Robo Toy Fest – May 2015

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Been on a bit of a hiatus lately – haven’t posted in a month now. School’s picking up and wrapping up, so life’s been getting in the way a bit. I didn’t want to leave the site hanging again after my last absence, but things happen.

Thankfully I’m back with an event coverage though – just paid Robo Toy Fest yet another visit this past Sunday for the usual plethora of geeky goodness.

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I feel like the number of wares the vendors carry is decreasing. Would be nice to see some expansion in the future, possibly to include another room or area in the convention hall with even more robot-y goodness.

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Once again, this event took place at the Pasadena Convention Center. Looks like there was another event going on in the ballroom next door so it was a bit more packed than usual. We were clearly on the more civilized side of the building though.

As usual, there were mountains upon mountains of just pure geek merch. From My Little Pony to Metal Gear, you name it, chances are there’s at least one bit there.

P1130785Does that really say 800? A part of me wants to believe it was some kind of mistake, but another part isn’t surprised some of the prices can be that obscene. It’s no wonder so much merch is actually reoccurring between shows – there’s no shortage of stuff that just won’t sell.

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Oh, just one more piece I can only dream of owning. I’ve almost ordered it online before, but the price (that usually includes an exclusive Figma) is absolutely destructive. Art books are wasted on me anyway.

P1130824It’s always heart-wrenching to see some items that you already own at better prices than what you originally bought it for. I almost picked up another Figma Samus for $30 just to have an original version (mine’s been Light Suit-ified) but somebody got to it while we were out at lunch.

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A unique part of this particular show (and actually the main reason I came, since I didn’t plan on purchasing much this time around), was the holding of a Gundam Building Contest, sponsored by a local hobby shop, Robots4Less.

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This is the first time this has been done in the last few shows that we’ve been to, and it’s honestly nice to see Gunpla become more widely recognized at the show. The contest was to be judged by Those Gundam Guys before the end of the show.

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The contest was open to all participants as far as we knew, and divided among three categories: Pro, Amateur, and Youngblood.

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No judging criteria or model entry criteria was given; I think they expected it to be small enough to just leave the floor open to any and all entries. It wasn’t a strict contest with rules like no third-party parts or knockoff kits or anything; basically anything was fair game.

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The winner was to receive a gift card to Robots 4 Less (I believe first place would have gotten $50) and the satisfaction of having actually won a modeling contest, no matter how small.

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Those Gundam Guys had a few of their own kits on display there, which actually scared me at first because I thought those were the first ones to enter the contest. I really liked the Banshee Norn, but that Kampfer would’ve absolutely destroyed me.

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I really would’ve liked to have built a new kit just for this contest, but haven’t been able to really touch the hobby at all in the past few months so I decided to just enter my latest and greatest work – the Vice Burning Gundam.

As expected, there weren’t too many entries. It was nice to see other modelers bring in their personal works for competition though; you could see a clear difference in technique and work style between each kit. Everyone had their personal touches. The posing here made me sad though.

I was worried at first – when we got there there were only two other entries before me. I was number three, and the first to enter the “Pro” category. I didn’t want to seem boisterous or immodest, but I figure the line is drawn between “pro” and “amateur” at very specific points. My general idea was that anything up to custom paint job would be considered “amateur,” while scratch building, LED lights, weathering, and heavy suit modifications would be considered “pro.” Given how Vice Burning is heavily modified and painted (the entire torso is cannibalized together – this wasn’t simple part-swapping kit-bashing) I felt like I was obligated to enter Pro, no matter how poorly done I thought my own model was.

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But by around lunch time when we checked the contestant pool, no one else had entered Pro. My Vice Burning remained alone in its own little category corner, while stuff like that amazing Gouf Flight Type shown above entered the Amateur category. I almost felt bad because this guy was humble enough to enter Amateur, while I probably looked pretentious thinking I was good enough to enter Pro.

By the time judging rolled around though, it looked like Those Gundam Guys moved that particular entry up to Pro, though I’m not sure how many others were. By the end of the contest though, it looks like the fear of entering the most limitless category wasn’t unfounded.

IMG_0783Us peasants were foolish to think we could’ve stood a chance against a PG-level resin conversion kit. The moment this kit entered the fray, I’m sure the rest of us mere plastic modelers knew the end times had come.

I want a Perfect Grade Ground Gundam now. Everything on this kit looks absolutely on-point. The realistic weathering is mind-blowing, along with the especially flawless decal markings. It doesn’t seem to use the PG Mk. II’s frame (I’ve built that kit twice before) so I’m guessing it uses the original RX-78-2’s.

