This past Sunday was the Pasadena Modelers Society’s annual model contest, ValleyCon. A few of us from the build gathering went and entered our kits into the competition. Not all of us are gunpla builders, and congrats to Sean for his wins in the 1/48th tank, 1/350 ships and 1/700 ships categories. Brandon on in the figures category. There were tons of excellently built models across all genres of plastic/resin/vinyl. Our little niche of gunpla builders made a pretty good showing as well. I think we impressed upon the show’s chairman that not all the gunpla builders actually know one another.

Or click here if you want to read about my crazy idea that formed in my head as a result of this year’s competition participation.

The model kits. A fellow that I met at Valleycon two years ago showed. Two years ago, he had brought a PG Gundam that was nicely built. This year he brought a couple of scratch built kits, a kitbashed Sentinel Gundam, and a 1/48 Nu.

Angel brought his O kit that he had finished at 5:30AM that morning. He’s not completely finished, but close enough for the sake of the competition. He also brought along his 1/144 Exia.

Dan brought his Zaku I, the Ruby Guard GM, and his modified Cherudim.

Dan also brought Nathan’s kits to the competition.

Some of the IMPS OC club members brought along their sci-fi kits. So there were some Dougram and Mak kits in the mix as well.

And from the American scifi world. A little side note here, the C3P0 and the Sea View kit was at this show last year. Most of us like to keep to the idea that if a kit was shown at one event, that take it out of competition for the same show at a later date, unless of course there was major modifications/additions done to the kit to merit a follow on entry at the same event. It’s interesting that modelers will enter the same kit under the premise that it had not won an award previously, so a reentry is merited. I’ll bring the same kit to different shows, but never repeat a kit at the same show, unless well modified or rebuilt. Personal choice I guess.

There was some well done scratch built sci fi kits as well. I believe they are original designs, or I just don’t know where the kit came from. And the last picture shows a group of kits built from randomly found junk such as a lego box, sensor light, mouse, etc. The idea here is great, but there’s a little something missing in the execution. It’s nice to grab things, glue them together, then paint it, but taking the additional step of sanding, puttying, and possibly adding styrene strips, rods, etc to really turn the items into things completely unrecognizable. The initial idea for these builds was cool when I saw the same items a few years ago.

This is what won first place in the Science Fiction Hardware category. Granted in another competition, it would be entered into the real space category as opposed to be “science fiction”. Even more interesting, is that there was a category for rockets and artillery, and there were only two entries in that category this year. While hanging out with Dan and Brandon, I called that kit as the category’s winner. It is such a burden to be right all the time. (sarcasm)

Scifi was only a section of the show, granted it was a pretty good showing; there were tons of other models at the show. I took a great deal of pictures, but I’m positive that I didn’t get everything. Click here for the show pictures.

Nicky has our little model contest days completely figured out. Down to the end of the show when we bitch and complain that us gunpla modelers, and just science fiction in general are looked at as the red headed step child of the model building community. I tend to go to these shows for inspiration, and for the past seven or so years that I’ve been attending these contests, I’ve learned a great deal and have gotten tons of ideas and sparks of inspiration for my own projects. The whole reason I started hosting the build gatherings was to build up the gunpla category in various competitions. The reason I presented the workshops at various conventions was to promote the hobby. So inspiration hits again.

I’ve attempted and pretty much failed at trying to revive the online model a month competition. Realistically, the logistics and time spent to keep something like that running was just not worth it. But I did learn a few things from it. Models once a month isn’t feasible. Models once a year however, that would work. But why keep things online? The goal is to popularize the genre in the local community.

So here we go, *ding*… light-bulb… We do a Gundam Model Competition. No other genres of anime, yet, because for any slim chance of success, we shouldn’t bite off more than we can possibly chew or even digest. Lets start small, keep a narrow scope of focus. Granted the Gundam universe is HUGE, but we can control that with categories and such. What do we need, a venue, some vendors, trophy sponsorship, and possibly corporate backing, but I’m not too keen on that idea.

The Venue

I’m thinking if we want something this year, we’ll have to get it done around early November for this to even be feasible and enhance our chances of success. A ballroom booked at a local hotel should suffice. We’ll need to rent out table space and the room for a day. I do not expect this to be a large event, but we have to start somewhere. I envision the event to have a section for the competition, section for vendors, and a section for workshop presentations on various Gundam Model building techniques. We’ll even call this the “Southern California Gundam Model Competition” (SCGMC) just to centralize this and give the event a focus.

The Sponsors/Vendors

Again starting small and potentially building this up; we’ll need sponsors and vendors to help offset the costs of running such an event. Local shops, possibly the local gunpla distributor, etc. I think I know enough people that I can probably get this running. But we’d need sponsors to help out with trophy costs, and vendors to help out with the cost of renting the venue. Again, we’re starting small, grass roots type stuff. I will also look towards some of the local model building IPMS clubs for some input or potentially sponsorships.

I’d also like a raffle for kits type thing that’s done at the local contests. Sponsors can donate kits for the raffle and it’s another means for supporting the event.

