When I was a kid, I NEVER watched Voltes V. I just never got the hook about five (were there five?) people inside machines that connect to make one giant robot. I never got the appeal of Masked Rider Black. And as I found out, there was even a show called Macros (tama ba?) which were the predecessors of the now famous Gundam Shirizu.
It's a serious dearth in my 80s and 90s education, I am aware. I just can't ride along when people wax nostalgic about Richard and Erika. Or the yellow panties of Annie in Shaider. So now that Gundam is unobtrusively but definitely inching into my life, I feel a little lost in the game. But the true character of the Geek is to never back down from an interesting challenge, so I find myself embracing the universe of Gundam Model Building, at least starting from the theoretical.
Have you ever tried buying a gundam model from toy or hobby stores? If you are uninitiated and raw as I was, believe me, just don't do it. Last Christmas, my head was within an inch from exploding trying to find the right Mobile Suit Gundam Wing Zero MG model. Yes, try reading that again. That mouthful actually mean something to Gundam enthusiasts. I went to five.... FIVE... stores trying to locate the right model. And it turned out there were a handful of Gundam Wing models and the slightest punctuation could spell the difference between right and wrong. It was stressful at first, but then I realized that I don't have to do it alone. I can ask for help from the shop attendants. The MALE shop attendants.
Women don't have a clue. Inside SM Fairview's Toy Kingdom, the saleslady actually said, "Mam, yan lang po ang mga robot-robot namin." Whereas the Men... Well, I suspect that there are men who have a secret trigger that activates upon hearing the "R" word and from polite, detached salespeople, they become Martin Luther Kings, Jr. One store owner in a secret (read: possibly illegal) shop along Taft Ave even took it to heart to explain to me the difference between the Wing and Wing Zero Models as well as showing me his Destiny series. I made a mental note that if the boy I'm buying it for fails to appreciate the effort, I can always thank him for pointing me towards the fact that Gundams make for an excellent pick-up line and conversation starter. Win-win!
But appreciate it he did, and I guess he somehow knew that his padawan is now ready to understand the art of hobby crafting. He couldn't have done it in a better time. I was ready. All he had to do was show me this picture : http://www.bakuc.com/modeler/Naga%20Geni/4693
and I was in awe.
I have no idea why I didn't see it before, but I now realize that much as I smirk at the thought of little boys playing with robots, I have to admit -- robot model crafting is ALSO an art. A painstaking one. I marveled at the reticulated fingers of the Perfect Grade models, the neat precise decals, and all the details which would just kill me --- it will kill me, i promise. He actually needs to use tweezers to put together some of the parts. I was surprised at how intricate and time-consuming the process was and also understood it takes a very, very, very patient person to commit to this kind of craft. Hearing him describe how he feels when he's building, made me see that it's exactly how I feel when I paint or write. I can't help but feel schooled and overclassed. Especially when I asked if there were Girl Gundams and got a patient answer with nary a smirk or haughtiness: "There are girl pilots... of gundams." Aaaah...
SO do I start making gundams? Ehrm... no. I'll give it to the person who won't go insane trying to put together parts smaller than mice teeth. What's important is I now understand why it will enthrall a person with the right kind of personality so much. And I welcome it to my life, like Resident Evil, molo soup and Gap shirts. It just makes life more interesting. But there is of course a caveat to this --- give me a heads up when you're going to hibernate with your robots, or else I'll go all evil drone on you.
Capish? Capish. :D