The Real Ma.K Daddies!
Ma.K is more than models, more than a narrative, it is a community built over the decades around designs which wear their cobbled and kit-bashed nature on their sleeves and hold hard to the ethos established by Master Yokoyama, perfectly exemplified by the kit being built here, as well as the kits displayed with it.
The Japanese SF3D/Ma.K community quickly developed in the early 1980s and took the initial stories to heart, striving to outdo each other with increasingly outrageous – even impractical – designs as a way of expressing the most important thing which the idea brought to the market: that you did not have to be a genius illustrator or modeler in order to create something incredible.
When I asked Yokoyama Sensei about this, specifically about what he thought about the aesthetic choices he made in those early days, he was either stumped, or preferred that I polled the fans themselves.
This is a fair point, of course. The Master has never provided absolute answers to those sort of questions, and – perhaps just as he has never tried to tidy up the convoluted Ma.K continuity – prefers to allow his fans to come to their own conclusions and interpretations of his work.
It’s a bit cheeky, and it saved him writing a few lines of text for me, but it is also very true.
The fans who communicated with me, and showed me their work on the Master’s Facebook page, certainly had a great deal to say, and a wealth of ‘uses’ to which they had put their kits.
Take this chap, for example…
Talk about being confused… Zeon themed, Ma.K based, Warhammer 40K Adeptus Mechanicus army…
What with GW’s prices these days in Japan, one can hardly blame the lad for delving into other options, and as he says himself: “even setting the cost aside, there was something far more practical and machine-like in the Ma.K 1/20 and 1/35 SAFS than the over spikey [Games Workshop] models.”
However, what really stuck out to me was this chap’s simple desire to be able to cobble things together in a way that served his own aesthetic (as well as fiscal) needs. Some people would look at this and see a ZGock, some odd power armor, and a few Dreamforge troopers. He and I saw an army, and an ideal.
One of the questions which also caused Master Yokoyama some pause was this: “Can you tell me something unusual about the world of Ma.K that inspires you most?”
Once again, like a boss, he bailed out and pointed me at the fans (cheeky blighter), but as it turned out, that was just what was needed…
This one was most profoundly addressed by the FB regular Garry Stewart: “I remember first seeing the SF3D Original kits years ago and thinking ‘Whoa!!! What are THESE???’ When I was finally able to buy my first couple of kits (I believe it was the ‘SAFS: Prowler’ and ‘Neuspotter’) and began studying the parts in each box, I started to notice components from other kits (some Xabungle ‘Trad 11 Type’ parts in the ‘Neuspotter’ kit, battleship and helicopter parts in the ‘Prowler’ kit) and my mind was filled with an immediate possibility: maybe I could scratchbuild my own creations from the parts of other kits, sitting in my collection, using these amazing models as inspiration? What transpired from that first encounter with these kits was a passion for building ‘outside of the box’ and seeing things in an entirely new way. The SF3D/Ma.K kits continue to inspire me with their artistic beauty and ‘open and accessible’ format, which enables one to build without fear of ‘getting it wrong’…and to expand and add details to each model in a very personal way. This also fuels my creativity in all my scratchbuilding efforts…and gives me ideas to produce my own ‘Ma.K-like’ models. Thank you, Kow Yokoyama…because of you, I’m forever that kid building models in my Dad’s shed. :-)”
There might have been a Krote in there once, but whatever is in there gives me the screaming willies!
Garry makes a profound point though: ‘open and accessible’. There are few boundaries to the Ma.K modeler (not to say there are none, as defined by the books and kits), but this is a broad church, built as much on imagination and emotion as on design and structure.
Whether you are building a Nitto, or Wave kit out of the box, or going Full Yokoyama and kitbashing like a boss, you are one of the gang. We are all Ma.Kers and joined by the diversity of our membership – united in love for that crazy old coot who inspires us even today.
Adding to that notion was another regular, José Luis Flores Cota, who recalled the love he had for the unconventionality of Master Yokoyama’s designs. “When I discovered the wonderful world of master sensei Kow Yokoyama Ma.K was through the Snowman! This kit was the trigger that impulse to follow and collect more kits! The first one I did was the Kröte and discover that it was in the best of 2 worlds!! Cifi and military modelling with total freedom with no limits of creativity building! Long live Ma.K”
One of the most unusual little SAFS, simply because of the nose and the smile…
I can well imagine how this took the mind of the fans when it first hit… I wish I still had the image of a squad of these, in 1/20 scale, advancing through a snowy scene, misted down with vapor from dry ice (I think it was from an old Model Graphix).
Like Calvin and Hobbes Snowman House of Horrors…
Though Master Yokoyama has often stated that the world of SF3D/Ma.K is not simply WWII in the distant future, it cannot be denied that the technology and the aesthetic lends that feel to it. Possibly, as I suggested in the unboxing, this is to do with much of the inspirational imagery for the SF3D world being initially taken from WWII photos – of technology, people, and the damage wrought in war. However, I think it also has something to do with the sort of kits which were available at the time of creation. After all, the early kit bashes were in 1/35, rather than 1/20, and one can see how Master Yokoyama made great use of Tamiya infantry.
