Gaijin Gunpla

I think most Gunplars out there are familiar with how Bandai has been doing things the last few years. They’ll create a model and then create a variant that uses most of the same parts. Many of the Premium Bandai available kits are colour variants or variants with only minor differences from the main kit. These kits need different colours or a slightly different part here or there. Bandai does not create new runners for this purpose. They instead include multiples of the same runner, only in different colours, with the understanding that the builder will, most likely, never use the unnecessary parts and most probably those parts will end up being disposed of.

Bandai’s line of Iron-blooded Orphan kits also seemed to take advantage of this concept. Create a bunch of MS that use the same frame and then you’ll only need to mould a few different parts to make up your next MS. Anything unused is unnecesary.

I wasn’t much of a fan of IBO but I was a big follower of the colour variants and the various P-Bandai versions and I would build these kits without too much thought to what to do with the extra parts. I had my spare parts box at the time which just kept getting more and more full. I’ve since given them away but I had amassed a large amount of parts that weren’t doing anything. Many of the extra parts I’ve been left with since then have been disposed of.

Perhaps the biggest example of this business model from Bandai was the MG Deep Striker released not so long ago. Once that massive build was complete I had more spare parts than could be counted. Here are some photos I took of them for the Deep Striker review.






Since then I’ve come upon another example of this and, in my opinion, it’s almost more egregious. I’m talking about the MG Sinanju Stein Narrative Ver kit. Here are the parts you’re left with.

It seems you’re given the parts for the Stein Ver Ka’s rifle which is kind of cool and can be used.


But outside of that the parts you’re left with, and there are many, are useless.

Look what they did to the H runner!

Those parts aren’t used because they wanted you to have a brown frame. But brown thrusters from that runner?

I guess that’s bad. Brown thrusters, no! So let’s give them brown H runners as well and then instruct them to do this.

You even have a half size blue runner that only uses one part. Then the same runner in gray is used except for the one part.

So you have 4 of the H runners with two complete runners worth of parts being unused and you’ve also got the equivalent of an entire one of these runners not used. I was actually frustrated by this when building the kit.

I mean, couldn’t Bandai have made a new runner for this recent Stein kit that gave you the parts you needed in the correct colour and saved having to include multiples? It would have been one small runner with gray thrusters, a blue lower torso piece, a brown piece that goes on the backpack which instead was made brown on the Stein kit by use of a sticker (!), and a pilot figure. The pilot figures for the NT Stein aren’t the right ones so you don’t get any at all.

There are just too many parts being thrown away.


Now, I think I can understand why Bandai does this. If I recall correctly from my time at HobbyLink Japan, it was explained to me that creating a mould can cost thousands of dollars. Not only that, but apparently (again if my memory is working and I can’t guarantee that) any mould that is in active use is taxed as an asset. This means that it is cheaper for Bandai to produce multiples of runners that will be discarded over producing new moulds. They can also charge a higher price point for these kits to cover the extra plastic used.

Looking back over kits I’ve built somewhat recently, we see this happens somewhat regularly…?

Here’s a picture of unused stuff from the MG High Mobility Type Psycho Zaku Ver.Ka (GUNDAM THUNDERBOLT ver.)

One shot of some runners from the MG Providence Gundam

To sum it up, it seems Bandai is okay with plastic waste.

And this is what I felt needed to be discussed and I’m interested in hearing the opinions of others.

Without trying to sound alarmist, or left leaning or whatever extreme position people take, what I think I wanted to bring up was this:

In this day and age, where climate change is becoming more and more accepted as 1) a scientific fact, and 2) the result of man’s actions, where microplastics are showing up in almost every form of wildlife pulled from the oceans and major companies like Coca Cola, etc are considered some of the biggest offenders, are we Gunpla fans okay with/accepting of how Bandai has been conducting its business?

I’ll give you time to think about it while I share how I feel (or work out how I feel through the process of writing here).

I’m old now. Sure I still hobby like a young carefree guy, but I’m old enough that I have children (plural). I’m old enough that I have to think about what’s best for them. And I’m old enough to be concerned about the world in which my children will grow up going to crap at a pace that seems to be accelerating.

