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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Back to the Unicorn !

Test build is finished!

And has been for some time. In fact, I have been neglecting to post updates for the Unicorn and for that I am sorry. At the moment, my Unicorn looks more like this:

I have actually been able to put time in most night, thanks in part to my wife taking a trip for three days to see old friends in Kyoto. Which means I have done quite a bit of work and have been progressing through the build at a steady pace.

You don't see the hands in these shots as I haven't bothered to test build them. I will be doing the finger mod and then painting them sometime soon. I am not in a rush for that part at the moment. I hope I don't forget and have a handless Gundam, though.

I have actually moved on to the painting of the frame while I prepare the armor.

Here's the half the frame parts and the pieces of the psycho frame that needed to be redone.

And here are some odds and ends such as extra frame parts, psycho frame parts that have been topcoated, and some pieces of the weapons.

In an effort to make the psycho frame really stand out I have decided to gloss top-coat the psycho frame pieces while flat top-coating the frame and armour parts.

The frame is Tamiya TS-38 Gun Metal. Due to the way the kit is engineered, I can spray the arms as one piece.

And the legs in the same way.

Uh oh! Here I go again....

Yup. Masking. This is part of the shield.

The other night I glued the rifle pieces together so the seam lines can be removed.

However, before doing so I had to check carefully the way in which it is assembled. If I glue the pieces together, will I be able to assemble it after the painting process is completed? The short answer is, not quite. However, there's always a solution to be found when you work with plastic which you can cut, distort, shave, file, and glue back together again after making a mistake with your cutting, distorting, shaving, and filing.

Here's the piece that would cause a problem.

In order to allow this to slide into the front pieces of the rifle, which are now glued together, I took my nippers and cut the edges into an angle, somewhat like an arrow.

With this angle, I can start pushing it into the groove inside the rifle parts and it will only place stress on the pieces at the last moment when the widest part goes in. Hopefully my glue will hold, but doing some tests with it revealed that if the parts do start to open it will only be at the edge of the rifle parts and these parts are covered by another piece later on. I think it will work, but can't say for certain.

I have also test built and modified the backpack to fit the aftermarket thrusters.

Yes, that will work nicely.

And the backpack has been painted and gloss-coated in preparation for decaling.

That is Tamiya TS-28 Olive Drab 2. While I think that colour looks dead sexy, I don't know if I will use it for the feet. I may have my feet be the same colour as the rifle and bazooka (TS-48 Gun Ship Gray). TS-28, 38, and 48? That wasn't planned in advance. I swear.

I intend to custom decal this kit like I did the Sinanju, however, I noticed when looking at the manual that the decals for the backpack are all dry-transfers. As this is the case, I will use them for the backpack and add some others if I feel it is lacking something.

Another thing I hadn't planned on doing when I originally was thinking colour scheme, was to have this kit be two different colours or tones. However, looking at the kit for a good length of time and noticing how many angles and pieces there are for the outer armour, I thought that it may break it up a bit to have two different tones of Gray be my colours. Once I start painting the armour and evaluating the effect I will let everyone in on what colours they are.

One sad piece of news I should mention. I lost piece A-14. The smallest piece of the entire kit. I had attached it to a stick in order to topcoat it and as I was pulling the lid off the top-coat can the motion must have caused it to fall. As it didn't make a sound I didn't notice until I went to spray it. Moving everything in my room and cleaning the floor, desk, chair, and work table failed to turn it up. What sucks about this is that Bandai will only replace psycho frame pieces by the entire runner. If I want to have Bandai replace the smallest part of the entire kit, I would have to pay 1,000 yen for the entire A runner. No.

Luckily for me, Lupes has offered to send me that piece, thus saving the project and the universe at the same time. We are all indebted to you, kind sir.

Friday, March 26, 2010

My job at HobbyLink Japan

It's awesome!

(That's my car in the front of the shot, btw. Oh wait! I am missing a hubcab...)

As many of you already know (and now everyone else does) I work for a company which sells Japanese anime, manga, and hobby related products via the internet. Or to put it simply so everyone knows what I am referring to, I WORK FOR HOBBYLINK JAPAN! And it's awesome! Oh wait, I already said that.

Some people have asked what my job entails and more specifically how it relates to Gunpla. Having asked for, and received, permission to blog about my position I am going to use this blog entry to tell everyone a little about what I do each day.

If I had a job title it would be 'Wholesale Account Representative'. Sound fancy, doesn't it. That's because I made that title up for myself, so I feel important. Aside from retail, HobbyLink Japan also has a wholesale department for businesses who wish to purchase large amount of products at less than retail prices. My job is to take orders from wholesale customers, co-ordinate shipments, track down hard to find products, occasionally offer input and/or advice on product lines, and so on and so forth. While that may not sound too exciting, I will remind you that I AM SURROUNDED BY GUNPLA!!!

I have a confession to make. When I first started here I didn't really know what Gundam Plastic models were. I am an action figure guy. Before moving to Japan I had amassed a very large collection of various action figures and had them packed securely away in boxes or hanging all over my apartment walls. Star Wars, Mcfarlane Toys, Final Fantasy. You name it, chances are some kind of figure variation was in my apartment somewhere. I sold everything to move to Japan.

