Last week, I was in New York for the New York Comic Con/Anime Festival. I was at the NYCC/AF Friday and Saturday; the rest of my time there was spent with Jason and Claire. I had been to NYC once before in my life, and that was August 2001 when some friends and I drove up from South New Jersey to the original Yankee Stadium to watch a Yankees game. I think I remembered snapping a picture of the New York skyline with my old film camera, I’m sure the picture is somewhere in my pile of photos in a box somewhere in my house. But until then, that was my only experience in New York City.
Side note, this will be long. I mean. I was there for almost a week. Pictures alone are overwhelming. But this post features tourist, scantily clad women, gunpla, and food, so what more can one ask in a blog post? You have been warned…
My flight out was Wednesday afternoon, so I didn’t arrive in NYC until about 10 PM. I spent most of my time on the flight fixing and building the Model seminar power point presentation. Jason picked me up and we headed to his house in south Brooklyn. Claire lets me inside the house while Jason looks for parking. She admonishes me for not giving her a hug. Then bashes me yet again for not saying Happy Birthday to her back in July. I thought I did, but then again, I was busy with AX stuff so it’s not unlikely that I did actually forget. Yeah, lesson here folks, never forget any sort of important dates when it comes to women. There’s some soup heating up on the stove so we just hang out at home and eat. J’s hungry so he makes some rice, cooks a few eggs, and throws it all together for dinner. This only serves to remind me of those times when we were young and I’d go over to his house to see him do this exact thing. Chinese folks have a saying that in “100 years, nothing will change”; the phrase is sometimes used for describing people’s personalities. After dinner, I set up my computer and I’m all settled for the coming week.
As usual, we don’t sleep at any sort of normal times. Claire has work so she goes to bed at a fairly decent time. I chat with Yuki for a little bit before she has to go to bed too. J and I ended up staying up and watching Sword of the Stranger; which J hasn’t heard anything about and I’ve only had a chance to watch the beginning few scenes. We get through that and it’s almost 6AM. The sun is rising, so it’s time to go to bed.
It’s Thursday, and I don’t wake up until about 2:30PM. I knock on his door and wake J up around 3. Yeah, I’m in a city I’ve realistically, never been to, and I’m sleeping away my time. Damn that feels good. We get up and head out to Coney Island which is pretty much spitting distance from where J lives, about 10 minutes away by car in your typical NYC traffic. We hit up Nathans for some hotdogs and chili fries as our artery clogging breakfast.
Then hit up the boardwalk and wander around the amusement park area that has recently closed up for winter. We wander around a little bit, walk on the beach, and snap some more pictures. It’s a very nice day. Much better than the crappy rain storm that I escaped from. Apparently, the days prior to my arrival was wrought with rain. It is a little humid, but the weather is bloody nice.
After wandering around Coney Island, we headed back to the house. I still hadn’t emptied my colon since arriving in NYC, so while debating on what to do, we returned home first. Feeling ten pounds lighter, J and I acquiesce to just hanging out at home until it’s time to head up to Manhattan to pick up Claire. Originally, we were thinking about hitting up B&H Photo, but given the time constraints, we just optioned to hang out at home and rest. Note to self, I need to eat more foliage.
Around 5:30 or so, we head out towards Manhattan to pick up Claire. She works near Chinatown. I snap a few pictures of the skyline as we’re heading in and crossing over on the Manhattan Bridge.
We grab Claire and J takes us down to Katz Deli. It’s about 6:40PM, and J needs to wait by the car until 7, so that he doesn’t get tagged by those stupid brownies, well, parking enforcers. These douchebags ARE NOT COPS. So Claire and I start walking. I’m still full from eating only a few hours ago, so a nice walk will do some good. We head towards Chinatown and wander around there. It smells, looks, and feels like San Francisco’s Chinatown. Walking by one of the markets, an employee is hacking open a durian, and the stench fills the air as he scoops out the stinky goodness. Claire grunts at the smell and pulls me along so as to quickly depart the widening circumference of durian odor. This takes me back to the times I’d do a day trip out to SF. It’s got a little bit of Hong Kong feel to it too, but without the masses of people all around.
