Gaijin Gunpla

Yes, I am a Transformers fan but that is mostly because of my youth and the cartoon and toys I enjoyed so much. Well, maybe some of you out there haven’t heard (maybe you live under a rock) but Transformers are making a comeback in a big way. When Takara Tomy started reissuing old toys with up to date designs all of us kids who loved the toys were quick to check out the new stuff and then, of course, the movies hit the theaters. Well, Transformers branches out again now and comes in the form of plastic model kits. Takara Tomy released snap-fit kits of Optimus Prime and Bumblee, and while the Prime was sold out the same day it released I was lucky because I prefer Bumblebee.  But how are they as snap-fit kits?

Well, for starters, you don’t build the frame.

Takara Tomy provides you with most of the frame already done and it’s up to you to finish the frame assembly and put on the armor. Well, I guess we don’t call it armor, we should call it a car body. It’s up to you to put on the car body, even though many of the pieces don’t seem to be identifiable as parts of a car. But before I get ahead of myself…

Just how big is the 1/35 scale Bumblebee frame?

About that big.

Here’s the manual:

The manual seems more like something from Kotobukiya rather than Bandai. At times it seems crude and hard to discern what it is it has you do but if you have any experience with plastic kits it’s not really a problem.

I’ve got a frame, now I need…

a head!

The head starts with this and I gotta say, that’s one small poly-cap. I said that a few times under my breathe during the build.

The head is finished off with a few small pieces and of course Bumblebee’s face

You can see in this picture how Takara painted the eyes onto the clear part which is inserted from behind.

And there you have it.

The Terminator. Umm…

This attaches to the frame by a ball joint but it is not as easy as it sounds. The fit is very tight and it takes some effort to get it on and while you are trying to do so, the part that goes on Bumblebee’s neck keeps coming off (hence why you see a hole in this shot).

This piece would fall off a few more times during the build and by the end I just left it to the side making it pretty much the last part of the kit to go on. Glue might be a better solution.

More very small poly-caps.

Pay attention when you cut these off. When you look at the poly-cap runner and find these pieces you can’t tell where you are supposed to cut in order to remove them. You actually have to flip the runner over to see that line.

They go here.

Then the remainder of the torso frame parts are attached.

That piece you see at the bottom of the torso. That will keep coming off, too. Glue?

More frame pieces are added.

The detail that came painted on was pretty cool.

With the torso and head done the legs are the next focus of attention. This small piece goes on the side of the hips just above the hip joint. The frame came pre-built, but I actually found it easier to take it apart and then put the small pieces in place.

Thanks for your pre-built frame, Takara, but I’m gonna have to unbuild it.

Here are some parts that are added to his back.

And more for the lower part of his back/skirt area.

Now we finally step away from that pre-built frame and build some frame stuff ourselves. yay! The best part of Gunpla is the frame building, in my opinion anyway.

A poly-cap sandwiched between the foot frame pieces.

The lower leg has an actual wheel in the design.

Removing the center piece is not actually that difficult, but it does leave some hard to get at gate marks, made even more difficult to remove because of the nature of the spongy soft tire.

Well, fortunately for us you don’t need to remove those gate marks because the wheel wells are made of two pieces.

To connect them to the pre-built frame takes a couple of these funky pieces, one on either side.

Now these two small piece connect together.

And somehow slide into a groove on the inside of the upper leg frame.

With a few more pieces, the leg frame is complete.

Lying where he fell…

“I get knocked down but I get up again.”

(maybe it should be, “I am somewhat unbalanced and fall over, but am stood up again.”

Bumblebee has two pairs of hands, much like HG Gundam kits, so you can decide between the open hand:

Or the closed fist.

Then you get to build something cool. It even has this cool clear part painted clear blue with black over top.

It’s a…

big gun!

And to finish up the arms you add some small parts.

And shock absorbers.

These were tough. The assemble by the male/female connection but the peg is a little thick and some trimming and force were required.

How’s this for a precise fit?

You’re right. It’s not good at all.

To get the hands onto the frame a separate piece is needed.

I’ll only put one hand on. The other one gets the cannon.

Here he is with the frame completed.

Next up will be the armor.. err, car body.

10 Responses so far.

  1. Looks like Takara has much to learn if they want to remain in the model kit business. Not only the fit needs major work, as you pointed out, but the greenish plastic with poorly defined details looks like a bootleg toy.
    I’m still kind of hoping they make good G1 model kits though.

  2. Gundam Gunso says:

    The basic frame actually looks quite good XD

  3. rafren+ says:

    Looking fierce.

  4. Joe says:

    looking at the fit of parts and the plastic quality reminds me of TT Hongli MG Hi Nu… worst kit ever, but it was a bootleg, so that’s a given…

  5. Tom says:

    The frame looks very much like a terminator. The question I have, is there a sheet of decals provided? Because I’ve heard some transformer fans were gripping about how the decals were already put on so you can’t really paint the kit if you wanted to.

    • syd says:

      There are no decals provided. I was surprised to see the markings already on the kit but that’s not so rare from companies other than Bandai.

  6. Paulo951 says:

    That last picture looks like the T-101 with….wheels lol

  7. Dennis says:

    The quality of the plastic looks somewhat toyish. How’s the plastic’s overall quality in your opinion? Also, how does it stack up against the kinds of plastics that Bandai and Kotobukiya use?

    • syd says:

      It’s definitely not as good as Bandai’s plastic and is more similar to Kotobukiya’s. The plastic quality of the armor parts was a little better than the frame.

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