6.20.2010

My first Gundam model

Last week I earned a new geek merit badge by building my first Gundam model! After watching Mobile Suit Gundam SEED last year, I decided to buy a beginner's 1/144 scale HG (high grade) kit of the Freedom Gundam piloted by Kira Yamato in the series, but it took me forever to start since I was a little intimidated and wanted to do a good job. Building Gundam models (or Gunpla, short for Gundam plastic models) is a huge hobby in Japan, with entire stores, websites, and wallets devoted to the construction of the hundreds of types available with incredible skill and precision. I did some research into the basic techniques, and decided to just go for it and do my best as an "educated amateur". The process was incredibly fun and I'm so happy with the results!

After cutting each part from the tree (or sprue), I sanded down the nubs using fine modeling sandpaper, which was a little difficult since I didn't want to scratch up the model. Next I painted sections to match the excellent photos on the instruction sheet (in Japanese, of course) using special Gundam Markers. These are paint pens that come in official colors to match the anime, and they are pretty easy to use, although I made several mistakes since I had to learn how to control the tip and the flow of paint. Even though the pieces are molded in a few basic colors, additional painting really makes it come to life! After that I attempted sumi ire, which is a Gundam modeling term that means to ink all of the little panel lines to give the Gundam a super detailed feel. There are special markers for this purpose also, and I really enjoyed this technique! After all of that, I could snap together whatever section I was working on (no glue required), along with the cool rubber joints (called polycaps) that make the finished model posable. Finally, there were a few incredibly tiny foil decals to apply, and I can't believe I was able to stick them on fairly accurately without tweezers!

The whole build took many hours (spread over a few days), and I was amazed with the Freedom Gundam design and how it can transform into different fighting modes! The process was really satisfying, even though I had to quickly learn to let go of my perfectionism, and I was excited by the fact that I had so much fun with a $15 model, which is amazing since a LEGO set that would take the equivalent build time would easily cost $100 bucks! As soon as I finished I started shopping on Gundam Store and More and now I have a couple more kits on the way. I'm looking forward to improving my technique and displaying my work in my Toy Museum!

View photos: Freedom Gundam

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