The Gunpla Chef – A Blast Of Flavor From The Past: The Gurren Lagann Model Kit Review
by GSquad Community Blog on Dec 23, 2020
Xin Chao to anyone reading this! This is the Gunpla Chef, writing his very first blog post for the GSquad Community. First, I would like to apologize that it took this long for me to get started. My cameraman Tom and I had a lot of personal life issues getting in our way, but I won’t bore you with the details. Having said that, I am glad to finally be able to write about my passion for Plamo building. My first topic couldn’t be more perfect: Taking a look at a model from one of my favorite anime shows of all time: The iconic Gurren Lagann!!
Gurren Laggan is perhaps one of the best anime I’ve ever seen. I used to watch it all the time with my little brother back in my hometown, with our happy little rice paddies in Vietnam. I guess you could say it may have shaped me to be the person I am today.
IT’S YA BOI CHEEEEFFFFFF!!!!!
Anyway, I also released a video about this and you should definitely check it out, but if you want a more detailed review and my customizing process, then stick around.
This model kit is from a company called Sentinel. It is not Japanese company but rather a Hong Kong based one. I got this model kit from HobbyLinkJapan for about 4950 yen, day one pre-order. However, since this was a limited release, if you didn’t get it the first time, it will be very hard to find it now. Luckily, HobbySearch (aka 1999) came in the rescue and should have plenty left in stock with a generous discount if you are interested. Anyway, let us start with the review.
Reading time: Between 9-10 mins
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may or may not be Amazon Affiliate links which bring you to the site where you can buy products. I will get some “lucky money” and become a very happy Asian boy if you purchase any item from them via a commission. Feel free to support me if you like what you read here
I will be covering the following:
WHAT’S IN THE BOX? WHAT WAS IN THE BOX?? WHAT’S IN THE FREAKING BOX!?!?
While Brad Pitt suffered from a mental breakdown because he couldn’t see what was inside the box. Luckily, I can. The box comes with a total of 22 Runners consisting of 3 colors of black, gunmetal and red, and I could tell right off the bat how much higher quality the plastic was compared to other Bandai model kits I’ve worked on previously. The parts have a nice glossy coated surface on them similar to that of a RG Gunpla like the RG Tallgeese, which gives a shiny look to the finished model. Simply exquisite.
What I really liked about this kit is that despite the sheer number of parts to work on, some of them are pre-painted already. This is very beginner friendly, as some of the details can be hard to paint. But there is no separate gold runner for extra color separation so it is a big downer. I will cover that more in-depth later. There are also clear parts as well, and these are always nice.
The decals sheet once again makes a return and bigger than ever. As always, to the trash it goes!... I also like the quality of the available cooking instructions (manual) compared to the usual Bandai ones. I don’t have much to say about it. They also indicated that there are a lot of areas which you will have to glue on this kit. I will get to that soon enough.
NEW AND IMPROVED DESIGN
When it comes to the assembled model itself, it is only slightly taller than that of a normal size HG Gundam but also a bit smaller than that of a Kotobukiya’s Frame Arms kit. So, one could say that it is in between HG and MG sizewise, standing around 15 centimeters.
The build itself will prove to be challenging for beginners with complicated instructions and small parts, but if you have previously built an RG or 2, this should be no problem for you. The design itself is not completely anime accurate, as while the iconic Samurai-eques Super robot silhouette is kept intact, the design has been upgraded with tons of mechanical details, panel lines and updated proportions to give it a more realistic form, like the RG Gunpla. While an anime purist may be upset with the lack of anime accuracy design, I simply enjoy myself a cup of their tears as this design has grown on me. But that is not to say that I am completely in love with it as much as I love my MSG and Wok. I don’t particularly like the bulk that is given to the lower body in comparison to the top. They are too THICC for my taste. It’s as if Gurren Laggan has had too many leg days. Something we should all try to do once in a while, #NeverSkipLegDay.
A straight build out of the box using the given sticker sheet and some panel lines will yield you a good-looking result. But that is not to say that you cannot improve upon the design further. As they always said in the culinary world “A great chef is also a great artist in his craft” - quoted some dude on Twitter - and I follow that same principle when it comes to making my dishes and working on my model kit.
The Joy of painting and sabotaging your own wardrobe
Like many great chefs that came before me like Gordon Ramsay (but not at all like Jamie Oliver), I too cannot pass on the opportunity to customize and improve upon a good model kit.
Raw meat is not my style and the bare bone straight build with only one tone of red color that this kit has is triggering some unthinkable urges inside of me. For the sake of my own sanity, using a mixture of 7:3 of Mephiston Red and Leadbelcher from Citadel Paint, I hand painted multiple areas of the kit in a darker metallic shade of red to give it more color separations. You can get these Citadel Paint at any local hobby store in Europe, I wouldn’t recommend them because I think the lacquer or enamel paint from Tamiya are much better, I just don’t have easy access to them in Finland.
The side skirts, the back of the arm and the pauldrons on the shoulder are among the many areas of the kit where the stickers included in the package are to be placed. Because the stickers are resting comfy in the trash bin, I decided to go over all those areas with my Silver Gundam Marker and Auric Armor Gold paint instead for a better result. I also painted over other black areas as well with the same color for even more color separation.
