One of my ongoing obsessions as of late has been with Gunpla, those wonderful little Gundam Model kits that you can find in hobby shops. Not-so-little in this case, however, as I obtained a much larger Gunpla kit as a Christmas present. A Master Grade Nu Gundam, to be exact, with Master Grades being 1/100 scale as opposed to the 1/144 High Grades. Being that this was my first ever Master Grade, I figured it would be worthwhile to record my impressions of it and the trials and tribulations of building it.
The first thing I noticed about this was that it’s HUGE as compared to HG Gunpla boxes, or even other Master Grades I’d seen. The Version Ka edition of the Nu Gundam is far more complex than the standard version, which of course means it has more parts. In retrospect it might have been a better idea to start with something simpler, containing maybe a few thousand less parts.
Speaking of parts, this kit has a ridiculous number of them. It contains something like 25 runners, with about a billion tiny pieces on every runner. I would have taken a picture of them all laid out, but knowing that this was going to be a multi-part project, I wanted to cut into as few bags as possible. This turned out to be an exercise in futility, however, as we shall see later.
I should also mention that the instructions for this were far more complicated than any other Gunpla manual I’d ever seen. Aside from being a full-on booklet as opposed to a fold-out pamphlet, the instructions had specific sections dedicated to individual body parts, with a long list of all the body parts listed on the side of each page. Just that tiny little touch to let you know how massively far away you are from finishing it.
After deciding I’d put off the actual building process long enough, I cut into the first bag and made the first incision. The target of today’s project was the torso, beginning with the cockpit. I was intrigued to build the cockpit, as it was a detail missing from the high grades I’d previously worked on. The outer shell was easy enough, and the actual inner cockpit was fairly simple to put together.
Then the problems began.
Amuro, the Nu Gundam’s pilot, fit into his seat just fine. His seat, however, refused to easily slide into the back of the cockpit, and would often detach itself. To make matters worse, the control panel would not fit onto his seat at all, and I got the distinct feeling I had accidentally broken it, given how the connectors bent and split. I could get it close enough to looking right if I had it sitting perfectly still…
…but the moment I moved it even slightly, it would come lose and jostle about. The noise began driving me insane as I tried to assemble the rest of the chest, so I decided to try fixing it. Repeated attempts resulted in the cockpit just sustaining more damage, however, so I made the executive decision to simply revoke Amuro’s cockpit privileges.
Once I was finished with that and had returned to working on the chest, I came to a realization: My nippers were not up to the task. Many of these pieces were designed to fit in precisely and neatly so as to look nice and pretty, which meant they needed to have the nubs completely obliterated from existence. While the cheap nippers I’d picked up ages ago were fine for high grade kits, they simply did not cut it for something like this. Literally.
I managed to whittle down the nubs enough to get the pieces in place, but I was left with the distinct feeling that if I was gonna take this whole thing on, I’d need some better tools. Maybe next time…
My next pertinent observation was that I couldn’t read Japanese. This normally isn’t a problem, as Gunpla instructions come with nice picture guides and helpful icons letting you know what to put where and why you’re an idiot if you put that bit on first. But the instructions for this were a tad bit more detailed, with specific instructions for things like “pull this bit down and tilt the torso to the side so this bit of armor fits in” written in Japanese.
Sorta wish I’d figured that one out before I just rammed pieces in the hard way.
Now, remember how I said I wanted to only open the bags which I absolutely needed at this point? The people who made this clearly had other ideas, as I found myself constantly needing parts from runners in unopened bags. After a short while I’d opened nearly every bag, with runners stacked haphazardly at random. Had I been smarter, I would have kept the runners near the bags they came from. But unfortunately, intelligence and I do not go together.
When I’d started this, I figured I might get most of the torso finished in one go. As the night wore on and I struggled more and more with the simplest of tasks, however, I realized I’d be lucky to even get the chest completed. Mercifully, the later parts started coming together much more easily. I still found myself struggling to put stickers on properly, but the worst of my attempts were thankfully covered up with armor.
Finally, as I slowly reached my limit, I managed to complete the torso. It was a painful and confusing experience, but it came together looking halfway decent and was already miles ahead of any of the High-Grades I’d built. As I sat there, marveling at the thing I’d spent hours working on and contemplating how much longer I’d be hacking away at this thing, a single thought entered my head.
“I really need some better nippers.”
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