I can condemn coal power (which is ironic since I just moved to Australia and they seem to be in love with the stuff). I can look at the consumer driven culture and acknowledge the affect mass global consumption has had. I can recognize that the demand for tuna, something I love to eat, is so high in Japan, a country I love, that it threatens worldwide stocks. Animal poaching still decimates endangered species at an alarming rate.

Etc ad infinitum.

So how should I perceive Bandai’s business model? It makes sense for them financially but is it responsible?

Or, because I love this hobby, do I turn a blind eye to the huge amount of plastic waste Bandai’s business must be creating?

I don’t know. Well, I think I know. My concerns for the way the world is heading is changing how I live. I consume less red meat. I try not to drive when I don’t need to and am pondering looking into hybrids/electric vehicles. I try to use less water. And I don’t think I can, in good conscience, pick up a model like the upcoming MG EX-S Gundam/S Gundam because I think there will be a lot of wasted plastic in that box, or I wait, at least, until someone does an unboxing so I can see for myself if there is a lot of plastic meant to be unused in that kit. Yup. I actually feel I have to consider my Gunpla purchases taking into account waste. Or am I overreacting?

That is a possibility. However, do I (we) take that chance?

Categories: Gunpla and Life

33 Responses so far.

  1. Frankon says:

    To be honest i was expecting more of a rant about Bandai moving more and more kits to P-Bandai… On the topic of wasted plastic, i have P-bandai Powered GM kits (still unbuild :() and every time i look at the instruction im impressed with the amount of wasted plastic…. There are a couple runners that you basically take 2-3 pieces off. The rest goes to spare parts bin to never be used again (maybe). I imagine some Bandai’s suits decided that its cheaper to leave the whole runner than have a person / machine remove most of the wasted runner and have it reprocessed.

    Ok back to other look at Bandai buisness model. Last two years was a massive increase in the number of P-Bandai kits, like the whole AOZ line (apart of the old HG kits) is P-Bandai only. I know that for bandai a increase in theirs p-bandai products is pure proft. But for the guys outside of Japan (or more precisely outside of easy to reach p-bandai store)the hobby is getting more and more pricy (paying the agents or 3rd party sites to order the kits from Bandai). I really hope Bandai would try to balance out both the regular and premium releases. I dont care if p-bandai is just a recolor but when its the only avaliable version my wallet cries….

  2. Artakha says:

    As an environmentally conscious person I would have to agree with your concern as to Bandai’s practices. But Bandai is just doing what makes sense financially. And–not to get all political–I would have to say that here is where Capitalism fails us, and where we need the regulations to work in the companies favor when it comes to dealing with these situations where being environmentally friendly can also make financial sense.

    Where I would like to see the most change are in the plastics used. I don’t know how possible this is for models where the surface needs to be able to be cleanly sanded for painting and gluing and so on–but I know some plastic-based companies like Lego have been working on environmentally sustainable alternatives made from sugar cane bioplastic, as one example. It would be cool to see Bandai at least try to develop some alternatives, as a signal that they’re actually thinking/conscious of it.

  3. Damien Payne says:

    You have something worth discussing here.

    My primary example is the PG Exia. Admittedly its only a few parts, but ( at memory ) two inner thighs, two inner biceps, a second red plate for the groin and tailbone, two of the chest vents and a second set of cheek vents.

    Thats quite a lot of excess.

  4. Ivan says:

    Hi, Syd.

    To begin with, when I read title, I thought that it would be about p-bandai only. But I understand your concern, believe me.

    About me in gunpla – I buy less and less just because Bandai stop create upgrade for old HG/MG or new kits not so good to me (except real breakthrough like rg sazabi and rg unicorn – their frame and overall build awesome beyond everything before them).

    About new molds too expensive – maybe, but Bandai, like we Russians says, get money with non-stop shovel(гребут деньги лопатой), imho.

  5. Ferris says:

    Correct me if i’m wrong but i think it’s possible to recycle those unused runners. Maybe even our gunpla made by recycled material.

