Not Exactly A Newtype: 005 - This Hobby is Full Of Tools!
Ok lets talk about the issue of why there’s so many tools in the Gunpla hobby. We all know of them. We can’t help but notice them. They are always there in group posts and in the aisles of Gunpla stores and as a newb, all the tools can make it hard to chill and just enjoy Gunpla for what it should be. Freedom.
Why are there soooooo many tools in Gunpla??
Hehe…. Of course, I’m referring to actual building and modeling tools… not those annoying people that act like tools. There’s always going to be those in every hobby, but our goal here is to focus on the positive aspects of Gunpla and progress as builders and human beings. You know, the nippers and hobby knives and scribers and brushes and yadda yadda yadda… it’s a near endless list of variations and combinations and there’s a myriad of places to get them and there's an absolute plethora of opinions about which tools are better than which tools. I’ve watched posts and online conversations about tools go on for daaaayyyyyyyys. And in the end, the poor newb fella that asked “should I buy a pair of GodHand nippers?” is soooo damn confused, after 372 comments he still has no idea what to do.
Now straight up I'll make it very clear this is not me giving anyone advice based on some idea that I know what I'm talking about and you don't. That'd be totally contrary to the point of this episode. I'm just a Gunpla newb lookin out for fellow newbs and reminding the non newbs what it's like to be a confused and vunlerable newb.
Lets take nippers for example. Me… I'm the newb that bought GodHand nippers as soon as I could. They were calling me like Excalibur in the lake held a loft by a watery maiden. The SPN-120 set. I initially bought a set of nippers for around $15 from my local hobby store and for a time they worked great and you know if I hand them to my wife to bash out a Petite Bear Guy on a date night they still work great, for her. But only a few months into my Gunpla journey I was fortunate enough to take a trip to Japan, and of all the advice I got prior to my trip about how to best spend my Yen, the resounding piece of advice was “get yaself some tools”. So amongst the frenzy of kits and bits and pieces, I was determined to grab a few tools. One particular tool was a pair of GodHand nippers and the other was the Wave HT-196 parts separator. Both tools I feel have positively contributed to my growth as a builder and I sorta can’t do without either of them now.
So, as I prowled the streets of Akihabara each night during my Gunpla hunting missions, I had my eye out for these tools. And as the days went on, instead of just hovering up and down the aisles of kits like a love struck zombie in a fresh brain market like I did in the first couple of stores, I started to venture in to the equally impressive and insane isles of tools and building materials. Knowing what I do now, which is still a very basic understanding but somewhat more advanced than those nights in Japan, I would probably go nuts on tools and materials and waterslides sheets and less on kits that I could purchase from the comfort of my laptop back home. When I finally found a store that had the GodHand nippers for sale, I found the cardboard packet only, on the shelf, amongst the other nippers. Like something out of a Seinfeld episode, I took the cardboard packet up to the counter, I nodded politely and handed it over to the gentleman behind the counter who nodded back and said in loose but very understandable English “one….pair….only”. I was actually after a set for me and a set for a buddy so I pressed ever so gently for a waiver. But he was quite adamant… “one….pair…only”.
I felt like I was trying to buy some 99% proof alcohol or a firearm. Right about then I kinda figured they were gonna be nice nippers. And you know what…they are awesome. I love em. They cut parts away like butter. I’m gonna secure a second pair in reserve if these get damaged….because they do get damaged. As newbs, we discover everything has its tolerances. These are effectively ‘finishing nippers’ but I’m just careful enough to not treat em like a hacksaw. People are ALWAYS complaining about breaking them and its more often than not because they were used incorrectly or even abused, maybe dropped, or even used to cut full thickness runner. WHAT THE????
This leads me to the main point…..and even though I'm a proud Gunpla newb, it’s the old man in me, and it’s the experience of cutting corners in my life and the experience of not taking people's advice, or taking people's advice when I shouldn’t have. We will always get what we pay for. Anyone that tells you that GodHand nippers are not that great and cost too much are either jealous they don’t have them or have had them and mistreated them and won't admit it…..or…they are one of those insane tool guys that has owned nearly every set of nipper known to man and actually has the experience and knowledge to tell you for sure what is what. And regarding nippers, there are def some out there that do a fantastic job for a much lesser cost and if I was in a blindfolded nipper use survey, no doubt I could be fooled.
But my approach with any hobby has always been to get the best tools I can afford. They keep my hobby going. Whether it be RC cars, keeping a high end games PC cool or building Gunpla. Your tools will keep the show on the road so skimping will end up costing you anyways. Yes, do the research. Find which tools are rebadged versions of expensive tools sold at half the price. Yes talk to your buddys about what they use and see if they’ll let you give their tools a run at the next build meet. But for god sake don’t get caught up in the 300 comment long conversations which are generally pissing competitions about “my tool is better than your tool” because you know what, that just won't be true.
They don’t know the shape of your hands. They don’t know you’re a lazy builder and don’t enjoy sanding every goddamn nub (shock horror…..who would be that way). And they don’t know that if you can afford that tool and you want that tool you should have that tool. So by all means, read the posts and listen to the ‘advice’ but make your final decision to purchase any tool or any paint or any anything…based on advice from people who have actual experience in using the above mentioned item/product or at least enough time in the hobby to show you as a newb what's the real deal.
I know for some younger builders or not so well off builders there’s just gonna be one option and that’s the one you can afford. And you will talk to so many of the great builders and they will have tales of epicness of how they started scribing with the back of a hobby knife or something like that. And they learnt control and patience and when they got actual chisels they went full Jedi and just crushed scribing. So don't despair, fellow newbs. Don't feel you're not going to enjoy Gunpla as much because you haven't got the airbrush or the booth or brushes or the nippers others say are "the best in universe". The tools are only part of the challenge. When you are meeting up with your buildin buddys, half the time you aren't even using the tools. And at nights when you're bashing away at a kit off in your own little world, you forget how poop your hobby knife is and just get it done.
So get your basics.
Half decent nippers.
A half decent hobby knife.
Half decent sanding sticks etc.
And ensure you get a huge 2 litre (1/2 gallon) bottle of 'perspective'. Keep it real..... at all times.
Try not to get carried away in the river of 'tool-mania'. Cling to the shore of 'sensibility' and keep your Freedom friends. And when you can afford some upgrades in the tool department, don't hesitate. A pair of GodHand nippers for example cost me about AUD$75 which is equal to a couple of HG kits, but since owning them I have built about 15 kits and the tools have been there with me on every build and unlike me have performed flawlessly and I expect they'll be my trusty nippers for some time to come....God willing. It's funny how generally we do pretty good with what we have and when we get something better, we do better.