Here we go again – fifth show and counting. I almost bailed on this event today; just about none of the guys whom I usually come with were available, save one who showed up well after a lot of the fun had wrapped up. A few days before though, I was determined to show up for the usual bi-annual Robo Toy Fest just because I need some spare parts for a custom kit I’m working on at the moment, and places like these are goldmines for bargain-bin throwaway models.
So because I basically came on my own (and with the missus, but only because I made her tag along), I of course don’t have my usual photographer buddy with me whom I usually give full reign of my camera to take photos of anything and everything at these events.
Because of that, there will unfortunately be much less coverage this time since I didn’t take too many pictures myself, but the upside is that the photos aren’t horribly blurred because my usual cameraman can’t hold the camera steady and take a decent shot to save his life. (Kidding, if you’re reading this I love you but like lowkey it’s true?)
The show was moved to a larger exhibit hall this time, which I suppose is nice, but because all the vendors were more spread out it made it seem emptier.
I was specifically looking for a 1/100 Zaku Phantom that I need its shields for, since buying a new one for $40+ just for those pieces is out of the question. I was actually a bit disappointed though – not only because they didn’t have any Zaku Phantoms, but also because the prices were pretty jacked, even at the 1/2 off deal.
I would’ve picked up a beaten up 1/100 Nataku for its Dragon Arms and used it for a custom Endless Waltz conversion with a MG Shenlong, but they were asking $50 on the bag. Even with the half off discount I still had trouble paying $25 for a poorly put-together 1/100 kit from nearly two decades ago with missing parts. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by the crazy deals I’ve gotten in the past, but unfortunately today I decided to pass on any used kits.
Plenty of niche stuff as usual, of course not even remotely limited to only robots. The missus was eyeing a Rilakkuma plush for the longest time (the price even dropped from $20 to $15 halfway through the morning).
This was so cool. Legos and Gunpla are freedom.
Bent down and sifted through nearly every “used-toy-bin” in hopes of finding maybe a discarded Zaku Phantom with its shields intact. No such luck.
Found a Guren! As I mentioned recently in my Robot Damashii Lancelot post, I’ve been keeping an eye out for this figure but haven’t sprung because it’s always too expensive. Unfortunately, it wasn’t any different here – the going price was $45 – I’d pay at most $30 for these and even that’s pushing it. (I feel like I’m establishing myself as a world-class cheapskate here who low-balls every seller I come across, but I swear I’ve just gotten more selective with my spending now that a car costs so much).
I’ve long since sold all of my NECA Pacific Rim figures and even my prized Sideshow Collectables Striker Eureka statue, so I’ve basically washed my hands of the entire franchise and haven’t been keeping up with any new releases.
Out of nowhere though, it looks like NECA put out a new “Ultimate” figure release of my favorite Jaeger, Striker Eureka. The box art looks kickass, it has a fancy open-window flap to view the figure inside, and looks like a massive update from the original.
It comes with the chest missiles! Even the transparent missile firing effects! The articulation is also vastly improved and it comes with an optional nuclear payload. All this clocks in at a mere $25. I very nearly went for it, but decided against it since I had already met my maximum spending quota. It would also look out of place now that I no longer own the rest of my Pacific Rim collection.
When the missus is actually infatuated by the Funko Pop figures.
I found the droids we were looking for.
I didn’t spot anyone with a remote or any indication of a control device so I can only assume this is an actual rouge Astromech who came for the Star Wars merch.
There was like an entire stand of just custom zombified merch that gave me waking nightmares. Very well done, but absolutely terrifying.
Hey, look who’s back! I’m 90% sure that’s the same Dendrobium that’s been shelf-warming at this vendor for over a year.
Shame that I wasn’t familiar with any of the special guests this time; I’m sure they were all very cool people, but I was never too into Power Rangers to get excited.
The other main reason I wanted to attend this time was for the usual Gundam Building Contest hosted by Those Gundam Guys. Unlike last time though, I actually don’t have some crazy super-custom masterpiece kit to submit, but I have been building up my High Grade All Gundam Project, which are all fully-painted but stock-colored kits. I figured this would be enough to land me somewhere in the amateur category.
The pro winner was a custom HG Graze. It doesn’t look too crazy, but it was clean and custom with some fair modifications and a very attractive color scheme, so I definitely think it was deserving of the win.
The awkward thing is that I think we left for lunch right as the main wave of contestants rolled in, because when I set up my kit there were only like 3 other entries (they were all custom-painted and in some cases kitbashed) but I don’t know if they were entered in Pro or Amateur. By the time we got back only the winning kits were still displayed, so I literally didn’t even get a chance to see the competition.
The contest seemed much smaller than it was last year, but honestly I’m not too sure. That’s what the judging table looked like as we left out for lunch at noon; the tiny speck in the distance would be me, next to all those dark big kits that totally overshadow my meager HG.
The latest addition to the HG All Gundam project would be the HG Gundam Barbatos, and I entered it here hoping the judges would already know just how much custom painting had to be done on this kit to get it to look as it should (more on this later in its own post, but just a heads up this kit looks nothing like the manual if assembled straight out of the box).
The thing is, I’m not sure if I should’ve entered Amateur or not; I entered Pro before at the last contest with Vice Burning and even had one of the judges validate my skills, but with only two such broad categories where should the line really be drawn?
To be honest I thought amateur would basically consist of only snap-builds and very basic custom-painting. My kit was fully painted and very extensively hand-detailed, but at the end of the day I think what would really have it looked down upon was the fact that it looked stock – it wasn’t a custom job. I think the first few episodes of Build Fighters said it best – there’s no imagination with my All Gundam Project, though I don’t think it’s such a negative thing as the aforementioned show painted it as. Creativity is great and seems to be all the hype with Gunpla nowadays, but I think a really well-done and clean stock model has its merits too, and will trounce a poorly modeled custom kit any day. I worried that others wouldn’t share my point of view and immediately dismiss my Barbatos as a straight-build though, so I played it safe and went with Amateur as a sort of self-humbling (hopefully that doesn’t sound cocky).
All the same, I was still pretty surprised I ended up winning the category, but again, I honestly have no idea who or what my competition was.
Feels bad we didn’t even come close to winning the raffle. We weren’t even aware of what the prizes were.
Walked away very satisfied though – my first RE 1/100 kit! I was very excited when the Efreet was first announced – not because I was a fan of Blue Destiny (never played it) or that I liked the mobile suit design (I don’t like the Custom’s chunky legs) but because it presented a good chance to mod the kit into one of my favorite Unicorn designs – the Efreet Schneid. (Yes, I’m aware of the irony of Bandai announcing a P-Bandai Exclusive Schneid right before this kit dropped, but no way am I paying the premium for an easy custom I’m excited to do myself).
The guys at ToyArena hooked me up as usual – the sticker price at $40 was already $1 cheaper than Amazon and a whole $10 cheaper than the lowest price on eBay – store prices nearly never match or beat Amazon. The MVP at the booth (whom we’ve encountered multiple years before at Anime Expo) hooked it up with a further discount though, allowing me to walk away with this brand-new release at only $35.
I honestly only came with the intent of picking up one or two HG’s for the All Gundam Project but ended up getting my next big custom project instead.
While it was a bit of a different experience this time, the show was still plenty of fun and I enjoyed rummaging around as usual. I didn’t find as many gems as I usually do, but I think that’s due in part to me generally thinning down my collections and interests (for example I would’ve been all over the new and surprising Masterpiece Transformers releases I saw at the show but I’ve long since sold every piece off).