Gundam models, also called Gunpla (short for Gundam plastic model), come in different sizes and grades. It might be confusing when you’re shopping if you’re new to the hobby.
What are the different sizes of Gundam models? There are five sizes: 1/144, 1/100, 1/60, 1/48, and Super Deformed. 1/144 is the size of High Grade and Real Grade models, Master Grade models are 1/100, 1/60 is reserved for Perfect Grade, and 1/48 is the Mega Size. Super Deformed (SD) is a little different. It’s its own style of model and therefore its own type of grade.
Let’s take a look at each size along with some recommended products.
An Explanation of the Sizes
On the corner of a Gunpla box, you will see a grade abbreviation such as HG or MG along with a fraction. The fractions you will see are:
At first, it might seem a little confusing if you haven’t read up about it, but it’s quite easy to understand.
These fractions are the sizes of the models. In the Gundam anime, the mechs aren’t models – they’re 18 meters (59 feet) tall.
The models you can build are scale models. The 1/144 size means it’s just a tiny fraction of the big mech; it’s only 144th the actual size.
That means that 1/100 models are a little bigger, and the 1/48 models are considerably bigger.
Although there might be some slight variation between models, the Gunpla are generally the following sizes:
Grades and Sizes
If there are different grades and sizes, you might think that it’s difficult to find what you’re looking for. Luckily, it’s not. The grades are specific to different sizes.
The most common grades are:
- High Grade.
- Real Grade.
- Master Grade.
- Perfect Grade.
There are other grades that are harder to find. These include:
- First Grade.
- Advanced Grade.
- Reborn 100.
- “No Grade.”
- Mega Size.
- Super Deformed.
High Grade and Real Grade are recommended for beginners because the models are small and lack a lot of detail, which makes them perfect as beginner projects.
They typically take about an hour to build, so if you want a quick project, these grades are for you.
Real Grade is a bit more complex than High Grade, however. They have more pieces, better coloring, and can move around quite a bit more than the High Grade models.
Real Grade is perfect for those who want to start out a step above easy.
Don’t overestimate their size. They stand about 5 inches tall, which is the size of a soda can.
There are some Gunpla models that are harder to find called First Grade (FG) and Advanced Grade (AG).
These are essentially cheaper versions of High Grade models that are no longer made, so they’re harder to find. They’re less posable and aren’t nearly as detailed as HG models.
The Master Grade is harder to come by because only a few models are put out each year.
They’re also more expensive than HG and RG Gunpla, but they have more pieces and are bigger than the 1/144 size by 2 to 3 inches.
The coloring is better on this grade, and they don’t have as many sticker sheets as the HG models do. Since the parts are bigger, they aren’t as difficult to work with either.
Other models of this size that are harder to find these days are 1/100 models referred to as “No Grade” and Reborn 100 (RE100), which are just remakes of the “No Grade” Gunpla.
Both of these lines were basically bigger versions of HG Gunpla that weren’t as detailed or expensive as MG Gunpla.
This grade is normally only sought after by seasoned Gunpla builders. The price can reach up to $250, and the model itself is about 12 inches tall and comes with many, many pieces.
They take much longer to build and require more patience, but, on the plus side, they’re detailed well and won’t require any painting to touch them up.
With the other sizes, painting isn’t necessary, but there can occasionally be some discolored portions that need to be corrected.
This size is difficult to find and is limited to the Mega Size (MS) Gunpla. They’re a couple of inches taller than the PG models.
They’re cheaper than PG models because they’re less detailed and aren’t as articulate, so you can’t do too much posing with them.
They’re marketed toward beginners since the big pieces are easier to manage.
They’re harder to come by now because the last MS model was released in 2017, and there were only five more released before it.
What Are Super Deformed Gundam Models?
In the chart at the beginning of the article, you can see that the Super Deformed Gunpla doesn’t have a size associated with it.
That’s because these SD models, as they’re labeled on the box, are their own thing.
They’re shaped differently and aren’t a scale model; they’re just a fun-sized model without any proportion accuracy.
Notable characteristics of SD Gunpla are the big feet, big head, and tiny body. The eyes on SD Gunpla are also noticeably larger.
These models can also be described as chibi (learn more here), which is a Japanese term to describe something short.
Chibi is also a style that exaggerates characters by making them tiny but giving them big heads and eyes.
SD Gunpla are usually cheaper than HG. They’re smaller, too, which makes them less detailed and less posable.
You’ll have limited movement with these compared to the other Gunpla.
Recommendations for Beginners
You have all the information you need to know about Gunpla sizing, but the question remains: where do you start?
Here are a few recommendations if your head is still spinning.
This Gunpla is a good place to start for beginners because of its size and level of detail. It’s a 1/100 Master Grade, so it’s about 7 inches tall.
It has enough detail to leave you feeling proud after you build it, but it isn’t so difficult that it’ll stress you out as a beginner. It comes with sticker sheets and won’t require any painting.
This 1/144 High Grade Gunpla can be built in about an hour, which is the perfect-sized project for a beginner who doesn’t want a huge commitment.
It’s 5 inches tall and can be posed in a variety of ways, so you can display it on your shelf as you please.
Paint isn’t required for this model, but you might prefer to paint over some parts if you don’t want to use the stickers that come with it.
This is another 1/144 High Grade Gunpla that is great for beginners. The runners that contain the pieces use the Kusabi, or wedge gate system, which means you won’t have as many nubs sticking to your pieces.
This is less cutting and sanding for you, so this is a great pick for a beginner who’s nervous to use the side cutters.
Understanding the sizes of Gundam models will help you know what to look for as you look online or in a store.
Since sizes are associated with grades, you’ll be able to easily identify which grade is which.
Remember that the smaller grades are generally easier to build while the larger ones are more detailed and intricate.
Of course, there are some exceptions for both the small and the large models.
Image credit: Timothy Tsui