Last week, I was busy scrambling to finish up the little jungle diorama base to further the story of the GM team and their poor command unit succumbed to a prowess of a battle hardened Gouf Custom. I originally wanted to be done by Friday so that I could bring it out to AX Friday afternoon; but that didn’t pan out. I got about 70% of the trees placed by Friday afternoon before taking off to pick up Angel and head out to AX. Angel wasn’t finished with his kit either, and he brought along his unfinished pieces to work on during the con. AX was the typical, nothing out of the ordinary, but it was fun to hang out with the crew, wander the halls, and chat with the old staffer crew and just enjoy the people watching that ensued.
Starting with the state that I last left the jungle diorama; I had created a wall of sorts by stacking cut pieces of the foam board, wrapping it in plaster cloth, then texturing and covering it with paper clay. It wasn’t looking as impressive as I imagined. To remedy this, I hit up my local railroad hobby shop, and picked up a rubber rock mold and some hydrocal which is a type of plaster used with these molds. The plaster is mixed and poured into the molds and left to set. The extra hydrocal was brushed over a few rocks I had made on the base so as to waste less of the mixed plaster. I ended up passing out on the couch for a couple of hours. Time I could have much more wisely employed for work on the trees I had. But my body was telling me to slow down. The plaster rock is a much better improvement, and I padded the open areas between the two rock pieces I made with paper clay. The whole assembly was then left to dry overnight. The next day, the rocks were painted and weathered with enamels. I think this was a huge improvement over the original rock wall.
After waking up from my three hour or so nap, I painted the tree armatures. I used a few different colors to give some variance to the trees. The river on the base was also painted with different shades of green to create the illusion that there are different depths.
Thursday night started with the cured hydrocal. The rocks were weathered, and then I headed out to the local Michael’s to pick up some clear resin – the method I decided upon for the water effects. I did some research on different water effects, and since this was my first attempt, I figured I’d use a product I was most familiar with, resin. I taped up the edges of the river with masking tape and poured the mixed resin. This particular brand of resin is a very slow cure, I guess it helps for degassing; but it was a bit slower than I expected. So work on the base itself had to stop once I poured the resin. I focused on gluing foliage onto the trees, and the work for the evening pretty much ended when I finished that task.
Working my usual half day on Friday, I got home and immediately started to work on placing the trees and extra foliage. I got about 75% done before realizing that I still needed to grab the workshop presentation files and load them onto my laptop for that evening’s panel presentation. The boarders of the base still needed to be fixed, but that was the least of my worries. I scrambled to get my shit together before running off and picking up Angel.
Getting to AX, we grabbed our badges and headed to the workshops room to get my other badge. Angel has a 2 day badge for Sat and Sun, but he was helping me out with my panel, so I got an extra badge for him. Badged up, we headed to the exhibit hall to check out things. There were a few GWBC entries in the display case so I snapped a few pictures. Nothing too note worthy.
We wandered around and met up with Dan, Brandon, and Jordan after grabbing some food from the food trucks parked across from the convention center. Carts of people frying up bacon wrapped hotdogs were formed a Maginot line surrounding the entrance of the convention. The other side of the convention was completely blocked off because of the X-Games that was happening at the same time. Finishing our food and getting told by Brandon and Dan that this weekend, since it’s AX, we were sticking with “Japanese Rules” for age of consent. Finishing our food, we wandered back into the halls and went over to the Gundam Panel hosted by the usual crew from the good old Gundam.Com days. This gave me the perfect opportunity to crack open the laptop and start working on the workshop materials. A few kits were given out and Angel got a nice little Master Grade for the geekish knowledge that he has of all things Gundam. Were asked if “we” googled the answer, and sadly enough, Angel honestly actually knew. Effin nerd. Su joins us near the end the presentation and as we are kicked out of the room, the panelist and I exchange our usual once a year jabs and hellos. We head over to the new 21+ lounge. There is a long line, I decided to just sit outside and continue working on the presentation as I’ve found an electrical outlet. As I’m finishing up, the line has diminished substantially and I join up with the crew. Su stays behind and decided to nap on the chairs in the hallway. We get into the lounge and order some fairly weak drinks. The band playing is Jetpacks and Laser Guns. They’re passing out free cd’s packaged in paper bags, oh how very hipstertastic. The music was decent, but sounds like most every other indy-rock band out there. Nicky would have enjoyed this. Getting near the panel start time, I leave and head over to see a sleey-eyed Su after a GES staffer wakes her up to prevent the typical con-goer hall squatter situation. Angel joins us shortly and the three of us head to the workshop room.
