Not Exactly A Newtype: 012 - Can I Get A Hell Yeah!!!!
Ok I’ve put this off long enough. I’ve given myself a week exactly to let the dust and emotions settle from GBWC 2018 Australia. Actually a week ago to the minute, as I sit to start writing this article…..we were just moments away from knowing that Aaron Simons was gonna take his winning ‘Sledgehammer’ to Japan to represent Australia on the GBWC big stage in 2018. Man oh man. What a champ.
But at the same time, we were about to find out that James De Niese, with his entry for this year, the mind blowing dual level Zeon base dio ‘Operation Falling Dagger’, was about to get 2nd place…again. Oh man oh man. Poor bloody bastard!!
So much drama. So much emotion. All the hours, days, weeks and months of blood sweat and tears had gone in to the 113 entries on display for the round and no matter where you sat, there was a buzz.
Personally, I knew where I sat. I’d been in and out of entering for up until a few months before the date. I was always going to attend, but I just felt I was Peewee Herman rocking up to fight 120 Mike Tyson’s.
But some sound advice from a couple of wise builder buddys and some really positive encouragement from the Aussie Gunpla community in general helped me to just settle on a build that I felt was possibly worthy of being in the display and most importantly to me…..’didn’t look like dogs balls.’ I realized at my skill level I needed to focus on the experience and the opportunity to get to meet some of the Aussie Gunpla community that I had chatted with a bit via Facebook and Instagram and see what this After Party (and After After Party) was all about.
Initially I had put the idea of entering the 2018 GBWC Aussie round to the side and just built to please myself. Business as usual. I mean I’ve only been building like 6-7 months as I write this, and there’s no way in hell I was equal to the big toe on the left foot of even the bottom of the top twenty builders that rocked up, and I knew it. And in that realization I gained a state of bliss and comfort, allowing me to just focus on the good times.
During the months leading up to GBWC I’d built my GM Sniper II (MG). For those that have built it they know it’s just brilliant. It’s a little bit all arms and legs but it really is sheer joy to build and in the end has some great posing power . It got my gunking treatement. It got some half decent weathering and damage. Although it was effectively an OOB build with makeup…I popped it on a bit of a dio with some trees and farm cows (all HO scale train props) and you know what…it wasn’t too bad!!
It was certainly better than dogs balls that’s for sure.
As the day came closer I encouraged as many local Brisbane builders as I could to come to GBWC (safety in numbers right?)whether it be to attend or throw a kit in or what ever. Just a weekend away with no wives or husbands or kids or anything to worry about except “how the hell am I gonna get all these exclusive kits back as carry on baggage!?!?”. In the end I managed to convince one bloke (Dave me Irish mate) to join me and we met up with a few of the other local builders from Brisbane who’d been before and knew what to expect…mostly. We grouped up in Sydney with a few of the interstate builders we knew well, including Mark Kirk also from the Gunpla Network admin team, and holy cow did we have a hell of a time. I’m gonna straight up right here give some credit to a few key members of the Aussie Gunpla community.
We are so fortunate to have so many strong builders and mentors in our national community and each has their own way of managing to find a balance of setting the standard of building high as well as imparting their years of experience and skills without being a tosser. But this weekend in July relies very much on the work done by people like Rhyan San Pedro from ‘Hobbyco Australia’ (centre), Scott Taylor, owner and manager of ‘SMS Paints’(right), and is strongly supported by the likes of Lincoln Wright of ‘Paint On Plastic’ (left) who’s addition to the onstage antics and service provided as the interpreter for Kawaguchi san during his presentations was something money can not buy.
There are many more that contribute to the success and vibe of this festival of crackpla and each and everyone is needed to make it happen and each of these guys I’ve highlighted have very understanding familys and they have their teams of minions and masters that keep the boiler stoked and everything absolutely cranking full steam ahead both over the weekend and about 3-4 months either side of the event. But in saying that…..it would all be absolutely worth nothing…..if the Aussie community wasn’t madly cult like supportive of the event. My god!!!
