We’ve finally gotten our groove down in terms of operational time, three days into the Expo. Day 2 was grueling for how early we arrived and how late we stayed, and we had no idea what we were doing as the armor fell apart during Day 1. Day 3 proved to be the most enjoyable so far probably because nothing actually went wrong, and we called it in before complete exhaustion set in.
Befitting tradition, this will be our last day in armor. The usual plan is to wear it for the first three days and then thoroughly enjoy the Expo on the fourth day by winding down without the suit.
Since it was the suit’s last day we didn’t have to worry too much about the upkeep; as long as it stays in mostly one piece until the end of the day we’ll have won the war.
Cosplay for days.
Today we finally got a more thorough chance to check out the Exhibit Hall. It seems to be a little less crowded than the days before, making maneuvering with the armor in there much easier.
Merch, mecha, plamo, props, girls. The Exhibit Hall is where dreams come true.
Apparently someone had a fully transformable Dominator gun from Psycho-Pass. I wish I saw it in person, but word is that it even has sound feature with Sybil’s voice and costs somewhere in the region of $700. And people thought our armor budget of $200 was expensive.
It looks like judging for GBWC (Gunpla Builders World Cup) had already wrapped up by the time we got here; many of the kits have already been removed, so this is all we could catch.
My personal favorite of the leftover entries. I think it’s understated and cleanly executed, in contrast to some of the crazier and more ambitious custom builds. I’m also emotionally invested in the scene it’s portraying.
Of all the Gunpla around and the new releases this year, I’m actually most interested in a kit that’s been panned by the community lately – the Tristan Gundam from the new ONA series Twilight Axis.
I don’t know if I’m actually going to pick it up, but it would certainly fit into my current HG All Gundam Project collection. I’m fully aware of how dated the kit’s engineering is, but I actually really enjoy kits that require some more detailing and leg work to make look good. If it’s too color-accurate and crisp out of the box, it just makes for a less eventful build since I don’t have to do as much.
We spent quite a bit of time at this one particular booth in the Exhibit Hall that we’ve never seen before in previous years – they sell built and completed Gunpla for exorbitant (in my opinion) prices, mostly due to the high level of craftmanship and large amount of custom work put into each kit.
Every single kit here is built to a level of completion and perfection that I’m sure neither myself nor most of my friends will ever achieve. I’m pretty sure just about all of them feature custom resin and metal parts, and apparently it’s all done by a studio rather than one person, which at least in part explains the army of Zakus display.
This Full Armor Gundam(?) custom resin kit is by far my favorite piece at the booth. The posing really sells it as a standout.
Now, I mentioned exorbitant pricing because while I can 100% appreciate all the work that went into these kits, I also think there’s a line to be drawn for how much something’s actually worth. The PG Strike Freedom pictured here apparently took 10 months to complete, with nearly custom resin everything.
The price tag? That’s four zeros on the slip at the base. $20,000. You could have a brand new car all paid for or a one-of-a-kind PG Strike Freedom. I guess the numbers are so large that it simply breaks my sense of scale for what’s affordable and what’s not, but realistically I don’t think these guys expect to sell the kit anyway – it’s a super impressive halo display piece.
Amusingly, I personally think this 1/60 resin custom Double Zeta is actually much more impressive than the Strike Freedom, but if I recall correctly it’s (only!) $6000.
The entire shop isn’t priced completely out of range though – they also sell a range of in-house produced resin conversion kits, parts, and decals. These all fall into the much more affordable range of around $50-200 per conversion kit and less than $20 for decals and metal detail parts.
Not sure if the homie passed out on the build table was a subtle indication of their shop’s devotion to the art, but this was basically the picture-perfect representation of my image of a dedicated Guntoka.
After some Exhibit Hall wandering it was time to head to our panel of the day – a screening of the first episode of Code Geass: Akito the Exiled and a special panel with some of its voice actors.
I’ll leave out my actual thoughts on the OVA here, since that would require years to finish writing up, but the English dub that they showed for the first time at the screening was surprisingly apt. The French accents were jarring at first, but I quickly adjusted and can appreciate the extra effort to make the French characters sound French.
I thought Akito’s English voice actor Micah also did an excellent job portraying that stoic ace pilot protagonist voice, since it’s so hard to get right (sorry, Iron Blooded Orphans and Gundam 00; Akito did it better).
Akito’s Japanese VA also made an appearance, and oh my is he pretty. He also apparently voiced Saji Crossroad in Gundam 00, the series our armor is from, so we tried to catch him for a signature at the panel’s end, but the guy made such a fast beeline for the door that I swear he glowed red and screamed Trans-Am.
After the panel as we were going around ‘con we actually got stopped several times for live and video interviews, which was super cool since we don’t get these often from year to year. Apparently most of these guys are pretty big names in the industry, with a big Twitch live stream featuring us at one point where we talked about the armor and its build process.
Since it was the armor’s last day, we needed to hit the Entertainment Hall for some official photos with the photo op sets that they always have set up in there.
As we were on our way there we got grabbed by a few guys working for a website that wanted to take us to the sets for some video shots. Feels good to be asked for this stuff and directed around like actors.
I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before, but we seriously need more sci-fi themed photo sets. It’s always the same one every year, and while it’s nice, some more variety would be awesome.
And lastly, I had heard whispers of the Itasha cars from last year showing up again at the far edge of the Entertainment Hall, and sure enough as we made our way over there it was import heaven.
I have mad respect for the devotion all these guys display for the Itasha lifestyle.
I mentioned last year that some of the vinyl wraps were subpar due to their low resolution and discrepancy in quality. This year everyone seems to have stepped up their game big-time; these wraps are top-notch and incredibly crisp.
I aspire to this level of Miku.
Special mention to this sick 180; aside from being a unicorn in the U.S., I just like the build style, Itasha notwithstanding.
I was kind of sad to see some of the usual road blemishes on some of these cars, which distract from their show-car status, but at the same time that probably means that they’re being driven daily on the streets, which I have nothing but mad respect for since I don’t think I’d have the balls to roll with my rear windows covered in waifus.
Us at the end of each day.
And that wraps our last cosplay day. Tomorrow is the last day, which will wrap up AX 2017, but we still have exciting things to look forward to like the Code Geass live concert we’ll be attending…!!
As we de-suited the Quanta for the last time pieces were giving up and splitting at the seams, but that’s okay.
We had a few bumps along the way (more than usual for an armor) with the Quanta, but overall it was still a success. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from all this is that we should never build a suit with stupid-ass features like a gigantic shield binder or wings again. We should also probably stick to more iconic series suits, since it was teeth-gnashing to be called Exia or Optimus Prime all day long.
Read on the rest of the Expo: