Not Exactly A Newtype: 007 - Picky Picky Choosey Choosey
So think back to when you bought your first Gunpla kit. Why did you buy it? What was the reason you bought that particular kit? Has there been a consistent flow of kits so far that have you thinking there’s clearly a certain style of kit or anime timeline that really floats your boat?
For me….. I have a buddy who had a couple of kits and I’d been following a few Gunpla peeps on Instagram, including the Gunplanetwork, and I was just watching and watching and then boom one morning I woke up I called my buddy and told him I was ready and off we went to a local Gunpla selling store and we spent an hour picking up several kits off the shelves until something felt right.
I really had no idea about the anime of Gundam nor did my buddy really so it was mostly aesthetics. I was somewhat aware of the RX-78-2 much like most outsiders would be and I wanted to start somewhere around there in the Gundam universe. At that point I had no idea about the multiple timelines…Iron Blooded Orphans, Seed, Build Fighters, Gundam Wing….etc. But with absolutely zero knowledge of anything Gundam or Gunpla related and only a vague understanding of the Gundam robot every muggle has seen, I settled on the MG Gundam G04 and I went home a happy chappy.
So I started on like a Friday night and it was done within a couple of days. No panel lining. No decals at all. Just a bare plastic snapped up kit. And I was chuffed.
I posted it up on a couple of Facebook groups and was all…”I’m happy with it the way it is…I’m not gonna need to panel line it…..meh I think top coat is a bit beyond me” and everyone was really nice and said “good for you…but we’ll see”.
As we all do I imagine, I now look back on those original build pics and think “dude you were even more a newb then than you are now!” and I see how far I’ve come with both my skills and my ability to see that same ‘first build newb’ mentality in others as they present their first builds and I can show them the fair and encouraging advice that others had shown me. If I recall correctly, before I’d even completed the G04 I’d ordered Char’s Zaku II also in MG and from there I obviously had a journey ahead. And now as I lean over my shoulder from my desk where I type up this article, glancing at my Detolfs full of builds, some snapped up, some fully detailed out to the best of my ability, some in sorta limbo waiting for me to return to put on those finishing touches, the question I ask myself most is….What makes people buy and build particular kits?
Having come in to Gunpla not so long ago and having watched and listened as much as I can, I’ve sorta come to see roughly three distinct categories of kit selection reasons. And I’d say that not many builders will fall into one category their entire building years. Many will purchase different kits for different criteria. There will most definitely be other sub categories and categories I can’t even think of, but for me this is currently how I see it.
The first being purely based on aesthetics. The look of the kit. There are guys and gals that just seem to build every single version in every grade of the RX-0 Unicorn….. 3 times. Or they just build the RX-78-2. Or guys that just luuurrrrrve Zaku’s. Can’t get enough of 'em. Big ones little ones. Old kits new kits. They go mad over the Zaku. Some builders when you watch them post they’re work you’ll notice they go for the what I like to call ‘Gen Y’ kits. Skinny pants and broad shoulders….like the Exia for example. These are all great kits and they give each and every builder their share of Gunpla freedom. Although I have my favorite mobile suits, I have bought kits that have more or less been entirely based on the aesthetics of it….. maybe a pure war machine… but this is generally not why I buy a kit.
The second category I’ve noticed is the builders that go out to build the rare or complex and expensive kits with immense levels of details and often gimmicks and tricky bits requiring a little more patience and confidence than the general kits. Although I’m no expert, I think that the resin guys would potentially fall in to this category based on the extra mile one has to go to find these kits or conversion dress-up kits and the level of extra work and skillz needed to make it all happen. I’d have to say that I fall ever so slightly on the outer edge of this category. I am always looking for a kit that requires that little extra time and patience to fit it all together right and have the panels sliding and moving and showing the awesomeness of the Bandai engineers…..and the kit that comes to mind right now is the Sazabi Ver Ka. Although I bought it for a number of reasons, it really is one of those kits. A little extra work and patience required but by golly in the end I reckon it’s just mesmerizing.
