Archive for January, 2012

Paper Model: Canon Creative Park’s “MANEKI NEKO” (Good Luck Charm) by ayumu saito / craft pocket

The Maneki Neko (literally “Beckoning Cat” in Japanese) is also known as Welcoming Cat, Lucky Cat, Money Cat, or Fortune Cat. It is a common Japanese sculpture, often made of porcelain or ceramic, which is believed to bring good luck to the owner. The Maneki Neko depicts a cat beckoning with an upright paw, and is usually displayed in stores, restaurants, pachinko parlors, and other businesses. A raised right paw supposedly attracts money, while a raised left paw attracts customers or deflects bad luck.

In addition to sculptures, Maneki Neko can be found as key chains, piggy banks, air fresheners, and miscellaneous ornaments. The cat breed represented in the sculpture is generally a Japanese Bobtail.

Maneki Neko is the subject of a number of legends. Listed below are three of the most popular, explaining the cat’s origins:

  1. The Temple Cat – The legend tells us that a wealthy feudal lord was taking a shelter under a tree near Gotoku-ji Temple (located in Western Tokyo) during a thunderstorm. The lord saw the temple priest’s cat beckoning to him and followed; a moment later the tree was struck by lightning. The wealthy man became friends with the poor priest and the temple became prosperous. When the temple cat died, supposedly the first Maneki Neko scuplture was made in its honor.
  2. The Courtesan – A courtesan named Usugumo, living in Yoshiwara (located in Eastern Tokyo), kept a cat that is much beloved by her. One night, the cat began tugging at her kimono. No matter what she did, the cat persisted. The owner of the brothel saw this, and believing the cat was bewitched, he cut its head off. The cat’s head then flew to the ceiling where it killed a snake, ready at any moment to strike. Usugumo was devastated by the death of her companion. To cheer her up, one of her customers made her a wooden likeness of her cat as a gift. This cat image then became popular as the Maneki Neko.
  3. The Old Woman – An old woman living in Imado (located in Eastern Tokyo) was forced to sell her cat due to extreme poverty. Soon afterwards, the cat appeared to her in a dream. The cat told her to make its image in clay. She did as instructed, and soon afterward sold the statue. She then made more, and people bought them as well. They were so popular she soon became prosperous and wealthy.

Maneki Neko comes in different colors, styles, and degrees of ornate design. Black is said to be the color of darkness and the black Maneki Neko is believed to ward of evil and misfortune. The black Maneki Neko with its left paw raised is said to “protect against the trouble that people bring”.

Building this Maneki Neko model is surprisingly enjoyable because of its large parts and easy to read instructions. I used a simple 120 gms. A-4 size paper for easy folding and assembling. The only thing that’s bothering me now is how hard it will be for to find a suitable display case for a large paper model. There are two other types of Maneki Neko for download; one is the traditional white Maneki Neko to attract money and the other is a pink Maneki Neko to attract people.

If you want to try assembling this paper model, you may download the pattern and instructions at the Canon Creative Park website [click here].

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Paper Model: Canon Creative Park’s (Japan) “CHINESE YELLOW DRAGON (BOBBLEHEAD)” by Katsuyuki Shiga

The Dragon is one of the 12-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac. The Dragon is the only animal that is mythical. The Year of the Dragon is associated with the earthly branch symbol.

Persons born within these date ranges can be said to have been born in the Year of the Dragon, while also bearing the following elemental sign:

16 February 1904       to         3 February 1905         : Wood Dragon

23 January 1928        to         9 February 1929         : Earth Dragon

8 February 1940         to         26 January 1941         : Metal Dragon

27 January 1952         to         13 February 1953       : Water Dragon

13 February 1964       to         1 February 1965         : Wood Dragon

31 January 1976         to         17 February 1977       : Fire Dragon

17 February 1988       to         5 February 1989         : Earth Dragon

5 February 2000         to         23 January 2001         : Metal Dragon

23 January 2012         to         9 February 2013         : Water Dragon

10 February 2024       to         28 January 2025         : Wood Dragon

Chinese Dragons are legendary creatures in Chinese mythology and folklore, with mythic counterparts among Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Bhutanese, Western, and Turkic Dragons. In Chinese art, Dragons are typically portrayed as long, scaled, serpentine creatures with four legs. In the Yin and Yang terminology, the Chinese Dragon is symbolized as the Yang Tu Lung and complements the Yin Fenghuang, or the Chinese Phoenix.

