Wednesday, 5 March 2014

This blog is moving!

My time here has alas, come to an end, and the blog is now moving over to my own hosting :)

You can now catch up with my ramblings right here:

Thank you :)

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Level Up! Results

Thank you all for your tremendous interest and enthusiasm for this, my first modelling contest. All-in-all there were a total of 21 entries, of which 9 entrants managed to complete their builds within the deadline.

So, the time has finally come, I have spent the past week going over the entries and scoring them according to 4 different criteria, WIP (work in progress, so I can see how much work has gone into making the model), Skill Advancement (how much I think the planned skill advancement is), Success (how well the advancement turned out) and completed final model.

It was incredibly hard to choose a winner.. there were modellers of all skill levels involved and all the completed models were of a great standard. Although I can only give out two prizes, I hope that all the entries have come away with at least a new string to their bow.

I would like to take a moment to just give a few thoughts on each of the 9 entries:

Char Z'Gok by Tadych:
Tadych's aim was to remake a previous model he had painted using rattle-cans, an improvement on a previous model. Some great detailing put into this one on a crisp and neatly coloured paint job. Some very impressive weathering, paint chipping and rusting detail put in is a lifelike bonus to this highly displayable kit.

SD Kampfer by Effael:
Effael's first resin cast model is a superbly crafted little mean machine with a superb, clean paint job topped off with an ominously mean LED installation. Some real expert detailing here with some top-notch colour separation and decals. The material paintwork here is really something that stood out from me, giving a real 'feel' for different surface texture in the metallics, offset by the ceramic-esque armour parts.

Efreet Nacht by Justinius Builds:
Justin's first resin conversion is a gorgeously spiky and dangerous looking Efreet Nacht, a conversion build over a Zaku MG frame. Superb, clean paint work with some very expert shading, great detailing and some really cool metallic parts. The orange accents really make the overall piece pop right out showing off a keen eye for aesthetic balance. The Kunai-style daggers are a personal favourite part of this model.

Chromed Death by Event Horizon Gunpla
Event Horizon was looking to improve his painting skills with the legendary Death-sythe Hell. Event Horizon most certainly outdid himself in this model, advancing his understanding of metallic coatings to produce a very shiny and gorgeous reproduction of a previous model. The addition of some great decal work produced a great piece, setting him on the path to some future great works.

Sabre Tiger by Chadwokie
His first Zoids kit (and an impressive choice at that) is pretty superbly painted in a desert camoflage colour scheme, with a pleasingly complex construction. Great detailing and one mean looking cat.

Gundam 0 custom HG by Tian Hong:
This heavily modified HG model is a great example of Tian Hong's impressive scratch building skills, taken even further with the addition of one huge cannon! Tian Hong was looking to improve his modification skills, and weathering and has pulled of a great looking model. The almost classical full-armour colour scheme is very well thought out with some skilled colour separation. Great to-scale weathering and material detail.

RG GP-01 Fb by Zubaun Builds
Zubaun's first painted RG is stunningly good considering it's 1/144 scale. Some amazing masking skills shown here with a great eye for colour contrast. Great textures, perfect subtle shading and super-sharp detailing, a real work of art - setting aside my own bias for the bad-ass design of the RG GP-01fb :)

My Winners

My first prize winner is Pawces, with this superb fantasy/medieval concept based off a tallgeese. Pawces was looking to make a custom based on something he had not tried before - born out of a like for Game of Thrones. The level of modification here, and how well it has been pulled off is nothing short of great. The colour choices, the addition of the "chain mail" style shoulders, the fluffy cuff and the cape to my mind would never work on a mecha model, and Pawces has pulled it off spectacularly, and proved my thoughts entirely wrong! The addition of the exquisitely detailed white and gold paint job literally below my socks off, and has become most certainly one of my most favourite models this year so far. Pawces wins the Jehuty HD edition model. Many congratulations to you sir :)

The second prize winner goes to Tigrillo, with his awe inspiring scratch-build of the classic VF-001S. You simply can not ignore the amount of work that has gone into creating this. Tigrillo's aim was to improve upon a previous scratch build of the same model, improving its proportions, transform-ability and mechanics and has pulled it off in style. With the addition of an excellently done paint job, the detail put into the cockpit is stunning, and the overall aesthetic is a pleasure to look at. Very, very well done. Tigrillo wins a £20 Amazon voucher :)

Thank you all. 

Finally, I would like to thank everyone for your excellent support for this contest, and commiserations to those who did not win or manage to finish your models in time. It was a genuine pleasure to look at all your work, and I look forward to seeing more from you all. You are an inspiration to everyone who wants to improve in this community, and keep doing what your doing and sharing your works with the world. 