Now the third category is probably where about 95% of my kit purchases come from. You see, I’m a pretty massive Universal Century (U.C.) fan. I’m a wee bit of novice military history buff although I can’t really stomach all the death these days (ironic right) so with the U.C. I am able to study and enjoy a fictional military history (which at times seems more non fiction than fiction to be honest) but because it’s just little old cartoons, no one really gets hurt. Best of both worlds.
And so as I was guided by some of the most knowledgeable Gundam lore mentors through 43 episodes of the original ‘Mobile Suit Gundam’ and then 50 episodes of ‘Zeta’ and all the One Year War type OVA’s in between I started to see the plot and the characters. The heroes and villains. The goodys and the baddys. I saw particular battles swayed by a particular mobile suit. I saw the advancement in technology as suits changed and adapted to the ‘Newtype’ pilot. I've since moved on to 'ZZ' but the going is slow. The first Gundam anime I actually watched was ‘Unicorn’ and as you can imagine, it was incredibly confusing. It was an awesome spectacle and I sorta got the plot, but it was a lot more enjoyable the second time round once I’d filled in the plot with a zillion hours of other Gundam anime. But as a result of watching ‘Unicorn’ the first time, even totally uneducated, my third and fourth kits purchased were the RX-0 [Destroy Mode] and Sinanju, both in HG, proving that the heroes and the plot and the struggle that the two mobile suits represented, were key to why I purchased kits. And of course coz the Sinanju is a kick ass mobile suit…still in my personal top 5.
Once I got my head around the friends and foes of the U.C. I was able to focus more on the aesthetics of the timeline and to me they are the most mechanical and technically appeasing mobile suits of any timeline. I see the occasional exception and I get a niggling to buy that kit but for me there’s just something fundamentally ‘war machine’ about U.C. mobile suits. Now in saying that, I’ve recently finished watching ‘Iron Blooded Orphans’ and although I find most of the mobile suits just totally structurally silly, I have a couple of the key character suits in HG….Barbatos and Gusion Rebake Full City….primarily because of the struggle and the epicness of those suits as characters and the actual characters that piloted those suits. I am able to overlook my personal aesthetic requirements in order to see these kits on my shelf, bringing to life in a way, the struggle of Mikazuki and Akihiro as true anime warriors.
My initial outlay of Gunpla dollars was as I watched the ‘Origin’ series I confided in my U.C. sensei and ordered 8 HG Origin kits starting at the MW-01 working through the Guntank and a bunch of Zaku’s and the Iron Cavalry Guncannon. And as I built the kits and weathered them, I reflected on their part in the timeline. Like the YMS-03 WAFF seems like a bit of a ‘meh’ type kit….but that mobile suit was the first to run a fusion generator developed by Professor Trenov Y. Minovsky. When I had that kit in my display cabinet, I felt I was staring at a museum piece. After the Origin project (which is almost done… just a couple of Zaku’s to go) I took a similar approach to ‘Stardust Memory’. This time there were a lot of GM’s to build and it was great, again to see the moments of fictional history frozen in my display cabinet.
Now as I said, this is by no means a comprehensive list of reasons to buy a Gunpla kit nor am I in any way trying to persuade you to one reason or the other. But what I would like to highlight is that there is never ever a reason to be bored with Gunpla. There are so many different timelines and mobile suit designs to explore. Get to a build meet and you will see what other people are buying and building and it might be right there that you see your next purchase and build but would never have considered it from pics on the interwebs. And if you are all about aesthetics, then maybe an episode or two might only enhance your building experience. And if you’re a timeline limited builder, then maybe something out of your box will give you the opportunity to try some new techniques because you're not as attached to that particular mobile suit and the design of the suit might teach you something new about your skills you didn’t know you had. So go out enjoy the freedom of Gunpla and where possible, keep an open mind because you may be a hardcore U.C. fan now but some day you might just be mad about SD kits coz they’re just a whole lotta fun.
(Some images in this article were used with permission from the 'Gundam Meme's Official' Facebook group. If any of these images are yours and you'd like them taken down or given credit for then please contact us ASAP and we shall do so with out any issue at all)