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Philippines | Nico Suratos

Hello! Please introduce yourself

Hi Everyone, I’m Nico Suratos, a Gunpla Modeller and YouTuber.

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I just turned 20 years old this July, and I’m currently still in school. I was born and raised in the Philippines. My family has never moved houses, so we still live in the same house and subdivision where I grew up.

So I first started building Gunpla at the age of 7 years old. But it’s practically been a part of my life ever since I can remember. My dad was a Gunpla modeler, and he’s the first Filipino BAKUC World Champion, so I was introduced to Gunpla by him. When I was 5, I liked sitting next to him while he worked on his models and projects. Two years later, after he won another competition, I told him I wanted to join too because I wanted a trophy. So at 8 years old, I decided to join my first GBWC and I got 2nd place for it. After that, I started casually building Gunpla here and there. At 11, I decided to join again for the second time and got the bronze trophy. After that, high school happened. I entered my first year of high school and didn’t have time to do Gunpla anymore. My dad also stopped that same year, so for a couple of years, I did not do Gunpla until I turned 16 years old.

The first kit that I painted is a Clear Color High-Grade kit. I don't remember the exact model because I was 6 years old at the time. I didn't ask my dad what it was because I just wanted to paint with him. I do remember using a big paintbrush and old acrylic paints that are absolutely not meant for Gunpla Models. It was a disaster, but what can you expect from a 6-year-old, right?

I don’t think I really have the motivation to keep improving. I love building things with my hands and I really enjoy making Gunpla models. I never stop doing it, and I keep doing it repeatedly. When you never give up on something, you will inevitably improve. I don’t put pressure on myself to improve and do better and bigger models than last time because I simply just enjoy the hobby!

Aside from Gunpla, I also enjoy working on a variety of different model kits like tanks and cars. I love doing dioramas as well. But a hobby of mine that is different from model making would be reading and writing books. Sometimes when I don’t have the energy to work on Gunpla, I relax by reading books or writing my own. Although Gunpla modeling, I would say is my hobby that takes up most of my time, so frankly I don’t really have time for anything else.

Tell us about your favorite gundam project you have worked on so far?

My favorite project so far is definitely my Winning Entry at GBWC 2022. I’m the Champion of the Under-20 Category of GBWC Philippines and my entry is called “Coup d’ ètat - Qubeley Evolved” It’s an homage to my dad’s BAKUC 2008 World Champion Entry, titled “Coup d’ ètat”

The diorama shows an Evolved Qubeley flying over a destroyed Hi-Zack. This project took me a little under 2 months to complete. I put all my other projects on hold and dedicated myself to completing this piece, as it's for a contest I've been eagerly waiting to participate in once more. I worked hard every day and night for two months. I put my best effort into every step, from the initial idea to the final touches. I am very proud of my work.

Winning the GBWC 2022 with this project has made it my absolute favorite so far. I pushed my skills and tried new things on this diorama. I'm proud that I was able to successfully complete it and that it turned out great. It's my favorite. I had never done such detailed customization before, but I was motivated to do it for a contest. Although it took a long time, I really enjoyed the process and the end result brings me immense satisfaction.

I would say that I did learn new skills and new perspectives while working on this project. I experimented with new techniques while customizing and learned how to improve for future projects. This knowledge helps me avoid mistakes and do a better job in my latest work. And during the contest, I’ve also learned how the judges think, what they want, and what I can do to improve my builds in the future. I plan to join many more official contests moving forward, so knowing what the judges want is really helpful.

As I’ve said, this project is my favorite, but it is also the most challenging one. Only because of the limited time that I had. I gave myself 2 months to finish this because working on a contest piece for longer than 2 months is just not worth it in my opinion. I challenged myself to complete a contest-level project in just 2 months or less. It was the most difficult task, but I enjoyed it because I love challenges. All the excitement and adrenaline rush leading up to the contest made me work harder and in the end, it paid off! I got the Gold Trophy and was able to represent my country in the World Finals.

Describe your process when starting a new project

When starting a new project, I’m very impulsive, and I don’t plan ahead. Sometimes, when I’m working on a model, and I’m not enjoying it as much as I should, I would abandon it and set it aside to start a new project. I often have new ideas for projects and start them right away, without finishing the previous ones. As a result, I always have many unfinished projects around my workspace.

