Anime expo has come and gone and I’m finally getting around to uploading the pictures I took from the two days I went and writing a little bit about the event. This was a great year for gunpla. Katsumi Kawaguchi came out to AX and along with a panel of Bandai folks did the judging at the AX leg of the GBWC USA Regions. That was pretty cool. They hosted a few Gundam and Gunpla panels. We also hosted our usual Gunpla building panels for all ages and the infamous 18+ panel as well. There was a new group that had a booth at AX this year. A group called Simp, and from our chatting with the folks there, they are a group that builds commission gunpla models and have started their own shop as well as selling some GK gunpla kits too. They had a pretty impressive display of built kits at the booth. Speaking of commissions, I had promised a guy that contacted me that I would start working on his figure commission in July (after I was done with AX and the GM Sniper project). So now that that’s done, the kit arrived today and I started to get cracking on it. The customer has some specific ideas so hopefully I can build to his expectations.

More about AX, our panels, AX GBWC, and the Saber commission after the jump!

First off, we are lucky enough to have Kawaguchi and crew judging our leg of the GBWC. After learning that Bandai and Sunrise were coming to AX, I submitted my GM Sniper into that contest. I was contacted by bluefin telling me that I couldn’t enter because I had already won at Akon. I pleaded my case for wanting to enter and forfeited the win at AKON so that I could be judged by a different group. I also believed that the competition was going to be MUCH tougher. Bluefin graciously allowed me to forfeit the AKON win and enter. I ended up winning 3rd place behind Mike’s Jesta Diorama and Nate’s Entry. Bandai and Sunrise awarded prizes to entries that they felt embodied the essence of GBWC in what I understand as a means to encourage folks at different levels to continue to compete and think outside of the box. Below are the two winners for Bandai’s Choice and Sunrise’s Choice.

Nate did an amazing job on his entry and I didn’t really get to look much at it either. But from the pictures and zooming in, there is a ton of work that is pretty much what Bandai looks for in a GBWC entry. That outside the box thinking and creating something with completely new with their kits has been an ongoing trend in winners and finalists.

Mike did a fantastic job on his diorama as well. Lots of great details. This is his 3rd diorama so it’s great to see him continue to grow as a builder. Looking at previous works, there’s a definite style that he embraces. This style definitely wins at IPMS type shows, however, I think the creativity in Nate’s build eeked him out of the top spot this year.

I got third place with my entry that I spent a little bit of time fixing up from when I brought it to Akon. I’m quite happy with the results. There were a great number of fantastic entries at AX this year. I think it is one of those things that we can thank SCGMC for since a good number of the entrants also participate in SCGMC over the past several years.

Again, it was awesome to have Kawaguchi and folks from Bandai do all the judging for their own competition. In the past, Bluefin staff has had to lead the judging with additional judging from a few Bandai folks. So this is great to see them take complete ownership. This would be a great thing if such judging can happen at ALL GBWC USA regions – but with the current design of the contests as it exists in the US, this is completely unfeasible.

The compromise of expanding the reach of GBWC and getting more folks the opportunity to compete is that the judging and organization becomes very thin; since the focus ends up being spread so thinly. The contest already has to compete against the convention itself. There are costs associated with getting to one of these conventions as well. Not just for the attendees, but for the promoters and organizers. Their main focus is the business – so it just always results in the contests getting brushed aside. It seems to have become a troublesome part of the convention. Its tough to run a competition. Its tough to run MULTIPLE competitions. With GBWC, you get a spotlight and nothing you do is accepted by everyone. It’s a tough spot. There really isn’t an easy solution that will please everyone.

It has been several years of this style of GBWC in the US. I do not know how much longer they can or will continue to promote this marketing piece of the hobby. Looking at how other countries have done this competition – maybe it is time to use that model. Instead of multiple anime conventions, host a single event focused on GBWC. Not a regional competition buried under the mess that is an anime convention. Resources could be pulled together and we may get better focus. But it will unfortunately cut down on the number of participants because the reach is no longer there. Again, tough call. Regardless, I’m hopeful that Bandai sees that there are folks that are serious about gunpla and in turns pours more support to the hobby as it exists in the US.

Moving away from gunpla, I snapped a few shots of the Volk’s booth. Our very own Bhop (Brandon) accepted a commission from Volks to build one of their display pieces; the KOG Schpertor. They had some other display pieces and I didn’t get a chance to take a closer look; but it looks like they’ve gotten a few good builders for their display pieces.

Here are some more pictures from the folks at SIMP. We chatted briefly with the folks there as we’re always interested in bring in more vendors. Our current venue limits the number of vendors we have and I believe that we’ll need to shop for bigger venue for SCGMC next year. We need to continue to reach out to more vendors as we continue to grow. We currently have a list of vendors on a waiting list, and it would be great if we could add everyone and accommodate all the folks interested in SCGMC – but we’ll have to wait until we lock down a bigger venue before we can start pursuing that goal. The folks at SIMP have some pretty cool stuff.

Speaking of commissions, here’s the Saber bride kit from Volks that I received yesterday. The kit comes together fairly easily, but there are a few gotchas. I did a quick test fit as well as some quick pinning to get a good look and feel for everything. The customer has requested a special paint scheme, so I’m still finalizing a few bits on that. In the meantime, I can get to work on the clean up. I’ve already thrown a few pieces into some industrial purple cleaner so that I can get to gluing and filling on some of the major pieces. Prior to that, I got most of the major parts together and snapped a few quick pictures. Always test fit!

