Monday, 21 May 2018

Repackaging HG Gunpla Kits

Plastic crack is an addiction that not only drains your wallet and create discord between loved ones, but it is also a space consuming vice. It starts innocently with one kit and before you know it, your salary is spent immediately on pay day and you don't know where else to stash your kit. I'm here to share how I cope with my worsening habit and save space by repacking my Gunpla kit, so that you too can reduce the space taken and b̶u̶y̶ ̶m̶o̶r̶e̶ ̶k̶i̶t̶s̶ since you have freed up space.

I haven't been updating my blog because so much has taken my time. Runescape MMORPG, PS4 titles, Overlord Light Novel and anime, a shit ton of work and generally disheartened by the release of new kits that do not excite me. The only one that managed to visibly rouse my attention was the P-Bandai TR-6. I long for more HG AOZ kits but at the very least, Bandai has been releasing more Sentinel stuff, such as the RD Ex-S Gundam and Zeta Plus. I need to import an RD FAZZ Gundam but the price tag is so high!

On the bright side, I upgraded to a Samsung S9+ and would love to try and recapture the essence of Gunpla hobby.

Anyway, moving on. I'll start by mentioning that I only deal with 1/144 High Grade kits. If you want to work with other scales, I am unable to provide accurate information since I don't own other scales. It's not too late to turn back now if you're a strict 1/100 collector or Mr Rockerfeller 1/60 "go big or go home". If you are strictly an SD kit collector, I must ask if you had parental consent before coming online.

The common dimensions of a HG kit are as above. The height varies. It can be 6 cm for something small like an F91 and Victory kit and go up to 11 cm for larger kits such as Dryon III and Hrairoo. For this common sized MK-II, it was around 8 ish cm.

However, do note that large kits may not be feasible since you might find it impossible to cram the completed kit inside the box, even if you separated the limbs. You want to make sure that storing the kits not only reduce space but importantly, safely protect the kits too.

This is a sample sheet of plastic box that have not been assembled. I got it from a China wholesaler on Alibaba. I don't know if I should link the purchase link since I'm not affiliated and I'm also concerned if anyone is dissatisfied by their purchase by following my dumb suggestion.

If you want to take the plunge, I used the following item:

About the seller, truthfully, there's not much to comment. The item came as described in a cardboard wrapped packing and since it's meant to be a gift box, I guess they didn't really care about packing presentation. The shipping time is dependent on the shipping method but I got mine within a week after upgrading the delivery methods since I didn't want to wait 30 days for a no-tracking option.

An MG alternative:

I did a quick glance and if we consider a 20m unit like the Unicorn mode, it is around 20cm in height with a safe front length of 15cm. Given the MG's thick manual, a 12cm width might be needed.

At 10cm width, it might be a little hard to fit in the accessories confidently behind the completed kit. From my personal experience, I sometimes keep extra sprues containing additional accessories/parts which I do not use, such as beam saber effects and polycaps, and those takes up space in the plastic boxes. If you keep the extra runners separately, you might have a cozy housing but I would ask for samples before proceeding if you can.

It is very risky for V-fins in particular and you might want to remove them and store in a small Ziploc bag with the kit.

The reason why I got this is because it's a sturdy box and the dimensions are just right for most HG kits. I'll do a volume comparison later and how it stacks up since I am very concerned about aesthetics and practicality.

The first thing to do is to layout the box by carefully peeling off the flaps. This is to preserve the art work on the box but if you're someone who doesn't care about these things, you can save a lot of time and effort in this method.

I don't think Bandai's staffs licks the flaps to glue them, and it appears that they use an adhesive that is very good in maintaining box integrity but when peeled off with slight strength, comes off relatively . I have new found respect for Bandai's production efforts since the work that goes into the box says a lot about the company's brand image. You do get what you pay for.

A comparison was when I bought a TT Hongli Psyco Gundam and I found the flaps peeled off easily when I was closing the box. Never got a pirated kit after that and that's mostly because of product quality (fitting issues and difficult material to work with).

We start with opening up the top part of the HG kit. You open the flaps and lay it flat. We want 2 parts from this cardboard piece. The background and the foreground. I'll explain in detail as we go since it's probably confusing to see what the above means.

