A couple months ago, a guy named Nick emailed me and asked if I’d like to buy not one, not two, but 16 vintage Gunpla off of him. I couldn’t believe he was serious. But fast forward to the present, this is what our living room looks like:
These Gunpla all pre-date our modern organization of grade and scale. Elaborate paintings take the place of photography of the completed models on the front, perhaps because these early Gunpla models always looked much more rigid than the dynamic poses viewers expected from the TV screen.
One of my favorites, the Argama, is at 1:2200. With just two runners, you can imagine that this model is going to be extremely tiny once it’s completed. Also, note that while the Argama is red, white, and blue, the plastic kit is simply white. Back then, builders had to do a lot of painting.
I also like this Psycho Gundam model, which is dated 1986, meaning it’s the same age as I am!
At 1:300, it’s quite a bit smaller than today’s 1:100 Master Grades, and not even half as detailed. It comes with four runners in purple and an elaborate painting chart for how to match your model to the TV version’s reds, blues, and yellows.
The painting guide is even more detailed than the instructions. You’ll notice that the helpful symbols we use today to figure out the trickier sections are nowhere to be found.
Naturally, I was very curious about the origin of these incredible models. So I wrote back to Nick and asked him to share the story behind his collection. As you might have guessed from the selection, he’s a big Gundam Zeta and ZZ fan. After discovering Gundam through Gundam Wing on Toonami, Nick made it his mission to go through the entire Universal Century. These are some of the Gundam universe’s oldest shows, and as he watched, he would scour eBay for vintage kits that came out at the same time.
“There is an authenticity to me in the old models,” he told me. “I like that they almost defy you to put them together.”
Now that Nick has a job, a family, and a hobby as a musician, however, he didn’t have time to take on these especially tricky models, and looked to us as fellow fans who might be able to devote the time to them that they deserve. John and I are thrilled to be their forever home.