I’ve been quiet on the blog recently because I have been cheating on LEGO. I recently took an interesting in Gundam models, something I had always been curious about, and rediscovered via reviews on YouTube. I watch a lot of toy reviews on that site, but was really engaged by the Gundam reviews by rrobbert184.
Curiosity got the better of me, so I purchased a Gundam model to see what it was like, and how this building experience differed from the LEGO building experience. Let’s take a look:
The only tools you need are a Gundam model kit, a pair of nippers, and maybe a craft knife. The nippers are specially made for plastic, and cost quite a bit: $34. The model kit is the recently released Gundam AGE-1 Normal.
Inside the box you find that the pieces are all modeled plastic still attached to the “trees.” So the nippers are to detach them with care.
Here are all the parts laid out. Gundam models come in several different grades.
- Advanced Grade: despite it’s name, these are very basic models that are easy to put together by young kids.
- High Grade: the kit I bought is a High Grade model. They create a fully articulated action figure about 5 inches tall. These generally cost between $17-25 dollars.
- Master Grade: these are slighly larger figured, consisting of a lot more pieces and detail. These generally run $45-75, with most falling in the $50 range.
- Perfect Grade: these are much larger figures consisting of thousands of pieces.
For the bigger kits, you actually construct the inner frame of the figure, and then add the exterior panels on afterwards.
The instructions are all in Japanese, but easy to follow visually.
I thought this was funny: “For use in Japan only.”
Here is an example of how the pieces come together as you follow the instructions:
The torso begins to take shape:
Much like LEGO, there are stickers included in the kits. Some people spend endless hours custom painting their Gundam. But for casual builders, the stickers offer key pieces of detail to the model:
Here you can see the eye decals applied:
The completed model. It is extremely posable:
And here he is hanging out on a LEGO street.
Overall, it was a quick and enjoyable build. I didn’t obsess too much about cleaning up the pieces with the craft knife too much, I will spend more time on the next build.
Bandai produces these kits, and releases several new kits a month, in varying grades. I’ve mapped out one kit per month from now to April that are being released that I may pick up. I’m going to move up to “Master Grade” next, more on that in a future post.
The end result is very different from LEGO in it’s detail. The posability makes the figure a lot of fun to fiddle with on my desk as I work. Clearly though, it doesn’t have the re-playability that LEGO has. You can’t take him apart and make some brand new creation as you can with regular LEGO bricks.
As far as the Gundam hobby goes, I was surprised to find that there doesn’t seem to be a huge aftermarket for “retired” kits.” Bandai seems to make a particular model for years and years. The newer models are more advanced than those from 5-10 years ago, so there is a benefit in just picking up more recent releases.
Not sure if this will be a long-term hobby for me, or just a passing fad. It’s fun to explore the culture around these models, and I have even been checking out the cartoon series that these characters are based upon.
Stay tuned for more!