Tuesday, June 21, 2022

OVERPRICED!!!

If you are a snowflake, don’t bother reading this. But you probably don’t think you’re a snowflake, so you’ll probably read it anyway. If you are offended by anything in this article, be it known that only snowflakes are offended by what is written here.

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Overpriced. Probably the most overused word in the Gunpla Buy and Sell community these days, but, a lot of people, buyers and sellers alike don't even know what overpriced kits are if it smacked them on the face.

Saturday. Or, any day actually. You go to the mall and just couldn’t resist going to the toy section, either Toy Kingdom, ToyTown or Toys’R’Us (or whatever toy or hobby store you go to where you are at) and check out the Gunpla kits on stock. You figured, they probably have it on sale, but, even so, they’re still a bit more expensive than online seller prices, thinking that the non-sale price is overpriced. So you take pictures, for record-keeping purposes.

And you wonder why that is. You then go online, post the prices, and you get a slew of uneducated and misinformed opinions, the most common of which is mall store prices are overpriced, that they rather buy from online sellers, and some even scream those kits are cheaper in Japan.

Well, they’re not overpriced. See, applying a little common sense as to why they are more expensive at malls (the proper terminology), you should have realized the difference right away, but, for some strange reason you do not. We were all given the same information, we all have equal access to it, yet, some, if not a lot of people, make incorrect conclusions and assumptions leading to misinformed opinions.

So, what’s the difference between overpriced and more expensive? We have to base it on the Yen price. Let’s take the RG Sazabi for example, which is tagged at ¥4860 (box price). I got mine at PhP2350, which is 0.48 of the Yen price. This is close to the PhP-Yen conversion rate at the time. At mall stores, this is priced at PhP3150-3250 (or more), which is roughly 0.65~ of the Yen price (and it could be higher). This is more expensive, rather than overpriced, because mall stores have higher overhead. Hobby Search (Japan) sells this at Yen 4050 sale price, but, factoring in the shipping, just for one kit, it will still be more expensive.

The highest factor a mall store has priced a kit is at 0.85 Yen, and these are often limited items. Now, if you encounter an online seller that sells a regular item at 0.85-1.0Yen:1.0PhP, or more, higher than the list price of a mall store, that is overpriced.

Comparative Pricing and Overpricing

First things first. Why is it more expensive at mall stores?

Short answer: Overhead.

Oh, you don’t know what that is? This is the age of the internet. As I have mentioned, we all have access to the same information. But for the sake of discussion, let’s just pretend you’re too lazy, or ignorant, or both, to do research.

Well, it’s like this: Overhead is what is known in business as the money a business person or a company has to put up every month and every year to keep the business running. All businesses have overheads, some more than others. There are two main types of businesses: single proprietorship and corporation. Your favorite online seller supplying you with your addic--, I mean, hobby, also has overhead, but it’s not as huge as a corporation’s overhead.

So, even though this has been discussed quite a few times, but, you were probably watching hentai, let’s dissect what a corporation, in this case, a mall store, has to pay for just to get to you the things you don’t even want to get from them because you’re too much of a cheapskate to understand why they have more expensive Gunpla prices.

  1. Mall Store Space Rental - This is rather obvious. Mall stores rent space to display what they sell. Mall store rental space is not cheap, as a 20sqm space can already go upwards of 30K rental a month (and that’s a conservative estimate).
  2. Warehouse Space Rental - Oh, did you think it’s just the mall space they are renting? Each mall store have their own warehouse space at the back of the store for additional stocks and inventory. In some cases, rental for those are separate. Since TK and TRU are officially licensed stores, part of their pricing is that licensing. They can only get their stocks from the main official distributor (we all know who that is). That distributor pays warehouse fees.
  3. Employee Salaries - Wait, did you think those people assisting you at the malls are working there for free? The official distributor also has employees to pay for.
  4. Customs Levy and Taxes - Did you think they just magically appear on store shelves, with Bandai teleporting these kits? All of these items pass through customs, and if you ever had anything pass through customs, it’s sometimes like threading a 2-inch rope through a sewing needle.
  5. Marketing, Advertising, Promotions and Events - How else would you know if the kit you were drooling for is already available, or if it’s on sale? Well, they advertise, create events and promotions. These events cost money, to be able to sell more kits, so they can pay for items 1 through 4. They also have to pay for that event space, and the prizes they give away for free are not really free, but, is covered by the sales they generate on that event and afterward.
  6. Country Distributor License - I forgot to mention this. Bankee is the licensed distributor of Bandai products, and they are the one that distribute these products to the mall stores. That operation is in no chance free of charge.

Now, there are silly comments, like “those kits are cheaper with online sellers.” Well, duh, online sellers do not have that big an overhead. Most online sellers sell you stuff on pre-order, and, sometimes, what they have on stock, which is usually left when flakers flake on their pre-order, leaving some of the small-time sellers hanging with a huge bill. They can afford to lower the price of what they sell because they have less overhead. Still they do have to go through customs, and if you’re any of the cheapskate flakers they have encountered, just stop ordering things you’re not going to get later because you didn’t have the money to get it the first place.

