A Simple Guide and Theory into Kitbashing
Xin chao everybody, it’s ya boi Brandon the Gunpla Chef, coming at you with another blog post. This time, I want to share with you all a simple tutorial on my most favorite aspect of plamo/gunpla building. And that is KITBASHING.
My old friend Shakespeare always have this to say whenever this topic is mentioned:
“To Bash or NOT to Bash, THAT is the question” quoted William T. Shakespeare (The T stand for Tyrone)
Yeah, he is a BOOMER alright!! But as a fellow boomer myself, who listens to 80s City Pop albums on repeat everyday while I cook the Chicken Lo Mein, I do agree with what he is saying. There are definitely A LOT of things one should be wary of and need to learn before proceeding with their kitbash project. And hopefully this blog post will give everyone a general direction on how to start. So, without further ado, let us open the curtain on this stage and begin our comedy (not tragedy).
Read Time: 9-10 Minutes
Disclosure: There are funny and wholesome hyperlinks in this blog post which are Amazon Affiliate Links. When you click on them and buy something (at no extra cost), I will be getting myself a little bit of commission money. It might not be much, but it is definitely going toward my funding to buy my seaside mansion I’ve always dreamed of. So, if you’d like to support me dear readers, this is one way to do it.
I will be covering the following:
What Is A Kitbash?
Since I am a “qualified expert” in the field of kitbashing (and not totally just copy pasting this from a Wikipedia article) I shall enlighten those stray lambs, who have not yet seen the light. Kitbash, in the simplest way to explain it, is to create a completely new model kit or improve upon an existing one by combining parts from at least two or more model kits together.
An example of a Kitbash I’ve done using parts from the Gundam Vidar and Gundam Bael.
Whether you are a seasoned Gunpla builder ready to take your creation to the Gunpla Battle Nexus and fulfill your weeb’s fantasy of scoring yourself a virtual waifu (who is probably a man). Or maybe you are just a beginner who is completely new to the gunpla/plamo customizing game and wanting to level up your said game. We all at one point in our journey with this wonderful hobby, have stumbled upon and have done a kitbash.
I don’t really consider kitbashing to be rocket science. Some have perfected it like our dear Justin-senpai (StudioG), some have grasped the fundamentals and have done a few like moi (said in a sassy and rather high pitch French accent) and some have no idea on how to begin. There is no gatekeeping when it comes to kitbash. You can even do a kitbash as your first kit, as it is very simple to learn. However, just like with everything that comes with this hobby, it is hard to fully master and it will take a long time before you learn to create a perfect kitbash.
I would love to write more but I am not exactly fond of writing a 92 page thesis on one simple thing like those Evangelion fanboys. I mean, how much can one write and theorize about a simple elevator scene? Ridiculous. So, I think we can move on. Just like Hercules who is willing to GO THE DISTANCE (hopefully Disney won’t ruin it just like the rest of their god-awful live action remakes), we are going to start our journey from humble beginnings and learn how to Kitbash.
How To Kitbash
If I were to generalize things and make it simple to understand for our dear readers, the workflow of a kitbash would go like this:
Pick your MAIN kit --> Get a 2nd kit --> Take COOL parts from the 2nd kit --> Find a spot to place the COOL parts --> SUPERGLUE!!! --> Rinse and Repeat if necessary
And while that is true, it will leave you with a result looking like this:
And while you might say “hmm, I don’t think it looks that bad, Chef”, I will have to clarify that it is not my proudest project. And it is the biggest example of the mistake every single person will make the first time when it comes to kitbashing. NOT PLANNING AHEAD. Everything that you see in that picture is put together through a bunch of junk parts. There was no clear idea or direction at all and it violates many of the Big 5 Principles of Kitbashing beside the first one, which I will talk about later. So, the very FIRST step you will need to know when doing a kitbash is to do some PLANNING.
A good plan and general direction are always the first thing to think about when it comes to either kitbashing or doing any type of model kit customizing. What are the kits that you will be bashing? Will it be easy to bash them together? Could I pull it off without painting? If I have to paint, what are the color schemes I should go with? The list goes on.
To start off, you have to visualize in your head what the final product is going to look like, down to the details and color scheme. Make sure to note that down or even better, use Photoshop or similar photo editing software and take random Gundam photos and mix them together to have a sort of prototype. You will be using this as reference as you work on your kitbash. Another method is to play Gundam Breaker 3 if you have a PS3 or PS4. It is a good game and its extensive Gunpla customization will allow you to prototype with ease while having fun. I think you can get it on PlayAsia for around 30 dollars.
Gundam Breaker 3 is a great game for easy prototyping.
