Now, I'm sure that the members of the tomopop community have some sort of collection, be they Gunpla, PVC figures, munnies or anything else for that matter. I'm sure they also vary in size as well.
And I will also go out on a limb and say that everyone remembers their first purchase with great fondness.
It makes perfect sense! Afterall, if you did not like your first purchase, you will not be so inclined to buy another and so, if you first experience was poor, then it would be likely that your collection would not be!!
And with that in mind, for this musing, I decided to go back to the distant past, long before my first official garage kit (which doubles as my first Yahoo! japan auction purchase and my most expensive item to date and for the near future), My first resin kit (a sailormoon recast I did as a gift to a friend) or even my first PVC figure (which was actually after the sailormoon) and land in the realm of Gundam kits and my very first foray into anime merchandise. Beyond there are my memories of the tabletop game Warhammer 40,000 but lets not go there...
So to begin with, I thought I would share with you a pic of my collection. I've linked the pic to the full sized one so click to see the whole thing if you're having problems.
EDIT: as requested, I have linked more clear closeups of the kits below. And since I did some sort of semblance to organising, I was able to write a very rough description too!gundam Seed 1/144 HG and Gundam Wing 1/100 HGGundam X 1/100, Seed MG kits, Older UC MG and 2 PG kits MG kits, the other PGs and a few assorted other items...
For a collection spanning over 10 years, it's not huge but not exactly tiny either. Not pictured are my 3 MG kits from Gundam seed destiny or any incomplete kits, like my PG red frame or MG unicorn and Exia. But you might be able to spot some Evangelion and patlabor kits in there too.
Now, with a collection like that, you're probably thinking that I must have really enjoyed my first experience with building gunpla, which is why I continued to buy the kits and build them. And, for the most part, you are correct. The oldest kit in that picture was my MG GP01-fb Zephyranthes and I did find the building process to be really fun and the final product was most pleasing. I also have some close ties with that gundam and the OVA it was from. Stardust memory was also my first UC gundam show and the PG model was one of my earliest PG kits!
However, the GP01-fb was not my first ever gunpla...
Lost in the mists of time, there was once a MG kit in my collection which was older than the aged GP01, a kit which strikes fear and loathing to those who know of it's reputation. A kit so evil, Death by fire, like how dao2 showed us in a previous cblog post, would be considered too good for it!! And it was this...
One of the earliest master grade kits made, it was released back in 1994 (and I picked it up a while after during a random family trip to Hong Kong. I think it was '96), back before Gundam Wing made it to the UK (or US for that matter I think, but someone else will need to confirm), when anime was still really, really niche, gundam was unheard of in the west and even evangelion was yet to take it's vice-like grip on the western anime fanbase.
The kit is notorious among builders who have experienced building it and it's issues were numerous and would not be resolved for 7 years starting with the release of the Zeta plus A1 and ending with the release of the zeta gundam ver 2 in 2005.
Those of you who have never seen or built the zeta are probably wondering how hard it could have been, so I'll go through the bits i remember
- the kit was really back heavy and couldn't stand without support.
- many parts (esp the shield) would not remain in place and easily fell off.
- the arms were connected by ball joints (think how the ankles on recent kits work) at the shoulders but were too loose to hold any kind of pose.
- The hands were not designed to grab the weapons. In fact, the only weapon the kit could handle, without it falling out of the hands were the beam sabers.
-The binders on the back would sag
- The transformation sequence would not work as the parts would not remain in position so the shape would not hold.
It has been said that the only way to make the ver 1 zeta kit work would be to glue the various parts into place and I would agree. Unfortunately, you would sacrifice both poseability and the transformation gimmick for it.
Ironically, the zeta MG was actually just a scaled down version of the Perfect Grade. both shared very similar designs and the transformation sequence was identical on paper. But the PG had many extras to help it along which the MG didn't have, such as pegs to hold the binders in place, hooks on the hands to help hold the weapons and a much more solid build.
Modern MG kits have evolved using past PG technology to give builders the poseability and details they have come to expect, so much so that the recent MG kits remind me strongly of the old PG kits. The inner frame design came the perfect grade line for example. The pegs on the hands to hold the weapons in newer MG? Yup, from the perfect grade. They've even started to put in lighting gimmicks!!
In a way, you could say that the MG zeta was a pioneer, a kit ahead of it's time. but that doesn't change the fact that it sucked!!! (incidentally, the top pic is of my PG Zeta, not the lost member).
I have no idea where the kit is now (probably in a ditch somewhere). There are some remnants of it around tho, I still have the beam rifle for example, but even now, the memories of the zeta haunt me.
And yet, despite this rather large setback, when I returned to Hong Kong a year later, the experience did't deter me from Gunpla as I immediately made a line straight to the model shops at my earliest opportunity. I even remember trying to decide between the RX-79 G Ground Gundam (8th MS team), the gundam mk 2 (zeta again) or the GP01-fb. The rest is history.
What posessed me to continue when my first kit was so full of fail? Who knows... Perhaps it was to do with my abnormal, bordering on unhealthy, love for all things mecha (seriously, put a mecha into a show as a main weapon and I'll watch it to the end, no matter how crap the show is. That's how I got through Divergence eve, Giniro no Olynsis and Demonbane!), A condition which has been nurtured since I was a little kid, watching dubbed animes like Daikyu Maryu Gaiking and Getter Robo G alongside stalwarts like transformers!
Perhaps my tenacity played a part as well, a trait which has served me well since I have entered the world of Garage kits. Just cos something doesn't go right the first time, doesn't mean an instant white flag!
Or it could have just been curiosity about the source material, which was as alien to me as the term "restraint" to the super collectors out there.
In any case, the zeta experience proved to have little effect on me and I ploughed on regardless, amassing a collection of 16 1/444 HG kits, 12 HG 1/100 kits, 16 MG kits and 5 PG kits (not counting those I own but have yet to build or the non Gundams, like the PG eva unit 1) so I guess I was one of the "lucky" ones who continued down the path despite an early upset.
I even remember filling a suitcase with nothing but gunpla on a return trip...
And the soul still burns. As long as Bandai make kits which interest me, I will continue to build them, even that overpriced PG 00 Gundam will be mine eventually (How could they think that the 00 Raiser should cost more than the Zeta or even the GP01 set?)
I must admit that my enthuiasm has waned as I find GK building to be more fulfilling and satisfying but the mecha love in me will never die!!
It will continue to burn and I will continue to build until such a time that I feel there are no more MG or PG kits worth building. And for that to happen, Bandai must first release a MG V2 assault buster gundam and Gundam X!!!
Game on, Bandai!
Building any sort of kit is a constantly learning experience and having set the bar somewhat high in terms of difficulty and annoyance, I guess it's no wonder that I moved up to ever more complex things over time (although my knight of gold really did test my upper limits) and being no stranger to *ahem* some minor difficulty very early on certainly hasn't hindered me in any of my current endevours.
So in some ways, the MG zeta may have been a good starting point, preparing me for problems much like that teacher everyone hates for being an ass but can't deny that they are good at what they do. Then again, maybe it was just a blip which I would much rather forget, but can't.
And I still hate the MG zeta kit...