Another one, talking about the price of one, single, solitary kit is “It’s cheaper in Japan.”

Yeah.Yeah. If you live in Japan. This is probably one of the dumbest comments one could make just so one could say something (as in, memasabi lang). Since it’s technically cheaper in Japan, well, why don’t you fly there to get that one, single, solitary kit and come back here to the Philippines. You’ll end up paying a whole lot more than the yen price of that MG Gundam Wing verTV, but hey, you got to go to Japan just to get that one, single, solitary kit. Of course, you can also go to Japan and get a whole lot of kits so your trip there won’t be a waste, but, you’ll still end up paying for customs levy and taxes (like what online sellers and mall stores do) when you arrive at customs. You’ll still end up paying for more, since customs officials won’t really believe you bought a shit ton of kits for your personal tower of power backlog. They will charge you commercial sale taxes (not to mention the other thing they call ‘tax’).

Now, people who usually scream an item being overpriced are those who

  1. want things they can't afford.
  2. can afford things but want something else.
  3. can afford things, but still prefer things cheap (quality notwithstanding), aka "cheapskates."

And there’s that dreaded “P.” As in P-Bandai. The MG Barbatos has been announced, and everyone who has P-allergy won’t be late to the screaming party, that Bandai is definitely going to milk this one for all its worth, releasing the next kit variants as P-Bandai till kingdom come. So we’re sure to have P-Bandai 6th Form, or P-Bandai Add-ons from Form 1 to 6 (update, this one came true, the other two aren’t too far behind), a P-Bandai Barbatos Lupus, and P-Bandai Barbatos Lupus Rex.

Called it! And it's a P-Bandai nonetheless (I got this set at Shopee at base PO price)...

Now, here’s the thing: It’s usually people who have no plans getting a P-Bandai (or people who have no budget for it aka #CheapskatePolycaps) who complain and rant about P-Bandai and Bandai kits in general being more expensive and milking the kit lines.

Well, since you’re a cheapskate, opting to wait for the bootleg instead, Bandai wouldn’t have the need to milk kit lines, especially if you’re too much in denial to acknowledge that Bandai is losing profits to bootlegs. Bandai is now reprinting more and more older kits as re-issues, and releasing more P-Bandai variants because it needs to maximize the RnD and production costs from that line. Developing a kit is not a cheap undertaking. And even though they are actively fighting bootlegs, Bandai is still losing the fight because bootleggers are now pre-empting their releases with “bett--,” I mean more detailed kits with plenty of add-ons because bootleggers know bootleg lovers love more details and add-ons rather than actual quality kits. Bandai isn’t losing the fight because there are more bootleggers, it’s losing the fight because you opt to wait for the bootlegs.

A 20-year old kit with a rare Blue Logo*

See what happened there? No?

Well, that’s called denial.

Whereas Bandai employs top artisans and engineers and use top quality equipment and materials, who knows where bootleggers get their employees and materials from? (And just in case you are too ignorant, that was sarcasm). Bandai produces kits from ground up, whereas bootleggers will just mostly copy existing kits, if not copy existing designs.

Do you think Katoki and Kawaguchi work for peanuts?

The Whys and Wherefores

Bandai doesn’t owe us anything. They produce what they produce under their own production schedule. We get what they have in their production line, not what we want them to produce. Sure, we’re consumers, we deserve to get what we want, and Bandai knows that, enough to surprise us with kits people want every now and then, but, to scream “I’ll just wait for or get the bootleg version because Bandai is an evil corporation out to get my moneyis just as dumb as it sounds.

Bandai is not a charity institution. It’s a business that needs to make profit in order to continue producing kits.

But wait, even certain bootlegs have gone P-Bootleg because scalpers held back old raided stock and gouged the prices later on, to the point that some bootlegs are even more expensive than a P-Bandai, because a rare bootleg is, well, rare. The funny thing is, idiots were buying it, and it’s basically the same idiots complaining about Bandai being too expensive.

Incidentally, we got this as soon as the HiRM God Gundam was announced.

This is NOT the MG Barbatos

The bootleg issue have become so bad, that Kawaguchi himself have started making personal appearances as a judge in GBWC. It’s become so bad that an idiot posted a bootleg on his (Kawaguchi’s) wall. It’s become so bad, we’re now required to show the receipt and the boxes (and recently, the Bankee Sticker), because there were idiots who claimed online that they joined and won(?) with bootlegs.

All because a lot of people are just too lazy, or too ignorant.

To begin with, this hobby is expensive. I’m not saying you don’t have a right to have a hobby, but again, this hobby is frakking expensive. If you’re barely making ends meet, stop being a self-entitled prick and prioritize your needs instead of screaming all over the forums how expensive a kit you will never be able to get is.

Because this hobby is just frakking expensive!

Now, presented with these options, what would you choose?

Decisions decisions...

 

 

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Gunpla Painting with Bosny

 This is another article converted from a Facebook Note post.

