Gremlins in the Garage!

Singapore Minicon '97

Review by Mark Shears

Although Singapore is physically a very small country compared to the USA, UK and Australia, we have a very healthy contingent of home-grown "Gremlins" who are dedicated to the craft of bringing Garage Kits to life. Never was this more evident than at the recent Minicom 97 which is an annual scale modelling event conducted by one of the island's more pro-active modelling stores - "Miniature Hobby" in conjunction with a local 'GK' Guru - Adrian Law - on November 8th and 9th.

Photo Collection

Although the competition also involved the obligatory planes, trains and automobiles as well as an abundance of military paraphernalia, there were an impressive amount of Predators, Aliens, Cryptkeepers and scantilly clad female kits. The categories for the competition were:

  1. Stock Commercial Model
  2. Conversions
  3. Scratchbuilts
  4. Vignettes & Dioramas
The judging criteria was:
  1. Degree of Difficulty (10%)
  2. Creativity (10%)
  3. Workmanship (30%)
  4. Painting Skill (70%)
  5. Presentation (10%)

The display area and judging arena was set up in one of Singapore's most unique shopping malls - "Bugis Junction" which boasts the world's first "air conditioned street" and certainly attracted a great deal of attention amongst shoppers and GK enthusiasts alike. Crowds gathered around the display cases with wide-eyed wonder at Bernie Wrightson's "Frankenstein" , "Nina Darkness", "The Dark Knight", "Pumpkinhead" and "Cyber-Ninja". Long suffering wives could be seen berating husbands for lingering just a little too long around the "Barb Wire" and "Belldandy" kits...

According to Adrian, the kit standard was much higher this year - particularly in the "Conversion" and "Scratch-Built" sections. Amongst the most inspired was a Scratchbuilt Alien in a kneeling position, holding a kitten (in pre-chomping mode no doubt) sculpted by veteran gremlin - Dennis Low. Other kits in this category included a hybrid of a female and Predator kit to create a sexier-than-usual-Predator plucking an Alien Embryo from it's egg.

When you consider that the market in this part of the world tends to rely heavily on re-cast kits both in Vinyl and Resin (flooding in from Thailand, Hong Kong and Taiwan) which generally require a great deal of cleaning up and pre-painting preparation, the quality of the finished kits on display were all the more impressive.

Sponsors for the event (AMT, Dragon, Gunze Sangyo, Modeler's Resource and Miniature Hobby) were there either in body or spirit to lend their support and it was encouraging to see that a representative all the way from Japan was there to help present prizes on behalf of Gunze Sangyo.

Comic-culture is particularly popular amongst Singaporeans and this was reflected in the number of Anime entries to the competition. I find that Anime figures comprise a majority of the female kits which are available here. Star Trek or Sci-Fi kits are extremely rare as the local market either did not respond to the TV show or were never exposed to it in the first place (such as "Lost In Space" and "Dr. Who" - try finding a Dalek in this neck of the woods!). However, we do get some gems from China and Japan based on popular cartoon heroes which I have not seen elsewhere. These range from the intricate to the most basic. The example on the right of a "Chinese Warrior" (I believe) is a very detailed resin kit which stands about 15 inches high. The grem who built this kit paid extra attention to fine details such as hair shading and ensuring that the joints were seamless and he was rewarded with a major trophy for his efforts.

One of my favourite activities at these shows is seeing how other grems have interpreted kits which I myself have put together. I found the "Lady Guillotina" kit (pictured) particularly well conceived in terms of paint scheme. Cartoon figures are also very popular here in Singapore - particularly the Horizon Batman series (especially "The Joker") and baby boomer classics such as Mighty Atom and Gigantor.

Overall, the turnout was even better than last year so Garage Kits are certainly gaining in popularity. So... if any of you global grems are in Singapore around November next year, why not bring a model with you and join the fun!


The Gremlins in the Garage webzine is a production of Firefly Design. If you have any questions or comments please get in touch.

Copyright 1994-1997 Firefly Design.