The RX-78-N(obel) is my first Gunpla custom build and is the debut for my alias, zeonzeoff. Build duration: Nov 2020 – June 2022
This all began as an exercise to learn, and specifically to learn by copying. I took some great ideas from Gunpla builder, 白用感叹号, and their HGFC Gundam Nobel > RX-78-2 conversion build (referenced below). Along the way, I made some of my own design decisions due to personal taste and skill/tool limitations. I will compare all future builds to this one and use it as a reference point for my improvement.
While not the first Gunpla kit that I’ve built, it is the first one I wanted to modify. I lurked on Reddit‘s r/Gunpla and Pinterest for too long a time trying to plan a nice mistake-free procedure for my own build. In the end, I made tons of mistakes anyway.
In programming, we usually start learning a language and test its compiler and runtime with a “Hello World” program. For Gunpla, that’s starting with the iconic and titular RX-78-2. It was the mobile suit I saw everywhere growing up. At first, I specifically avoided it and thought it was too vanilla. But I’m older now and I think it’s fitting to have my own RX-78-2. I’ve watched the original anime and its classic design has grown on me. I’m eagerly awaiting my Beyond Global kit in the mail as I write this.
This build log/description is personal documentation. I invite anyone who has any ways to expedite my build journey by sending advice, tips, and comments. I would be grateful. Smarter people than me said to document everything and to learn publicly.
Ace Pilot Gunpla’s MS. GM
I was most intrigued that it was possible to work with mobile suits that had more feminine visual language, shape, and stance. I wanted one too and I knew I had to make it. The omnipresent RX-78-2 popped into my head and thus, the idea for my build was born. A Nobel Gundam converted into an RX-78-2 would be my first custom. It would be my Hello World Gunpla project.
白用感叹号‘s Nobel Gundam RX-78-2
Wary that it was probably not a novel idea, I looked up “Gundam Nobel Customs” on Pinterest and eventually stumbled upon this build by 白用感叹号
All of these photos belong to 白用感叹号.
The best way to learn is to copy the masters, or at least someone much better than you. I was a little bummed that I wasn’t the first to consider this build idea but also relieved that it was done so well and in a way I knew I could copy.
A Custom Training Regimen
By trying to copy this build, I would force myself to:
- Practice – skills I developed prior from carpentry and scale model building in architecture school and later profession)
- building new forms
- Putty sculpting
- PLA plating
- 3D printing
- building new forms
- Learn – to do for the first time a lot of finishing techniques by hand
- light weathering and panel lining
- apply water slide decals
All possible with basic entry level tools.
Copying better projects and products is a great way to improve my skills and pushed me to adapt and grow in areas I’d never encountered before. I’m excited to have an excuse to make models now that I have a new career in software.
I just tried not to break the bank so that I wouldn’t resent my mistakes.
I bought myself these three kits to start my build.
2009 Gundam 00 High Grade GN Archer
- 15$ purchased through Gundam Planet
- 2011 High Grade GF13-050NSW Nobel Gundam Berserker Mode
- 28$ purchased through Ebay
- 2017 High Grade HGBF RGMGM-79 GM/GM
- 18$ purchased through Ebay
- 2020 Entry Grade RX-78-2
- 9$ purchased at Target
The Nobel Gundam is from a series I had never heard of when I found out it was used for Ace Pilot Gunpla’s Ms. GM build. It is featured in the anime Mobile Fighter G Gundam and is piloted by Allenby Beardsley.
I watched the first two episodes out of curiosity and decided to table it while I jumped into the original series (I had watched Iron Blooded Orphans while it came out) to fully immerse myself in the hobby and I have been enjoying it immensely while I’ve been falling out of Star Wars.
The HGFC Nobel Gundam is a simple and adorable kit. It’s incredibly easy to assemble and disassemble and has a fun poseability not often seen in other HG Gundam kits. Its color separation is okay and meant that painting would be rather involved, but the design and build of the kit was overall a positive experience. My fiancée totally got a kick out of seeing that a Sailor Moon inspired Gundam existed.
While I had wanted the regular mode, I could only find a Berserker Mode version of this kit on Ebay for sale in my budget at the time. The kits are very similar and only differ in their color (non-issue considering I’d be painting over it all) and the “hair” sculpt (another non-issue as I’d be crafting a custom head piece to make look like the RX-78-2).