    • Bogzie says:

      I think yes, but usually the one’s who recycle it is the waste management of your city or country. I would prefer though that it starts from Bandai itself.

  6. Phillax says:

    I would avoid same kit variation, it’s my way of not supporting these abominations. It’s very lazy part on Bandai and Sunrise. We get it, they are business entities but recently they have gone overboard, and I belive Gundam Build series (GBF, GBFT, GBD) are to be blamed. The rating for these shows drop with each series.

    More often than not, the leftovers including runners and really old spareparts would go to the recycling center, I do this usually once every 6 months.

  7. Damian says:

    The business of producing plastic kits is, and will be a factor that contribute to environmental pollution in a way or in another. Even if they reduce the amount of waste plastic, they will have to do new molds, and that will also uses energy and resources, right? Highly detailed molds will use up quite a bit of power, both from machines and humans, too. At least the plastic left over can be melted down and be recycled, so I think it’s not too bad. Even Bandai, in Japan, recycle left over plastic for things like EcoPla. But I don’t have the numbers so I can’t say for sure if this is still worth it over making new molds environmental wise.
    The current generation we live in is facing a big problem with our environment. We had evolved so far that the amount of energy needed to run everything is absolutely huge. Not until at least 2050 we will have fusion energy, a source of power that is both efficient AND clean, and we are stuck with fossil fuel for the mean time. Solar, wind and other kinds of renewable energy just don’t have enough capacity, but at least they help.
    I don’t think you are too over-reacting, Sid. The environment problem is a legit issue that we need to think about, but rest assured that the amount of waste Bandai pushes out is nowhere near the levels of many other industrial factories. Further more, Japan is known to be very effective in reusing and recycling stuff (take the 2020 Olypimpic medals for example, they are 100% made from thrown away phones) so at least I think Bandai know what they are doing, and they most likely won’t be too much of an issue in the grand scale of things.

  8. Andre says:

    Well Syd, I do agree with you. The world we live in is really different than a few decades ago. Everything now is going to an almost critical state where we all humans should be more considerate on how we live (waste less water, save electricity usage, etc.), including gunpla too.

    Two years ago, when I was still new in the hobby, I always liked when I got excess parts because I feel like I get many things with the price I have paid, but now since I know what the world faces, I too do not like the idea of having excessive and unused parts, because I have to pay more for the things that I don’t even use (for me, subjectively). For example is this MG Stein. I do like its design Syd, really do but I don’t buy it after I saw your build and the unholy excessive parts it has. It is way more expensive too.

    I know that Bandai, from their business perspective, tried to save as much cost as possible if the 2 reasons of the moulds you stated are correct (and maybe it is correct), but they really have to think of this again too because what they are doing is not even eco-friendly if they tend to operate this way. Saving cost for a company is really important, but they really have to consider the market and the conditions of their business too. More unused plastic, higher price point, less buyer. Extremely, if the plastic waste in this world is considered too high, it could be possible that every plastic products will be limited in their production too, meaning that Bandai will sell less and the price will also skyrocket due to the limited production.

    Therefore, in my opinion, Bandai should really try to use their plastic efficiently because of the current conditions that we live in, eventhough it might cost them a bit more.

  9. Jarrod Herrington says:

    We all want to do better. There are plenty of sites that when a model is released, they have the manual available to check out. I tend to use these sites to determine just how much unused parts come in the kit. Might be something to consider.

  10. Ray says:

    as a gunpla builder you shouldn’t throw away parts but recycle them in other kits. I don’t mind Bandai giving us extra parts. But as a consumer that throws away such parts the fault is on you

    • A different Ray says:

      That’s a bit narrow minded, some of us like straight builds, and simply don’t have time to make custom parts. I purchased 00 raiser twice to get seven swords for my 00 raiser, thankfully a nice ebayer is selling the XN backpack separately, so I could complete my ‘full armour 00’.

      I have a box of spares from all the kits I’ve bought, I’ll never really do anything with them, as such it’s a waste. Is that really my fault?