My workshop was a last minute add. It was at a late time slot. It was also deemed 18+ which made some folks walking outside and seeing the panel name and age restriction laugh out of pure confusion. We had a pretty small gathering of folks and a pretty dedicated number that stayed through the entire 2 hour long presentation. The workshop staffers love me and enjoyed my presentation as usual, and I think we made a few new fans. Dan suggests that we do a PG-13 version next year at an earlier time slot on the busier day. Which means I’ll prolly end up requesting 2 events next year, the earlier PG-13, and the later 18+ version. Basic/advanced builds and a gunpla/anime figs presentation. Angel and I still had our respective kits to finish, so we headed home. We dropped by In & Out for a quick late night dinner, dropped off Su, then I dropped off Angel and got home around 1:30. Waking up the wife, I chatted with her for a bit while I quickly got back to work on the jungle base.
The rest of the trees and foliage is planted and glued down. With this done, I quickly cut strips of balsa wood and glue them to the base to hide the ugly sides. This was a quick attempt to hide the bare plywood slats as well as the exposed areas of plaster cloth and paper clay that were not painted. I really should have taken a knife and shaved down the balsa wood so that it moved along the terrain instead of boxing around it, but it was late and I needed to sleep. There were also gaps here and there between all the different pieces of balsa wood surrounding the base. I figured I could just finish this as is, and then make any updates to the kit that I wanted after AX. I crashed out around 3:30.
The next morning, I got up around 11:30 when Angel texted me. I get a text from Brandon around noon. Angel and Nicky arrive at my house near 1 and we head out, stopping by a Subway for lunch to go before reaching AX around 1:45 or so. Angel brings his Marasai w/Ballute and his Duel. I bring the Jungle Bunnies. There are more entries, and Dan’s filled the case with his players from the SCGMC diorama we collaborated on, as well as the 1/48 scale Zaku that he built for Robot4Less. There are two other kits from Martin that belong to Robot4Less, the weathered GM and Guntank. Vinh has brought his God Gundam with fixes that Angel suggested to him in regards to overly shiny thrusters. Also new in the case is the Wing diorama that is very nicely built. Angel and I get our respective kits set up and I snap some pictures. And finally have some pictures of my semi finished Jungle Bunnies diorama as well as the Marasai Ballute.
We start wandering the hall and Dan joins us as well as Brandon and Jordan. We lose Nicky to the Artist Alley. Brandon does his best impression of Dennis Hopper’s Kurtz disciple. Angel, Dan, and I get a quick picture in front of the still yet undamaged Unicorn.
The guys decide to check out the hall, so I take this opportunity to head over to the exhibit hall staff booth and eat lunch and chat with the x hall manager. Talking with some of the x hall staffers and the manager, they want me back as manager next year, so we’ll see how that goes. I don’t mind it and so long as I can get the time off work; I told them that I will do it if they want me back. Catching up on most things, I’m amused by one of the newer staffers who just happens to be a renny too (think carny, but in Renaissance regalia). She’s outfitted in a flying squirrel jumpsuit and hopping around which made me notice a few things. I asked, and she happily affirmed that she was indeed nekkid under the jumpsuit. Yep, renfair written all over this one.
I rejoin the guys in the video room as they’re getting ready to watch House of Five Leaves. I get through 3 of the episodes and completely pass out during the 4th. Angel texted me and tells me that the rally us going and I should check it out. I head out right as GES is ushering folks back into the hall from outside which would have been the perfect vantage point for some nice pictures. It looked like they were doing test runs, so I snapped a few pictures from inside. The best of what I could do with the angle and environment.
Inside the hall, this location was also perfect for the stalker lens. Side boob, horrific cosplay, and general shots abound.
We rejoined the the group sans Dan and wandered the halls snapping pictures of various cosplayers. We ran into Arin as well as Andrew.
We left around 6:30 to meet up with Yuki for dinner. It was a fairly relaxing evening and we got some decent sleep before waking up and doing this all over again on Sunday. This time, Yuki came along with us. Brandon wasn’t around, but Jordan was, and Ed joined us. We sorta split of for various things to do on our own and only really met up during the GBWC judging. The judging took quite a while as the folks from bandai were arguing amongst themselves. Some of the judges recognize me and I’m given a few nods and waves. None of us understood Japanese so we stayed away and just waited, and waited. But they finished and announced the winners. Best Out of the Box went to the Wing diorama builder Kevin, who came down last year with Tatsu Hobby for SCGMC. A very nicely done diorama. Best 1/144 went to my Jungle Bunnies dio. Best 1/100 went to Martin’s Guntank, and Best of Show went to Angel’s Duel. Looking at the points breakdown, Angel scored 730, I got 720, and Dan’s Gulliver’s Zaku impromptu dio got 710 with Martin’s Guntank scoring 680 or so. Unfortunately, Dan’s category was up against mine and I only eeked him out because mine was only slightly more finished than his. Granted the Zaku belongs to Robot4Less, I don’t think he could do much to it in terms of building up an actual diorama with it as a center piece “Gulliver”. We were all given kits signed by the Bandai staff. I’m adding this to the pile of kits for the raffle at SCGMC.
