Sunday, September 13, 2020

 Unicorn Gundam Odaiba Diorama


Model, Story and photos by Jerry Escobedo-Sainz


As with many things in Japan, giant mechas and giant monsters are very important sub-jects on their culture. In the late decades on the 20th Century, there was a myriad of giant mechas series on TV that were distributed very fast outside of Japan –I used to watch a series in Mexico in which giant robots lived inside a mountain and fly to fight monsters and whatnot.


Gundam is one of the most successful series of this genre that was released in 1979, in which there is no good VS evil script per se, but humans morals and behaviors take place in a war –each side thinking they are acting for the good of humanity. Gundam (Japanese ガンダム,pronounced “Gundamu”) is a contraction of the words “Gun Freedom”, so yeah, at first it was called “Gundom”, but it was not appealing to the Japanese culture of the 70’s, that was getting into the Western culture, including the English language.


In this sense, the futuristic Gundam series –produced by the Japanese company “Sunrise” -depicts all sorts of giant mechas (giant robots or machines (mechs) controlled by pilots inside them), with powerful weapons. The Gundam RX-78-2is the first and main character of the Gundam franchise, and there are many versions of it as model kits, all released by Bandai brand. Bandai released plastic models of airplanes, cars, and toys, since the 60’s. But in the 80’s it found its golden goose with the Gundam franchise, and 40 years and millions of plastic kits released later (called “Gunpla”, as in “Gundam Plastic Models”), it is one of the most successful Japanese brands of scale models, pairing up with other giants like Tamiya and Hasegawa.


The Gundam Unicorn


One of this mechas is the Gundam Unicorn, that is piloted by a 17-year-old kid called Banagher Links, who tries to show adults that war is wrong. When he gets inside the Gundam he becomes one with the ma-chine, and all his feelings and thoughts are united with the circuitry in something that is called “Psycho-Frame” –an active crystal frame inside the machine -and the Gundam transforms into the most highly advanced of all the Gundam machines.


Gundam Unicorn is now a series on Netflix. The action sequences go hand in hand with many philosophical ideas of good, kindness, human logic, the reason for war, and the reason that must be peace among nations –yes, the now classic idea that the Japanese culture was affected in its roots by “Big Boy” and “Fat Man”. Noticeable is the mind-blowing logic of who’s wrong and who’s right in episode 6, minute 20, by the characters of Banagher, his archrival Char Aznable and the main female character Audrey Burne. I recommend it, so go ahead and check it out! Hey, it might even your induction to the Anime genre in movies, if you haven’t got caught yet.


So, the Japanese went ahead and built a 1:1 scale mod-el of the Unicorn Gundam. The Statue is located in Odaiba, an artificial island in Tokyo Bay, Japan. The 65-foot statue was unveiled on September 24, 2017, standing next to a Tokyo Plaza Mall called DiverCity. The statue opens its plates and shows the Psycho-Frame, that is lighted and fumes come out of its rocket exhaust, while a short of the anime is played in a giant screen behind it on the mall façade.


Adjacent to the statue is the Gundam Café, a place where food and drinks are all Gundam related subject.

The Diorama


My diorama depicts the Odaiba plaza in front of the mall, with the Unicorn Gundam showing the Psycho-Frame. PLAZAI made the main plaza with a photograph frame for the whole diorama, using the back of the frame as a base. I applied texturized paint to simulate gravel and other kinds of flooring. The trees, grass and flowers are from Winmodo. The lighting posts are Evemodel, powered by 2-10-volt batteries in the back of the diorama.




The figure is a Bandai HG RX-0 Unicorn Gundam in Destroy Mode, in red Psycho-Frame. I repainted the whole inner frame with metallic paint, and the armor plates with acrylic white.


The idea is to leave it as clean as the actual statue. Nevertheless, a very light shadowing was applied with Tamiya Weathering Master for depth effect, and a spray of clear matte coat. The decals are waterslides from Bandai, instead of the stickers from the original kit. 


The figure is placed in the diorama by means of a met-al rod in one of its foot that serves as anchor to the base.