You’re getting tired of simple snap builds and fussing over those nasty stickers, and you want to try your hands in painting kits so you can show off your kits in a better, ugh, light. You can always try hand brushing, which is simpler, but, not really a simple skill to learn because it will test your patience, dexterity and ability to focus. Handbrushing is very much a specialized skill that you will have to learn eventually especially when detailing kits.

Though there are people who could jump right into airbrushing, it’s a bit tedious a process involving mixing and cleaning and a whole lot of maintenance (but, eventually, if you’re really up to it, you’ll get there).

So, the alternative is using spray cans. Though there are hobby grade paint in cans, like Tamiya, Mr Color and recently, Vallejo, they are a bit on the expensive side.

What is a
poor guy on a limited budget to do?

The answer is of course, Bosny Spray cans. There are other industrial type cans available but, let’s concentrate on Bosny since it’s mostly-widely-more available and thus easier to access, especially in Asia. (As an aside, check your local hardware for equivalent brands). The main difference between hobby-grade cans and industrial cans might not just be the formulation, but also that the hobby-grade has a finer nozzle.

Now, the stuff here can and might also be applicable to airbrush painting, as they are of course using similar concepts, using pressurized air to atomize paint, to put paint on your kits.

In a previous article, I wrote about Hobby Paint and Solvent types. Bosny is not a hobby paint. It’s an industrial paint that’s designed mainly for retouching paint on vehicles. In some cases, it’s used to paint decal-like designs. It’s also used by graffiti artists. What’s more, Bosny is listed as Acrylic-Lacquer-Epoxy, which is something that confounded a few people since they didn’t think lacquer and acrylic on the same phrase, let alone, in the same can, was possible (but that’s a different story).

Update: Bosny has reformulated its paints, dropping the epoxy component altogether. Bosny paints are now 100% acrylic with lacquer component.


Being an industrial paint and also being cans, a lot of people get the misconception that it cannot be used on Gunpla. “Bosny Paint is too thick” is the most common sentiment. Well, to be honest, any paint, whether it’s hobby grade or industrial grade can be used on Gunpla, it’s just that people expect to have the same, exact results when using one or the other. There were people who joked (and some who seriously asked) about using Boysen paints on Gunpla. Seriously, if it was properly thinned, and depending on the paint type, you probably could. All types of paint, after all, are made with the same chemicals, but of different proportions and additives. Maybe I’ll try and , and depending on the paint type, you probably could. All types of paint, after all, are made with the same chemicals, but of different proportions and additives. Maybe I’ll try and experiment with Boysen paints* one of these days.

Now, quite recently, since there will always be new people getting into the hobby (their means of getting into the hobby notwithstanding), we’ll normally see people asking the same questions asked and airing the same sentiments aired before. Let’s tackle them all (this will be updated as needed).