    • evora460 says:

      You do realize that all this extra plastic is just making the kit more expensive right? People are not buying it for the unused parts but for the finished product itself.

  11. Cloudrunner62 says:

    I disagree. All the plastic from Gunpla is recyclable, if I’m not mistaken. I disagree with some of your other assertions there, though I’m not looking to get into any kind of argument with you or anyone else. You’re easily my favorite gunpla reviewer, followed by Prime92. I will say that Bandai is getting on my bad side for other reasons. Charging more for a freaking recolor is not cool, nor is the laziness on certain special MGs (looking at you, Exia Avalanche.) as all the 3rd party versions had extendable skiis, among other things. I’ll also be very annoyed if they aren’t completely redesigning the aforementioned upcoming S/Ex-S MG. The original came out in March 2003!!! Practically 16 years ago! The Dragon Momoko and Daban avalanches are my only 2 3rd party kits and both were awesome quality, almost on par with Bandai. When they finally got around to making their own, I bought it as well to support the official version but, as mentioned, was rather disappointed by it. Bandai’s laziness only seems to disappear with their RG line, which remain beautiful. If they they wanna stay ahead of the competition, legal or not, they need to step up their game and get back to making good, innovative kits. Which DOES mean they need to stop reusing old runners and spend the money for new ones, cuz more ppl will buy new kits if they’re actually NEW and that’ll certainly balance out their bottom line.

  12. Iki says:

    I know that the mould used for nike shoe is priced up to 750.000$ usd.
    And that is for one shoe…

    The gundam kits contain a lot of details, so i can’t imagine the cost that goes into each kit.
    The design, instructions, mold, etc.

    • Cloudrunner62 says:

      Nike also jacks up their prices to a ridiculous amount for their crap. I do not understand ppl who spend anymore than $50, and that’s being generous, on freaking shoes. Not a fan of Nike’s recent marketing ploys either. Plastic is recyclable, and Bandai makes a point of that in Build Divers at some point, showing they make gunpla parts out of recycled materials.

  13. Zerisk says:

    I definitely support this opinion. Bandai wastes far too much, and while this is great on the build-series kits for those who want to look at kitbashes, the amount of unused runners is a little ridiculous.
    Maybe Bandai could start selling spare parts instead? I can think of uses for that if they remove unused parts and sell them at very low prices for kitbash material or for the who lost/broke a part.

  14. Alberto from Italy says:

    Well, Mr Syd, if I can well understand your concerning about environment, it is hard to believe that the relatively little amount of plastic you can find in a Gunpla can really affect THAT much environment, at least because Gunpla plastic can be recycled easily (here in Italy it is so). Nevertheless, reducing plastic production is to be achieved, no way out, and this is not a way to get this result.

    In my opinion we should ask Bandai another thing: how much do the plastic excesses make the price of a kit rise up? I mean: I can understand that recycling can cut down costs for Bandai when producing, but… does it keep prices low when the kit is to be sold? If I am supposed to pay more for the unused plastic, well I get angry: not only does this allow the maker to have got a reduced cost, but it also allows Bandai to ask for an extra fee for something I can’t use.

    Now, I’m not that kind of guy who sees industrialism as an evil to fight as Char did with the Zabis: I can accept as a standard that any manufacturer must maximize its earnings and profits when selling: otherwise bankruptcy is due to come soon, and that’s no good for anybody.

    What I totally dislike is maximizing when contrary to good faith and commercial loyalty: paying the right price for an hobby is ok. But the right price is when I pay for having something I can use FULLY, not partially, at an expense that lets the seller and the manifacturer earn their good living. Nothing to say about this. But I get furios if half of the kit can’t be used: what am I supposed to do with the leftovers of the Sinanju Stein NV? What comes to my mind is: was it impossible to get an H runner with multiple colour injections brown/grey or whatever the two colours were? I cuold have tolerate the two backpack pieces if I had got a multilpe coloured H runners which could not contain only those two pieces. But in this way it looks like a mere “not-so-loyal” way to extremize profits, and I don’t like it at all.

