Monday, September 22, 2014

Meijin Modeler - Gavin Manners

Greetings fellow plamo fanatics, and welcome to the 2nd dose of Meijin Modeler! I was able to contact and interview the man behind one of my all-time favorite Sazabis, and winner of the 2012 Mecha competition (modified category) over at the Mecha Lounge - the one and only Gavin Manners!

Click on the read more link for the rest of this post...

I frequented Gavin's blog and watched this project come together over several months. Built from the now obsolete MG Sazabi, you can see just how much work went into this model, and thanks to his great photography skills we can appreciate every single detail. I could go on and on about the merits of this build but i'll let these pics do the talking...

Now that we're all on the same page as to how good this guy is at what he does, let's get on with the questions!

Q. What is your full name, nickname, or online name?
A. My name's Gavin but I like to go as Mr.Gav on the interwebs.

Q. How long have you been building kits? 
A. It's been on and off, because real life sort of gets in the way sometimes, but I did my first kit back in 2011. I've not produced nearly enough kits in that time, in my opinion..

Q. Where are you from and where do you currently live?
A. I live in wonderful Brighton, UK! It's a great town, you should come visit.

Q. Are you married? Do you have kids?
A. Not anymore, and no thankfully, or that would have been a really messy divorce!

Q. Where do you get your kits from?
A. I have won a couple of kits and I have a Garbaldy that I got direct from Kallamity in Italy, but largely all my kits come from The UK has some really extortionate import fees making it a very expensive hobby over here.

Q. What is your current occupation, or are you still in school??
A. I'm a Freelance Interior Designer & 3D Visualiser, I run my own company and do a lot of work in London. I also teach design sometimes at a local college. I'm also going into my second year of teacher training next month.

Q. What other hobbies do you have aside from Gunpla / Model building?
A. I'm really interested in Sci-Fi in general and I'm really interested in concept art for games and films etc. I really enjoy drawing and digital painting and would love to develop my skills in that respect.

 Q. What was the first kit you ever built and how was the experience?
A. When I was 12 or 13 I saw they were selling a couple of HG Endless Waltz kits down at the local Argos (UK people will know the store) and I had never seen Gundam before and was blown away by the designs, so I bought all three and just snap fitted them. I had no idea people modded and painted them back then, I was just fascinated by the articulation and the cool Japanese design.

Q. What kind of kits do you usually build? Is there any specific line you collect or just build anything you like?
A. I don't collect really, and I don't watch the anime or anything, I just get a kit if I think it looks cool. I have way too many kits in my backlog so I'm trying not to buy anything, though saying that I've just bought a job lot of Five Star Stories kits, as they're very hard to get hold of.

Q. How did you get into building gundam / mecha kits?
A. So as mentioned previously, I had the HG 1/144 kits lying around, so the concept of Gundam was in the back of my mind. Then a couple of years later my friend Ed, who was also into these Gundam kits, informed me of a new website in the UK where you could buy them. They had a much wider range, and that's when I was introduced to MG kits. I would buy all sorts of MG kits and just snap fit them because they looked cool. I still had no idea it was a big thing to paint and mod them! I go off to Uni at 19 and they all go into boxes to be forgotten about. Fast forward to 2011 and I see a Sinanju on sale at this website and I had to have it, it was such a good deal and the design of it blew me away. I did a little bit of research on how to build the kit properly and discovered MAC forums, Gundam Eclipse, and Zero Gunz, and couldn't believe what I was seeing. I was hooked from then, shelled out for an airbrush and air compressor and a few months later had my first completed kit.

Q. How many kits have you built to date?
A. Not as many as I'd like unfortunately! Completed kits, only 7, but I have 3 or 4 on the go at one time. My PG RX is nearly done, I'm working on my Garbaldy, a 1/144 Vardant, a PG Strike Freedom, and something else I can't quite remember at the moment.

Q. What is your favorite kit? Why?
A. Strike, without a doubt. I love the idea of this standard all rounder suit that when you bolt different bits of kit and weapons to it, it becomes a specialist in something or other. I have a PG Strike Rouge and I cannot wait to start painting it!

