Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Your friend and mine Brian Kilby (of the Happy Day in Wilkes County podcast) along with fellow titans of Transformer talking RoboRob Springer and Dusty Griffin held their annual Transformers panel at JoeLanta this past weekend! And to make things worse, they asked me to join in! Yup I was on a panel about Transformers and this time there were actually people in the audience! UNLIKE THAT OTHER TIME BUT I DON'T TALK ABOUT THAT ANYMORE.
Listen in horror as Brian asks me what my favorite new Transformer is and I pick one that doesn't exist because I am dumb about new Transformers (then I pick Wheelie). Marvel in astonishment as Brian asks the audience thought provoking questions like 'What are those Titans Returning from anyway?' and I ask what happens if the big robots ever lose the little robots that turn into their heads. Finally, cringe in flagellation as I use Brian's panel to make unrelated references to Lionel Playworld, GoBots convention licenses, and Pokemon. So TITAN ON and have more fun than being eaten by giant naked people in this ATTACK ON PANEL edition of RFC Extra!
Saturday, March 12, 2016
With the Roboplastic Podcastalypse in its current state of unfinished undeaded podfadery, I decided to start another project! It's the same old robotarded ridiculousness but this time in video form with a fresh sounding name unlike anything I have created before-The Roboplastic Videocalypse!
THE ROBOPLASTIC VIDEOCALYPSE EPISODE 1 IS ABOUT:
TOO MUCH MODELS
NOT FINISHING THE STARTED STUFF
Friday, October 30, 2015
So I got lucky and scored a Robotech Factory at an antique store here in the middle of nowhere for dirt cheap. And like the first time I saw Minmay's butt in the fourth episode of the original Macross cartoon, my life has been constant anxiety and excitement ever since. It's like getting kissed or married or having a kid or all those other crazy life changing things that define new eras of your time. There was my life before the coming of Robotech Factory and now I live in the post Robtoech Factory excitement period. I am obsessed. Every minute I am away from Robotech Factory seems like wasted time. Whatever I am doing I constantly weigh against what fun I could be having just staring at Robotech Factory's box. I can't stop thinking about this gift, this huge honor bestowed upon me by the Robotech Fairy for only 26 bucks. Why was I chosen? And more importantly, just what is the Robotech Factory anyway?
AS A MATTER OF FACTORY...
This model and other Macross dioramas was originally released by Japanese modelmaker Imai before bankruptcy forced them to sell off their tooling to Bandai. Its original release called the Macross Factory included one hangar, fifteen crew members, three trucks and no robots. Then Imai released a super deluxe version with twice the same parts plus two robots-the armored VF-1A and a Destroid Tomahawk. This double hangar version was called the Armored Factory in Japan and the Robotech Factory when released in North America by Revell. (The 1985 Revell Product Catalog actually calls it 'Robot Factory' but the packaging drops 'robot' and implies the name is 'Robotech Factory'.)
'Robot Factory' from page 100 of the 1985 Revell Product Catalog
STICKIN' TO THE FACTORIES
The Robotech Factory is a straight up repackaging of the Armored Factory down to the IMAI stampings on the rear of the hangar walls. Bandai rereleased the set thirty years later in 2012 but with Bandai stampings on the bases and slightly different colored plastic . The Revell release could be had cheap because it went clearance shortly after release (see the comment section of this post). Both the Imai and Revell version became quite expensive on the secondary market before the Bandai reissue, with sellers usually asking in the range of $200+ as late as 2009 according to some message boards I've seen. (This guy wants $400 for his built one.) After the reissue, prices came down a bit and some sellers have them even today for as little as 50 bucks plus shipping. Still, for me to find the Robotech version for under 30 dollars was pretty unusual.
The Robotech Factory kit is intimidating in its size and parts count. It's a little over 430 pieces in six different colors plus a bag of chains. I say 'a little over' because after counting 430 parts I began getting confused as to what exactly constitutes an individual part. But if you realize that this is actually several distinct robots, people, vehicles and pieces of equipment it begins to become a little less overwhelming. Since most of it is actually the same hangar twice, it's actually easier to process than if all the parts were unique and part of one singular whole. I'd say this is just as easy as building one 200 piece model plus a robot, and then doing that twice. Except at the same time. Well you know what I mean.
