Go Go GO!


I’ve been in love with the Mach 5 since I was a kid. I would watch an episode of Speed Racer and search the basement for parts to build my own car. You would think, since my dad is a mechanic, we would have more than enough. Noooooo. There was never enough scrap lying around to full fill that dream. Since I was under 5, the world is a better place that I never did succeed and put my home built car on the road.

Needless to say I am still disappointed that I do not own a road worth version of this car. Every now and then I’ll day dream about building a replica. But until I hit the lottery and free up an extra 80 hours a week, I’ll make do building models of it.

IMAI Mach 5

THIS KIT COST ME $5 ON EBAY! It is exciting. Google how much these go for! I scored on this purchase. I still feel bad for the guy that sold it. I have no idea how I was able to snag this treasure. This kit is fantastic. If you are a Mach 5 fan and want to build a high end display piece, go for this one. It has all the bells and whistles. Retractable saw blades, the jacks, homing bird, propellers, removable canopy and a periscope. Plus there is a v-12 under the hood, vinyl wires, photo-etched metal details… everything you would need for a great start on a high detail model.

Where it lacks though, the body fit and finish isn’t quite as tight as most of the other Japanese kits I’ve built. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as sloppy as the U.S. kits I grew up with, but it will need some filling of sink holes and gaps along seams; if you want a show piece or have high standards. For me, it was fine right out of the box. I just wanted something simple, fun and a quick build. I can’t gripe too much, the body fits well enough that there are no visible gaps, but it needs some finessing to get right. While I’d be interested in pursuing a build like that, it would be frustrating. Since I’m a paint then assemble guy, this would need a combination of paint the internals, build, then fill and fit the body perfectly, then mask and paint the body. It adds a lot of complication and I did not want to deal with that. It is what it is. A nice toy. Too bad the decals were as thin as wet tissue paper and wound up tearing. Now I need to recreate the big M and circle %’s for the side. Sigh, that’s a project for another day.

Compared to Polar Lights

When I built the Polar Lights kit with my daughter a few years ago, I thought this thing was the bomb. It fit together well and had great detail and far exceeded most of the domestic model kits I had built in my youth, almost as nice as the Tamiya kits I had done as a teen. But the Imai kit puts it to shame. The Polar Lights kit just doesn’t have the right proportions, plus it misses a few of the details that make the Imai kit look like a genuine Mach 5 replica. It does make the poor Polar Lights kit look like a bootleg from Mexico.

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What’s on the workbench?

Yeah… The wok bench is cluttered. Besides these three kits, I still have the Rancor (the blood thirsty one from an earlier update) and I just started priming and prepping Darth Vaders’ Tie fighter. Too many models, too little time. It’s not my fault. They are just so inexpensive, i must buy them and they must be built.

These three kits were real bargains. Total cash outlay for all three was $10. $2 for the Cobra, $3 for the Cuckoo clock and $5 for the Mach 5. Gotta love flea markets and mis-categorized auctions on eBay.

The 1/16 Cobra is/was/still is a basket case. My wife found it at the flea market, already assembled but fairly complete, it even had the box! It’s missing a few minor things and one major item, the windscreen frame. I’m at the point now I have to do some serious fabricating to finish the model and add all the missing items. Since it was so rough, I’ve used it as an experiment in scratch building and learning techniques. Definitely not show quality, but it will look cool on the shelf. If I don’t drop it again. The funny thing about using super glue, when you drop your kit, it doesn’t break. It explodes! Luckily the glue joint is the weakest part and nothing actually breaks. More will be done, but I’m at the point where I need to box it and not look at it for awhile. If I keep working on it, it may nit be an accident the next time it goes flying through the air.

My cuckoo clock… This kit proves that the world revolves around me. Last year, I found a NIB Cuckoo Clock Lindberg kit at spring Chiller Theater show and got a real jonsin’ for this odd ball piece. At $40 it was more than I was willing to spend on a novelty, at that time anyway. For the spring 2012 Chiller show, I was determined to pick it up, but it was sold. Darn. Frown face interested here. But the next day, I went to the flea market and had just finished commenting to the spouse about how I really wish I had picked that kit up when, low and behold on that yonder table, what do I see? A Lindberg Cuckoo Clock kit! Used, but 99% there plus enough spare parts to build two of kits. See that, I think about it and then *poof* I get it. Either I am the centre of the world, or I have the strange mutant ability to bring out of production model, of obscure subject matter, into existence.

I did mention it actually works, right? No. Well it does. Hopefully I can finish this thing up and get a video of it in action.

As far as the build goes, it was a simple restoration. Strip the paint, fix a few items and re-build. Painting is pretty simple, I went with autumn colors in acrylic, that I brushed on. It’s not a bad paint job. Before I call it complete, I’ll probably use the airbrush to help blend in the transitions from orange to yellow a little nicer. I do enjoy organic style painting, it’s far easier than trying to paint straight lines, keeping the paint shiny and blemish free. One issue I had, the decals. Decals that are nearly 50 years old, should never, ever be used I guess. I put them on and the next day they started to crackle and fall off. Oh well. They didn’t look good anyway. I’ll come up with something better for the face anyway. Yes, I’m the jilted model builder.

