What Are the Best Gundam Models for Beginners?

Close-up view of blue and white Gundam model.

Gundam models are plastic models based on a Japanese anime show. You don’t have to watch the show to enjoy building the models though. They are a ton of fun all by themselves.

What are the best Gundam models for beginners? The best Gundam models for beginners will be High Grade (HG) or Master Grade (MG) because they are typically easier to build and have fewer stickers and decals. They don’t require any painting, so someone who is new to the hobby doesn’t have to worry about the fine details.

I’ll walk you through the tools you need to build these models and which models are recommended for beginners, but first things first.

Gundam models are typically called Gunpla. Gunpla is both a general term and a brand name. The “Gun” in Gunpla stands for Gundam. The “pla” means “plamo,” which stands for plastic model.

When you say Gunpla, you’re basically saying “Gundam plastic model.” 

Now then, let’s jump into it.

Are Gundam Models Hard to Build?

The building difficulty of Gundam models depends on which grade you choose. Gunpla comes in different grades, such as:

  • High Grade (HG).
  • Real Grade (RG).
  • Master Grade (MG).
  • Perfect Grade (PG).

There are a few other grades that are less common, but you will see the symbols HG, RG, MG, and so on in the corner of the box.

High Grade is the easiest grade you can start with. Master Grades are also pretty simple for beginners, too.

If you start out with a High-Grade or Master-Grade model, it should be fairly easy for you to build.

Another factor to consider is the size of the models. The Gundam in the anime are actually 18 meters (59 feet) tall. So, the models are scaled-down versions of them and various sizes are available.

There are three basic sizes:

  • 1/144 – 5 inches/12.7 centimeters.
  • 1/100 – 7.5 inches/19.05 centimeters.
  • 1/60 – 12 inches/30.48 centimeters.

The 1/60 Gunpla are considerably bigger than the 1/144. It’s generally recommended for beginners to start out with the 1/144 size because there are fewer pieces and details to get right.

I go into more detail about Gundam grades here and sizes here.

As a beginner, you should be able to enjoy building without having to worry about fine tuning everything. 

So, how do you know how to put the pieces together? The model comes with a manual that has both written instructions and drawn diagrams.

The written part is in Japanese, but the images are straightforward and have symbols that are easy to understand.

What Tools Do I Need to Build a Gundam Model?

The basic tools you need to build Gunpla are:

  • Side cutters.
  • Hobby knife.
  • Sandpaper.

Side cutters help you easily cut the pieces from the plastic runners. They’re sharp and prevent you from stressing the plastic, which is what happens when if you cut too close to the piece.

I use one by BOENFU and find that it works quite well.

A hobby knife, like an X-Acto knife, will allow you to clean up the nubs. Nubs are the pieces of plastic left behind after cutting the pieces from the runners.

Cutting too close to the piece will cause stress, but a hobby knife is super sharp, so it will allow you to get a cleaner cut without causing any damage.

Finally, sandpaper will allow you to remove the very last bit of the nub without causing any stress to the plastic.

You should get multiple grits and start with the lowest grit, and then finish off with the highest grit. If you can’t find sandpaper, a nail file will do the trick.

Other tools you might need for detailing include:

  • COPIC multiliner.
  • Rubber eraser.
  • Water (for decals).
  • Paint.
  • Topcoat spray paint.
  • Tweezers.

(Head over to my section on paints and brushes for models for painting tips and recommendations.)

If you don’t plan on detailing or painting when you start out, these tools won’t be necessary.

At least now you have an idea of the possibilities you have as you progress in the hobby.

Recommended Gundam Models for Beginners

Now that you have a basic understanding of what Gunpla are and what you need to construct them, let’s get into recommended Gunpla for beginners.

These are all suitable for beginners and will need the basic tools mentioned above.

Top Recommendation: Bandai Hobby Wing Gundam Zero Version EW 1/100 – Master Grade

Grade: Master Grade

Difficulty: Beginner

Need paint? No

Need glue? No

This is the top recommendation for beginners because it’s easy to construct.

Like most recent models, this Gunpla’s pieces snap together and don’t require any glue. The pieces are pre-colored, so you don’t have to paint them unless you really want to.

It comes with 16 runners, one foil sticker sheet, a marking sticker, and a dry transfer sheet.

Why Is It So Great for Beginners?

This model is easy to build, but it looks highly detailed for the amount of work that’s required to build it.

Its 1/100 size means it’s a little bigger, sitting at about 7 inches tall. The wings and limbs are able to move so you can pose them almost any way you want to.

It’s a great value and any beginner will feel accomplished once they’re finished.

Value Pick: Bandai Gundam Barbatos Lupus HG IBO 1/144 Model Kit

Grade: High Grade

Difficulty: Beginner

Need paint? No

Need glue? No

This Gunpla is great for beginners who aren’t sure they want to fully devote themselves to this hobby.

The 1/144 scale is smaller than the top recommendation, so it stands at about 5 inches tall.

It can be built in about an hour, which is helpful for beginners who don’t want to start with a big project. 

This Gunpla uses quite a few stickers for the detailing so you don’t have to paint it. This model is also able to bend so you can pose it in different ways.

Value Pick: Bandai Hobby HGUC RX-78-2 Gundam Revive Model Kit 1/144 Scale

Grade: High Grade

Difficulty: Beginner

Need paint? No

Need glue? No

This is another high-grade model that is excellent for beginners. This model has five runners and some sticker sheets to add some details.

It has multiple weapons for the model to hold, and it’s more articulate compared to other High-Grade models, meaning that you can easily pose the model in almost any position you want.

If you’re nervous about removing the pieces from the runners and leaving behind nub marks, this is a good kit for you to start with.

It uses a wedge gate system, or a Kusabi gate system, which makes it easier to remove the pieces from the runners.

This might be a great model to help a child construct since minimal damage will be done to the pieces.

Value Pick: Gundam Wing Maganac, Bandai HGAC 1/144

Grade: High Grade

Difficulty: Beginner

Need paint? No

Need glue? No

Here’s another High-Grade 1/144 model that’s simple to put together. It should take about an hour or so to complete.

This model has six runners, marking stickers, and foil stickers. It also comes with a few different weapons for it to hold. 

It’s a little less posable than the other models recommended, but it’s still a good model for beginners to start out with and will probably be a good pick for children.

Advanced Pick: Bandai Hobby MG Gundam Kai Model Kit, 1/100 Scale

Grade: High Grade

Difficulty: Beginner

Need paint? Maybe

Need glue? No

Some beginners like to start with a challenge. If you’re that type of person, this model is for you. It’s a Master Grade and runs at about 7 inches tall.

It has foil stickers, dry decals, Tetron stickers, and 27 runners, meaning there’s quite a few pieces in this one!

The pieces are colored separately but you might want to paint some areas in case the colors don’t quite match up, but this is based on your preference.

Ultimately, this model doesn’t require any paint to build it. 

Conclusion

Building Gunpla is a simple process, although it’ll be time consuming with more advanced models.

You only need three tools to get started – side cutters, a hobby knife, and sandpaper – so it’s an easy hobby to get into.

Image credit: Luca Mascaro