  • Bosny paints are too thick. Well duh! It’s an industrial type of paint. It tends to really be thick because it’s designed to cover large-area objects, like cars and car parts. But, is the paint really that thick?
       Yes, and no. There are certain Bosny variants, like the designated Metallics (metallic Red, metallic Black), that are really thick no matter what you do. I steered clear of those variants after using them once. But, from primer to candy tone, you can control how thick the paint is by fighting your instinct to spray wildly and impatiently, which leads us to,
  • Bosny has no spray control. Again, yes and no. Bosny only has one setting when it’s new: male adolescent in puberty. Depressing the nozzle will tend to spray out everything it can because of its initial pressure. But that’s where you, the intrepid modeler cum painter cum in (puns intended).
       With Bosny cans, you become the spray control by learning how to control your finger as you depress the nozzle. You have to practice a very fine motor control of applying enough pressure on the nozzle at a relatively very short amount of time, like, less than a second. Instead of spraying continually like you could with an AB, you have to spray in short, quick bursts, and oftentimes adding a slight movement while rotating the part to cover larger areas or parts evenly.
       As it expels air, it loses pressure. Halfway through, you’ll find that there isn’t enough spray pressure anymore, the paint starts to spurt, and you have to adjust how you spray as well. Recently, I discovered that I have to get a fresh can when it feels half as heavy, because the pressure would probably also be just half as strong, as the amount of paint in the can is more or less directly proportional to the air pressure left. I can still use the can after its halfway point, but it’s touch and go the rest of the way. The paint is still viable, but, without enough pressure, it won’t give consistent and favorable results, so the only option at this point is to decant, thin, and apply it with an airbrush.
  • The spray coat is uneven. It’s because you don’t know how to use it. It’s either you’ve depressed the nozzle too long, or, you didn’t rotate the part, or you didn’t move the can during the short spray burst. To add, some practices, like painting on runners and painting assembled kits can also contribute to the issue, especially when you’re just starting to paint with cans.
  • There is paint clumping in some areas. Ah, yes. The dreaded overspray and pooling. The bane of all modelers and humankind in general. This happens when you spray too close and too long, and when you paint an assembled kit, instead of doing it properly, painting parts and/or sections individually.
       This also happens with an AB that’s improperly set up, or paint that is improperly thinned. Whereas previously, the spray distance is about 6 inches (15cm), I found out that 12 inches (30cm) or more is ideal. This allows the paint particles to partially dry midway, level quickly as it lands, and become fully dry a few seconds after.
  • The surface is curly. Some people call this the orange peel, which is actually incorrect, since it should be orange skin, describing the texture of an orange’s skin (orange peels however is an actual thing used as an ingredient in cooking and baking), but for the sake of convention, let’s stick to the term. This also happens with ABs and results from several factors:
    1. the underlying paint coat is still moist when you laid down the successive coat, and the upper coat dries/cures faster that the previous one/s. Solution: Wait for the previous coat to fully dry, or better yet, fully cure, before laying down the next coat. Ideally, the time between coats should be at least an hour or so, longer during cold weather. I can work quickly with 30 minutes between coats, but that’s stretching it.
    2. the surface is not sanded and primed. A lot of lazy people skip sanding and priming because they simply do not have the time, opting for uneven painted surfaces and expecting everyone would be okay with it (Gunpla is freedom). Well, I guess that’s okay, for some, but, if if you post it, don’t expect everyone would be okay, let alone impressed with it, especially seasoned modelers and painters who don’t do things half-assed and half-baked.
    3. you painted during a storm, or during fluctuating humidity. Although this is a very tricky proposition, I’ve painted kits during bad weather and got good results because I know when to lay down paint. It’s a bit hard to explain, but I noticed that I kinda sense when the weather changes. The air becomes humid and heavy and it’s extreme cold and hot in front of and away from a fan respectively. Bad weather is not an ideal time to paint, but, if you must, the best time to paint is when it actually starts to cool, an hour or so after it has started raining. It won’t be a good time to do candy tones or top coat, but priming and base coats should be fine.
    4. the previous coat is uneven, or you tried to do a full coverage in one go. Though it is possible to accomplish that, conditions must be ideal (humidity, temperature). You must mist in thin coats, and let the coat cure for an hour or so before the next coat.
  • Bosny is just a bad paint medium. Okay. Okay! I’m kind of an unofficial Bosny ambassador ever since I started painting Gunpla, or anything for that matter, and quite recently kind of become a semi-official one after Bosny Philippines gave me a whole bunch of cans and stuff after they’ve seen my blog and FB page. Bosny is only a bad medium if you’re bad at it. I repeat, gave me a whole bunch of cans and stuff after they’ve seen my blog and FB page. Bosny is only a bad medium if you’re bad at it. I repeat, Bosny is only a bad medium if you are bad at it. When I started using Bosny, I’ve committed all the errors you can think of, from overspray, to uneven paint and even orange peels, because I didn’t know what I was doing. But, after a while, I got to understand how the medium works and how to make it work on any Gunpla scale.
  • Airbrush is better. Well, duh! But, apropos (my favorite uncommon word), it’s more like an airbrush is a better tool. I’ve written about this before because there are hardcore AB modelers that seem to interpret my use of Bosny as something being better when I said “I can achieve close to AB results with Bosny.” Context notwithstanding, there is nothing in what I said that even comes close to saying Bosny is better.
       The thing is, an AB, like Bosny, is a tool. If you don’t know how to use a tool, it won’t give good results. So ultimately, it’s still on you. I’ve seen a few projects done with Bosny that are comparable to those done with AB. And seriously, there are those done with AB that do not look that they were done with AB.
       Also, if you are going to use an AB and your color scheme is rather common and mediocre that it looks like someone else’s work, you can’t really diss someone else’s work that looks way better than your mediocre AB-painted kit. In fact, it’s really harder to achieve good results with Bosny because of all the factors I mentioned, and it takes a lot more skill and patience to get good results. If you’re using an AB, and your results are mediocre at best, what’s your excuse?

Thin as sleeves, thick as thieves.

Now, to summarize these are the factors that affect how Bosny paints (and hobby paints in general) behave:

Spray pressure. Bosny only has one setting. Fresh, new cans have very strong pressure and this goes down quite significantly as the air gets expended over time. With AB, consistent pressure can be set on the compressor, and spray strength/volume can be adjusted on the airbrush. Mini compressors mostly have a single setting, around 17 to 20 psi, but there are mini compressors with pressure knobs. With Bosny, the only way to get actual spray pressure control is to shorten the spray burst.

Humidity. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not heat or the temperature alone that can affect paint during spraying, but rather, the overall relative humidity. Humidity is the amount of moisture in the air. High or fluctuating humidity can cause havoc on paint as it lands on the part you are painting since moist air can get caught with your spray bursts. Do you know why cold glasses sweat? That’s moisture condensing on the surface of the glass. Now, during a thunderstorm, everything solid gets cooler, but, the air can remain warm. When moisture gets caught on your spray burst and lands on the part, well, you get the idea. This, along with a cold part, causes topcoats to frost.
   This also happens during a cool sunny day with relatively high humidity. With AB, this is minimized by the use of moisture traps. Since AB spray mists have smaller particles, and the pressure burst can be controlled, you can spray the part as close as you can without over-spraying.
    Warming the Can may seem to help at times, but it really doesn't. As humidity fluctuates, it would have already fluctuated after you've warmed the can.