With an idea of what it was and where it came form in real life, I wanted to figure out where the Factory fit in the Macross fiction. Was it supposed to depict a place on earth where Destroids and Valkyries were made before the Macross was completed? Was it somewhere inside the SDF-1? Were there any scenes during the show where this specific backdrop appeared? Well I looked and couldn't find any. There are a couple of shots with general elements of the Factory like hangars, multi level staircases, overhead cranes, robots on roller platforms, and boom lift trucks but the entire diorama doesn't show up exactly with all of the elements together at once anywhere in Macross. The only illustration where it all comes together in colors close to what the parts are molded in or what the instructions say to paint them as is on the cover of the Armored Factory box. This lack of specific canonical reference is good because it gives modelers artistic license to do whatever they want in terms of colors. But it's also bad because it gives modelers artistic license to do whatever they want in terms of colors. Not having a solid reference drives me crazy!
MY FIVE FAVORITE FACTORIES
In the absence of canon fictional reference I went looking online for existing builds of the Factory to see what other people have done with it. The build showcased for the 2012 reissue was painted quite impressively, but what did the actual hobbyists do? Would they leave it unpainted? Stick to the recommended colors as outlined in the instructions? Would they try to do something show specific? Or would they try to recreate the industrial waste factory at the end of Robocop? You can play along using your favorite image search engine with the katakana for Macross "マクロス", Armored "アーマード", and Factory "ファクトリー". (I don't think they make katakana for 'Robotech'.)
|Super clean paint on this one and some really nice photography.|
|My favorite. I especially love his trucks.|
|They went with green hangar doors on this one plus there's a 1/100 painted as Jetfire! (scroll down till you see Minmay)|
|Sort of a minimalist build of the reissue, but nice.|
|MORE LIKE ROBOCOP FACTORY AMIRITE?|
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Like most people, I have a little experience with SuperDimensional Fortresses made out of paper. There is of course the one in my collection I call Fort Cardboardimus Maximus-the super big five foot long cardboard toybox from Play Make that is long out of print. But that one is hardly a true hardcore Japanese papercraft experience. However, if you do a search on eBay right now for 'SDF-1 Papercraft' you will find the book 'SDF-1 Macross Thorough Dissection' which is a collection of SDF-1 related art and concept designs, plus an interview with Macross visual designer Kazutaka Miyatake. What makes this book extraordinary in the world of origami space fortresses is that the last twenty pages contain parts templates that once assembled result in a stunning 1/2400 scale papercraft model of the SDF-1! Yes, you can build your own TV version nontransformable SDF-1 that stands 50 centimeters tall in Storm Attacker mode or 50 cm long in battle fortress mode, and do it for about 40 bucks! I was very excited about it after seeing how great the finished product looks, but then I bought the book and holy hell is this thing an insanely complex undertaking!
Initially I thought assembling this would be only slightly more complex than constructing the giant cardboard one I had, but then I saw what I was up against. By my estimation there are over 400 parts with THOUSANDS of itty bitty tabs that have to be cut out (there are no perforations) and then folded, glued and combined into larger wholes. It doesn't sound too bad until you see how intricate and tiny many of the pieces are. Some of them have tabs that are barely over 2 millimeters wide! Yes, MILLIMETERS. It's page after page of daunting parts and intimidating tabs. I estimate it'd take 48 hours of work, several exacto knives, and all the sight I have left in my failing eyeballs to put one of these together. This isn't just a Cubie or simple origami swan-this thing is a master class in spacepapercraft. It would almost be easier and less time consuming to wait for an actual derelict alien spaceship to crash in my backyard and rebuild that than put this thing together.
