Thursday, November 22, 2012

Haribon Tidbits

I haven't been updating my WIP here, mainly because I didn't have time to do so since taking step-by-step pictures and writing a pseudo tutorial take basically the same amount of time (or even more) as building. I did however took a few progress shots every now and then. With a few things left to build/modify/enhance/paint, the Haribon is done.

These are random photos I took whenever I can.

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Preliminary design of the Haribon's Custom Headdress

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Modified/Scratchbuilt parts Test Fit

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Ankle Guards (beveled and unbeveled), Wings, Shoulder Armor (prototype)

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Painted with Bosny Spray Cans

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Photo credit: Voltaire Bernardo aka Sotanghon, hotsauce not included 
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Errors caused by paint "reacting" to the surface of the plastic

That line (left) is where the plastic from opposite gates meet. Although I didn't mind it at first since it'll covered by the headdress, but an OC attack can make any attempt of holding back futile, so I progressively dry-sanded it down with 1000/1200/ grit sandpaper, till the part looked like a heavily-weathered, but shiny, then re-primed it with flat black (initially primed it with grey), and repainted.

I also got the texture I usually like on the gold leg and upper arm armor, but I didn't like how it turned out in contrast to how the other parts did, so to make it consistent, I re-sanded, re-primed, and repainted. I believe this is how most other modelers tackle microscratches. When you sand down primed parts with higher grits, the primer acts like a pseudo filler, filling those very minute scratches one may not be able to spot immediately).

If not for the obvious speckles (which aren't really that obvious in some lighting, I'd say I came close to getting the sharpness of an airbrushed kit, just because I increased my spray distance from 6 inches to 12, and waited for the paint to build up with more thin coats at that distance than a few coats at 6 inches. I still get the texture from time to time, especially when the temperature or humidity suddenly changes while I'm spraying, but I guess, this new aspect of painting made me more cautious and patient.

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More OC Madness

This bugged me till I couldn't take it anymore (well, I wasn't rushing it anyways since the GBWC have come and gone). I later realized that the layered armshield (right) was too simple and "odd looking" because of how the layering was stacked. So, I gave in and redesigned the thing by reversing the layer stack and added details as well.

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The Haribon's Binary Blade 2.0 System™

This comprises of 4 interchangeable blades (plus the dagger), the two longest blades mount together as the Main Binary Sword (MBS) on the central mount, but can be held independently when mounted on the Binary Scabbards, to which the medium and short blades are mounted. Those in turn can be mounted to an adapter (not yet built), to make a lance. The hexagonish part is the backpack mount, where all the blades are mounted to when "not in use." The fifth blade is the Binary Dagger (not yet built), which is actually a mini-version of the MBS. The MBS and the Medium and Short Blades can be mounted together to form the Ultra Binary Lance (cue Voltron-type Music).

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With the Wings Mounted (Total Wingspan: 60 cm)
Photo credit: Voltaire Bernardo aka Sotanghon

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"The Chosen" Diorama Concept. The question is, who chose who?

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The MG Falcon Flyer: When I break a part, I imagine other possibilities...


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Of Storytellers and Stone Cannonballs

Even with a lower entry turnout of entries this year, the GBWC wasn't so uneventful to at least some people, both entrants and spectators.  I've previously posted about being good sports and "all that jazz," but that is not what this post is about.

Well, almost not.  As a creative consultant cum art/creative director cum experimental photographer cum writer/songwriter cum all-round repairman (as a joke, I say I cum a lot), I try as much as possible to be "original" with any form of creative effort I involve myself in.  That's getting to be a very difficult effort more and more these days as I get older and them young 'uns just keep getting younger and craftier, but, like a warrior hell bent on whatever, I guess I'll carry on doing creative stuff, or any semblance of it, till I can do it no longer.

Jude Devereaux once(?) said, "there are no new stories."  He is very much correct in that aspect that every story ever told have been told and retold a million times over, in a span of a million or so generations.  But, a friend amended that adage, quite wittingly, if I may add; "there are no new stories, only new storytellers."  I have since then adapted that as my personal philosophy.

You may ask, has this anything to do with Gundams or Gunpla, or is this another one of your "socially relevant posts?" I'm getting to that, and the answer is both.

With exception to my Facebook posts, I haven't been posting any blog updates with regards to the Haribon, because personally, I believe the project is actually done, and during the last couple of weeks I had building, I barely had enough time to wander out of my "cave" to even write anything.  For me, writing takes time.  This post alone took hours convincing myself to write, because I reasoned that the Facebook post related to it should be enough.  In that post, I talked about covering all my bases, but how is not posting a blog update be that?