Not long into our walk, we head back and return to where J parked outside Katz around 7:30. We had been wandering around about almost an hour. J regales us with a story about the car parked behind him, the driver stopped and got out of his car at 6:57, and at 6:58, one of those parking enforcers comes up and tickets the car. Well, it is a source of revenue for the city, but geeze. These douchebags have no souls. Again, they look like NYPD, BUT THEY ARE NOT. We head into Katz. Not being overly hungry, J, Claire and I share a pastrami, a plate of pickles, and macaroni salad. The pickles and macaroni are nothing to write home about, but the pastrami. Wow, damn tasty. They cut a few slices for you to taste first before making your sandwich. Granted, a $15 dollar pastrami sandwich is fairly steep, but it is damn amazing. I’m just glad I don’t live there where I can easily blow $15 a day on a bloody sandwich. Damnit, the Hat will never taste the same to me again…. Oh yeah, and they actually have a sign pointing to where Harry and Sally discussed the acting abilities of women in bed.
After Katz, the next stop of the gluttony tour was The East Village, around St Marks, where the streets are filled with NYU students and folks out and about enjoying the evening. We parked and hit up a little shack of a place that served Takoyaki and other such Japanese delights.
We walked around the neighborhood for a little, then headed back to the car. Claire did have work the next morning and I needed to get myself up to midtown for the NYCC/AF. Getting into the car, we crossed back over to Brooklyn and then headed down to the Brooklyn Bridge Park so that I could snap some nighttime shots of Manhattan.
We get back to the house and I chat with Yuki about the days events and we hang out and figure things out for Friday. J and Claire have a Gorillaz concert at Madison Square Garden, so they’re busy during the evening, and I’ll be at the NYCC/AF all day. I’ll take the Q train up with Claire the next morning, but after that, I’ll be on my own until late in the evening. I don’t actually fall asleep until about 4:30 or so because I had slept until 3 in the afternoon. The next day may be a little rough.
The alarm goes off and I get out of bed around 7:50. The plan was to be out of the house by 8. Claire’s not even awake yet. I get ready and get my stuff together. I figure, worse case, I just head to the subway station on my own. Around 8, Claire emerges and quickly gets ready in sleepy silence. We are out of the house by 8:10 or so. We get to the platform just as the Q train pulls away. Next one is the B, so we just hop on. The Q is the “express” and only differs from the B with only a few less stops. I get off at the 34th street stop and head up to some fresh air. I walk behind a guy dressed in a giant chicken suit holding a boombox blaring random music. Yeah, I’m definitely heading in the right direction, this guy has to be heading towards the convention. It’s only about 4 or 5 blocks to the convention center. I arrive around 9:30 and set up the model contest booth.
The day rolls by a bit slow. It is Friday, but I catch a few cosplayers wandering the halls and snap some pictures. Good thing I have my laptop and phone, I tethered my phone and used my phone’s wireless for my laptop. That kept me entertained for the majority of the day.
I spend a great deal of time talking to various cosplayers and folks wandering by the booth that are either interested in model building or are model builders. I recognized one of the cosplayers as being Revy from Blacklagoon and called out to her. She’s happy and surprised that someone recognized her character. This happiness is short lived as I quickly mention that she incorrectly placed Revy’s tattoo on her left shoulder, where the character has the tattoo on her right shoulder. The girl did do a good job on replicating Revy’s cutlass.
I met a few modelers that I’ve seen on various message boards. Hero from Hobbyfanatics came by and dropped off his PG 00 Gundam Riser kit. Another modeler dropped off a 1/144 diorama, and through out the day, modelers here and there dropped off their works. Chi, aka cwmodels from Hobbyfanatics also showed up and dropped off his 1/144 Hazel kit. I met a few modelers that are not on any specific forums, but hopefully will join.
Around 4:00PM, I headed down to the panel rooms for my model building presentation. The presentation went well, and I slides filled up the full hour. I threw my usual jokes and got some laughs. The group of Bandai representatives from the hobby department as well as the model R&D department showed up to check out my panel. I did notice that a few of them fell asleep during my presentation, but no worries. I didn’t really expect them to be interested in what I had to say. But a good number of the folks in the room enjoyed the presentation. At least many of them lied to me and told me so. I had a good time presenting and only wished I could have done the presentation on multiple days to get a much wider audience. Perhaps this will be something I can do next year, if I return to NYCC/AF.