So, now for the side notes. This is purely my own opinions. First off, it did kind of bug me that R4L decided to enter Martin’s kits. He almost wanted to enter them as his own as he’s the owner. Yet he’s not the builder. Dan entered the kits on behalf of Martin. But still, I think the spirit of the contest is a little lost here as Martin builds just for his own pleasure, and for all intents and purposes, isn’t really a gunpla fan. The guy’s an armor builder that just picked up a few gunpla kits. He’s a great modeler, no questions there. But he wasn’t there during the judging, wasn’t there to enter his own kit, and wasn’t there to receive his award. R4L was. There are true hardcore gunpla fans that enter by proxy because they just cannot attend the event. Martin showed up and looked at his kits in the display for a few minutes and was gone. I’m pretty sure he spent about an hour at the con. I don’t mind him entering the contest. The problem I have is that I honestly believe that Martin was probably told after his kits were already entered, that he was entered into the contest. I fully support R4L as it’s a local gunpla brick and mortar shop, but goddamn, R4L’s business sense and just how the guy thinks just bugs the shit out of me. Regardless of how strange he is to me, R4L definitely needs our support from the gunpla community, hell model building community in general.
Now on to the second issue. Bandai. Had I not been told and seen some of this bullshit in person, I wouldn’t be so ready to jump down this path. But again, my beliefs are purely that, my own goddamn opinions. Fact, after the winners announcement, one of the Bandai reps pulls me aside and the first thing he tells me is that the winning entry in this contest cannot make any changes to the kit. From this point on, and especially if it wins the GBWC US rep spot, NOTHING ON IT CAN CHANGE. Okay, I didn’t win, why tell me this? Angel’s not even within ear shot, go tell him; for which they do later, and I over hear it. Regardless, I do chuckle a little because apparently, some folks were quite annoyed that I “changed” my entry last year. On a side note, I wasn’t going to alter my entry. I was actually told by the distributor that I should add a nice little base. For all I knew, this seemed logical, you get qualified, then you make little updates to better prepare yourself for the final competition. But no, rules are that once you win a competition, it must remain as is if you continue to the higher level competitions. Which is fine, at least they’re telling us ahead of time and making the rules clear. But again, why tell me?
Then the next thing they tell me; that there are 2-3 more competitions for the qualifying US rep spot. Yeah, I already know this too, at the very least, Otakon and NYCC/AF. He specifically tells me that Angel’s kit is the winner for AX, and hence cannot make any changes to his kit. Then the Bandai rep tells me, that I should enter in on of the upcoming competitions. Something I had no intention of doing. Hell, I just spent the week throwing the little diorama together just to throw something into this contest; gotta support this contest; after AX, I’ll finish it and enter it/show it at SCGMC or IPMSOC Orange Con. My Dreissen dio is what I originally was working on as a real entry into GBWC. It then dawned on me, the little bastards want me to fix up and finish my diorama and re-enter it. That way, if it does win at another competition, there will be no need to make fixes to the unfinished project. WOW, seriously? That’s just fucked up. Again, purely my own opinion – they were standing there arguing between my kit and Angel’s kit to take best of show. Angel has all the intentions of rebuilding the bridge idea, even before AX, he wasn’t overly happy with how it came out and was fully planning on just redoing it all, save for the Duel. Now this happens. Bandai basically decided to lock up one kit, so that the other kits can be “finished/changed” and entered into another qualifier contest for GBWC. Shady ass move. But again, this is only my opinion and speculation given the conversations that I had. Then again, given what I’ve seen Bandai do at GBWC, no surprises here.
SGCMC, no agenda there, come compete! And for the rest of the pictures I took at AX, go here: Anime Expo 2012
The original intent of this project was to have something for fun in the AX contest. Even completed, I don’t believe it would win the US rep spot, and if it did, it’s got a snowball’s chance in hell against the entries from the other countries. Again, the real competition piece is the Dreissen dio that’s currently in a suspended state of progression. Life’s too damn busy this year for a heavy focus on gunpla *sigh*.
Okay, rant mode off; back to the project at hand. We left to con around 7. The car ride kinda smashed some of the trees on the dio. So a repair job is absolutely necessary. Getting home after dinner, I snapped a few pictures and started working on cutting away the excess wood so that it matched the terrain. The trees were fixed, and I re-glued some of the balsa wood to reduce the gaps.
One of the really detracting issues on the balsa wood frame is the gaps.
I grabbed some paper clay and started filling in all the gaps around the base. Once this dries, I can sand the frame smooth and then stain it and paint in the details and foliage along the edges and it should complete the project.