Posted By Yomanman
Gunpla Part 3: Getting To Know Your Model
Posted by: Yomanman
Date: June 05, 2008
The contents of the typical Master Grade kit
The contents of the typical Master Grade kit

Let's assume you went out and bought your first model. You come home and clear off a space to begin assembly. You open the box and your motivation sinks into your shoes. The amount of parts is intimidating...There's a lot of stuff in that box, after all. You quickly feel overwhelmed. Flipping through the manual, you find no help from the foreign Moonspeak its written in.

Here's where you should pause and assess the situation. There are Do's and Don'ts of modeling, and unfortunately, these guidelines in the manual are indeed written in Japanese. Here are some valuable tips on safe and proper model building.


1. Plastic
Your model kit is made of a type of styrene, a safe substance except when inhaled, so be careful when burning parts for battle damage. It can be melted by acetone, thinner, and cyanoacrylate glues (Super Glue). Never soak or directly apply thinner to your pieces; they may seem okay for a moment but their molecular bonds will degrade and your part will become brittle, eventually breaking apart.

2. Read Ahead
Before you do anything, look over your instruction manual and make sure you're not missing any pieces. I've never encountered this problem, but its still sound advice. Also, read the entire assembly step before cutting all of the pieces off. Some steps are required before others.

3. Don't Fight It
Sometimes a piece just won't go where it should...probably because it's not supposed to go there! Instead of trying to push a square peg in a round hole, step back and re-read the instructions. Certain pieces do go on before others, so make sure of this.

4. Plan Ahead
Your model kit has been made to be snap-fit for easy construction, but not-so-easy disassembly. It takes only a moment to forget your strength and break off one of the pegs in its hole. You can fix this by cutting the peg down at an angle toward the base where it connects to the piece. This will allow a tight enough fit when fully inserted but won't cause you to damage the piece when you try to take it back off for painting or posing.

5. Keep Your Trash
Don't throw away the box or plastic trees. You'll be kicking yourself for a while if you toss out a part without thinking! You may not cut out the accessory pieces like the pilots or extra ammo clips and forget about them. Also, the spare plastic may come in handy. I use pieces for stirring sticks.

6a. Be Happy With What You Have...
Always remember that it is your model kit; there are many like it, but that one's yours. If you don't have the ability to paint a kit then don't grief yourself over it. Many kits look fine unpainted, and there have been fantastic kits done simply sanded down and minor weathering applied to the bare plastic. Enjoy your model!

6b. ...But Strive For Better
By planning ahead and shaving the pegs down, you can leave a kit ready for disassembly for painting at a later date. Once you're ready, clean your kit up, sand it down, and fill in any seams you have before painting. Believing that you can't make a nice model is negative self-talk and will only hinder you from doing so.

7. Don't Gouge
Its tempting to use a hobby knife and cut a nub off of a part, but be weary: It's easy to cut more than is required out, leaving you with a dimple that you'll have to fill in later. Instead, leave a bit of plastic left and sand it down with wet/dry sandpaper.

8. Don't Give Up
Broken ball joint? Don't trash the model in a fit of rage. Instead, get some plastic cement to bond the pieces back together. Plastic Cement actually melts the styrene so that when the area dries both pieces are welded back together. If the project wasn't that important, do something original like a battle damaged diorama!

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