Being new to the world of Gunpla is a bit of an overwhelming experience. The sheer amount of choice in kits has left me with an almost child-like sense of standing in a toy store, looking at shelves and shelves of shiny fun, and not even knowing where to start.
Yet wanting all of them. All. Of. Them.
And the interwebs have not helped. Join a few Facebook groups, subscribe to a few Youtube channels, do a few searches on the Googles, and you can literally be presented with new options every day. Multiple times every day.
Of course- I am not complaining! Not in the least. Perhaps my wallet is wincing a bit, admittedly. But it is a fun process.
Scrolling through any site that lists Gunpla is a exercise of repeatedly saying “Ooooh, that one looks cool!” And then just below it, another, even cooler. Yet wait- here it is in RED with a giant bazooka! How cool is that? Wait- WITH WINGS!
I have realized some trends in my likes. The suits that are a bit simpler seem to draw me in more than the more dramatic ones. Not that a winged Gundam variant, spread fully open in a dramatic pose, is not very, very cool. And I do want to build one, certainly. But the RCX-76-02 Guncannon, for instance, just has a heft and purposeful look that I suppose the former infantryman in me associates with. Yet a little research into the variants of that one opens up many more kits.
And with the words “Gunpla is freedom” ringing in my ears, I then envision every one of them in a custom color scheme, only to re-imagine it seconds later in another.
In short- the choices are dizzying.
Not that aircraft building (which I’ve been focusing on for the last decade) doesn’t have choice. I have dozens, if not hundreds, of profiles of Spitfires and Hurricanes and F/A-18s and so many others. And while I suppose I can certainly do whatever I wish with them- they’re my models!- there seems to be an almost subconscious restriction against painting a Spitfire purple and green and yellow.
Yet as I drove home yesterday, contemplating future Gundam builds, I was thinking in terms of those very colors. Wild colors, at least from an aircraft modeling point of view, that I’d never dared to imagine putting on a model. Yet as I turned the thoughts around in my head, I really liked the potential.
And within minutes, that had morphed into another idea for an entirely different set of colors. (I really should write these down…)
Compounding the sheer choice and freedom is affordability. While it’s certainly true that a Perfect Grade kit may set you back quite a bit (though financing is available…), the Gunpla builder can happily while away the hours on kits that are less than US$20, many much less than that.
It actually reminds me of being a kid in the 1970s. I could literally scrounge the neighborhood for glass Coke bottles, take them to the corner store and cash in on them for a nickel each, and with the simple investment of some time collecting 10 to 15 bottles, I could ride my bike over to Woolworth’s, pick up a Monogram 72nd scale airplane, and head home to enjoy building it.
And while returning bottles for deposit is not much of an option now, I know that a few yards mowed, leaves raked, dogs walked, and just general errand running, could keep a kid supplied with Gunpla for a long time.
Of course, someone may point out that all of these are basically the same thing- bodies, legs, arms, and heads. The same thing, over and over. How fun can that be?
Well…. fuselage. Wings. Tail planes. Landing gear.
Not much difference is there?
Yes. There is. And it’s precisely why I am enjoying the Gundam building so much
The kits just fit. You get to the fun part- the painting and weathering- much faster. It’s totally free form, too. You think it up, you do it. It’s all affordable, too. The argument I’ve encountered in aircraft building between “historic re-creation” and “art” is totally gone. Because it’s all made up, all make believe. Sure, there are “canon” colors. But if you want to deviate, just imagine it, do it, and Gundam fans are highly likely to say “hey, that is cool!” rather than “you know that color of mud wasn’t in Kursk in 1943.”
It’s art. It’s fun. I’m having a blast.
And like a bag of M&Ms, I just want to eat them all!
Photo taken at Hobby Town in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, courtesy of Andrew Mclaurin via Facebook. Thanks Andrew!