Here's the cut out of the 2 components. I based the dimensions on the plastic box which will house the kit, the manual, the accessories and of course the artwork. It pains me to cut Gundam boxes so in this way, I can salvage something,.

The foreground is just the front side display. It works to tell me what kit the box contains. It also displays the HG label at the side and most importantly, shows the Bandai logo. I am a very conscientious consumer and a very big supporter of Bandai f̶u̶c̶k̶ ̶p̶ ̶b̶a̶n̶d̶a̶i̶. The foreground will be folded near the 2 ends and by running a light cut in the back using a pen knife, you can easily fold the cardboard to achieve the next image.

This is the plastic box with the foreground installed and background inserted. No glue necessary. Just cutting it to specification ensures a snug fit. The background also works as additional support to strengthen the back. This is critical for me as I will store these boxes in stacks.

I will be keeping the manual for future references, so I need to fold it into something that can fit in the box. You can also remove the manual and store it in a binder if you so wish to preserve that sexy looking stock photo.

I do not throw away manual in case I suspect my friends coming over and stealing my accessories (Hah, just kidding, I don't have friends...). I folded the manual and place it at the bottom for both keeping the manual should I need any reference for accessories/posing and it acts as a cushion to ensure a cozy place for keeping the kit, reducing the chances of damage if you drop the box. I have accidentally drop a few boxes containing a kit from a 1m height and it survived with no broken v-fins. Damn butterfingers, that's how I broke my Xperia Z5P which made me changed phones.

Place the kit inside the original plastic packaging that secures the sprues initially. The plastics are great as they're kinda harder than plastic bags and also oversized, allowing you to keep the kit in its entirety.

Arrange everything inside and voila, completed. The process can take between 10-15 minutes, of which 10 minutes is mostly dealing with the cardboard cut-out. If you forego that, you can repack kits within 5 minutes, from assembling the plastic box to fitting everything inside.

My general guideline is: If the unit has a height less than 21m in the source material, it should fit nicely. If the backpack/equipment is large, you would want to try separating them and seeing if they fit in the box. And lastly, all kinds of 1/144 can be fitted in, some giving more space reduction (like the Silver Bullet) and some might even take more space after repackaging (old Turn A kits). Earlier RG kits are fine too, as with AU series, though the ones that really gives you the best space saving are UC kits.

I did try to fit in a HG The-O and Sazabi but try as I might, they just wouldn't go into the plastic boxes safely. I suppose large kits have to be treated with the grandeur expected of such kits and they belong in their sacred original boxes.

In a rough comparison, the above illustrates 12 kits in repackaged box compared to 8 in original boxes. A more accurate mathematical comparison is: A plastic box is 2040 cm3 and an average HG box is 4560 cm3. You are effectively reducing volume consumption by 55%. Not bad at all. If done correctly, the missus will glance at your collection and notice that nothing changes but you know that you have just doubled your kits collection discreetly

As I mentioned early, aesthetics and practicality is important to me. A single tower stack I've tried without collapsing is 7 stacks. The more you arrange them together, the more stable they will be. If stacked against a wall, you can effectively build a stable kit stash that won't collapse when a big bad wolf comes breaking into your house. I have currently 40+ kits repackaged and I'm working towards more, but first, I need to work my ass and start building my backlog before I can continue my space reduction journey.

I plan to purchase around 240 more of the plastic boxes since my total kits numbers into 200+ these days, including backlogs, and I don't know if the wholesaler will still be around by then.

Here's a recent completed kit, the HG Graze.

My friend, Joseph, helped airbrushed the inner frame and I am definitely most impressed by his skills. Airbrushing has also changed my view on kit painting although it will be years before I take the plunge into investing in an AB kit, given my slowed build rates and also the costs involved.

I find myself getting more finished figures like Ver Ka Robot Signatures and doing OOB instead of my old customizing ways. Ahh, to be an old collector?

For this particular kit, I didn't save much space but it still works in terms of uniformity and getting the job done. Overall, I am satisfied with this solution although some concerns are dusts coming in from the top sides, exposure to light (can be reduced by topcoating kits although that only slows down the yellowing and lastly, it adds to the cost of the hobby as per plastic box is almost $2.00 USD including shipping.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Collection Update

It's been years since I last posted anything and it does disappoint me, mostly because I keep referring to this blog to see my collection. It's a lot easier than rummaging through my collections trying to find that 1 particular kit.