Curing times. Let’s face it. No paint or paint tool can ever get a complete layer coverage in one go. That’s why we paint in successive coats. Bosny has a quick-dry formulation, but, it still has a relatively long curing time just like most paints. When you do successive coats, with the previous coat still curing, the overlaying coat can dry and cure quicker when the humidity changes. So, it’s best to allow all a safe curing time between coats. For Bosny, an hour or so, or longer is ideal.

Spray distance. During the course of using Bosny, a distance of 12 inches is about right to properly mist the paint. Too close, and the paint will be too moist that it will cause over spray. Too far, and the paint would end up like small particles of dust over your part.

Sanding and Priming. Two important steps you should never skip. When you decide to paint your kits, don’t do it half-assed. You need to commit to the endeavor. The primary purpose of sanding is to level and smooth the surface of the parts you are going to paint. While de-nubbing parts, you introduce micro scratches and cracks on the plastic, without realizing it. Though most parts do have a little flexibility, applying pressure on certain parts leave very minute cracks on the surface that are not visible until you apply primer and paint. What’s more, nubs will always have an uneven surface, no matter what tool you use. Not even god hand can cut that clean. You’ll still have to sand that nub mark away because it will show under the paint. Sanding also removes that built-in shiny surface coating that exacerbates the plastic texture underneath. So, if you see swirls and curls after you paint, well...
   Priming, on the other hand gives a smooth surface for your paint to latch on. Primers are formulated differently, as such, they will latch on to most plastics. Certain paints don’t latch properly on plastic, even sanded ones, hence, priming.

Addendum: Using hair dryers to dry paint on plastic is a bad idea.


Check these links for more information:

https://www.edinformatics.com/math_science/what-is-humidity.html

https://www.facebook.com/GunplaBosny/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/BosnyGunpla/


*I made that statement as a half-serious joke, which is something I would probably test one of these days, but apparently, based on feedback (or rumors) from certain modelers, there is a brand of local hobby paint that is actually just thinned house paint (hence the inconsistent results).

Friday, October 1, 2021

Modeling Tools 101

We were all snapbuilders once, but, we are beginners only once.

Year in and year out, this hobby of ours get a lot more people who are getting into the hobby than people getting out of it, as such, the same questions we asked back when we are newbies are now being asked by the younglings, or at least, not so younglings, who are first getting their feet wet into Gunpla, or scale modeling in general. Truth of the matter is, there is no age limit or requirement for this hobby, so it’s quite amusing when certain young ones chide older modelers about their age. You can’t teach old dogs new tricks, but old dogs do have hobbies. Some people have started young and have grown into the hobby, others start way later.

I remember the first time I got myself a Gunpla; it was an HG Wing Gundam. That time, all I had as a tool was that flimsy, black metal cutter that was part of a Tamiya 4x4 tool set. I got it when I was collecting Tamiya 4WD racers. That cutter was made of soft metal, it was dull after its first year of use with nothing more than cutting runners of Tamiya 4WD kits, but I didn’t really care back then. When I used it for my first Gunpla, or to say more aptly, my first 4 HG Wing kits, it was a good enough tool.

I still had and used that tool when restarted collecting in 2007 when I got hooked with 00 and got me the fab four. But, it was not until I started doing modifications and customs did I find my tools, or lack thereof, uh, lacking.

So, I started doing research. Tamiya had a couple of high-end cutters, but, at the time, it felt too expensive for me. After a little digging and happenstance, I found a nifty and cheap side cutter in the form of a generic tool: The Alexan Side Cutter.

Not godhand, but good enough.

It was made of sturdy stuff that it could cut through most anything, even thin-gauge wires, so, using it to cut through 3-mm thick gates and beams was almost too easy. It took a long while to get dull, and it does get dull over time, so I decided to get a couple more as back-up.

But I started to make a lot more complex custom builds, and I felt I need better tools. I then got me the Tamiya round head and the Tamiya slim head, at different times. I lost those two cutters along with several other tools, including my two Tamiya pin vises, drill bits and (sigh) my iPad when I left and lost my backpack in the back of a cab while going home with groceries. I didn’t forget the groceries, but I forgot my backpack with all my stuff.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I had to reinvest on new tools a few times, either because they got lost, or, they got too worn down to use effectively. Nowadays, I often have two of everything, just for flexibility, and if I lose or misplace one.