I look forward to holding another contest later this year :) 

Sunday, 16 February 2014

MG Geara Doga Build-off Part 2

New video up! ..where admittedly not a lot is happening.. Catch up with how Tian Hong is going here: More from what I am up to here:


Monday, 10 February 2014

Mecha Modellers on YouTube

I have been getting back into watching vids on you tube of late from some of my favourite subscriptions, and branching out a little watching some newer you tubers giving it a go, and I must say, I am pretty disappointed with what I have seen, so I thought I would put out a few pointers to help anyone who is serious about doing the whole you tube thing in the mecha modelling community (memoco.. look I made word):

  1. In it for the money? You'll need a good 100k+ subscribers then. Seriously, if this is your motivation then just stop right now. Find the person who told you it's a money maker, and call them a rude name. I suggest "dipshit", "knob" or "bumface". Be in it for the shares, the experience and the all-round super-happy fun times. 
  2. Stop copying the same, damn "gunpla review" format. There are 3-4 really excellent, regular reviewers out there who have a huge amount of subscribers - why? because they have been doing it for a long time and are good at it. If you think you can do better, think again! I guarantee that playing the catch-up game with the latest releases is going to be an expensive waste of your time. 
  3. Avoid giveaway contests. Yep, I am guilty of this too but have learned from all my peers the simple, clear truth. It's another tremendous and expensive waste of time for little return. You will see an upsurge in subscriptions and views that will steadily decline and level out as all the subscribers you gain, fall off when they realise they don't like what you are putting out. There are a lot of people interested in getting something for free, but far less actually interested in what you are doing. Also, if you are hell bent on doing it,  a huge no-no is introducing convoluted rules that involve anything more than a single mouse-click, and then getting ranty about people not following the rules will only grant you one thing. Everyone will think you're a douche. A better contest is to engage what your real audience is into - like a modelling contest! . I find these to be greatly motivating, and the more interesting and unique the challenge, the more I feel like sharing them with others to encourage more to join. Simple. 
  4. Edit your vids! A fine example of fantastic editing is from my good friend Gunpla Fixation. His vids are short (setting aside the 2+ hour hangouts we do... ),entertaining, insightful and interesting to those into mecha. Steezy is another - editing out "fluff" and getting across the key points he wants to make in his videos.  Peoples attention spans and day-to-day lives can not on average handle vids of more than 5-7 mins long, so if you are going to make it longer, make it interesting and edit out all of the extended silences, the "ums", the "errs" and the sentences already said another way 2 mins ago. Always watch back your own vids before uploading. Remember, what your putting out will be taking up peoples time, so make it worth watching! If you start to get distracted by something, chances are your viewers are too. I do concede there are some people who can pull off no editing, simply because they have natural charisma (gunplameister springs to mind). These are a lucky few, so if you think you can do it, get some honest feedback first. 
  5. Be yourself on camera! This is quite possibly the hardest hurdle to jump. Being yourself in front of a camera is certainly a lot easier for some than others, and if you are a little shy like me, then try this out: Set your camera rolling, but before you start talking do something completely insane. I usually make a weird babbly sound and pull a stupid face on camera. This normally helps me loosen up, although in reality I still sound wooden. Keep talking, if you screw something up, stop, wait a second, then start again. You'll find after some time your personality will come through as you feel more natural talking to the camera. Don't have any concern whatsoever about peoples perceptions of you. If they don't like you - you have to accept they wont subscribe. Over time, your audience will pan out to those who do like you, even if you do come across as a nerdy nerd nerd. 
  6. Flashy graphics with 3 minute intros! Are more annoying than impressive. Luckily, 99% of the you-tubing gunpla community know this. Create your own channel introduction video with flashy graphics and such - limit it to that and don't force people to sit through the same bit of music and spinning futuristic text over, and over, and over again. 
  7. Talk to people! Mingle! Mix! Watch other people in the community and interact - comment, subscribe and get to know people. Get your subscriptions right, empty out those you no longer watch so you won't miss what you enjoy watching the most This is the most effective way to get yourself known, and you'll have a blast meeting new people, exchanging ideas and making genuine mecha-buds! (wow that was bad..) 
  8. Comments on your vids: Answer questions, respond with "thank you's" to compliments. No matter how dumb they seem! Remember, there is a vast array of age's and non-native English speaking folks on youtube - so what seems like a really rudely asked question is probably more likely just worded wrong. Don't start calling names, making fun of them, being a spelling or grammar nazi or just being a general dick about it. Trolls are to be ignored and are largely unseen in you tube nowadays thanks to the wondrous amalgamation with google+ </scarcasm>. 
  9. Sponsorship! Yay! Free kits! Totally, its awesome, but do you really want to be that enthused about a kit you don't like that much? It's your call in this instance, but be prepared for any possible shit flying your way from the community. Any sponsorship agreement should be amicable, fit in with your channel and your format to be effective for you and them. Promote only those companies you know and trust - if you promote a company that has terrible customer service or bad quality products - your reputation is in the firing line. One-off promos are a good testing ground for this. Don't be shy about negotiating if something your end is not going to fit in with what you are doing.  
  10. Copyrights: Although this is a bit of a minefield at time of writing it is (in theory) a very simple rule: Don't use music you don't have permission to use. Don't splice in any anime, don't mention the word n*ntendo or s*ga. 
  11. Share what you learned! Learnt something new? Well come on then show us.. this will undoubtedly result in some comments like "your doing it all wrong" and "you are not supposed to insert it in that hole", so respond with a "thanks for that" and a "phew, luckily I did not get decapitated that time then!". Just remember to never tout your info as fact - what works great for you will be a disaster for someone else so always make it clear, "this is how I do it" and it's always helpful to cite a source where you learned something from of that is the case. 

