How To Get Into Gundam Models

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If you’re looking for a fun and rewarding activity to engage in, then look no further than building Gundam models. 

Spending time building a Gundam model can be a very enjoyable experience, and we’re here to provide you with the essential information you need to get involved in the world of Gundam models

You can also check out this video for some other tips about getting into building Gundam models.

What are Gundam scales?

You can get a Gundam model kit in several different scales depending on your preference. 

The scale of the Gundam model kit refers to how it measures when compared to an actual Gundam from the popular Japanese TV show. 

These are the most common scales of Gundam models available on the market:

  • 1/1: This scale is the same size as the Gundam from the show, and it is approximately measured to be about 1800 cm. You can’t actually build a Gundam of this scale, but you can fly to Japan to see one.
  • 1/12: Gundam models of this scale are usually put on display in hobby shops, although some are sold for very high prices. It measures about 150cm tall.
  • 1/48: This scale is often referred to as Mega Size and it is quite big. 

It is also a pretty rare Gundam model scale and it measures around 50cm.

  • 1/60: This is a great scale to choose from, especially if you want to draw eyes by displaying your Gundam models on a shelf. 

It usually comes in all the different grades of Gundam kits.

  • 1/100: This is the second smallest scale of Gundam models and it usually measures around 15cm. 

Gundam kits of this scale are not the most detailed, but they’re also relatively cheap.

  • 1/144: This is the smallest scale that you can get and it is usually the least detailed, although this is not always the case. 

Gundam kits in this scale are usually high grade and real grade models.

  • Nonscale: Any other scale that is not measured according to the show’s specifications is classified as nonscale Gundam kit.

Gundam model grades explained

The grade of a Gundam model refers to the detail of the individual parts as well as the level of expertise needed to build that Gundam model. 

The higher the grade, the more intricate the pieces are and the more tricky it is to assemble. 

These are the most common grades of Gundam models:

1. High grade: 

The High Grade kits are some of the most collectible because of the large number of Gundams produced in this grade as well as their affordability. 

HG kits usually come in 1/144 scale or 1/100 scale, although some models like Exia and Sinanju have slightly different measurements. 

The High Grade kits are great for displaying especially with other Gundams because they take up minimal space.

These high grades kits are great for anyone, and this is usually where first-time buyers begin their journey into gunpla building.

2. Master grade: 

If you want a model kit that has better mechanics, more detail, as well as an inner frame skeleton that you can display, then you should opt for the master grade model kit. 

Master grade kits are more expensive and more detailed than high grade kits. 

They only come in the 1/100 scale, although some MG kits produced recently (like the MG Unicorn Full Armor and MG Sazabi Ver. Ka.) have been significantly bigger than the 1/100 scale. 

The Master Grade kits are highly recommended for gunpla enthusiasts who are looking to have a bit of intricacy in their models. 

3. Perfect Grade: 

The perfect grade kits are at the top of the food chain in the world of Gundam models. 

These models have the best mechanics, gimmicks, and they are the most detailed kits. 

The perfect grades kits are the most expensive available because of the number of detailed individual parts that need to be assembled, and they usually come in the 1/60 scale. 

These kits take a lot of display space and they measure about 30cm in height, but you would definitely want your perfect grade kit to take center stage on your shelf. 

The kits are quite expensive but they are well worth it especially if you’re enthusiastic about building Gundam models.

4. Real grade: 

This is an alternative to the perfect grade kit if you don’t want to drain your wallet for that. 

These real grade kits are basically palm-sized versions of perfect grade kits. Despite being just 1/144 in scale, these kits still come with a high level of detail and an inner skeleton frame. 

The armor color variation and separation in RG kits are also great and that makes the kits very realistic. 

However, they maintain an affordable status, especially when you consider the detail and intricacy of the design.

5. Super Deformed: 

The kits that come in this grade are from a completely different dimension of Gundam models. 

These kits are usually around 8cm tall, and they are “chibi” in form which led to the description of super deformed. 

These kits are the most affordable and they also come with the least number of parts that you need to assemble. 

SD kits are cute and very easy to assemble so they are a great choice if you want to expose younger children to the world of Gundam building.

GradeScaleSize
High Grade1/144 or 1/10013cm(1/144) or 18cm(1/100)
Master Grade1/10018cm
Perfect Grade1/6030cm
Real Grade1/14413cm
Super DeformedNonscale8cm

Generally speaking, as the grade of the Gundam model increases, other factors like price, details, and size increase alongside. 

However, even though this principle is obeyed by almost all Gundam models on the market, there are still some outliers with respect to the grade and scale of the Gundam models.

What is the best Gunpla grade for beginners?

Master Grade Gunpla

What tool kit do you need?

Putting together a Gundam model does not require a large toolbox because all you need are a few basic tools. These include a pair of nippers, a hobby knife, as well as a sanding tool.

