By definition, the concept of minimalism is a style of design where the subject is created with the absolute least amount of detailing in mind. In other words, every detail must be essential to a design for it to be considered minimal. I’m bringing up this concept to model building because I have seen many creations that are over-modded for the sake of trying to be complex. I believe that the trend of excess is a distraction to what is truly important in a work.
Apple is, without a doubt, one of the most famous companies that follows minimalism. Ever since the 2000 rebranding, every product from the ground up is designed and packaged with the least amount of frills and materials possible. An ipod nano which costs $150 is packaged in a small ring box. The Macbook Air is less than an inch thick! And the beautiful piece of art that is the iPhone 4 is hardly more than two shiny pieces of round glass with aluminum trim.
So what does this have to do with models? Whenever you make modifications, you are essentially redesigning the kit. If you remember, the original purpose of a model is meant to be a scaled representation of something. Can you imagine if someone decided to build an actual Mobile Suit based on your design a few centuries from now?
Okay, to be honest, I don’t think any thing Gundam-related is minimal. In fact, details is what makes these ridiculous red, white, blue, and yellow colored machines look cool. When the 00 lineart was redesigned for the Perfect Grade release, the proportions were changed dramatically by increasing the number of armor parts and edges. They still represent the same shape, but the older (left) version is more minimal while the improved PG version is sleeker. Of course, it wasn’t perfect yet because I still had to add some more details to it. Even though I made a lot of changes, I could have added even more details to it until I cross the line of ugliness. It’s very easy to get carried away in thinking “more is better.”
In the case of the Full-Armored Unicorn, it’s loaded with too much unnecessary junk. It looks like a kid trying to bring to many toys to school. Even if the weight is not an issue for space operations, the shape and clunkiness makes it look stupid. I’ll be laughing when one of the shields bumps and detonates the missile containers then setting off the fuel tanks.
So what I’m saying is, it’s better to focus on form and add details only when you are absolutely sure it makes sense. Keep trying to perfect the little things and learn to know your limits.