Wednesday, April 18, 2012

…hello Gundam!

Heavy Arms Custom (AE86s in the background)
I started building gundam models around January this year. The first kit I purchased was a Bandai Heavy Arms custom HG (high grade), the end product of which is pictured on the right:

I had so much fun building this kit I decided to do a few more, so I got a Throne Zwei and a Seven Sword, both of which were non-bandai models. 

Throne Zwei
Why replicas? For one thing, they are a lot more affordable for an otaku on a budget… and since I am still getting a feel for this hobby I wouldn’t want to invest in it too much just yet.  You can go on and preach about how terrible knock-offs are and how there is nothing that can justify buying them. Once you’re done being all high and mighty, ask yourself this: when was the last time you bought music? How many gigabytes of pirated and copyright infringing content have you consumed this year? And besides, this is my blog, I’m not forcing you to stay and read, so get over it. Moving on…

These HG models served as good practice for what was to be my first serious attempt at gunpla: a master grade Sinanju. These kits go for a good $70 on HobbyLink for the ”ver. KA”, and about $120 for the Titanium Finish versions. I wasn’t prepared to shell out that kind of money on a model just yet, so I opted for a replica, which cost me about one-third the price. I wasn’t able to take a lot of work-in-progress pics for this build, but here is how it turned out:

Not bad for a replica, yes? I sanded each part individually and did my best to get rid of seam lines and nub marks. I wanted it to look like the Titanium Finish version, so following a youtube guide I did a base coat of Bosny chrome, followed by 3 to 4 layers of hand painted Tamiya clear red. The gold trim was also hand painted with Tamiya gold leaf…an endeavor which allowed  me to reach my average annual swear count in a matter of a few days. 

It's Alive!

I was able to complete this model in approximately one month, putting in about an hour a day. The paint job is far from perfect if you look at it up close, but looking at the entire model it turned out better than I expected. The dry transfer decals were applied without following the placement guide. And lets not forget the LED mono-eye I was able to squeeze into this build :

The Sinanju is by far my most favourite mobile suit design. That said I wasn’t about to keep it looking just like any one else’s Titanium “ver. KA”. What’s great about this hobby is that you can get really creative with your builds, and if you aren’t planning on taking your model to a competition, then you have no one else to please but yourself - it will be sitting on your desk anyway, so go ahead- paint it, weather it, add weapons to it, customize it to your heart’s content! 

Taking inspiration from a Sinanju I saw online that had double the backpack engines, here is what I came up with…Sinanju 2.0!

got thrust?
I took the backpacks from two SD Sinanju kits and attached them where the white tube-like things used to be. All of those metal thrusters are actually ballpen tips in various sizes – I just inserted some gold eyelets into some of them to add more detail. I’ll put up more pics once the SHELF section is ready, but here are a few more:
with a scratch-built sword



So long spiders...

Before I get into my more recent activities, I'd like to do a short recap of what's been  keeping me busy for the past couple of months. The two remaining spiders have been doing well- both of them moulted early this year and their colors have been refreshed. This Chilean Rose moults about once a year and has grown to approximately 5.5 inches diagonal leg span.

The stocky legs and full round abdomen indicate that this specimen is female, and at her size she should be ready to mate. I would look for a suitable mate for her if I had the time and space for raising hundreds of spiderlings...

and it isn’t exactly as easy as going on Craigslist and posting 
Attractive female tarantula looking for sporty male of the same species. Recent sperm web is a plus!”. 

Regrettably, I have to find a new home for these guys. My limited resources allows for only one hobby at a time.
To the right is my Chaco Golden Knee, which I presume to be male due to the long thin legs and his rate of moulting (about every 3 months). He's rather skittish compared to the Chilean Rose, and prefers to hide in his cave (which i made myself) most of the time. When he's out in the open it's a good indicator that he's hungry. 
I raised this guy from a 2cm spiderling, now he measures about 4 inches with his legs stretched out. I’m sure when he reaches adulthood he’ll be a lot less shy…after all, there’s nothing to be ashamed of when you can grow to 8.5 inches, man and beast alike.  o_O

It's been a great experience caring for these exotic creatures. They could never be affectionate like a dog or a cat, but you always look forward to feeding time when you have a pet tarantula!

Friday, April 13, 2012


Welcome to Otaku on a Budget! My name is Paulo. I am at the moment, 28 years old, married with no kids. I work as a programmer and earn a decent wage, just enough to keep me and my wife relatively comfortable...ergo the “on a Budget” portion of my blog title. But what’s an “Otaku”, you might ask? Here are a few excerpts from Wikipedia and Urbandictionary:

Otaku (おたく / オタク)

            “In modern Japanese slang, the term otaku is most often equivalent to “geek". However, it can relate to a fan of any particular theme, topic, hobby or any form of entertainment.

“…refers to someone who has a devotion to a subject or hobby (not necessarily anime) to the point of not leaving home.”

“…his/her social skills have atrophied or never even developed, due to their manic involvement in their chosen fandom.”

“…someone who only leaves their home to eat or shop, if at all, with an overwhelming and unhealthy obsession about something.”

“…otaku is also used to refer to a nerd/hacker/programmer.”

So now that we’ve established what it means, you can pretty much guess what kind of things I’ll be blogging about. I have been an otaku of many things in the past, including but not limited to the following:

-       Anime (Dragon Ball Z, Ghost Fighter, Slam Dunk, KO, Naruto, Bleach, etc.)

-       Trading Card Games (Magic: the gathering)

-       Game Consoles (Nintendo > MegaDrive > Playstation 1 & 2 > Xbox)

-       Role Playing Games (Diablo 1 and 2)

-       First Person Shooters (Half Life, Counterstrike)

-       Bass Guitar

-       Massive Multiplayer Online Games (Ragnarok , RF, 12 Sky)

-       Android OS

-       Graphic Novels aka Comics (Sandman, Lucifer, Y the last Man, Chew, etc.)

-       Exotic Pets (Monster fish, Tarantula, Scorpion)

…and recently: Gunpla!

For those who do not know, Gunpla (ガンプラ, Ganpura) refers to the practice of building Gundam models. My brother-in-law introduced me to exotic pets and gundam modeling.   He is therefore also an Otaku by definition (although he still has a social life, while I do not.).
I am starting this blog because I want to share my experiences and vent my frustrations as an otaku on a budget…after all, it isn’t easy keeping a hobby when you have limited time and resources – it’s like having an itch that you can only scratch once a month!

The first few posts will probably be about stuff I’ve done in the past. Later on I’ll be organizing the posts into sections like ‘Work in Progress’ and maybe put up a gallery for easy access to pics. I don’t own a proper camera though so forgive me for uploading crappy pictures…it’s probably for the best anyway because my Gunpla skills are still developing and the low quality images help hide the imperfections J.
Don’t forget to bookmark this site! See you soon!