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December 1st!

The start of my 5-day trip to China!

During my absence the blog was taken over by various others who introduced some figures they were in charge of. It was a lot of fun reading some other people's blogs! (Thanks all of you!)

December 1st was also the released sate of the new Monster Hunter!

     /      \
    /   ⌒   ⌒\
  /     ,(⌒) (⌒)、\    "Yaaay!

  |     /// (__人__)/// |      Managed to grab Monster Hunter and I've remembered my PSP...
  \      ` ヽ_ノ   /      China is going to be a load of fun now!"
    ヽ    , __ , イ
    /       |_"____
   |   l..   /l´  `l
   ヽ  丶-.,/  |_________|
   /`ー、_ノ /      /

I thought my preparations were perfect, but then when I got to Narita Airport....

     /ノ   ヽ、_\  
   /( ○)}liil{(○)\      "I... forgot my laptop!! "
  /    (__人__)   \
  |   ヽ |!!il|!|!l| /   | 
  \    |ェェェェ|     / 
  ノ            \      


As soon as I realized the whole world started going black before me... I was really hoping it would just magically appear in front of me. In the end Enon delivered it to me via car... I had actually already missed the boarding time for my flight, but a big thanks to ANA, who were kind enough to let me on anyway!

フィギュアメーカー・グッドスマイルカンパニー勤務 『ミカタンブログ -松戸駅からググって0分-』
...and so, after that panic...

I arrived in China!

It was my first time in China, and I really liked the look of all the houses and stores lined up along the street. Of course the signboards and menus were all 100% in kanji, so I never really understood them entirely, but at least I had a faint idea of what was going on around me.

I also found the driving to be a bit on the violent side, in the short time I was there I even saw an accident. It seems like if you dawdle along the road a little too much they might just crash into you without a second thought.

フィギュアメーカー・グッドスマイルカンパニー勤務 『ミカタンブログ -松戸駅からググって0分-』

Anyway, let's head into the factory!

As we passed by the meeting room...

Oooh! Look at all the treasures... err... samples on the table!

Gakkun from the production department came along with me on this trip. These samples were for him to take a look over. The production team actually comes to China fairly often, so they can check for any inconsisitincies that might be occuring and communicate directly with the factory.

Solving the problem before it occurs, saves a load of time!

Thus the products are judged right where they are made.

フィギュアメーカー・グッドスマイルカンパニー勤務 『ミカタンブログ -松戸駅からググって0分-』

Let's take a look at the production line!

We'll take a look all over the place, but first...

Let me differentiate between the two different meanings of 'mold'.

The figures that we all have back home are made with mold, but are in fact molds themselves, in other words a mold is both
1) A container into which liquid is poured to create a given shape when it hardens.
2) A sculpture produced by molding.

Let me make an example using taiyaki.

Both of these are molds:

・ The iron plate that cooks the taiyaki
・ The taiyaki itself.

フィギュアメーカー・グッドスマイルカンパニー勤務 『ミカタンブログ -松戸駅からググって0分-』

Keep that in mind as we go on! Today we'll be focusing on the first meaning!

フィギュアメーカー・グッドスマイルカンパニー勤務 『ミカタンブログ -松戸駅からググって0分-』

These are what the molds look like!

They're huge! They also look big and heavy like gold bars. ^^;

フィギュアメーカー・グッドスマイルカンパニー勤務 『ミカタンブログ -松戸駅からググって0分-』

Ooh! Something came out!

Looks like a hair part has come out successfully!!

If you pour in plastic where the arrow is it will come out as the fringe parts here!

フィギュアメーカー・グッドスマイルカンパニー勤務 『ミカタンブログ -松戸駅からググって0分-』

The final adjustments are done by hand!

A lot of care is needed to make sure the mold creates the right shape of the figure.

Without these final adjustments we would never get the same amount of detail on the figures.

As you can see the mold here is coating in red paint - the reason behind this is to show where the adjustments have been made. In other words, as they finish each bit it will be painted in red.