Returning to Anime Expo, below are the rest of the entries at this year’s AX GBWC regional.

A group of us went to the Gunpla panel by Bandai/Sunrise. It’s quite different from our own panel but that was expected. There was a small amount of building information but the majority of the panel was a giant gunpla commercial. Granted, our own Gunpla building panels are giant commercials for SCGMC; but I think we get a little more information for build techniques for our 1.5 hours, 3 if you count both panels. They had some videos for their products. And we had some of our own.

This is what I get for leaving a build gathering and letting the guys film stuff for SCGMC promotion without adult supervision. BUT, this is frigging great! They also make sure it was a surprise to me and filmed my reaction when we played this at our Gunpla for Adults panel. I was seeing it for the first time like our audience.

We have an amazing crew of folks at TGG, and these videos worked to remind me of that. We had a very successful 18+ panel. It seriously lifted my spirits because I was still pretty pissed off at how the all ages panel went the previous day.

We had one of our members booted from AX because he was passed out drunk in the hallway outside our panel while the panel was happening. He was one of our speakers, PART of the goddamn panel! After the fact, there was a little bit of an explanation for his actions one of which was a family emergency. I had talked to him at the GBWC awards event less than a hour before the panel. It was here that he told me about the issue and I told him that it was ok for him to leave to deal with the family issue. I also noticed that he was “off” and called him out on it; for which he then loudly and proudly confirmed that my observation was 100% correct; all the while trying to get me to drink some of his “soda”. It’s sad that I’ve gotten used to this behavior. But I didn’t think it was THAT bad. He assured me that he’d be at the panel on time.

Fast forward to the panel. He does show up, I don’t remember if he was on time or not – but I had made it explicitly clear that everyone needed to be there 15 minute prior to the official start of the panels. He chats with me and the audience then props himself up along with the other panelist. The panel begins and he’s falling asleep and leaning into another panelist. And soon enough, he just gets up and leaves. The TGG panelist are snickering and I’m told that they believe drunk boy has pissed himself. I laugh at this too because, anyone pissing their pants is funny. Hell, that stupid kid that ran out into the street and hit my car with his little razor scooter; laid out and crying on the pavement with his cracked helmet and pissed pants was funny too. But I was focused on the panel and I figured he had left to go clean himself up. However, not long after the disappearance, I get a picture to our TGG at AX group chat. That fat drunk fuck is passed out in the hallway right outside the panel. It’s still kinda funny. Another panelist gets up to go take care of the passed out bag of shit. And this panelist is pretty much gone for 90% of the panel. The count of 5 panelist is now down to 3, including me.

It’s fine, I’ve ran this panel for 11 years with the majority of the time doing it solo. So we push on. Eventually at one point, the other 2 panelist are gone as well. WTF. We went from a panel of 5 speakers to 1 on stage. Perfect. Yes, I’ve done the panel alone before. That’s not the issue. The issues is that the one fucking douche completely threw off our panel. The live programming manager came to me, made sure my mic was off, and then told me that security has been called to take care of the incident. In all my years doing panels at AX, I’ve built up a reputation and have been welcomed back EVERY year. The manager reassured me that the actions of the passed out manatee in the hall did not reflect on me – but still, everyone I bring up as a “panelist” is representing TGG. It is a reflection on me. Especially the guy outside, laying down, snoring, and wearing an elephant sized advertisement for TGG.

Excuses for the family issues, anxiety over GBWC which required prescription medicine, and then drinking about a full bottle of alcohol in a span of 3 hours as the perfect storm of shit to go wrong? You fucking kidding me? I had told him that it was alright for him to leave at least an hour before our panel began. I now know that most if not all of the conversation was a fuzzy black haze because he doesn’t remember anything. I’ve been sitting on this for a week as I didn’t want to make a post with raw emotions. I’m sure the guy is still dealing with his family issues and that should absolutely come first. Hell, that should have come first when the issue first came to light. It’s not that this is something completely new and out of character. I think that’s the saddest part of all this. As a group, I do not believe any of us are really surprised at this outcome. I’m just seriously disappointed. The trust is gone and what little amount of “benefit of the doubt” has whittled away.

I will not let one fuck up ruin it all. We had another panel the following day. I wanted to go back to AX a little earlier to check out the convention a little more, but the motivation was gone. I didn’t come back to AX until late the next day; and effectively, I only came back for the panel. I was pretty full of piss and vinegar and wanted to yell and scream at my fellow panelist for what happened yesterday. I tried to suppress this and let the guys know that I wanted to have a meeting before the panel to discuss issues. They’d already known about the video – so I’m sure there was a small amount of fear that their plans would completely backfire; because I’m sure they could see my anger still seething within. Again, all thanks to the “let’s pee my pants, pass out in the hall, and get kicked out of AX by security on an ambulance stretcher” hippo, and the fallout from the incident. I think the crew was relieved that I just touched on a few issues from the day before and that I was more focused on improvements for the panel that was going to start in 30 minutes. The panel started, and right off the bat we got the new infomercial out and things were immediately back to normal. I’m reminded that I am truly lucky to be surrounded by such a loving and caring TGG family. We had an amazing night that completely eclipsed the previous day’s issues.

Now I just need to finish this commission, the exceed Zaku head, and possibly another resin figure and focus all our energies on SCGMC 2017!

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