What is Gunpla?

Gundam + Plastic = Gunpla

Introduction

Gunpla, short for "Gundam plastic model", refers to the model kits based on the popular anime series Mobile Suit Gundam, which aired in 1979. The kits come with numerous pieces that need to be carefully cut out and assembled using hobby tools.

Grades

High Grade? Master Grade? Entry Grade?! With so many kits out there, of course it'll be very confusing and overwhelming when starting out, so we've added this legacy infographic from Bandai, which hopefully will help you inform your decision on where to begin!

Remember, there's no right or wrong but it depends on the complexity you want to invest yourself into when building your Gundam!

  • Entry Grade, or EG, is a new line of beginner-friendly Gundam kits that were released in 2019. They are similar to High Grade kits in terms of complexity, but are designed to be even easier to build, with fewer parts and a simpler design. Entry Grade kits are snap-built, meaning that they do not require glue or paint to assemble. They are a great starting point for those new to the hobby, or for those looking for a quick and easy build.

Customisation

One of the main appeals of Gunpla is the ability to customize your models. The kits come with a variety of pieces that can be swapped out or painted to create a unique look. Some fans even go as far as scratch-building their own custom parts to make their models stand out. This level of customization allows for endless possibilities and encourages creativity in building and design.

However it's a big misconception that you need expensive or specialist tools to create stunning builds. Quite the opposite actually! You only need some basic tools outlined below to get started. It's always worth dipping your toes first before taking the plunge!

  • 1. Gather your tools

    For absolute begginners, you will only need a pair of nippers to get started. But it is also reccomended to get a sharp hobby knife [be carefull!], tweezers, and some sandpaper or a sandpaper stick to remove any nubs or rough edges from the plastic pieces.

  • 2. Cut out the pieces:

    Using nippers, carefully cut out the pieces from the plastic runners. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully and take your time!

    [Pro Tip: Always cut with the flat side of the nippers away from the plastic! That way you avoid chance of damaging the plastic parts].
  • 3. Assemble the frame and add the armour pieces:

    Some grades of Gunpla have inner frames such as the Real Grade [RG] or Master Grade [MG] line ups. The frame is the inner skeleton of the mobile suit and provides the structure for the rest of the model. Follow the instructions to assemble the frame, being careful not to force any pieces together. 

    Armour pieces: Once the frame is assembled, begin adding the armour pieces to the model. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully, as some pieces may need to be painted or customized before they can be added.

  • 4. Decals:

    Many Gundam kits come with decals and stickers that can be added to the model for extra detail. Be sure to carefully apply these, as they can be difficult to remove once they are in place.

    You can also purchase various water slide decals, which eliminate the hard edges of normal stickers!
  • 5. Panel Lining and Topcoat:

    While this step is completely optional, this will take your snap built kit to a whole new level! Once the model is fully assembled, you can add some panel lines to all the thin line gaps, which will make the mechanical parts stand out. Finally, apply a topcoat to protect the surface, seal in the panel lines and give the model a finished look.

  • 6. Display:

    Finally, display your completed model with pride! Many Gunpla fans create elaborate dioramas or displays to showcase their models.

Conclusion

Remember, building Gunpla is a hobby that requires a little patience and attention, however the end results are even more rewarding when you finish a kit. It allows you to bring your favourite mobile suits to life! And with all the customisation options available, each model is unique and building them is a great way to improve your craft skills and provides a way to destress and unwind after a long day.

So whether you're a Gundam fan or just looking for a new hobby, Gunpla (or any other plastic hobby kit for that matter!) it's definitely worth checking out.

So, what are you waiting for?! Grab your first kit and happy building!

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