What are Gundam (Gunpla) models?

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Gundam models are popularly referred to as Gunpla, which is coined from the combination of “Gundam” and “plastic”. 

These model kits are movable and buildable plastic models that originated from the Japanese animated series, Gundam. Following the rise in popularity of the series in Japan, hundreds of these model kits were released, with Gunpla building becoming a very popular hobby in the country and abroad.

What is Gundam?

Gundam is a Japanese fictional and animated show that was created by Sunrise (now known as Bandai Namco Filmworks). The Gundam universe is about giant robots or mecha that are referred to as “Gundam”, and it showcases military settings where these giant “mobile suits” are used for war.

After the initial production of the show, it had pretty low ratings which led to its cancellation. However, the introduction of the Gundam model kits as well as the release of the Gundam anime, led to a boost in the show’s popularity. The show is now well known for revolutionizing the genre of giant robots as weapons of war.

When was the first Gundam model released?

The first Gunpla, or Gundam Plastic Model, was released in July 1980 and it cost just about $3. This was the first mobile suit Gundam model that was ever produced by Bandai.

The earlier kits look nothing like the models that are produced today and the method of building was very different. Instead of just snapping the Gunpla together, the builder had to put them together using glue. 

You also needed to paint the Gunpla because all the pieces came in one color. This type of Gundam model is now referred to as First Grade kits.

Gunpla is coined from the combination of “Gundam” and “plastic”

Who created Gundam?

The idea behind Gundam came from Yoshiyuki Tomino, who is a Japanese animator, mecha anime creator, novelist, and director. He studied at Nihon University’s College of Art before he went on to create the Gundam anime franchise.

What materials are used to make Gundam models?

Gundam models are made using several materials. These include:

  1. Plastic: Most of the mass-market Gundam model kits that you will find are made using thermoplastics like polystyrene, polypropylene, or ABS. These kits use the snap-fit method of assembly and they are mainly referred to as plastic models. 

These models are primarily produced by Bandai in Japan or China, and they have exclusive production and marketing licenses for these products around the world.

  1. Resin: The resin Gundam model kit is produced using a thermoset resin, which is usually polyurethane. These models are not assembled using the snap-fit method, with the builder having to assemble the pieces with glue. 

These resin kits make up a pretty small part of the product line, and they were initially produced by small-scale and amateur manufacturers. However, Bandai has also released B-club, which is a line of unpainted resin models that are usually more detailed and more expensive than regular plastic kits.

  1. Non-plastic: Some Gundam model kits are also produced using metal. These models usually take more time to build and they are usually around the master grade level after finishing.

What are the grades of Gundam models?

In the production of the Gundam models, Bandai uses a system of grading that tells how much detail a model has. Several models are available in different grades, and they depict the same machine in their general appearance. 

However, the detail of the parts is significantly different. The four most common grades of Gundam models are:

1. High Grade (HG)

2. Real Grade (RG)

3. Master Grade (MG)

4. Perfect Grade (PG)

When you’re out shopping for a Gundam model kit, these are the four most common grades that you will find, especially if you are visiting a local store that has a limited range of products. 

The High Grade and Real Grade models are released frequently. The Master Grade models are released just a few times a year, while the Perfect Grade models are released just once a year.

As the grades go higher, they become harder to find and more expensive. The High Grade and Real Grade Gundam model kits are highly recommended for beginner builders because they have fewer pieces to put together than the other grades.

GradeDescription
High Grade (HG)This grade is easy to build, uses many stickers and does not have great detail.
Real Grade (RG)This grade has more pieces and details than HG.
Master Grade (MG)This grade has more pieces and details, as well as fewer sticker sheets.
Perfect Grade (PG)This grade has many different pieces and it is very detailed.

Some rare grades are different from the four most common ones that were listed above. These grades include:

1. First Grade (FG)

2. Super Deformed (SD)

3. Reborn 100 (RE100)

4. Advanced Grade (AG)

5. Mega Size (MS)

6. 1/100 (“No Grade)

Some of these lines are very hard to find now because they are not popular enough or they are simply not being produced anymore.

What are Gundam model scales?

Gundam model kits can come in several different scales depending on how the model measures compared to an actual Gundam. Some models defy this measurement scale, but they are quite rare. These are the most common scales used to measure Gundam model kits.

  1. 1/144: This is the smallest scale Gundam model kit that is sold. Gunpla that is this scale is very small, but that does not mean the kit is not detailed. This scale only comes in High Grade and Real Grade models.
  2. 1/100: This is the second smallest scale and Master Grade models also come in this scale, along with the Real Grade and High Grade.
  3. 1/60: This size goes up from the High Grade to the Perfect Grade.
  4. 1/48: This scale is often referred to as Mega Size and it is quite big. It is not very common because there are only a few kits of this size.
  5. 1/12: This kit scale is usually used in displays at hobby shops, but they are sometimes sold on the market for high prices.
  6. 1/1: You can’t actually make a Gundam kit of this size, but you can go see one in Japan.
  7. Nonscale: Any kit that is not scaled according to the show’s specifications is categorized under the nonscale.

Why are Gundam models different from standard model kits?

Gundam models are different from the regular model kits on the market for several different reasons. 