A few hours earlier, I was at awe with a Facebook post at both MACFB and GundamPh regarding most everyone's fave kit off all time (I say most, because some don't see why it's everyone's favorite kit).  I'm talking about another Sinanju, this time "hybridized" with pair or Desthscythe wings.  More on that later.

So what, you may ask?  Well, ever since I started the Haribon a few months back, when all my plans of conquering the universe with the Bathala got derailed by a GBWC rule change, I had to rethink a lot of things mainly because I didn't have a backup plan, and to begin with, I didn't even have a plan A.  With barely a couple of months for me to build anything MatX style, I began that long, short journey into the unknown with nothing but an idea, and a "perfect" kit" for that idea.

Hence, my kit choice for the Haribon was no fluke.  I never even knew of the Marasai till I saw the MG version at GundamGuy's blog, so when I went a-hunting for kits at TRU Makati (before they closed for the transfer), I wasn't at all a bit surprised when I saw an MG Marasai hidden behind several kits deep, in that two arm-span display case.  The salesperson remembered me well, and he connected me to another modeler (whom I happened to know) who also had the kit reserved, but that's another story.

At this point, you're already wondering, "where the hell is this going?  What has one seemingly irrelevant thing got to do with another?"  At this point, if you're still reading this, I can only bet you don't even know you're knee-deep into a story, carefully woven to draw you in.  And this story is about Stone Cannonballs.

This is what you did, "Senator..."

Well, during the GBWC, people said things, other people heard what those people said, and told other people what they heard.  if you've read the bible, or listened to gossip, you'll find out fast that as the story changes lips, the story also changes.  But, like in our current events, like how a certain senator has fast become our country's shame, some people copy other people's ideas, but how can Person A copy Persons B's "idea" if neither has seen each other's work until the event?  Person A actually ASKED ME if he can copy from me with the Ronin (If you're listening, dear senator, that's what asking permission to "reference" someone else's is), and he credited me later on (and that is what we call accreditation, or citing one's source).  Person A asked permission and credited me, despite the fact that I don't even consider what he did as being "copied" if at all.  He used the techniques I used on the Ronin and I believe he made a few improvements on his own (that is called innovation) applying what I did with cans with an airbrush. 

But that's not what this story is about, though they're still rather connected.  There are times, when two people separated by distance and culture, think somewhat alike, and somewhat at the same "wavelength" as the expression goes, come up with similar ideas without even knowing it, till one sees what the other has done.

And here is where the story comes together.  A few hours ago, someone posted this at MACFB and GundamPh:

"Encounter" by Yamatatsu, 2011 GBWC Japan Champion

I got a mild panic that ran a few seconds, because the concept is rather similar with that of the Haribon's original dio.  Mine had the Haribon hovering over water, pointing at a human atop a seaside cliff.  I later decided to ditch the water + cliff scene as the deadline loomed mainly because the Vallejo Water effects took longer than I have expected to look like water, the case being I was biting more than I can chew and choking after i tried to swallow it.  Forget the other elements involved, I recognized the concept being too similar on two elements;  the human and the robot standing over.

Since I wasn't able to enter at all, I wasn't planning on revealing anything else but the Haribon, and how far It was in completion, and how far I have gone in terms of speeding up my builds, not to mention how closely I have come this time to achieving AB quality using cans (yes, my spray can detractors, I have discovered a not-so-new way to use cans).  I wasn't going to show the diorama, but a few people are privy as to how it looks like.  A few hours after seeing the great work of Yamatatsu above, I felt compelled to reveal the diorama, citing the incident above.

"The Chosen"

This is where the Stone Cannonballs come in. I got this idea from an episode of Mythbusters, during a discussion at Facebook about the above photo.   Apparently, the English could have used these Stone Cannonballs to prevent enemies from using their own ammo against them, either by reusing the ammo or melting them into new cannons. 

I'm quite familiar with how some people use ignorance (or being ignorant) an excuse to accuse someone of, say, COPYING someone else's work (like how that same senator is now accusing the long-dead Kennedy he copied from to take the heat away from him.  I mean, how DUMB, and in this case, a senator, can one person be?)  that even though I posted this earlier on, I will still be accused regardless.  That's just fine by me, except that since now I've covered all my bases so far, they can't accuse me anymore even if they try their best because this blog post, and my FB posts are now DATE STAMPED Stone Cannonballs.  They can't shoot them back at me anymore; these are designed to "shatter into pieces but still inflict the same damage like a steel cannonball."  If you can't figure out the allegory, it doesn't really matter, but it simply means I prevented "the enemy,"  whomever that is, to shoot at me with mine own ammo.  They won't even be able to "shoot blanks."