Q. What is your least favorite kit? Why?
A. On the subject of PG's I felt a bit cheated with the Strike Freedom. They made a big fuss about it and compared to the PG Strike it really doesn't have the detail or quality of a proper PG. In my opinion.

Q. What is your dream kit?
A. Either the PG Strike Rouge or Kallamity's Garbaldy. And I own both, so it's all good!

Q. What is your favorite tool in your toolbox, and why?
A. That's a tough one. Probably my Poly Cement. I love kitbashing robots together out of old kits so with out it I'd be a bit lost!

Q. What do you use to paint your kits?
A. Tamiya mainly, because I just like the way it flows. I tried Vallejo and didn't really get on with it. Plus, I can thin Tamiyas with Isopropyl, which is dirt cheap. I have an Iwata NEO gravity feed and an Iwata Revolution suction feed. I'd recommend the NEO all day long, it cost me £50 and it's what I use 90% of the time. I don't think you need a big fancy airbrush to be good at modeling, just look after your tools. I also exclusively use Tamiya Fine Surface Primer for undercoating, I've tried other brands such as Humbrol and Vallejo and they're just not as good.

Q. Where do you get inspiration for your custom projects?
A. The internet! When I start a project I go see who's done it before, and then try to do something different. Also, people like Decay, DC-23 and Toymaker really got me into the hobby. They are great to look at for inspiration. I recently met Decay and was blown away by his collection of work, he's a model making machine. Super inspirational. And he's a very nice guy too!

Q. How do you stay motivated to finish large projects?
A. I do different things at once. I never get the chance to burn out really because I've so many other things to do that any time spent modeling is a blessing.

Q. Do you work on multiple projects simultaneously or do you focus on one project at a time?
A. Multiple! I'm not doing these kits for anything or any one so I don't have to adhere to deadlines. I decided recently that what I enjoy about the hobby is the process and the things I learn during that process, which is why I try different things with every new kit I do. Competitions or commissions are too much pressure and would take the fun out of the hobby for me.

Q. What techniques do you use when building your kits?
A. Just your standard snap fitting, seam lines and sanding. If I'm modding I'll do panel lining and all that jazz.

Q. Can you share any building tips?
A. Nail clippers are your friend.

Q. What techniques do you use when painting your kits?
A. I try to use different techniques, but I'll always do post shading and panel lining and things like that. I've been doing a lot of weathering recently, but my next couple of kits will be clean to try and balance things out.
Q. Can you share any painting tips?
A. Airbrush control for me is everything, you can get such great results just by having proper control of your airbrush. I have not yet mastered this but I'm getting there!

Q. What kit/s are you currently working on?
A. My PG RX 78-2, PG Strike Freedom, Kallamity's Garbaldy, 40K Helbrute & Chosen, and this 1/144 Kotobuyika Vardant

Q. What advice can you give to people who are just starting in the hobby?
A. Research is really important, and asking advice on forums is really helpful, but you'll only learn by doing. Don't be afraid of making mistakes. I worry too much about people judging my work so I was always afraid of making mistakes and that really held me back I think.

Q. What advice can you give to people who have been in the hobby for a long time?
A. I don't think I'm really in a position to give advice to my betters!

Q. Would you like to share an experience that might help the mecha modeling community in general?
A. I've just spent a month traveling around some of Europe. I would highly recommend any kind of traveling and meeting people, I've never done it before and it really helped me to take a step back and gain a bit of perspective on my life. I learned that my problems, whether personal, work or modeling, weren't really that bad. It's easy to get wrapped up in your own little world and forget that there's a lot more out there.

He recently did a weathering tutorial, and while there are tons of military model weathering guides out there, it's probably one of the most detailed guides that uses a gundam kit as the work piece. Check out Gavin's blog for more examples of his excellent work and follow him on Instagram @gavinmanners for updates on his ongoing projects. Thanks for doing the interview Gav, and I'm looking forward to the next masterpiece that comes off of that battle-hardened cutting mat!

Till next time, keep building plamo!

No comments:

Post a Comment