The collection grows larger and stacking it becomes more dangerous as it sways even at the slightest breeze. Not included are quite a number of kits due to lack of stability. Also not in the pictures are the Robot Spirits and Gundam Fix Figuration. This gallery will take you through my thought process as I perform a stock check of my collection (since I mistakenly continue to buy duplicates).

I don't display my kits since there's children always visiting the house and you know how these 1/144 scaled units don't stand a chance against a 1/2 scaled human.

The first example of space keeping is by cutting the box in half while maintaining the side information (series, HG number and keeping the Bandai logo).

Regular HGUC Sazabi and its titanium finish version. Same kit but only half the space!

Part of the inspection includes checking for broken or damaged pieces. We see here the loose waist/hip part. Luckily there are no broken pieces.

And he's fixed! Back into the box he goes.

One of the cool things about cutting RG boxes in half are these side portraits. They're like mini RD packaging.

Arguably the most stable among RG kits. The MK.II Titans and AEUG versions.

Even the beastly The-O looks cozy in his downsized apartment.

The first of duplicates I'll talk about. The Gundam F91. I'm not really a fan of this kit before but after building the physical model, I grew to appreciate its designs.

Here's one of the completed set. The reason I got another is because I picked the wrong colours for the mini thrusters (they should be of orange-yellow tint instead of bronze).

Great design from SEED but the series suffers from having sub-par quality HG 1/144 sized kits. I'm hoping they get a proper re-release like the new HGCE Impulse Gundam instead of that color accurate (lol!) crap.

Forgot I made this unconventional design.

The poster boy for Zeonic scums but I'm not sure why I have not topcoated this kit.

It's a shame if the new Twilight Axis kit re-uses this old mold. There's another uncompleted Alex Gundam kit for the purpose of building him in the Chobham armour.

Another example of space saving. The FA Unicorns.

By disassembling the major components, I am able to store it in its downsized box without risking any damage to the paint/kit.

I love the design of this unit, a slimmed GP02 Physalis was my first thought but the kit itself was frustrating to build. Seams at difficult areas, exposed polycaps and very flimsy backpack.

The backpack for the Gundam X.

It hurts to cut some boxes because they contain additional information within them but space is more important than information I can't read. (OMG PS1).

Not visible here but this kit, was among my first 10 completed kits and I can see the "yellowing" of the plastic.

3 of my largest Gundam-series kits in collection. All unbuilt and may remain so for the next 2 years. I really feel like a Dendrobium and Neo Zeong would add girth to my collection...

The only SRW kit in my collection.

And for a 1/144-sized kit, this is why I have not build it.

Example of kits whose boxes can't be cut due to either size or additional accessories.

Unused codes I didn't even realize were in the boxes.

The 2nd kit with loose piece identified.

And he's fixed but his box will definitely need to be cut soon.

The head was staring at me. I remembered why I stopped. I think it would look better if the red pieces were changed to cobalt blue.

One of the kits I really liked but even after buying it, it remain sealed because interest to build waned...

I don't even really like G-Lucifer but hey, it's on sale.

Have 2 of this, one in default color scheme and this one emulated to Gerbera Kai color scheme. A lot of duplicate units are planned that way (original colors and custom colors).

Like SEED, nice designs but lousy quality plastic kits.

Requires so much paintwork but still leaves me dissatisfied because it pales in comparison to even the earliest HGUC kits.

Look at this blasphemy known as 1/144 Tallgeez-geez-GEEEEEEZ.

My first and final attempt at weathering. I thought of emulating the 08th MS Team but I was inexperienced then (this was my 4th kit) and I hate the idea of weathering my kits cause I prefer them pristine like factory units.

Only 2/4 completed for the Throne series. That reminds me I need to find the Jagd Arche Robot Spirit.

Not the accurate logo color for Celestial Being but I liked the earth motif.

Large kits but small boxes. Color me surprised!

