Monday, August 29, 2011


here comes my experience with TVtropes (or really any wiki-type site). the thing is when you enter the homepage, or look up a term on google and it leads to an article on a site like that, the experience is like opening a door into a room filled with more doors. it's strange and at the same time enticing, you're given a situation where in front of you are more doors to open and without any guarantee that you'll end up where you want or back into the room with more doors. 

one does not simply walk into more doors.

anyway i started with moeblob on google. it linked me to moe. from there i ended up in this article, and then here. then here. and here. at this point it was getting ridiculous, but at the same time fun. and i haven't done any link jumping until i hit this thread on /toy/.

it's one of the things i enjoy about information on the internet, and it weirds me out how quickly i get sucked in. oh well time to look up hypertexts.   

something i did for my thesis which needs honing. at this point i'm not sure how this piece factors in, but it works as a proposal of sorts. sorry if it comes off as rambly. comments and corrections are encouraged, and any links related to this study is very much appreciated! 

Scale Model Photography-  The Dynamic Philippine Gunpla Scene.

There are two terms related to this study that have resonated in the past few years between participants in the growing local  plastic scale modeling scene; PlaMo and Gunpla, the former is a portmanteau or shorthand for Plastic modeling while the latter is an offshoot genre of the parent activity, and is shorthand for Gundam Plastic Models, which has through the years grown to become the definitive standard for all other lines of the Mecha narrative, be it in fiction or in the physical scale models built. Growing up in the 90s I am almost positive that at least once in my generations’ childhood all the boys bought and built a gundam kit, either through exposure to the animated show on local networks or through simply being attracted to the aesthetic design of the models. Some may have outgrown these things as quickly as they built them, others may have been stimulated by the complexity and myth (and I use the term in a general sense) that makes up the background of the models that they pursued them through each successive series put out, in some ways I am part of the latter, and there are several individuals (whom I shall talk about further into this research paper) who have made this series an outlet for their creative energies.

 By and large the manufacture and the propagation of these kits and their accompanying series has become one of the symbols of Japanese pop culture (Tatsumi,2008), often meriting it’s own grand events overseas with events like the Gundam Caravan touring the local malls in the Philippines showcasing the works of Filipino modelers or contests like the BAKUC (Bandai Action Kit Universal Cup) which pits these modelers and their works against others from Singapore, Hongkong, Japan and other Asian countries.
As a genre, Mecha and consequently Gundam contains several appealing aspects to it that make it attractive, namely I include: design and technological sensibility (Tatsumi, 2008), Narrative power and Masculine symbolism (Lunning, 2007), and Branding / Brand Nationalism (Iwabuchi, 2010). All of which factor into my study of Filipino Gunpla modelers and how they attempt to integrate or circumvent these  aspects when bringing their own vision into the mix, in terms of presentation.

Post-War and Fictional War Narratives

Mecha as a genre emerged in the 70’s with shows like Mazinger Z, Voltes V, Daimos and many others, with narratives centered around a war between man and monsters or usually aliens,  many times character driven as well, with the robots only being there to attract the attention of the children with their vibrant colors and many gimmicks. Indeed, it can be said that these shows had with them a toy mentality in mind, with the ulterior aim of making profit from the shows through merchandising, but towards the end of the 70’s and throughout the 80’s into the 90’s mecha began to focus heavily on narratives of war, and politics as well, still just having the robots in the background serving as indicators of a technologically advanced (while politically contemporary) society, and consequently grounding them as plausible machines of war, between nations of human beings fighting other human beings, as was the case in Mobile Suit Gundam (Tatsumi, 2008).
Narrative aside, when the design aesthetics of giant robots changed from colorful gimmickry to something plausible, as a platform for engaging in warfare, consequently shifting from something almost fantastic or whimsical to something found in “soft” science fiction,  Tatsumi favored it as something that appealed to the sensibilities of the time,  “ Tired of agonizing over the abstract problems with no solution or conclusion, people were entranced by a technology that symbolized such stylish agility--the mobility to outflank any opponent”(2008).
My take on this statement is that the design of it attracts in a way that mecha technology at least in fiction is treated as an assimilation and extension of the human body, elevating its physical capabilities and giving an overall advantage to the soldier-pilot which to me is a very appealing humanistic fantasy, and this fantasy is reinterpreted, or rather recaptured through the scale model, and consequently retold in model photography, bringing into the single frame the political climate, technological milieu, and majesty of the future war narrative, re-telling an event that never happened and making it seem real. Interestingly and more often than not, the protagonists of these series have no explained nationality in them, often implied to be white Caucasian or if not, part of a genetic mix. Considering these narratives were made in a post-war Japan that has since opted to embrace an identity no longer having roots in tradition but rather defined by their cultural outputs (Iwabuchi, 2010), this in turn can open up the appeal of Mecha and Gundam to about almost any nationality, seeing as it is set in a future where the national boundaries of today aren’t as prevalent,  yet seemingly familiar. As Margaret Higgonet put it, “Toy Narratives are always set within a play of simulation or mimicry that is highly social…toys in war stories are often likenesses of humans that invite us to see humans as likenesses of toys, as automata.”  These models give us a glimpse of a world that is hopefully not to come, both attractive in their visual appeal and yet horrifying as simply being another tool to harm others with.