I made the mall façade with a 5mm plastic sheet and treated with acrylic colors. I created the divisions (squares) with a hobby knife. The clear parts are made of acrylic plastic. I made the lettering with bond paper cut with hobby knife (from my days on paper-scale-modeling). The Gundam Café logo is made with an actual Bandai Gundam V-fin (the “antennas” in the forehead of Gundam mechas, a reminiscence of the Samurai’s “kuwagata”) and paper. The screen is an Amazon Fire tablet, that when connected to the Inter-net, I log in to my Netflix account and play the Gun-dam Unicorn series on it.


The back of the façade, or structure, was made of old iPhone boxes and blocks of polystyrene.


On the left side of the façade there are some logos of the stores inside the mall. I changed the logos of the mall to logos of local modeling stores here in San Antonio, Texas. Of course, I asked proper authorization form the store owners to display their store’s logos. Can you recognize them?




The people figures are Toogoo brand in N scale (1/150), and even when they were already painted, I re-painted them with acrylics to add details (eyes, mouths, cloth details and accessories... and some with eyelashes!). I also needed to sand the rough ends of the figures.


Every Gundam is a space-war-ship, and it is piloted by a human (or in the Gundam lore, a “Newtype” human), and has total control of the mecha. When you buy a Gundam kit, you’ll find that it comes with the figure of its pilot, that you can pose beside you completed model. There are 6 figures that are the actual pilots of 6 different Gundam kits, all in 1/144 scale, and that I painted with acrylics. I place them scattered in the diorama as a game for the onlookers of the diorama to find (think of “Where’s Waldo?”).




I really enjoyed building this diorama of the Odaiba Unicorn Gundam, and I learned a lot. As Gundam models are becoming more and more popular, especially among youngsters (and the young at heart), the Bandai company is not stopping here. At 40 years form its commencement, it looks like the Gundam franchise is just starting to take flight. Every month there are many new Gundam kits, roughly every 6-9 months there is a new Gundam anime series, merchandise galore, and the first upcoming live-action movie by Legendary Pictures, and Gundam filling up more and more tables on the IPMS events, maybe you also will get your feet wet on this category of scale modeling... and you are welcome to do it!

The diorama won First Place in the San Japan Convention in San Antonio, Texas. 
I won the Red Astray PG kit.
September 2019. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

F-14 Tomcat Aggressor de Papel

Building report of a Paper Model
The Uncanny Side of Scale Models
by Gerardo Escobedo Sainz
There are certain universal and timeless questions in life like... What is Paper Modeling? How can you build a 3D model out of 2D diagrams? Where can I find more information about using paper as media to create scale models? I hope to shed some light to these ageless questions.
Paper models are my life... at least for the last 12 years, and it has been a happy trip. Let me tell you about one model in particular: The F-14 Tomcat.


Although I had the F-14 Tomcat Aggressor paper model kit in my stash for several months, I was not brave enough to make use of my hobby knife in its pages. But then my wife gave me the looks for which she is known – You Can Do It -, and so I took a very deep breath and began cutting paper. The kit’s cover showed a very appealing version of the Tomcat. Tough and complex, building it was going to satisfy me... I knew it... and I believed it. For me, every model is an epiphany of life.
Paper models come in many scales, from many countries – especially Poland -, and the range of models in paper is endless. You can find the common themes like aircraft and armor, to the wacky things like... your own head in paper, scale 1:1 of course. In a nutshell, paper modeling is the art of converting 2D surfaces into 3D objects using paper as a media.
The F-14 Tomcat Aggressor Configuration
With more than 600 elements in 18, A4-size cardstock pages (weight is about 80 lb.), in offset printing, the Polish “Mały Modelarz" publishing house takes its own digital design department to the next level with this kit released in 2004. The F-14 Tomcat in 1:33 scale kit includes 2 Hughes AIM-54 Phoenix air-air missiles, 2x AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles and 2x AIM-7 Sparrow air-to-air missiles.