As for the shoulder pauldrons, I hand painted these flame effects on them for that extra super-hot spice. Of all the work hours that I spent working on this kit, this particular area took me at least half a day. Using many thin layers of yellow and red paint stacked on top of each other, this was the result. I learned it from watching this video here. Sure, there are better techniques out there such as glazing and wet blending, I wasn’t aware of them at the time, but I opt for what I can do best.
LOOKING SUPA HOT FIRE, NO SAUCE
Here is a tip for enhancing the looks of your model kit: If you have a left-over red shirt lying around, you can cut pieces of it and use it as some sort of a fabric cape. Run out of red shirts? Get some cheap ones here using my Amazon Affiliate link so that those poor sweatshop workers working 25 hours a day can get themselves something nice for Christmas.
Panel lining is a must to bring out most of the details of this kit so make sure your panel line game is also on point. I suggest doing a panel line wash for a better result. The one I used was Vallejo Black Wash, which you can get here.
Waterslide decals always come in handy when you want to sprinkle in flavor into your build. Just like with the MSG, a good use of decals will make your kit more distinct from the rest. So, make sure you are using them appropriately and put them to areas where it counts. I happen to know of a very good and cheap eBay seller who can supply you with Waterslide decal for your modelling needs, you can check it out here at this link (not sponsored).
And finally, make sure to put on a nice top coat to seal in the deal and protect your hard work from the dust, or in my case, excessive caveman way of handling. I chose to go with this here gloss top coat from Tamiya to match the original plastic.
Anyway, now that we had our fun, let us talk about the bad points and many issues that you will face while working on this kit.
99 Problems, but I only got 3.
First of all, for a kit sold at this price, there are an awful lot of seam lines. And while a majority of them can be found at the back of the kit, some like the one running halfway across the upper arm and forearm are unacceptable. I decided to remove them to the best of my ability. However, I ended up learning an important lesson during that process: Always be very patient with this process as otherwise you will make a mistake. And if you did make a mistake, never fret, as you can always just hide it with a good use of a waterslide decal, like I did. They are “happy little accidents” as my old friend Bob Ross always said.
It’s a nasty seam but nothing you can’t handle.
Secondly, the placement for nubs on this kit is also rather weird and bizarre. While some parts are undergated and completely nubs free, some areas have very big and visible ones. I mean, if you are going to make undergated parts, why not make every part undergated? All in all, it left a very sour lemony taste in my mouth.
BIG OL’s NUB
You will have to take care and be slow and steady with your sanding for that buttery smooth surface area. It reminded me of my first-time cooking Pho, a grueling and harsh procedure that can last for hours. Luckily my crippling depression and trauma is way past me now, and I can recommend you to use these here Sanding Sponge from Madworks to assist you with your sanding. While I would recommend for you to buy the expensive Gunprimer Raser nubs removal set, I am not yet sponsored by them and I want to be honest with my dear readers about my tools usage (Hit me up on those sponsor deals tho, NewtypeHQ).
Finally, I want to talk about the biggest problem this model kit has. While the previous 2 issues I mentioned are merely cosmetic problems, this one will either result in you having a nice display piece or throwing away the whole kit into the trash bin as you cry in the corner, asking yourself “Is Christmas ruined?” Well, it would be, if you don’t sand down 0,5 to 1mm off every single peg and ball joint of this kit to save yourself from the trouble and tears. Out of the box, if doing a straight built, this kit is SUPER STIFF.
While I always like model kits that don’t use polycaps in their construction as it will improve the overall stability and sturdiness of the kits (refer to pic), not all of them are made equal.
Hoho! ARE YOU APPROACHING ME?
And in this case, the stiff joints combined with complicated construction can easily lead to them snapping in half when you try to pose them too much. This is a problem that I have heard from many people who owned this same kit and I can confirm it. SAND IT DOWN, people. If I hadn’t sanded them down enough, I would’ve been a sad Vietnamese boy this Christmas……Not that I believe in Santa Claus anyway. Needless to say, sand down the pegs and joints. You will thank me later, as you will need it if you ever want to be posing with this kit.
Articulating My POINT
Speaking of posing, despite the mentioned stiffness of some of the joints setting it back, overall, the articulation is still near perfect for a kit at this price range. While it could potentially be improved, with the addition of a butterfly joint to further extend the arm forward from the chest or better connection and articulation for the side skirts, I don’t really think that it is necessary. The articulation for this kit is almost as good, if not better than the HG Rx 78-2 Beyond Global.
Since the Gurren Lagann is designed to be a more fighting oriented machine, I found immense joy from being able to pull off a lot of dynamic poses without trouble. Remember the iconic poses from the series? This kit can pull them off by incorporating the many different hand options that it has. I don’t think I can further articulate (hehe, get it?) more on this matter.
However, the way how loosely many parts are connected to each other slightly irritates me, such as the side skirts. They are on the loosest of all the ball joints and It is very easy for them to fall off while creating different poses. However, despite all that, I still get immense enjoyment trying out different stances and special effects accompanying the models I build as I take pictures/videos of them.
