Tips To Improve Your Gunpla

This year marks the 40th Anniversary for Gunpla. If you're completely new to Gunpla, we suggest you check out our previous blogs; it's filled with information to help you get started on the wonderful world of Gunpla. Continuing with our celebration, we're here to give you builders some tips to help you improve. These tips are not necessary, but if you're wondering what else you could do after building your kit or even when you start a brand-new one, here are some helpful tips.

Cutting Properly

As a beginner, it is easier to want to finish your kit as quickly as possible, but that can leave plenty of room for error. It's best to get into the habit of cutting the runner not too close to the part. When you cut too close to the required piece, you could leave white marks which are caused by stress from the plastic. It is ok to leave a slight nub, because our next tip will fix it.

Removing Nubs & Sanding Parts Down

While assembling your kit, you may have several nubs from cutting pieces off, and we have a simple tip to help you remove those pesky nubs. Please refer to the image slide for example:

  • Step 1: Examine nub
  • Step 2: File down the nub 
  • Step 3: File it down until it is smaller 
  • Step 4: Sand area down with 400-600 grit
  • Step 5: Polish using 1000+ grit

This may look like a chore but the end results will have you amazed. Remember that it is fine to go slow and steady. There is no need to feel rushed when you build any hobby kit. 

            Step 1
           Step 2
                         Step 3
                         Step 4
                      Step 5

Using Panel Lines to Your Advantage

Left example is panel lined, while the right is without any panel line application.

What is a panel line? They are those shallow grooves found all over your kit. These grooves give the kit more detail, and with a proper application of ink, you can heighten the overall aesthetic look of your Gunpla. There are several ways to apply ink onto your kit, one method is using ink, and the other is using a panel line marker. You'll also need a cotton swab or a eraser to wipe any excess ink.

First is to give an overall look at your kit, and where you'd like to panel line. Once you've found the part(s) you want to panel line, grab your ink or marker.

For ink bottle: Unscrew the cap (most have a brush attached to the cap) and remove some excess ink on the brush. Then you lightly touch the panel line, and watch the ink run through it. You then take your cotton swab and remove excess.

For markers: Uncap the marker and run the pen down the line. Use a cotton swab to remove any excess ink; you don't want thick lines. An eraser can also get the job done once the ink has dried. 

If the black ink is too bold to your liking, both mediums can also be found in a gray color, which is better suited for mobile suits that have more white parts.

Removing Seam Lines

Whenever you finish a kit right out the box, seam lines are found all throughout the kit. This is perfectly fine, because it is to be expected. For others, those lines can be jarring and would prefer to remove them. Some may want to enter a contest and removing the seams will give it a better aesthetic look. Here's our helpful tip to help you remove those seams and make your kit look flush. You'll first need a couple tools:

  • Hobby Cement (We suggest limonene type)
  • Sanding Paper (400-600, and 1000+ for polishing)

After acquiring your tools , you simply select which parts you want to remove the seam from.

  • Step 1: Pry open the part or if you're building it along the way, add the polycaps (if needed).
  • Step 2: Add a coat of the hobby cement on the edges where you want the seam to be removed. Depending on the type of cement, the glue may dry quicker, so several coats may be needed.
  • Step 3: After adding the cement, seal back up the part and SQUEEZE the two halves together until dry; This will allow the glue to melt the plastic and bond the two parts together. Excess glue can seep out, but that's ok.
  • Step 4: Sand the part down. After allowing the glue to bond, you will need to sand the side down to make the part flush. Start with lower grit and work your way up to higher grit sandpaper to polish the piece. Repeat the process on other parts and you'll have a seamless Gunpla.

Most importantly! Please do this in a well-ventilated area; open a window or a door. We suggest using the limonene version for a more lemon scent, but you should still be careful to not breathe so much of the chemical in.

A seam ran down the middle of leg and the thigh to separate the front and back part.  

Using Top Coat Finish

You finished your model kit, and it looks great, but let's say you want to take it a step further. Applying a layer of top coat can aesthetically change the look of your kit. Top coat is a transparent coat of paint that is used as a sealer, a "save point" to be exact. There are several types of top coat such as gloss, semi-gloss, and matte (flat).

Glossy top coat gives your kit a sleek and shiny look, just like a brand-new car. 

Semi-gloss top coat gives the kit some gloss, but not too much. This would be better suited if you don't want your kit to be very glossy.

Matte top coat leaves a flat look after being applied and is typically a fan favorite. A matte coat is useful to hide some blemishes like cuts; it also makes details stand out like panel lines and decals.

Some builders use a mix between the types of top coat to give some parts that gloss texture while keeping other parts matte; others just do one type of top coat. The choice is yours when deciding which top coat you prefer; whether you're looking for a shiny Gunpla or a matte one.

Now that you know the types of coating, here's our preferred method. Before applying a layer, please do this in a ventilated room, or do this outside for safety reasons. The tools you will need are:

  • Alligator clip stick
  • Styrofoam block

First separate your Gunpla (torso, head, arms, legs, waist). Next, use the alligator clips to hold the part by its connector piece. Afterwards, hold the stick in one hand and the can in the other and apply an even coat; make sure to not have the spray can too close to the part or you'll apply too much. DO NOT aim towards your face while spraying. Once you've applied a coat, safely place the stick (with part still attached) onto the Styrofoam block and let it dry; do this process with each part. After allowing them to dry for an hour (times may vary), you can check if another coat is needed, or assemble back your Gunpla.

Those are some of our helpful tips to improve your Gunpla. Using top coat or removing seams may sound a bit complex, but practice makes perfect. These tips are not required to ensure a great build, but consider it as a step further to make your kits look even better. If you have any questions, leave a comment down below and we'll do our best to help you out.

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