Shortly after starting my employment here the first indication, for me, that Gunpla was enormously popular, was seeing a whole truckload of Master Grade Sinanju hit our warehouse and piece after piece being packed and shipped out at rapid pace. I also started noticing that a large amount of the wholesale customers I am responsible for were ordering Gunpla. And lots of them.

"Why are these so popular?", I thought.

So I decided to try one out and see for myself. That first one, the MG Shin Musha Gundam (the one that inspired me to start this blog), set the hook and now I cannot get free, even when I tell myself that I have better uses for my time and money. Hobbies are like that. Then I started reading into Gundam plastic models on various internet forums and blogs and discovered that you don't just build Gundam models, you can also paint them and customize them as well! Now I will never get free...

But back to job...

Here's some shots and commentary to give an idea what a day at HLJ is like for me.

First off, here is the most important spot in the entire building. This is where the magic is created. Well, to be more truthful, this is where my daily drinks are created. It's the vending machine area.
I usually hit this place first thing in the morning to grab some kind of tea (I don't drink coffee). There's nothing like a good FREE drink to get you going.

And here's my desk. As you can see, um.. ya, this is definitely my desk.

It was thursday yesterday which meant new Gunpla releases! Knowing thursday is new kit release day I was able to run outside and snap some picture of the truck being unloaded. Often we will open up the carton on the spot and have a look at the newest big Gunpla release.

Look! It's the 30th anniversary PG Aile Strike with clear armour! And the Shin Musha Gundam Sengoku no Jin! It's back!

Once the Gunpla is moved into the warehouse and received into the system, one piece of each new release makes its way to the office where the box is scanned in order to place the pictures on its product page, and then the item description is written or tweaked. And that's my job too! Here's what my desk area looked like when the new Unicorn hit a couple of weeks ago.

And here's what I will be working with later today.

I open the box, drool, look at the contents, flip through the manual, meditate with a couple of runners in each hand for inspiration, and try to write as informative and detailed description as I can. I try also to cross-link the kits to their respective Bclub hands/parts, decals, and kit variations so people looking to purchase a kit can also easily see what else is available.

And after staring at Gunpla kits all day I get the urge. I get restless. Sometimes you may even see me building gunpla at my desk during break time or after work. Then I hop in my car, drive home, kiss my wife, sit down to dinner with my family, put the daughter to bed, and then.. you guessed it; Gunpla!

And the next day I hop in the car and drive to work and do it all over again. And it's awesome!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Victory Gundam Ver. Ka Gallery and Project Review

The joint venture with the American Salaryman in Tokyo known as the Victory Duo Project comes to a close. See the galleries with both MS here and here.

Let's have one final look at my V Gundam as I give my final thoughts. First off, though, let's talk specs.

Colours used:
Tamiya TS-37 Lavendar
Tamiya TS-56 Brilliant Orange
Mr. Hobby 8 Silver
Topcoat: Mr. Hobby Gloss

Decals: Bandai Victory Gundam decals (x2)
Parts: Aurora stickers for the eyes.

My first thoughts when putting together this kit, "Wow, this thing is really small."
My final thoughts when seeing the completed kit among his new friends on my work desk, "Wow, this thing is really small."

There's a lot going on with this kit, and this seems to be a staple of the Version Katoki kits. I prefer my kits to be a little advanced when it comes to engineering so this was a good thing. The transformation gimmick added to the impressiveness of such a small kit.

Let's have a look at this kit in its different modes.

Looks very Y-Wingish, if you ask me.

How do you get this thing into its different configurations? For the most part, it isn't terribly difficult. You do need patience and a light touch. Paying particular care and attention not to scrape off a decal when switching. Don't ask me how I know.

You have three different sections; The bottom half (for the bottom fighter), The top half (for the top fighter) and the core fighter. I really am impressed that they gave you enough pieces to make two different fighters, one for Victory and another for Hexa. Two complete core fighters? I'll take 'em!

Start off like this:
Move some things around.

Voila! Just attach the Core fighter and you're good to go. This was the easy half.The Victory Crab makes another appearance!

I had wanted to pose my Victory in some cool action shots but it proved too difficult and I lost patience and gave up. In order to get this guy on the stand you have to attach him by the bottom of the skirt, however, that part is made to open and flip so it never stays together tightly enough to allow the stand attachment to grab hold. The result was my Victory kept falling off the stand and hitting the table. So I said, "Screw it" and just went ahead and transformed him seeing as he wasn't staying together anyways. This is a big drawback for me. With the design of the hips, there is almost no posability. You really only can bend the knees. The arms are slightly better but the construction of the shoulder can get in the way quite easily. This things literally stays together by sliding the bottom half into the top half which means it will come apart just as easily and a lot of times when you don't want it to.

Final word;

The fact that I was building this kit as a joint project with a fellow gunplar kept me focused and made it enjoyable. Had I been building this as a solo effort, I might have enjoyed it less. The extensive decal work can take a lot out of a person, but I couldn't give up as I had a mission and a deadline.

Would I build it again? Hard to say... Good thing I have enough gunpla to choose from I won't have to think about it for awhile.

Pros: Excellent engineering, two core fighters, hands are plentiful and of good design, transformation!

Cons: Very limited posability, both Mech and rifle fall apart very easily, takes some effort to put core fighter into upper torso which may lead to damage of decals, too many decals!