I met Sidney Ang, the owner of Hajime Model Studio, during my racing-racing days. He runs Speedlab — an auto service shop in Quezon City that lists automotive performance, ECU tuning, engine performance, bolt-ons, air intakes, exhaust fabrication, dyno tuning as among its offerings. He was introduced to me by a mutual friend, Ferman Lao, who participated (and won!) in the drifting events that I organized with Charlie Cruz, David Feliciano, and Mon Rayos. Sorry, so many names, gotta flex the cool people on my friends list!
Anyway, a few weeks ago, Ferman reached out to me to share Sids’ recent victory: He won the local round of the 11th Gunpla Builders World Cup (GBWC) and is the over-21 champion in the Philippines. Err, what’s that? “If you know Gundam and are into the plastic scale modeling scene, this is the Olympics or Ms. Universe of that,” Sids explains.
Gunpla Builders World Cup is an annual competition held by Bandai (makers of Gundam) and their authorized distributors. It starts at the country level, then all the local champions travel to Japan to compete against each other for the title of world champion. It is a contest of creativity using genuine Bandai Gundam Model Plastic kits (Gunpla for short) as base. They can be modified, cut apart, repainted, combined, set in a diorama, etc. The competition is open to all modelers, free of charge and has three categories: Under 14, under 20, and over 21.
What does it take to win? “Definitely skills in building and painting robot models,” Sids replies. “I would liken it to a car show. Any shop can paint a car but it takes extraordinary preparation to paint a car that can win best of show,” he adds. How convenient that he knows a thing or two about winning car shows! “The concept is also important, it may sound corny and cliché but the judges are looking for something new each time,” he continues.
With his winning entry, “Gateway to Another world! Battle Across time and Space!” he earned a gold trophy, a crystal trophy, and a limited edition Gundam model kit. No cash prize. “Well, the gold trophy that we win is made by Bandai only for the champions. You cannot buy it and no one will sell you theirs, not even for P1 Million,” he points out.
On December 16, Sids will be at the Gundam Base Tokyo (the one with the big transforming Gundam statue in Odaiba) to go up against representatives from Japan, Inland China, Hong Kong SAR, Taiwan, Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, Vietnam, U.S.A., Canada, Europe & Middle East, United Kingdom. Wow!
Who would have thought considering he has never held a nipper or an airbrush before he established Hajime Model Studio in November, 2021. “I knew that in order to have people give us work, we must stand out from the sea of ‘commissioners’ and to do that, we must win competitions,” he recalls. And here they are.
At Hajime, they do model building, painting, customization, dioramas, and set displays. “I opened the studio as a service to people who don’t have the time and skills to assemble and paint their model kits to the professional degree that is shown in product pictures. Our specialty is of course Gundam Model kits but we have worked on resin kits, Macross, Kotobukiya, Tamiya, Warhammer and pretty much anything plastic and toy-related. We are selling a service, primarily. But we also produce fully assembled and painted Gundam model kits for the collector who doesn’t want to wait,” elaborates Sids. Typical lead time for customization is three to four weeks.
If you’d like to see Sids’ masterpiece and build one of your own, visit Hajime Model Studio at 106 Pace Building Gilmore Avenue, New Manila, Quezon City. For inquiries, you may call +63 917 5336456. For updates, follow @hajimemodelstudio on Facebook and @hajimemodelstudios on Instagram.