Chapter 4 of Gundam Sousei presents a hurdle for Tomino, which is commonly shared by creators of mecha anime–the producers hate the mech. The producer argues that a stark-white mech is too plain, and that no one would buy it. Zero potential toy sales = zero show. Yoshikazu comes up with a quick solution–one could say too quick–but a hasty job with crayons shows how much different a mech can look like to the eyes of someone who’s shelving money for a 40-odd episode toy commercial. And hey, it’s good! Keeping most of the white in prevents the RX-78-2 from looking like a gaudy super robot, while the blue-red-yellow torso looks easy on the eyes and breathes character into the mech.
In the first place, it’s plain that Tomino didn’t intend to put the white-blue-red colors on the RX-78-2. His Gundam novels are testament to that, in which he had free rein to do things–for the greater part of the story, Amuro uses the G3 Gundam, which is painted mainly in gray (and also possesses the Magnetic Coating technology, but that’s another entry). It makes sense in an environment where pilots are often forced to operate visually.
Throughout the 30 years of the Gundam franchise, the original RX-78-2 colors still crop up for the main Gundams of each succeeding series, if only in spirit (the Freedom is probably the most deviant, sporting white-black-blue colors). I believe that I’m not alone in thinking that a few main Gundams look better in other color schemes (especially the Trombe and Titans color schemes), but it’s the tried-and-tested colors that immediately convey to the fan that “hey, this is the baddest Gundam in the show and we want you to buy gunpla of it more than any other.” That doesn’t stop Bandai from re-releasing the same kits with different colors, though! (See: MG Zaku II 2.0, Gundams of 00)
Many a mech has been ruined by ugly colors. While the consummate modeler could always paint a model kit any way he likes to, the poor unwashed snappers (me included) get turned off by a kit with a less-than-desirable paint scheme. It’s not just reals, either. There are a ton of supers that look ugly, simply because their color scheme is plainly retarded.
At any rate, it’s shit color schemes that drive /m/en to come up with recolors of their own. Some make sense, others are just for fun, but all are pretty awesome in their own right.
Some good examples:
Update: ghostlightning demands kits, so I bring kits.