Gunpla,  Life

Southern California Gundam Model Competition 2017

Second time coming through to Fullerton in Southern California to participate in SCGMC – I wasn’t originally going to go this year because I hadn’t built anything noteworthy since last year that I wanted to submit in the contest, but as it turns out I ended up cobbling together something last-minute a month before the competition and entered it anyway.

Looking at the last year of my build log, Gunpla has really taken a back seat compared to the car models I’ve been cranking out lately. My focus on improving as a modeler is more geared towards those kits rather than Gunpla and mecha models at the moment, but I haven’t given up Gunpla completely, so I figured it’d still be nice to check out some impressive builds here.

Having been here last year at the same venue, I knew exactly what to expect. It actually seems more packed than before – maybe a new setting will be in store eventually (with higher tables please).

Gunpla is freedom (except when there isn’t an actual Freedom entered).

Categories seem to remain the same as the year previous, though this time it looks like UC got a lot more love.

Skill sets and build levels are of course all over the place, with some very clean and understated kits sprinkled among a lot of highly detailed and realistically weathered examples.

We couldn’t capture every kit for want of camera battery and storage capacity (the full gallery of entries are available on Those Gundam Guys’ website), but I will be pointing out builds I found neat.

This Providence had (what I thought to be) a really unique base light setup. It definitely drew attention, though I’m personally not a fan of the muted and worn look of the suit itself.

Got me dyin’ out here.

I remember seeing this one right away as I set down at the 1/100 and larger UC table.

Straight thug.

Itasha decals! Feelsgood to see a brother, even if it’s only on one arm.

The Beginner and Junior categories had some very impressive kits, including an RX-78-2 that I believe was actually pre-shaded.

I’m pretty sure Those Gundam Guys also built their own kits for this show, but likely didn’t actually enter them in the competition proper. The GP03 would’ve crushed it.

Someone actually entered 3D-printed human-sized RX-78-2 hands, individually no less. I’m a righty myself, so of course I’d be biased if I were judging these.

I think every single SD kit this year was actually very well done – these little things take effort to look good in most cases, so it was nice seeing all of them done up to a pretty high level of completion.

Resin anime figures are still a bit of an enigma to me, since I’ve only ever painted up a tiny 1/24 Han before. I can’t imagine how difficult some of the more advanced garage kits are, though this category seems pretty lively with plenty of entrants.

Star Wars, on the other hand…it gets its own category, but only three representatives. Kind of surprising given how popular and widespread the new Bandai Star Wars kits are, but at least this way it means everyone in this category gets to place.

Shout-out to this really cool Breath of the Wild diorama. The custom shrine lights up too.

Dioramas also had their own category, and I was even going to enter it originally. I had planned to create a simple diorama for the kit I was building, despite my limited experience making any sort of realistic environment, but at the end I simply ran out of time, since I had barely finished the kit itself in time. In retrospect, I’m really glad I didn’t – if my attempts at flocking and grass effects had gone up against some of these entries I would’ve been highly embarrassed.

This one was really neat. It’s clean while still being incredibly detailed, and captures a still moment well.

I’m surprised this one wasn’t submitted to Diorama, instead finding itself in the Advanced UC 1/144 and smaller category.

This HGUC Nu really caught some attention for its unique approach. It took me a double and then triple take to make sure I wasn’t just passing by a papercraft.

I guess there’s really no better way to achieve the effect you were going for than to literally do just that, right?

The effect looks shockingly realistic because…it’s actually just colored pencils!

Even the shield and shoulder insignias were just drawn in, and the joints are shaded in. Some people would laugh when you tell them you took colored pencils to Gunpla, but then what they don’t know is that the effect actually works.

The display theme is also incredibly creative. How do I become that imaginative?

When it’s a literal laundry list of build notes and mods. Some people didn’t even write anything in that section, even when it’s clearly not a straight build.

And just as before, Those Gundam Guys hosted some neat demos and workshops talking about the art of building and such.

Airbrush demo is apparently a favorite – a surefire way to get people on the fence about the painting method to know their way around it much better.

So, every year the competition has a special theme – last year it was Iron Blooded Orphans, and this year it’s RX-78-2. The special theme doesn’t mean you have to build to it – it just means there’s an additional award for best of theme – i.e., if you build to the theme this year you’re eligible for the “Best RX-78-2” award.

I wasn’t originally going to build to it because I thought the RX-78-2 platform is such an easy platform to customize and modify that the category would be saturated in unique builds, but some unique circumstances (read: no local shop had a MG Heavyarms in stock) led me to just picking up a MG 2.0 G3 because why not.