    You know, Mr Syd, this reminds me of a little thing that happened with an old kit. I didn’t pay too much attention to it in 2009, but now it looks more meaningful and not to be forgotten, even if it might look just a puny episode if ompared to the Stein NV… Do you remember the old Rx78/2 MG ver 1.5, released in 2000? Well, I happened to build it in 2009. In this kit you were given also some pieces which were leftovers from the 1.0 kit. Among them, you could find the 1.0 white V-fin. What’s odd? Well, this V-fin was moulded on on small, tiny, puny, microscopic sprue of its own. Yes, I mean the only piece on the little sprue was the USELESS V-fin… Why did Bandai insert it at any cost in the kit? I don’t know, and I can’t understand, as I am not able to find any good reason according to which this meaningless piece was to be compulsorily put in the box. But I paid for it and I have got no way to use this piece.

    I haven’t liked this, as you can imagine. Right the same way, I don’t like having a good half of the pieces unused: that’s wasting my money and nothing else. As you can imagine, I’ll never get either a Deep Striker or a Sinanju Stein NV: I’ll keep my money for something really worth while its price.

    • Phillax says:

      I have a theoretical win-win solution, instead of producing runners, could they somehow just do plastic-injection to only create the part itself? Part numbers can be subtly etched on covered surface of a piece, although this may be harder to achieve on small or narrow parts.

      You can tell I’m just being hopeful and lazy now 😉

      • Alberto from Italy says:

        If I understand correctly… do you mean something LEGO-like, sir? With all the pieces mixed up in the box and you just have to search for the piece itself?

      • Ikk says:

        This would leave marks on the parts.
        It would make it a lot more difficult to package.
        It would cost a lot more.

      • evora460 says:

        That’s not how plastic injection molding works. It’s not like the only purpose of having runners is so gunpla kits are easy to package or handle by modelers. Everything plastic injection molded came on a runner. Sometimes you can see that the nub marks are still there on things like plastic forks or cheap toys.

  15. Evan says:

    This isn’t uncommon in the model industry. For some time I was heavily into WW2 armor and Dragon Models were notorious for the number of sprues packed into kits that only contained a few need pieces. It does makes sense, if they have a common piece already tooled, to just reuse the existing molds. And there is the added benefit that (at least in this case) lots of the unused parts were useful for other production blocks.
    What irks me is when Bandai will include a sprue for one part, but molded in the wrong color and expect a sticker to fix it. If they have the molds, why not just mold it in the correct color? At the prices they’re charging for MGs stickers are insulting.
    As for the environmental impact, you are correct, all the excess plastic is wasteful. Perhaps Bandai and others could rethink their approach, but plastic is cheap…If you’re really worried about it, maybe buy less kits, I honestly wouldn’t feel too guilty about getting a new kit every now and then. Maybe we can all cut some waste out of our lives?

  16. Harold says:

    I get why they do it, and don’t agree with it. What this also tells me is that the Japanese consumers are not as conscious about this. When I was young I used to keep all the spare parts for dioramas or other personal variations (also, back in the 80s and 90s people didn’t care as much)… we even heated the runner frames to create antennae for tanks and such.

    Anyway, I think the Japanese need to demand this to Bandai as I think their international market is miniscule compared to their domestic market.

  17. DraconicDak says:

    Many local Gundam groups will allow members to sell their unused parts to others looking to use them, or donate to a group “parts yard” that anyone can pull from for free at meetings.

  18. citrus says:

    It’s a matter of cost, not waste. If the projected cost of creating new molds exceeds the cost of using extra material over the lifetime of a kit’s print run, then it simply doesn’t make sense to make new molds. Let’s say new molds cost 1,000,000 JPY to produce (not unreasonable), and let’s say the material to include two extra runners in the box costs 100 JPY per kit (also not unreasonable). If we don’t increase the box price, we’d need to sell at least 10,000 kits just to break even on casting new molds.