Other additions are: complete cockpit interior, arrest hook, movable wings, and other details.
Mały Modelarz has been a Polish publisher of paper models since 1957. But there are other BIG names in the published paper modeling world: Kartonowy Arsenał (better known as  Halinski), GPM, Modelik, Orlik, Hobby-Model, Orel, WAK... plus a countless designers that offer their models via the Interweb. Did I mention there are thousands of free –to-download legal paper models as well?
Back to the F-14... Besides the paper model kit itself, currently priced at $15.00 US Dollars,  I used laser cut frames made of cardboard (price $10 US Dollars), and aftermarket canopy made of plastic (price $5.00 US Dollars). This gives the model its “skeleton”, so it can be supported from within. I can rely on my self-made internal structures, using good old empty cereal boxes (I guess I still have some laying around as gift from our former member Tom Sprawls when I was appointed president of the Alamo Squadron club – what a gift, right?), but with this model, I wanted it to give me a little more satisfaction. And for $30 US Dollars, it looked like a good deal.
I started building the cockpit, as is particularly usual with scale paper airplane models. Even though all the details on the dashboard and dials are very well drawn on the kit, I added plastic for the screens (old cellular phone protectors). Then for the controls in the dashboards, I used little cuts from earphone cables (the inside little cables), and that gave some details to the dashboard buttons. Everything else is made of paper.

The seats are very special area. The provided parts are very good designed, and they came out looking pretty good. I used 1 mm cardboard for the back, painted with black felt pen and then I scribed the couture for a 3D effect.

Tools of the Trade
All the paper parts are cut using a hobby knife #11 on a self-healing cutting mat. And glue pieces with water-free white glue (i.e. Elmer’s glue). Nothing out of the ordinary. Paper should be cut in one single stroke per line or side on the kit; this prevents creasing on the paper piece.
A lot of engineering was put into the design of the wings. I don't say this is the first model with this kind of engineering, but anyway, it is a great pleasure to build a model knowing that Math was applied. The wing pieces are long paper polygons that should be cut and fold carefully, as you don’t want to break or stain them. So clean hands is a must for building a paper model... or at least while you cut the paper.

Another highly valuable tool in paper modeling is the internet forums. Due to the fact that 90% of the commercial paper model kits come from Poland, and that the instructions are clearly explained - in Polish! -, you need photographic information from other modelers; if from Poland, the better… as they seem to be born with a paper kit in one hand and a camera in the other. Photos galore to follow the steps in building paper models. But I’ve found amazing references also in German, Czech and Slovak forums that make building the model a breeze. 
Now we can add the mechanical control wires inside the body of the airplane to regulate the movement of the wings. It could be really fun to add them, and can be accomplished with help of other modelers in the forums. I saw that the wires were not totally correct on the original model, but for me it worked just fine with just a little tweak in the wires. To put together the front and back pieces of the airplane, I used an unorthodox method: Instead of just apply glue, I inserted 3 bolts in the bulkhead. With this method I killed 2 birds with one stone:
a) parts get strongly attached to each other
b) they add weight which can prevent the plane to tail-sit
For the aft upper fuselage, I built the skin pieces before add them to the internal structure. I painted red the inner part of the wing that attaches the flap with a felt pen, and can only be seen in certain angle. But the sweep wing mechanism works just fine! Although you have to manually move BOTH wings, it works OK.
Paper kits include strips you can cut that will help you to put two pieces together and have clean seams. This model though, was designed with the butt-to-butt method, in which the two internal formers are glued to complete the airplane fuselage. 
Deep inside the air intake, the F-14 has fans to get air into the engine, which I cut from the kit itself, glued to the laser frames and painted with black matte spray. I doubt many people will take the time to see inside the air intakes, but it feels good to know they are there!
For the vertical control surfaces, I cut the pieces from the kit, and apply a light moisten layer with water in my finger, which I pass across the center of the paper piece; then proceed to use a bronze rod to bend the paper. With this technique, the paper is prevented to be “broken”, and avoid that the edge of the control surface gets wrinkles.
The engine was one big amusing element to build. There are lots and lots of feathers that forms the exhausts. The engine part inside the exhausts are made of laser cut frames, which I painted them with silver felt pen. This method mimics the metallic finish to the engine. After the exhaust are ready, I added the feathers, but not only glue them, but sculpt them to a desired shape, in my case, closed as when the plane is ready to takeoff.