In contrast to the European dragons, which are considered evil, Chinese Dragons traditionally symbolize potent and auspicious powers, particularly control over water, rainfall, hurricane, and floods. The Chinese Dragon is also a symbol of power, strength, and good luck. With this, the Emperor of China usually uses the Dragon as a symbol of his imperial power.

In Chinese daily language, excellent and outstanding people are compared to the Dragon while incapable people with no achievements are compared with other disesteemed creatures, such as the worm. A number of Chinese proverbs and idioms feature references to the Dragon, for example: “Hoping one’s son will become a dragon.”

The pattern itself is actually a post card. The lucky recipient may cut out the pattern and assemble it to form the bobblehead dragon to serve as a good luck charm this year.

I had an easy time assembling the model, although photographing the figure is quite tricky because the head kept turning from side to side. The instructions are not much hard to understand which is a big bonus.

If you want to try assembling this model, you may download it at the Canon Creative Park’s (Japan) website [click here].


A journey of a thousand miles begin with the first step ~ A Chinese Proverb

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Astro Boy is created by Osamu Tezuka, known as Japan’s God of Manga Comics. Astro Boy’s Japanese name is Tetsuwan Atomu, which means Mighty Atom.

The comic book is based on the simple concept of a super-powerful robot built with the likeness, attitude, mannerisms, and even feelings of a young boy. His powers were based on semi-scientific or mechanical principles, and instead of fighting for justice, Astro Boy fought for peace. It was a heartening comic book about a purely innocent boy robot hero who wants not to punish bad guys but to simply stop them from doing evil and hopefully turn them to good.

This innocence was amplified by Tezuka’s art style, which consisted of smooth clean lines and plenty of playfulness. Astro Boy himself is drawn smoothly; his facial expressions consistently retaining a childish demeanor, with the typical manga-large eyes and prominent eyelashes. The bad guys  are drawn with cartoonish features so that they always look redeemable. Every aspect of the comic book is  drawn to maximize the optimistic nature of the Astro Boy concept.

Throughout the years there have been numerous adaptations of Astro Boy in different media forms. There were movies, a live-action series, and comics written by other authors. The most famous of these adaptations have been the TV series that premiered in Japan last 1963 and later that year, in the United States.

The model’s pattern was e-mailed to me by a friend years before. I had a hard time assembling the figure, especially in closing the shapes. Each model part consists of multi-faceted polygons. I would suggest finishing all the parts first before attaching it altogether. The model’s pattern allows the assembler to choose which head the figure will have. The regular head depicts Astro Boy’s wide, innocent eyes that are opened. The alternative head exhibits closed eyes, as though Astro Boy is sleeping, or turned off, as the case may be. The finished model portrays Astro Boy as sitting (if the assembler chooses the open eyes) or slumping (for the closed eyes). The only beef I have with the model is the way the designer made the hands; there were no line markings to signify that they were hands.  They looked like stumps, really. Other than that, this Astro Boy paper model as a whole is satisfactory.

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Paper Model Series: SDE’s STREET DOG FIGHTER “ZHOUNDGIEF” by Willie Beren (VA Paper Toys)

Part two of Street Dog Evolution’s Street Dog Fighter Series…

Next after cool, calm, and collected Dhalsim is his polar opposite, the Red Cyclone, Zangief. He was ordered by the Head of the Soviet Union, Gorbachev to fight at the World Warrior tournament in order to infiltrate its host, Shadoloo. Prior to his entry in the World Warrior tournament, Zangief trained at the Siberian tundra subduing bears.

Zangief’s fighting style is wrestling, making him a close-range fighter. His complicated 360 degree moves make his character effective only for advanced game players. He was given effective damaging moves such as the Spinning Lariat, the Banishing Flat, the Flying Power Bomb, and his most devastating technique, the Spinning Piledriver. In later game versions, he would acquire a unique team super move: the Double Final Atomic Buster.

Zhoundgief here sports the traditional video game character looks: the Mohawk, the full beard, the chest hairs, the red wrestling tights and boots, and the muscle details. The only things missing are the criss-crossing scars on the body, although the model sports scarred ears. Zhoundgief here is also just a little bit larger than Dharfsim, in keeping with the persona of the hulking Russian.

If you want to try assembling this model, you may download it at the VA Paper Toys website. [click here]

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