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It’s about time we dedicate an article to the hugely popular hobby of GUNPLA (ガンプラ Ganpura), which has been around for decades with a devoted and growing fan community in its homeland as well as abroad. Gunpla is the abbreviation (oh how Japanese like to abbreviate things!) of the words GUNDAM + PLASTIC MODEL and the products are manufactured by the renowned Japanese toy company BANDAI. Gunpla are customizable assembly plastic models that depict Gundam and other mobile suits that are featured in various installations of the long-running Gundam animation franchise.
To take on the topic of Gundam plastic model kits in an article is almost as overwhelming as the product line itself, which consists of tones of kits in various grades from different series, running into the sheer endless of creations. We will not be able to cover all aspects of the hobby here, but attempt to be concise and informative at the same time with general data to appeal this fantastic pastime activity to newcomers and the curious. You pros anyway will already no your stuff inside out, so there is little chance for us to impress you with this article, please forgive. You can read on or skip right over to the shopping ;).
Well then, let's dive into it! - Like the immensely demanded BANDAI STAR WARS MODEL KITS SERIES, of which we talk about in another article, also most Gundam models from the newer era employ the indigenous concept of no-adhesive / snap-together technology, which is really a signature feature of Bandai plastic models. Once you carefully removed pieces from the runners - sprue gates or frames as some may call it - you can follow the well-illustrated manuals to clip pieces together and to fix them into their places. Another advantage of the snap-fit parts is that they can be also removed again, if needed, which is not easily achieved, when working with glue. So nothing to worry, there is only so much you can 'screw up' ;).
The manuals are exclusively in Japanese language, however, with all the pictures and the innovative snap-together technology the kits are approachable for all grades of collectors. Should you happen to get stuck at some point, you surely will be able to find plenty of useful advice in the numerous online forums and portals discussing this dynamic subject. Since the pieces for many models are pre-painted, you technically just need to assemble the battle suits and the robot is ready for your display collection. There are however many ways to customize the mobile suits by adding stroke of colors (for instance with Gundam Markers) here and there or to apply the sanding method to give it a more real feel. If you want to go all the way, you can even install LED lights to make the mobile suits truly come to life in all their glory. As you may see, any limitations are only imposed by yourself!
Now, let's continue with some more technical details. There are many Gundam model series to collect from, and some of the most popular series have proven to be the Gundam Wing series, Gundam Unicorn series, Universal Century series, Double O (00) series and the Seed and Seed Destiny series, for which you will find different building grades (more about those in a bit). Alike most other plastic models, also Gundam models have an accompanying original to model scale. So a 1/100 model would be roughly 100 times smaller than the actual size of the object the kit represents. A 1/60 scale kit would only be 60 times smaller resulting in a larger model and so forth. Generally speaking for the sizes and scales, 1/144 scale kits are around 12-15cm in height when assembled, 1/100 scale range between 17-25cm,1/60 scale comes in at about 30cm size and once build together the 1/48 scale kits stand impressively with approx. 37cm.
The Gundam plastic modes are categorized into 6 main grades with the Super Deformed (SD), No Grade (NG), Real Grade (RG), High Grade (HG), the Master Grade (MG) and on top the Perfect Grade (PG). There is a lot of technology going into the manufacturing of these kits and the higher you go up in the grades, the more the level of detail and precision of mechanics will increase in complexity, be it manipulator joints to hydraulics and inner mechanics. The grades can easily be distinguished as visibly indicated on the outside of the product boxes that boast also some outstanding artwork. Following a brief overview of facts to differentiate the grades and their traits, whereby we go from top to bottom in complexity:
As its description implies, these model are near to perfection and represent Bandai's state-of-the-art mobile suit designs. They are usually 1/60 in scale, have the best detail, articulation and part quantity. However, since they comprise the best of technology, they come also often at high price tag. Perfect Grade model take more time to assemble, but the end result is a truly stunning - a highly poseable design with tons of detail. Internal detail is taken to a maximum and many PG kits come with gimmicks not present on lower levels.
Master Grade kits have great articulation and impressive detail on the outside and the internal skeletons, too, and are commonly at 1/100 scale. They are also not cheap, but are a price class below the Perfect Grades - which makes sense.
A newer product line of Bandai and bridge between the High Grades and Master Grades while retaining the MG's scale of 1/144. They're highly poseable, highly detailed, and come molded in all of the appropriate colors, so almost no painting is required for a fantastic looking kit. Their sizes and affordable pricing make them great collectibles.
The cheapest and the most collectible of the Bandai model kits line are the HG kits. Even if you don't have a large budget to spend, this would be a good starting point to get into the hobby. They have less detail and articulation compared to other grades and come without inner frames. There scale is at 1/144.
Even though labeled No Grade, generally the kits are at 1/100 and 1/144 scale, however since they haven't been released to the specifications of High or Master Grade – more like a cross-breed of MGs and HGs - the name of No Grade. While the cheapest of the Bandai kits, no grade models feature the simplest engineering and details. They often require painting and touch ups to improve their looks.
The SD mobile suit models are tiny in size and have large disproportional heads with reference to their other body parts. Your kawaii (cute) style Gundam suits, so to speak. Their size though makes them ideal for collecting, if you don't have much display space at your disposal.
We hope the overview above gives you an idea, where to start out from for the hobby. If you have already some experience, you maybe want to begin with RG models, if you are completely new to modelling, it might make more sense to take off with HGs and then gradually work your way up until the Perfect Grade models. Each series offers numerous cool-looking mobile suits to choose from and to build up your own Bandai Gundam plastic model kits collection – join the Gunpla hobby today!
Whether you are a rookie or a veteran to the Gunpla, you will become to appreciate the choice you have via our different services with Regular Shopping (incl. PRE-ORDERS), Proxy Agency Shopping and Auctions. With these services you will find great many limited and exclusive items as well as related accessories such as stands and tools to complete your hobby experience. Should you look for particular items, but can’t find them right on the spot, please don’t hesitate to consult with our team that is all-time available to assist in your queries. All that said, please have fun shopping with us and in immersing into Gunpla!
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