A group of us went to Phoenix last week for the IPMS Nationals 2018. I got invited by some folks I’ve known in the IPMS AZ club to do a few seminars, one on advanced weathering and one on gundam model building. We rented out a house in the lovely town of Gilbert AZ that had 3 AC units powering the thing as well as a nice pool. This sorta helped us cope with the average daily temperature of 113° F. Hot doesn’t even begin to describe the feeling under the sun. The wife and I drove out with the three boys in tow Wednesday morning. We would spend a few days at the contest and a day up in Sedona doing some hiking, and all the while, drinking, eating, and playing GBO2 at the house.

More after the jump.

The trip started out just normal. We got into blazing Phoenix around 3 and just unpacked and checked out the house. We had 8 of us because one couple had to drop out, which wasn’t a big deal. The wife and I were the first to arrive, so we went around to make sure everything was functional. The dogs were watered and “walked” and I got a few of my dailys in for GBO before we headed out to the convention center to register for the show. I had a 9:00AM seminar on advanced weathering to give so I needed to make sure I got registered. The wife was starving since all we at on the trip over was a can of pringles and whatever liquids we had in the car. So she’s a trooper for dealing with my horrible time management. I get into the hall and just leave the kits in the car. Since I wasn’t planning on doing any set up. I just wanted to get registered. I got into the line and about 5 minutes into standing, they cut the line off for anyone else that wanted to register.

This is pretty standard. I saw this happen when I helped out at IPMS OC’s turn at hosting the Nationals in 2007. Glad to see that nothing has changed in how to improve the process. I’m not knocking anyone for the actually well organized event. It just something that goes with the territory for this kind of event that is hosted by different clubs/locations from year to year. So with so much riding against them, it’s done nicely. But due to all the constraints and the average age of the folks organizing the event. It’ll be surprising to see anything change in regards to getting folks registered and on their way in any sort of timely manner. Having run our own SCGMC, we understand how difficult it can be; especially on a scale as large as the nationals event. So kudos! But my experience with the nationals event is only 2 so far, and over 10 years in between, so I what I say here needs to be taken with a huge block of salt.

Walking into the hall, I’m immediately greeted by a modeler that I had never met but are friends with on FB, he too is in line to register. While waiting, I get to chatting with some of the organizers and find out that they also know who I am, or at least tell me that they know of me. Maybe it was my age, but they knew I was one of the gunpla builders. It’s plausible they were just being nice. But if they really did know about me, that’s pretty damn cool. Guess being a loud mouth and in this damn hobby as well as associated with IPMS for so long, has it’s upsides.

I get registered and Armita shows up at the hall from her drive starting in San Diego by way of Yuma. She got through Yuma by 2:40 so I guess she didn’t want to wait the half hour for the photo op moment of 3:10 on her car’s clock and “Welcome to Yuma” sign in the background. Wasted pop culture opportunity. We head back to the house to take care of the dogs then head out to eat dinner… which is technically the wife and I’s first meal. Places close a bit early in family friendly Gilbert, so we find a place that stays open late called Joyride Taco. We get there and, yeah, we walked into the hipster hell. The place has those glass garage doors that slide up to their empty patio because it’s still 106°F. There’s all sorts of Star Warsâ„¢ pop art peppered on the walls and the staff looks like they abhor the thought of being with men. Tacos made by a white hipster kid should never be written/said in the same sentence. Back to the house and we hang out, I get some GBO in and crash.

The next morning, Armita and I head into the convention center. An attempt at breakfast failed initially because the closest place only had 1 cook show up to work, so we ventured further to get our breakfast. The weathering panel was fun. The look of surprise from the audience when they realized some kid that makes gunpla was going to teach them how to weather. Some kid, because while I’m pushing 43 and have been building models for over 35 years; is nothing in comparison to the white haired folks that have almost twice that experience. But they sat through the entire presentation and asked questions while taking notes and may have actually learned something new. Or at the very least, gained at little more respect for gunpla builders at our level. I think they enjoyed the seminar. A few folks came up to me while I was setting up my kits to thank me for the presentation. From my experience doing panels over the last 10 years, I’ve gotten pretty good at public speaking. And hell, I enjoy it. It still feels damn good to get validated.

We did some slight wandering in the vendors hall and see the AZ Gunpla table with a bunch of their kits. The table isn’t manned so I grab a bunch of our flyers and drop them off at the table. I also grabbed one flyer and write a note to the group that “TGG says hi” and added a little heart. They were still baffled by the flyers and thought it was accidentally dropped off there because, you know, gunpla. But we’re just trying to have some fun with the group. Angel and I will be back in the oven later this month for Sabotencon; so we’ll definitely hang out with that crew more.

While all this is happening, TGG Fredo drops the bomb that the wedding he needed to attend that took him off the availability list for this trip got canceled – a whole 2 days before the damn event. So a bit of scrambling and he’d be on his way with Angel as co-pilot Friday morning. We head back to the house just in time for the second crew of Manny, Gene, Helen, and Brandon to show up. They’re hungry so we went back out to DTG (downtown Gilbert) and hit up the place across the street from the taco place that will not be named; Joe’s Real BBQ. Pretty cool place, and cafeteria style BBQ. I enjoyed it, but the wife, not so much. She’s not been too impressed with food in Gilbert. We split off from here and the women folk and I hit up costco for supplies to be consumed over the next few days while the rest of the crew head to the convention center to register and set up their kits.