Next up is this swell Mach 5 High Grade Special kit. This thing is sweet! It has photo etched metal parts, vinyl hoses, and all of the goodies in the real Mach 5. You know, saw blades, robot homing bird, glass canopy, wings, jacks, propellers, video screen and a periscope. I feel bad for the guy selling this on eBay, I was able to snag this kit for $5! Every other kit like it has an asking price of at least $50. I’m keeping this kit simple, just a straight forward, paint it and build it. Right out of the box. No filling in seems, or anything beyond the basics. Since it is a Japanese import kit, it’s got first class fit and finish. There are a few minor problem areas, maybe one day I will address them. But right now, I want a simple, straightforward build. Hopefully i’ll have it done soon!

That’s all for now, time to get back to work.

Flea Market finds….

What is this thing? I found this kit at the Quakertown Farmers Market. A guy is shutting down his hobby stand and is clearing out all of his models and he had this treasure for $6! It would be stupid not to buy it. But I have no freakin’ clue what it is and what series it is from. It’s a Toei property, that’s all I’ve been able to find out.

It’s definitely odd. A robot with bicycle wheels and a heart? Odd.

Some More Frog

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Making his way from the work bench to the shelf, Sgt. Keroro!

Sarge is a Bandai kit that features Sarge, in pirate uniform, riding a go-kart. The go-kart is transform able and it combines with four other kits (sold separately) to form a giant robot pirate ship.

Like all of the other import kits I’ve picked up, the quality is awesome. Great fit, pre-molded in several colors, excellent detail and it’s solid. Since it’s a snap-together toy, it’s can take some abuse. Plus it was a reasonable price, $16. I wish American manufacturers could create great products like this at this price point.

Anyway, sweet little kit. Not difficult to build, but some of the detail painting drove me crazy. Hopefully I can pick-up the other four in this series.

Gorig Finds His Special Purpose

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Finally, a new menace to civilization can be introduced to the public! I’ve been back and forth on this project for months. After many false starts and a lot of indecisiveness, I can call this image done. Sort of….

This project started out as a simple, a b-movie poster influenced by the Gorig machinery I used to work on. But it turned into a tough project to wrap my head around and it did not turn out as expected. The illustration has it’s charms, but it didn’t turn out as I originally planned. I did find a great use for the art, a video game cabinet! That’s where the ‘sort of’ factors in. I want to build this into a cabinet to house my MAME machine. There is definately a lot more work to do if that’s going to happen.

A long time ago, in a town not so far away…. I spent 12 hours a day, 6-7 days a week serving the needs of my blue, metal masters: the Gorig machines. No lie, these machines were truly evil, vile concoctions (and blue!). Their main purpose in life was to attach a plastic strap to Surf laundry detergent boxes. Sounds so simple. But the execution of that simple idea was hideously disfigured. It involved cams, arms, suckers, vacuum, rivets, air cylinders, sensors and a 4 person crew to work on one set of machines. Unfortunately digital cameras were not common place while these things were in operation, so no videos exist ( I would love a video of one in action! ) and I really think all Gorig machines are probably scrap at this point. When was the last time you bought a cardboard box of laundry detergent with a handle riveted to it?

In case you get the impression I loved working on these machines, let me just say, I still have nightmares about working in that box factory. It’s been nearly 20 years since I punched a time card at Container Corporation of America (the evil box factory) and I still have nightmares about being trapped at that job.  At least it inspired me to create something.

Anyway, check out the mock-ups I’ve posted. I think this would make for a spectacular theme for an arcade cabinet. Don’t you? It needs a bit more work, control panel and  bezel art, but it would look fantastic. And, since I have not had any luck generating a theme for my current POS cab, this fits the bill. I’ve even been thinking of creating a Flash animation of a Gorig game attract screen. That would look sweet when it boots up or goes into screen saver mode.

Rancor: First Blood. Part one

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It has been awhile since I’ve put out any update, but I’m still building. I haven’t put anything on the finished shelf, but I have added considerably to the ‘crap I need to finish before I die’ pile. I’m planning on doing a better job of documenting my builds and personal work this year (we’ll see how that goes). I’ve been stalled on a bunch of projects and it is frustrating not getting anything accomplished, maybe posting about it will help keep them moving along.

Anyway… The Rancor. Hideously beautiful isn’t it? This kit has been on my wish list, but the high prices they bring on eBay ($50-100) kept the beast out of reach. It’s not a kit I ever expected to find at the flea market. But you never know what you’ll find at the flea market. Maybe you’ll find a 15 year old Rancor vinyl kit new in the box. Maybe it will be hidden under a dusty table. Maybe it will be $12. I love flea markets.