フィギュアメーカー・グッドスマイルカンパニー勤務 『ミカタンブログ -松戸駅からググって0分-』

And these machines cut the molds!

The huge machines carve out the iron plates used for the molds.

フィギュアメーカー・グッドスマイルカンパニー勤務 『ミカタンブログ -松戸駅からググって0分-』

Here you can see it in action!

This will create the basic internal shape of the mold.

フィギュアメーカー・グッドスマイルカンパニー勤務 『ミカタンブログ -松戸駅からググって0分-』

Smaller molds are placed together!

Lots of smaller molds are all put together on a large metal plate here. It's like a puzzle!!

フィギュアメーカー・グッドスマイルカンパニー勤務 『ミカタンブログ -松戸駅からググって0分-』


Just like a taiyaki mold, the mold comes with two sides.

This image only shows the one side.

フィギュアメーカー・グッドスマイルカンパニー勤務 『ミカタンブログ -松戸駅からググって0分-』

When there is more than one mold put together like this, the plastic is poured into where the arrow is pointing here, which will let it flow into all of the molds. Think about how a model kit looks before it is put together - all the pieces are connected by small pieces of plastic - it's the same as that.

フィギュアメーカー・グッドスマイルカンパニー勤務 『ミカタンブログ -松戸駅からググって0分-』

These ones are tiny! What are they!?

   /      \
  /  ─  ─ \ 
/    <○>  <○> \    "They look strangely familiar...."
|       (__人__)    |  
/     ∩ノ ⊃  /
(  \ / _ノ |  |

フィギュアメーカー・グッドスマイルカンパニー勤務 『ミカタンブログ -松戸駅からググって0分-』

What's going on here...?
Apparently it's time to move a mold!

The ceiling is covered in a rail which has chains attached, so heavy molds can be moved along the rails after having a chain attached to them.

フィギュアメーカー・グッドスマイルカンパニー勤務 『ミカタンブログ -松戸駅からググって0分-』

Everyone seems to be smiling about the work... but...

Each mold weighs around 200kg!

(But that's just approximate, obviously if differs with each mold)

It wouldn't be nice to have that drop on your toe!!!!

フィギュアメーカー・グッドスマイルカンパニー勤務 『ミカタンブログ -松戸駅からググって0分-』

 /:::::::: ( ○)三(○)\    "So, it's been moved now...
 |::::::::::::::::::::(__人__)::::  |       But now he's hitting it!! "

  \:::::::::  |r┬-|   ,/

  ノ::::::::::::  `ー'´   \

I had no idea what was going on here at first! ^^;

This is adjusting the point that the molds connect!

Let's go back to the taiyaki example!

A taiyaki mold is made to create the outline of a fish, and will be made in two separate halves. It's made like this so that the filling can be added easily, but when you put the two together you will always end up with a "seam" where you joined the two parts together.

フィギュアメーカー・グッドスマイルカンパニー勤務 『ミカタンブログ -松戸駅からググって0分-』

For figures, this seam is called the 'parting line'.

Obviously, the less visible this line is on figures, the better!

The parting line is created by where the two molds connect.

In other words, the two molds can't just simply be placed together, they have to be carefully coordinated to make sure the line is in the right place.

And that's it for today's explanation!

We've finally come up to the point where we have a mold ready for making figures!

Next up we'll take a look at actually creating the figures - the other kind of 'mold'!

   /      \
  /  ─    ─\ 
/    (●)  (●) \ 

|       (__人__)    |  
/     ∩ノ ⊃  // ∩ノ ⊃
(  \ / _ノ    \/ _ノ 
.\ “  /  . \ “  /

This factory tour was looked at very quickly and simplified for me, and I'm sure the actual process involves a lot more jargon and specifics - but I hope that my fellow workers and experts in the field will forgive the basic explanation. ^^;

That's all for today!
I'll see you all again next week! (・∀・)ノ゛

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