|A True-Scale Space Marine next to a Gundam Artifact Rick Dias.
Last year I got back into the Gunpla hobby, building a few 1/144 scale Bandai Gundam kits, like the RX-78-2, a Gouf, and a Zaku II from the Gundam Universal Century timeline. It was a fun change of pace from Games Workshop models, due to Bandai’s different design philosophy. Unlike the majority of GW models, Gundam model kits can be built without glue, while maintaining a vast amount of articulation and, best of all, do not need to be painted (but many still do). While most Gundam models are quite a bit larger than a single Games Workshop figure, with the smaller High Grade (1/144 scale) models being roughly 6 inches tall, Bandai recently introduced its smallest line of scale models: the Gundam Artifact line. This new line really excited me, because they are only slightly larger than the standard Games Workshop model. I purchased the first model from the set, the Rick Dias (from Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam), and wanted to let people know about the build process.The models come in a small box with a single sheet of instructions. Each kit has three to four runners/sprues of beige/yellow plastic. Most Gundam kits have runners of different colors, which removes the need to paint the assembled model. The small size of the Artifact models makes this infeasible, so they used a single color that makes the models look like a resin garage kit. Like other Bandai model kits, the pieces are well-designed and attached to the runner in a way to minimize mold lines. The moldlines that are present are also very minor, superior to most modern GW kits. The individual pieces are quite small, and some can be difficult to remove from the runner without having very fine nippers. I used a pair of Godhand SPN-120, which reduced the clean-up time on most of the parts. The plastic is a little harder than GW plastic, but is still easy to work with, allowing the use of the back of an X-acto blade to scrape off mold lines.
Like other Bandai kits, the Artifact models are snap-together and do not require glue. To get the models to look their best, however, glue is essential. I used Tamiya Extra Thin Cement for the entire model, because it allowed me to snap the model together and add the glue afterwards. It also helps reduce any gaps or seams, because if you add a little pressure to the connected pieces, the glue melts them together. Afterwards, when dry, you can sand the pieces to get a smooth finish. Although this technique works for most parts of the model, there were still some larger gaps that needed to be filled on the Rick Dias. Rather than using Milliput or green stuff, I tried Vallejo Plastic putty, and was impressed with how easy it was to use. I applied a little of the putty to the area in question with an X-acto blade, and then used a finger to wipe away the excess, easily filling in the gaps. The putty dries in a few seconds, making the process really fast. While it would not be good for sculpting or correcting any details, it works really well for filling in small gaps.
|Unlike most other Gundam models, the Artifact line has virtually no articulation, other than allowing you to move the arms at the shoulder, but not at any of the joints. I do not think this is a major issue, due to their small size.
|If you look along some of the seams on the arm and head, you can see some of the white Vallejo Plastic Putty I used to fill in gaps.
|The Real Grade Zaku II (1/144) towers above the Rick Dias.
Building the Gundam Artifact Rick Dias was a really enjoyable experience. For the most part, it went together easily, aside from a few small parts that were somewhat fiddly. The level of detail on the models is really impressive, comparable to what Games Workshop achieves with the Adeptus Titanicus line of models. At only $7, they are quite inexpensive, and perfect as a little project to complete between other builds. Now I am excited to get some paint on the model. If I complete it, it will be my first fully painted Gundam model!
- Eric Wier