Kow Yokoyama’s Sci-Fi Plastic Model Classroom

Regular Zimmerit readers should be no strangers to Kow Yokoyama, the artist behind Maschinen Krieger (née SF3d) who later went on to do design work for Venus Wars (1989) and a plethora of video games. In 1985, though, he was known for one thing – SF3d, a sci-fi photo novel series published in Hobby Japan and available as a series of plastic kits from Nitto.

Yokoyama’s model work is legendary and commonly seen in hobby magazines during the 1980s, but the following interview was found in an unusual publication; the literary SF Magazine. Like Omni Magazine in the West, SF Magazine was focused on sci-fi short stories with some illustrations, comics, and real-world science topics thrown in for good measure. In the August 1985 issue, they published an interview with Yokoyama presented below.

Kow Yokoyama’s Sci-Fi Plastic Model Classroom

SF Magazine
August 1985
Translated By Andrew Prowse

SF3d began in Hobby Japan magazine three years ago in the pursuit of realistic sci-fi combat weapons. We interviewed Kow Yokoyama, illustrator and creator of SF3d, about his plastic model creation process.

First, I’d like to ask about SF3d’s setting.

Well, it’s about a war in the future, where mercenary forces are fighting the Strahl Army. As you might have figured from using English and German in the names, it’s a reimagining of the war between the Allied Forces and the Germans in World War II.

It seems like suit-shaped combat weapons piloted by humans are the main trend in it, though.

Those who like sci-fi will know about Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. Naoyuki Katou had the privilege of doing the illustrations for the powered suits that appear in it, and those are what the basis is.

Also, there are some that walk on two legs and others that fly in the air, all of them have a very Yokoyama-esque design sense.

Well, you know, I imagine stuff like this for it. [takes out an insect photograph collection] I put eye cameras where the people ride, and from the point of view of someone riding in a manned one, I think they turn into something incredibly scary.

That is amazing. Do you have any words for those who want to get into making SF3d models?

I would say to make what you want. These are all products of the imagination, so play with them, break them apart, and make something all your own – I think that will be the most fun for you.

But you would need a certain amount of parts to do that.

Well, I mean, the parts don’t have to come from plastic models. You can make curved surfaces with plastic spoons, for example. You can use all kinds of things for the stuff they hold.

I see. Then you would want to start with model kits…

And once you get bored with them, go crazy customizing them. Paint over the whole thing, too. Oh, right – when you’re painting, if you mix matting into the paint, you can give it a really good, thick feeling.

What should one start with?

Let’s see. For SF3d in particular, it’s probably easiest to start with powered suit models and go from there. They’re not too expensive, either.

Then maybe I’ll make one for myself.

As always, thank you very much.

A Word from the Lecturer
“Mm, yes, I’m Yokoyama.”

Organizing the parts.
“Mm, yes, you can make some great models just from things you can buy at a stationery store.”

A multitude of parts monopolizing the room.
“Mm, yes, this is where original models come from!”

Searching for parts that seem usable.
“Mm, yes, I’ll choose the parts for myself.”

Putting the parts together based on idea sketches.
“Mm, yes, I’ll go for it and assemble it all at once.”

Mixing putty into the stiffening agent and smoothing it.
“Mm, yes, knock-out polymer putty smells bad, so wear a mask!”

Spreading putty on the parts.
“Mm, yes, it’ll dry in about 15 minutes, so be patient now. If you don’t bring it outside to cure, your mom will get mad at the smell.”

Sanding it down.
“Mm, yes, if the shavings get in your eyes, it’s all over. Put on goggles before you go crazy filing it!”

Translator’s Note
In the “Word from the Lecturer” section, Yokoyama talks like an old person to be silly. I’ve localized that as an “mm, yes” at the beginning of each blurb’s quote.

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