I finally took the plunge and purchased my first Gundam kit, or Gunpla.
What’s Gundam or Gunpla you ask?
Gundam is a Japanese anime franchise created by what is now known as Bandai Namco. You may recognize the name Bandai because they own the licenses to IPs like Dark Souls, Tekken, Dragonball Z and PAC-Man to name a few. They produce video games, anime and some of the most beautiful modern commercial model kits.
I’ve done a couple Bandai Star Wars kits in the past, check out my Triple Zero and 1/72 Y-Wing builds to see how they stack up to Gunpla.
The Gundam franchise is kind of like the Marvel or DC universe, there’s a bunch of different timelines and series but they all fall within the Gundam universe. In a nutshell, the series started in 1979 with Mobile Suit Gundam, which according to Wikipedia “defined” the real robot mecha anime genre by featuring giant robots called mobile suits who defend Earth and the orbital colonies in the Earth-Moon system.
- Dark Hound Kit (shop around though, you’ll find it cheaper possibly)
- Glass Nail File
- Polishing Block
- Gate Remover (I haven’t used this but hear it’s great)
Other Newbie Videos to Watch
This series became very popular and of course spawned a merchandise line. Bandai started producing model kits of the Gundam mechas in the early 80s and we’re still going strong today with tons of kits in all different shapes and sizes. These kits, are affectionally called Gunpla, which is a combination of Gundam and Plastic. Gunpla.
A pal of mine convinced me to take a dive into Gunpla land so I ended up purchasing The Dark Hound. Why did I buy the Dark Hound? Because he looked cool that’s why! Their black and red color scheme resonated with my Sith soul, and bonus, they come with two lightsabers.
Here are 4 things I learned as I made my way through my first Gunpla.
Selecting your kit
There are a bunch of different grades of kits and the kit grade really is an indicator of the scale, so for example there’s the High Grade (HG) which is a 1:144 scale or about, 5” tall all the way to the Perfect Grade (PG) which is 1:60 scale or about 12” tall. The Dark Hound Kit is a Master Grade which is 1:100 scale and about 7” tall.
When I started my shopping I knew that I wanted a bit of a challenge but nothing too challenging because I knew I was going to film it and it already takes forever to film something and doing a more complicated kit would have taken forever squared. So the Master Grade seemed like a safe bet.
The build time was maybe four hours when it’s all said and done and there’s probably a couple hundred pieces, if not more.
Now if cost is a factor, the higher the grade, the higher the price point. I think the Dark Hound was close to $50? A Perfect Grade can be over a hundred, and a High Grade can be in the $20s and lower so there is a price point for everyone.
So when selecting your kit, take into consideration cost and skill level. If you’re new and just want to experiment, try the High Grade or Master Grade. If you want to go all in, and time and price isn’t a factor, then check out the Perfect Grade! There are some big and beautiful kits in the PG line.
Difference between Star Wars Bandai and Gunpla
One of the biggest differences you’ll notice if you’ve done Bandai Star Wars kits is the number of pieces. I would say a normal Bandai Star Wars kit is a third of what this kit is if not less. There are so many pieces. Hundreds. The torso alone had something like 40 pieces in it. It’s crazy. And there’s a ton of detail.
If you’ve done a Star Wars character kit like Boba Fett, you will appreciate that the level of pose-ability is just as high here if not higher. You could do a feature stop-motion film with these upper grade Gunplas with the number of movable joints.
Because these kits are molded in colored plastic, you really DON’T have to paint them, which means that getting a nice clean cut off the sprue and removing the gate in a way that any marks blend into the plastic is key to a successful build.
I ended up picking up a pair of God Hand nippers which are apparently the best of the best to get really clean cuts. I’ll be honest though, for the price I paid, I was expecting a LOT more. Again, I come from the resin kit world where nippers aren’t a thing so, maybe there’s a learning curve here. But I was just not impressed.
Also, while I would normally use a file to clean up the gates. I found I did more bad than good. I highly recommend a nail polishing block and various high grit sandpapers to get a smooth, polished finish. I have a lot of dulled parts here because I didn’t have the right sanding and polishing stuff.
So if you’re new to Bandai, no-paint-required kits, get a nice pair of nippers, high grit sand paper and a polishing block. Someone makes a polishing and sanding kit specifically for Gunpla and my pal uses it and really likes it, you can pick one up here.
Unless you read Japanese the instructions are going to be an exercise in reading pictures. While they do a good job of visually describing all the steps, I know I’m missing some good nuggets because I don’t read the language. So keep that in mind. Use the reference photos when in doubt. Oh, and also make sure you follow the pictures carefully, with so many steps and pieces it’s easy to do something incorrectly. I had to redo the knees because I put them together backwards.
Will I do it again?
Heck yes I will. While my OCD won’t allow me to clutter my shelves with these, I will certainly try doing a Perfect Grade when my bench clears up. There are some beautiful kits in the Gundam line and I had a blast putting the Dark Hound together so definitely check these kits out.
Are you a first time Gunpla-er? Are you about to take the plunge? Did you find this helpful? Leave me a comment below and let me know which Gundam you’re building!