Fixing a Gunpla Bootleg – Akatsuki 1/100 Scale

Although I used to buy bootleg kits when I started collecting Gunplas more than fourteen years ago during the time when I didn’t know any better. But now I’m a reformed Gunpla collector and I’d rather buy the legit stuff than spend money on poor quality knock-offs a.k.a. bootlegs. Last February, a kid brought me his MG Strike Freedom Full Burst Mode kit, unfortunately it was a bootleg. I spent a fair amount of time fixing and propping it up to look nice somehow, but a bootleg can only be prepped up to a certain extent.

It looks nice, but don't be fooled, IT'S A BOOTLEG!!

It looks nice, but don’t be fooled, IT’S A BOOTLEG!! Doing a half-assed job on it took me three full days, it’s unpainted, but heavily sanded and machined.

The Strike Freedom bootleg was a nightmare to build, now the same kid who owned the above mentioned bootleg came back to me to get another one of his kits fixed, this time it’s the Akatsuki Gundam. This model kit is made by the infamous Gao-Gao, or TT Hongli brand, like most of its works, the over all quality is bad (it’s worse than the MG Strike Freedom kit). Even if many people claim that this bootlegger is good, I will strongly disagree! I have yet to see any kit produced by this bootleg to be on par with what Bandai makes.

Akatsuki_box

Anyway, back to the task at hand. The kit was previously assembled by a kid who has little, or NO experience in Gunpla building what-so-ever, so I had to start fresh. I disassembled the kit, but since it’s badly made, the whole thing fell apart after simply holding it.

 

Diagnosis of the patient: The builder had no experience in building any model kits. Unfortunately for him, he started working with a bootleg. The bootleg kit itself is poorly engineered and for a novice Gunpla builder this thing is a challenge of monumental proportion. And NO, bootleggers don’t use the so called ‘old molds’ from Bandai, people think that these bootleggers get their molds from the original source, but is just a misconception. Why would Bandai give, or sell their stuff to the competition?! Bootleggers simply buy an official kit and re-cast it and the result, a substandard copy with poor fittings and poor details. During the bootlegger’s re-casting, they discard many details from the original and one of those details is the clever ‘under gate’ technique Bandai uses to hide the nubs on gold colored parts. So, we get the monstrosity that is pictured below.

akatsuki_fix

By not using the under gate technique, the tiny plastic protrusions (called gates) that connect the parts to the runner (the plastic tray that holds the parts) are all visible and most often distort the shape of the pieces.

akatsuki_fix2

In the above photo, the plastic parts that form the upper arm don’t lock together very well because they were poorly reproduced. The polycaps are all loose and they can barely hold the arms up. I just can’t understand the logic of those cheap-ass people who justify themselves for buying bootlegs, I mean, JUST LOOK AT IT!!

akatsuki_fix3After dismantling the whole thing, I sanded the parts that had extra gates and removed the nubs on them and machined the fittings so that I can apply cement on it.

akatsuki_fix4

After the horrendous sanding, I managed to make the parts fit. As you can see the gaps in between parts are a lot less compared to the previous photos. But still, there are stubborn areas where they don’t just fit well. One of the horrific things that I discovered with this bootleg is that the material is not PS plastic, it means modeling cement doesn’t work on it.

akatsuki_fix5

The final product looks nice, but if you look closer, you will find many imperfections on it. Don’t let the shiny gold coloring fool you, many areas are actually turning white. It won’t be long before this kit will turn from gold to silver.

akatsuki_fix6

These are just some of the imperfections you’ll notice right away.

At the end of all that hardship and frustration fixing this thing all I can say is, this bootleg is just bad. Forget how cheap it is and how much bootleg supporters prefer it over the legit stuff, it’s just bad. The quality is bad, the articulation is bad, the fittings of the parts are bad, many of the pieces and accessories fall off easily and you have to be extra delicate when handling it. The joints are very loose even after putting in some fillers to make the joints stiff some parts just won’t stay in one position for long, and since the kit is not molded with PS plastic forget about cementing this thing to stay together, you’ll need super glue. In short, IT IS BAD.

Here are some photos I took of the kit. Though it’s a bootleg it still has some photographic qualities.

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