Hmm. Must get RG Gold Frame and must paint Red/Blue Frame in metallic colors.

Please release the Blitz Gundam already.

My FSS collection. The Wave kits are horrendous but the Volks version looks promising.

Only one Valrave kit and that sticker sheet is why I've not built it.

Used to have 3 MC Model Gundooms but decided to remove the HWS and Hi-Nu version cause I can't stand the fitting and material issues. The inside of the box resembles a hangar though.

The Origin kits are my new favourite things from Bandai.

There's never enough effect parts.

Need to get another Lightning Gundam for that second backpack set.

Comes bundled with a manga copy of Thunderbolt. I didn't read it (did watch the OVA though).

When you like a kit so much that out of respect, you can't bring yourself to cut its box into half.

Comes with the poster for when you want to emulate Endless Waltz while playing Just Communication.

I bought an assembled OOB RG from someone on forums cause he was selling at 1/5 of the original cost. Disassemble it, cleaned the nubs and had plans to repaint it into G3 scheme but couldn't be bothered to paint the small pieces yet.

Can't bring myself to build them yet. Can't bring myself to sell them though. Can definitely feel good keeping them for now.

The RG Freedom is the reason why I don't display my kits. A friend of mine came over and checked it out and lost one of its beam saber hilt. I've since replaced the hilt with aftermarket metal ones but it still leaves me bitter. That guy is still my friend though and he still vehemently denies it.

I resized the RG boxarts and reprinted for the action base.

Plans to make 1 kit with both shoulders having the beam curtains. The other will be repainted into something else, maybe the original Wing colors.

More limited release kits. I'm not really the type who will chase kits for their rarity. I buy what I like.

Found these bonus campaign option parts stored in the Zeta Plus.

Love the Rozen Zulu clear though. I hate the hideous regular release with its off-colors.

Need to find the Zeta Collection containing the Hyaku Shiki, Gundam MK.II and Zeta Gundam.

Still one of my most favourite kits in my collection. Love this bulky baby.

Friend A asked me "Hey, I'm at a hobby store, want me to get you anything?".

"Sure, help me get the Schzrum Dias".

Friend B asked me months later "Hey, I'm at a hobby store. Do you have a Schzrum Dias?"

"Nope, why don't you help me get it"

And that's how I end up with 2 of these.

RD and HG size comparison

My Nadleeh with the "hair" replaced with plastic fibre optic strands. The main body houses an LED but due to years of neglect, the battery died and I couldn't get a replacement for a photo.

The only box casualty in my collection.

I didn't even know I have 2 of this.

Another half-completed kit. This is the redemption kit after that botched weathering attempt.

None built. Waiting for the inevitable Devil Gundam.

One of my first customs. I have plans to redo this kit and have already procured the Unicorn Mode base and RG Wing Zero for its wings.

I hate Atra.

Ohh, my favourite design from Katoki. The cobalt blue (normal scheme) and violet (ALICE scheme) versions are still WIP. Hoping for an updated release but I already have the RD Ex-S Gundam and that thing screams perfection.

Advance of Zeta. Requires me to get the Quel and more Hazels.

I also collect some magazines.

My first magazine and also the one that introduced me to the works of NAOKI.

I even make mistakes of purchasing duplicate magazines (thought granted one is in Mandarin and the other in Japanese).

Moe AOZ goodness.

Random Action Base stands I found. Would probably use them for my RGs.

Painted pilots.

A relic from 15 years back.

Gundam hammer from the G30th RX-78-2.

Unused movie screening ticket for when Unicorn OVA came out.

A look into the RG design process.

Aftermarket parts for the RG Destiny and Strike Freedom. I should have gotten the P-Bandai ones for its better effects.

Need to get more decals.

Most of what I work with.

Should probably consider an airbrush... wait a minute, stop succumbing to temptation.

And that's all, by then it was late and I couldn't cover my GFF and RD collections, much to my dismay. It would have helped me focus on getting the next kits and figures.

On the blog, I have some ideas but it will require me to re-blog my whole collection, get better photos and clean up the writing. The issue I have is getting the dynamic poses and camera/lighting angles without resorting to a proper lightbox and macro-camera. We'll see if there's any updates for this blog. Till next time!