'PROTOCULTURE' IS ZENTRAEDI FOR 'PAPERCRAFT'
I am so intimidated by it right now that I don't know if I am going to put mine together. I don't even know if I'm mentally and physically capable of doing it. And of course since I project my shortcomings upon the entirety of mankind, I figure there can't be many of these actually getting assembled on planet earth. Or at least the lazy part where I live. It's just too overwhelming. At 1/2400 scale it's actually bigger than most SDF-1 toys toys and model kits produced over the years! It's the Mount Everest of papercraft spaceships. So far the only pictures I've seen of an assembled one are the promo photos on retailer websites and the pictures in the book. Could there be only two in the world? Seeing how complicated it is I am surprised that many exist. I'm surprised ANY exist!
WE DO THESE THINGS NOT BECAUSE THEY ARE EASY BUT BECAUSE WE ARE ROBOTARDED
Knowing that someone has actually made this thing has me feeling like Supreme Commander Bodolza seeing humans kiss for the first time. What magic powers do people in Japan possess that allow them to design and assemble such incredible masterpieces, such amazing feats of paper engineering? Is it hard for them, too, or is their culture so used to crafting that second graders in Japan put together stuff like this in their sleep? Could it be possible that if I searched deep down within the very depths of my being that I would find papercrafting skills comparable to those of Japanese elementary school kids? A man must try. Ultimately I've decided that although I'm feeling completely outclassed and overwhelmed by this Himalayan undertaking, I have no choice but to borrow a bottle of glue from my third grader son and grab some scissors and take on this most famous of Japanese robot battlewagons. Because how hard could it be, really? Like the old saying goes-"Anything is possible when you don't know you ain't Japanese". Or something like that.
THE TREMENDOUS SENSE OF ACCOMPLISHMENT THAT CAN ONLY BE KNOWN BY THE COMPLETELY ILLITERATE
The previous somewhat defeatist paragraphs were written in late October before I found it in me to take on this enormous challenge. I found myself asking-what did I spend that 40 bucks for? What was the point of owning this book if I never make this model? And so on December 29th of last year I sat down and busted out the Exacto knife and that borrowed bottle of my kid's school glue and I embarked on a three week spacepapercrafting journey.
Some people might say papercrafting demands exacting methods and precision instruments. Some people might say a 400+ piece model with no perforations and instructions written entirely in Japanese is a bad idea for an inexperienced papercrafter to tackle. But I didn't let any of that intimidate me. If anything, all the obstacles made whatever I actually got done correctly that much more wonderful. I accepted that I would suck at this and damnit, if there's one thing I am good at, it's sucking at things. I have the right attitude for it. I knew I would probably mess up and glue stuff wrong or cut and fold patterns badly, but I accepted all mistakes as inevitabilities and made my peace with them before they happened. I resolved from the beginning that screwing up would not discourage me from keepin' on moving forward. I like to think that I may not be a Japanese second grader but I am every bit as mentally tough as one.
I'll go over the tools I used just in case anyone out there wants to emulate (or avoid) the results I got. First and most importantly I used Rose Art washable school glue for 99% of the gluing. It worked fantastically with the slightly glossy paper from the book. I was able to pull apart and reglue pieces if I made a mistake (which happened often) with little to no damage to the paper. When I needed precise control over the application of the glue I used a quarter as a palette and the tip of my exacto knife to spread it. I used hot glue for attaching the heavy load bearing components like the legs and chest pieces to the core of the torso. I had red, blue, and grey markers to color the edges of the paper so the model wouldn't have bright white outlines everywhere. Bamboo sticks came in handy for applying pressure in tight places that my fingers couldn't reach and a magnifying glass came in handy at times so I could see all the tiny pieces. Last but not least I had two pairs of scissors-one small precision pair by Singer for doing most of the cutting and one long pair of Fiskars for long straight cuts and to provide an edge for doing folds. This is the basic set of tools you'll need to just get the thing built in its most straightforward form. I did make some changes to the model that required additional tools and materials, but we'll get into that later...
PAGE 1: MY KITCHEN TABLE, MY SOUTH ATALIA ISLAND
I was confident going into this that I did not need to know Japanese. I figured that a well designed papercraft model would be engineered so that parts would go together intuitively without me needing to know how to read Japanese. This was indeed a well designed model and I was able to figure out where to glue which tabs. The instructions were also very clear with well drawn diagrams showing how the panels glued together. Another neat thing I found was that the pages were arranged in a progression that took you on a tour from the command center on through to the rest of the ship. But that doesn't mean page 1 started with the easy parts first. Right from the start there were some challenging patterns to cut out. The crow's nest was probably the most intricate and complicated single pattern in the whole model, and since it had two sides I had to cut it out twice!
Page one resulted in the command section and the large white module it rests on. It was an inspiring start to the project but it also made me realize I would not be able to get this thing to transform. I entertained the notion that I could re-engineer the entire thing so that I wouldn't be stuck building either the fortress or the attacker mode. But just seeing how the command center would have to split apart and imagining all the necessary parts swapping and magnet magic that would take had me accepting that I'd be lucky to get just the basic version done with this project. I let the dreams of a transformable papercraft SDF-1 die so I could get on with it.
PAGE 2: WATERLOO SO SOON
Page two was the point where it sunk in how monumentally tough this whole project was going to be. It was all because of those cannon patterns. Those super tiny, tab filled cannon patterns became the bane of my existence and before the model was finished I'd made over a dozen of them. I don't care if they had pretty little hearts showing where to line up the parts! Those cannons did not have me remembering love, not one bit! But I can thank this project for opening my eyes a bit regarding the design of the Macross. I never realized what an odd shape the cannons of the SDF-1 have. I always assumed they were traditional double barreled affairs like on the Yamato, but it turns out they have this weird blunt rectangular stumpy shape that is nowhere near traditional rounded double barrels. How was it that I never noticed this before? Maybe I was being cosmically punished somehow, sentenced to dozens of cannon papercrafts for my lack of attention to Macross. I am sorry, Mr. Miyatake!
I had my first big screw up of the project on page two. The module completed from the patterns on page 2 is the long white torso of the SDF-1. I had one hell of a time trying to get all of the panels to align and consequently the tubular shape is not completely smooth all around. There is some bad flap overlap running along the length of the edges. I think the best way to deal with this is to trim the excess off instead of busting it open and trying to realign everything, which I have already tried. Also I glued the forward cannon's barrels on upside down but I did go back and fix that.
PAGE 3: SIDES MATTERS!
I know it seems like all I'm doing here is complaining about tabs but holy hell did page three have one piece in particular that looked like some sort of bizarre alien tabzilla monster. This thing had something ridiculous like 59 tabs! I had to fold and fold and fold 59 times! It was insane and that wasn't counting the additional folds necessary to get the main shape worked out. It was then I understood that the size of a part bore no correlation with how easy it was to cut, fold, and build up. It was the number of tabs that was the key. More tabs meant more sides to cut. It was the number of sides I learned to look at to asses how many days I'd be working on a particular page. I called this assessing 'parts time arithmetic'. Using my parts time arithmetic my best estimate was that the entire model had a total tab count somewhere near infinity and I would probably be working on this for the rest of my life.
Then just when you thought page 3 was through messing with you, you find one tab that's tinier than the tip of a pencil! (Granted my pencil looks like I sharpened it with a rock but the point still stands.) Oh man it's like Tiny Tab Adventures in here! Insane. It's just absolutely insane. I had to use the tip of my Exacto to fold that bastard. What was even scarier was that this was not the tiniest tab I would encounter.
Page three contains the core rectangular box to which all major parts are anchored, and also the backside of the SDF-1 (or bottom if you're building the fortress). Here's something I learned about gluing the larger structures together despite not being able to read Japanese. I saw that on the backsides of the large pieces there were these giant U shaped outlines. Well if you cut those out and then put glue on them, you can use a credit card to apply pressure to the length of the U while pressing against the other large part. This ensures good surface contact between the two pieces that have to be glued together. Then another round of glue on the remaining surface helps seal the deal.
