Little Robot Cosplay Sponsorship Review by PikaPi
I guess I’ll have to introduce myself first! My name is Hayley, more commonly known as PikaPi or ‘Banshee-Chan’ as referred to by Mr Kawaguchi . I am a cosplayer and over the past 11 months I had the absolute privilege of being the cosplay sponsorship recipient of Little Robot Australia.
My journey began when Perry Lee, the man behind Little Robot, interviewed me for some kind of partnership program. It was not until much later that a clear direction for the partnership was decided upon. All I knew is that Little Robot and PikaPi would become a close-linked ship sailing down a new path. That path became the Little Robot Cosplay Sponsorship program.
In November, Perry asked me to look into female Gunpla related cosplays and find something that I would be interested in building. With the community’s support, we chose the AGP Unicorn Banshee MS Girl. The unicorn model was trending in Japan with the newly built life-size model in Tokyo’s Odaiba waterfront district. We decided that would be the model that would be easily recognisable.
Before I began building my model, I was introduced into the community at one of their build days hosted regularly every second Sunday. The community were incredibly welcoming, and I knew they would be there to help me along this new journey. I am so thankful that they supported me along my journey, giving me feedback and support when I needed it.
I started my cosplay build in December with the body-suit. I learned a whole bunch of new techniques including the struggles of dying polyester fabrics and sewing foam and lycra together to create lightweight body armour. Dying the wig was also a new experience for me and I knew that I had to get the colour exactly right to befit the impressively meticulous standards of the Gunpla community. The armour itself was made by scaling a small version of the unicorn model, that had been gifted to me by Little Robot, up to my size by a factor of 12. I did this by measuring each length, width, circumference, angle and every bit of detail to the fraction of a millimetre with vernier callipers. I then drew out vector diagrams on both paper and the engineering program Autodesk Inventor. I used the 2D patterns to trace onto foam and contact cement to stick all the hundreds of pieces together… and there really were hundreds. By the time I had made the armour, the shield and the beam javelin, I had clocked over 400 hours on the project. I had learned so much and found it really challenging to mirror those meticulously accurate Gundam pieces in my own armour.
With a cosplay I could easily say is my biggest project yet, I was able to enter it at different stages of construction into a couple of cosplay competitions. I placed in the Madman Perth cosplay competition with just the armour and managed to score first in the Western Australia leg of the Australian Championships of Cosplay with my complete weaponised cosplay. During all this, I had the absolute honour to represent a beautiful company at various events. These included Madman Anime Festival, Supanova Perth, Evolve Perth and LRC (Little Robot Challenge). LRC was a new event this year in which the Gunpla community got to compete with some of their best work and present it to judges Rhyan San Pedro from HobbyCo Sydney and Scott Taylor from The Scale Modellers Supply Australia.
I was also flown to SMASH with the Little Robot team. There, I had yet again another amazing opportunity to meet the national Gunpla community and be part of a beautiful team of people representing our state in the Australian leg of the Gunpla Builders World Cup. I had the honour of running a series of mini interviews with various members of the community including representatives from Japan, Mr Kawaguchi from Bandai and Lincoln Wright the founder of Paint on Plastic. I cannot express in words the sheer amount of gratitude I felt for such an opportunity.
After SMASH, the program wound to a close. I still had the Championships in Sydney to compete at, so I decided to weather my Banshee to show additional technique. I used the techniques that I had been fortunate to learn at a workshop presented by Mr Kawaguchi at SMASH. I thought about how the environmental factors of heat and space debris would damage and alter the paint job and finishing of my cosplay. Unfortunately, I did not place first, however the entire experience was yet another amazing opportunity presented to me as a result of this program and my efforts through it. The whole program was a huge learning curve for me. I got to become part of the beautiful community surrounding Perth and Australia’s Gunpla hobby, work with a company to build a project I didn’t even think I was capable of yet and apply new techniques acquired from various events and people along the way. I couldn’t ask for a better program.
I am now delighted to say that I will be mentoring and guiding the proceeding year’s Little Robot Cosplay Sponsorship recipient for 2019. I look forward to working with her and I will introduce them in the next week! We are also sponsoring three other cosplayers by providing them with smaller grants towards any project they like. Little Robot would love to see more cross over between the worlds of cosplay and Gunpla and we hope the program will bridge this gap just that little bit more!
A huge thank you again to Little Robot and all the opportunities they have given me over the past year. Fortunately that’s not it for me. My journey with Little Robot doesn’t end here! I will be staying on the Little Robot team, bringing more of the community side of the Gunpla community to light and mentoring next year’s round of cosplay sponsors.
See you guys soon!