REPLICA OF A REPLICA
At the same hangout that led to my Triumph of the Skelemancer build, Nick Vaas, Niek van Slagmaat, and Corvin Stichert introduced me to Gundam models. We all visited a Japanese imports store with a huge selection of Bandai Gundam models, and my friends bought a few. Intrigued by three LEGO Designers’ enthusiasm for this hobby I knew nothing about, I returned to the store a few days later and bought myself the 1/144 “Real Grade” Strike Gundam model you see at left in these pictures.
I had no prior experience with Gundam before this little model, and have never seen any of the Gundam anime, but I absolutely loved my experience building my first Bandai model! The intricate parts, the tiny stickers, and the awesome flexibility all enraptured me. (I had such a good time, in fact, that I returned to the store one more time some days later to acquire another even more sophisticated Gundam.)
The idea to recreate my first Gundam in my more usual medium, LEGO bricks, occurred to me soon after I finished assembling the Bandai model. However, as other projects took the forefront for me, I forgot about this idea… until one afternoon when I had a lot of time on my hands, and felt like building something new, I picked up the ol’ Gundam and decided to try my best to replicate it 1:1 with LEGO. Seemed like a fun brain teaser.
Was it ever! Although I’ve ended up settling on a little bit of an enlargement here for the sake of detail, it was great fun to keep referencing back to my original model and staying as true to it as I could at my selected scale. A happy coincidence of making my LEGO Strike Gundam just a teeny bit larger was that it ended up to scale with a LEGO microfigure.
6.5 INCHES, 3 DAYS
My turnaround on this model was incredibly quick: between conceiving of this build and editing its final photos, I only took three days! Even for me, that’s extremely fast. I thank the compelling subject material for catapulting me into such a state of flow as I worked on this project.
Although the Gundam reference model preset my rendition’s color scheme, I still had to toy around in a few places with color choices. The geometry of my LEGO rendition, while close to that of the original, is still more indicative than representative, so I had to do my best to mimic the color blocking on the original model within the constraints of LEGO’s dominantly rectilinear shapes. Out of necessity, I decided early on that I’d represent the Bandai Gundam’s off-white colored areas with light bley instead of using all white; my Chateau de Chenonceau model has greatly depleted my white stores!
The most challenging part of this design by far was its head. I toyed with probably a dozen different designs in my process, and even as I selected my favorite I still couldn’t perfectly replicate the miniscule yellow horns of my source material. I think I ended up with a pretty respectable micro-Gundam head nevertheless; I’m especially proud of achieving some detail on the sides by using the 1x2 grill tiles.
Since I also designed this model with the intention of producing and selling its instructions (available here for purchase), I had to redesign some patches of the build to increase stability even as I sacrificed a little on accuracy to the original build. The torso’s shoulders were some of the trickiest to achieve just the right way.
All told, though, I’m very happy with how this build turned out. It even inspired me to put together that hangar bay you see in the first image, which really accomplished a lot in terms of final presentation. In photographing this build, I knew I wanted to use red for the backdrop; although there’s a teeny bit of resultant visual confusion in the areas of the Gundam that are also red, this bright and ostentatious color felt just right and I couldn’t say no.
Thanks for reading! If you have any other questions or comments about the model, feel free to leave them in the comments below.