PAGES 4 & 10: LIKE A LONG RIDE ON THE MACROSS, A LOT OF FOLDING BUT NOT GETTING ANYWHERE
After page 3 I began jumping around the book a little. From that point forward all of the parts had a mirror side equivalent, but the sides were not printed in the book consecutively. So although page four contained the right side of the chest, the left side with the mirror equivalent was all the way on page 10. I also changed my strategy a bit at this point. Previously I was progressing at the rate of one page a day, meaning I cut out all the parts and assembled them the same day. For the rest of the project I cut out all the parts for two pages at a time in one day and assembled them the next day. It was a lot of parts to cut out at once. You can see from the picture above that pages four and ten were something like 59 pieces total which equated to twenty thousand tabs.
At top left I am using a bamboo stick to press down on the rocket centers. Each rocket cup was 3 individual pieces which were glued into a rectangle tray that in turn got glued into a box. I learned that it was best to not glue any of the sides of the rectangle tray together until it was already positioned inside the box. I wish I would have figured that out first. My rocket trays never fit correctly in the chest boxes and some parts ended up getting creased. Oh well. I never got used to how small the final modules looked after they were assembled. So much cutting, folding, and gluing of so many parts. All that paper from pages four and ten only ended up making four small boxes! At this point I tried to hold all the parts together and I got sort of a Micronaut buggy looking thing as can be seen in the bottom row of pictures above. If I were Mego I'd call it the Reacto Boxatron.
PAGES 18 & 19: THIS IS WHY WE CAN'T HAVE TRANSFORM
I skipped ahead in the page order again because after finishing the first five pages I had enough major parts to begin assembling the torso. I still lacked a few connecting bits that could only be found on pages 18 and 19. Those two pages had parts specific to the Storm Attacker/robot mode that had to be cut out if you wanted to build that version. They were things like the elbows, knees, abdominal structures, and lifts in the feet to give the legs an angled stance. Anyone doing the cruiser fortress didn't have to worry about pages 18 and 19 because these parts didn't apply to the cruiser. (The cruiser had parts specific to that build taking up all of page 17.)
It was these robot mode parts that convinced me making this model transformable was way beyond my skills. They would at the very least have to be swapped out because there was no place for them as part of the cruiser fortress. So if transformability was desired it would result in the entire structure having to be broken down and rebuilt in a partsforming style to switch between modes. That level of engineering was way over my head so that dream died real quick with very little remorse or regret from me! If anyone ever sees my build and asks why mine doesn't have lights and transforms with a little Minmay rising out of the command platform singing 'Ai Oboete Imasu ka' I will laugh and tell them they can always build their own version that does.
ONE MAN'S TRASH IS ANOTHER MAN'S DERELICT SUPERDIMENSIONAL FORTRESS PARTS
So I'm like 8 days into this
ATTENTION DEFICIT? WORSE! BEING NOT JAPANESE!
I did not finish completing pages five and eleven (the main towers) until the ninth day of the project. They were monumentally difficult and I had a horrendous time trying to get them assembled. The patterns were all Tabzillas and there were four more cannons to deal with and it was awful. I was so brain dead by this point that I just gave up on any alignment issues and just moved on. It was at this point that I seriously considered getting checked for Alzheimer's or retardation or attention deficit disorder because I could not figure out why I was taking so long and having such a hard time at this. Would it take normal people working five hours a day over a week to get not even halfway through this project? What was wrong with me? I always hated making cubees anyway! How did I ever think this as going to be fun? It was at that point I realized it all wasn't my fault-I was simply Not a Japanese Papercrafter. I considered this a syndrome unto itself called BNJP-Being Not a Japanese Papercrafter. I think a lot of people who have been diagnosed with ADHD might actually have another condition entirely, and that condition is not having the patience and attention span of Japanese Papercrafters. I had BNJP-it's not my fault! I determined the only known treatment for BNJP was completing this friggin' SDF-1!
PAGES 5 & 11: THE TORTURE TOWERS OF TABMAGEDDON
Now back to the main guns. If I thought building the previous structures was tough I had no clue what awaited me in the torture towers of tabmageddon. To start off there were four more cannons to deal with and a bunch of tiny little boxes that go all over the towers to add detail. Holy crap some of them were so small you could fit four of them on a dime and still have plenty of room! And the four itty bitty little pointy things that went at the top of the towers were a whole new definition of pain and suffering (as C-3PO would say). They're about an inch long when finished but under an eighth of an inch wide. It's like origami ballet putting those things together without tearing them. To fold those tiny tabs I'd line them up on the blunt edge of my Exacto knife and hope for the best.
Each tower is actually three long rectangular tubes that have to be pressed together and I think I totally screwed that up. One of my towers bulges a bit as is evidenced by the bad alignment in the photo at lower left. I think I may have missed some tip in the instructions explaining the proper alignment technique for the towers before gluing. I chalk that screw up to not being able to read the instructions. In the picture in the bottom middle you can see another mess up where I smudged black sharpie marker all over the white part of the right tower. That was a colossal nightmare and for a second I considered giving up on everything but what's the fun in that? So I cleaned it up as best I could and pressed on. At lower right you see the assembled towers. It was such a triumph for me getting to that point that I almost cried manly tears of deculture.
THE SILENCE OF THE BUNNIES
Around the ninth day I had the command tower, torso, and main guns done and I wanted desperately to see just how far I'd come. So I busted out the scotch tape and loosely assembled all the parts I'd finished into a mock up bust of the SDF-1. When I finally had everything rigged up and I rested that command center on top I was overcome with pride and hope that I could see this thing through. It was a monumental challenge getting even to that point and I knew there was a whole lot still left to go, but just for that moment I had a vision of just where everything was going-I saw a light at the end of the paper tunnel. Here I was just a normal guy living in the middle of Georgia with very little papercraft experience building a superdimensional fortress on his kitchen table. It was a magical moment. I stared into the imaginary eyes of all the 1/2400 scale bridge bunnies I pretended were in that little paper command center cheering me on. Then the SDF-1 fell over.
PAGE 9: ON THE SHOULDERS OF PAPER GIANTS
I will always remember waking up at 12:45 a.m. on January 6th and thinking, 'I gotta work on the Macross! I gotta work on the Macross!' Then for the next six hours it was all about page nine. Page nine consisted of the patterns for both shoulders, which of course are famous for having those four giant cannons that stick out mightily in the air. There were also four smaller cannons (and you know how much I enjoyed those).
What I didn't notice and wasn't expecting was that not all the cannon parts were on page nine. Maybe it's because I was sleep deprived or maybe I was so used to everything up to this point being contained on one page, but I didn't notice two of the large cannon bases were printed on page ten! I was in my groove of cutting, folding, and assembling and I was partway through gluing the shoulder assemblies when I realized I had to go back and cut out more parts I missed the first time! In the big scheme of things this was no big deal but at the time it so threw me off that I felt devastated. Then 6:45 a.m. came around and I went to bed for 15 minutes before starting my real day. Ah, the sweet sweet memories I will have of the complete hell this project made my life.
PAGES 6,12,7, & 13: TORTURE IS MAGIC
Two weeks into the project I was in the deepest throes of papercaft induced existential crisis. Pages 6, 12, 7, and 13 were the thighs and legs of the SDF-1 in cruiser mode. I was so deep into the papercraft madness that I'd cut all four pages out at once instead of the 2 pages at a time which was my previous maximum. Each leg structure had over 90 tabs in addition to two more cannons. The thighs also had cannons. I didn't care anymore. I lost all concept of time. Nothing mattered to me except cutting and folding the next tab. I used to have a life. I missed my kid's basketball game that week and ever since the Macross I'd stopped going to the weekend swap meet which used to be the bright point of my Saturdays. Hobbies meant nothing. Sex meant nothing. Food meant nothing. My life meant nothing. I was consumed by the paper spaceship. Nothing mattered but the paper and cutting, folding, and pasting my way through to the next page.