In detail, I start a project by choosing the kit that I want to work on, and then I start building that, cleaning up the nub marks, mold lines, etc. as I go. Because I’m a YouTuber, I have to film my entire process, so once I have the model built, I take that and take pictures and videos over a black or white background. Next, I proceed to add details, scribe, drill holes, add styrene sheets, and just customize it to the level I want. Customizing a High Grade usually takes me 3–5 days, and then I proceed to painting. I only use water-based acrylic paints and airbrushes. Painting is pretty fast for me; I can finish a High Grade in just a day. After adding decals and applying panel lining, the project is complete! Overall a High Grade will take a week to finish if I’m just doing simple customizing.

For inspiration and reference, I use Pinterest a lot. I look at Sci-fi and mecha concept arts and apply what I see on Gunpla. I look at other custom-builds as well and see what I can do differently on my own build. I love watching movies, so with sci-fi, cyberpunk, and futuristic movies, I take inspiration from those as well. I usually improve the design of the model without using many references because I am creating more detailed versions.

For the color schemes of my builds, I usually stick to the stock colors of the models but when I do customize the colors, I just look at the paints I have and select from that, I rarely look at references when it comes to colors.

I use the Notes app on my iPad to track my ideas. When I find something on Pinterest that I like or want to replicate, I save it for later. I don't use any other apps or notebooks because I don't plan much, especially for quick projects or commissions. I just do them without overthinking. So far, not planning ahead hasn't caused any problems for me.

Who do you follow on social media?

My favorite modeler would have to be Erix93 or Eric Yap, followed by Toymaker and of course DC23 Mecharts aka my dad.

Eric Yap is a veteran Malaysian Modeler who’s won numerous GBWC trophies and I just look up to him a lot. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him and asking for advice when it comes to my builds and he’s just an awesome guy in general. I really love his builds because of how clean they are, he’s got so many creative ideas and he can pull them off so well. His customization is not too extravagant and the design is so well thought out, I just really love it.

Toymaker is a Singaporean Modeler and a good friend of my dad. They’ve done build-offs together, and I just love his unique design and how he can turn a simple Gunpla into something very unique. My favorite build of his is the MG The O, which you will be able to see on his blog.

Lastly, my dad, Don Suratos or DC23 Mecharts during his early Gunpla days. He introduced me to Gunpla and taught me almost all the tricks I know today, and we have the same tastes, so I love his designs and ideas a lot. People have told me that they can see the influence of my dad on my projects, and I’m happy about it. I’m glad that people recognize my skills and at the same time recognize where I got those skills from. So yeah, my dad is the modeler that influences me a lot.

Give us a tour of your workspace/workbench.

We’re a family of artists, so the first floor of our house is a studio. My dad and sister have their own spaces and I have mine. My work area is a good size and I like it. I have everything I need and more. However, the shelves for my backlog and other items are not in this space, as are my display cabinets. They are placed in better areas since the first floor is a studio. So that my work area is just focused on working and not cramped with backlogs and display pieces.

This is my main table

My table is 161 cm x 81 cm. It’s big enough that I can have 2–3 projects placed on it and I still have space. I’m pretty disorganized and messy when working on a project, especially a diorama, so a big table like this is perfect. I have a side table where a couple of organizers and stuff are placed, and then I have my waterfall curtain Spray Booth to the side.

I have extra organizers and trays for my tools and other stuff. I also have magnetic shelves drilled into the wall, which are quite useful. On top of that, I have a shelf where I keep snap-built models and unfinished projects.

My Waterfall Curtain Spraybooth

I have shelves for the paints that I use as well. I have a few more paints that are hidden away because they are just extra stock or paints that I don't use often, so I’m not going to show you my paint storage. And yeah that’s basically what my work area looks like, as you can see it's pretty messy, and it looks like that all the time because I always have a project.

Some of my paint shelves

So aside from the usual tools that all modelers use, I absolutely love panel line scribing. I swear by SAB Panel Liners, and it’s just the best for scribing. BMC chisels are hard to come by so SAB Panel Liners are easier to get. I have all the sizes from 0.125 mm up to 3.0 mm and I really enjoy customizing using it. Aside from my chisels, I don’t really use anything else that other modelers don’t have already.

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