Ok, we saw in Part 1 what’s a gunpla, and which kinds of gunpla do exist. Let’s say you want to try to build one… what skills are needed? Is it hard? What tools and materials do you need? I’ll link some Amazon.com items just so you can see which exact object I mean, not as an endorsement (and I don’t have a referral).
The absolute bare minimum
You need an HG kit. Technically, that could almost be it: you could remove the pieces from the sprues (runners) by twisting them, and snap them together. Let’s just say this is less than optimal and you risk breaking stuff, and you’ll end up with a kit with a lot of problems, and let’s just forget this option forever :)
The actual minimum
You’ll need a kit, probably an HG kit is best to start with. Then you’ll need a side cutter. You can scrape by with a nail clipper, but that’s a bit barbaric: your plastic will be warped/discolored in the spot where you cut with it. A better option is using a proper side cutter (this Wave one is a cheaper and generally excellent alternative): they vary wildly in price so don’t splurge unless you’re sure you’ll use them in the future. Better, if you find another gunpla hobbyist in your area, ask if you can borrow their spare nippers. They’ll have a spare, trust me. The most important attribute of a side cutter (aka nippers) is that they cut flat and flush. Beware of the classic electrical wiring nippers, they generally cut in a v shape so they’ll leave a bigger mark (called a nub-mark in the hobby).
A good starter set
Now, the side cutters are a good start. The set of tools you’ll need if you think this hobby might be interesting is not much bigger, and it’s all stuff that will last you a long while:
- A cutting mat. You might have one already.
- A hobby knife/scalpel (aka X-acto knife for Americans). A sharp blade has several uses in the hobby.
- Hobby-level sandpaper, or sanding sticks, in 2/3 grits between 600 and 1500. In case you are wondering, nail-art emery boards are perfectly fine and many modelers use them.
The cutting mat is obvious: it’s just a good surface to work on, will safeguard your table from the hobby knife, and so on. The knife can come very handy in the process of “nub removal”, as will the sandpaper.
Other useful provisions
The amount of stuff a modeler can amass is limitless, but there are some other provisions that will come in handy soon if you build more than 1 gunpla:
- Tweezers. The sharpest the better, straight or bent. Useful to place tiny pieces, stickers, and so on.
- Small metal files. They can be handier to use than sandpaper.
- Plastic Cement. This is not exactly glue: it melts the parts and bonds them together. I know I said you don’t need glue… but it can be useful to fix broken pieces, and for other procedures (and, yes, to glue parts in place).
I think that’s enough for now. In a later post I’ll link some base instruction, info and techniques for newbies to the hobby… just know that the Internet is a cornucopia of useful info, tutorials, videos that will be absolutely vital.