2017-08-17

Worldcon 75



Worldcon is the biggest and oldest annual Sci-fi convention in the world. This year the 75th Worldcon was hosted in Helsinki. It is the first time the convention is held in Northern Europe: Most times it has been hosted in US. Having it in Finland is really a once-a-lifetime experience, and it was really cool, too. I mean, I've been on LUG exhibits over 20 times, I think more than 50 days overall, and this was the most dedicated audience I've had honour to have. This wasn't our LUG Palikkatakomo's most impressive display, no, we only had two builders, me and our current chairman Sami Kattelus who organized our participation; So no big modular cityscapes nor impressive fortresses nor intelligent robots nor wacky GBCs; just my character builds, 37 in total, and Samppu's highly functional Star Wars models, nine of them. But I dare to say that these were suitable for audience, which consisted mostly of Sci-fi/Fantasy nuts.


I mean, when I have my Discworld models on regular exhibit with Finnish audience, maybe three or four people per day recognizes them. But here we had lot of people admiring them with their bright eyes; including lot of American and English ladies aged 50 to 70 going: "They're just like I imagined them! Look, the Librarian! And that Luggage!" I think my most popular creations were the aforementioned Librarian and Luggage, and build of Sir Terry Pratchett himself, not yet published here but visible on the photos. Porco Rosso's Savoia S-21 seaplane got surprisingly lot attention, which was nice, as it is rather important build to me.

I also got lot of really good questions and had several interesting conversations. Now, you get these on regular shows, too: But on Worldcon there was a collective understanding on some issues artists take as granted but not everyone does, so I didn't get asked whether these are real sets, nor how many parts there are, nor didn't heard the old bad argument of "Everything was better in the past when we had one 2x4 brick that fed our IMAGINATION expect that it was stuck behind the radiator and we died of typhoid fever at the age of 29". Okay, I overstated a bit, but you hear that a lot when talking about the hobby with commoners...

I rather told them about the process, the time it takes, gave examples of odd piece uses and gave some tricks. Actually one of the most frequent questions were "what part is the tongue of The Luggage". But, surprisingly, the most common questions was "Can I take photos?" and always in English. I have nothing against people photographing my models on public exhibits, no, it's flattering. Finnish audience takes this as a granted, too. It's not a problem, but it's fascinating that people actually ask. It's polite, and nice way to break the ice with the exhibitor. This time I also tried to say "Hello" or "Terve" to everyone that stopped on our booth. I probably should do that on every exhibit, but on most, like Model Expo (Which is actually just a add-on of Kid's Expo), audience consist mostly of kids aged 5-11 and their parents and they're quite busy with their kids. But this audience was more approachable. Just for some statistics: On Wednesday, Tuesday and Friday it was maybe 30% Finnish, and on Saturday and Sunday around 50%-50%. I think people travelling abroad bought membership for whole con and Finnish fans bought day passes for days they weren't working.
Due to sort of misunderstanding I though I would have an opportunity to held a lecture of some sort, so I wrote up a few thoughts about the creative process of building. I might edit it to publishable form and post it here later. It was not kept, but maybe writing it in English helped me to talk about the hobby during the five days.

What else did I do? I attended three lectures. "Historical Sci-Fi in China" was quite niche one, but interesting in it own way. Did you know that there isn't lot of historical Chinese Sci-fi? Well, there isn't. The others included Ian Stewart, The Science Quest, who has co-written Science of Discworld books with Sir Terry Pratchett and Jack Cohen. The lectures were "Distinguishing a duck from a rabbit", about neuroscience and illusions, and "Humour in Sci-fi and Fantasy" which is self-explanatory. There were around one thousand of these panels, and they were mostly full. I only took part on three because I think it was just such cool sitting on our booth talking to people about my own work...

I also got interviewed shortly on Swedish podcast Fandompodden; it was on English. I can probably find it at their page later, the full thing should be in English. What else... I played three games of Magic the Gathering with one of our recruited deputies, Arttu, who owns most of deck (I bought a card though. Gearshift Ace, a dwarf pilot who looks like Porco Rosso. It was 30 cents. Quite fitting, eh?). I lost twice and won once, the enemy deck included lot of grasshoppers. These were played between seven and half past nine at night, and there were probably five visitors at our booth during them. I also went to watch Edgar Wright's Baby Driver, which was cool and exciting film (it begins with a getaway chase sequence with Jon Spencer Blues Explosion's Bellbottoms song which I've known to be one of the coolest songs in the universe since I was seven and we went to Norway by car and recorded this cassette with songs chosen by all family members, and this Bellbottoms was one by my father, a record store seller by profession for ten years; It's awesome song by great band. String sections and everything. Nothing to do with Worldcon, though.)

