Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Alternative Aftermarket Parts

I've been reading a lot on scratch-building and customization lately and I came upon these articles. I just want to share what happens when an Otaku is NOT on a budget, and has a passion for building stuff.

This guy built his very own Warmachine suit, complete with opening face plate and rotating mini-gun...

And this guy thought it would be cool to build his very own Tumbler...

Hats off to these guys for their dedication and perseverance!

I wish I had the resources those guys had, but as the title of this blog implies, I am short on funds but full of imagination, so I'm always on the lookout for cheaper ways to acquire or build the parts that I need. Thrift stores (japan home, saizen etc.) and electronics shops (deeco) are a mecha builder's mecca (pun intended) - hiding parts for customization that would otherwise cost an appendage to obtain.
A number of items i've found at these stores are as follows:

  •  24 pin IC sockets - everyone and their grandmother knows what these are for, but in the odd case that your grandma doesn't.. well they contain IC pins - great for micro thrusters,thruster igniters, rivets, small antennae, and so on.  

  • PCB terminal blocks - these contain 2 or more of those hard to find flat head "negative" screws. A bit hard to get out of the plastic case (TIP:use side cutters) but worth it for the price compared to online retailers of metal mecha parts. Or you can use them as missile pods like I did on my MK2

  • Capacitors - these come in various shapes and sizes, but I like the small cylindrical ones. They make great micro-missiles or grenade launcher ammunition, and can also be used for mocking up internal components. Dirt cheap too.

  • Small LEDs - if you ever wanted to light up your model's eyes, you will need these (or you could get down on one knee and propose to it. Your choice). This guy went all the way with his Unicorn and lit up the entire psychoframe!

  • Alligator clips - Great for holding pieces for painting. Mine are from Deeco (an electronics store) and are really cheap by the bag. Prop em up on a BBQ stick, clip on a part and paint away.

  • Flourecent starters - nicely sized for propelant tanks, or ammo cans as in the case of my MK2. Most hardware and electronics stores have these.

  • Glass fuse - including these here just because I thought of a way to use them. See my Kampfer.  Be careful using these as the glass breaks easily.

  • Wire mesh skimmer - This thing is used to fish out fried fish from the fryer (tongue twister intended), but take a pair of sturdy scissors to it and you have a fine and durable wire mesh for various applications. Japan home and other thrift stores have them.There might be cheaper sources still.

  • Balloon and lollipop sticks - look for the plastic ones. They are great for hydraulics and other tube-like parts. National bookstore has balloon sticks, but the plastic lollipop sticks can be tricky to locate. You may just buy a bag of chupachups for your kids and tell them to keep the sticks and not to chew on them.

  • Ballpens - the ones with removable metallic front ends. I use them as metal thrusters (check out my Sinanju). You can even fit an eyelet or an IC pin in there for added effect. The cheapest ones i've found with metal front ends come down to 5 pesos each. They can be cut with a metal/jeweler's saw if they seem too long.

  • Plastic ink tube from ballpen - once drained of ink, these can be used as hydraulics too! what could possibly fit down the middle of it? how about a chrome paperclip?

  • Ballpoint writing tip - As if the ballpen wasn't worth the 5 pesos yet, it goes ahead and yields another hard to find mecha item...the actual writing tip can be used as ammo! 

  • Eyelets - Available at your local bookstore, crafts or sewing shop. Best used as thruster inserts / effects.

  • Sewing pins - Another common mod. Crafts and sewing stores have these. The idea is to use the pinhead as a rivet or tiny screw. TIP: Be extra careful when cutting off the shaft with a wire snaps off and could end up embedded in your eyeball. I do my cutting inside a plastic container to keep shrapnel in check.

  • Guitar strings - for all your wiring effects needs! they conduct electricity too! Any music store has these. If you want thicker ones, go for Bass guitar stings, but I find them harder to work with. TIP: bend into desired shape before you cut!

  • Metallic beads - craft stores have them, just find the right color and size. Great replacement for the plastic ones that come with your sinanju / zaku / etc. TIP: The spring that comes with your kit probably won't fit through these as most beads are intended for bracelets that use nylon string. Figure out a way to use nylon string instead to hold these together and you're all set.

  • Ointment caps - The little ribbed caps on ointment tubes can also be used as thrusters. Most of them even come with a built-in igniter in the middle! (ok, it's not an igniter, just a pointy thing used to pierce the tube..use your imagination for chrissake..) . I am yet to find a more available source for these.

  • Necklace chains - Divisoria is where you want to go to look for these, or at the cheap female accessories sections in malls. They go for as low as 50 pesos per necklace, maybe cheaper if you buy bulk. This is what I used for ammo belts on my MK2 

  • Zip-ties - cut up the strip into small equal sections and the ribbed side can represent small vents on your mecha. For bigger vents of similar appearance, the handle of a plastic razor can be employed.

Other commonly used items:
  • Plastic spoons - used by a lot of modellers to test their paint mixes.
  • Plastic coffee stirrers - cheap little plaplate sticks.

The next time you go out, keep your eyes open...there are a lot more mecha-modding stuff out there waiting to be discovered!

Here's an example of a build (not mine) that used common household items to achieve a one-of-a-kind mecha that will simply melt your face off!

Now for those of you with more money than time to look around for cheaper alternatives, here are a few online sellers of mecha modelling components:

Whichever way you go at it, mecha modelling should be first and foremost, FUN. Keep that in mind and you will get the most out of this great hobby!

*I do not claim ownership of the builds mentioned above, nor am I related to the builders in any way. I give all credit where credit is due - and that is to the builders themselves.


  1. Thanks a lot for these tips sir ! Really helped me a lot! :)

  2. its really help me a lot, thank you bro :)

  3. Brooo! excellent tips. will really enhance my ideas very custom. thanks a lot.

  4. Excellent work sir Thanks for giving an ideas and customizing every part.