Hornet Hobbies is now stocking Gundam kits.
In 1979 Yoshiyuki Tomino and Hajime Yatate revolutionized anime by introducing political and military realism into the giant robot genre. No longer was an extraordinary robot piloted by lone wolf hero or a team of five plucky defenders of justice, in the Mobile Suit Gundam series the titular 17m mecha might be special, but only because it is a prototype. It is a machine, in need of maintenance, fuel and ammunition like any other, playing its part in a vast war between forces struggling for a united human government or the independent orbital colonies.
Since 1979 there have been numerous anime series, movies, comics and books that have given rise to hundreds of mecha designs, most of which have been released as snap-fit, styrene models by Bandai. Globally (especially in Asia), Gundam kits are responsible for most of the model kit sales in the world. One thing that greatly contributes to their popularity is the ability to stage the models in highly dynamic poses. This is thanks to an internal skeletal frame, which is a hallmark of these model kits.
The kits come in a variety of scales and complexity. These are usually labeled with a "Grade" designation. Here is a primer on the most common of these:
- HG - High Grade - 1/144 - older moulds that give a great introduction to the hobby with simple assembly
- HGUC - High Grade Universal Century - 1/144 - improved detail and quality kits
- RG - Real Grade - 1/144 - exceptional inner frame at a small scale providing the largest range of motion in each joint.
- MG - Master Grade - 1/100 - the highest standard of production and detail of mass market kits.
- RE/100 - Reborn-One Hundred - 1/100 - less complex and detailed kits that allow for the production of obscure or oversized designs that would be too costly to release as MG.
- PG - Perfect Grade - 1/60 - massive, highly complex, yet stunning kits released as limited editions.
Gundam and mecha modelling has been growing steadily in the western world. Recently Mig Jimenez published a book on weathering mecha kits - check it out here.
What is so satisfying about Gundam modelling is that you can get great looking results straight out of the box, or with modified and custom parts, or with a weathered or metallic shine paint jobs... as these four versions of the Master Grade Sazabi mobile suit demonstrate below.