Painting a Paper Model
Now something on painting a paper model… there is none! Well, not in the same sense as you do in a plastic model. Since the paper kit already comes painted, all you have to do is to paint the cut edge of the paper part, so when put together two pieces, you don’t get a white line in the seam. Usually you paint the edges with a pelt pen of the same color. Many advanced paper modelers use acrylics to get the exact same color as on the paper part, and then apply the paint on the edge with a small brush. What is the fun building a model with no painting involved, you would ask? Well, you still have to sculpt the paper into the intended 3D shape. And that is fun enough to keep you very busy!
The wheels are made of circular cuts of cardboard. I use a circular cutter from Olfa, that resembles a drafting compass, but with a knife instead of a pencil. I cut 8 circles for each wheel, and glued together as a sandwich. Once dried, I painted the wheels with matte black acrylic.
The one thing I like the most in a paper jet airplane is the landing gear struts. I’ve build paper landing gears for F-16, F-18, F-15, F-117 and now F-14, and those things are so complex in a paper model, that I can say they not only resemble the real thing – like expected in any scale model – but more so if you think that each strut and cylinder in the landing gear is a roll of paper. These rolls are put together along with torque arms, forks, actuators, lock pins and trunnions - all made of nothing but paper. I’ve noticed that on my paper jet models the landing gear struts are the least visualized. I think I need to point them out more clearly… like a 16 X 24 photo of a strut, none the less!

The aftermarket plastic canopy (I still refuse to make them with the vacuum method) was submerged in a batch of Future. This is the first time I use Future for a plastic so thin, I didn’t know what to expect – hey!, maybe it was going to be disintegrated! All my friends at the Alamo Squadron modeling club do the same thing for their plastic canopies... but the plastic is hard and thick... not the ones for paper kits. Nonetheless I got very good results with it, and I plan to keep on doing it.
The final touches on the F-14 Tomcat Aggressor paper kit are the little details like scoops, ordnance, antennas, and the like.
Looking at a scale model that came out of the pages of a book – literally – is an amazing experience. Granted, in comparison with plastic modeling, paper modeling still has a long journey ahead; and after a hundreds of years paper modeling is being around (I have a model designed in 1529), it is now that, thanks to the Internet, we can find a myriad of subjects in paper, and paper modelers of all ages, from all nations.

References & Free Models
You can find more about paper modeling in this forum:
And for those of you rogues out there, I leave you here some web sites where you can download free and legal paper models to your computers and print them at home.
Are you looking for a specific model? E-mail me!
Northrop F-5 Airplane
NASA Space Shuttles
P-51 Mustang Red Tails
Yamaha YZR-M1 Motorcycle
Titanic, Olympic, Britannic
Tiger I Tank
Ford Mustang GT500
Battleship Bismarck


Thursday, December 31, 2015

Halcón Milenario miniatura de papel

Y para terminar este año 2015, dejo aquí este pequeño Halcón Milenario (Millennium Falcon) de la película Star Wars, en pequeña escala (creo que 1:1500), realizado en papel.

Y así despido al 2015... lleno de grandes bendiciones... y recibo del 2016 con gran fe.

Este modelo se puede obtener siendo miembro del foro de modelismo en papel CUTANDFOLD.



Monday, October 12, 2015

¿Qué ha pasado con los blogs de modelismo en papel en Español?

¿Qué ha pasado con los blogs de modelismo en papel en Español?

Después de darme unas vueltas por varios foros y blogs de modelismo en papel en Latinoamérica, me di cuenta de que ya no están activos... ¡ninguno!

¿Se murió el modelismo en papel?

No. Facebook es el culpable. Desde hace ya casi 2 años, los foros en Español han decaído, y los blogs están muertos. Blogs tan importantes en el pasado dejaron de abrir nuevos temas en 2013... o 2014 en el mejor de los casos.

El mío no es la excepción. He dejado de abrir nuevos temas desde Febrero 2014, y en todo este tiempo han sido Facebook y los foros en España y Estados Unidos, mis ventanas para mostrar los modelos que he construído.

Es cierto, Facebook es más... interactivo, porque las entradas aparecen automáticamente en las ventanas de mis contactos, y mi foro no, ya que los lectores deben entrar directamente al foro para ver lo que he publicado.

Sin embargo, las publicaciones en Facebook son como el fuego de un cerillo... se enciende durante una pequeña ventana de tiempo, y se apaga rápidamente. Y para mantener el fuego vivo, hay que estar publicando comentarios y "likes" para que los contactos se den cuenta de esa entrada. Una vez que pasan un par de días, la publicación se muere o se queda en el historial olvidado, porque hay muchas nuevas publicaciones de las decenas - o centenas - de "amigos" que se tienen en Face; y la verdad es imposible llevar cuenta de las entradas de todos los contactos.

