Beginners Guide to Gunpla

Have you ever been interested and wanted to build your own GUNPLA, but don't know where to start? We know that starting a hobby can be tough without proper guidance. As part of our 40th Gunpla Anniversary celebration, we want to help people who are new to all of this. With our advice, we hope to help you get started and enjoy the fun that is GUNPLA.

Gunpla, meaning Gundam plastic model, is the common terminology for these model kits from the Bandai franchise, Gundam. For 40 years, there have been many series depicting these large mobile suits fighting one another; meaning, there are too many choices to pick from. With that many choices, how will you know what to pick? That is the first step in our little how-to guide: picking a kit to build.

Picking Your Kit

The best answer is to pick your favorite mobile suit. You want to build a hobby kit that appeals to you and rewards you for your hard work. Of course, if you have never seen any series in the Gundam franchise, then we have a different method for you. Our tip for picking your first Gunpla is to choose one from the HG lineup. All Bandai Hobby model kits have a scaling system and can be found by a moniker on the corner of the box. HG, meaning high grade, is the best kit for any beginner (outside of SD kits). This is because the kit contains fewer parts than a Gunpla kit of a higher scale. More information about the different grades in one of our upcoming articles. Next step is easy; pick the box art you like. This refers to our original idea of appealing and rewarding you.

The Right Tools

After picking your kit, you are going to need the appropriate tools for the job. The first tool you will need are nippers. They're used to safely remove each piece from the runner. Runners are frames that hold the Snap-On piece. But which nippers should you buy? There are so many to choose from. As a beginner we highly recommend the Mr. Hobby- Mr. Basic Tool Set or Bandai Spirit Entry Nippers. These Nippers are extremely affordable and durable; they can cut just about every runner with ease. One important note about nippers is that every cut will dull the blade. In time you will need to replace your nippers, but at least you're not breaking the bank with these choices.

The second tool you will need are a pair of tweezers. These are primarily used to apply stickers or decals. With precision you can place any sticker with ease, and not have to worry about stickers adhering to your fingers. Again, we highly recommend the Mr. Basic Tool Set, because not only does it come with nippers, but it also comes with a set of tweezers, and a hobby file.

The third tool you would want is a mechanical file. Files are great for nubs as well, and you can learn more about how to properly use them in a future article. The last tool is a hobby knife. This tool is used to remove nibs or shave parts without stressing the plastic. As it is a sharp and dangerous tool, we suggest anyone under the suggested age to have a parent or guardian supervise while building; same goes for the previous mentioned tools.

Clean Workspace

You have your kit, and now you have your tools, what's next? This might sound simple, but it's to have a clean workspace.

With so many parts and tools lying about, it's easier to grab what you need in a clean and organized environment. Tidy up beforehand or utilize another spot that makes it easier to identify where everything is.

A cutting mat is not 100% required for your workspace, but it helps keep your table clean if you plan on using other materials like adhesives (don't want those chemicals spilling on your table) and doesn't damage your table if you're using a hobby knife. 

Lighting is very important too! Pieces may fall on the floor, and it'll be difficult to find said piece in a poorly lit room. 

Small Steps

When you open your kit, you'll be welcomed with several runners of different colors. Open the pamphlet included and you'll see a checklist of all the runners included. We highly suggest you make sure you have all the runners needed before starting. After that, just follow the steps SLOWLY and CAREFULLY. To remove the piece from the runner: you take your nipper (flat side facing the needed part) and cut a bit away from it. This will leave some excess sprue, but you can remove them with the hobby knife or nippers. Repeat this on all sides holding the part on runner until the part has come off. Note any warnings the instructions tell you before removing the part off the runner.

The last step is to have fun! This is a hobby, and you should enjoy yourself. Take a breather if you feel frustrated that you don't understand a step, or your hands are starting to cramp from all the small parts. Step away from the kit and come back when you're ready to. It's easy to want and finish a kit, but it's no fun if it was built in a hurry and looks sloppy. Take your time, follow the directions slowly, and eventually with every kit you build you'll get better and faster.



That's it for our guide. This is just one of many in a series, as we celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Gunpla. Don't forget to check out our Gundam Online Expo happening this week! There are many hard-to-get exclusives, so don't delay. Get yours while supplies last.

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