GM Command project (and Sniper Ⅱ), Reactionary Design Choices, and the 1mm Rule

Earlier this year, Bandai released a new model kit of the GM Sniper Ⅱ, a design from Gundam 0080, a late ’80s anime that is practically “holy ground” to me. I was quick to angrily denounce the kit and start work on a CAD model of the 0080 GMs based on the original reference art for the mecha, to prove I could do better and as the starting point for a physical model in the future.

However, I was a bit surprised when I compared this “correct”-looking CAD model I had made to Bandai’s Master Grade kit. The two were actually far more similar than I would have imagined.

When it comes to models, accuracy is very important to me. That said, the whole concept of “accuracy” is frequently considered dubious when dealing with anime subjects: after all, in hand-drawn illustrations and animation a machine may never look the same twice. That said, I feel that the various sources nevertheless establish the machine’s aesthetic, and I want to represent that faithfully in my builds.

As a result, Bandai’s approach to their Gundam model kit line tends to frustrate me. They frequently make significant changes to Gundam designs when they make kit versions. This is particularly aggravating when they’re making a kit of a design I happen to really like.

It fascinates me a bit that I saw a design interpretation I didn’t like – so I stormed off and made my own, came up with a design I liked, and it turned out to be almost the same as the one I was initially unhappy with. Sometimes Bandai’s designs are better than I give them credit for. However in this case I think “almost” is the operative word here.

A favorite axiom of mine is a thing I call the “1mm rule”. Basically it states that seemingly minor changes in a part (for instance, as small as 1mm) can have a big impact on how the part looks, and I think that’s what’s happening here. Bandai’s chest block for the MG is almost exactly the same size as the one I designed. However, there’s all these little differences: a narrower midriff, a bit of taper to the chest block, bulkier arms. The little differences add up, and as a result the chest block, despite being very similar in size to the one I designed, looks smaller.

For the time being I don’t know when I’ll be making my CAD design for the GM Command into a physical model. I have been working on a few CAD models from time to time, mostly with the ultimate aim of using 3D printing to produce physical models. Right now, with SCGMC looming I don’t have time to get a 3D printed project ready… But I’d like to reach a point where I’m much less dependent on Bandai’s kits. They’re a good time but in some ways they’re not quite for me. Hopefully 3D printing could be a bit less demanding than scratch building. But it’s a bit harder to justify when dealing with a lot of boxy shapes like on the GM Command. For now it’s a nice diversion, a good way to get some kind of model-making done even on days when I’m too busy to make it to the workroom.

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