So there.  As I delve into Yamatatsu's diorama and mine, the differences in concept begin where the similarities end.  We were telling a different story with a rather similar scene or setting.  I'd like to believe that adage "great minds think alike," but how can I say it without sounding crass (as far as some people are concerned)?  He obviously likes the Sinanju as much as I do, since this is his second Sinanju entry as far as I know.  Of course, like I mentioned earlier, I can't really compare his work in terms of skill to mine.  I'm not ready for a water effect diorama, and a friend was right in warning me about it, that it's one of the most difficult to pull off.  Hence why it changed in the first place into something I could pull off quick.

There are no new stories.  But new storytellers can instead tell the same story in a different light...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Have Contest, Will Join!

To end my blogpost slump, here's to all you Gunplanatics out there.  We have two community contests, one international and one local, to fill whatever void that was left in you in the previous month or so.

First off, from Italy's Gundam Dipendente.

English Rules HERE.

And locally, we have Gundam Philippines' GPH Builders Challenge.  You can click on the links for rules and stuff.

While were on the subject of competitions, and if I haven't mentioned it enough (in my previous post for that matter), when joining competitions, be a good sport.  The first person you should always best is yourself on your previous build, and who knows, you might be able to best someone else.  I know it's not as simple to do self-assessment; we've all had that moment, or moments, that we felt we were the best, and though that might well be true, competitions are as unpredictable as the judges decisions are.

What are you waiting for?  Get your head out of the gutter and join up.  NOW!  Also, aside from these two competitions, I'm privy to another one, a big one I suppose, being cooked up as of this posting and will be announced very soonWatch out for it!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Losing, Winning and all that Jazz...

"it's not that I lost, I just didn't win yet..."

I cannot impose this philosophy to anyone here or anywhere, but people NEED TO LEARN HOW TO BE A GOOD SPORT in all manners of competitions. 

We can wow a million people in our Gunpla communities with our fantabulous, mod-peppered and ultra-unique scheme builds, but when it comes to the actual competition, our fates lie upon those who are judging the entries, not the millions of people we wowed.  What's more, among the four judges, I believe the Japanese judge's score weigh more than the other three, and mostly has the final say in the decision.  It's a frakkin' contest.  It's as simple as that for me at least.

So, in the 2012 GBWC (to which I was not able to join, the Hellraiser was still stuck on the nth lvl, and the Haribon just couldn't take off), it saddened me to hear people immediately exclaim at the top of their voices that there was cheating involved.  I was there.  I saw the lot of the entries (there weren't much to begin with, it was the first ever GBWC that required the receipt aside from the boxes).  I even pointed the winning entry to Krescenhaze moments before the final three in the Open Category was announced and said "that's it man."  Knowing that, was I in on the cheating?

Sure, we can always feel our entries are better than those that won top prizes, most everyone feels that.  But you know what?

"it's not that I lost, I just didn't win yet..."

The previous year, I had a lot of good feedback with the Ronin.  A lot of people liked how intricate the scale armor layering was, and I believe no one really thought to do it until they saw me do it.  They liked how I bend plastic into submission, as I like to say, "like putty in my hands," and never really thought it was possible to sculpt plastic they way I do.  I do the things I do because no one else is doing it, and the challenge for everyone else IS to do it.

After that competition, a few approached me and said "The Ronin should have been first."  My one and only reply to that has always been and always will be "It's the judges' call."  Maybe the judges saw something, a flaw no one else knew about but myself, and gave me a lower score for it.  Third is a good progress for me, since I didn't even win consolation prize the year before with the Angelus and Chimera.

This year's GBWC's entry turnout, as expected, was low because of the new rule.  Whereas some have complained about it mostly because they didn't have money to spare to get the same kit they've used for their entry, most of us complained mainly because of the timing.  I've talked to Rey of Bankee and Ingrid of Toys R' Us about it at the end of the awarding ceremonies and they've acknowledged the happenstance.  I've expressed that some of us start planning our entries as early as December after the competition, and two months worth of build time is simply not enough.

Do you know who the Turtle won against?

