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The way to purchase the best Gunpla and construct your first mannequin


On the most well liked days of summer time 2021, I used to be searching for a great interest to cross the time within the nice indoors, ideally one thing that didn’t require me to stare at one other display screen. I’d lengthy been Gunpla (a portmanteau of “Gundam plastic mannequin”) curious: I used to be a fan of lots of the anime and manga on which the fashions are primarily based. I like constructing Lego units. I’d even purchased a Gunpla equipment proper at first of quarantine and promptly forgotten it in my closet. Entering into Gunpla appeared like my destiny, however would I really take pleasure in it or solely discover it irritating?

I opened up my RX-78 Gundam and was relieved to find I didn’t want glue to carry it collectively. The completed mannequin was shockingly posable, like an motion determine. It was additionally colourful, proper out of the field, no portray wanted. And better of all, it was enjoyable to construct!

That was a bit over a two months in the past. Since then I’ve constructed six, seven, eight Gunpla, three show stands, and bought far more kits than I care to confess publicly. Constructing Gunpla is an interesting, tactile interest that allows you to work together with your fingers and make one thing cool.

Simply be forewarned: Gunpla tend to multiply in a short time!


Desk of contents

What’s a Gunpla?
How do I purchase a Gunpla? There’s so many!
OK, I’ve obtained a Gunpla. How do I construct it?

What’s a Gunpla?

Gunpla are motion figure-sized plastic mannequin kits primarily based on the long-running large robotic anime and manga sequence Gundam. The time period can be the trademarked identify of Bandai’s line of fashions, although very similar to the phrase “Kleenex,” Gunpla as a descriptor has come to embody merchandise made by different corporations together with non-Gundam robots like Evangelion. Past Bandai’s Gunpla line, there are additionally non-robot plastic mannequin kits for Dragonball Z characters and even a stunningly correct Cup Noodle mannequin equipment.

What units Gunpla aside from many plastic fashions is that they’re surprisingly articulated and extremely posable. They’re rather more like motion figures than a statue. If a Gundam transforms into an area aircraft in its anime, its Gunpla possible does too. Gunpla additionally are available in quite a lot of sizes and sometimes embody extra equipment than a single determine can maintain. These embody beam sabers, bazookas, and even separate spacecraft.

A pink Gunpla flies through the air with the aid of a clear plastic stand, while another gunpla faces away from the camera.

You don’t have to know who Char Aznable is to understand his Zaku (nevertheless it doesn’t harm).

Why ought to I construct Gunpla?

You would possibly discover Gunpla a enjoyable interest should you take pleasure in constructing Lego units, taking part in development video games like Minecraft, or watching large robotic anime like … Gundam. Constructing Gunpla is a pleasurably tactile expertise. The items typically snap along with a satisfying click on and match collectively much more completely than Lego bricks as a result of nearly all of items are exactly engineered for that mannequin. It’s additionally a soothing indoor exercise that’s quiet and sluggish paced but in addition offers you a real sense of accomplishment.

It’s virtually meditative the best way you go about finding items, getting ready them for constructing, and snapping them collectively. Typically I’ll placed on a podcast or some chill music whereas I construct, and fairly shortly any stresses or worries my thoughts couldn’t cease fascinated with fade away. I’m within the Gunpla zone.

There’s a motive that Gunpla constructing movies have change into their very own style on YouTube. The engineering on among the extra superior kits is really a marvel to behold, and should you do not imagine me right here’s former Mythbuster Adam Savage having his thoughts blown as he builds his first mannequin. Gunpla kits look sick, they’re impressively intricate, and constructing them is simply enjoyable.

They’re additionally inexpensive, with newbie degree kits promoting for round $10 to $20. They don’t require any glue to remain collectively, and nearly all of Gunpla builders by no means paint their kits as a result of they give the impression of being nice out of the field. For those who’ve put collectively a Lego set and even an Ikea mattress body, then you may in all probability construct a Gunpla. Even superior kits aren’t essentially that a lot tougher. They simply have extra items and require extra time.

OK, I need to get into Gunpla!

Maintain on a second! First, it is advisable get a software!

A TOOL!? I assumed you stated this was a simple interest to get into!

It’s, I promise! And technically you will get away with out utilizing this software in your first equipment. That’s what I did, as a result of I additionally didn’t know I wanted instruments, however I might have simply damaged a bit and it made my mannequin messier than it needed to be. Plus, utilizing the software is extra enjoyable!

OK, what’s the software?

A pair of interest nippers, that are designed to fastidiously and effectively take away the items of your Gunpla from the runners. Certain, you can twist these out together with your fingers, however that’ll make your mannequin look loads rougher. Some kits even have tiny items that might simply get damaged should you take away the items that manner. Nippers make it simpler to keep away from ugly plastic stress marks and trim away as a lot of the plastic gate as potential, which is important in among the extra superior kits.

A pair of hobby nippers sits on a grid.

Interest nippers are the one software you actually need to get began constructing Gunpla.

Like several interest software, there are excessive finish and midrange choices, however you can begin utilizing a sub $10 pair. There are different instruments value investing in later, however that is the one you want upfront. For those who actually don’t need to spend money on nippers earlier than attempting out the interest, you may all the time use a pair of wirecutters in your first equipment, however you’ll positively need some interest clippers ultimately.


Tamiya Interest Cutters

Costs taken at time of publishing.

A stable model of interest nippers, good for Gunpla.

Wait, what’s a runner, why does it have a gate, and who’s stressing out all this plastic?

Runners are the plastic sheets that the items of a Gunpla come packaged in. In contrast to a mannequin airplane or miniature from Video games Workshop, every equipment features a few runners in numerous colours. This is the reason Gunpla fashions actually don’t have to be painted. But it surely additionally means it is advisable be a bit extra cautious with the bits, because you gained’t be laying on paint to cover your errors. Usually, the bigger or costlier a equipment is, the extra runners and colours it’ll embody. That leads to extra coloration separation (Gunpla followers love coloration separation) and effective element within the completed mannequin.

A photo with the word runner with lines indicating it as the name of the sheet of plastic containing Gunpla parts. Another line points out the pieces connecting the runner to the Gunpla parts are called gates.

Each bit is held within the runner by a pair slim branches of plastic. The very finish of these branches is what’s referred to as a gate (or typically nub). That is the half that you simply’ll be clipping off to take away a bit from the runner. The plastic is burdened and turns white if it’s not clipped appropriately.

However we’re getting forward of ourselves, at the very least a bit. Earlier than you begin constructing it is advisable purchase your first Gunpla.

OK, I obtained some nippers, however how do I purchase a Gunpla? There’s so many!

For those who’re a fan of a specific sequence, choosing out a Gunpla ought to be fairly straightforward. The extra standard a Gundam sequence was, the better it will likely be to search out Gunpla fashions primarily based on it. Kits for newer sequence, like Cell Swimsuit Gundam Seed and Gundam Construct Fighters are extensively obtainable, as are older sequence like Gundam Wing and the unique Cell Swimsuit Gundam.

For those who’ve by no means seen a Gundam sequence earlier than and aren’t prepared to look at a number of motion pictures beforehand, you may all the time simply decide no matter robotic seems to be coolest to you. Gunpla are assorted in color and style, so it shouldn’t be arduous to search out one thing that fits your vibe.

Grade and scale

Crucial factor to know when looking for Gunpla is the grade and scale of the equipment. Grades outline the complexity and typically model of the equipment, whereas scale describes its dimension in comparison with the scale of the particular robotic it’s primarily based on. So a 1/100 scale equipment is 100 instances smaller than the precise robotic could be and usually measures in at round 8 inches tall.

You’ll be able to normally discover the acronym for the grade on the entrance of the field. Most on-line shops will categorize their merchandise by grade, which makes issues loads simpler. You might even see another phrases beneath the grade, like Common Century, or a Gunpla with the grade HGAC. These further phrases and letters describe the timeline the Gundam is from, which is useful for followers searching for fashions from their favourite sequence. Common Century refers back to the timeline the unique sequence was set in (in addition to many subsequent sequence), whereas HGAC means Excessive Grade After Colony, which refers back to the Gundam Wing timeline. There are a lot of Gundam timelines, however you don’t have to find out about these to get into Gunpla.

Right here’s a fast description of the 5 most typical grades.

HG (Excessive Grade)

HG or Excessive Grade kits are usually 1/144 scale or about 4 to six inches tall. That is in all probability the most typical grade and the very best place to start out for a newbie. Whereas some extra obscure sequence don’t have kits within the different grades, virtually all of them have HG kits. The builds are usually easy, with few (if any) stickers and decals. Costs vary from $10 to $40.

MG or Grasp Grade

MG or Grasp Grade kits are 1/100 scale or about 7 to 9 inches tall. These are extra advanced than HG kits, with finer particulars, larger high quality coloration separation, and much more spectacular articulation. Whereas these kits usually embody a lot of stickers and decals, a lot of the improved coloration separation and element comes from the intricate layering of a number of colours of plastic. It seems to be spectacular and makes the construct much more satisfying because it comes collectively. Costs vary from $35 – $100.

The Wing Gundam Gunpla kit floats in the air, supported by a clear plastic stand.

The Actual Grade Wing Gundam is perhaps among the finest Gunpla kits obtainable.

RG or Actual Grade kits are 1/144 scale or about 4 to six inches tall. RG kits are deliberately not correct to their anime or manga variations. That’s as a result of “actual grade” kits’ complete schtick is that they characterize what the Gundam would seem like in “actual life”. That is ridiculous and it guidelines, as a result of it interprets to extra effective particulars, coloration separation, and transferring components. Even the plastic feels prime quality. Primarily, actual grade kits have Grasp Grade degree particulars in a Excessive Grade dimension. Costs vary from $30 – $100.

Whereas RG kits are extraordinarily cool, among the first kits undergo from issues colloquially known as “early actual grade syndrome.” The problems principally relate to items being too unfastened, which might be annoying if you’re attempting to pose your Gunpla. It’s particularly unhealthy after they’re small, simply misplaced items. For those who’re involved, you may all the time verify what yr RG kits had been launched.

SD or Tremendous Deformed kits don’t have a set scale as a result of because the identify suggests, these fashions deliberately warp the scale and scale of Gundam’s with exaggerated physique components, usually in a “Chibi” model. That stated, they normally measure in at 3 – 4 inches tall, with complexity extra akin to excessive grades than grasp grade. Costs vary from $10 – $30.

PG or Excellent Grade

PG or Excellent Grade are 1/60 scale and are at the very least a foot tall. These are among the largest, baddest Gunpla round, with beautiful particulars, in depth coloration selection, and genuinely spectacular mechanisms. That’s why Excellent Grade kits begin at $200 and solely go up from there.

OK, I’ve obtained a Gunpla. How do I construct it?

A close up of a sheet of Gunpla parts, called a runner.

Find the desired piece within the right runner.

Observe the directions, actually. They are going to confer with particular person items by a letter and quantity. The letter refers back to the runner and the quantity refers back to the particular half in that runner. Professional tip: It helps to arrange your runners in alphabetical order for faster half finding.

A Gunpla piece removed from the runner, but with nubs still attached. A hobby nipper sits at the side.

When eradicating an element, depart a couple of quarter inch of the nub.

Use your nipper to clip out the piece, however don’t nip it straight out of the runner. As a substitute, depart round 1 / 4 inch of the gate or nub nonetheless connected to the piece. Then you may fastidiously clip the remainder of the gate utterly off when you’ve eliminated it from the runner.

A Gunpla piece with its nubs removed and sitting to the side. A hobby nipper sits to its right.

Lastly, you may fastidiously nip the remainder of the nub or gate.

Extra superior builders would possibly use a interest knife to do that step, as nippers can nonetheless trigger plastic stress marks, however that isn’t one thing to fret about as a newbie. Nevertheless, it could be finest to keep away from kits with a lot of darkish colours, initially, as these present stress marks extra simply.

As you construct, you’ll discover some symbols pop up within the directions. You’ll shortly internalize what these imply, nevertheless it’s vital at first to go slowly and double verify every one (they need to be defined on the backside of the instruction web page they seem on). They clarify when to do issues like flip a bit over, or which tiny a part of the nub you’re speculated to trim off, and which half stays.

A photo from an instruction manual depicting symbols and their explanations in English and Japanese.

These are the kinds of symbols you would possibly see in Gunpla directions, however they’re all the time defined within the first web page or two.

Meeting can take anyplace from 2 to 10 hours, relying in your talent degree and the mannequin’s complexity, nevertheless it’s straightforward to interrupt up the construct over a few classes as a result of the directions are divided by physique half. You’ll be able to construct the pinnacle and torso one evening, the legs and arms the subsequent, and end up the weapons and equipment the evening after.

The directions ought to be clear sufficient so that you can construct with out some other steerage, however you may all the time discover extra detailed constructing guides on YouTube.

I’ve had a ton of enjoyable constructing my first Gunpla, however now what?

If, like me, you’re a nerd, you’ll in all probability take pleasure in displaying your Gunpla on the shelf. It’s straightforward to pose them into motion scenes, and the included equipment provide you with a lot of enjoyable choices. You may also buy a show stand, which could be a plastic pedestal or an armature that will provide you with tons of dramatic posing potentialities. For those who’re not content material with merely having your Gunpla on show, you may all the time get into Gunpla pictures!

A grey, black, and brown Gunpla marker sit on a grid.

Gunpla markers are a enjoyable and straightforward strategy to customise your Gunpla.

If you wish to get extra inventive you don’t have to instantly bounce to portray. Panel lining is an additional degree of element you may add to your Gunpla that’ll give it a bit private contact. Gunpla fashions have intentional grooves within the plastic that are supposed to seem like separate panels of metallic and you should utilize very effective tipped markers to make them stand out. Panel lining markers are low cost, and the outcomes might be surprisingly dramatic. There are superior methods to panel line a Gunpla, however panel lining markers are tremendous straightforward to make use of and a cinch to erase and redo (take a look at this nice tutorial video to see what I imply).


Gundam Panel Lining Markers (Black, Gray, Brown)

Costs taken at time of publishing.

An excellent starter set of Gunpla panel lining markers (black ink for darkish and funky coloured plastics, brown for heat coloration plastics and gray for white plastic).

A Moon Gundam Gunpla kit looks at the camera while aiming it’s energy rifle at the lens and holds a beam saver to its side.

The Moon Gundam is a superb instance of how panel lining can add extra element to your Gunpla.

The reality is that when you’ve constructed one Gunpla, you’ll in all probability both understand it’s not the interest for you, otherwise you’ll change into hopelessly sucked in. There’s positively a robust accumulating facet to Gunpla, which is exacerbated by the best way Bandai sells restricted run particular editions on its web site. Accumulate sufficient fashions, and also you’ll uncover among the common connectors they share that means that you can combine Gunpla collectively, an exercise often called kitbashing. There are additionally tons of critiques and how-tos on YouTube that may additionally preserve you entertained between builds.

Better of luck, pilot!

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