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Gunpla: the top 5 Gundam essentials for your collection

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In the world of model making, there’s one passion that transcends borders and brings together enthusiasts from all over the world: Gunpla. These model kits, inspired by the famous Japanese sci-fi series Mobile Suit Gundam, offer a captivating assembly experience and the chance to create superb mechas of various scales. If you’re a Gunpla enthusiast, or if you’re thinking of taking up the hobby, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’re going to show you the top 5 Gunpla kits that every collector should have in their collection. Get ready to discover some exceptional kits that arouse admiration and fascination, and are sure to amaze Gunpla fans the world over!

What is a Gunpla?

A Gunpla is a plastic model kit used to build scale models of mechas (giant robots) from the Japanese sci-fi franchise Mobile Suit Gundam. The term “Gunpla” is a contraction of “Gundam Plastic Model” and is used to designate these assembly kits, as well as the practice of assembling and customising them.

Gunpla are produced by the Japanese company Bandai, which holds the rights to the Gundam franchise. They are available in a wide variety of models, sizes and difficulty levels, making them accessible to beginners and experienced modellers alike. Gunpla kits usually contain pre-cut plastic parts that can be assembled without the need for glue, although painting and customisation tools and skills can be used to further enhance the models.

Gunpla are very popular with Gundam fans and modelling enthusiasts around the world due to their build quality, level of detail and potential for customisation. They allow enthusiasts to recreate their favourite mecha from the Gundam series and express their creativity by modifying the colours, details and poses of their models. In short, Gunpla is both a collector’s item and an art form for modelling enthusiasts.

How to build a Gunpla?

Assembling a Gunpla is an entertaining and (re)creative activity. Here’s a basic guide on how to build a Gunpla:

Equipment required:

  • Gunpla kit: make sure you have the Gunpla kit of your choice, which contains all the parts needed to build the model.
  • Modelling knife or cutter: you’ll need a modelling knife or cutter to detach the plastic parts from the sprues (the plastic frames to which the parts are attached).
  • File or sandpaper: these tools will enable you to smooth out any rough edges or burrs after detaching the parts.
  • Assembly plan: the Gunpla kit usually comes with a step-by-step illustrated assembly guide. Make sure you have it to hand. The plan is usually in Japanese: don’t panic! It’s perfectly normal. The instructions don’t actually require any language skills: everything is visual and clearly numbered.

Assembly steps :

  • Preparation: identify the parts required for each stage of assembly by referring to the guide. Make sure you have enough well-lit work space.
  • Detach the parts: use cutting pliers to carefully detach the parts from the clusters. Take care not to damage the parts during this step.
  • File and clean: use a file or sandpaper to smooth the edges of the parts and remove any burrs. This will allow the parts to fit together properly.
  • Assembly: follow the step-by-step instructions in the assembly guide. You’ll usually start by assembling the skeleton of the model, then add the details, weapons and accessories.
  • Use glue (only if necessary): most Gunpla models are designed to be assembled without glue. However, if some parts don’t fit properly, you can use a small amount of special plastic glue for modelling. Warning: if you don’t plan ahead, you may not be able to change the way your Gundam is fitted.
  • Make adjustments: during the assembly process, make sure that all the parts fit together correctly. You can adjust the joints slightly if necessary.
  • Finishing and customising: once the Gunpla is assembled, you can add extra details such as stickers, decals or paint to personalise your model.
  • Final pose: choose an impressive pose for your Gunpla and display it proudly on your shelf.

Remember to take your time, be patient and follow the instructions. Assembling a Gunpla can be a rewarding experience, whether you’re a beginner or a professional.

How to customise a Gunpla?

Customising a Gunpla is the process of personalising your model to make it unique and suited to your tastes. Here are a few steps to help you customise your Gunpla:

  • Planning and inspiration:
    • Before you start, think about how you want to customise your Gunpla. Do you have a specific idea in mind, or do you want to draw inspiration from existing designs?
  • Materials and tools:
    • Gather the materials and tools you’ll need. This could include acrylic paint, brushes, paint markers, stickers, decals, spare parts, metal parts, etc.
  • Preparation:
    • Carefully dismantle your Gunpla, removing the parts you want to customise. Make sure you clean the parts thoroughly before you start.
  • Painting:
    • Painting is one of the most common ways of customising a Gunpla. You can paint different parts of the model to change colours or add detail. Use masks or tape to create clean lines.
  • Decals and stickers:
    • Use decals and stickers to add custom logos, markings or badges to your Gunpla.
  • Weathering effects:
    • You can add weathering effects to give your Gunpla a worn or aged look. Use paint to create scratches, dirt or rust.
  • Final assembly:
    • Once you’ve finished customising each part, reassemble your Gunpla. Make sure all the parts fit together correctly.
  • Finishing:
    • Apply a coat of varnish to protect the paintwork and decals. You can choose a matt, satin or gloss varnish depending on the effect you’re going for.
  • Pose and presentation:
    • Choose an impressive pose for your Gunpla and display it in your collection.
  • Share your creation:
    • If you’re proud of your work, share photos of your custom Gunpla on social networks or enthusiast forums. This can help you get feedback and advice from the community.

Gunpla customisation is a creative activity that lets you express your individuality and style.

A few examples from artist Mizudam for an original version of Gundam!

5 must-have Gunplas

Whether you’re an enthusiastic beginner or a seasoned veteran, these models are a must-have to add to your bookshelf and immerse yourself in the Gundam universe:

Gundam Gunpla Entry Grade 1/144 Strike: this is an Entry Grade, so the easiest level. It’s an ideal Gunpla to start with! That said, if you’re more experienced, it’s also a must-have. Admittedly, it has fewer posing options, but it’s an easy-to-assemble version at a low price. There’s no reason not to snap it up!

Gundam Gunpla MG 1/100 RX-78-2 Gundam Ver. 3.0: we’re getting to the heart of the matter with this Gunpla! This is THE ultimate version of the classic Gundam RX-78-2. It comes with a host of pose and accessory options, and offers a real challenge in terms of assembly and customisation. IN-DIS-PEN-SABLE!

Gunpla GUNDAM AERIAL 1/100 Gundam Witch From Mercury: this is the Gundam from the latest ongoing series (and the fifteenth animated series in Sunrise’s Gundam licence), whose second season aired from April 2023 to July 2023, and the first TV series in the franchise to feature a female and LGBTQIA protagonist. A must-see if you’re a fan of the licence!

Gunpla Grendizer – Maquette HG 1/144 Grendizer Infinitism: a real madeleine de proust for some, Grendizer has made its comeback in Gunpla form! Pure joy in 1/144 scale, with several dynamic pose options! The model also includes Alcorak.

Gunpla Evangelion: Real Grade – EVA Mark 06 model kit: another example of Gunpla from another licence, Evangelion! is one of the Evas appearing in the Rebuild of Evangelion film series, and first piloted by Kaworu Nagisa. The Gunpla is sold with Cassius’ spear, a halo and 6 hand options. A must-have for Evangelion fans and mecha fans in general!

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