 The Mecha as the Masculine

Going back to the narrative appeal of mecha, it is almost always a staple that the protagonist is a young male, often inexperienced whose parent or parents took part in the development of the machine he is almost destined to wield for his faction, whether he has clear political identifications with it or not. The mecha then in this case becomes a right of passage for the child, a crutch for him to deal with the bigger world before him (Lunning, 2007), something that is best seen in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (Gainax, 2007).  In the context of Gundam though, which can be said to have began the trend of the unsure child-hero, there is still that small element of proficiency with the protagonist, implying a quality akin to a prodigy, that has yet to meet his fullest potential, and through continual use of the mecha and exposure to the harsh world at war, they become hardened, and more mature, entering the machine as children and leaving it as men, giving the mecha a transformative aspect, as far as character is concerned.

Briefly looking back at design though, Lunning posits its conventions as usually masculine, designed in a way to be an exaggeration of the male physique, exhibiting tremendous strength and mechanical capability, contained within a streamlined metal shell, housing the heart of a child and child-pilot (2007) interestingly as a contrast of my own personal observation of female mecha aesthetics as overly sexualized and curved, as close to the ideal female form as possible in opposition to the exaggeration, hard-lined and battle worn aesthetic of “male” robots.  This brings into consideration it’s appeal to the (usually) male scale modeler, who in several stages builds up this image of overcompensation, from build, to composition to photography, always seeking to position the model in its most dynamic and masculine, striving to make it exude as much fantastic power as it merits in its narrative depiction.
How I view it is another form of posturing in the context of the modeler, in a way showing off and trying to appear as someone with great creative and technical skill (which often rings true anyway), but expressing it in a forum that is composed of fans or, “Otaku” attempting to either break away from the stereotype or positively reinforce it, with the genre they’re practicing in being riddled with ironies; the show (gundam) and franchise was considered a failure as a children’s show and instead was saved by older  male viewers in japan (Galbraith, 2010) and in a way here in the Philippines as well, becoming a niche for modelers with an otaku sensibility, in a hobby that is often considered mature with its cars, planes and battle tanks. Where the often considered awkward individual steps up, steps into the mechanical shoes, and emerges as an entirely different individual, just like in the show, masculine symbolism and tropes in tow and exhibited for all to see, behind large acrylic cases.

Brand Nationalism
In brief, the third aspect of this genre that I am presenting in this paper that helps sell Mecha in the Philippine setting is derived from Koichi Iwabuchi’s concept of Brand Nationalism. When he speaks of this he means it in terms of japan’s banking on a new cultural identity not found on tradition (while it does play a part in it) but instead in its impact on global pop culture (Olmos Titos citing Iwabuchi, 2008).  Iwabuchi’s term of Soft Nationalism entails with it a culture of vanity found in the cultural exports of Japan, making it a means of “—uncritical, practical uses of media culture as resources for the enhancement of political and economic national interests, through the branding of national cultures” (Iwabuchi 2010). Local Otaku celebrate and know Japan through whatever Japanese products the find in stores or watch on their televisions or read in their manga volumes or computers, using Japanese phrases in their group gatherings and generally loving this “Cool Japan” phenomenon (Iwabuchi, 2010).Gundam and Gunpla is considered part of the “Cool Japan” phenomena—part of the Japanese “Brand” and lauded for it. Thus, with these standards set before him the Filipino modeler has two options at hand, the first is to follow the sensibilities of the Brand Nationalism of Japan in terms of making his or her model, or to break the norm and reinterpret the model in their own cultural terms and sensibilities.  These are the positions which this paper seeks to explore,  and eventually document as a practice that explains how the Filipino modeler alternates from or permanently transcends the mimicry and uniformity inherent in Scale Modeling.

