Welcome to SD Week! This week at Gunpla 101, we will be giving Gunpla’s littlest kit size a lot of love with a review every week day. Kicking off the week is Mario Lebel, reviewing the SD 388 Build Strike Gundam Full Package, which also happens to be his very first SD build!
As a Super Deformed kit, the SD 388 Build Strike Gundam Full Package is understandably not to scale. But at first glance, you’ll notice that compared to your average 1/144 HG kit, it’s shorter and wider, giving it that distinctive look. As if to really sell the idea that these are super deformed models, this kit is likely one of the smaller Gunpla I’ll ever build but it had some of the largest pieces I’ve ever encountered. Large features, large pieces, there isn’t much finesse required here and that’s probably a good thing.
Color and Design
There are only four runners (including the small polycap runner) for this kit and you get a total of three colors: blue, red, and white. Since this is the main model of a series protagonist, it’s not surprising that all the classic Gundam colors are used. The yellow and the small amount of gunmetal are achieved with the application of stickers. The yellow stickers on the V-fin were very frustrating. You’re applying four large and complicated stickers on a single piece of plastic. The fin was molded in white when it would have been much better to have it molded in yellow. Considering that one of the goals of the SD line is to produce inexpensive kits, I can completely understand the use of small stickers to add detail. As I mentioned, this kit is made up mostly of larger pieces and smaller details would be completely absent if it wasn’t for the use of stickers. You can see that on the red sticker of the fin, the green on the helmet, the blue on the legs and the gunmetal on the ankle armor. Even the red stickers used at the waist work well enough to add more detail.
The Gundam itself looks good, but I’m disappointed with the lack of details its weapons, shield, and backpack. All of those pieces are molded in a single color, either red or blue. Because of this most of the details in those parts of the kit blend together. The backpack (or Build Booster) has a total of four colors on the MG Build Strike Gundam Full Package, yet here we lose a lot of detail because everything is blue. Since this is my first SD kit I can’t confirm with any certainty that this poor color separation is the norm for SD kits, but I suspect it is.
I was hoping that my SD kit would look as good as it does on the box art and in some of the photographs in the manual. Clearly the one shown in the manual has been painted and I don’t need to know how to read Japanese to figure that out. I’m not sure why I had such high expectations in this area of the kit, but I did and now I’m disappointed.
I don’t have much to say about the design. Even though the proportions are off, this is still recognizable as the Build Strike Gundam. I don’t think you could ask for much more than that on an SD kit. The expectation isn’t that the functions and details of HG or MG kits will be replicated in an SD model. As long as you can identify it as the SD version of whatever kit you’re building, then the design of the SD is a success and that’s true of this kit.
Those stickers! I mentioned most of my problems with the stickers in the previous section, but I have a little more to add. The placement of the stickers on the V-fin was very difficult. I honestly didn’t enjoy that part of the build. You’ll notice that one side looks better than the other and that’s because I learned a couple things after applying the stickers on the first half. It’s really the only difficult part of the kit, which pleased me. SD kits are meant to be easier builds, something that young Gunpla fans or someone new to the hobby can build without too much of a challenge and that’s true of this kit for the most part.
Again, this is pretty average for an SD kit, as I understand it. If I had to compare it to the articulation on an HG kit I’d say the articulation of the SD Build Strike Gundam is very poor. There are two things that contribute to the poor articulation. The first is the design of the kit. The focus is on developing a cute version of a more proportional design and not losing the key design elements to ensure the SD version is still recognizable. Because of the focus on cuteness, your most basic points of articulation on an HG are completely absent here, such as a knee joint. The second reason articulation is poor is that the kit is mostly made of large pieces and big pieces usually limit the range of movement on a model. This is something you’ll see on HG models that have particularly large shoulder areas or large skirt armor, just to name a couple common problems.
Extras (weapons, hands, effect parts)
Unlike HG kits, you do not get any extra parts with the SD Build Strike. You won’t get any extra hands, which is a standard offering with most HG and MG kits. As if to make up for the lack of extras, you do get a nice assortment of weapons. Included are one enhanced beam rifle, one beam saber, a shield, and the Build Booster which also includes two large beam cannons. When not in use, the beam cannons are tucked back and simply form part of the backpack. However, when you flip them forward, it really adds a lot of menace to this little Gundam.
There is a nice gimmick that enables you to attach the enhanced beam rifle and the shield to the Build Booster, making a little fighter jet out of it. It’s a simply gimmick, but having it included adds a little something extra to your kit.
Another neat thing with the SD Build Strike Gundam is that it’s designed to swap parts with other SD kits. Armor pieces can be removed from the Build Strike and you can add armor pieces from other kits. The manual specifies swapping with the SD 370 Knight Gundam and the SD 373 Musha Gundam. I don’t know if you can swap with other SD models, but there’s nothing stopping you from swapping with as many kits as you want. Remember, Gunpla is freedom!
The SD Build Strike Gundam Full Package looks a little plain after a straight build. The Gundam itself looks quite nice, but the shield, weapons, and backpack suffer from a lack of good color separation. More experience builders might see this as an opportunity to customize their kits, but as an SD it’s disappointing as the target audience might not feel comfortable with painting.
I made some insightful discoveries while building this kit but my first SD also confirmed a lot of the preconceptions I had about SD grade. These are affordable kits. They’re quick to assemble and aside from the stickers on the V-fin, it’s a very easy to build. It’s a user friendly kit which young Gunpla builders are sure to enjoy and experienced builders who like a little break between more complex projects will likely enjoy as well. There is also something undeniably cute and endearing about these squished little Gundams.
I’m glad I took the time to build my first SD model. Part of enjoying Gunpla is to explore what the hobby has to offer, including building kits that are of a different grade than what you do usually prefer. That’s why even though I have some reservations about the SD line based on this one little kit (out of literally hundreds of other SD kits) I’m really glad I took the time to build it.
Have you ever built an SD kit? What was your reaction? Share pictures if you have them!