Returning to the booth, there were a few new models dropped off, and I resumed my duties, chatting and promoting gunpla. Talking to random people who were definitely interested in models. I can only laugh when I see how some of the women squeal in delight over gunpla models. I definitely need to cultivate this growing trend.
A few more quick shots of some cosplayers and this ends my first day at the NYCC/AF.
After trying to figure out with the bluefin group wanted to do for dinner and waiting around, we decided to head towards midtown. I was heading towards Times Square and just seeing what they were going to do for dinner before deciding what I wanted to do. They were a little indecisive and a few of them wanted subway, so I just continued walking. I stopped by Two Brother’s Pizza and grabbed two slices, sat down and ate my meal before continuing my journey towards Time’s Square. I snapped a few shots along the way.
Getting to Time’s Square, there are just a mass of people. *sigh* Fucking Bloomberg and his goal of mimicking Paris with seats, tables and umbrellas. As if traffic wasn’t bad enough, one side of the street is closed for this tourist bullshit. It’s kinda cool, from a tourist’s viewpoint, but geeze, to be a native New Yorker and having to deal with this is retarded.
I made my way through the square stopping here and there to snap pictures on my way to Duffy Square.
Getting to Duffy Square, I sat down and just snapped a few shots while enjoying all the activity around me. There were three guys sitting behind me that had a guitar with just the bottom three strings. They were playing various songs and singing along. They were fairly social and trying to get folks around to join in their fun. I was still snapping pictures so I told them I’d join them in a few.
The group introduces themselves, John, Jim and Mary (the black dude) for which I respond with a question if he’s quite contrary, and get a smirk from the guy; I mean, serves him right for telling me his name is “Mary”. A young Chinese couple joins and we’re singing along to I’m Yours by Jason Mraz. I had to look up the lyrics for them to sing the second verse. We half-ass get through the song. Some old Chinese guy joins the group and wants to take a video of the small gathering of strangers singing familiar songs. One of the original trio members is thinking up the next song. The guy form the Chinese couple duo notices the guitar and asks where they picked the thing up, “they took it from some random homeless guy” was my response before anyone could utter a word. The two white guys are Aussies. My quips are a little too quick for Mary and he’s left speechless, and the Aussies are enjoying the quite one liners. Mary is trying to get the trio of Russian women to join us without any luck, when I suggest we sing Imagine as that particular day was Lennon‘s Birthday. “Hey, Peter, Paul, and MARY” quickly got their attention and we were well on our way to singing Imagine, well, Mary was singing. The crowd around us was being entertained and I can see some of them quietly singing along with us. It was nice. I was right in my element here. Even left alone to my own devices, I can easily meet new people and trample on their souls making fun of them, all the while making them laugh and enjoy the deprecating jokes.
The three Russian’s get up to leave and I quickly gather them to join in a group shot with the folks. Everyone and their mother hands me their camera and I’m unable to snap one on my camera. We have other folks joining the group. It was very entertaining and time seemed to zip by. I got a call from J, they were done with the concert and were asking about what I was doing. I was still in the middle of conversation and stuff and told him I’d call him back. I finish the conversations and bid everyone there a fond farewell and head down to 34th street.
I called J back and he and Claire were going to have Korean food for dinner. He gave me the location and I met up with them. Of all the Korean restaurants, they’re eating at a bloody BCD. I joined them and ordered some salads as I had already had two slices a few hours earlier. We finished a little after midnight and hit the subway home.
We get home around 1:30 and relax from the long day. After a quick shower, I chatted with Yuki while formatting and uploading the day’s pictures to my site. J was still up messing around online when I decided to crash out, and I passed out around 3:30 or so. J said that I was snoring and out within seconds of laying down. Yeah, I was a little on the tired side. I needed to wake up early the next day to catch the train into town for the second day of the NYCC/AF.
