Gunpla level progression: Level 1, Gundam RX-78-2 RG
Last year I got into "Gunpla", the hobby of building Gundam plastic model kits. It all started during the Christmas holidays when I saw a stack of Gundam models at a local shop, and I decided to build one as a Christmas activity.
Gunpla is a fascinating hobby, with a large and devoted community, tons of models and an increasing level of complexity limited only by how far you want to go. This is my first step into this particular rabbit hole.
Since I wasn't at home I had to use whatever tools I found lying around at my parents' place, these were the scissors and "hobby knife":
The first thing I realized was that the instructions were in Japanese. This turned out to be part of the fun, as I used Google Translator to translate the instructions on camera.
I was blown away by how neatly the parts fit together. Some of the pieces came out of the mold already articulated (I later found out that this is a characteristic of Real Grade models).
The model came with normal decals, which are easy to apply but don't look that great, especially on dark surfaces because you can see the transparent part of the decal.
Here is a video of the finished build, clearly showing the ugliness of the decals on the red and blue parts:
Later, after I got home, I learned about panel lining and top coating. For panel lining I bought a set of Gundam Markers (!) and for top coating a Tamiya matte clear coat spray. Unfortunately I made two big rookie mistakes here. I drew the panel lining with the stickers on, and the result was that some of the panel lining ink bled behind the stickers. And I applied the top coating too soon after painting the panel lines, resulting in this mess:
One thing I didn't like about the Real Grade was the size (too small) and the fact that some of the pieces kept falling off, especially when trying to making it hold the weapons. Apparently this model was one of the first RGs and had issues, but later ones got better. But all in all I was happy with the result and most importantly the process, and wanted more!
These are some links that I found along the way:
- "How I got into Gunpla" on Polygon. A good overview of the hobby and how to get started.
- This video featuring Myth Busters' Adam Savage explains very well the "sense of wonder" you get when you build your first Gunpla.
- "Behind the Scenes" video of how Gunpla models are created. A bit low on details but still fascinating. Notice the uniforms!
- A very visual article about the history of Gunpla.
- The r/Gunpla channel on Reddit, full of tips and other info, including a "where to buy" section.
- The Gundam Store shop in Denmark where I bought the markers and the next models that will be the subject of more posts.