I’ve had a grand total of about six hours of sleep since the night before Day One. It feels like the Expo has lasted years at this point, especially since we got to the convention today before the sun even had a chance to poke through the clouds.
Day 2 was long but satisfyingly productive. I can barely function by the end of it, but we got an entertaining Gunpla panel, a successful run with the armor, a cool world premiere anime screening, a live performance, and nothing but good ‘con vibes.
We arrived super early today to beat traffic and make sure we could get a place in line for the Gunpla panel that would be going on at around 10:30am.
We worked last night up until 3am to get the armor fixed up and running proper – this time things should be much more rigid and the shield should actually be a usable accessory.
Copping our usual quiet and secluded suit-up area, except today it was slightly less quiet and secluded.
So as we finished putting the armor on and got to the last component – the shield – we suddenly realized with dread that we had forgotten a crucial piece at home. Recall that the shield assembly is based on a pipe-in-pipe nail-pin system, and if we didn’t have the nail that pinned the pipes together it wouldn’t hold. Yes, we forgot the nail.
But that didn’t mean the battle was lost completely. We just needed a thin object that could be strong enough to withstand the shield pressure. The victim? Our camera-carrying friend just so happened to have a ball point pen on him – with an ink cartridge that also just so happened to fit in the pin hole.
It’s silly and stupid, but I’ll be damned it actually completely works. The plastic used in that ink cartridge isn’t thick or stiff; it’s actually super flexible, but won’t break in half no matter how much we bend and twist it. This means it can stand up to shield pin duty.
Suited up, complete with shield. It actually looks the way it should’ve originally, without any freaky chest warping.
First panel of the day – the official Gunpla panel with Meijin Kawaguchi and Sunrise/Bandai staff.
My god he actually came on stage and did the entire panel with the Kawaguchi sunglasses. The man is legend.
Obviously the panel is focused on Gunpla, so there were some nice short presentations on Gunpla basics and its history, with interesting trivia sprinkled about.
Spotlight on the Unicorn Gundam and its accompanying recent Gunpla releases.
This is really the part we lived for – a focus on the Meijin’s Gunpla and his build process, along with a sample of his finished work – in this case a 1/100 Full Mechanics Gundam Barbatos Lupus.
I realize now that I’ve probably been hyping the Meijin hardcore and made a big deal about meeting him yesterday but have sort of just taken for granted that everyone would know who he is. A basic run-down would be that he’s a legendary Gunpla builder in Japan and around the world, who’s renowned for his impeccable models and status as a promoter for the hobby.
They even put the Lupus he built under the projector for a closer look at the details he mentioned. The amount of nuance put into the kit impressed and fascinated even the other panelists from Sunrise that were up at the table with him.
He even went out of his way to weather the Barbatos’ old armor from its original form more than the shinier new Lupus armor, and added dirt effects around the feet to simulate the Barbatos fighting on Mars soil.
This panel in general was much more hype and had a more lively atmosphere than the official Sunrise Gundam panel that we attended yesterday – thankfully this one was actually significantly different than that one – would’ve sucked if we basically attended the same panel twice.
After we got out we met most of the panelists outside and awkwardly asked if we could get one of the producer’s signatures on our armor. The group agreed that Mr. Ogawa should take the armor – he was responsible for producing Iron Blooded Orphans, both seasons of Build Fighters, and Gundam AGE. As fate would have it, he was also the assistant producer for the Gundam 00 Movie, where our suit hails from, so we’re sure he’s not unfamiliar with the Quanta’s design.
It’s a tradition every year to have the suit signed by someone related to Gunpla or the industry. Hopefully we can get the Meijin’s autograph later too, though unfortunately to do that today involved a pay-for-autograph-ticket session, which we weren’t super down for.
Lots of standout cosplay all over the place – wish I could’ve caught more.
Some of the guys asking for pictures of the suit have the most insane camera rigs. I don’t doubt that their pictures are probably good enough to make it into most museums, but those setups have to cost an insane amount of money.