I miss my alarm but wake up around 9. The train ran a little a little late and I arrived at the convention center just shy of 10:30 Saturday morning. The winner from last year’s competition dropped off his winning kit and a few of his display pieces. This was a busy day. I had surveys to pass out and I was taking more and more entries. So here are pictures from the entries. I didn’t take pictures of the bigger entries as I couldn’t take them out of the case for still shots and there were always people around the display cases, so the best I could get around to are the quick snaps of the display cases.
But here are some close up shots of most of the individual entries:
For all the pictures I took of the models and this particular day, click here: NYCC/AF Day 2
Day 2 was definitely much busier than day 1. I started taking the kits out and snapping pictures while doing my judging on the kits around 2 just so that I can fairly get through the judging. Now a little side note, I come from the school of IPMS when it comes to judging. This means that I focus first and foremost on the basic build skills. Seams, even paint, well done decals, panel lines, etc. Aesthetics rarely ever comes into play; it’s all about how well a kit is built. In my experience, this weeds out most of the competition and I get to focus on the truly remarkable pieces of work. I was only one of three judges. The other being a model building representative from the Bluefin sponsoring company and one of the leads from Bandai’s Gunpla R&D department. My scores were very similar to that of the representative from Bandai, but I was definitely stricter in my judging. I deliberated with the Bandai folks regarding the final outcome. They had a few issues with the entries. The Hazel had parts from the Dengeki magazine give away and the Skull kit from Macross has a licensing issue – from the standpoint of the distributor. What they wanted to focus on was promoting “Bandai” gunpla. I put my foot down and said that all the kits are from Bandai and that the focus for choosing winners should be based on model building skills, not the company line. Such things are the demons that come along with a contest sponsored by a big corporate entity. But I think I was able to steer the focus towards gunpla.
The folks from Bandai had come and chatted with me earlier in the day. They told me that they attended my panel. I told them that I saw them, and that I noticed they had fallen asleep. The representative was a little embarrassed that I caught them, but it was generally understood that everyone was tired. They did acknowledge the level of technical skills towards model building that I possess from the short amount if information they got out of my workshop. And I believe that this put their minds at ease with the understanding that I’m here to promote gunpla building I think this is what also helped when I helped focus the competition towards building skills over towing the company line.
Here are some pictures of cosplayers and random things I was able to capture throughout the day.
And here are the modelers that I met. The first picture if Beertax from the Hobbyfanatics forum. The second picture is a guy that built a very nice MG Exia Destroy weathering it and hand painting it. The kit wasn’t painted in the usual sense, but the kit was very well put together. There is great potential with this modeler. The third picture is a group shot of a few folks from various message boards. The fourth picture is the guy that built the MG Zaku Johnny Ridden. The kit was completely hand painted. A very good job there.
The first picture of the bunch is Squee from the Gundam Eclipse message board, he built the Char Ball, Chun Li SD, the Ez-8, and the Crossbones X2. The next picture is me with Hero (emcreations) from the Hobbyfanatics message board. He entered the two macross kits as well as the PG 00 Gundam Riser. In the next picture is cwmodels who brought in the Hazel; and bronxrumble5 who brought in the Xeku Eins, Strum Dias, Guncannon, and The O; both are from the hobbyfanatics message board.
The winners from the contest are as follows:
U.S. World Cup Semi-Finals-New York Division
- 1. GP01 Hangar-Dan Salas
- 2. Advanced Hazel-Chi Wang
- 3. Xeku Eins Hangar- Daniel Somma
New York Regional
- 1. Char’s Ball-Chris Robledo
- 2. Johnny Ridden’s Zaku- James Michie
- 3. MG Exia Repair-Roger Liang
- 1. Guncannon-Danel Soma
- 2. Susanowo vs 00 Raiser Diorama-Hyo-Shin Lee
- 3. Nega 00 Gundam-Edwardson G. Torres
- Chun-Li (Sangokuden Gerbera)-Chris Robledo
After the contest, everyone grabbed their kits and I packed away Dan’s Gundam Hanger. I hadn’t eaten a single bit of food all day so I headed back towards the subway station and on my way back to J’s place. They were waiting for me to finish so that we could go out to dinner. I got back to his place around 8:30, showered, and we were off towards northern Brooklyn to a gastropub. I ordered some Jaeger Schnitzel and salmon cakes. I was bloody hungry having not eaten for well over 12 hours. The food was really good, and after tasting my Schnitzel, Claire decided that their next trip here, she would be eating the Jaeger. A nice dark beer accompanied dinner. After dinner, J drove us over to Junior’s Restaurant where we picked up a strawberry cheesecake. Yeah, it’s damn tasty!
