’t want to leave… Thanks for reading 😉

What makes a good mech design?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Common mecha modelling mistakes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posting work in Facebook communities

Sharing your work on Facebook can be a real mixed bag, and it really depends on just how you use it, what you want from it and how comfortable you are with it. With that in mind, here’s a few thoughts you might find handy – especially so if you are new to the community and to the hobby.

Let’s start with a share of a picture on one of the myriad of gunpla, mecha and modelling communities on Facebook. Here’s a few things you should bear in mind when you start getting feedback on your posts.

This hobby has a wide age range. From early teens into 50’s it’s a hobby lots of folks get into, so it’s worth bearing in mind that the kind of feedback you are going to get might be pretty varied. Younger hobbyists may be a lot more bold, cheeky or volatile. Older may be snooty, condescending or ignorant. Be aware of maturity levels.

Another thing to bear in mind is culture. This one should really be common sense to everyone given the international nature of the internet, and yet bizarrely I quite frequently see this being overlooked in favour of people assuming everyone else is in the same locale. A comment you receive may seem rude – but to someone of a different culture it’s perfectly acceptable. A good analogy can be found on colour theory. Red, to the western world can mean anger, blood, passion and warning. In the east it can mean luck, prosperity, celebration and joy. The same applies to use of language. Language ability should also be accounted for. Check the commenter’s country, before you call them an ass-hat.

Remember chaps, this is the internet and people are much bolder behind a screen than they are in person, the same applies to me! –  more so when you don’t know them. The important thing is, do not bite and let it ruin your experience, or ruin potentially valuable feedback on your work no matter how it originally come across in tone or tact. They are just words, on a screen – not an attack on your person. If you are sure, or unsure if a particular commenter is being rude or obnoxious even after taking into account culture, age and language – simply ignore them. Thank those commenter’s who give you something valuable. Those ‘that’s awesome’ comments too are nice and appreciated, but realistically not that valuable for progression. Don’t just expect praise, and accept that no matter how good you are, there’s always someone who will find faults. Clear-cut and personal abuse, which does happen for time to time should be dealt with as any other outright abuse on Facebook. Report that fucker.

If you find yourself fuming after a comment is made, do not reply! Credit yourself with 24 hours before even considering responding. More often than not, you’ll realise that ‘biting’ and getting engaged in a time-wasting argument about little to nothing is just not worth your time. Emotionally driven, ‘in the moment’ comments do not do you any favours, and we’ve all done that at one point and regretted it. Self control is such a virtue. A lesson I learned the hard way.

Choose your groups carefully. There are a billionty billion gunpla/mecha/anime communities now on Facebook, so choosing the right ones for you for what you want to get out of the experience is crucial. A good idea is to have a good look through the kinds of posts, and comments the community or group is getting, or if you know many of it’s participants and trust them. If the pictures being posted look like they are at about your level, and the comments are constructive and helpful in nature – then go for it. This process will take some time as communities evolve with numbers and quality, and will change according to your own preference or who you know in the community. Seek out the ones that work for you, and don’t stick around in the ones that are annoying or too off-subject. Don’t become one of those types who unscrupulously and continually carpet-bombs their work across several communities without any consideration or idea of what a group or communities rules are, just to get ‘known’. Just look at the current ‘known’ modellers. Do they do that? No! they will carefully choose groups and communities to share to that they regularly contribute to, knowing that carpet-bombing will only end up with them being labelled as a spamming bounder. If you are going to start posting, do it with consideration, read community rules and introduce yourself. Be polite, you’ll have far better luck starting out on the right foot to gaining something helpful and enjoyable.

So how about the other way around? How do you comment when you see other peoples work? Try to provide constructive criticism – even though I believe Facebook is a terrible platform for it. I often read people saying they either feel that they are not at a level ‘high enough’ to provide any feedback, don’t want to come across as a bad person or just don’t know what the right words are. The fact is, we all have varying levels of confidence in communication, based in part on how we’re perceived by others. The only way to overcome any barriers you have when providing any feedback is to do away with that perception. This can result in others thinking you’re a total turd, while others might see you as someone who is just plain honest or constructive. You just can not please everyone, and you have to accept that. If you still feel you can’t express yourself, then stick to being a lurker, then no one will think anything about you. Those who feel like they lack technical expertise – you have eyes right? Just say “I like that red part in the shoulder” or stick with what you know, don’t be afraid of sounding like you don’t know your shit without knowing you’re shit, and let the nerds giggle in their own creepy niche circles. If they’re courteous in correction, and not mocking – that’s valuable feedback, on your feedback. Remember too, the comment is for the poster – not for the other commentators. Don’t be a drone, offer up your own opinion.