Back at the house, we use the pool and try to get the boys to swim. I grabbed Bob and Ken and brought them carefully into the water but they’re not really enjoying it too much. Bob even less than Ken, but Ken seems like he wants to jump in. And does. Well, by jumping in, I mean he fell in; multiple times. So it cannot all be accidental. Bob manages to fall in as well. I think a few more session with the pool will get them less afraid of the water and enjoy it more. The wife catches one of Ken’s falls and hilarity ensues.

Here’s the fun edited video of the above freeze frame.

While swimming the sky gets dark and our phones start going off with emergency warning. Yay, it’s a haboob. And we make our way inside because, well, it was the recommended thing to do. We start getting updates from the crew coming back from the convention center and they’re trying to outrun the haboob. The first picture is from the crew and the second is from twitter of a guy in a helo out running it and snapping the amazing shot.

We do dinner and some drinking and make plans for Friday. Two packets of Pisco sour are consumed. The wife wants to hit up Sedona. It’s only about 135 miles away. One by one, everyone but Armita are in, only because she has a conference call. We get up at 4:30 or so and head out at 5AM. The Sedona area is much cooler. I guess the folks didn’t read the memo for potential hiking inferred in the “do other things that are not model related” in the early planning stages of the trip way back in January. All of us wear the incorrect shoes and some incorrect clothing. But it isn’t too bad. Tons of beautiful scenery here and it’s much cooler at upper 70’s in the morning hours. We hit up Red Rock Crossing first. It’s shaded and we hike a relatively flat area along the creek snapping pictures of scenery, wildlife, and everything in between.

After a few hours here, we head up around the corner to Cathedral Rock. And wander up the rocks to get a view and see how far we can climb. Here are a few shots as I climbed.

I was pretty drained when I got to the second to last plateau. So I caught my breath and snapped a few more pictures of the valley below me before heading back down to meet up with the rest of the group. The sun bearing down on us was also draining. It wasn’t Phoenix hot, but it wasn’t comfy hot either.

It was getting near noon so it was time to head back. 4 and a half hour drive, and about 4 and a half hours of hiking/climbing. Next trip will require a local stay to better get some of the pictures during golden hours. I think Brandon wants to come back here with his film cameras and fully immerse himself with the power of the vortexes. This means Manny will need to bring Rina because I don’t believe she’s ever been and will want to come. So who knows, maybe another group trip; when it is much cooler and off season. The rest of my Sedona pictures are here: Sedona 2018.

We get back to the house as Fredo and Angel get to the convention center to register and setup. I start prepping for dinner and half the crew head out to the convention center to check out the vendors and the contest. The folks that stay back all end up passing out. Eventually, they all get back to the house and we have dinner followed by swimming and drinking in the dark because we are not able to find the switch to turn out the outdoor accent lighting. I get out and finish up the gunpla presentation that I have to give the following morning. More GBO2 is played as I keep to at least finishing up my daily’s for the rewards. We don’t have to get up too early the next morning, but early enough to get my ass to the con by 8:30 so I can set up for the presentation.

There are a few modelers and their kids at the seminar. Funny because I tailored the presentation to the older IPMS demographic. One guy has purchased a few gunpla kits and was actively taking notes while I spoke and went through the presentation. I think I surprised a few folks with the knowledge. I also brought it back around to basic plastic model building practices and showed them how those techniques are applied to gunpla. There were some new technologies that a few folks asked me about later and were definitely going to add those to their collections such as the die cutting machines. A great number of older builders thanked me for the presentation and my wife overhead some of them talking later that day about how well the presentation went. I didn’t get a chance to sit in on other seminars that I had planned to because there was just so much to do. I think this is a mark of a great event that offers so much that you cannot possibly do everything. It keeps folks coming back. This is something we try to do for SCGMC. Just bombard them with things that they is always something to do withn the span of a few hours the Saturday of Veteran’s day weekend.

I ran around and snapped pictures of kits that interested our circle of influence. And snapped pictures of things I thought were cool. There were over 2.4k model kits and I snapped a little over 550 pictures, so yeah, I didn’t get back 1/4 of the entries. Here are a few things I found very cool.

Thes rest of the 550 pictures are here: IPMS Nationals 2018 Gallery.

From the group, Brandon picked up 4 awards, 3 second places for his three figure kits and a 3rd place for his Y-wing. THere were a ton of Ys entered so this is a damn fine achievement. Angel picked up a 3rd place in the Gundam category for his Nightengale and I picked up the 1st for the Shiki; go team Char!

I met and chatted with a lot of modelers over the weekend and to come away with an award is just icing on the cake. Having the group there to hang out with and do stupid shit was the best part of everything. I think the wife and I will try to organize another trip out to Sedona sometime in the future. Our outing there was a little but rushed and not completely thought out ss we will definitely need to make a return trip; at least stay over night there and catch the golden hours for optimal photography.

Angel and I will be returning to AZ at the end of the month for Sabotencon. So if you guys missed up this past weekend, come by and say hi when we’re out there for Labor Day weekend!

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