When bashing the kits together, it looks like I didn’t use any GN Archer at all. I didn’t realize that since I didn’t want to make a GM conversion, I wouldn’t need the GN Archer. I built it anyway for fun and it sits on my shelf with Gundam Marker panel lining and a matte topcoat.
But this is where I first felt I might be in over my head. Upon cataloguing all the changes I’d need to make, I was overwhelmed.
- 3D printed
- back of helm
- chest grills
- leg/shin extensions
- wrist guard
- PLA Plating
- pauldron bulk
- Needed more parts from EG RX-78-2
- groin v-fin motif
- shorten Beam rifle
- GM Shield edits (removal)
- GM Backpack mod
- General scribing
That’s quite a lot and much more than I could handle without proper supplies. I put the whole project on the back burner and chipped away at it for a YEAR AND A HALF. I needed to buy an airbrush, compressor, paints, build a paint booth, design, and print parts, test fit and modify, sand the whole thing, and prime it. Crap.
Over that year and a half, I made countless mistakes. I was discouraged many times and stopped working and continued on another day, week, or month. And I wanted to one day build with a nice workshop that was stocked to the ceiling with expensive kits and supplies. I told myself I had to prove I could work with these entry level supplies and still make something to be proud of before throwing all my money into a hobby I wasn’t committed to skilling up on.
I sat with a primed model for quite a while, wary about jumping into airbrush painting. While I procrastinated, one of the things I did to ease my apprehension about messing up my painting was work out the color scheme and painting plan by doing it digitally. I traced a photo of my build and sat with the design for about a week testing out color combinations.
The Workstation and Materials
During the time from winter 2021 to summer 2022 I bought these items to begin stocking my workshop. I might have forgotten some things but the bulk of it is here. Each time I stopped my build because I didn’t have the means to achieve the next change, I delayed and pushed my project.
I bought these items all over the place from Amazon to local crafts stores. I finally found an amazing dedicated Gunpla hobby store after moving to Mercer Island, Washington near Seattle called International Model Toys run by Tom Dang. I go there now for everything I need, especially because I can support a friendly Vietnamese Gunpla master modeler.
- Self-healing cutting mat (10-20$ depending on size)
- Master Airbrush and a compressor (~ 110$ total)
- Studio G’s GPaint lacquer paints (8 bottles for 70$)
- I watched many of his videos and was was sold on these paints which did not need to be mixed and ready for a RX-78-2’s default color scheme. They worked very well after I got used to my airbrush
- MODO Lacquer thinner, syringe
- Mr. Hobby Surface Primer
- A paint booth
- Gunpla Tool Starter Set
- Hobby knife, blades
- Scribing knife/chisel
- Nippers, an entry grade God-Hand
- Sanding sponges of varying grits
- Rub n Buff for silver parts
- Skewers and clips for painting
- Cotton Buds
- Paint mixing cups
Even at the entry point to the hobby, wanting to customize Gunpla does require a bit of investment for tools and the time and patience to learn to use them. I had to get really creative and work with what I had. Getting some decent tools seemed like a sound investment and a way to learn with less friction.
This build is far from perfect. I can still see all my mistakes all of the time when I look at the kit, however I am very happy overall with how it turned out. I am eager to move on to new builds so I can use all my lessons learned, but also because I’m just incredibly excited to realize new creations that have been stewing in my head for a while now.
Over the past year, while working on this the RX-78-N (I also changed the name of this build quite a few times, a few notable ones including the RX-78-2 F-Type [way too long] and the RX-78-F [a little too on the nose with a feminine design]) I have build a few other High Grade kits and am currently working on a Master Grade 1/100 P-Bandai Zaku High Mobility Type Shin Matsunaga’s Custom and a MG 1/100 Gouf. I am working on them both at the same time to make a custom set. I’m stoked to work in a larger scale.
While I’ve taken photography classes before, I do plan to dive into toy photography classes on Youtube and Skillshare. I am ready to level up my photography, build out this portfolio, and continue to share my journey!
Please follow me on Instagram: @zeonzeoff to for WIPs and more photos!
Until next time, thanks for visiting and reading.