Even though I have about ten other projects going, I had to start on this kit. It’s awesome. This thing is as tall as our cat. Wouldn’t it be awesome to have a miniature pet Rancor? Picture it running around the living room, nipping at the cats tail. Those little vinyl teeth are sharp! I can not imagine what a Rancor bite would be like! Actually, I can. Sort of. This little beast drew blood Christmas eve. While triming vinyl flash, and thinking I should be careful not to slip with the knife, I did slipped with the knife. The x-acto slipped and dug deep into my left hand. If you’ve ever cut yourself with an X-acto, you know how those cuts bleed like mad. Hopefully the beast has satisfied its blood lust and there won’t be a sequel.

That’s all for now. I’m starting to fill the seems. Once the weekend gets here I’ll post photos of the work and links to some other Rancor models I’ve been using as reference.

Down the Obscure Glittering Chrome Path

Dekotora Truck
The best truck in the world!

Now that I’ve turned my obscure model building obsession into a hobby, I’m taking it into even deeper realms of the obscure. This for example is my latest eBay purchase, a 1/60 Aoshima Dekotora Truck. I’ve wanted one of these for the past 1.5 years. Ever since I ran across an article about them on Dark Roasted Blend (if you haven’t ever visited DRB, be prepared to waste the rest of your week on the site). Dektoroa trucks are what would happen if Elvis became a trucker and decided to cross breed slot machines with carnival rides and used the offspring to deliver freight. I can’t believe these things actually roam the highways of Japan.

It’s a shame this is a super-small size. I really want a 1/32 scale kit, but those cost in the neighborhood of $100. The $5 + shipping I paid for this little bit of plastic joy is a bargain in comparison. I can’t wait to lock myself in the basement and work on this.

The Post where I Refuse to Make A Reference to the Batman TV Show and Compare Myself to Bruce Vilanch (Or The Post with the Really Long Title That Turns Off All Bat-Fans & Makes an Obscure Reference to A Comedy Writer)

 

I refuse. It’s been done so many times, it’s just not funny anymore. It’s been nearly 50 years of it and it needs to come to an end. Not saying the show isn’t funny or worth watching, I am just feeling really lazy and I’ll just screw it up anyway.

Since I’ve admitted I’ll never be the next Bruce Vilanch (and who could be?), I’ll just have to hope that one day movie studios will turn away from CGI effects and want to go back to practicals. Then all my hours of effort building models will be a valuable skill which will allow me to win an Oscar for special effects and I will achieve fame and fortune! Gero (sorry for the odd reference I was just channeling Keroro  Gunso for a moment)

This blue beauty bat-car is an awesome piece of plastic, that I received in a even up model trade. A friend traded me a ’59 Impala for this. Man, he was crazy! This is a Polar Lights kit. They built some fantastic kits based on well known properties. The fit and detail on this kit is fantastic. It’s really tight. Literally tight. It was tough getting everything in place due to the close tolerances. But once you get it all in place, it looks awesome. The only thing I would criticize, the body had that swirling plastic effect from being molded. And that is really tough to hide. The instructions are a bit lackluster, but not really hard to figure out.

Building it went super smooth. The only issues were through fault of my own. Like how I dropped the air cleaner while painting it and found it stuck to my shoe. Or how after I spent the effort getting the lights wired up with LEDs, put the kit together for final assembly and came back to find the old 3 volt watch batteries were now dead. I guess I should have bought new batteries.

It’s a cool kit. Even as a non-Batman fan (though Frank Miller’s Dark Knight is my favorite comic book ever) I loved putting it together and painting those cool figures. This car would make an awesome toy. If I ever have a model demolition derby, this would be my first choice. The car is solid and tough. It could do some damage.

Cruising for Gamilas

Super tiny space ship model

As if you haven’t noticed; I am becoming obsessed with Japanese anime, pop culture, music and toys. It’s been a slowly building up over the years and it continues to grow now that I have kids that are getting into what goes on half a world away.

If you remember Star Blazers, this looks familiar. A Gamilon Battle Cruiser. Star Blazers was the show for me back in the early ’80’s. Unfortunately in the states (and in rural PA) merch was non-existent. But with the Internet, and the purchasing power of adulthood, it’s really freaking simple to fill a room with toys from overseas.

This kit is from the series of Bandai micro models that seem to be popular in Japan. These things are really tiny. This kit is only about 3.5″ in length. My wife, who bought this of eBay as a Christmas gift, didn’t realize that this is about the size of a Matchbox car. I’m not sure why such tiny models are popular in Japan. Lack of space? It’s still cool. Really simple to build but almost impossible to add real detail.

Overall, it came out decent. It was a fun distraction working on it while waiting for other kits to dry. Getting a complete set of the micro models would make for a great shelf display.

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