It was then as I was lost in this twilight zone of papercraft obsession that something wonderful happened. I'd always felt that none of my pursuits was very special or that any of my accomplishments were anything to feel accomplished about. Even in the early days of this project I'd look at a few pages worth of progress and think that if I could do it then it must not be a big deal. I was a self-deflater and it would take a miracle to overcome that attitude. Even after folding a thousand tiny tabs I figured if I could build this paper Macross anyone could build this paper Macross. But at that point deepest in my overwhelming Macross based misery it hit me that not everyone could get this far. This book had been out for almost a year yet I found no other pictures online of anyone else's progress on a stock build of this model. I started feeling like this may be something special after all, and it only took me 14 pages of papercraft torture to understand that. Finally the self deflating part of me could say nothing to lessen the accomplishment. This really was a big deal and I'd had the tab and glue induced mental scars to prove it! Self-deflation finally lost! Torture was magic!
PAGES 8 & 14: AT LAST MACROSS STANDING
With the majority of the legs done all I had left to complete the lower body were the platforms comprising the Macross' 'feet'. All the feet parts were contained on pages 8 and 14. Even though the end of the project was near, the complexity didn't let up. In fact the patterns that made up the triangular white armor-like pieces that went on each corner were some of the most complicated parts of the entire model, and there were eight or them! But at this point with the end so near I wasn't complaining about the challenges. I realized it would all be over in a few days so I sat back and enjoyed the sweet sweet torture of all that tab folding and parts gluing. I reflected on how beautifully deigned these pieces were and I wish I would have enjoyed my journey aboard the Macross more instead of complaining so much about the bumps.
I did fuss a lot about the amount of work involved but I also appreciated the marvel of engineering and design that this model was. Every time that I thought the instructions were asking paper to do something impossible for paper to do, the paper did it! I cannot explain the incredible feat of engineering these pieces were. Some patterns had such chaotic complexity on the page yet also an intuitive design so they came together beautifully. It was like watching mechanical flowers I picked from a garden of paper pages blooming in my hands. I don't know the designer Akhuro other than by their credit in the book, but I feel like they've shared a lifetime love of papercrafting with me through this book. This model is as much a testament to Akuro's greatness as it is to Miyatake's and I thank them both.
SUPERMAGNETICAL JOINTED SPACE FORTRESS
I may not have been able to read Japanese but it became clear to me that without some sort of articulation this model was going to end up a stiff glued together statue. I may not have been able to figure out how to get it to transform but I really wanted the thing to be able to raise its arms, detach the carriers, and lower the towers to simulate the firing of the main gun in Attacker mode. The solution I came up with was to buy some magnet tape from Hobby Lobby and cut out some metal squares from a couple of Planters peanut tins. Using this metal/magnet combo I was able to have detachable towers and swiveling shoulders. I think we all know any model of the SDF-1, regardless of what it's made out of should always be able to do a Daedalus Attack!
Above you can see the magnet joint system I came up with for the shoulders and towers. In order to do the main guns tilting forward pose there are two additional paper cubes that have to be built that fill the gap between the regular tower attach point magnets and the tower attach point metal squares. I didn't show those extra cubes here. The Hobby Lobby magnet tape is actually pretty weak in both adhesion and magnet power so I had to hot glue the magnets on and cut the metal squares out as large as possible. Giving the magnets a nice large metal surface to stick to really helped the strength of the shoulder and carrier attach joints. And speaking of the carriers...
PAGES 15 & 16-THE DAEDALUS AND PROMETHEUS
After 14 pages finally the end was near! Of the 20 pages of patterns, page 17 had carrier specific parts so I didn't need to cut out those, 18 and 19 were Storm Attacker specific parts that I had already been assembling along the way, and 20 was a bunch of panels that had to be applied to cover various areas depending on which mode you were building. So pages 15 and 16 marked the ceremonial end of the project for me since they contained the last major parts of the SDF-1-the supercarriers Daedalus and Prometheus. I was really looking forward to these because they were models unto themselves that I thought would be a lot of fun! (Of course that depends on your definition of fun.)
