The next Lighthouse interview is with long time model creator JianDaoXiao. Since 2006, he has been one of the few people within the Ace Combat community that creates their own models without using pre-made plastic model kits. Not just aircraft, but tanks, submarines, super weapons, trains, trucks and other vehicles seen throughout the Ace Combat series. The entire collection and printable instructions from his project, Ace Combat Models are available on his blog and Facebook group.
With Ace Combat Models just recently opening up a Patreon account to further support its model endeavors. The Lighthouse interviewer for this piece is Cubeboy, the Chief of Translation Department in Project: Lighthouse.
Do you work alone on your projects, and if you do, what is your experience as a creator?
Well, if you are referring to the elaboration of blueprints, impression, cutting, assembly and final assembly of every model, then yes, I do work alone. Even with that, I cannot stop thanking my friend RythusOmega, as he provides me with the 3D models that are ripped from the assets of the PS1 and PSP games, as this has helped me to further detail models such as the Fenrir, the Forneus, the Neucom ships and much more; I also want to thank my friend Benjamin, as he is the one providing me with high quality pictures of the PS3 and Xbox 360 games, where I can see much of the details of the ships and ground vehicles. I also want to thank Rainbowbear for his blueprints, as I used them as a base some time ago. Sadly he isn't an active member on the web as of now.
When did you start doing scale models?
I can´t remember the exact year, but it was around 2001 and 2002.
What materials do you use when building your scale models?
For the template I use building paper, and then I print over the building paper to obtain the exact structure. Later I apply balsa wood reinforcements and I fill it with tecnopor. Finally I apply the coloring with more building paper and glue in the markings and emblems.
Do you use some type of program to design your models prior to building them?
I use AutoCAD.
Do you have some type of criteria to choose what your next project will be? Some sort of rule or order?
Of course! I follow the order that is posted on my Facebook page, that is to say that I build every model by game order. I´m just about to finish with all of them as I´m working with the Ace Combat Infinity album; it’s only missing 3 models: OLDS (Orbital Laser Defense System), QFA-44 Carmilla and the Ivan Rogov landing ship. I will continue then with the Ace Combat 7 models.
Until now, which model has presented the most demanding model that you have worked on? And also, which has been your favorite model so far, from a work stand point and finished model product?
Without a doubt the most demanding model that I worked on has been the Aigaion, not because of the size, but for the innumerable surfaces and each surface with a lot of detail to it (doors, windows, signs, pipes, even the interior support pillars and their difficult to decipher angles).
About my favorite model, that is something that is difficult to choose, with so many beautiful airplanes such as the Sukhois, the fictitious planes, battleships and superweapons; each one with its own design and difficult to make curves that are just a joy to make.
I have just finished making the Excalibur Blimp Reflector and it was very enjoyable to craft.
Have you thought about expanding your work into other fictional sagas that are similar to Ace Combat? (I.e. Macross, Yukikaze, etc…)
I wouldn't do it. I have more than enough material to work on with Ace Combat alone. If I started working on another saga it would be a never-ending work cycle. Once I have finished with the Ace Combat models I plan to return to my guitar and if it some new Ace Combat title comes out (such as Ace Combat 7 or next titles) and it brings new models to make, I will do them, but I´ll always return to playing my guitar afterwards.
Have you thought on making models from other types of vehicles, from the real world or fictional ones? And if you do, which ones have you had in mind?
I would like to do a Bugatti Chiron... I hope it appears in an AC title just so I have an excuse to build it! I also love some of the concepts for the MIG-41 that I have seen, it is nuts and I hope to see one of them in a future AC title. I also want to do the Gaiuss Tower. I even have the blueprints already and the printables are ready, everything is ready to print and assembling, I suppose that I´ll build it one day. I even made an An-225 model. It was at a very large scale, about 3 feet of wingspan, but it was difficult to maintain and it was deteriorating little by little so I ended up scraping it. I haven't remade it, but if I do, it´ll be on a much smaller scale like all of my recent bombers and cargo planes.
As you have a large amount of Ace Combat models, could you tell us from which title you got into the series and what is your opinion on it?
Yes, I started playing since Ace Combat 2 on the PS1. At the beginning I didn't get hooked but that was until the release of Ace Combat 3. With its mind bending models of the fictitious planes I became very interested. I even forced myself to obtain all of the A ranks and was amazed with the first time I got to fly in the XR-900 Geopelia, but it was when I unlocked the X-49 and the UI-4054 Aurora that I became hooked on Ace Combat as a whole. I even booted up my copy of Ace Combat 2 and worked to unlock the XFA-27. One thing that I love about the saga is that you can search and find new areas and flyable models that you never encountered before in previous playthroughs. I even searched for an Air Combat copy and played it completely. Since then I have played every Ace Combat that has come out, from the Ace Combat Xi for the IPod, Ace Combat 3D Cross Rumble and lately in Ace Combat Infinity.
What are your thoughts on the original designs made by Project Aces? (i.e. the R-101 Delphinus and another aircrafts from AC3)
I really like the liberty, the fantasy and the aerodynamics that are put into each of the designs. None of them can be classified as “common” with the exception of the CFA-44, but its design compensates with its weapons. I mean, the Shinden has three air intakes and two stacked engines, the Cariburn has two over-imposed air intakes and two engines equipped with 2D thrust vectoring nozzles, the Fregata has two intakes and four engines, the Fenrir three engines and VTOL capabilities. I could continue all day, but what I want to say is that those are examples of a brilliant design team.
As I have said in the past to you, I love aerodynamics and that is the main reason why I wouldn't make an X-Wing. It is just so blocky!
Do you have a personal design you would like to see built?
It's been years since I have made my own designs, as I said, I have more than enough work with the AC series and some real models that have caught my attention (Bugatti, MIG-41, etc...).
And as a last question, what would you recommend to a person that wants to start making models?
That they have all the rights in the world to make them, nobody is prohibiting you. It depends on them. If they want to they can make one model or two because they like them, but doing what I did - crafting the entirety of models from Ace Combat - that is something that I wouldn’t recommend to anybody. Except if they have the dedication, passion and loyalty to take that work into their hands.
Is there anything else you want to add?
When I made my first model - an A-4 Skyhawk and my second one, an XFA-27 - my brother that was 10 years old at the time was so fascinated with having the possibility of touching the planes which he played with in his PlayStation, that I promised him I would craft all of the planes, ships, tanks and submarines that were in the game. Obviously I have already fulfilled my promise to him, every model from AC1, AC2, AC3, AC4 and AC5 (game in which he stopped playing) are already finished, but they took 12 years to complete!
And thanks for the interview and for all the support that you guys and the fans give me, which motivates me to never stop crafting more of this.