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February 23, 2004

The “going negative” attitude in collecting

Filed under: Toy News — Rumble Crew @ 7:41 am

Believe it or not the era of robot collecting is coming to an end. A simple look at ebay reveals no one is bidding on toys anymore. Why is it? I think it’s because of the “going negative” attitude many people has had in the past. What do I mean? In the last years people started whining screaming and complaining about the prices that many pieces fetched at ebay or were sold at elsewhere. Every time there was the suspect of a profit involved in the sale the crowd would arise like villagers in chase of the monster. Those crowds simply didn’t understand that screaming like that could only worsen their situation. I believe that many lost interest in robot toys, they don’t appeal people anymore, the magic has gone. Why? I don’t believe because of the toys itself but because of the people involved in the hobby making it be more a war than a pleasure. You can’t write anything on a forum without being flamed. People used to buy everything in the past, used to enjoy the toys. Trading is part of collecting. If you can’t count on that be sure that everything will end. No one wants to have something other people think is rubbish or not worth buying. If everyone starts to say: that’s a steal! That’s a steal! Death to the guy. Let me know who would want to buy anything anymore without having to be considered a loser who paid say 10$ more than what other people think the item is worth. I think this whole attitude makes toys very undesirable. I look at my collection nowadays and I think: wow, these things suck. The beauty of collecting is also sharing the joy with others. People today can’t say they have big collections or important pieces because the crowd would scream you are a scrooge (remember W.Schwartz?). That’s my two cents. I think many feel like this.


February 13, 2004

An Eye For Detail

Filed under: Toy News — Rumble Crew @ 11:08 am

Among my all-time favorites is the Takatoku Toys 1/40 scale Gerwalk Nikick. Perfect transformation, great detailing, awe-inspiring industrial design and gorgeous graphics and packaging… I’ve had one since the mid-eighties and after years of hard play, it’s still in one piece! The smaller 1/60 scale toys also featured beautiful detailing, although several, like the pair of M-Lover flyers are notoriously fragile. Last month, Nikick Jr. finally joined the collection. But first, I had to do some needed modifications before it started to fully resemble its bigger brother.

When you’ve owned a toy with such a distinctive design for over a decade, minor disparities in a smaller version may at first escape you. Aside from the need to remove the hands between the Gerwalk and Battle Form, the proportions are essentially the same. But after a couple of hours, it finally struck me that the colors looked, well… wrong. Check out this pristine shot from the Takatoku: Kanzen Henkei Datafiles:

1. The hexagonal areas on the chest covers should be in dark gray.
2. Housings for the torso lasers are not in yellow.
3. The narrow ‘knee caps’ are not painted red.
4. The chevroned area on the light gray shins are supposed to be in yellow.

Minor points perhaps, but to me, the 1/60 toy looked positively naked without the correctly painted areas. This was quickly fixed with a couple of Gundam Markers, so now Nikick Jr. and Snr. definitely looked like closer relations than before. Up close in Battle Form, the biggest difference is the yellow tinted lense on the larger toy versus the painted dot on the smaller. I’ve also inked some lines to gain better definition of the details on Nikick Jr.

Moving on to Gerwalk, things were still looking pretty good. The smaller toy benefits from simpler engineering; the single axis of rotation for its hip joint is far more robust than the double spring loaded pin-locking affair on the 1/40 toy. However the most glaring fault soon emerges. Slip open the chest covers on the 1/60 and voila! The cockpit has no canopy! I mean, no kidding, what was Takatoku thinking? Flying over the battle zone at over 500 mph and you want to feel the wind in your hair?! I should think not.

So after some thinking, I decided to make a canopy for Nikick Jr. A short trip to a bookstore’s stationery department soon yielded a yellow tinted plastic clear folder. It had the right color and it was mostly see-through. Good enough for me. Taking the toy apart is easy – just a matter of removing two cross-head screws in the back. The inside reveals two more shiny screws securing the chest covers.

Once the chest covers are separated, I took some measurements for the canopy. For better visual contrast, I also painted the cockpit block in dark gray, leaving only the pilot’s seat and surrounding panels in the original bright yellow. The inner surfaces of the chest covers were also done up in gray.

After a couple of tries, I found an acceptable plan form for the canopy. I taped the paper shape to the clear folder and cut out the piece. The new canopy was then attached onto the cockpit with 3M Double Stick Tape. The chest covers were then re-attached to check for proper fit. It was important to ensure the canopy material didn’t obstruct the head from retracting.

So there you have it… No need to give Nikick Jr. the queer eye anymore! And the pilot won’t have to suffer from wind chill either. My 1/60 scale Gerwalk Nikick is finally as it should be:



February 10, 2004

The Soltic Blues

Filed under: Toy News — Rumble Crew @ 2:34 pm

For about five years now I’ve been acquiring incomplete 1/72 Dual Model Dougrams and Soltics. I really didn’t know why, it was just sort of a compulsion I had. Whenever I found one of these half-naked beauties online or in a store and the price was right, I had no choice but to take them home with me.

One day, as I was about to store the seventh Soltic, skeletonized and ensconced in a Ziploc freezer bag, I checked the other ones. I realized I had enough parts to make two complete toys. The gears started turning…

I was going to turn these Soltics into Korchima Specials. But unlike Drifand’s awesome custom jobs, I didn’t want them to look like finished model kits with flat finishes and panel lines, I wanted them to look like toys, as if Takara cast them in blue styrene.

I always have half-assed ideas for making custom toys floating around in my head. Unfortunately, I have none of the skill, patience or equipment to actually pull them off, so I recuit others to do the dirty work. As with the bare metal Robocon, I would get by with the help of my friends.

The unlucky victim this time around was model master Jim Walsh, of the UNSC Shipworks (also known as “Jim’s Kitchen Table”). After getting some advice on paints, I hit the hobby store and agonized over the rack of Testors Model Master paints for about twenty minutes. Insignia Blue? French Blue? Royal Blue? I had no idea which one would be closest to what I was trying to accomplish, since I didn’t have the 1/144 Korchima Special to compare against the color chart. Eventually I settled on nice generic Dark Blue.

The next step was to disassemble the parts and deterimine which ones would be painted. The guideline I set from the outset was that only items painted or cast in green plastic would be painted. Masking the parts, as Jim explained, would be the most time-consuming part of the process. He showed me a neat little trick where you can apply Elmer’s Glue to things to mask areas like the chest vents and cockpits, simply peeling it off later.

One physical change would be made to the mechs: the addition of a forearm-mounted laser. All I needed to accomplish this was a Dougram forearm with its laser, which was mounted on a Soltic upper arm. Not exactly “anime-accurate”, but this is probably how a toy company that hated making new molds would handle it. At the very least, it’s how a lazy hobbyist would handle it. And yes, I know, Dougram purists, the Korchima Special also has a backpack unit that the laser plugs into. I thought about this, but then realized I didn’t plan on displaying them with their asses to the world.

Afterwards, the parts were mounted on punji sticks, the paint was mixed, and over the course of the following two weeks Jim blasted them with three coats of blue and two coats of clear gloss finish. Here is the end result. See how they’re nice and shiny like toys? You don’t? Okay, maybe I’ll subcontract out the photography next time along with everything else.

I’m really happy with them, although there are a couple of pieces I still need. Won’t you please give?

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