The tabzilla award for pages 14 and 15 goes to the bulbous bow of the Daedalus (above left). Holy hell was folding those tabs all sorts of fun. But that was nothing next to the problems I had trying to get all the strips that composed the Prometheus' lower hull to line up properly. At first I just glued all the red strips together. I thought it would be a simple affair to make the lower and upper hulls fit. But then when I went to put the grey upper hull on, nothing lined up! The lower red hull was actually longer than the upper half of the ship. The way I overcame this was to break the lower hull into 3 parts and then reglue everything, making sure the drawn panel lines lined up from top to the bottom. This was possible of course because the type of glue I was using allowed for adjustments like that. I don't think super glue would've worked the same. Of course my troubles weren't over. It turned out that although I got the two hulls aligned, the top hull was still longer on one side than the bottom (see pic upper right). I tried just folding the excess over, but that wouldn't be the end of it...
Later on when I had to put the flight deck on top of the hull, the hull was too long on that one side. Jamming it all together busted the glued edge of the flight deck. So I folded the grey part a little more, got out some scissors and cut the excess on the right edge of the hull's rear panel. You really have to fold away a lot of that extra overlap to get the hull to fit under the deck. Or at least I did. I don't know if all of these problems with the Prometheus were my fault or not. Maybe there was some instruction in Japanese explaining how to align everything up right and I missed it so I can't blame this all on a bad pattern. But this was the only part throughout the entire project that really gave me a hard time in terms of things not fitting correctly.
I had the Prometheus done but the spacefolding misadventures weren't over yet. Just when I thought I'd seen everything, the Daedalus threw the absolutely tiniest tab in the entire project at me. This thing was no bigger than the number 5 on the date of my 2015 dime. It was absolutely SD Effin' insane. What the hell was going on here? I imagine Akhuro was somewhere out there laughing at me and really, after all this time I thought it was pretty funny, too (because this model gave me brain damage)! The big disaster for me on the Daedalus was when I was trying to color in some edges and I got a really bad bleed going on that ruined the paper when I tried to fix it. So I got a patch of approximately the same color paper from unused cruiser fortress mode patterns and I glued that over the screwed up area. Despite my coloring being the problem in the first place, I tried edge coloring the patch and screwed that up, too! But I said screw it and moved on. Then I had a problem where my Daedalus' forward front panel looks concave but at this point I really didn't care anymore. I just smiled and said, 'Oh, it's that darn Akhuro again!' and I put everything down and went to my kid's basketball game for the first time in two weeks.
I really really wanted the carriers to be detachable so I did them up with magnets and metal like I did the shoulders and towers. The Daedalus was no problem because that plate was a large flat rectangle where it connected to the elbow joint. The Prometheus was a bit of a problem because it's elbow plate was a lot narrower little square. I overcame this somewhat by covering the entire rear panel of the Prometheus with metal to achieve maximum magnet/metal surface area contact. It's not the strongest bond but it'll hold the Prometheus up when the arms are at a 90 degree angle so I'm happy.
MACROSS THOROUGHLY DISSECTED
From when I made the first cut on Tuesday, December 29th to when I attached the Daedalus on Wednesday, January 20th was 22 days. I worked on it an average of five hours a day so the total time was somewhere in the neighborhood of 110 hours. Of course the very first time I triumphantly took a picture of it I had the towers on wrong. I could hear Akhuro laughing at me from all the way over there in Japan.
With my Macross journey finally over I thought back to a time just before Christmas when I was showing my brand new copy of Macross Thorough Dissection to an electrical engineer friend. He asked, "How long do you think it'll take?" And knowing nothing about how complex it would be I said, 'Oh, about 48 hours total.' What an idiot! Now I know why he kind of just looked at me and smirked. He's got a lot of experience putting together teeny tiny circuit boards so I should have listened to him when he said this project looked like it'd be hell on earth. I've got problems focusing so I'm sure a more dedicated person could do it faster. Heck, I still have to do a lot of edge darkening and cutting out a couple squadrons' worth of Valkyrie fighters supplied with the book. But the hardest part is over and the very most basic task of getting the SDF-1 from a book of paper patterns to standing 3D figure is done. Not too bad for just an ordinary guy living in the middle of Georgia with an Exacto knife and a borrowed tube of school glue.