Y cuando publico algo, y alguien le da "like", rápidamente pasa al siguiente tema en su ventana personal de Facebook, porque hay mucho que ver. Esto demerita la posibilidad de comentar, analizar, realizar una conversación crítica del tema que se publicó.

Pero bueno, en el universo de foros, el foro de modelismo en papel en Español que sigue vivo es el de Chapuzas100, Modelismo en Papel. Sin embargo, también se ha visto un detrimento en las entradas, comentarios y adiciones a este foro. No hay como apartar unos minutos y, teniendo como respaldo la amistad que se ha creado en el foro, leer y dejar comentarios en las entradas de nuestro querido foro.

En cuanto al foro en Inglés, también el de papermodelers ha seguido vivo, gracias a que el idioma es casi universal, y todavía hay mucha gente que mantiene vivo el foro. Aquí también se crean amistades y se hacen buenas discusiones.

Pero existen muy buenos blogs en Español que, aunque hablen básicamente de modelismo en plástico, dan buenas referencias al mundo de las maquetas en general. Tal es el caso de mi buen amigo Adrián Leguina, chileno radicado en Inglaterra, quien en su blog habla de varios temas relacionados con el maquetismo: cultura, mercado, entrevistas, opiniones, etcétera; bastante recomnedable. De hecho, la lectura de sus entradas me ha dado ánimos a seguir escribiendo en los foros, abrir nuevos reportes de construcción, y revivir mi propio blog.

Espero que podamos mantener viva la llama del modelismo en papel en Español. Hay que darnos tiempo, y hay que seguir recortando y pegando. Mantengamos vivas las amistades y el amor por el maquetismo.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Iron Man "Iron Patriot" de papel

Un modelo del Iron Man en su configuración Iron Patriot.
Modelo gratuito de
Impreso en papel opalina.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

F-15 E modelo a escala de papel

Es el F-15 E de ModelArt que conseguí hace ya bastante tiempo.

Y es un modelo que ya es muy común en los foros de modelsmo en papel, y es "hermano" del F-15 Bicentenario que armé hace unos meses.

El modelo, que lo tengo digital, lo imprimí en papel opalina con impresora láser.

El reporte completo de construcción se puede encontrar dando click aquí.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

P-51 Mustang "Gunfighter" de papel

He aquí P-51 D Mustang "Gunfighter" de NOBI. NOBI es un diseñador de Tahilandia y tiene muchos años ofreciendo modelos comerciales y algunos gratuitos. Sus modelos están a la venta en

NOBI ofreció este modelo en escala 1/48, así que me me atreví a ampliarlo a escala 1/33, mediante la impresión de los patrones al 145%. Entonces, como yo quería añadir cabina completa en el modelo, imprimí una de cabina del P-51 de Dave Winfield , y que no fue difícil hacerlo instalar en el interior del Mustang de NOBI. 

Otras modificaciones: 

a.) Las hélices son también de uno de los Mustangs de Dave 

b) Los escapes son de Mustang de Dave, en la configuración 2D, pero los coloqué encima del diagrama del de NOBI, como se puede ver en las fotos. 

c) En el caso de las ruedas, le agregué 3 redondeles más de cartón a cada rueda para que sean un poco más gruesas. 

d) Le agregué 2 redondeles de cartón a la rueda de cola también .

Fuera de eso todo el modelo es a partir de los patrones de NOBI.

El Mustang de NOBI es una muy buena adición a la colección de Mustang (de los cuales todavía no me aburro). NOBI construyó su modelo en 1/48 aquí: Thaipaperwork WIP.

Espero les guste el resultado. 

Por cierto, este modelo está pendiente de ser lanzado de forma gratuita en El otro Mustang de NOBI gratuito es un Red Tail (Cola Roja), y lo encuentran en esta liga. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

P-51 D Mustang modelo de papel del avión Tuskegee Airmen

Este modelo es una versión revisada del modelo que ya Dave había piblicado hace tiempo.
Dave está viendo la posibilidad de que sea un modelo de descarga gratuita. 
Por ahora, varios modelos de los Red Tails están a la venta en
Mi modelo lo imprimí en papel opalina de 220 gr, en impresora láser. 
El pegamento que usé fue el Elmer´s Glue blanco. 

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