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  • Writer's pictureGunpla Network

Not Exactly A Newtype: 013 - Making the Grades.

What up ye’all. I hope everyone is getting their required Gunpla time and making their wildest Gunpla dreams come true. Being the very end of July I think we can now say we’ve gone through the ‘hump month’ and we’d be looking towards Christmas and what kits we can mooch from our friends and families as part of the gift giving festive season. I know I’ve got a short list running and I’m wondering what Bandai might release between now and then or what early 2000’s kit might grab my attention and throw my whole list out of whack.

But it’s all part of the hobby right. Searching for the kits that tickle our fancy. We watch some anime for the 12th time and all of a sudden we’re in love with the Jagd Doga. We read a Manga comic and we realize the Crossbones suits are the best thing since white bread!!! Then, we scour the interwebs in search of the kit that best matches our expectations mimicking the form in which we first saw it…in the anime or Manga comic.

One of the deciding factors is often the old High Grade (HG) vs Master Grade (MG) decision. For some it’s a no brainer. We know guys that ONLY build HG. They like the size. The level of commitment required. The amount of display space required…..etc etc etc. We know guys that only build MG. The rewards can sometimes be greater due to the level of detail (def not always the case!). They can be a bit easier to manage as they are just physically larger. They can look more impressive on display…if that’s what you’re in to. The reasons for both HG and MG are numerous and varied and lets be frank there is no right or wrong answer. In fact this is not a question. Just a rhetorical statement and a topic that always leads me to discovering new and brilliant mobile suits.

Personally, I build both. Granted I have more HG than MG builds. Out of my 38 built kits so far, only 5 are MG. But I see each MG as worth at least 2-3 maybe 4 times the size and effort and at times reward, of a single HG. Then there’s the Sazabi Ver Ka which is like about 10 HG’s in one. I crap you not. The shield alone is a HG. The two weapons combined are equal to a HG. Each leg is like two HG’s each. It’s a beast and personally my most memorable Gunpla achievement yet due to the challenges and rewards I got from it. I have many HG’s and many many that I freakin love and when my daughter or wife asks me to choose my favorite build, the best I can do is a top 5 and in no particular order and that list could change week by week depending on what I’m building at the time and what I’m in to. I love all my childrenz!!! What I have noticed of late though, is that I think I, personally, lean slightly towards the Master Grade camp. I think it’s the sheer size and display star power that I get from an MG (based on the kits I’ve built so far) that makes it all feel so worth it. And yeah you've got to pick the right kit to get the zing thats for sure.

I don’t wanna ramble on about the Sazabi Ver Ka too much, I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned it every single blog since completing it…. but I won’t lie…. it had a huge Gunpla-psychological impact on me…not all positive throughout the build, but once the dust had settled and I showed a few people and they exclaimed that regardless of the my skills in the build, it’s a huge unit and it looks rad. Only then was I able to sit back and enjoy the result and see the details of the kit. The fine intricacies that Bandai and Katoki had woven in to the fabric of this kit. To me, based on my experience of 38 builds over 8 months, the Sazabi Ver Ka is the best of Bandai I have had the immense pleasure to complete and it will always be the bench mark for any future builds.

Why? I hear you ask. It taught me so much about the process of building a big kit. About building any kit for that matter. I literally built it 3 times. Such a newb!!! Or am I? First a full snap. Now I could see it as a whole kit and get an idea for what I was going to detail and where I was going to put the effort in. As much as I love to see inner frame detailed, I have only ‘X’ amount of time in a day, week and month and a bunch will be covered by armor so I pick my battles. So I take a million photos so I can refer back to the shots and once dissasembled I detail what’s going to be exposed. Then I rebuild the kit and do the waterslides (all 150 odd in this case) and panel line it. As much as I’d like to, I just can’t see the big picture enough to do panel lining and decals without the unit being assembled. And, in this case, because I’d chosen to use the Molotowe chrome pen for all the exposed Psycho Armor I had to choose between masking my life away or disassembling in order to put on the clear matter… I chose the latter.

Eventually it all went back together and I learnt some lessons, but the end result to me was stunning. It took me all up about 4-5 weeks with a few stagnant days when I was sort of over it. But yeah what a beast. Just looks the best and as I have said, has set the bar for me when it comes to having a challenging build that has nothing but rewards in the end. Infact it got me sorta in to longer big builds somewhat. Since that build I've found a HG build a bit quick and over before its started. That's just me yeah. The Sazabi build gave me a very tiny insight in to what the big gun GBWC builders must go through. I see the WIP pics of random parts of various colors all mish mashed together with like mint packets and ping pong balls and god knows what else and eventually it all becomes something very very amazing. So much work. So much reward.

