Posted in Built, Papa, Reviews, Star Wars

Bandai : 1/144 Star Wars Millenium Falcon TFA

I simply love the Bandai model kits. They are Super detailed, easy to assemble, and have usually a few options for you to make exactly the end product you have in mind.

I started the Millenium Falcon kit yesterday, and finished it this afternoon. As usual, I was amazed at the level of details they put into it. Every pipe, scratch, bolt and nut is visible.

Instructions are easy to follow (even though in Japanese) because everything is very visual, and with a bit of common sense, you easily find which piece goes where.

This kit shows the Millenium Falcon as she is on Jakku, in The Force Awakens, and comes with a few characters for you to personalise your final product: Chewie, Han Solo, Finn, Rey and B-B8. I chose to go with Chewie and Han, the rightful owners of this magnificent ship.

I am not sure if it is possible to see them very well, but I painted them BEFORE putting them in the cockpit, because it would have been impossible once everything is closed…

Following the instructions, You see your creation taking shape in your hands slowly…

I think it is the first time I use all the stickers provided, simply because 1/I usually find they are Super difficult to put (the decals even worse than the stickers) and 2/they often represent little details that nobody would see…

This time, however, I tried to put as many as I could because they added some of the Color changes in the surface of the ship, as to show that the ship add been repaired from so many spare parts along the years.

When everything was done, it was time to paint/weather.

My Favourite Colours for this are black and burnt sienna. They can pass as grease, dust, soil, rust… so versatile and natural. Using acrylic, I started filling the little gaps, nooks and crannies, wiping as much as I could right after that. The thick paint (I barely used any water to dilute it) stays in the cracks of the design, and they stain the surfaces just enough to give the rough aspect I was going after.

As you do this, all the parts and pipes and details really come to life and start telling you a story…. 

The paint sticks very well on the plastic and the stickers. I wanted to give the feeling that She spent a very long time in the desert, with the burn marks under the reactors that brought her there, rusty and oozing her engine oil all over… as some would say: “a piece of garbage”!

And there we go, the Millenium Falcon in all her splendor!

As a conclusion, this is a very good set. I was a bit sceptical because the scale of 1/144 would have removed a lot of details, but not at all. Everything fits perfectly, and you’ll have a good time assembling it.

Posted in Papa, Travel

Travel: Tokyo-Nakano Broadway

I usually try to spend my weekends at home, but the business Travelling sometimes make me spend a weekend away. I actually like when this happens in Tokyo because I can go to Nakano Broadway.

Located 5 minutes walk from the station (you can go there by JR or even by Metro-Tozai line), Broadway is quite far from the songs and dances you would imagine. It is a gathering of geek shops: mostly vintage toys, but also models, cosplay, puzzles, etc… (there is even a store selling only darts…). A few establishments are more “regular” and offer “normal” clothing, coffee, food and the likes, but mostly, This is “Otaku Heaven”: a paradise for geeks.

When you reach the station, just go straight into this commercial alley, and you will find Nakano Broadway at the end.

Before going inside, I love to have a few sushis at one of the many little “kaitenzushis” (“conveyor belt sushis”) that you can find here. They are usually inexpensive ( plates with 2pces range from below a dollar to a maximum of $6), fresh, prepared in front of your eyes by a skilled Chef, and (let’s say it) the general quality is far superior to the sad salmon/tuna we can find in Singapore.

Then, on with the visit!! Nakano Broadway can be visited like a museum, more than a shop. You will see vintage toys and original cells from the early animés (Grandizer, Candy-Candy, dragon Ball, Ultraman, etc…) but also new trends like some creepy dolls young people customise to ressemble their inner frustrations… lol

Mandarake is a giant in this kind of retail in Japan (“Mandarake” is a play of words between “Mangas” and “darake” which means “plentiful”) and has the most number of shops there, and propose a wide range of products like original Japanese enamel advertisements to modern western toys (Star Wars being one of the most popular, but also Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, Gremlins, etc…). If you are looking for western things, Mandarake Special 5 and Robot-Robot might be the stores you want to look for. There are a few army surplus stores too, if you’re are into this. Like most vintage toys places, don’t go there to look for something precise but walk around and let yourself seduced by a quirky object you didn’t know you liked in the first place…

This is a timelapse of my 2 hours walk today. Warning: it might make you seasick, (as the phone was just positioned in my pocket while I walked) but I think it reveals the abundance and diversity you will find there. 