The Competition

Again, keeping with the idea to not bite off more than we can swallow. The contest will be Gundam centric. Anything from the Gundam universe. Open for Bandai kits, resin kits, scratch builds. Categories will need to be clear, as it’ll be difficult to fully break down the categories. We have to be flexible enough for potential splits in the various categories. Main categories are as follows:

Best of Show – best out of everything

UC (everything within the scope of the Universal Century: Gundam, 80, 83, Zeta, CCA, F91, Unicorn, etc)
– 1/100 and larger: First, Second, Third
– 1/144 and smaller: First, Second, Third

AU (Seed, 00, Turn A, Wing, G, etc)
– 1/100 and larger, First, Second, Third
– 1/144 and smaller: First, Second, Third

Best Diorama, any scale.
The rules for this will be strict, the scene MUST tell a story. A single kit standing on an elaborate base is just that, a kit on an elaborate base. A kit in a hanger with people and other machines that tell a story, such as the unit is being serviced, the unit is being built, the unit is being stolen, etc. A static unit on a hanger base with nothing else is not a diorama.

Theme award, any scale
The idea here is to create a yearly theme, that overlaps the above competition. Basically a kit can qualify for one of the above categories as well compete against everything else within the scope of the theme. Ideas would be best grunt, best hero suit, best Char unit, best Amuro unit, Best Zeta, Best Seed, Best Wing, etc etc.

OOB, any scale
Best out of the box build. The same idea as the theme award, just an additional award. Kits must be box stock and only use what is given in the box. Instructions must be included as proof of participation in the OOB competition.

As it stands, I’d love to get enough participation to merit a potential of 16 or so awards. The judging criteria will still need to be discussed.

The Venue Part Deux

Can this be done? Yes. Will this be successful, I don’t know. I’d like it to be successful. The participation for such competitions at local venues such as Anime Expo and other such events has proven some level of success. The cost of participating in a multiday event is prohibitive to most. And the focus at an anime convention just isn’t there. Competing at local model contests isn’t giving us what we want either. We need a separate Gundam contest.

General admission would be something around $5. And akin to how most competitions are run, we can charge a dollar per entry, and folks will not be limited on the number of entries they bring. For those that just want to see the event, attend the workshops, and purchase kits and supplies from the vendors, they just have to pay the general admission fee.

There are gunpla modelers all over Southern California, is there enough of an interest in participating in a one day Gundam Model Contest event?

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. gundamjehutykai

    Are you mad sir??? j/k. Hope the idea takes off. I think it’s a really cool opportunity if it takes off. Sadly, there’s next to no hope of something like that happening in the UK. It’s far too niche even by niche standards!

  2. Johnny Brosnan

    Heya, GB,

    Thanks for posting the pix! The sci fi WWII scratchbuilds you reference in the pix next to my builds are the amazin’ work of Jack Hernandez. Jack is an awesome and abundantly talented scatchbuilder and modeler with a unique vision — great guy, too!

    My work was to the right of Jack’s —and it was certainly an honor as I am a huge fan of his. I showed off a new assortment of “garbage” models and the kitbashed hoverbike this year…

    Granted my style is not everyone’s cup of tea, but for me, an armor guy, this is a fun break from armor build projects which truly take forever. And I can tell you that while I do not just grab parts and slap ’em together (a lot of care goes into picking hull shapes, details, painting, etc.) many people — modelers and non-modelers alike — still do not recognize the original components.

    Cleaning up the CA residue and further disguising the components and making ’em completely unrecognizable is a sound idea, but given how these are “vacation projects” for me, I get ’em to where I want ’em — warts and all — and call it a day until there is time for the next project. And having something that is one-of-a kind, made mostly from my imagination and not from a kit (cool as kits are), and are “finished” to my taste are what make garbage modeling enjoyable for me. 🙂

    Anyway, thanks for letting me shed a little light on what I do and why I do it. Be great to meet your group one of these years. Good luck with the Gundampalooza, GB.

    Johnny B.

  3. Michael

    SCGMC sounds like a fun idea. I’m particularly in favor of the OOB award since all I do is build stock kits. Even if you don’t get sponsorships for an event and this idea doesn’t come into complete fruition sometime soon, why not do it within the monthly Gundam meets?
    No need for a venue, we can just hold it at the meet…and obviously there’ll be less categories, maybe even just one; “Best” award. And while I think it would be weird not to let everyone participate, perhaps it would be a good idea to do this for the less talented. So you and Dan could be judges or something. So it would be more of a competition towards the less skilled builders at the meet, which would be something we can work up to and in turn, get better at. And awards could be as simple as a kit.
    Anyway, don’t take any of this too seriously, I’m just suggesting something. Probably a silly idea and perhaps not enough people at the meets consistently to make this legitimate. ~_~;;

  4. Brandon

    Gundam competition. Sounds like a good idea to try at least once and see how it goes. It could be huge, it could suck… or it could start out sucking and eventually be huge. I’m down to help out.

  5. Basaka

    I would say that its what we need to grow the Gundam Model Building community. I already strive for AX every year, I think this would be a great second step. If you need help running a Convention, i’m down to assist.

  6. Sunny

    urgh I want this to happen even if i don’t live in SC. Would be great for the hobby, bring it more in the limelight. I wish Bandai could do something akin to their gundam world cups outside of Asia. Although I know that it wouldn’t be feasible :o.

  7. madgophermm5

    Between the group builds you host and now this it really makes me wish I lived on the west coast. Good Luck with all this. It sounds like a great idea.

  8. MarkW

    Me likey. I probably won’t be traveling this year, but who knows? Could make sense as part of the Bakuc circuit too.

    I’d suggest maybe one further split–Mecha and non mecha. There is an ever-growing pile of non-mecha kits, from ground vehicles to battle cruisers. Just a thought…

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