This build and subsequent entry into the competition was born out of a shower thought. About a month before the competition I had an idea: what if I used the leftover Itasha decals from my Good Smile Racing NSX on a Gundam and made an Itasha Gundam? It would be a totally unique competition entry! And so it was done.

The complete chronicle and build log for this kit will be up next month, but I did end up crunching it together specifically for this contest. As a result it was a bit rushed so it isn’t a perfect build by any means technique-wise, but I didn’t go in for the win – I just did it for the fun of showing off an Itasha Gundam.

I was actually really surprised and extremely flattered at how many people seemed to find the build interesting and asked about it – especially when I felt totally overshadowed being displayed next to some big black Zeek suits. I didn’t enter the NSX though – the judging form was solely for the RX-78-2, but I thought the display wouldn’t be complete without the car, so it was just there for kicks.

I did, however, enter my latest car build – my Aoshima 350Z Nismo – in the Mecha General category just for fun.

It looked supremely out of place among desaturated and expertly weathered mechs as a shiny sports car, and of course it was the only auto model there. I would hope the judges recognized the challenges of building car kits and achieving mirror shine finishes, though it looked like most onlookers glossed over it pretty quick – I can’t really blame them if they thought it were just a diecast toy from WalMart instead of an actual model kit.


This is the stuff my Z shared a category with – I guess cars are really pushing the “Mecha General” envelope.

That feel when you’re so last-minute you’re assembling your entry at the show. And here I thought I was cutting it close.

I believe this was that kit – looks like they got it together in time!

The Expert category only had a few entrants, and not all of them appeared to be Gundam.

I found this one to be the most visually impressive – the Zaku encased in the clear (resin) was really crazy. It had a flickering LED monoeye too.

Tofu delivery – now by mobile suit. But does it drift?

Giant selection of prizes for the raffle events. I’m just never feeling lucky.

A few vendors stationed up against the back wall have boatloads of Gunpla and models/materials/tools for sale.

Neat-looking garage kits. I want to try one out in the future.

Tempting. But I want to build my EW Custom Heavyarms first.

I actually think this might be the same resin parts and transkit manufacturer that we saw at Anime Expo this past year. I do really want to try a detail-up resin set for Gunpla soon, since I’ve worked with the material with cars, but have yet to try it on mecha.

This was a really cool station they had – just like 4 or 5 tables with buckets and boxes of spare runners, parts, half-built kits, and the like. The deal? Anything that fits in a regular sandwich bag (provided) is $5. This is a scratchbuilder/custom Gunpla project’s dream! I could’ve fit two half-built (i.e. missing a few parts, limbs, but mostly still there) HG 1/144 Heavyarms in a sandwich bag and just taken it for $5. I saw some guys piece entire kits back together and shove them in bags for a crazy steal. I almost really wished I had a big custom kit or something planned in my head, because I would just have a heyday hunting for weapons and parts I could’ve used.

My favorite entry at the show, and not just because it’s also a racecar sponsor-theme suit. I should’ve placed my kit next to this, since they’re nearly two peas in a pod with the bright matte finishes, though this looks quite a bit cleaner than mine.

I really like the color breakup and vibrancy – I recognize the distinct Marlboro design and colors (because it’s a fairly popular livery on cars) integrated into the chest, and the matte finish makes it look ridiculously clean.

Next time, baby (ha).

Awards at the end.

Apparently the 1/100 UC category that I entered my Miku Gundam into was so crowded that they had to split it, with two second places and two third places, though still only one first place.

Same deal with the 1/144 UC category, though for this one they split it very specifically with a second and third place each for Feds and Zeon suits.

That feel when the Expert winning entry wasn’t a Gundam.

The RX-78-2 theme winner was a very well-done mini-diorama Grandaddy.

The Best of Show winner was a very cool small diorama of a Zaku head – that had a moving lit mono-eye and humidifier that blew vapor out of the “nose”. At some point during the show I saw the owner reprogram the moving eye’s (movements?) on his laptop – major props for such cool stuff.

I remember telling myself last year that I would come up with some super cool diorama to submit for this year’s competition, but the weeks and months passed so quickly that I barely had time to scrape together a basic MG for the contest. Still very cool meeting some new people and getting to see so many unique builds close up though – maybe a Gundam car instead of a Racing Gundam would be a good entry for 2018. . .hmmm. . .


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