Now, seeing that the same questions pop up here and there, then and again, here are the needed tools based on level:

Level 1: Basic (Snapbuilding)

  • Side Cutters - Branded cutters range from affordable (Mineshima, Tamiya, Wave) to expensive (Meng, godhand, Platz). There are <unbranded> side cutters that are entry level cheap, like the trusty Alexan Side Cutter.
  • Modeling/Art Knife - X-Acto comes to mind, which is actually more about the blades itself than the shaft. There are cheap blades and shafts, but, it’s best to invest on metal shafts for their durability. The drawback, though is that if you do use a knife to cut away stupid, stubborn nubs, you can potentially damage the surface of the plastic you’re cutting. So use this tool selectively, sparingly and carefully.
  • Utility Knife / Plastic Cutter - You wouldn’t want to waste your art knife blade’s sharpness cutting thick sheets of plastic, so, you use a utility knife (retractable, with snap-off blades) instead.
  • Tweezers - for laying down those nasty, ugly stickers and dry-transfers you just have to use to put detail on your work, especially in older kits, and later on, when you decide to up your game with water slide decals.
  • Plastic Tubs - I’ve seen a lot of people lament about the dreaded black hole when they cut rather smallish parts from runners, and like a live fish, flies off in to the vast nothingness of space, or at least your room. When this happens, that part is damn nearly impossible to find. Having reusable, microwaveable tubs is a handy solution; simply aim the part you are cutting down into the tub, and it will catch said part. It’s also worthwhile to line the bottom of the tub with a few sheets of tissue or toilet paper to prevent those parts from bouncing off (it can happen).

    Aside from those tubs, you can use ice cream containers as well.

Level 2: Intermediate (Snapbuilding)

You’ll need everything in L1 plus:

  • Sandpaper / Sanding Blocks / Sanding Sticks - of various grits. I find that having 600, 800, 1000, 1200, 1500 and 2000 grit and up are the best combination if you plan to go beyond simple nub cleanup, because a cutter or a knife, no matter how sharp, just won’t cut it (pun intended) when it comes to nub removal. You can make your own sanding blocks and sticks by attaching a sheet of sandpaper onto a firm foam block or popsicle sticks respectively, if buying expensive, pre-made ones does not appeal to you.
  • Files - for nasty, bumpy nubs that would take a long time to sand, having micro or diamond files is handy. You’ll need this to make quick work of stubborn nubs, and flattening cemented edges of seams, modified parts and scratchbuilds.
  • Pens and Markers - If you’re like me you’ll outgrow these implements rather quick. I used to detail panel lines and small parts with pens and markers (I have even used a 0.1 technical pen), and for the very basic builder, these are the <go to> tools.

Level 3A: Advanced (Customs/Modifications/Scratchbuilding)

You’ll need everything from L1 and L2 plus:

  • Pin-Vise - one of the more important tools you’ll need if to plan to get more than your feet wet. The <best> pin-vise around is the Tamiya Fine Pin-Vise D, which has a pair of reversible bit holders and can accommodate bits from 0.1mm to 3.2mm, but there are other branded as well as cheap generic ones.
  • Clamps and Vises - You’ll need these if you have to secure sections or parts you’ve cemented or <sandwiched> together. In most cases, double-clips of various sizes would suffice.
  • Saws - Yup. You heard it right. Saws. You’ll need a hobby saw for general cutting, especially thick plastics. You’ll also need thin etching saws (some of which also double as scribing tools) when you need to make precise cuts, say like cutting a whole MG Sinanju and Sinanju Stein in half and slap them back together with a mirror in between them.

    It’s the next best thing to a *lazer* sword.

    Mirror, Mirror...
  • Scribing Tools - You can easily use dull/blunted and chipped knife blades and retrofit them as scribers, or you can sharpen those micro-screwdrivers and turn them into makeshift chisels (see photo above). But, if you have reached this point, you’ll realize that those might not be enough, so, invest on better tools, like actual modeling chisels. At this point, you probably also have a job that pays well enough for tools.
  • Router / Mini Drill - This tool is very handy when you need to cut something quick, or when sculpting something into shape. With various bits and heads you can also mount a polishing head for a quick polishing job.
  • Materials - When doing customs, you’ll need more than just tools. You’ll be needing a lot more of these materials the more wet you get. PlaPlates (is a brand of PolyStyrene sheets made by Tamiya) and is the base term of pla-plating, which means cutting pieces of PS sheets and arranging them in a nice layout to enhance your Gunpla’s overall look.
      There are other brands of PS Sheets, like Evergreen and also some generic ones, but, everyone seems to call them Plaplates regardless.
    It’s like Xerox is to photocopying, or Colgate is to toothpaste.
       Aside from Plaplates, you’ll also need beams of various thickness or diameter, especially when you start to scratchbuild a lot more than just a small part. You’ll probably need putty for some of the things you can’t do with plaplates, especially rounded and curved parts.
  • Adhesives - when you do modifications and scratchbuilding, you’ll need something to stick things together. Whereas the first instinct of most is superglue (aka, cyanoacrylate, or resin glue, which you should have nevertheless), the best adhesive for the job is plastic cement. You should have both regular and extra thin cement for various purposes.