You can use the nippers to cut the parts to which the plastic runners or gates are attached. 

You can also choose to use some side-cutters or wirecutters, as long as the tool you select works well with small parts. 

For the hobby knife, a basic X-acto style knife is very effective. 

Choosing the right sanding tool is quite easy because hobby companies make several specialized tools, and you can even visit the nail section of your local pharmacy to get a more affordable product. 

You could even use a basic set of nail files to get rid of any small nubs that the nippers leave. 

Some gunpla hobby companies also produce small kits that come with the nipper, knife, and file together.

What else do you need for your Gundam model?

If you want to take your model kits to the next level and give them more detail, there are several options you can choose from.

You can paint the individual pieces of your Gundam kit with an airbrush kit or spray can. 

However, these tend to be quite expensive and not safe for use indoors. Many people prefer to hand paint the parts using acrylics because it is much safer and cheaper.

If you don’t want to paint the kit, you can also choose to use a weathering master. This works similar to blush (DON’T APPLY IT ON YOUR FACE) as it adds a metallic or sandy finish to your model kit. This can easily be applied using your fingers or a sponge brush. 

If you can’t get a weathering master, you can also use regular soft pastels to get the same metallic finish on your Gundam model kits. 

If all these seem daunting, then you can go for some fine-tipped model markers to add some definition to the greebles and outlines on your model kit.

What would you find in a Gundam model kit?

Your regular Gundam model kit is made up of several trays of parts or “runners” which you put together when building your Gundam model. 

Gundam models also come with stickers, and sometimes even decals for applying additional markings and colors to your Gundam model.

How to work with the model’s instruction

Don’t be shocked when you open your model kit for the first time and see the instructions completely in Japanese. 

Knowing Japanese is not a requirement for building Gundam models because the instructions also come with a lot of images that can easily be followed. 

So, all you need to do is try to replicate the images from the instructions with the parts available to you.

Should you paint your Gundam model?

You can choose to paint your Gundam model, but it is not a requirement. 

Painting the kit is not a way to cover any mistakes that came from cutting the pieces, it is primarily decorative.

What grade and scale should I start with?

The 1/144 High Grade model kit is highly recommended as the kit for beginners to start their Gundam building journey. 

This kit is very easy to build and affordable, so it’s a great way to kickstart your Gundam journey. 

Many Gundam models come in this grade and scale that you can choose from including the very popular RX-78-2 Gundam. 

Important tips for beginners

As you begin building Gundam model kits, there are a few tips that can help make your experience much easier and more enjoyable.

Important building tips

1. Check your parts: 

Although I’m yet to experience a kit missing any part, your model kit may be missing a part or two. 

It’s better to check for all the parts and ensure they’re there, instead of later discovering that your HGBDR Core Gundam is missing a leg.

2. Scan through the building instructions: 

You should do a quick flip-through through the building instructions so you can mentally prepare for what lies ahead of you. 

3. Follow the instructions completely: 

Do not try and go with the flow or create something “original”. 

Follow the manual so you can quickly and easily complete your Gundam model.

4. Nip parts only when it is necessary: 

Many beginners tend to just cut all the parts out before they even start constructing the model. 

Even if you feel prior cutting and sanding will make the building process faster, trust me that it won’t. 

Nip the necessary parts that are highlighted in the instructions.

5. Don’t force the parts in: 

Forcing the parts to stay together is not a good idea. 

Just know that if it does not fit together easily, then it will never go in any way. 

The parts of the Gundam kit are specially engineered so they fit in a particular way. 

If you face any issues while putting the parts together, check your manual again to ensure you didn’t make any mistakes along the way. 

6. Seal your kit: 

After you’ve been through the process of building, modifying, and enhancing your model kit, then you need to seal it before displaying it on a shelf. 

You can use the Mr. Super Clear to do this, and it helps to create a strong membrane around your kit while providing it with a matte finish. 

Important buying tips

Your enthusiasm about gunpla building can’t take you very far if you don’t summon the courage to get your first Gundam model. 

Buying gunpla can be a hassle, but luckily we have some tips for you on how you can easily buy online or in person.

In Person

1. Haggle: 

Don’t be scared to try to cut a deal because sellers in person are quite likely to strike a deal with you only if you ask. 

Don’t be inconsiderate with your haggling though, keep it at a reasonable price. 

2. Ask before examining: 

It’s a good idea to open the kit box and see the parts inside before you buy, but you should always ask and ensure that the seller is okay with you doing that. 

If a vendor does not let you check, then that’s a pretty obvious red flag.

3. Scan different options: 

If you’re buying at a convention, then you will meet different sellers with different prices. 

Check out the different vendors and choose the best deal. 

Online

1. Check the shipping and source: 

It is advisable that you order your Gundam model kits from a seller in your home country instead of Japan. 