Ok, I think I covered most things.. I am sure I will wake up at 4am thinking "oh shit I missed that", but in a nutshell, don't be concerned with numbers. Be yourself, show off your craft, share with others what you learn and avoid  the petty bollocks you may come across with fanboys. 

You'll discover over time the nuances of this quirky, mostly friendly community, apart form the odd self-proclaimed pro who has become too overly sarcastic to warrant being classed as a decent human being (but don't judge the whole community by them), and once you get into a nice flow you'll find yourself a great audience you can give out a great big wam non-gay (or gay) manly (or womanly? naah.. ) hug to. Organic growth works hand in hand with meaningful, interesting and entertaining content. Think of your viewers, not the view counter.

One last thing.. I always value feedback so if you think I am wrong about anything or everything here then do tell me. I am still learning this myself and these are to me, the basic rules I follow. Let me know what you think by all means and I promise not to find out where you live and secretly watch you in the bathroom while I take notes on the size of your nipples. 

Monday, 13 January 2014

Level Up! contest update and more

Hello 2014! I know, its already been going for 13 days but this is of course the first blog post of 2014. I have now returned from a most excellent visit to Japan and am now spending some time attempting to defeat my jetlag..

Level-Up! Contest - Update

Just a reminder that the deadline for the contest is drawing near! If you need a reminder for the rules then please click here. I have 1 entry in so far out of around 20 so keep those WIPs coming :) I have decided that the top prize for the winner will be the awesome Kotobukiya Jehuty HD edition . Second prize will be announced later!

The Japan trip

The trip itself was fantastic. This is the 4th time I have been, but my first being a Gundam fan since it was my previous trip in 2011 that get me into Gunpla, and the world of Mecha. I was incredibly happy to see the 1/1 Gundam at the Gundam Front exhibition in Odaiba, and took great pleasure in perusing last years GBWC entries and witness the most epic 3d dome-projected Gundam movie. The other exhibits were awesome too of course, a day I will not forget for sure. A short video of my trip is here:

Picked up a total of 10 kits, inclusive of the huuuuuge MG EX-S and found a great way to compact them all into my luggage - just cut all the parts off the runners, stuck them in baggies and flattened the boxes. Managed to fit them all into 1 suitcase! (bar the ex-s, I did not really have the time to cut ALL those runners!). Most of them were purchased at a local hobby store, which mainly specialised in RC but had a fantastically huge selection of Gunpla, mecha and modelling parts on offer - cheaper (surprisingly) than Akihabara.

I also did an awful lot of eating since I am a massive fan of Japanese food. We also took a trip to the Anpanman museum in Yokohama for my 4-year old who had great fun. We also had great fun at a restaurant designed for babies where the tables were wooden round discs on a huge padded floor which was an entirely new experience for me.. :) Ibuki made some great baby friends and the meal was packed full of cuteness. The rest of the time was spent getting over a cold, visiting naighbours and well... shopping. Miss it already and already looking forward to our next visit. One thing is for sure though.. not going in December again as it was freeeeeezing!

What's coming next modelling wise and more..  

Still working on the Victory MG, close to completion with only a few parts to be painted and some panel lining/decalling and assembly to go. Next will be.... announced later. I will also be giving some thought to Justinius Builds new contest where he has thrown down a challenge to create a kit bash! 

There will also be a new year Google Hangout with the venerable Gunpla Fixation and guests coming soon. Stay tuned to the GundamUK facebook page to find out when!

Monday, 23 December 2013

Off to Japan, some updates and looking back at 2013

Off to Japan in a while, so thought I would round up the year with a final post looking back at 2013, which has been a all-round good one for me, as well as give a little update as to what I have been up to. 

Setting aside personal things like (finally) getting myself in employment I actually like, watching my first born growing up past the toddler stage and into boyhood, and of course welcoming our second child into the world, my Mecha building world has grown substantially. Whereas I did not get as many models completed as I would have liked to, I have definitely improved a bit and learned a hell of a lot from my peers. I have also made some great friends and interesting characters this year through the hobby. The mecha lounge has continued to grow, with the success of the CHAOS group build setting a new standard in forum-based competition. Hats off to all the chaps on the mecha lounge for a year of fantastic work. 