Firstly, these kits usually come already molded in colored plastic and you can snap-fit them straight out of the box, so the parts can be attached using things like pegs. This means you do not need any glue or paint while building the model kits. 

All the tools you need are an x-acto knife, a pair of nippers, as well as sandpaper if you really need it.

These Gundam model kits are also specifically designed to be solid structurally, and they tend to withstand more wear than the regular model kit that is glued together. This does not mean that you should be playing with your Gunpla, as that is not recommended. 

These kits are also impressive because they have accessories, working joints, as well as poseability, all obtained from a simple build process.

Are Gundam models more expensive than regular model kits?

Some models of Gunpla cost hundreds of dollars while others cost less than $20, so the price level is very relative. 

Several factors determine the price of the Gunpla model including, the grade of the model kit, the manufacturing, and pre-design process, the shipping cost from Japan, as well as the scarcity of special and limited editions.

The amount of intricacy involved in the engineering of the Gundam model kit is incredible. When compared with other model kits, along with the fact that Gundam models can easily be put together by hand without any paint or glue, then you will understand why it is usually more expensive than your regular model kits. 

The plastic quality that Bandai uses is also different from regular model kits, and these factors combine to give the Gundam models a relatively high price tag.

The Next Thing You Need To Know

How To Get Into Gundam Models

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Why Should You Build Gundam Model Kits?

Just like any other thing that becomes a hobby, people build Gundam models because they enjoy it. However, certain skills come from building Gundam models that can be very useful in our daily lives.

These benefits include:

Boosting creativity through freedom of expression 

These Gundam models are not toys and they need a high level of experience, skill, and creativity to be used effectively. You can either choose to follow the accurate depiction of the Gundam or create your own when you build your model kit. No matter which direction you go, you are assured that your Gundam model will be unique to you.

Developing spatial awareness

When you start building Gundam model kits, especially if it’s from a young age, your spatial awareness will develop much faster. This refers to your ability to perceive the space around you relative to your position. 

Building these Gundam models also helps you get better at design which is a very important attribute for architects and engineers.

Clearing your mind and boosting relaxation

Anyone that’s focused and spent time building Gundam models will tell you that the process of building the models helps them to block out all thoughts that do not relate to their current task. 

Gundam model kits help you to clear all your thoughts and take away any anxiety or stress that you might be going through at that moment.

Improving patience, concentration, and focus

Building a Gundam model kit takes a lot of concentration if you want it to come out well. Even though it is a hobby through which you can express your creativity, you also need to be very patient and focused as you build the Gundam from pieces to a complete figure. 

As you continuously build model kits, you will also improve these core attributes which are vital for performing other tasks like studying or memorizing important things.

Developing fine motor skills

Fine motor skills use smaller muscles like those located in the fingers and wrists for performing actions like picking up objects and writing. 

When you build your Gundam model kits, it helps to develop these fine motor skills much quicker, and this is especially helpful for children. Building the model kits helps to accelerate the development of certain important skills that can help in hand-related activities like writing and even tying shoelaces. 

Even people who have suffered paralyzing illnesses or injuries can use Gundam model kits as an avenue for restoring their muscle memory.

Becoming Part Of A (Great) Community

Another great benefit that comes from building Gundam model kits is the awesome community that comes with it. 

Making these models has become a skill that people learn through constant practice, and you can also learn from more experienced model builders to make your hobby even more enjoyable. 

Sharing knowledge about Gundam model building is great, and it is an activity that allows people to come together and learn from each other while having a fun time.

Top 5 Gundam model kits

1. HGUC RX-78-2 Gundam Revive HG Model Kit

This Gundam model is often referred to as the granddaddy of Gundams because it is the main mobile suit used in the original Gundam anime. 

This is a great choice for any beginner to add to their new collection. This model kit comes with a bazooka, beam rifle, shield, as well as beam sabers which you can easily snap on or off after you finish building the Gundam.

2. #12 Astray Gundam Red Frame HG Model Kit

This is a simple Gundam model kit with a bit of a flashy side. This model came from the Gundam SEED Astray series, and it has a samurai-like appearance. 

It comes with beam sabers, a shield, a beam rifle, as well as an amazing katana.

3. Astaroth Gundam Iron-Blooded Orphans HG Model Kit

The Gundam Astaroth model kit originated from the spinoff series of Mobile Suit Gundam which was titled Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans. 

This suit is quite epic as it goes through some serious repairs which involve several parts being replaced by components from other mobile suits. It also comes with an awesome foldable sword.

4. Gundam Kimaris Trooper HG Model Kit

This model kit looks quite complex, but it is great for beginners. You can even choose to convert this kit to its Trooper Form, which is a unique four-legged form that allows the suit to hover above the ground.

5. Gundam Barbatos Iron-Blooded Orphans Model Kit

This is an amazing kit to choose as your first one and you can put in some stickers to fill in the little details or even paint those areas.

Conclusion

More than 2,000 different types of Gundam models have been produced and many more will come in future years. Building your Gundam can be a very fun and rewarding task, and you can even use the models you build to decorate your table or create a special stand for them. No matter what kit you use, you will surely have a great time with your Gundam kit.