Have fun!

Posted in Built, Cosplay, Olie

Costume: Pirate coat

This was done 2 years ago… for Halloween, Olie wanted to be a pirate/assassin (from Assassin’s Creed). We did a few sketches and it was obvious he needed one of these long pirate “justaucorps”, that could flow in the wind as he was hunting down the Templar knights…

I think it was the first time I was starting such a challenge, as I was only in the infancy of my sewing journey… but, well, nothing is impossible, so I started looking for a pattern on Internet. I was lucky enough to find an authentic pattern from 1750! It looked simple enough, so I started reporting it on paper. I measured his shoulders and increased everything proportionally.

My Mother-in-law’s old curtains provided a perfect fabric for this project. There was enough surface for everything, it was thick enough, the Color was in our theme, and most important: they would have been going to the trash if we were not using it… so I started cutting everything.

The assembly is actually quite simple. With a bit of common sense and Organization, of course.

For the decorations and the hem all around, I decided to use a wide black ribbon and some golden buttons. If you fold the ribbon properly, you just have to sew it on top of the fabric, and the effect is very nice. 

I think in less that 2 evenings, the coat was done. And our little pirate was the most elegant swashbuckler that year!

Posted in Alex, Built, Gaming, Olie, Papa

Warhammer modular board 3×3 (part 2)

You remember my little Part 1 for this built…

Summary of the previous episode: cut foam, sculpt foam, paint, glue the grass and foliage… (Long story, VERY short…). I have been asked how we put the grass, so I will give you a bit more details this time: dilute some glue and spread it, using a brush, on the zones where you want your grass to grow. 

You can do it little by little, in small areas, no need to cover the whole tile at one go. Sprinkle generously the fake grass and wait for a while, the fibers must absorb some of the glue (a minute or 2 are enough). Then, you shake the excess on a newspaper (in order to be able to gather and re-use it later). You can do the whole board like that, and then arrange your bushes, trees and others features!

Over the river, we built some little bridges with toothpicks and glue, so the warriors would be able to cross without getting wet…

So, basically, we had our 9 tiles ready and looking like a nice little part of the Shire. I noticed that the boards didn’t stay together very well, and knowing my zouzous, this would mean the game would be quite messy in just a few minutes. I therefore looked for an idea to stabilise all this. Magnets came to my mind (after all, they can be put together and separated quite easily), and I looked into this. As you know, magnets have a positive and a negative side (“North” and “South”), and it was not a good thing when you want to position the boards in a number of configurations: what if 2 South were in front of each other? The board would have moved on its own… not good…

That’s when it stroke me: if each tile side has a positive on the left AND a negative side on the right, they would always attract each other, regardless of the position of the juxtaposed tile…

I’m not sure I am very clear here, but hopefully you will understand in a few minutes… (if not, drop me a line, I’ll explain)

Basically, I needed magnets. Lots of magnets. 9x4x2=72 to be precise. As usual, we went to Daiso, and bought 75 magnets for $10… ok, they came in colourful and decorative plastic shells, but with a good pair of plyers and a bit of patience, we ended up with the magnets alone.

Now, please take your magnets and mark all the positive sides (or negative, I’ve never been able to tell them apart…). Whatever side you chose, you must mark the SAME side on every single magnet. A good trick is to stick all of them together, and, starting on one side of the “worm”, mark the side that is at the edge. You remove that magnet and do the same on the next one, and so on…

Now, on the side of each tile, trace a line in the center and mark 2 spots, exactly 2.5cm away from each edge.

Make a whole on each spot and place 2 magnets: one with the positive side up on he right, and one with the negative side up on the left. Repeat this on every side of each tile, and be careful not to invert your magnets!!

Once everything is in place, you just have to cover the sides of the tiles with a nice piece of duct tape, that will not only hold the magnets into place, but also give your tiles a nicer finish than the raw foam…

Once in a while, confirm that the tiles are ok and attract each other when placed side to side. The tiles come into place together, but you can remove them easily. This should be perfect for a nice game.

On the sides with the river, i cut the tape so the light can go through the “water”.