I didn't buy any souvenirs from the con. I had all the used Discworld books they had on sale (But hey I bough Equal Rites softcover today for 1,5€ from excellent Bonus Kirppis at Tampere, and now I only lack Mort, Guards! Guards!, Witched Abroad, Maskerade, Truth, Hat Full of Sky and I Shall Wear Midnight) and they didn't have any Porco Rosso posters (what a shame). There would have been a bunch of English Bionicle comics and Mad Max DVD box set, but I passed them.

Some interesting people I met:

- Kurt Baty, an AFOL from Texas
- James Shields, an Irish AFOL who had built model of hosting hall of Worldcon 2019 in Dublin
- Jan Woznika, an AFOL of LUGPol
- Lady that gave me "Porco Rosso Savoia S-21" sticker she had bought from Ghibli Museum - thanks!
- Kylo Ren (maybe a 8-year-old girl in cosplay) and her gang (Yoda beanie girl, Flareon plushie girl, Doctor Eggman junior, Beyblade lad). They investigated our creations VERY precisely.
- Eduardo Serradilla, who wrote and article about my Savoia S-21 on eldiario.es
- Vesa Lehtimäki, well known from is breathtaking photos

James Shields and his Convention Centre Dublin.

Spotted on the audience:

- 2 Discworld T-shirts
- One YUP T-shirt
- One Rakkauden Wappuradio T-shirt
- One Teekkari Cap
- One Discworld cosplay (Tiffany)
- One Nausicaä (Manga!) cosplay (Nausicaä)

MOCs on display (me)

- Admiral Ackbar bust
- Furiosa
- Mad Max
- Cohen the Barbarian
- Captain Carrot
- Sergeant Detritus
- Commander Vimes
- Sergeant Colon
- Corporal Nobbs
- Sergeant Littlebottom
- Granny Weatherwax
- Nanny Ogg
- Sir Terry Pratchett (Not yet published online)
- Mustrum Ridcully
- The Dean
- The Bursar
- The Lecturer on Recent Runes
- The Chair of Indefinite Studies (Not yet published online)
- The Luggage
- Rincewind
- The Librarian
- Susan Sto Helit
- Lu-Tze
- Savoia S-21
- Porco Rosso
- Charuka&Chikuku
- Kurotowa
- Kushana
- Nausicaä
- Mito
- Yupa
- Dedede
- Robin
- Palutena
- Zero Suit Samus
- Power Suit Samus

Samppu:

- X-Wing Starfighter
- Naboo Starfighter
- Three speeder bikes
- Probe Droid
- E-Web blaster cannon
- Imperial Shuttle
- TIE Interceptor
- AT-ST
- Star Destoryer


Thanks to:

- Organisers of the con (Tablecloths and chairs with back rests and everything)
- Samppu
- our deputies during the long days: Arttu, Tuulia, Tuuli and Ree.




Trade hall, just behind a wall.

































2017-08-06

MOC: Lumiére

 Worldcon begins in Wednesday and I've got plenty of things going on, three builds photographed and everything, this is one of them; and I should be writing some exhibit material too and probably have a talk of some sort, probably in English, even. Our booth is even listed as Palikkatakomo/Cyclopic Bricks in the con website. Witness!

But here we have the fire personification girl, Lumiére, which is French and means luminary (surprise). I think this ended up quite a different than I had planned at the start. There were several version, which I was not sure if they would even be this MOC, the fire goddess - like one with white dress and sitting pose adapted from a Mucha sketch, with only some reddish jewellery to form an inkling of the fire theme. But it didn't get it work and approached the subject on different style. I had lot of fire part gadgets lying around, like these big circles made of 3L CCBS bones, flame chains, golden fire wings and so on, but I simpled it around a lot. The long black (coal?) boots were there from the beginning, and the lantern (which is of course super fragile) was probably the first thing built, along with the big ponytail (That misses one tail end. It fell of at some point. Fortunately doesn't really show on the pictures.).

The ruff on the hem of the shirt was one of the motifs here, too. I made like 13 of those ruffs, both in red and dark red, to form sort of a Flamenco dress (Flamenco sounded good for a fire) but it was too rigid and short, too, as I didn't have enough pieces. But I left couple of those there, and they definitely don't amount a skirt, but at least a hem, and some shape to the silhouette of the build.

The pearl gold sprout details on the chest, along with big shoulder pads using container pieces and printed double bow pieces, helped to define the character. I think they give sort of authority feel suitable for the fiery element. Another "element point" was the gradient trousers. They were dark red at first and it looked dull, so I embarked a conquest to make a gradient. Which isn't always easy. But I think I managed quite well, despite having to add a black lines to the sides. Funny that I had needed pieces in dark red, red, orange, bright light orange and yellow... There was also an alternative with white bit after the yellow, but it didn't quite work. A motif of the gradient can also be seen on the sleeves.