Take it for what it is, do not ascribe political motives where there are none, but be wary for there are many human tales to be told in the Ma.K world, such as this beauty by modeler Chris Turner, from the Ma.K FB page.
A Downed Mercenary AFS vs, a Strahl Krote – entitled “Look! There!”
As Chris says, “It was made for a competition for Scale Model Addict. The Krote was entered into the diorama section where I won 1st place. The idea actually cam to me in dream believe it or not lol.”
There can be fewer more profound visualizations of the horrors of war than this scene – in which innocence is presented as the agent of doom, and the child not realizing what he has done in the name of ‘patriotism’.
War is Hell…
Then again, consider Michael Fichtenmayer’s lovely image from 2005:
With the Pak 75 and the smoke launchers, it looks grand. This image sets the urban nature of the conflict of SF3D/Ma.K, and I love the thought of this Krote stalking the ruined streets armor hunting. The archival photo quality renders the future-past in perfect form.
And to wrap up, we have this grim Krote, by José Luis Flores Cota.
Giving something of the duration of the seemingly eternal conflict, this diorama has the feel of an ancient sentinel posted against both the day and night. I am sure you will agree it is well done.
Not one of my normal builds, you’ll admit. Here though, where I usually like to delve into the background of the masters involved I have been stone-walled by a proper cheeky Kow Yokoyama. Not that I think he sidestepped my questions in malice, rather he felt that this tale should be a testament to the people who made – and MAKE – SF3D/Ma.K such a success even today.
I lurk the fringes of this world of neo-gothic war machines and, in comparison to my friends in the community, my own labors seem pale indeed. You can find all manner of excellent builds here, for example…
However, such as I can do, I have done, and so here is my own paean to Master Yokoyama.
Going for the long barreled Pak 75 on this one, as my (aesthetically) favorite tank from WWII is the old workhorse PzIV with the 75mm. The Krote seems, to me at least, a little unbalanced with either low velocity 75mm or the gatling gun, but it’s all a matter of taste, I suppose.
A word of warning for novice builders: Though Wave has retooled – or made from scratch – some Ma.K kits, others are clearly just reshots out of old Nitto molds (with some additions here and there). This seems to be the case with the Krote. The body is a bit of a bugbear to deal with. Took me a while, and some clamps, to get the top and bottom lined up properly so that the sides could be fitted easily.
Cumbersome and clunky. Just the way I like it. It might not be practical, but in the odd way that the worlds of fantasy tend warp perception, this all makes much more sense to me than the sleek weapons we know from so much anime.
Here is a machine to get a job done!
The power plant. One can almost pick out exactly what kits lent parts to the master of this. I’m sure that’s a Honda power plant from a 750cc bike under the tail… 😀
When I first saw the Krote, I thought it was walking backwards… After all, I had only just seen The Empire Strikes Back and was certain I had seen a little chicken-legged critter stalking among the larger AT-ATs.
However, my old Dad – modeler himself and an old REME engineer – had another view. That not only by walking this way, would the legs always have a trailing edge, and not have to lift as far up to take a step, but when the main gun was discharged, it would be rocking back onto a more stable base.
You have to know these things when you mend tanks, I suppose…
He likes Ma.K too, BTW.
Colors… Colors… What colors?
My old Grandfather’s PzIV, I think (tl;dr as an orphan, the blood side of the family hails from Germany, the adoptive side from England… Now that they know each other, makes for some wonderful – and sad – times as Grandparents and Uncles exchange stories of those days of horror and bravery).
I went in overall with a Tamiya X-11 Chrome Silver, and washed it back with Citadel Seraphim Sepia, as I like a bronzed look to metal. I then went in by hand with Citadel Mephiston Red and Mechanicus grey for the base coat, as GW’s new base paints are very pigment heavy, and even a thinned cost covers very well indeed.
I thought painting the springs which make up the main power conduits would be a mistake, but as the dried paint cracked and peeled later, it gave the whole kit a worn look which is very appealing.
Weathering with diluted flat black and a variety of Tamiya powders, It has come out quite well. A little drab and vanilla, but that’s just like me, so…
On the Road Again…
The lights are interesting. I mixed up some two part epoxy and added a spot of Acrylic yellow. It was thin enough straight mixed to fill out the void in the main lamp, and thick enough after a minute to form that nice round lamp under the gun.
“When something defies description… Let it!”
I don’t have much to say in wrapping this up. Ma.K is a very unusual field. You either get it, or you don’t. Those who do will be in like Flynn, on all manner of kits and builds, as crazy as imagination. Those who don’t will just scratch their heads and move on.
This is not meant as an insult to anyone.
Ma.K is like its eccentric, wonderful, friendly, football-loving Master Yokoyama: You take them both as they are, or you leave them be.
I’m a Macross fan, a Gundam fan, a Super Robot fan, and old enough to know my own mind. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than working on these beautiful, ugly beasts of war.
That’s all I can say.
Thank you, Master Yokoyama. You’ve picked my pocket for decades now, and I do not begrudge you a penny…
Hauptman Robodaz, signing off for the Strahl AT Division!