It seems stuff like the opening cockpit and backpack rack are still all there, but I’m fairly certain the lower legs don’t have the opening gimmick to store the beam saber hilts. Either way, this is an absolutely drop-dead gorgeous kit, made more impressive probably because I had the chance to see it in person. There’s really no scale to compare this to when you see professionally done stuff like this online.

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I would never argue with anyone who said this was a more impressive model than my own, because I wholeheartedly agree. It’s so damn good I was crying at the unfairness of it all and worshiping the modeler at their feet at the same time.

The whole contest I was silently praying someone wouldn’t waltz in with a really well-done MG airbrushed to perfection with a super-metallic finish and a half-metal inner-frame. Instead, someone decides to bring in a bloody Resin PG and proceeds to curb-stomp the competition. I suppose this is what it meant to be Pro; I immediately regretted not entering Amateur when this showed up, but after seeing the Gouf moved, I figured my Vice Burning would’ve been moved up too anyway. The discrepancies in skill levels and model qualities between only three categories was simply too far and large. There should’ve been a category for “God-tier.”

I feel like the amount of stuff that catches my eye at every show kind of diminishes. Probably because a lot of the merch is reoccuring; I did spot a lot of the same old figures and models unsold from the last show lying around.

IMG_0746There was an exception though.

While I was browsing the lines of vendors at the show, something shiny, red, and gold caught my eye. It was a particularly good-looking Iron Man figure, though it wasn’t Hot Toys for sure. That single irrefutable fact would’ve normally kept me away from stuff like this, but that particular Bleeding Edge armor just looked so damn good, I had to take a closer look.

IMG_0750It looks like it was a “Re:Edit” figure, by Sentinel. I’d never heard of them before, but from what the vendor told me they were around Hot Toys quality. Looking at the figure and price, I’d believe it. This Bleeding Edge was going for no less than $150 on eBay.

He offered me as much to buy it there and then, but I managed some semblance of self-control and decided to hold back on impulse-buying yet another figure I only discovered existed there at the ‘con. I had to wrestle with my inner demons for quite a bit, and I’m sure part of my want came from just losing a contest and wanting something to console myself with, but then decided that I had no right to buy a pre-built figure right after losing a modeling contest. If anything I should’ve been throwing money at a Perfect Grade Unicorn (which is in fact on the docket) and improving my modeling skills.

That artbook love. Most of the squad didn’t buy much either. We’ve gotten better at penny-pinching.

There was plenty of merch around that I would’ve loved to pick up if I had the money, but thankfully I didn’t. I’ve actually been redirecting my collection as of late, channeling my finances elsewhere and preparing for the eventual college move-out, so a lot of my old merch has been sold. Wouldn’t do me much good to just blow more money here.

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My total haul this time around; only spent $20 at the end of the day, sans some food here and there. Compared to our previous purchases, this is paltry.

P1130980I’ve been thinking about giving up on the whole 1/100 Customs thing, since I have some in the backlog that I just never want to work on (the 1/100 G-Cannon Magna is from Anime Expo 2014), but I just couldn’t pass up this Leopard Gundam in near-complete condition for only $5.

Everything seems to be included with this one, from instructions to box cut-outs and all the little opening missile gimmicks. The only problem seems to be that its dusty (sandy?) beyond all belief and has a snapped v-fin. Nothing that can’t be fixed; I’m playing around with some custom ideas right now.

P1130981The other little  bit I picked up was an Advanced MSIA Duel Gundam. Yes, it’s a bit random and a strange spend of $15, but I got it more for the nostalgia factor than anything else. The Duel has always been one of my favorite suits, and I remember when I was a child living in New York, my mother took me to visit Flushing once. I was playing around in an anime shop and saw this figure there, though my mother had refused to buy it for me at the time. It was right about when I was watching Gundam Seed, so I was disappointed that I didn’t get a chance to buy it then – figured I’d pick it up now for cheap.

It’s a neat little desktop figure – it’s actually kind of stylized and I like the general look. I’m really glad it’s just the base Duel without the cumbersome Assault Shroud; I can display it normally without feeling guilty for having so much unused armor.

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All told this Robo Toy Fest was a bit less spectacular than the rest, probably because we’ve gotten so used to it that it’s become a bit more mundane now. The Gundam Model Contest was honestly a fun experience though; I’m more grateful that I could participate in something like that than I am disappointed I didn’t win. If anything it just got me back in the mood to build more ‘pla right before Anime Expo rolls around.

2 thoughts on “Robo Toy Fest – May 2015

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