There I was again, perusing the local hobby store and came across a whole aisle dedicated to kits of these Gundam things. “Gun-Damn! What’s this all about?!”, I wondered. Turns out these kits are models based on a Japanese anime TV series featuring giant robots or mobile mech suits. It seems quite a popular franchise in Japan, with 2014 sales figure for Gundam toy & hobby items of about 18 billion yen. In Japan the models and the hobby of assembling them is known as Gunpla, combination of the words Gundam and Plastic model.
Then there’s the makers of these kits, majority of which I saw from a company called BanDai. I’ve not seen any kits from these guys before, but the quality is outstanding. There was no cleaning of the parts required apart from where they attach to the sprues and the quality of the plastic looks and feels first class, and the best part – No glue required. You can even get away without painting them as many of the parts come already coloured. Another interesting thing with these models is the fact that they often have articulated parts, wrists, elbows, shoulders, head, torso, hips, knees, ankles. To facilitate this a different plastic is used for the joint parts.
Being predominantly huge in Japan the kit instructions are in…you guessed it Japanese. But this is not really a problem, as the steps and graphics are really well done meaning that you could probably be from out of this world and still be able to put it together.
With no need for glue and very little painting, the construction process is pretty relaxed and straight forward. Without painting this Gundam Airmaster could take an hour to complete. But after looking at the colour images of the finished Gundam on the box and instruction manual, I decided to in fact add some colour and shading in places to give it that little extra something. To be honest, while painting is not required, I’m glad I went to the extra effort and suffice it to say the build took much, much longer than an hour.
As models go, I’m struggling to find a negative about these kits, if anything, maybe the price is a bit on the high side. Some Gunpla kits can seem a bit expensive, sometimes it depends on the specific model, and even then, given the quality, no need to glue and since painting is really optional, it’s pretty good value.
As for the TV series, I’m yet to get into it. I watched a few minutes of one, didn’t really do much for me, I can
appreciate anime, but it’s not something I would normally go out of my way to watch. But that doesn’t preclude one from appreciating and building cool looking mech models like these 😀
What makes the Airmaster model even more interesting is that it can actually transform into an aircraft. Which is pretty neat, how many scale kits are made such that you can actually transform them.
Here’s a few more images of the completed kit.
And here’s the Airmaster in action…