I, in particular, had a little over a month overall to finish the Haribon.  It was enough time, or I tried to make it enough, if not for bumps on the road called work.  I basically lost 3 days on my last week of build, 3 days 3 weeks before that, to my classes, not to mention my regular design projects.  I was certain that was a lot of time lost.  I didn't post any WIP updates in the last couple of weeks, those took me about the same amount of time to write as do my mods.  Despite that, I ferried on until the last few hours detailing the wings and devising a smart way of mounting it onto the backmount, till my body shut itself down, and my mind couldn't do a thing about it but relent.   If only I had one more day, or two.  As I wrote this, I had FB friends asking me if I was able to join. 

The good thing about that rule is that it got out some people out of the woodwork (as I acknowledge Richie Ramos from beating me to to it and telling me beforehand after the announcement of the OC winners).  There were new and unexpected faces in the winners' pool.  It made me realize that the Gunpla community is far larger than I previously thought, yet, we're so splintered because of all the different personalities with different philosophies.  Despite that, there were plenty of good entries, all of which do deserve to win (including the one who whined), but again, why whine about it if you didn't?

I believe I've written about this previously.  We are not the best judges of our own work.  We can never be objective about our own work.  Sure, we can gauge our own personal improvements, I for example, have improved my build speed quite significantly (in my own terms), mainly because I've stopped over-thinking and started simplifying my mods.  Having heard feedback, I still do know my weaknesses, and my strengths.  The latter do not guarantee a win. In fact, nothing can guarantee a win.

Other people might not agree with what we think is the best for our taste.  Those who like what we do simply acknowledge and mirror our own preferences, but nothing more.

In closing, as a final note, be a good sportA competition is not only where you try to best others, but also YOURSELF.  You can't beat others if you keep losing to yourself, and if you complain about being cheated, then you have only truly lost against your own pride.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

"HARIBON" MG RMS 108 Marasai vMatX Part V

I haven't been able to touch Gunpla, literally, for two weeks since I got "swamped" with work and had a 3-day on-site seminar that left me a bit drained, even I has a little time to do work on Gunpla. I felt sleepy all the time and sometimes fall asleep in the middle of typing something (I often joke I could do things in my sleep).

Before I took that two-week break to reality, I did manage to do a very simply modification to one of the Marasai's "open hand" manipulators. I find strange that Bandai included a set of manipulators jointed at two places where the only real pose you can do with it is open-hand. I would have been satisfied if they included a pair of solid open-hand manipulators, a pair of closed-fist, and the usual v2.0 manipulators like what is included with the Zaku/Sinanju. I really don't find any logic in this.

More so, it was how the thumb digit was positioned that left me at awe. It's positioned pointing down and into the palm, with no provision to move it outward for a more dramatic pose.

So, I modified it to enable it to do an outward pose, but keep the inward pose as well. Even though this is a simple mod, it is nonetheless a delicate one. I CAREFULLY added a hole on the side of the thumb area and carved through the existing hole. I reinforced and thickened the area with 0.3mm plaplate to keep the ball of the thumb digit snugly into place regardless of its position.

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I also modified and customized the head, but I'll post that much later.

When I resumed the build yesterday, I did so with uneasy hands, especially since I as cutting and bending small parts. I left off the Harbon up to the frame extensions, so it was time to "rebuild" the armor to accommodate the extensions.

First off, the arms. I decided to build the armor extension of the upper arm as a separate unit instead of attaching it directly to the existing armor in order to avoid having to contend with the shape of the base of armor as well as adding detail in the process. I made a 3mm sandwich, aligned and shaped to the cross section of the upper arm.

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This served as the foundation for the shaped 0.5mm WHIPS that wraps around it to form the additional armor.

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Then I simply added 1.0mm WHIPS to the lower arm extension, just enough to fit the wrist armor and align it when attached.

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I used a similar approach with the thigh extension, but this time, I mounted it directly onto the armor since it has a more even shape and has a larger area. I then reinforced the top section with another piece of 0.5mm. This will help the the modification keep its form when it cures.

I used 0.5mm for this since it's easier to bend, and since it's less springy than 1.0mm, I could work faster on having it hold on to the base armor. I used magic tape (I couldn't find my regular masking tape) to hold the shape as it cured for 30 minutes, just so I can quickly do test fits and make adjustments. After 24 hours, it should be fully cured and "solid" as.

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Test fit. I'll still be adding detail to this, but that will be done when I add full details overall.

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Previously, even simple modifications like these will take me days to do, so I can safely say I am becoming a bit faster these days. I estimate I only have around 2 weeks, give or take a few days to finish this build. I'll try to finish the armor detailing and Wings in a week, and paint the week after that. I have another class this weekend, so that will surely eat up two whole days. So I'll probably work on the groundwork for the diorama during that time.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Commissions, Rainy Days and Everything in Between

Commissions.  The next step in the evolutionary process of modeling, where one gets compensated for working on something one loves to do.

