The commercials always looked so wonderful. The toy car would race along the plastic track, the airplane would fly through the air, the toy pistol would work in incredible ways… and of course this made me want it more. I’d beg my parents… “please, please, please”. If I can just get this one thing, I’ll be content for life and fulfilled.
Rarely did they buy my logic – or the toy. Occasionally it worked out if it was near Christmas, or my birthday. But for the most part, the commercials were as close as I ever got to some of those super cool toys I saw on TV growing up in the 1970s.
What I noticed though was that when I did get those toys, things didn’t always work out like I saw on the TV.
Spiderman And His Webslinger
One of my favorite super heroes growing up was Spider-Man. The thought that a regular guy could get super powers really gave me hope for a more glorious future. However, after some failed attempts at spider irradiation, I realized it might be a bit more of a technical stretch than I’d originally imagined. Still, a TV commercial gave me hope.
The commercial showed this cool wrist mounted “web launcher” that would fire off a suction cup-tipped dart, and stick to whatever you needed it to stick to. The kids on the TV were having fun with it, and it looked like a real breakthrough in super hero equipment for budding web slingers. The timing was good to – my birthday was coming up.
Thus, I did what any self respecting lad would do. I whined like a lost puppy, and threw in a few tantrums. When that didn’t work, I chose the nuclear option. The one mom and dad could not stop.
I called Grandma.
A Sad Super Hero
On my birthday, I made sure to act surprised when I opened up my brand new shiny Spiderman Webslinger toy. I smiled. My friends smiled. Grandma smiled. My dad just sort of squinted at me. I wasn’t worried. Grandma toys had special properties that made them invulnerable to dad squints.
With the cake, ice cream, presents, and other hilarity behind me, I set out to put my webslinger to the test. Strapping both webslingers to each wrist, and loading them up for any caper, I headed out into the yard. Looking for a prime target, I zeroed in on one of my Tonka trucks in the sandbox. Striking my best Spider-Man pose, I took aim and fired.
Though I was close enough to the toy for it to reach, the Spider-Dart fell short by a couple of feet. And it didn’t fire off at high speed, but rather arched through the air in a sickly, wobbly flight path. “Surely something must be wrong“, I thought. Reloading the launcher, I tried again… only to get the same result.
It seemed perhaps the reality of the commercial and my own experience were diverging a bit.
A Great Kit
Singing the praises of Bandai kits in general is a bit redundant. Just about any kit produced in the last 20 years will fit almost perfectly and look very cool. Yes, a few have seam lines that can be a pain, but for the most part – that’s it. The rest of the build is drama free.
While I’ve not built near as many 1/144th scale High Grade kits as other Gunpla builders, I have put enough together to know when I run into a great build experience. And the HGUC RGM-79HC GM Guard Custom is just that – an absolutely stellar build.
It has a good amount of surface detail, so the armor parts don’t look like slabs of plastic toy. The fit is typical Bandai – perfect. If it doesn’t fit, you’re either putting it on wrong, or an errant nub needs cleaning up. And as far as seam lines go, there is one to deal with. One. The head consists of a front and back half, resulting in the only seam on the build that is either not hidden, or presented as an organic panel line.
Assembly And Base Paint
As with most Gunpla, I painted the inner frame parts first, giving them some very simple drybrushing and detailing. There’s not a lot seen of the frame, so while you can spend more time on it, I chose not to.
Dealing with the seam on the head was easy. The design allows the front and back parts to be glued together first. A good application of Tamiya Extra Thin Cement along the join, squeezed tightly together, bubbled up a nice “weld” bead. After allowing it to dry for a day, I scraped it smooth with my hobby blade, and then polished it down with sanding sticks.
All of the white parts were airbrushed with Mr. Color Gundam Color MS White, and the blue received MS Blue from the same maker. For the black parts, AK Interactive Real Color Flat Black was used.
The video fully covers the steps after I’d added the base paint. (Please watch and subscribe!)
I painted various details – some blue color on the “knees”, and the black and yellow around the chest and leg vents”, by hand rather than use the kit stickers. I could have masked it all of for airbrushing, but the amount of time that would have required weighed against the result would not have justified it in my mind.
On a few areas of the white armor, I used some Vallejo Model Color Sky Gray to add a few accents. I think this helps add some visual interest to the model, and breaks up the monotone look of the base armor.
Details And Weathering
For the panel lining, I opted for a mechanical pencil. This is a simple, quick method that will not in any way invoke the “Bandai plastic bug” the way some solvent based washes can. In a few areas that I wanted a heavier shade, Citadel’s Nuln Oil, which is an acrylic product, was used. If applied carefully, it leaves a nice, heavy contrast without tidemarks.
A lighter gray and blue color was used to drybrush the black and blue parts. I thought this would give a slight “edge highlight” that would help the details stand out a bit. On such a small model, even minimal viewing distance can make it difficult to see the various shapes on the mobile suit. A focused, light drybrush will subtly bring those out, yet not appear contrived or too stark. And if applied a bit heavier, it can appear as chipping, and surface wear.
Chipping was accomplished with a mechanical pencil on the white armor parts, and a sponge was used on the blue area to add white paint chips. Grime and leaks were added with Vallejo Weathering Effects products, which are acrylic. I avoided a heavy application, but tried instead to simply suggest use but not abuse. A bit of dirt effects were applied to the feet with Vallejo Acrylic Washes, and some shading and fading was added with the airbrush to “pump up” some of the previously added weathering. A final matte caot using Vallejo Mecha Color Matt Varnish was applied.
Needless to say, I was not very happy with my Spider-Man Web-Slinger in those Days-Long-Ago. It did not work as advertised, and I had no one to complain to. There was no way I would contact Grandma – she was so proud to have given that to me, and disappointing her was out of the question. Dad’s squints told me that the door to his complaint office was closed for any discussion of the subject.
So for the next few days, I moped about, firing off lame-duck darts at targets who had no fear of my Spider-Attacks. My friends, who had come over to see the toy, were equally disappointed. Eventually the toy worked its way to the bottom of the toy chest, and I don’t recall that it ever saw the light of day again.
The thing I love about Bandai kits is that they live up to the hype. They build nicely, look great, and rarely disappoint. And this GM Guard Custom is a shining star in the constellation of HG kits. (Yes, there are that many… 😉 )
If you’re still on the fence about building Gunpla, I highly recommend this one. It represents the very best of the genre, and will give a great “sampling” of all that is available in the line.