And on the sides with mountains, I added some tape at the back of the rocks to complete the finish.

And there you have it!!! Once this tedious process is completed on all 9 tiles, you can put them together in any configuration you want and start to play!!! Hope you have a good time!!!

As for us, the kids need to finish painting their armies before we can really enjoy a game! A little more patience, and we will be there!

Posted in Alex, Cosplay, Olie, Papa, Reggie

“5 minutes cosplays”

What are 5-minutes cosplays? 

Well, they often start like challenges, on these quiet evenings… one of us sees an object, a hat, an image (or anything, Really) that makes him/her go :”Hey! We could do that!”

Then starts the hunt… everything is fair game, as Long as it looks like the original… We try to look the part, not really paying attention to details. The idea is that, when somebody looks at the photo, they would be able to recognise this or that character. So, we go through our wardrobes, looking for that Color, that shape or that texture…

After 5 minutes, we gather again and start suiting up! Everybody gives advice, and we usually have great fun during this time, trying to make the most of whatever garment or accessory we have found…

Facebook reminded me of one of these 5 minutes cosplays this morning, and it gave me the idea of taking a short trip down Memory Lane to give you a few examples.

Our latest was Indiana Jones… we had the idea of having Dr Jones Senior talking about “Monty Python’s Holy Grail”…

I found a fez during of my fabric hunting trips in Joo Chiat… I obviously couldn’t resist putting together a little impression of the 11th Doctor (even if the beard doesn’t really match the character…)

This one was done for the famous “BTTF day” (The Day Marty arrives from the past). We don’t have a life jacket, so Alex took some old cushion covers and taped them around his shoulders. And I don’t have a white overall, so this is just a white baggy shirt, and the reason why the shot doesn’t show anything below the waist…

Olie and Roxanne, in an hommage to Han and Chewie… sometimes, just a belt and pieces of paper can give enough details to recognise a character…

And finally, the very first 5-minutes cosplay we have ever done. Asterix and Obelix… Our doggie just had a hair trim, and as I was getting out of the shower (I had a blue striped towel at the time), Reggie couldn’t help notice that if she looked like Idefix (Dogmatix, in English), I could be an Obelix Lookalike… he decided to sport Asterix big blonde moustache, and the rest is history…

Try it with your kids!

Posted in Built, ghostbusters, Papa

Ghostbusters’ proton pack!

Those who know me will probably know that I spend most of my time in Jedi robes. However, I also proudly wear the overall of the Ghostbusters. And a Ghostbuster without his proton pack is like a bit naked… My first version of the proton pack was done more than a year ago, and to be honest, I was not very happy with it. So, I have decided to re-work it last August, in preparation of STGCC. I am a bit happier now, but there is of course room for improvement… let me take you in a step by step…

First of all, the planning! I’ll never emphasise how important it is to know where you are going. This simply avoids cutting something and realising you needed it longer, or in general, avoids having to do things twice. It seems obvious to say it, but you will save time and material… So, in order to know how a proton pack looks like (We All have a general idea, but I mean in details), I advise you to go and check

They have a complete section about the equipment, and some fans even went through the trouble of making full plans to built your own exact replica. Honestly, I am a bit lazy to do an exact duplicate, and I was thinking that, if I can look the part, it would be great already. But, I needed some measurements to have something that would be proportionate.

As usual, I started with one of my Favourite materials: foam!!! It is lightweight, and I thought that, if I have to carry this thing on my back for Long periods of time, I might as well make it light… I started cutting the “motherboard” (were all the elements would be attached) and the biggest part of the “cyclotron” (yes, that is the part that looks like a broken Millenium Falcon). I glued them together.

I simply love using as much recycling materials as I can, especially for these machine-looking things. So, I cut the rest of the boxes that would go in top of my proton pack, and started looking for knobs (bottle caps), reservoirs (a plastic bottle), etc… trying to fit everything is one of he fun parts in making this kind of stuff. But I didn’t glue them yet to the foam!

Ok, you’ll need a bit of imagination here, because I am missing some pictures… it is impossible to paint the foam directly (believe me, I tried with my first version!): the foam will melt under the spray paint, you will still see the blue Color under the places you will manage to paint… well, not a good idea!