There’s nothing wrong with the kits coming from Japan, but shipping would be longer and more expensive.

2. Verify the model: 

More than verifying the model and grade, also try to verify the title and look of the kit using a good Gundam reference site. 

Also, try to purchase from a seller that has a picture of the box because the image of the kit is usually clearer there.

3. Know the return policy: 

If you ever get a kit with a defective part or incomplete parts, then you will want to get it replaced. 

Ensure that wherever you’re ordering from has a good return policy so you can return the Gundam kit to the seller if there is an issue.

How long will it take to build your first Gundam model?

In general, it can take between two hours to a few weeks for you to build a Gundam model. 

The time depends on the type of Gundam, the grade, the scale, as well as any additional procedures required in the construction process. 

Also, some limited edition models like P-Bandai and Ver. Ka. tend to take longer to build than the other Gundam models. 

GradeEstimated Build Time
High Grade3-10 hours
Real Grade6-20 hours
Master Grade13-25 hours
Perfect Grade13-25 hours
Super Deformed2-5 hours

From the table above, it is clear that the grade of a model kit has a direct effect on the approximate time for building it. 

In general, the more detailed the Gundam is, the more time it should take to build it.

Should you be a fan of the Gundam show to get into Gundam models?

NO, you don’t have to be a fan of the Gundam show before you get into Gundam models. 

In fact, many people discovered the show through the models, instead of the other way around.

Where should you buy gunpla?

Once you have the essential information about models, grades, and scales, then buying your Gundam model kit becomes pretty easy. 

Living in the United States, you can get your model kit at a local Barnes & Noble bookstore. 

In Europe, Asia, and Australia, there are hobby shops that you can visit to get your model kit.

If there is no hobby shop near you, then you could always wait for the next annual anime convention. 

Here, there is a dealer’s room where you will encounter many vendors directly marketing Gundam to you. 

Buying Gundam kits online is also a great option. You can visit Amazon’s website or Gundam Planet and search for your preferred kit. 

If you can’t find it there, then you might have to use Hobby Link Japan, which means your Gundam kit will take longer to get to you.

Are Gundam models and gunpla the same?

Gunpla stands for Gundam Plastic Models, so yes they mean the same thing.

Beware! Gunpla is addictive

The sense of accomplishment that comes with Gundam models makes it a very fun and addictive hobby. After you finish building your model, you will feel proud of your good-looking model kit. 

Also, there is a wide range of Gundam models that you can choose from, so you are guaranteed that your taste is well represented.

10 beginner Gundam model kits

1. HGUC RX-78-2 Gundam Revive

The number one model kit we recommend for every beginner is the original protagonist suit from the Mobile suit Gundam show. 

It was the first mecha to ever be converted to gunpla and it’s very easy to build, while also being a classic.

2. Figure-Rise Mechanics Haro 

This model kit makes building as easy as possible. 

It is highly recommended for younger children or if you just want to set up a gundam model quickly and with minimal stress. 

It comes in several colors and it has a very distinct design.

3. HGUC RB-79 Ball Twin Set 

This orb has come a long way since it first rolled onto the scene in Mobile Suit gundam. 

It has become a fan favorite which led to the production of many gundam kits in its likeness. 

This kit is also very popular because it comes with two models, so you get double the fun in just one kit!

4. HGBF Try Burning Gundam

This model kit has a very simple yet fun design, with accessories that are easy to put together especially for beginner builders. 

This is a great choice if you want a fairly classic kit that has some unique accessories.

5. HGBDR Core Gundam / Earthree Gundam

This is a model kit for all skill levels of building gunpla. The suit is quite small and that makes it easier than normal to cut the pieces out with nippers. 

You can also accessories this model as you wish with a wide range of support armors and accessories.

6. Hello Kitty x Haro

A surprising partnership between the gundam universe and the charming hello kitty mascot led to the birth of this model in 2020. 

The model kit comes with several different configurations which means there’s more practice in building gundam models for you.

7. HGFC G Gundam

This is a very simple suit to build. It comes in a relatively small size, so the time taken to build it is usually very short. 

We highly recommend you try your hands out with this kit.

8. HaroPla Mobile HARO

This was originally a simple gundam mascot, but it now has legs that give it possibility and greater visual interest. 

Building it is still very easy and there are several flexible customizations that you can experiment with.

9. SD Cross Silhouette Gundam Barbatos Lupus Rex

This is an unpredictable protagonist mobile suit and it comes with two internal skeletons, giving you the opportunity to choose what form your model kit takes. 

10. HGUC Char’s Z’Gok

An aquatic gundam, with smooth, curved, and aquadynamic features. 

This model has fewer pieces and that makes it much easier to build. 

It is simple, affordable, and also very colorful.

Read more: What are Gundam (Gunpla) models?