Gunpla, or gundam plastic models, are extremely fun to build for anyone interested in gundam or mecha models. There are several types of gundam models available, so let’s see what they are.
Gundam models come in various sizes, the two most popular being 1/144 and 1/100 scale. 1/144 scale is approximately 4-5 inches tall, and 1/100 scale is around 8-9 inches tall generally. At first, 1/144 scale seemed small when I read it was only 4-5 inches tall, but you would be surprised at how nice they can be. 1/100 scales feel twice as big.
There are also 1/60 scale models, which are even larger, although there are not as many of them available.
I have also seen a few 1/35 scale kits available on the web, which are absolutely huge (and very costly).
In addition to size, gunpla come in different grades as well. The grade determines the quality or detail of the kit. The commonly seen grades are:
NG = No Grade
HG = High Grade
MG = Master Grade
PG = Perfect Grade
Generally, NG kits are the least detailed and PG kits are the most detailed. Most 1/144 kits are either NG or HG, and most 1/100 kits are either HG or MG. I believe all PG kits are 1/60 in size, although there are some 1/60 kits that are not PG.
In terms of pricing, NG kits are pretty affordable, especially the 1/144 sizes. These are the kits I originally started on, and they can be found for as low as $3. Most 1/144 NG kits I have seen are less than $15. HG kits cost a little more, although they are still pretty affordable as well. Depending on the size of the kit, HG kits are generally $15 – $30. MG 1/100 scale kits are usually in the range of $30 – $70 depending on the kit. Finally, PG kits all seem to be in the range of $100 – $200, although a few cost even more.
Recommendations for New Modelers
Naturally, I recommend starting with some 1/144 NG kits and then work up in both size and grade. 1/100 kits are generally more complicated than 1/144 kits regardless of grade. Starting with a 1/144 NG kit allows you to build one or two kits and practice some of the most basic techniques on them first. After learning the couple basic techniques, advance to 1/144 HG kits and 1/100 HG kits. After building some of these and practicing more advanced techniques on them, move on the MG and PG kits.
Doing this will allow you to quickly focus on practicing techniques without worrying about ruining a costly gundam. 1/144 NG kits are pretty cheap, so they are great to practice on.
For me, I purchased two 1/144 NG kits because I always wanted to build a gundam model. I had never done any modeling before (nor even watched the TV shows for that matter). After building those, I knew I was hooked and took a bigger step. I went to gundamstoreandmore.com and became a premium member. For $100, I got to pick $100 worth of gundam models, and they threw in about $75 free. For me, I think it was a great deal as it gave me all the models I needed to learn and practice techniques on. I ended up with about 10 models total, covering from 1/144 NG kits to a 1/100 MG kit, and everything in between. The only downside is you need to pick your models from a specific list, but if you can find some you would like to practice on, then it’s a great opportunity to get you started.