I had a lot of fun writing my 2021 Gunpla retrospective. The only problem is that I waited until February of 2022 to write it. So when it came time to write the 2022 retrospective, I decided to wait until the literal last day of the year to publish it.
This year I’m adding in a third category, for a total of 3:
- 3 kits that surpassed expectations
- 3 that failed to meet expectations
- Kits which were my flat-out favorite for the year.
With that said, let’s begin!
Tallying the numbers
If I did my math correctly, my build tally for 2022 looks like this:
- 19 kits fully built
- One accessory pack fully built
- One kit assembled but not painted or detailed
- One GFrame figurine unfinished
For the sake of comparison, I completed 20 kits 2021. Seems like I’ve found a somewhat steady yearly pace. I’m quite curious to see whether I keep it up in 2023.
Now for the winners of each category. The choices were tough, as this year was filled with some pretty great kits overall. Assume that if something isn’t on this list, then it’s still probably pretty good.
Who knew that such a simple kit would look so damn good? Sitting on the shelf next to its Zeonic comrades, the Gogg is taller, wider, and bulkier than all of them. Combined with its clawed hands and piercing monoeye, it makes for quite an intimidating presence.
I think it manages to capture the “movie monster” aesthetic of Zeon’s amphibious mobile suits without being overly ridiculous. It has a familiar, humanoid shape, but the long fingers and segmented arms give it a deliciously inhuman vibe.
The Gogg was the very definition of a pleasant surprise.
This was a slog to build, but damn if it doesn’t have a commanding presence on the shelf. It’s not so much due to its size (though like the Gogg, it’s size is noticeable on the shelf), but rather its appearance. The Messer’s spiky, “hell knight” gets better and better the more I look at it.
I’m as surprised as anyone to be putting this on the list. But the truth is that the Strike Freedom has been my favorite desk decoration at work throughout the year.
Part of the reason is that, somehow, this was one of my better builds for the year, with very few mistakes. That helps a ton.
Another reason is that, despite having guns strapped to its hips, and massive wings on its back, dareisay that the Strike Freedom is surprisingly simple. Its body is almost entirely red, grey, and white, which gives it a clean, lean, old school look. And with its wings all folded up, it doesn’t even look all that “extra”. Instead, the wings start to resemble a cape, which gives quite a dominating, regal vibe.
I still don’t plan on watching Gundam SEED Destiny, nor do I imagine I’d like watching the Strike Freedom in animated form. But this High Grade gets high marks.
Failed to Meet Expectations
Let’s reiterate something here - if a kit is on this list, it isn’t necessarily bad. At the very least it simply means that it didn’t match what I expected from it.
(Though it could also be bad!)
I really thought that this was going to be the best of the Gundam Breaker Battlelogue model kits, but that’s not how it played out.
Visually, the Helios isn’t bad, but the more I think about it, the more and more I realize that it’s just a fancier version of the Double X Gundam. And while I like the color scheme in theory, in person it isn’t quite as bright and refreshing as it should be.
But the biggest problem with this one is that the model is extremely fragile. It’s torso likes to come apart, and its wings do not like to stay in place. It’s hard to get it into a cool pose without something or another falling, sagging, disconnecting, etc, and that sapped away a lot of my interest in this one.
That’s right - two Battlelogue kits make this list.
The Quan[T] Command just isn’t as cool looking in person as it is in animated form. Part of the problem is that the color scheme is not as dark as I was expecting, and part of it is that its weapons and accessories aren’t as cool as I was expecting. I still like the idea of this one, but in retrospect I think I would have preferred an original SD Command Gundam.
This thing looks like a dream, no doubt about it. But its articulation is worse than I expected, and it likes to fall apart. Posing it was an extremely difficult task, to the point where I just gave up. I think I understand now why some builders prefer the original, “1.0” Master Grade of the F91, because this one makes some weird compromises in the name of visual fidelity.
Best of 2022
Finally, here are my three most favorite kits from 2022. The top of the top.
I love this thing so much.
Yes, it’s old, and yes, its articulation is not the best. But damn if this is not the meanest, sleekest, coolest looking Gelgoog variant ever designed.
It’s big without looking fat, and minimalist while still looking heavily armed. With that rifle in its hands it looks like it’s ready to take on the world.
I’m not sure if it’s the Glossy topcoating. I’m not sure if it’s all the tiny details that make it look almost like a Master Grade. But this is my favorite model kit of the year. It just looks so badass and lethal, with its big gun, shoulder thrusters, and bulky (but still streamlined) silhouette.
It’s the model that convinced me that the Jesta design actually has merit. And it’s a heavily armed beast to boot. The Jesta Cannon looks like a BAMF from every angle.
End of Year Observations
- This year I built both a Real Grade model and a Master Grade. That doesn’t really mean anything: I just thought it was an interesting factoid.
- I built a lot of Battlelogue kits this year, and much to my surprise, the kits that were simple recolors of existing mobile suits were way more interesting than “new” designs that mashed up existing suits into something new. I get the feeling that the mashups were designed based on what would look good on screen, with less attention paid as to whether they would work as models.
- I think the most prevalent theme of the year is that older, outdated models continuously proved to be as good (or even better) than newer ones. The older kits require you to put in some more effort (in terms of painting, removing seam lines, etc), but in exchange they have lots of great gimmicks and lots of “glow up” potential.
The Future (bad)
It’s kind of hard to say what the future holds. I feel like I’m at a crossroads. My backlog has never been bigger, and it’s getting to the point where I’m starting to hate myself every time I buy another kit.
Additionally, with the acquisition of several sheets of waterslide decals, and (finally!) learning how to remove panel lines, I’m able to make models look better than I ever have before. And yet I kind of don’t want to.
All this extra work takes, well, work, and for personal reasons I’d rather not get into, I’m not able to stay up as late as I used to. I have, at best, an hour a night in which I have the mental and physical energy to work on a kit, and sometimes that just isn’t enough. Which means that I’m spending fewer nights a week building.
Which means that my building output is slowing down.
Which means that my backlog keeps getting bigger.
Something has to give. Either I need how to figure out how to stop adding to the backlog, or I need to crank out kits faster (by being less of a perfectionist). I’m not sure which path I’m going to go down, but it has to be one or the other.
The Future (good)
I have a ton of awesome kits to build! I’m really excited to get to some of them, including my choice for the first kit of 2023, my very first model from The Witch from Mercury.
Beyond that, we’ll have to wait and see what I’m in the mood to built. There are certainly more than enough good choices to pad out the entire year.
And with that, I bid you all a Happy New Year. I’ll see you in 2023.