Now in this case, the Sazabi Ver Ka is an extreme example and obviously there are many MG’s that feel just like a big HG and to be honest can be a little disappointing. But I’ve got a few others like the Stein, and RX-87-2 and a Gear Doga, and all offer that little bit more for me to hide in. The detail is there, I’ve only to pick it out. The size and shape is very apparent and I’ve only to build it clean and let it do its thing. Bandai has done the work I only need to enjoy it. And this is all in my eyes right. We often say we are our own worst critics but the fact is we should also be our own biggest fans. We each build primarily to our own standards knowing full well that even though we’re gonna share pics of our latest build, it is us that see’s it each day and sits on the chair with a coffee and admires our own work. I assume that’s why we all build. To admire our own work and our collection. That's me in a nutshell.

But…. The High Grade kits offer a very different type of work and reward process. And I am talking about High Grade in particular not 1/144 vs 1/100 coz thats a whole different kettle of fish, because a Real Grade kit, for example, offers a whole different level of work and a truly different level of reward over almost every High Grade out there. And well Perfect Grades. Maybe later huh. The HG is the kit a large percentage of builders will build first. Maybe, it’ll be a No Grade and that’s often a mistake in my opinion, because once you’ve built various kits and you decide to grab a cheap No Grade outa curiosity, you tend to be very disappointed. Good if you like polishing a turd, but I’m wayyyyy too lazy for that.

But the HG, as I have said, offers a different level of challenges and rewards. In most cases, a HG can be snapped up and look pretty cool. I know my first couple of HG’s sat untouched, no panel lining, no ‘gunking’ even. Just sat and looked rad. I posed them for hours just enjoying the remarkable replication of the mobile suits of the anime I was enjoying. Then with a little work, like some basic detailing of weapons and exposed inner frame and joint etc with even just markers, then a clear matte coat, the HG’s really started to come alive. Before I knew it I’d punched a whole bunch of them out and as my collection and display grew I was seeing how great these little kits could be.

As my skills slowly increased and I lurked around the online community looking for spells to add to my book and ways to add a little zing here and there I really started to love the HG builds. Generally, if I have a HG build on the bench, it’ll get snapped up in a single evening and then it will likely sit for a couple of days whilst I decide what I’m going to do with it. But…if I’ve got some time and space from my ‘real’ life it will be snapped up on a Friday night and completed with detailing, freestyle waterslides and a top coat, posed and pics posted… Sunday evening, having chipped away over the weekend. That’s the beauty, for me, of a HG. I'm not saying I put out a fantastic result, I mean I just love building them and I build em quickly. Nubs aren't perfect. Seams that some would say are unbearable. What seams? A HG is like a quick feed, as opposed to most MG’s being a banquet of several courses. Both forms being a satisfying experience in their own ways. The HG just allows me, at the end of the week, after making someone else rich for 8 hrs a day (not including travel to and from work), I can start Friday afternoon and chip away in the evenings and by the time I have to get back to making them rich again, I’ve got something to show for myself, and my hobby has given me the time to relax and satisfy me. The HG is like a quick paperback novel you could read on a long train trip, where as the MG is a Grisham novel that requires a little more attention and commitment. Both having a plot and purpose. Both well deserving of a spot in your collection.

And if you’re one to get into scribing and kitbashing then the HG offers a whole new level of challenges as they are just that bit trickier to work with due to smaller confined space and size. One aspect of HG builds I really really like is the fact that they take up less real estate and so if you’re running Detolf cabinets like me then the idea of a ‘Stardust Memory’ shelf or a ‘0079’ shelf…. is very feasible due to the fact you can fit 5-7 builds on each of those shelves leaving plenty of shoulder room and not making the display too cramped. MG’s on the other hand… I even mention the Sazabi again??? Let’s just say between the Sazabi and the Stein and all their bits and pieces, that’s pretty much a shelf done. But goddamnit…it’s a freakin rad shelf aint it!!! And that’s fine. There’s a lot to look at on that shelf. In saying that I have a shelf that’s got a Zaku II, RX-78-2 and Geara Doga, all MG’s, and there’s room to squeeze one more in there no worry’s so it’s all about how much you want to be able to enjoy your displays or whether you just want your kits built up and safe from the dust and cats regardless of shoulder room.

In the end….there is no better grade of kit. Each peaks the interest of different builders in different ways. Anyone that tells you there is a better grade of kit between the HG and MG, well, I dunno, I guess they’re wrong…horse for courses yadda yadda yadda. Both the High Grade and Master Grade offer a great experience and Bandai has sooooo much variety in both grades that there really isn’t a lot of reason to complain. Both grades have their own bases covered and collectively the two grades replicate the Gundam experience in model kit form brilliantly and the issue for most people is not whether I get a HG or and MG but more so which of the 35 HG’s/MG’s on my wish list to do I buy first.

Happy building peeps…. No matter what grade your cracking away at.

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