Level 3B: Advanced (Painting)

  • Paints - Obviously. There are Hobby Grade paints, such as Tamiya, Mr Color Citadel, Vallejo and quite recently, Armored Komodo (which is now available in North America). You can experiment on other paint brands, but these are so far tried and tested to work best on Gunpla. Personally, I use Vallejo paints mostly for detailing because it’s designed for handbrushing detail. I have started using Armored Komodo quite recently.
  • Various Brushes - for handpainting, you’ll need plenty of various-sized brushes for detailing mostly.
  • Airbrush - ah, yes. The airbrush. I have a couple of them buggers, and a compressor to boot, but I’ve been using a handheld mini-compressor AB for minor spray work to complement,
  • Spray Cans - rattlecans, as others call it. Personally, aside from handbrushing detail, I mostly use Bosny cans as my go to paint choice (see photo above). They are basically affordable, easily accessible and convenient for people like me.
  • Masking Tapes - When you start painting, you’ll need to shield those pegs and joints so they don’t get painted on, which results in getting them stuck together during dry fit, and later on, breaking. Joints most especially need to be masked properly, but I do a shortcut by priming painting joint frame parts already assembled. Masking also allows you to put paint details via layer masks, like decal-type details and camouflage patterns.
  • Miscellaneous - Alligator clips, painting sticks, painting stands, buckets, tubs (for parts and clippings), metal rulers, compass, triangle, protractor, magnets, etc. All the things you will eventually think of needing later.

Friday, July 30, 2021

The Mystery of Scale: Part Three

Just today, I found this on my Facebook feed.

Source: Isaiah Takahasi

It's an impressive composite water scene of an RX 78-2 towering over what seems to be a Catalina-type sailboat yacht, but something seems off.

Yup, the scale is all wrong. The RX is too big compared to the size of the Catalina, which is about 10m from the base to the tip of the sail, and considering foreshortening, the RX is still rather huge since it's only 18m in 1:1 scale.

But, using the known average height of the Catalina which is around 10m, we can interpolate the height of that RX in the photo/image (proportionate to the GTO kit) to be around 50m, just as tall as the first version of Gojira.

Source: Google Search

So, it really is off scale, almost 3 times its actual height. At that height, the scale of the RX against its 1/1 counterpart is 2.78/1. Rule of thumb: The higher the value of the denominator, the smaller the scale height would be, hence why 1/144 scale of a certain object at 1/1 is smaller than its 1/100 scale counterpart)

Now Someone commented that the boat is 1/144 and that the RX is 1/48. We don't really mix scales when doing dioramas, and I know what the person meant, but sure, let's bite.

Using 1:1 height reference, the scale of the RX would be 1/36, and not 1/48. How did I get that number? Again, by using fractions, ratios and proportions which we learned in grade school and high school. Let's assign xb as the unknown scale we're trying to figure out, knowing the 1:1 height of the RX at 1800cm, the 1:1 height of the boat at 10m, and its estimated height of the RX in the image at 5000cm (1m=100cm), we get


Or, for the mathematically-challenged, here's a visual (which still requires Math to figure out, unfortunately). At 1/144, the height of the boat would be at 7cm (1000/144=6.94444~),  the height of the RX would be 12.5cm (1800/144). At 1/100, the boat and the RX are 10cm and 18cm respectively. At 1/48 (Mega-Size), the height of the RX would be 37.5 cm. At 1/60 (Perfect Grade) the height would be 30cm.

 
Here's where it goes nutty: If we use the 50m height as 1/1, the 1/48 height would be 104cm, while the 1/36 would be a whopping 139cm, almost a meter and a half, which is about the average height of a tall adolescent, or a small adult. I was overthinking this, but, if we interpolate the 1/36 and 1/48 heights into 1:1 relative to the height of the boat of 10m, then we get 50m and 37.5m respectively.

(Sidenote: I did get a little bit confused here earlier because of the 18m and 50m heights, since I thought I made a computation error to get 1/36. As it turns out, the 1/100 scale of 50m and 1/36 scale of 18m are both 50cm).

Now, here's how it should look like when everything is on the same scale.
Where's that rampaging T-Rex when you need it?

So, again, to determine the height of an object based on scale, you need to know one other value: the height of another object you can compare it to. Research comes into play in this case, since the only object I can compare the RX with is the Catalina. Even if you don't know anything about boats, you can simply do a keyword search for sailboat dimensions, which is exactly what I did.

In closing, I'd like to share with you this very nice image that depict the heights of different robots and super robots in relation to one another.

Source: All-over the Internet, but, where the heck is Gurren Lagann?


Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Why Gundams do not Rust

Disclaimer: I've seen impressive weathering done on Gunpla. I've also seen overly or improperly done weathering that looks as if they were dunk in a vat of oil or greasetrap gunk, or were haplessly lathered in marker inks, without any direction or logic. This article does not intend to hamper one's preference, standard or style, but rather simply explains the subtle logical reasons why Gundams or most Mobile Suits (MS), especially those that operate in space, do not rust. Such is the case, there are people who scream Gunpra iz Fleedom at people who actually know a thing or two about modeling and weathering when they make a polite comment* about how their weathering looks more like a cat puked it out, I won't show those, ugh, dirty socks.