The shield is now attachable to the armor whenever we want for photo ops, but to actually move around we need to carry the shield separately. If we had it attached to the armor while he walked in it, it would tear the chest down as it did yesterday.
Ironically we’ve become a parts-former this year – to achieve our final form it requires separate removal and installation of extra parts, rather than having the entire suit be integral.
Fellow foam armor friend as an EVA, along with the same kickass metal skeleton armor we saw yesterday.
The EVA’s height is kind of ridiculous – of course not in a bad way. You’d think we’d be pretty imposing as a mobile suit, but clearly we’re not the top dog.
Heading towards the main events hall now for a screening we were interested in: the world premiere of the animated series Violet Evergarden.
The line for the screening was stupid long, but apparently the main events hall can hold over 3000 people, so even though we arrived late we hoped that we would still get a good chance at seats.
Line-con to the max.
No photo or video allowed in the screening, so this was all we were able to cop before the actual presentation began. I don’t think the first episode they showed of the series lived up to the hype, but it certainly wasn’t bad, and the animation was certainly easy on the eyes. Special mention also goes to the live performance of the show’s theme song by artist TRUE – it might just convince me to go to more live shows.
If we arrive later in the day (say early afternoon) we can usually suit-up and stay suited until when we usually dip (around 7/8pm). Having arrived at 8am today though, my buddy needed a release from the foam prison for a bit. Apparently the heeled feet are especially painful parts to wear around.
Headed to the entertainment hall next to visit the cosplay repair center for a few quick touch-ups. Nothing of consequence was broken – the lenses in the helmet were just coming out a bit, so those just needed a fresh seal of hot glue and we would be set.
I would’ve liked to explore the entertainment hall a bit more, but I think we’re saving that for tomorrow, which is also when we plan to use the photo backdrop sets there to take some bitchin’ suit shots.
Met some villains being friends there. Both rigs are incredibly impressive – Grevious’ hidden legs and Megatron’s stilts make for some wildly unique cosplay.
Lowkey slightly terrified for him when he walks.
Fellow Gundam cosplayers! We’ve yet to find another Gundam suit, but maybe we’re just not looking hard enough.
Had a little time at the end of the day to go around the Exhibit Hall, but we’re having a hard time exploring it in earnest because it’s slightly difficult maneuvering through throngs of people when one person’s wearing a giant suit of foam Gundam armor and the other is carrying a giant foam Gundam shield.
Take yer pics.
Usually we keep the shield off if it’s someone asking for a quick pic, and most of the time they aren’t familiar with the suit design enough to actually know the shield I’m carrying on my back is actually part of the suit. But if someone actually calls us Quanta instead of bloody Exia for the quadbillionth time, we’ll be very obliged to put the shield in.
Visibility in the suit is supposed to be much better than last year, though of course we’re still getting the issue where my partner’s breath will fog up the lenses. This is mostly mitigated by the bottle of anti-fog we carry with us, which we reapply to the lenses every few hours, but it’s merely a small stopgap for the problem.
I’ve never seen him in more pain at the end of a ‘con day; looks like this armor is particularly taxing on his body compared to the previous ones we’ve built. We were here for nearly 12 hours today though, so it could very well be expected fatigue.
My camera-carrying buddy picked up some more stuff at the Exhibit Hall.
I actually also went ahead and impulse bought a Figma – though ever since this Twilight Princess Link was announced a while back I’ve always had my heart set on buying it, even if I don’t really have a Figma collection at the moment. I actually didn’t even know it had released already until I saw a bunch of vendors carrying it.
Today actually felt super productive – if also very dragged out because of the sheer amount of time we spent at the ‘con. I’m sure some other Expo-goers are laughing at us behind the screen for burning out after only 12ish hours, but to that I have to point out that we’re lugging a suit of Gundam around all day, stupidly large accessories and all.
Read on the rest of the Expo: