Rob Caswell - images and text copyright © 1998 Starship Modeler.
On a slightly overcast day in September, I braved the language barrier and ventured to cosmopolitan Montreal, where I had an appointment to meet Alain Gadbois, the talent behind the Fusion Models name. For those not already familiar with Fusion Models, this is a new resin kit producer who has (so far) specialized in mecha (aka "giant robots") kits - more specifically, he's been producing subjects from Dream Pod 9's SF role-playing game systems, Heavy Gear® and Jovian Chronicles.
With Marc Vezina as my kind host, I was guided to the Fusion digs, in a loft across the hall from the Dream Pod 9 offices. There I found Alain hard at work among piles of boxes and parts that forms a backdrop familiar to most modelers. We spent a few hours talking, snapping pictures, talking, oogling kits, talking, and... well, you get the idea. This kind of thing happens when you get a few fellow SF modelers together in one space.
Anyway, while it hardly scratches the surface of our visits' extensive discussion, the following a collection of a few questions and answers we managed to piece together. I hope it lends some insight into both Fusion Models and the path that led Alain to form that company. So - on with the show!
Alain at work in the Fusion Studio.
And excellent shot of Alain's build-up of Fusion's first offering: the Heavy Gear® Kodiak. Photo © Fusion Models.
This ship, from the Japanese animated version of Lensman, illustrates more of Alain's outstanding weathering techniques.
RC: What's your background in sculpting and modeling?
AG: I've been modeling since my early childhood. I graduated in Industrial Design at University of Montreal in 1988, and I've been a full-time professional modeler since then. The commercial projects I worked on ranged from model high rises to working industrial prototypes.
RC: How did Fusion Models come about?
AG: The basic thinking behind Fusion is that if I can scratchbuild parts for myself, why not make them available to anyone and save them the trouble? From there, a few friends and myself started experimenting with silicone and resins. At that point, back in 1997, we met the guys at DP9 ("Dream Pod 9"), with their great Heavy Gear® roleplaying game, and they asked us if we could produce a model of one of their Gears (the Kodiak). My girlfriend Catherine suggested the name Fusion (thank you!!) and so the company was formed.
RC: Would you say there's any Fusion philosophy? How do you feel you differ from other garage kit companies and what are your long-range goals?
AG: The philosophy is simple: quality above all else. I believe a resin kit should not require expert skills to put together, so great care is taken to produce parts that are easy to clean up and fit together. Essentially, the goal is always to create a model as easy to assemble as a top-of-the-line injection plastic model kit.
As for our long term goals, we wish to make as many high quality kits as possible. Eventually, I'd like to be able to add decals, white metal pieces and photoetched parts to our kits, when necessary.
RC: Your castings are very clean. Do you do anything unusual to get such good results?
AG: Great care is always taken when a part is to be molded. The key to clean castings is to study each piece and determine the best way to make a mold that will produce parts with the least amount of flash and the most unobtrusive mold lines. This way, clean-up time - the most boring part of modeling to me - is reduced, and more energy can be put into painting and finishing the model.
RC: What do you usually build your masters out of?
AG: Anything I can lay my hands on (laugh)! Masters are mostly made of acrylic and styrene, in sheets or tubing. Large sheets come from distributors, but most small rods and strips come from the local hobby shop, as is the aluminum and brass tubing I use to make articulations.
I also have a large selection of old kits that can provide some nicely detailed parts, but I prefer to scratchbuild as much as possible.
RC: How do you choose your kit subjects, for Fusion?
AG: It depends on what I want to produce. In the Heavy Gear® and Jovian Chronicles lines, for example, we always chose the most important and/or popular machines first. The subject chosen must appeal to modelers as well, of course. A variant of a certain Gear with heavy weaponry will result in a more appealing and spectacular model (the Kodiak is a good example of this).
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