Works Cited

 Galbraith, Patrick W. "Akihabara: Conditioning a Public "Otaku" Image." Mechademia 5 (2010): 210-30. Project Muse. Web. 6 July 2011.
Higonnet, Margaret R. "War Toys: Breaking and Remaking in Great War Narratives." The Lion and the Unicorn 31.2 (2007): 116-31. Project Muse. Web. 10 Aug. 2011.
Iwabuchi, Koichi. "Undoing Inter-national Fandom in the Age of Brand Nationalism." Mechademia 5 (2010): 87-96. Project Muse. Web. 10 Aug. 2011.
Lunning, Fenchy. "Between the Child and the Mecha." Mechademia 2 (2007): 268-82. Project Muse. Web. 6 July 2011.
Olmo Titos, Antonio. "Considerations about the Nature of Japanese Cultural Exports." Birkbeck, University of London (2008): 1-6. Web.
Tatsumi, Takayuki, and Christopher Bolton. "Gundam and the Future of Japanoid ArtResponse." Mechademia 3 (2008). Project Muse. Web. 6 July 2011. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Orga's new ride

guess what i snagged for around $18 loose.


dammit i'm so happy right now.

Friday, August 19, 2011

I Accidentally the Fluttershy... is this Dangerous?

i seriously don't remember how this happened. 

get a haircut, go do a quick toy run then look for a nice book to buy. i did all of that but apparently went home with a pony, but at least it's Fluttershy (deep down though i was hoping i could find a Pinkie Pie instead.).

i have found that combing and  styling pony hair is very theraputic and calming. i guess everything works out in the end. i actually feel better about that other figure i bought this week.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

and now, Buyer's remorse! act 1: Power Rangers Samurai- Yellow Mega Ranger

it's decent but with the trends in 4 inch figures today it honestly could have been better.
stuff i didn't enjoy about it:

  1. this thing was too tall for the other 4 inch toys that i own, in package she didn't look all that huge at all but when i stood her up next to chun-li and T-elos i was like; "fuck she's tall" and she's not even wearing heels like T-elos is,  so i can't justify that height. As a female it's figuratively (hee hee) as tall as Yao Ming. this line is in a scale of it's own... or it's like SIC Kiwami Tamashii. And if this is the case it leads me to my second point...
  2. the articulation is limited. it would be fine if it was still 2003 but it's not. even a waist joint and basic bicep swivel would have been nice. pushing it i would have asked for ankle rockers. 
  3. the proportions are weird. super long legs, tapered/noodly forearms, manhands, that overly mechanized shinkenmaru with a grip that would better suit a 5-6 incher.

stuff i DO like:
  1. oddly enough, the design itself. 
  2. the Land Slicer weapon.
  3. the plastic quality. it seems very durable and softer where it needs to be.
Stuff i did for my figure:
  1. shortened the calves. at least now she's as tall as Jazwares BA Baracus. 
  2. added bicep swivels.
  3. kept it. at the price i bought it for i might as well enjoy it. and after doing the previous 2 things i doubt anyone would want it. 
overall, Meh. Bandai of America, you had it down with Jungle Fury yellow ranger in terms of sculpt and articulation, kinda perfected it in RPM.

 you could have just downsized what you had in that line's features and applied it to this. the 4" MMPR figures and the samurai megarangers just seem lacking with marshmallow-y sculpts.

if they make a 4" regular costume of yellow samurai ranger, i'll be obliged to buy it, since it'll be shinken yellow by default. and until i can find a materialforce microsister body in yellow and affordable i'll be hanging on to this.

note:i didn't take any more pics because it just doesn't feel worth it, really. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Motion Revive T-elos figure review

To be honest I've never played the game and I have no idea who T-elos is outside her being the yang to Kos-Mos's yin. So please don't hit me. 

Ii bought her out of how she looks which is pretty nice honestly, really love her design and colors so she was a must-buy for me, and a welcome addition to my 1/18 scaled collection. 

I got her from Hobbylink Japan for 444 yen or about 247 pesos (5$) , through a local middleman and the total cost was 750 pesos ($17 or so ) inclusive of tax, customs fees, and middleman fees.
Can't help but feel I dealt the wrong hand in all of this...aaaanyway, to start off I'd like to talk about her packaging:

Which honestly looks great, but feels cheap. 
Like it was printed on really thin card paper, But I'll give them points for designing it and putting all the stuff you need to know about the figure on the back and the rest of the sides, eliminating the need for instructional inserts.  It does looks good from afar, not that I plan to keep it though, now on to the figure!

So what about it?
  •  It's very well sculpted, having nice detailing from top to bottom, though the joints stick out a little on the shoulders and hips, it's very shapely and very sexy, though the huge boobs are a bit much and slightly distracting. It'd be fine if she had hips to go with it, but the other kibble on her just obscures that. 
  •, could be better honestly. She seems katoki'd to fuck, Top-heavy, and her arms are a tad short. I can understand if that was the only way to make the rest of her design work toy-wise, though the articulation leaves much to be desired; shoulder articulation is done in a way that seems detrimental to posing well, and would have been better placed under the armor parts just above the elbow joint.
  •  Then her thigh-belt is too hard of a plastic to really bend and stay in certain positions.
  • Despite having an almost seamless sculpt with decently hidden joints, it could quite honestly have been executed better.