The next step is to visit sites like Dalong.net or HobbySearch and find the manual of kits you will be bashing. What you want to achieve during this step is to figure out whether the kitbash process will be as simple as just swapping hands and head around, or whether it will be more complicated than you initially planned and you will have to buy more parts and do some extra customizing. I usually spend most of my time with this process before I start kitbashing.
And finally, once you have all things planned out, it is just a simple process of putting everything together, making sure everything fits as planned and putting on your paint job so that you can make the kit your very own.
Your best friend here is going to be Blu Tack. These are sticky and easy to use. They are reusable and they are perfect for prototyping. Heck, sometimes they are so good for sticking parts together, I ended up just using them in the final product instead of supergluing. Tamiya Cement is also a very crucial ingredient for this equation. The one I used is the Extra Thin version (as I don’t usually glue huge pieces together). Once everything is fitted and/or glued/cemented together, process as usual with the painting, panel lining and decaling. I don’t really need to go into detail how to do these steps now, do I?
My friends and fellow content creators, LeoNelBuilds and JettoHobby have amazing blog posts (which you can read here and here) on this site about how to paint and apply weathering so you should definitely check them out if you need help and reference for this step.
I was inspired by JettoHobby choice of color for this particular kitbash.
This is totally optional but of course, let’s not forget about the extra stuff like panel line scriber, masking tapes, the whole nine yards. If you are going to do a kitbash and painting, might as well experiment around with adding in extra customization. And since this step is optional, it goes without saying that a beginner can try to experiment with it but not stress about it too much. You don’t want to run before you learn how to walk. Or as we always say it in the Asian culinary world “trying to cook the General Tso’s Orange Chicken before you learn to cook the Egg Fried Rice”.
Once everything is done and the top coat is applied, you have yourself a nice display piece to add to your collection.
And with that, I have covered everything that you will need to know. I believe you are now ready to start with your kitbash project by following the simple steps I mentioned above. However, there are still some “theory lessons” that you can take away home before you do so and that is:
The Big 5 Principles of Kitbashing
Before I was the great chef I am today, I studied graphic design at my university. And back then, one of the lessons that was taught to us was the principle of design. It dictates 5 to 7 things you need to know to heart in order to create a good looking design. These can range from color choices, the harmony of shape and texture of things, how big and how small certain elements should be and how they are placed, etc. In short, they are basically the Dos and Don’ts of graphic design if you want to have a good design.
Fast forward to after graduation when I begin to work in the restaurant as an apprentice cook. I was also taught the four basic principles of cooking. These are Salt, Acid, Fat and Heat. These are some mundane 4D Chess level science mumbo jumbo, dictating the specific amount of salt you should use, the heat of your flame, the richness of your fat usage without making it overpowering, etc. In short, they are basically the Dos and Don’ts of cooking if you want to have a nice flavorful dish (not that Hwite people could pull this off anyway due to the lack of MSG in their cooking, but I digress).
So why am I telling you these things? Well, just like with graphic design and cooking, kitbashing also has its own set of principles that you should follow in order to make good looking kitbash efficiently. They always say that Gunpla is Freedom, but there are always a set of rules to follow and certain limits to all of that. Again, basically the Dos and Don’ts.
There are 5 principles and while the wok is still hot, I will be going through them with you all one by one.
Before you start pulling your trigger on your brand new kitbash project, think about the cost. How much are you willing to pay in order to get this kitbash done and is it worth it in the end? Take a look at this picture here of a kitbash someone did:
Amazing and mind blowing isn’t it? But what if I were to tell you, in order to replicate what that builder did, you will have to use 2 to 3 MG kits? I can see elements of the MG ReZel, MG Full Armor Unicorn, etc. Last time I checked, a Full Armor Unicorn MG costs around 80 bucks a piece in certain stores (not including shipping). To recreate this kit in the picture you will have to force your wallet to commit sudoku by squeezing it dry to the very last drop. On top of that you will have a bunch of leftover parts that you won’t need. Talk about being wasteful (in theory).
Kitbashing is EXPENSIVE. And because it is expensive, you should always use your wallet and budget wisely. NEVER buy a brand new kit or expensive kit in order to salvage one small part to add to your kitbash. If your concept and design plan is demanding for such parts, try to find them through second hand stores which sell these kits cheaper or broken thrown away kits that people don’t need anymore. I usually call these “Scraps”. In Asia, you can get a bucket full of them for a price of just 5 bucks.
If you are living in Europe (like I do) and North America/Canada then you best try your luck looking through a Yahoo Auction. There is always a seller online selling scraps for a decent price plus shipping.
Alternatively, if you have been building gunpla for a long time, chances are you will have a lot of spare parts lying around. So, make sure to give them a check to see if you already have the parts that you need before deciding to buy more. Remember that bad kitbash project of mine? It was constructed with 100% spare parts, therefore adhering to the rule of this principle.