First, let me start with a couple of things I posted a while back in several of the Facebook groups I was in. 

I've never liked the RX78-2, or, overly weathered kits. Gundams do not rust after all. But, this one is impressive. The modeler's name is M Live, and no surprise there, he's Japanese. It's dirty to the point of being haplessly lathered with dirt, but it somehow looks nice. In the discussion, someone commented that it was probably the pose that did it, and I would tend to agree.

Impressive Weathering by M Live

At the other end of the spectrum, there's minimalist weathering done by Zaku in a Box, which is what an MS would look like after a few days of deployment.

Minimalist Weathering by Zaku in a Box

I'd also have to include this magnificent Turn X done by Naoki The Turn X is one of my favorite MS designs as well. This is one of the best examples I can give when it comes to weathering done right. It's not overly weathered, has dirt in all the right places and does not look like someone dropped it in a vat of oil and viola! Instant weathering.

Turn X by Naoki

Now that that is out of the way, let's address the reason/s why Gundams do not rust.

One word: Gundarium.

Gundarium is the fictional metal alloy most Gundams or MS are made of. It's also called Luna Titanium (UC) mainly because it's sourced from the Moon, and Gundanium (Gundam Wing). As it is, Gundarium or Gundanium are alloys of Titanium. In Gundam SEED, the metals used Gundam and MS are also probably made with some form of Titanium alloys but are augmented by an electrostatic system (Phase-Shift Armor) which gives it added strength and durability against physical and projectile damage. In IBO, Gundams are made with nano-laminate armor, but who's to say that the metal component isn't a Titanium alloy of some sort either? I also have to mention 00 Mobile Suits which are made of e-Carbon, which as per lore is an artificial allotrope of Carbon (Carbon nanotubes), which is described as a materials with virtually no weakness and is corrosion resistant, so it's safe to say that it doesn't rust.

Titanium (Ti) is the 22nd element in the periodic table, with the same Atomic number. Produced in the heart of Supernovas, it's very ductile in its pure form, but when alloyed with other metals, becomes one of the strongest and hardest metal alloys on Earth, which is very resistant to corrosion. In fact when it oxidizes, the surface oxidation itself becomes its protection against further corrosion, as such it does not really corrode unlike cast iron metal or non-alloy steel which start to rust only after a few days exposed to the elements. Further, Titanium Dioxide, or titania, one of its naturally-occurring oxide forms, is used as a white pigment in paints.

Exposed to the elements, Titanium and its alloy forms would be very resistant to rusting, even after exposed for a very long time. If it does rust, it's most probably alloyed with iron, and only iron corrodes red.

Now, the other reason why Gundams don't rust in space should be rather obvious: the lack of oxygen in space. Granted that space colonies would have water and oxygen, these colonies would also be made of rust- and corrosion-resistant alloys which would mostly likely be Titanium. So, if one depicts a rusted MS in space, that would probably one which is not made of Gundarium or other Titanium alloys and have not been maintained properly. If the scene is a derelict, then it would probably be possible, but, it goes back to the point that, if it is a derelict, then it would be exposed to space, space is a vacuum, and in the vacuum of space, there is no oxygen or water (water freezes in space). No oxygen, no oxidation, no corrosion, no rust.

On the ground, it goes back to the same logic: how did that still-operating MS gets so rusty? In a continuous operation, the logical weathering would be scratched paint, projectile or beam weapon damage, dirt and dust on the edges and nooks and crannies.
 
But rust?
 
This is probably the only most realistic scene ever in the Gundam Universe.
 
Leiutenant Shiro Peeping Tom reporting for duty...

Ooops. Wrong scene.
 
Giant Robots ain't no match to the might of the miniscule dust and dirt...

We go back to that point of what Gundams and most MS are made of: Gundarium, which is an alloy of Titanium, which is corrosion-resistant, which if ever corrodes, has white corrosion.

Now, when the 00 was left on the field, flowers started to bloom and cover it, but it did not rust (as was depicted in the anime), since it is after all, made of carbon.

Source

Edit: Incidentally, I just recently came across this very impressive digital art by Aldiaz Nasher Arighi that
depicts the RX 78-2 as a derelict in a forest scene, heavily battle-damaged and has started to rust in places.
 
So, Gundams, in general, do not rust. Weathering, on the other hand, has logic to it:
  • Less is more.
  • Outside more than Inside.
  • Lower more than Upper.
  • Edges more than Flats.
  • Corners more than Curves.
Too much of it, your masterpiece can look like a masterpiece of shit, which is probably okay if it is depicted as a derelict and is no longer in service. But, if you're lazy, as such you opt skip sanding, priming and painting altogether and decide to weather bare plastic, there's a natural weathering technique I can share with you.

Effortless Weathering, for the Lazy amongst us...

OVERPRICED!!!

If you are a snowflake, don’t bother reading this. But you probably don’t think you’re a snowflake, so you’ll probably read it anyway . If y...