Man. she really lacks ass of any degree. 
Moving on though she's very well painted, and her shade of black, violet, and maroon just sings to me.

 I love it.
 Especially the 2-toned violet it's so shiny and metallic in some parts. Her hair color blends nicely as well, with a nice shade of pink complementing  the maroon and violet.

Her blue eyes break up that combo but it's not too noticeable, to be honest it kinda tones down her token villain coloration which I like.

She has what I'd consider a good amount of them, 
let's start with the smaller ones:

On the table you'll see her hand weapons, a pistol and a set of parts that make up an energy blade weapon of some sort. 

  • The pistol seen above looks too huge for her hand and cannot be held convincingly (or at all. it's just the sheer force of my will keeping it there and not popping off. if i break concentration it flies off to the unknown).
  • The blade weapon on the other hand I really like and my only complaint is that it's not made of clear pvc. to be honest it looks too much like part of a blue leek. Good attempt though. 

She also comes with a stand! 
Because it's quite obvious in-hand how hard it is to get the damn figure standing upright or posed dynamically on it's own. Such is the flaw in high heels. Damn them!

The stand is white, which would be better with Kos-mos honestly. It doesn't really jive with the dark colors of T-elos. It also plugs in via a ball socket at (on?) her back, so there's another point about this stand I dislike, the inability to be used by other figures. 
Despite having a good range of motion on it's own, the exclusivity of its use is annoying.

Big guns! yep, the main selling point of this figure, accessories-wise are these huge, Heavyarms Gundam-esque vulcan cannons, which are well detailed and painted but the way they're held does not fit well with the design of the forearms, particularly her left forearm that has that big gauntlet.
 There's just no way to completely hold the big gun without having it popping off or dispositioned to the point that it can fall off on its own, without some fiddling and absolutely no gust of wind hitting it and toppling it over.

In summary, Motion Revive T-elos is a decent figure with a decent amount of accessories, though there are some flaws in design that kinda kills it for me. The finish of the figure is decent and likeable, but just passable to be honest. I can see why this thing went for a 70% discount.

dammit, you were so close to being perfect, T-elos. but I still like you and glad that I bought you :3

The meat of it is this, if you like the character and want to play around with an articulated figure,  get it, while there's still no better figure out there, like, say.... a figma (EDIT: SPOKE TOO SOON THERE'S ALREADY ONE OUT).
Or if in any way you find this attractive like I did ( I LOVE brown women) then get it as well. Hell, the thing's on sale anyway. But otherwise, just pass on it until something better comes along. really not much to be missed.

another note, not really relevant to anyone other than Xenosaga fans:

god dammit. now I need Kos-mos too.
T-elos comes with parts to help make Kos-mos boob lasers in much the same way as Kos-mos has the parts for T-elos's boob lasers. 

the fact that her boobs come off  kinda disturbs me, and she comes with two square nubs that keep them in place, colored the same way as the rest of her fleshy bits just upsets me more. 

Well that's pretty much it. thanks for reading the review! 

Friday, August 12, 2011

feeling lucky?

so i went for a little visit to Japanimation, my local anime/ japanese surplus thrift store, scouting for stuff my friends would like when we make our rounds tomorrow. i tried my luck in 3 different bins full of random gashapon and trading figure stuff and pulled out these beauties at 50 pesos (roughly 1$) each.
well from the pic above they look great but how do i display them along with my figures without having to have my figs cross-sit on the floor?

i found these things, which seem to be diskman cleaners for 100 pesos (2$), and after considering it for a while i bought these as well.
you can already see where this is going.

and here is what they look like as small tables to put the slot machine on, and it even came with a cleaning cloth i can use as a sort of carpet. overall, pretty awesome and i can practically make a mini casino with these
things. now to find tiny arcade machines.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bosogidejasu, kuuuuugaaaaa!

Microman Custom 
Kamen Rider Kuuga!

and now for a complimentary comic:

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sunday, August 7, 2011

so hey, replaced the feet, think they're good for the size but i cut them a little too much so i need to fill out some space with putty. also went ahead and made the pads on one set of hands, so yeah almost almost done. i just need to make the other hands for his primary poses, and one pair of bike riding hands... just in case.

here he is (center) compared to motion revive (left) and stock microman (right)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

this is fun!

man the fits were almost seamless! now all that's left is the gauntlets and anklets.

EDIT: done with most of him, but i might have fucked up the feet. will fix them soon.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

kuuga stuff.

Damn. this is gonna need more work. might have to sculpt most of him but before that i need to find a  white material force body. still, it's pretty encouraging.

on a side note, here's some stuff for kuuga: