An Introduction to Gunpla


I don’t usu­al­ly write, so this may be a bit awk­ward at first, but I want­ed to in­tro­duce you to a pas­sion of mine, and that is Gunpla. For those out there that don’t know, Gunpla is Gundam Plastic Model Kit short­ened. They come in mul­ti­ple grades and prices, with the cheap­est be­ing the 1/144 scale No Grade kits, while the most ex­pen­sive and de­tailed com­ing in around $200 for the cheap­est Perfect Grade kits that are near­ly 20 years old. Most of the time they are made us­ing ABS plas­tic, with some rub­ber for con­nect­ing joints. Most also come with foil stick­ers for the shinier bits, though some builders pre­fer paint­ing above any kind of de­cals or stick­ers. That is just the tip of the tow­er, with resin mold kits avail­able for those with the pa­tience and skill for such techniques.

As far as the grades go, most start out with 1/144 scale High Grade. Simple, quick to as­sem­ble, and with ba­sic de­tails mold­ed into the plas­tic. Most HG kits come in around $15, though at the ex­treme end is one that costs near­ly $300. The kits are hol­low, with lit­tle in the way of in­ter­nals, and only ba­sic gim­micks and ar­tic­u­la­tion. There are ex­cep­tions of course, such as the HG Gundam Barbatos, which has an en­tire in­ter­nal frame struc­ture, be­ing as most of the vis­i­ble on-screen Gundam is bare frame with lit­tle ar­mor. Most gim­micks are done with parts form­ing, or just mov­ing pieces around to achieve the de­sired look, and for the most part is done well enough with­out im­pact­ing ba­sic articulation. 

Image via

Mast Grade kits are the next step up, be­ing done in 1/100 scale, with much more de­tail and over­all parts count, and a high­er price to match. Even the old­est 20 year old kits still sell for around $40, and most oth­ers sell­ing for around $60. Exclusive kits start to come in the MG line as well, be­ing known as P‑Bandai, and start around $120, though most­ly they are re­col­ors or slight vari­a­tions of the orig­i­nal kit. In this line in­ter­nal frames are nor­mal, with vary­ing lev­els of com­plex­i­ty and de­tail. The out­er ar­mor is de­tailed, with most com­ing from pan­el lines mold­ed into the plas­tic, with lit­tle need to paint for on-screen ac­cu­ra­cy. Foil stick­ers are still com­mon­ly used, though not to the ex­tent of HG kits. With the MG line, gim­micks are built in, with slid­ing mech­a­nisms, hinges, and small gears.

Also in the 1/100 scale are No Grade kits. Basically, they are just big­ger HG kits, al­beit with some ex­tra fea­tures not usu­al­ly found in ei­ther MG or HG. Some have a very ba­sic in­ner frame, while oth­ers are hol­low; some use built in gim­micks while oth­ers use parts form­ing. Most of the No Grade kits are for mo­bile suits that have enough pop­u­lar­i­ty to call for the high­er price tag that comes with the larg­er scale, but not pop­u­lar enough to war­rant the cost of the ex­tra de­tail and in­ner frame of a MG. These kits can range any­where from $30 – 100 de­pend­ing on the over­all size, with most falling around the $35 mark. No Grade kits also come in the 1/144 scale, though they have not been made in that scale for a few years as the process for mak­ing the HG kits has ad­vanced enough to low­er pro­duc­tion costs and con­sumer prices to such a point that they would es­sen­tial­ly cost the same, for low­er detail.

The last grade in this piece is Perfect Grade, and they are as the name im­plies, the best Gunpla you can buy. They are in 1/60 scale, and have in­tri­cate de­tails on even the small­est, most hid­den parts. Pistons work as ac­tu­al pis­tons, tiny de­tails are mold­ed in, and the in­ter­nal frame is — quite frankly — ridicu­lous­ly com­plex. Nuts and bolts are not un­usu­al to see on in­ter­nal pieces, pip­ing is com­mon, and LED lights are com­mon­ly used to light up cam­eras and oth­er glow­ing pieces. The PG line is the small­est, with few mo­bile suits deemed wor­thy enough of the cost of de­vel­op­ing such an in­tri­cate kit. Like all oth­er grades, they are snap fit, some­times with screws to hold heav­ier pieces. With such an in­tri­cate build, in­di­vid­ual fin­gers are pos­able, ar­mor is re­mov­able with­out tak­ing parts of in­ner frame off with it, and even the cock­pits are in full de­tail. However, un­like the oth­er grades, paint­ing is al­most nev­er need­ed as all parts are mold­ed in cor­rect col­or. These kits are at the high-end of pric­ing, even for the old­est kits, com­ing in at around $130 for the cheap­est 20-year-old PG, and near­ly $500 for the newest. Complexity plays a large role in cost, as the sim­ple no frills PG kits have far few­er parts comparatively.

Image via rrobbert184
Image via rrobbert184

That sums up the ba­sics of Gunpla, but there is still far more to go into, with resin molds, cus­tom builds, and more for any­one in­ter­est­ed. The pop­u­lar­i­ty of Gunpla may not seem like much in the United States, but abroad is a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent sto­ry with com­pe­ti­tions like the Gundam Builders World Cup tak­ing place in China, the Phillipines, and Japan. In those com­pe­ti­tions the cus­tomiza­tion of kits of all scales would make you think they are mere­ly stat­ues, un­able to move, but they can move and are of­ten posed dif­fer­ent­ly in or­der to im­press judges.

As far as things go, that’s what I’ll be talk­ing about main­ly around here. Gunpla news, re­views, and what­ev­er else comes to mind with mod­el kits in gen­er­al. I’m a mas­sive weeb, and you can sim­ply call me GundamArashi, as that is where you can find me most places. Writing this has been a plea­sure — an odd one at that at school nev­er re­al­ly in­stilled a need to write. I hope to write more for you all, and hope you are in­clined to give Gunpla a look!

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GundamArashi is an un­abashed weeb who has been en­list­ed to jour­nal his love of Gunpla and anime

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