My first exposure to Gundam came in the form of Gundam Wing, which aired on American television when I was in high school. I only caught the last half or so of the series, and was left largely confused by the end, but I nevertheless came away knowing two things: I wanted to grow out my hair like Zechs, and that his mobile suit, the Tallgeese, was far and away my favorite.
That first encounter with Gundam led to my first efforts to build Gunpla. However, at the time no Tallgeese kit was to be found at the toy store which carried a few High Grade kits (and it didn't occur to me to order online; I was only a freshman). So I contented myself building the HG 1/100 Gundam Deathscythe, Wing Gundam Zero, Wing Gundam, and Deathscythe Hell Custom before losing interest and moving on.
Fast forward about seven years. We've just settled into our apartment in Taibei. It's September, so still sweltering. It's my birthday, but I've got nothing to do. Ben, kind of out of the blue, suggests we find a place that sells Gundam models. We ask the interwebs. We are told to go to a place called Ximending. The rest, as they say, is history.
Having yet to see any Gundam aside from part of Wing, I naturally sought out the HG 1/100 Tallgeese on that first visit of discovery to the modeling paradise. And at the time all I knew of painting models came from a brief stint collecting Warhammer 40K miniatures in middle school, so naturally I decided to paint the Tallgeese by hand.
As you can see, the results were… questionable.
Despite the shortcomings of the kit, Tallgeese remains the mother of all mobile suits… At least in the After Colony timeline.
My comments above probably make my opinion of this kit's quality clear enough. Of course it's not very fair to critique the shortcomings of an old High Grade from the perspective of contemporary Master Grade engineering. My purpose in posting images of this kit so long after it was made is to show the real point at which I returned to Gunpla modeling. Char's Zaku was not only my first MG model, but my first spray-painted, inked, and topcoated Gunpla — which is to say the first instance in which I applied the basic techniques which have since developed into the skills I still use and build upon. This Tallgeese, on the other hand, was built and painted without any study to prepare me. The techniques I used were throwbacks to old methods, and were not well-adapted to this kind of model.
I began by spraying the parts with dark grey as a primer. (Of course, it didn't occur to me to spray both sides of each sprue.) Then, while they were still on the sprue, I painted each piece by brush, trying to create panel detail by drybrushing over panel lines and edges, letting the dark undercoat show through. As I might've anticipated, it takes a few coats of white to cover over a dark base coat, so this process was exceedingly laborious. Additionally, my brushing was far from well-controlled, so the result is highly inconsistent, and often outright sloppy. It wasn't until later that I learned panel detail was more easily accomplished the other way around, by painting first, then inking over the paint.
Once the painting was finished, I chopped the pieces off the sprue and assembled the model with no further detailing. I didn't bother to clean up or paint over the clip marks, leaving right hideous blemishes all over the suit. By the time I got around to assembly, I was so tired of the tedious painting that I had little energy left for the project. Moreover, of course, I didn't know a thing about filling in seam lines.
That was basically that until I got into the Universal Century and began building Zakus two months later.
Despite my embarrassment with this model, my dissatisfaction with the kit itself, and my relative lack of interest in Gundam Wing nowadays, Tallgeese remains one of my favorite mobile suits. Deep down somewhere inside, it may even be my greatest favorite. In any case, I continue to hope that someday we may see it in MG form, that I might have a chance to do it justice.