Yet again, I have been somewhat absent here lately. Life! It happens to the best of us.
But in the mean time I have also written a guest piece over at Wave Motion Cannon. I cover Gundam’s core themes in the context of Gundam Build Fighters. Feel free to check it out, and all of the other fantastic work they do over there:
One of the great joys in life is the creation of something. Whether it is through writing, shooting a video, or baking a meal, the act of making something and enjoying the finished product is uniquely rewarding.
So today let’s talk about the simple joy of building Gunpla.
Full disclosure – I’m not a shill for Gunpla, I just really enjoy putting together tiny toy robots, so even though this sounds like a sales pitch, it’s not. Think of it as a primer for how to start with Gunpla if you are interested.
If you are not familiar with Gunpla, it is essentially the term for Gundam model kits. These kits come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and styles, but generally they depict the titular mobile suits from the various series. These kits come on large sprues referred to as runners that are injection-molded plastic, often pre-colored to match the depiction in the show.
The kits come with instructions to show how to put the pieces together. Even though all of the text is in Japanese, there are detailed pictures that make the process very easy, even for beginners.
Usually Gunpla come in a few standard scales – HG, RG, MG, and PG. High Grade and Real Grade are both 1/144 scale, making them the smallest and usually most affordable kits, with the difference being that Real Grade is much more detailed and difficult. Master Grade are 1/100 scale kits, a good deal larger than HG and RG, but not as much detail as the RG kits. Perfect Grade are 1/60 kits and they are definitely the crown jewel – huge figures with a lot of detail and complexity.
A lot of times people wonder why anyone would purchase a figure that isn’t put together. Why buy something that takes work, right? Isn’t the point to not have to work?
But the truth is that working on something that takes time and effort is very rewarding. In a sense it is like working out or cleaning the house, in that it may be difficult but by the end you have a sort of euphoria from accomplishing something. Instead of buying a figure and setting in on the shelf (likely still in its packaging) and letting it collect dust, the process of assembly adds an entire new element of attachment and ownership to something.
Beyond that, the Gunpla have a high degree of articulation and options that allow you to customize how they look or stand. If you go the extra step and bring paints into the mix, you can create entirely custom kits that the designers never intended, and that is another level of satisfaction and pride.
If any of this has piqued your interest in the slightest and you are curious if you are going to enjoy building figures, it is actually pretty easy to find out. Snag a cheap HG kit off of Amazon or Gundam Planet and a pair of sprue clippers and you can see if this hobby thing is right for you. The top two links below will get you started for $20.
Even if you assemble the kit and find out you don’t like building them, you can at least say you made something, and that is its own reward. If you want to watch an entire anime devoted to the joy of Gunpla, you can watch Gundam Build Fighters, which is not only a phenomenal show but is entirely for free on Youtube – legally! Yes, Bandai put the series on Youtube for free and it is truly a great show, even if it is just a long-running advertisement.