Gundam Modeling 101 for Beginners

Gundam, the mecha anime series, first premiered in Japan in 1979 and soon took the world by storm, changing the way people view giant robots. It attracted many fans across the globe, thanks to the robots’ impressive design. Its action-packed scenes, with mechs shooting lasers at each other, were also otherworldly fascinating at that time. No surprise that it also reached the realm of scale modeling, and Gunpla, short for Gundam plastic models, also became famous for many model enthusiasts.

If you’re a modeler and want to build a Gundam yourself, you made the right choice, as these models can be a stunning addition to your shelf display collection. But before you start your Gundam modeling adventure, here’s a quick guide to help you get the best Gunpla model!

Selecting Your First Gundam Model Kit

Choosing your first Gunpla kit is crucial, as the first take usually sets your feelings about a particular hobby. Of course, you’d want to make the initial experience a fun and memorable one and avoid any frustrations getting your way. To do that, you must select a kit fit for your skill level based on the model’s grade and scale.

Grade refers to the level of expertise required to complete a specific model. You should begin with the most straightforward grades with minimal details before moving to very detailed but more complicated ones. Here are the different types of grades you’ll encounter:

  • Super Deformed: SD Gunpla models are comical models with a weird yet cute, smallish proportion, seemingly like a caricature of their realistic models. They have the least parts and lowest quality but are undoubtedly adorable, especially for those who want to add fun to their collection.
  • High Grade: High grade Gunpla kits are the most widely available and accessible you can find in the market. These are the first kits released by Bandai in the 1990s and were considered the most complicated models. However, as the demand for Gunpla grew, the company decided to create even more complex and intricate kits. Today, High Grade has the simplest engineering and lowest-price point among the realistic models, making it the best option as your first Gundam model.
  • Real Grade: Real Grade kits are the next step up, which you can take after mastering building High Grade models. What separates them is that they have more intricate details and come with an internal skeleton, more poseable arms, and painted parts.
  • Master Grade: Like Real Grade kits, Master Grade kits have molded and painted parts but are relatively bigger and costlier than the RG kits. Only a few models are released each year, making variety a problem if you want to settle on collecting these models. As its name suggests, you also need to have ample skill level before dealing with one of these kits.
  • Perfect Grade: Perfect Grade kits are the top-tier kits, most accurate and detailed but are also the most expensive. They are also the most intricate to build, requiring a few weeks to complete.

On the other hand, Scale refers to the model’s size compared to the actual Gundam mechs in the anime, which are 58 feet or 18 meters. Scales can vary from 1/144, 1/100, 1/60, to 1/48. 

  • 1/144: It is the smallest scale available, which means it is just a tiny fraction or 144th of the size of the actual model. RG and HG kits are usually made on this scale.
  • 1/100: Most Master Grade kits come in scale, the next size up after ng 1/144 scale. Generally, 1/100 MG models stand 7.5 inches, which is 2-3 inches taller than the HG and RG models.
  • 1/60 and 1/48: These scales are big models and are only sought by seasoned Gunpla enthusiasts. Due to their immense size, they certainly make the ultimate display piece but can be harder to find a location for if you have limited space in your room.

Building Your First Gundam Model Kit

After getting your first model kit, it’s now time to begin your adventure! First, be sure to follow the instructions provided to avoid getting lost in the way. A crucial mistake other modelers make is building the models their way. However, it can easily result in errors like failing to build prerequisite parts and undertaking ones that should be dealt with later.

Second, take your time. As a beginner, you mustn’t rush and savor the process to avoid getting overwhelmed. Focus one step at a time and divide the sections if needed to deal with them appropriately. 

Lastly, accept that mistakes are inevitable. If you missed any part, try to read back, see where it should be placed, and redo the process. Not to worry, through time, you’ll get to master building your Gundam plastic models and even devise your strategies in building them quickly. Happy Gunpla modeling!