Even though I have had a few inquiries before, I haven't really done or have accepted commissions because at the time, circumstances prevented me from doing so.  I've had inquiries where I am asked to do repair work, but it was simple enough, I just told the one inquiring on how to fix it himself.  There were also at least major build commissions that came to my doorstep, but I had projects back then, both Gunpla and otherwise, so I wasn't able to do make a commitment.  There were also hints by people if I wanted to sell my previous builds, but all I can tell them was, "I'll think about it" and never followed through.

The fierce look of the Deathscythe
(Photo credit: Gunpla-Inochi)

Raining Hell.  It was a rainy day.  Someone from Gundam Philippines, a local group of modelers and collectors, issued a challenge that was right up my alley and was too hard for me to resist.  The Challenge?  Convert a PG Wing Zero Custom to a DeathScythe Hell.  I wouldn't have noticed the thread, that group has very active members who constantly post almost anything under the sun aside from the usual stock of Gunpla and toy-related stuff, if not for the fact that I was tagged at least twice on that thread, and once tagged, I get all the notifications when someone posts after the tag.  I got at least 20 notifications on that post alone, and since I was at an off-site training at the time, the notifications I  got ballooned.

Coming Soon!

In one of my replies I said, "If this is serious, I'm in.  I'll need references."  I listed the DeathScythe as one of my top ten favorite mobile suits, so it was that more than anything else that made me accept the challenge.  I needed an excuse to get an MG DSH, and surely enough, I got one.  Aside from being my reference, I'll also me modifying the MG DSH to reflect what modifications I will put on the conversion.  Hence, the Hellraiser Project is born.

This is going to be enormous.  My thoughts linger on how I simplified my wing design and construction for the Bathala, but even that is still rather complicated because it is fully articulated in several places, compared to the that of the Deathscythe Hell's wings.  So, it wasn't a stretch that I didn't see the wing as a major thing to worry about, but, it would be the major part of the build since it'll be built entirely from scratch.

The Bathala's Wings
The MG Deathscythe Hell's Wings.

Even though Arvin Ignacio, the one who issued the challenged, and I haven't talked details yet, I was already thinking of how to improve the DSH's wing (I actually have been thinking about it since the MG DSH was released).  I'll modify the Wings as such there won't be any gaps when it is fully spread.  If I am able to do that on the MG, I'll be able to do it on the PG.  I won't be replicating the MG Wing point by point in internal construction because of the scale and like always, weight issues, but the functionality of the two will be similar.

I have leeway on making the PG DSH's wing more stable because it has a solid structure throughout.  I'll also tweak the design, making the the curves curvier and longer, to give it a more organic look.

Second Wind.  In the heat of it all, Bryan Mallorca, one of the people who hinted on having me do a commission (at the time, I thought he was just responding to my joke about him giving me a rare kit if I do a commission) followed through and asked me if I was willing to do it.  He mentioned two kits, and I chose The HGUC Stark Jegan to build as I please and turn it to a "MatX Custom."  He and I met that afternoon over Hungarian sausage (along with a friend of mine) and sealed the deal.  This commission, which I hereby tentatively dub the Hercules, and the Hellraiser are now intertwined.  I will work on the Hercules while modifications on the Hellraiser are curing, using the quick techniques I've developed while building the Bathala ang the Haribon.

A Third and a Fourth, and maybe a Fifth.  The adage, "when it rains, it pours," have more than once applied to me, and literally most of the time during rainy seasons.  I get more projects, more opportunities, more brushes with serendipity during the rainy season, when I often choose not to go out in the rain.  But, I don't see rain as a bad thing any more than one would see clouds in the sky as signs of rains to come.  I just go on my day as it is, even though rain, and the weather in general, affect me directly in more ways than one.

Those people who also hinted on having me do commissions have also finally formally asked, even if it was just hypothetical.  As such, there are a few things for me to look forward to.

Speaking of the Haribon, I haven't touched it, literally, for almost 2 weeks now because of work-related stuff, and it stands on top of my mousepad, eerily eyeing my every move with an almost accusing stare.  The Hellraiser Project will have to wait a month, as my dreams of the Haribon might turn into nightmares, like when I was building the Ronin for the second time.  This is something I need to have done, not because there is a deadline for a competition, but I plan to do more builds as well finish the ones I've started in as short a time as possible.

And These Came in the Mail

Rather, I had these sent to my school since I was on an off-site training.  Bosny Philippines has once again graciously sent me free...