Gunpla Fixations google hangouts have been a tremendous success this year, bringing together for the first time many you tube and Mecha modelling community members and continues to gain popularity, I have been lucky enough to be chosen by Jim to be a co-host of this awesome fortnightly event that you can catch up on by clicking here. New events currently in planning for the new year, and we always welcome new faces so if you are interested, do drop Jim, Justinius or myself a message through G+ :)

Updates wise, the Level Up Competition now has an amazing total of 20 entrants! I am admittedly shocked by the amount of entries and am very pleased everyone has entered into the spirit of the competition, and are genuinely upping their games. Prizes will be announced in the new year, so keep an eye on the gundamuk facebook page for updates. 

The Victory Gundam is nearing completion, I have been doing a little filming here and there so should cobble together a final WIP and reveal video in the new year. Made some slight errors on masking the red circle parts and they ended up looking a little wonky.. still I am hoping some retouching and panel lining should fix this. Just a few parts and weapons to paint now, then I can move onto assembling.  

So, after a 2 year wait I am finally going back to Japan, I'll be staying for a number of weeks and (hopefully) regularly updating the sights and sounds of all things Gunpla related on my travels in Japan. I will be (of course) visiting Gundam front and praying to the almighty 1/1 scale to provide me with another year of smooth air brushing application and non-splitting parts. I have an extensive list of items I plan to purchase, and a pretty ingenious way to get them back here to the UK with the aid of a set of clippers, and some plastic containers. Some things on my list are all the thunderbolt kits (as many as are released during my stay), and MG Nu Ver.Ka, and a HG Gerbera Tetra. I will also be picking up some exclusives that are actually worth buying and are not just recolours. No doubt there will also be large amounts of ridiculous tat that are Gundam related. The first thing I am going to eat when I arrive? A McDonalds Teriyaki Burger. If you have not had one of these, these are things that if you ate more than 2, you will have a heart attack. They are simply, stunningly tasty. We already spent considerable time planning our eating plans.. :) 

A couple of bits of news to share: Monoeye press' fantastic beginners Mecha building guide has topped the "arts and crafts" section over on Amazon. If you are new to Gunpla or need some handy and comprehensive instruction on basic technique - then this is for you. I was lucky enough to get an advance copy and I can personally say, its excellent - covering everything from the history of Mecha in Japanese culture through to panel lining, assembly and modification techniques. Pick it up now! 

Anyway, that's enough rambling for now. Thank you all for a fantastic 2013 and I wish you all a great holiday and New Year! 

A quick vid saying more thanks :)

Sunday, 27 October 2013

End of October update

This month has pretty much been all about the HLJ contest entry, and I think the enthusiasm I have to move onto the next project has been somewhat of a driving factor in getting this 1/144 TR-1 Advance Hazel completed..

In my haste, as the WIP will describe over on the HLJ social media channel I have made one or two mistakes, though the results are looking adequate to good at this stage so no major stresses.

The next project is undecided as yet, I was going to move onto a bit of a practice session with the AGE kit Zedas R, which would be quite a quick build judging by its low number of runners but in both the calling of the uncompleted FAZZ, and the inherent need to build something from Gundam Seed Destiny (which I am currently watching through again at the moment) are getting in the way. On top of that.. I really would like to have a bash at the Victory.. and the Stein. Decisions decisions. I think ultimately, with my trip looming on the horizon I will opt for a quick HG, which is the Zedas R. Mood may change.. my Facebook update will indicate which path I have chosen.

Be sure to tune into the Gunpla Fixation google hangout which has moved to this coming Saturday, which I believe will be broadcasting around 4pm PST, roughly 9pm GMT (I think) - times will be confirmed on my facebook page. Hosted as usual by the venerable Jiminboo, and co-hosted by myself and the almighty bearded one Justinius. As well as the usual workbench based topics and some awesome special guests, we'll be having a lively chat about this years GBWC and it's divided attentions on top of our usual community-based topical discussions.

In the coming week I should also be making a return to YouTube, with a personal update on all things GundamUK. Not made any videos primarily as not a lot is going on other than the HLJ entry.

Finally, entrants into the Level-Up! Competition have been gathering pace, great to see so many WIPs on the go and I am entirely pleased that everyone so far has been supportive of its theme. I am seeing some great work so far and although it's going to be hard to pick out winners, it'll be a pleasure to see such amazing works of art. Prizes are still in the pipeline. More on this later :)

You can see all the entries over on the GundamUK Facebook page (in the level-up contest entries picture album) and you can click here to be reminded of the entry rules. Only 3 months left so time is ticking!