The head was challenging, mainly because of lack of dark red (I ran out of headlights). I tried to use Friends arms as eyebrows to add some variety. A baby bow is also used to connect the eyes, instead of not-properly-connected 1x2 tile. It makes it bit odd on the nose department, but is more dynamic overall. Not sure which is better, though. The hair, in other hand, is rather basic ponytail design with some side bangs, but I hope the jewellery makes it more interesting. I wanted to use those Atlantis keys (underrated pieces, probably) as a jewellery here. It has a crab print, which is more suitable for a water theme, but probably it is a fire crab or something. Ornamented wheel is also used on the back of the head, forming sort of halo or a Mucha-style ornamentation. I wondered if this is really the first time I use that part on anything. I've had those around for couple of years, and been planning to use them on several builds, but now I can't remember any. Odd. But here's one, after all.

This one is easier to balance than Cielan and Kuohu, so I ended up taking lot of photos. There was a tragic episode, too, as when I photoshopped a batch of 12 shots I ended up saving them with level 5 quality jpg (medium). So I had redo all of them. But here they are, and they're quite dynamic shots, in my opinion.

-Eero.












2017-08-01

MOC: Granny Weatherwax & Nanny Ogg

So here they are - Esmerelda "Granny" Weatherwax and Gytha "Nanny" Ogg. I'm bit embarrased that I built 17 Discworld character, including some rather trivial like Lecturer on Recent Runes, before these two, as they are among the most important and beloved disc-folk. Actually I've had WIPs of these witched laying around for a year, but it somehow took so long to get them finished. I wanted to publish them as a pair, like Colon and Nobby, as they somewhat balance each other.

Granny was harder. She's described being "handsome", without warts and with all her teeth; so I had to capture look of an older woman without making it humorous nor too manly. I tried to make the lower part of the face thinner than on male character, but not too round or polished. There were several versions. There is a bun in the back (though unseen on the photos) and 1x2x2 slope as the nose gives it some dignity. Levers on the hat represent the hairpins that connect the important pointed hat to the bun.

The costume is somewhat inspired by Paul Kidby's drawings; the ruff detail on the cloak draws from there, as well as the silver brooch. Otherwise it's quite simply design. The first version had arched back stance, and more poseable arms, but it looked quite awful. I tried to achieve "I can't be having with that sort of thing" pose but it turned out ridiculous, so I went to more neutral stance and it looked alright. I like the bit of a loose sleeve on the lower arms. Granny also has her big iron boots, that too took few tries, and her bump starting broomstick (which has a bit odd-shaped stick for my lack of brown 1x1x5 bricks).

Nanny is more light-hearted character (and definitely among my favourite Discworld characters) and was easier to build. She has face like old apple and one teeth and grin that should be locked away for publich tendency; in other words, cool thing to build. I like the grin here, with the round cheeks using the best part ever, boat stud. The hat is basic witch hat, 8x8 dish brim and tall pointy cone. The apron, round and acceptably black, was quite easy too; arms took couple of tries, first version being too CCBS-heavy and having poor mobility. This one uses small shells on elbows, too, to give some needed poseability. I'm not completely sure about them, guess they look alright. Red boots and red-white striped stockings, appearing in both Paul Kidby's and late Josh Kirby's art, give some much-needed colour to the MOC.

Nanny has a banjo, used to accompany famous songs as such "The hedgehog can never be buggered at all" or "Wizard's staff has a knob on the end". Other accessories might have included another broomstick (if I had had those 1x1x5 bricks), flagon of scumble ("a drink made mostly of apples") or a jug of beer, but banjo seemed more interesting. It was also more challenging than I though. The first version used lot of SNOT, with the round part made with bow pieces, but it wasn't a perfect circle and looked wrong. The second one used 4x4 round plate with 6x6 round plate, but as I didn't have 6x6 on in black, it didn't quite work. I finally settled with a design that uses old tire around 4x4 round plate. The inner dimensions are a bit larger than 4x4, so it took some fiddling, but I like the results.

By the way,

An announcement follows:

The oldest and most important Sci-fi and fantasy convention WorldCon comes to Helsinki next week. I'll be there, under the banner of our LUG Palikkatakomo, to show my work. My display will feature at least 20 Discworld characters, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind figures, Mad Max Fury Road characters, Porco Rosso and his Savoia S-21, five Nintendo character builds from SSB., and the popular Ackbar bust. At least. There might be more. If you happen to be around, come and share a word with me!

-Eero.