Last but not least, remember to mark your images – especially finished works you have spent hours working on! Take a look at this article for more: http://www.gundamuk.com/2014/11/24/mark-your-model-images/

So how about you? What are your experiences posting your work on social media? How do you deal with negative response? What is the main reason you do it, or don’t do it? Got any horror stories or advice? As always take my ramblings as my own. I put my thoughts out not from authority, but to spark conversation.

Thanks ya’ll for reading. Toodle pip.

Foundations, before custom?

One thing I have noticed, especially so over the past year or so in the hobby is that more and more custom model kits are appearing, but the standard of work is dropping. It may be the case of course that there are more beginners in the hobby than ever (which is great news), and we’re just better connected through the medley of social channels, but the question stands – should you have a better understanding of the fundamentals of mecha modelling, before you attempt to make a custom model? Most modellers would of course agree, but is anyone listening?

To clarify, the ‘standard’ of work I refer to in this article is not necessarily how well it’s painted or customised but how well detailed, and now much attention has been paid to removing seam lines and nubs of a kit, that make it look like a kit. The overall point of a model kit of course to make it look as ‘real’ and as pretty as you can. I have commonly seen kits with a medley of additional weapons, metallic paint jobs and wings and fins jutting out in all directions, but have very visible seam lines, dirty oil marks from panel lining and ugly, amateurish posing. Much like mine on occasion.. but we’re not talking about me…:)

I understand there is a little debate too over the very definition of the word ‘custom’ so for the sake of this article, let’s define it as any model kit that has extra parts that are not original to the kit. 

With the encouragement of Bandai through the build fighter series of improved engineering on HG kits having a more compatible interchangeability, and it’s range of weapon sets and accessories it’s now easier than ever to make customised kits. How good is that! I have a few sets myself and they most certainly save a lot of time. Making a customised kit now is much easier than toiling through cutting pla-plate, waiting hours for putty to dry and having the patience of a saint, but can you really define it as a unique creation?

A while back, there was an err of muted criticism surrounding people who only snap-fitted their kits, sharing their creation with glee meeting with mumbling grumbles from the disapproving mecha modelling community (including me, I can be a dick sometimes but I stay true), and praise from their follow collectors. While the old snapfitters v modellers argument is null, creating a snap-fitted ‘custom’ from other snap-fitting parts is still, a snap-fitted kit, and as such should not really demand praise from actual mecha modellers. Is is however a step in the right direction, if mecha modelling is going to be your thing.

I have increasingly seen, in blog features especially, a ‘custom’ kit of this style where it has all the bells and whistles but is severely lacking in the very basics of modelling – as if the modeller has wilfully ‘skipped a step’ in the whole learning process.

Now, I’m not teacher nor any kind of expert, but my philosophy has been since I started out in the hobby to get all the basics of seam line removal, masking, painting, aesthetics and assembly before I attempt any kind of customisation. It seems nowadays that kids are picking up a knife and styrene before they have even tackled removing nubs, and are discouraged from taking it any further by that handful of arrogant mecha modellers blurting out unhelpful insults on their first public showcase. It’s a tired metaphor, but you really do need to learn to walk, before you can run. You should also consider where you are posting your work, if you are of that ilk.

It could of course just be a generational thing. I grew up with the understanding that, it takes time and effort to accomplish. Millennials to me are an on-demand generation. Here and now. TL;DR. I want that skill now. I can’t get it. Oh, I can if I just buy these kits.. Genius marketing from Bandai when you think about it. Perhaps, if the interest is retained we can be sure the art form of mecha modelling will continue. Right now, I think the models being showcased are simply not inspirational enough.

Now I’m making an awful lot of assumptions here for sure, and I am merely talking from my own experience with the modelling aspect at heart. So what do you think? Do you think the ‘basics’ as I term it are getting communicated out enough? Is there enough support from the mecha modellers to help out beginners, or should they just be left alone to just do what they want? Are these new types of HG kit a good thing for mecha modelling as an art form, or are they just another way to make your toys have bigger guns? Would love to hear your thoughts!