The whole weekend at the event, jammed right at the front door of the Sydney SMASH anime festival for all the cosplayers and perusers of anime-ness to see, not a minute went by when there wasn’t someone wasn’t getting coaxed in to the build arean and getting their first taste of Gunpla over a workshop kit or some sorta friendly rivalry WWF style hilarity going down between members from different states of the country or someone was winning a PG Unicorn (YUP!!!!).
It was like one third being in an Apple store when someone buys a new laptop and all the staff clap with that stupid grin and their eyes glazed over…one third like being part of the most amazing crazy three ring circus on earth…and one third like being a part of a peace loving mushroom munchin hippy commune.
Sooooooo much love. I dunno if it was just a good year for it but in the days past since that weekend, many of the Aussie builders have remarked it was just such a brilliant weekend. A weekend of hanging with peeps that you weirdly felt you’ve known for a really long time and just not even the slightest hint of negativity. Everyone left the stresses and challenges of the real world back in the real world. It seemed everyone knew exactly why we all caught flights from literally all four courners of the country or drove our cars for days and organized accommodation and spent months and months giving our partners epic foot rubs to get the browny points up…so we could be at this same place at the same time….no drama…...no ego……all for Gunpla.
There’s also the fact that you are in the presence of the one and only Meijin himself….the one and only Katsumi Kawaguchi. Oh my my. I’ve never been in the presence of such a calm and soothing person. I shit you not. He just eminates a sense of calm and stillness. He’s a Gunpla monk of sorts. In my eyes with all my experience of Japan…that being 40 odd years of television and 2 weeks in Japan early 2018 (so to clarify…I’m by far no expert) he is the mould all Japanese business men are made from.
He’s soooo freakin polite. He presents as humble yet supremely confident. His English is not perfect but he can hold a conversation and you can watch him converse with everyone who dares approach and he’ll laugh and share those moments without hesitation…and the most amazing thing is….he’s just a big Gunpla loving robot posing kid like the rest of us…..cept he’s feakin awesome. His workshops which were masterly translated by Lincoln confirmed everything we all know as builder but just better, sharing his love for fine scale detail and weathering but also maintaining that a fun and joyful Gunpla experience is essential to the hobby. I chatted as best I could with Kawaguchi san for several minutes after he graciously signed a shield from my GBT Exclusive Gloss Injection RX-78-2 (HG) kit which is now one of my prize possessions.
Super gentle super amazing. Then you watch him cruising the GBWC entry display with his clipboard half shark half scientist…peeking out over his glasses…..seeing all the beauty and imperfection in each and every kit…regardless of what you or I would think…he’d give each kit the required time to assess and grade it knowing it was there on the course because a human being had felt inclined to build said kit and bring it to Sydney to be rated by Kawaguchi san. I was also able to see Kawaguchi san at the after party which involves a little soju and a lot of Korean BBQ…or was it the other way around?!? Geez it was just so much fun. And again Kawaguchi san, this demi-god, is mingling and chatting and speaking the universal language that requires very few words….”isn’t Gunpla the best!!!!!!”.
All said and done, GBWC Australia 2018, has had a fairly significant impact on me. It’s got me pretty fired up to really get involved in my local build scene and see the hobby be the best it can for both the existing members and new members alike. There’s that saying that us newbs say but all the vets stopped saying coz it got a bit crae crae…… ‘Gunpla is Freedom”. Well I still say it coz fortunately I was born ‘after the war’ and I’m ok with it…but there’s also a new saying I have....’Gunpla is the gateway’.
It’s the gateway to so much more. The gateway to friendships that will not form any other way. The gateway to realizing the human race isn’t so shit after all. The gateway to a better self awareness and peace of mind attained through the process of chilling with a kit and giving the mind the time and space it needs to create and ponder and relax. The gateway to seeing your friends as people who might need just a little hand every now and then and its only whilst chatting about how awesome the Mk II is over a snap session that they feel comfortable to share this information and now you are in the most amazing position to make a difference in their lives.
Gunpla….IS the gateway.
(All images are from the GBWC 2018 Australia round and are used with permission form the onwer Aru Aru Jei. If any of these photos are of you and you would like them removed please contact me at the Gunpla Network and I shall remove them immediately)