Once home, I did my usual routine of formatting pictures taken, uploading them, and chatting with Yuki about the day’s events. Then hanging out with J and Claire before crashing out at about 3AM yet again.
Originally planning on getting up at 10:30 failed miserably. I ended up getting out of bed around 12:30. I wake J and Claire up. The plan for the day is to hit up the Red Hook area. J says there’s an amazing market that I must see. They have a little food court that will do us well for lunch. We get ready and head off. The place is right next to an Ikea. And yes, the place is amazing. They actually dry age their own meats and sell several cuts of dry aged meats. Then I ran into an aisle with vials of crack, er vials of vanilla beans, 2 beans per vial, and each vial costing 3 bucks. Back home, the local supermarket carries a single bean in a bottle for no less than 12 bucks, and sometimes on sale for 7. I snatch up 5 vials, which should last me a while. Baring that, I’ll just message J and have him pick me up more and ship it out to me.
I ordered a ruben and smoke salmon on a bagel. There’s a section of bagels to choose from as well. Damn tasty stuff.
After lunch, we headed out the back of the mega store to enjoy the scenery. There are three old subway cars parked in the back.
There’s an experimental garden that we wandered by as well on our way to Steve’s Key Lime pie shop.
The pie is decent, but I’m not a fan of sour things so I couldn’t truly appreciate it, plus I was beyond stuffed from lunch. We continued to walk around the place when I came to the realization why J and Claire were wearing long paints and sleeves, the damn mosquitoes. I was being eaten alive. So haver a few more quick shots, we left for the next stop.
J took us to soho so I can grab some touristy souvenirs for my friends back home. The first stop was Uniqlo which for all intents and purposes, is a Japanese Gap. Same style of clothes for the same type of clientele. Wandering up and down the place, I left empty handed. We stopped by the Yellow Rat Bastard Company, and I picked up a few shirts here. We also hit up Pylones where I picked up a nicely designed thermos for Angel and Nicky.
We continued up towards Chinatown, all the while snapping pictures as we went.
We hit Little Italy and wandered up the street. The sidewalks were full of people eating at tables placed outside. The smell was amazing.
We ended up eating dinner in chinatown at a Malaysian place. The food was pretty good but I was still full from our lunch so I didn’t eat too much. One of the waiters was a douche, and I was refusing to tip, but at the urging of J and Claire, I threw a 5 down for our forty some odd dollar dinner. I did write on the bill that it was “Under protest because the one waiter is a fucking douchebag”, it was more for the other waiters that were really cool to us. Back out on the streets, I snapped a picture to the archway entrance of the Manhattan Bridge and a few other things on our way back to the car.
On our way back, J points out this creepy ass hotel. Looking inside from across the street, one can see the cheaply built up dry walls. Damn cool looking. There are some amazing stained glass art on a homeless shelter that we passed by as well. And right near the car, is this awesome delivery van.
Inside Grand Central is equally as impressive as the exterior. There is a cool little feature at the bottom of the dinning concourse area. The arches are acoustically sound, where one can whisper at one corner and the opposing corners can hear the whisper. Kinda cool. The last picture of the group would have been more effective if the terminal was teeming with people running their the appointed trains, but traveling around at night is MUCH easier and the night pictures of New York are much more dramatic than day time pictures. And the fact that we’re usually asleep during the day kind of thwart that idea.
We continue uptown and drive by the Central Park and the Apple store. J stops and lets me out to snap a few quick pictures. The first picture is the store front for the FAO Schwartz toy store. This is where they filmed that famous Tom Hanks scene from Big with the keyboard on the ground. The store is a full New York block in length. It’s friggin big, yeah, excuse the pun… The other buildings are the Crown Building and the Waldorf-Astoria.
Returning to the car, we headed up down towards the Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall. Here there is a giant lego store, the ice rink and tons of people skating.