VERY LOOSE side skirts
In the end, this is more of a nitpick for me personally, as it was still truly satisfying building and posing with this one. And what is the point of having good articulation if you don’t have the accessories to pair it with? We are in luck because this kit is sure to pack a lot of heat.
THE FULL PACKAGE
I would like to start with the optional hands. Remember what I said about gluing? Yeah, you need to glue these hands as per instruction, trust me. There are 2 closed fists, 2 open dynamic hands and 2 pointing the finger at the sky hands, which are all for the purpose of recreating the most iconic poses from the show. There are also 2 weapons holding hands. They are used for holding the iconic Sunglasses Blade. They look great in hand but as weapons, but I have to admit, they are too weird for my taste. Sure, I can pull off a plethora of cool poses with them, But I think the poses I can make with the drills are much cooler.
DRILLS DRILLS DRILLS, YOU GET A DRILL, YOU GET A DRILL, YOU GET A DRILL. 2 big drills (short and long version) in fact and 4 smaller ones. The bigger ones are attached to the hand through a ball joint and they look great. The smaller ones can be attached to holes at the wrist. But sadly, there’s no giant drill for the GIGA DRILL BREAKKEEEERRRRR!!!!!.... but I did manage to improvise on that part (see the video to find out what I mean). But speaking of wrists, we do have these optional ones that don’t have a hole on them. They are nothing special to be honest and I found no reason to swap around them. After all, I’d rather stick with the ones you can attach drills to. But do be careful when playing around, these drills are pointy and sharp, and they can penetrate thou flesh if thou are not careful.
We also have one extra unpainted face but it is not worth the trouble of painting it swapping the faces around so I decided to skip it.
The unpainted face and extra wrists, make sure to focus your attention on them ONLY.
The last extra stuff that comes with the package is the Gunman Wing backpack. Simply put, it has a rather limited articulation, and it can be attached and clipped onto the back of Gurren Lagann. While it does add more coolness to the overall design, I don’t really like it that much.
Firstly, it’s attached to the kit so tightly that I would need to break a sweat just to pull it off and the fact that there are a lot of sharp edges and pointy bits on it doesn’t help matters either. Just like with the other drills I covered, the 4 drills and the wing will end up drawing up my blood one way or another if I slip up even a little.
Secondly, the wings add too much unnecessary weight to the kit with its sheer size and while one can make the kit stand up with it attached, an action base is most definitely required. The amount of extra cool poses I can pull with this backpack on is equal to simply not having it on. Because the kit will be the one doing most of the heavy lifting while the backpack can only shift back and forth.
Luckily, the engineering is thoughtful enough in a way that the wings will not hinder at all the articulation of the arms and upper body, so it is a plus in my book. I’d like to think of this backpack as a nice extra beef ball you get when ordering your bowl of Pho, sure it will make you happy at the end of the day for its inclusion, but does it justify adding an extra 5 dorra to your order? The answer depends on you. But now that I get my rather weird and untimely rant out of the way, I think we can wrap things up.
Overall, I think that this kit is really amazing and must buy kit both for plastic model builders and fans of Gurren Lagann in general. It is not beginner friendly at all so I would not suggest it as your first build at all. It will require a lot of work, careful precision and steady hand, but I think at the end of the day it will be worth it as you get one of the most visually striking models available.
The design and coloring are amazing and the fun and enjoyment I had posing with the weapons were near limitless. There are some elements from this kit here that prevent it from getting the perfect score like the mentioned stiffness, the ball joints on the side skirts and how loose they are. But I think I can still safely say that this is truly the kit… THAT WILL PIERCE THE HEAVENS!!!......... Sorry I can’t help it. I am happy and satisfied with what I got, and I am looking forward to Sentinel’s next model kit, which is also from Gurren Laggan, Lord Genome’s Lazengann. That one will surely be a blast to build.
But as for my own contribution to this kit, it might be my proudest work I’ve done yet. There are errors and imperfections, but mistakes and failures are after all part of the process of becoming even better at building plastic models. And considering how well I managed to make the rest of the kits look excellent in comparison, I consider my mistake a mere setback, not enough to hold the rest of the kit’s potential back. But the thing I took most out of this kit while building it, was to learn how to be even more careful and precise, and how to have restraint and patience in a process involving the use of a steady hand just like how one handles their wok in the kitchen.
I’ve learned to respect the hard work of professional model kit builders such as our one and truly Justin-senpai (StudioG) and I would like to one day reach their level…. to test their mettle in the kitchen. Overall, I think my skills as the true Gunpla Chef are slowly evolving over time. Anyway, thank you so much for tuning in for my first blog post. I hope to do more of these really soon. I might even cover the ones I’ve talked about in my previous videos at some point which you can watch here and here. I aim to release at the very least 2 blog posts a month, though if inspiration strikes, more is always possible. I hope you all have a pleasant day, build some more Gunpla, cook yourself a pleasant meal to go with them, and I’ll see you all at my next blog post.
Final rating of the kit: