Not Exactly A Newtype: 009 - We Are Family
So before I start this article officially… I just have to say at this very moment I am like 4/5 done building the RG Titans Mk II and holy cow I am in love. I’m sure any of you that have built it will totally agree. It’s the best 1/144 kit I’ve built of the 20 or so in my cabinet including two other RGs… the Z’Gok and the GP01Fb…both amazing kits but this Mk II is something special. The best part is, I have the AUEG version in my stash also!!!
Soooooo on with the show, yeah.
Now I generally don’t think of titles for my articles until the article is finished. I sorta plug along typing out my thoughts around a particular topic or train of Gunpla thought with a general idea of where I want us (you and me) to be after approximately 1,500 words. But this time from the get go, I wanna call this article ‘We Are Family’. Super cheesy and huggy and peace lovin’ hippy stuff. I won’t deny it. The reason being, the people I’ve met through Gunpla are by far some of the nicest down to earth people I’ve come across in all of my nearly 45 years of life. Personally, I’m not really a nerd. I’m your typical husband slash dad that grew up with Star Wars and Transformers and digs a bit of retro pop culture and so on. I’m one of those nerds that says “I’m not a nerd”.
But in fact, turns out I am.
It just wasn’t until I found that Gunpla people are my people…..and they…are nerds.
So when I rocked up to my very first Gunpla build meet about 6 months ago with the ‘Gunpla Brisbane Build Group’ (GBBG), I was faced with about 5-6 guys of varying levels of scruffiness and demeanor with varying levels of vocabulary and mannerisms. And I really felt I was a fish out of water. I didn’t take anything to build. I was like 2 weeks old in Gunpla age and I was just a little tiny baby that needed to be fed and cuddled and have my nappy changed and I needed to be educated in the world and workings of Gunpla. So for about 4-5 hours, I talked and talked and never shut up and asked 3 million questions and listened to these 5 or 6 guys yack on about all sortsa nerdy stuff. I still felt a little outta the vibe, but something was setting in. As much as the language was different and the terminology was not my usual banter, I was starting to really feel at home with these guys. When the meet ended I had walked away really identifying with a few of the guys. I mean everyone there were beaut and I got along, but it was clear I’d found at least a couple of guys I could identify with. Just normal peeps....that built Gunpla. Kinda like me.
As I drove home that afternoon, I thought about whether I was gonna meet up with those nerds again. And I could not think of a single reason why not. I felt liberated. I felt I could unleash my inner nerd (as newbie as it was) and there was no judgement. No criticism. Oh yeah, I was gonna be wrong about stuff, but the guys accepted my newbness and gently corrected me. I was in their world now and I had to know my place. But it wasn’t really that big a deal. The purpose of the meet wasn’t like some awkward council meeting where everyone decides what’s right and what’s wrong. It was just a weird kinda picnic in a comic store building plastic model robots talkin about ‘Deadpool’ and ‘Star Wars’ and yeah…Gundam and Gunpla.
My inner nerd had been totally released. So I returned for a second meet about 3-4 weeks later and it just got better. I saw a couple of familiar faces, a couple of new faces, new kits, new anime knowledge. I was growing as a builder at home but I was growing as a Gunpla fan because of the build meets. I can say right now that at least 75% of the reason I am where I am in my Gunpla journey is due to these build meets, these people, these nerds….they liberated me.
When you find a good group of like minded people, regardless of the reason you are all united, it’s just infectious. Everyone sees the same picture. A common direction. A sole purpose. And as the weeks went on I got to know more and more of the builders at the meets and I had contact chatting via messenger in between meets. Even had a couple of garage builds with a few here and there in between meets. It became even more apparent to me that the build meets weren’t so much about building for me… but more about meeting. I build at home. Whenever I want. I got plenty of time for that. So when I go to one of our build meets I make sure I don’t take anything that’s going to take up too much of my brain power to the point where I can’t enjoy the company of fellow builders and communicate and laugh and be a free nerd running wild in the fields of nerdness frolicking aloft clouds of pure fluffy nerdness.
Now some of you are reading this and thinking this guy is bonkers and needs his head checked. And I think if you take your Gunpla very very seriously, then yes, from your perspective, you may well be right. But this build group taught me the very opposite. Yes. Learn from others in the group. Discuss technique and materials and kits and all the cool modeling stuff. But I think most importantly, enjoy the company of people just like you. Coz you and I both know, sometimes when you tell your family or your non Gunpla friends about your interest……obsession….with plastic model fantasy robots…..they often look at you like you’re a little kid and you need to grow up. And you know what that’s their opinion and that’s ok right.
But have you ever noticed they’re often the same people that’ll spend 5-10 hours a weekend watching sport, or they watch ‘CSI Murder Death Town’ five nights a week. That’s their way of escaping. Their way of letting it all go. Often they’ll watch the sport or murder death TV with someone else. Maybe with multiple people. And sometimes……they’ll actually go to a sporting match…with lots of other sports loving people and share the experience. But do we poke our finger at them and suggest they need to grow up and come back to the real world? Well, not to their faces anyways. But you get my point. This our way of kicking back with our kinda people totally uninhibited nerdness. Pure freedom to build and chat and swap stories whether they be Gunpla related or not.
To me, a really important and amazing aspect of our particular group is that we have formed friendships outside the build meets. We’ve had builders with new babies and we are all there on Facebook to let ’em know how great it is and wish them well. We’ve had guys needing to move house all of a sudden and boom there are people lining up to help out with hands and vehicles making sure that builder gets what he/she needs to be home safe with their family. It really doesn’t take much to reach out and see that someone needs a hand, and the wider community is so insular in this day and age and the concept of a village looking out for its own seems to be almost nonexistent, so the build group is our village.
This is legit. You won’t see this at a scale modeling expo because it’s all very serious and people have their hard work out on display to be judged and there’s some pressure. Generally, you won’t see this so much on Facebook groups as there’s that air gap between the actual humans; a sorta sterility. It’s easy to type “ohhh too bad your house burnt down man I hope you get setup soon”. But it’s a whole different level of human interaction to see someone who walks in to a build meet maybe a little shy or down or you just don’t know them and 4-5 hours later you are best of buddies and talkin’ all sorts of crap and ribbing each other and you realize that humanity just got a little tiny bit less shit. That….is a special moment for me my friends…and it’s because of Gunpla.
Since that first meet I attended with 5 or 6 guys, the group has grown every single meet which has occurred every month for the past 6 months. We have great group admins that love Gunpla as much as the rest of us….some of them undoubtedly more…..a level of commitment rarely witnessed, and that is leading from the front. Setting the example. And each week as new faces turn up to the build meets they are taken in to the fold and shown that they have found their people. We have friendly build offs for Ramen. We have a great symbiotic relationship with a beaut local hobby store that is keepin’ our addiction well and truly serviced. And our village grows in both numbers and stature. I think its safe to say every one of us comes to the build meets not necessarily to build…but more so to meet.
So if you don’t have a local group, then find one or two other local builders and meet. Soon, you’ll have four or five and it’ll grow. Build it….they will come.
And if there’s already a local build group then get off ya butt and attend the meets and put more human back in your Gunpla life. Go out and find your family.
(Some images in this article were used with permission from the 'Gundam Meme's Official' Facebook group. Other images in this article were found via Google image search. 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)