    If this kit is something popular that we anticipate to sell many, many copies, then new molds are worth considering. But more often than not, these “wasteful” remolds are not popular, and they’re not intended to be reprinted very frequently, if ever at all. The total amount of this kind of waste, even in the whole scheme of gunpla, is negligible.

    There’s really nothing to talk about here.

  19. Stephen says:

    It is indeed, quite a waste of plastic for the MG Stein NT. And it gets worse with any P-Bandai releases or modded kits. Don’t get me wrong, I do like having extra thrusters at times (for kitbashing) but as I grow older and have less time for model kits, the extra bits just go into the spare parts bin that gets increasingly larger.

    I’m already quite frugal when it comes to purchasing kits, only getting the ones that I know I’ll want to display in all their glory, but I do look at the contents before any purchases to know what I’m getting and what to expect.

  20. GBD says:

    I believe that all of the plastic Bandai uses except for ABS is recyclable. This is also why you tend to not see much ABS runners with extra parts from modern kits. I’m not sure how much of it is salvageable and if recycled plastic is used by Bandai in producing kits, other than the EcoPla line which was basically a gimmick, but it’s nice. Check if the Recycling Center near you can take your spare runners and parts. Other than that I absolutely agree. It bothers me a lot, and I’m sure there’s a lot of people who just don’t recycle their runners and they just end up in the rubbish, which sucks!

  21. BNuts says:

    The waste is much more visible if you only use one or two parts from a runner. In any case, postage is more expensive the heavier a package is, regardless of whether that fee is effectively included in the item price or not.

    I would save any unused parts for use later on, but more recently I went through my closet for things to purge, and many parts were among those items, since I didn’t see a way to use them. And then there’s all the plastic in the runners themselves once you’ve cut off the parts. If every country could recycle the plastic that would feel like a big load off one’s back.

    It’s ironic given how Bandai and Sunrise shone a light on their EcoPla in the ‘Battlelogue’ episode about Acquy’s vengeance toward Bearg’guy and Petitguy. You’d think Bandai would more actively promote their recycling program after that.

    We should hold a contest to build plamo out of leftover parts. A couple of my gunpla are made of what would be considered leftover parts from kitbashed customs. But like I said, it’s impossible to use all the parts.

    And more just get added as we buy more kits.

  22. evora460 says:

    I was just reading on GKC a minute ago about all the new P-BANDAI AoZ kits Bandai’s been spamming out lately so I was expecting you to notice and decide to touch on how Bandai’s been making everything-not just color or slight mold variants-P-Bandai recently. I agree this is an big issue although I haven’t bought any kits with this big of a problem but I think you should give your opinion on some of the bigger controversies that Bandai is having lately, namely the problem stated above.

  23. Dominic Teoh says:

    If I understand you correctly Syd, your biggest concern is that the extra wasted plastic from unused parts contributes to environmental pollution. Is this right?

    If yes, I would think the simplest and most effective solution is to recycle the plastic, just as you would do for all of the leftover sprue. Assuming you’re already recycling the sprues I’d imagine there is negligible difference. Of course, this assumes that the majority of people recylce their sprues, so perhaps an effective move on Bandai’s part is to promote recycling?

  24. Dave says:

    I’m surprised that no one has mentioned 3D printing here yet. In the next 10 years or so model sprues could become a thing of the past. Instead vendors could sell patterns for the models online and people would just print (only) the parts they need at home. This idea probably scares Bandai (it terrifies Games Workshop) as it would disrupt their control over the hobby and eventually force them to reinvent their business. But it would be an elegant solution to the problem of wasted plastic.

  25. Joew says:

    It is extremely normally to see Bandai recycling their parts which ended up many extra unused plastics. Creating a new idea, new gunpla is quite costly considering more and more mold needed to be made. Besides, it is also time consuming to work on new idea for gunpla.
    I think in general Bandai is a company that needed profit to move on and Japan itself is arguably the leading country when comes to recycling and environment protection. If the method that they are doing generates profit and does not break any environmental law in japan, i think they would still continue to do that..
    However, as a fans and consumer its sucks to see that happen. All we could do is do the things that is right and buy the things that we need…

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