The Quarantine Builder
Hello everyone, this is the MightyJoe. As many of you are aware the world has changed drastically in 2020 and trying to keep yourself entertained in this lockdown can be hard at times especially when it seems that all forms of mainstream media has slowed down. That is why I wanted to share with you my journey of how I got into customizing Gunpla during this pandemic! Hopefully with this you may feel inspired to take that first step and buy that first kit you have had your eye on and create something unique and yours!
Reading Time: 5-10 minutes
In this post I will detail my journey as follows:
1. Why Gunpla?
2. My first Build, Excitement Embodied?
3. Custom Quarantine Gunpla
4. Finding my mojo
5. What is next?
Like many of you I first experienced the Gundam franchise as a 90’s child watching Toonami on Cartoon Network. From the moment I saw the reel for the launch of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing I was in awe. The sheer power of what I then thought were “robots” and the awesome designs of the Gundam’s was something that immediately drew me to go to my nearest toy shop and beg my father to buy me a Wing Gundam action figure. These of course were not Gunpla kits but I still have many memories of playing with them and unfortunately breaking them as well.
Like most things in life, I outgrew the action figures for video games, then sports, then a social life. It is not until lockdown and with time to kill stumbled upon Gunpla. I was immediately drawn to the concept of building something so awesome from such tiny pieces! Seeing all the custom works inspired me to buy my first kit. But I knew nothing of the hobby, so I decided to investigate…
My first Build, Excitement Embodied?
At this point I knew I wanted a Gunpla kit, but I had no idea of where, how, or what to buy. Unfortunately living in Mexico there are very little to no Gunpla shops. So, I did what any person during lockdown does. Impulsively shop on Amazon.
The first results on Amazon were a bit pricey, but then I saw a “discount” marker for an RG Strike Freedom Gundam. The design and poses of what were shown in the description convinced me immediately. I confirmed the purchase and just got a pair of cheap nippers, files, and a cutting mat. In my mind I was ready to dive deep into the world of Gunpla. Boy, was I in for surprise!
From the moment I opened the box and saw the number of runners and the instructions in Japanese I felt intimidated. To be honest I put everything immediately back in the box and put off building it for a couple of weeks.
Once I finally got the courage to start building, I found that the instructions were easy enough to understand by the diagrams and at this point I had watched some basic Gunpla tutorials. I made big mistakes, this in combination with the fact it was an early RG led me to complete the build in 3 weeks and only on the weekends and sometime during work hours since I was now working from home due to the pandemic. (Just do not tell my boss) Nevertheless, I powered through and the result is below. Not too bad for a newbie, right?
RG Strike Freedom Gundam
Custom Quarantine Gunpla
With more time on my hands since work started to slow down even more. I knew that what I wanted to do is customize a kit. Like all the famous content creators on YouTube and Instagram. The only problem was how could a mere mortal like me begin to create custom Gunpla? Well yet again like most people who want to learn something do I went to Youtube and typed in “How to customize Gunpla” and boom there it was first option the one and only StudioG! I watched his videos on “How to start customizing Gunpla for beginners” and the “How to paint a Gunpla” Little did I know that I would one day be writing a blog on his official site!
I immediately purchased a cheap airbrush and compressor on amazon. After testing out the airbrush on some spoons then ruining my collection of 30-minute missions kits I felt ready to step into the unknown world of airbrushing.
I chose the Grandaddy RX-78-2 Beyond Global as my first custom. I just loved the overall classic colors, but with the updated silhouette. After testing out the airbrush on some spoons and then ruining my collection of 30-minute missions kits as well. I went to town on the kit. I will not bore you with specifics, but with this build I learned the importance of using a good primer., being patient before you put the parts back together and knowing when to stop and replan a paint job.
I had finally completed what I had set out to do months ago. Customize a Gunpla model kit. I will not lie, this kit has its errors, but boy did I feel like a million dollars when It was up there on my shelf.
HG RX 78-2 Beyond Global
Finding my mojo
From seeing all the amazing creators, I have always felt more drawn to appreciate the builds that have vibrant colors contrasted with neutral toned-down colors parts to give it that real mecha vibe. However, I found that in the creative process not everything that you dream up of translates well onto the finished product. There is something else that needs to be added. The secret ingredient. I believe Austin Powers calls it mojo.
How does one find their Gunpla Mojo? Well for me it was trying something new out. With that in mind I chose the Kimaris Vidar and Vidar to kitbash and just have fun planning and executing a theme, the theme was: a dual wielding golden guns Gundam. That is, it. Easy and simple. Who does not love a dual wielding Gundam?
The process suffered mainly due to the fact that my cheap airbrush was on its last legs. Overall, the experience this time around was more enjoyable than with the Grandaddy and I truly felt like I had found a style of building and process that I enjoyed!
HG Vidar / Kimaris Vidar Custom
Applying everything I learned from the Vidar kit bash build. I followed through with the same process, but with a slight modification. I was used to separating all the pieces and priming, painting, and coating everything together. This made for some slight headaches in the build process for me especially since I would sometimes confuse parts and forget what color they were in. So, I decided to work by body parts. This has eased the process and I have found it has enabled me to provide more attention to detail for every part.
Applying this new method, I customized my first Zaku II, a legendary grunt that deserves all the love in the world!
HG ORIGIN ZAKU II C-6/R-6
What is Next?
With this hobby it is easy to get ahead of oneself and shoot for the stars immediately, I have found that like any goal in life you must plan smaller goals to achieve the overall bigger goal. With my most recent build, the Try Age Magnum, I focused on applying the full painting process from A to B. Taking my time with each coat and not rushing to get the parts completely colored. I have also worked more on my masking and color separation.
HG Try Age Magnum Custom
Well, here we are four customs in and with a defined process for building, concept creation, planning and execution. As for what is next, I will be taking a deep dive into the world of scribing. I can honestly say I am excited for this new part of the journey.
If you have made it this far, I hope you have found this entertaining and informative. If not, well then, I still win since you read this far! All jokes aside. I want to encourage you to keep on building and trying new things. The world of Gunpla is limitless. There are no right or wrong ways of creating things and overall, the best advice I can give you is to have fun and acknowledge UC is the best timeline…
If you have enjoyed my work and would like to support me on my journey, please feel free to follow me on Instagram @themightyjoe_g. Leave a comment below and let me know what my next work should be? I am thinking, Tequila buster Gundam? I am a Neo Mexico Citizen after all.
This is TheMightyJoe signing off. Stay safe, stay indoors and happy building!