Harmony is the most important thing to consider when making a kit bash. You don’t want to mix a match random element together just for the sake of mixing. Square and sharp edge design should not be mixed with round and curvy ones. Some ideas might be good in concept but can become an abomination when you wake up from your midsummer night fever dream.
And what a trippy dream it was.
This is not 100% true but a general rule of thumb for easier harmony is to kitbash kit from the same show or similar faction together. A kit from 00 timeline usually does not fit well with something from Universal Century. A Zaku head would look really weird on a Gundam body. But the reason why I said this rule is not 100% true is because sometimes you can break that rule if you can fit everything seamlessly together. After all, you should try to be creative and experimental with your kitbash (but not too much).
For example, this kitbash here from another builder which is this HG Barbatos and Wing Gundam Fenice Kitbash (see pic). Everything fits together harmoniously and the parts don’t feel like they are clashing with each other. That is an example of good harmony when kitbashing while still keeping the creativity intact.
The title says it all. Are your parts fitting with each other? Generally, it is often easier to kitbash when you have a kit that shares a similar build structure and parts fit together snuggly. The same can be said about cooking: Does this hamburger sauce fit on a pizza instead of normal mayonnaise? Are you sure that hot dog water can be used to cook this bowl of ramen?
Certain things are not meant to fit with each other. And while you can argue that with enough time, superglue and skill, you can make it fit, I don’t particularly agree 100%.
Sometimes, it is faster and more efficient if you choose to go the route with the least hassle when it comes to kitbashing. This straight peg won’t fit into this ball jointed hole? Instead of making a completely scratch built ball joint, try first by seeing if there are other easier alternatives or adapters that you can use.
Here is an example of this rule in action: I want these wings to have more articulation. A more technical builder might be creating something completely new from scratch by cutting and glueing stuff together. But yours truly? I chose the more efficient route and applied the rule I’ve learned:
Simply taking the leg joint part from a left over HGIBO kit as a connection and now my wings can flap around easily.
This is the least important rule to follow out of the 5 principles but I will mention it regardless.
Can your kit still move after you put a ton of armor and weapons on top of it? Can it still stand for that matter?
Harmonious-looking-parts-that-actually-fit sometimes tend to limit articulation due to the fact that it's, well, not made for that kit. So, when doing a kitbash, it is often good to keep in mind the articulation of the final product and do extra modifications such as cutting off a peg then and there or sanding down parts that may have taken too much space.
For example, with my Amazing Astraea kitbash (see pic), I decided to include these 2 cool side skirts with thrusters to the side of the legs. While they are big and bulky, they are not at all hindering the articulation of the waist nor the bottom half of the body. This is because the holes that I plug these side skirts in are originally where you would put the smaller GN Swords on the Exia and Astraea.
Having a nice display piece is awesome. But having one that you can play with afterward is much better!!!
This rule is simple. Make sure that when you are doing a kitbash, you are able to take it apart easily. This can either be for painting or for doing extra customizing or for test fitting other parts. Because you do not want to end up in a situation where EVERYTHING IS SUPERGLUED together and you cannot reverse the damage.
Like this backpack I made for my Uraven Extreme Gundam (pic). It consists of simple Kotobukiya thruster parts, attached to a small peg which I can plug into the hole at the top of the Core Gundam II’s shield backpack thingy. Nothing is superglued together and I can easily change them out if I want to in the future.
Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box and using other brand parts in your kitbash project. These Kotokubiya’s M.S.G (not the MSG for cooking) are amazing.
In closing, being new to this world of kitbash can be quite stressful to say the least. But stress also means that you're leveling up. You're not content with just swapping head and body anymore, you don’t want to stick with just superglue, you explore the possibilities of putty, builder's parts etc. After a few builds, you'll eventually want to do more, you'll want to explore more options, find better parts, heck, even build your own parts! The possibilities are endless here but I hope that these tips and rules will give you a general idea of how to start.
I hope you all have found my perspective and advice on kitbashing both helpful and encouraging. Thank you for reading and extra thank you for those who attended the extra seminar on the Big 5 Principles. I might one day cover more on how I create the kits used in these pictures in more detailed blog posts.In the meanwhile, why not check out my Youtube channel? I review Gundam and Plamo kits and mix them up with cooking and comedy. Kitbashing is also one of the central focuses of my channel and I even have a separate section called Food Bash, which is about bashing food together. You should definitely check it out if it interests you. But for now, I hope you all have a pleasant day, build some more Gunpla, cook yourself a pleasant meal to go with them, and I’ll see you all at my next blog post.