On our way home, we stopped off in Brooklyn Heights where J once lived when he first moved to New York. This gave me a different perspective from the previous few nights when we were at the Brooklyn Bridge park. I snapped a few quick shots and we headed home.
Returning home we took turns showering and I went through my daily rituals of formatting and uploading pictures while chatting with Yuki about the day’s events. We finished the last of Junior’s cheesecake and hung out for a while before crashing around 3 once again. As with the previous day, I set my alarm for 10:30 the next morning.
As with the previous day, I get up around 12. J and Claire wake up without my assistance and we debate what to do for the day. J convinces Claire to join us and we head out to Flushing, Queens. This is another chinatown, only mostly inhabited by Taiwanese and mainlanders. Although I do catch several people speaking Cantonese. We park in a structure and wander the place. We planned to eat at Joe’s Shanghai Restaurant which is famous for their steamed dumblings, Shao Lung Bao. Noticing the cash only sign, we head towards our respective banks to grab some cash. I also wander into the neighboring sports shop to pick up some fan gear for the local teams, NY Giants and NY Yankees. More souvenir crap. The Flushing chinatown has the same feel as the newer chinatown of San Francisco and of Vancouver. J points out the cart selling stick meat. We grab some lamb on a stick. Each stick is a buck. Damn good stick meat.
Claire went to the local bakery and picked up some breads. She grabbed some breads for my trip back home, very sweet of her. After that, we made our way to Joe’s Shanghai Restaurant. Yeah, the dumplings here are amazing. It’s unbelievable how much soup is actually in these damn things. Very good stuff.
Finishing lunch we get back into the car and head towards the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park; more recently known for the climatic scene in MiB; but historically the site for the 1939/40 World’s Fair. I snapped several shots here while being eaten alive by mosquitoes.
That globe thingy and the location of where they play the US Open. I walked until the globe to take a picture and was promptly told to get out of the fountain by the park’s security. Apparently, they only turn on the fountains during the US open as the event pays for the cost of running the fountains.
We headed back towards Brooklyn and did one last pictoral stop so that I could snap some daylight photos of the New York skyline. Yeah, night pictures are definitely much more dramatic, but with the lighting, I got some nice shots. In the last picture of the following set, the area above the BQE is Brooklyn Heights, the location where I snapped the previous night’s skyline pictures.
On our way back, we decided to stop by Fairway market again. I wanted to grab some aged meat and make dinner on my last night in NYC. J and Claire picked up the salad components and some other groceries and I grabbed some fresh lobster raviolis. We went home and dinner was prepared. J said that they have pasta sauce at home so we didn’t pick up any. Upon inspection of the pasta sauce they did have, we found a wonderful growth inside the sauce. The thing even had spikes. Lovely.
A quick jaunt down the street to the local markets netted us a new jar of pasta sauce. I need the sauce as a base that I start off with to create a special creamy tomato sauce. I fired up the broiler and the steaks were at room temperature and perfect for cooking.
The steaks went in for about 5 minutes per side. The water was boiled and the lobster raviolis went in, 6 at a time. J took care of the salad, and once the steaks were done resting, we sat down for dinner. A very relaxing and quiet end to my 5 days in New York.
Again, we ended up going to bed around 3 in the morning. I installed Windows 7 on Claire’s laptop that evening, and we watched Gundam Unicorn Episode 1 as well as a few episodes of Victory Gundam. I haven’t seen the series yet and grabbed the entire set that evening. Waking up the next morning around 6 after three hours of sleep, J emerged a few minutes after I got up and we headed out to the airport. It had started raining the previous night. A huge lightening storm rolled in and the rain came down fairly hard. In the morning, the rain had let up a bit. I got through security without any hassles and just sat at the terminal like a zombie until my flight boarded. Getting on the plane, I passed out and went in and out of sleep a few times but was sleeping soundly through most of the flight. I wasn’t nearly as tired as I was when I landed back in LA as compared to when I came back from Toronto. It’s amazing what just three hours of sleep the night before the flight can do. From the airport, I went straight to work and now returned to my usual schedule. It was a damn good trip. The parts from the FAG kit I brought were completely untouched – a good thing I think.
For all the bloody pictures I took, go here: http://gamerabaenre.com/nyc_10_2010.htm