So, I started covering the foam core with corrugated plastic (basically like corrugated cardboard, but made of plastic). This will take a bit of time. You need to measure everything, and cut pieces of a giant puzzle that will constitute the “outer shell” of your proton pack. Everything must be covered (you can bend the plastic for the curves, etc…). It is Ling and tedious, but it is well worth it, believe me. Be careful to always add the thickness of the corrugated plastic when you cut a part, so you avoid gaps here and there…

Once you have covered everything with a “hard shell”, you can glue all your little details (buttons, pieces of pipe, plastic bottle, etc…) and give everything a good coat of black paint.

You should end up with something like that… it is starting to look like something…

Now come the artistic part: the decoration! First thing first, all the bits and pieces that are not black: there is a computer cable (it would be better to use a rainbow one, but most computer shops looked at me like I was from the Middle Ages… apparently, nobody uses these anymore…), electric wiring, try to find a few metallic parts too for authenticity…

Then, the stickers! Here also, a bit of DIY is required: I downloaded the graphics from Internet (you can also buy ready made Ghostbusters stickers from EBay) and I printed them on photo paper, for the gloss. I cut them and started pasting them everywhere, using some pictures of the movie as reference… you have to know that the Ghosthead community is very forgiving for this, and you can basically make your own proton pack, nobody will go and point their finger at you because your stickers are not in the right place…

I finished everything with a bit of weathering (metallic scratch on the angles) to make it look like a well used proton pack.

A few more details, and I was good to go! Once again, this is not an accurate  replica of what is in the movie, but for the time spent and the Budget, I’d say it’s pretty darn good! Enough to go out on a con floor and have fun with your ghosthead buddies…

(Photo courtesy of Pop Culture Online, please go and check them!)
One day, I will explain how you can make the proton wand, the ALICE pack, the ghost trap and the ecto-goggles… stay tuned!!!

Posted in Alex, Built, Olie, Reggie, Reviews, Uncategorized

Painting Warhammer figurines

Ok, as you know, The kids fell in love with Warhammer and we are in miniature fever at home… they bought their armies about 3 weeks ago, yet they haven’t played a game yet… why?? Because you need to put everything together and paint it!! 

I told them they were in charge of everything in their army: assembling, painting, etc… and as This is exam time, they simply didn’t have the time to do anything. This week end was a bit more relax, so we started assembling on a massive scale… (which is paradoxical for miniatures, but… anyway…)

Basically, you just have to follow the instructions. It is very well done. Cut the pieces with the little pliers, and glue them together. We decided to assemble everything before painting, just for Organization’s sake. I was surprised that you sometimes find extra arms/weapons/decorations, just to make the soldiers your own and make sure that no soldiers are the same. Very cool. 

As soon as a soldier was ready, we fixed them (using rolled tape) on our trusty spray painting  board. When everything was ready, we had a mini crowd charging on the board. Something between Excalibur and Michael Jackson’s Thriller…

You need to prime your figurines. If not, the paint (which I Guess is acrylic) will not adhere that well on the glossy plastic. The shop sells their own primer, but I Guess you can use basically any other brand for this. I had an old can of white primer, and we used that. It is amazing how the details come to life with a simple coat. You don’t need to paint the whole thing in a color, just to create a surface that will hook the paint on the plastic.

And we ended up with a box full of snowy soldiers, ready to be painted.

Now, for the paint itself, i would advise to use the ones supplied by the Warhammer shop. Mainly because of their metallic paints (Gold, silver, copper) that you simply cannot find in a regular art supply shop. The pots are quite handy too, with a little “reservoir” in the lid, which allows you to take just the right amount of paint.

So, we started the painstaking task of painting all the little details, nooks and crannies of each figurine. The kids started by the “bigger” ones (behemoths and all that sort of things) before going to the smaller ones. Mainly to get acquainted with the level of details, as they never painted anything that small.

There are models in the documentation, and a lot of tips on how to paint them. However, creativity is still the key word here, and you can basically make your own army.

It takes time, patience and precision, and you are guaranteed a quiet night, without noisy video games… which is always a bonus.

See the result for yourself, painted by kids between 11 and 14. Not too bad if I dare say so myself.

Of course, we are still far from completing the whole thing, but it is a good start!