My kids and I went to Barnes and Noble. While there, we got through the hobby section including some of the anime figures and as we walked near the Gunpla figures, my 7 year old son just stopped and stared. He thought they were amazing to look at. I explained they were models that you could build yourself and he was definitely even more interested. His eyes were specifically fixed upon Petit Beargguy, a model of a bear robot with a bow on its back. It comes in a variety of colors and is easy enough to find on Amazon. After going on a week long trip for work, I came back with two Petit Beargguys – one for him and one for my 5 year old daughter. That weekend, we went forward to build these models.
Before I go into our experience, let me take a step back. What is Gunpla? Gunpla 101 has some great stuff on the topic including histories, how to’s, etc. So, I’d redirect you there for a lot more information, but at it’s base it’s Gundam themed plastic models which you build yourself from kits. As noted above, we picked out Petit Beargguys for the kids and I to start with. Note, I never have made these before, so I’m going in as blind as my kids. I made model cars as a kid and played with a lot of Lego kits, but this is all new to me.
So, let’s talk about basics. What tools did I need? Gunpla 101 in their ridiculously helpful article recommends a few basic tools. I started with a utility knife and tweezers. The utility knife was used to remove nubbins after snapping out the pieces. The tweezers were used to place the stickers. It was actually helpful doing it with tweezers and I would not have thought to do that myself. With my kids, I used ezpz play mats to help the kids sort out the pieces as we used them. The play mats (which you can buy here from my affiliate link) provided a useful mat with slots to sort and work on instead of directly on the table. Sorting pieces helps. A lot.
The process begins by snapping out all the pieces from their plastic frame. You can snap most of them out by hand, but some of the smaller pieces were easier for my wife and I to snap out than for the kids. There were a lot of little pieces so it was important to keep track of them all. That’s where the play mat came in handy as we were able to sort each set of pieces as they came off the frame into a different cubby on the play mat. Some of them had little nubbin’s left behind after we snapped them out of the frame. That’s okay – that’s what the knife was for. Being that my kids are 5 and 7, I did all the knife work.
Then comes the fun part – actually building them! Each set is designed to be able to be built by hand. How did it go? My 7 year old is just that much older and has that much more dexterity in his little fingers than his little sister, so he did a lot more of this by himself. That said, she was more than happy to and more than capable of putting most of it together herself. I helped as they needed help, mostly in getting the pieces fully locked into place as we pressed them together.
Our outcome? I had two kids who were excited to try out building Gunpla models, have them proudly displayed in their rooms (which served as incentive to them to keep them clean cause they were told they could not until they cleaned their room), and who are both excited to build more models!
I’m considering the Beargguy III Kai as the next set to do with the kids. It’s a larger version of the Petit Beargguy they have now and it actively can connect to the ones they already built. Included in their kit were the pieces to allow it to connect by holding hands with the Beargguy III Kai or to be strapped to its back. Either way, I think they’d be excited by it. Overall, it was a fun experience for me and the kids to do together on a Saturday while their twin 2 year old sisters were sleeping. I look forward to doing this again with them in the future and will plan to share more pictures as I continue my personal adventures in geeky parenting.