Help! I am new, want to build gundams, and have zero clue how to build them!

This thread was long overdue- almost a crime that it doesn’t exist. I was motivated to make this post after helping a brand new member on our boards here, and slightly peeved that his local hobby shop didn’t know jack about their product- and just stocked it. For those that want to get into plastic model building, in our case gundams, and want good results as a beginner, then this thread is for you.

If you are brand new to model building, have limited experience, and/or have no clue where to begin and what stuff is, this thread is for you. As a community of model builders, we have a vested interest in helping you learn the hobby. It’s necessary to expand the hobby- but it is also nice to make online friends. It’s even better as we watch a builder progress with their work as the subjects out there increase with diversity. In short, we’d be dumb not to help you.

Model building may seem daunting at first, but it really isn’t that bad. This thread will focus on a couple of key segments: what you need to get started, how to assemble the kit and how to make it look its best with basic tools and equipment.

Directory


How-to Video Series (not all steps required!)
Personal Expectations You Should Set
Recommended Kits


Getting the Model

To start, you will need a model. In our specific sub-community we build gundam model kits. It’s recommended you buy Bandai licensed products so that Bandai continues to make them. You can find the bandai logo usually somewhere on the front of the box.

What kit should I buy first? This idea can be confusing. There are so many letters and grades out there, I don’t know where to begin! To start off, I would recommend a budget of $30 US at least for the kit. Here are the different types of grades available and what they mean:


Advanced Grade
is the most basic form of gundam kit. It features minimal detail and articulation, and pretty much just stands there like a brick. They are very affordable, ranging from $5-$15 US. This scale is smaller at 1/144.


High Grade is the next line of kits that feature good amounts of detail at an affordable price. Articulation in more recent High Grades have gotten better with fewer polycaps. Polycaps hold together the joints. These kits range in price from $10-$30 US. High Grades are usually smaller at 1/144, however some 1/100 grade kits exist.


Real Grade is the next line up. This line offers Master Grade quality detail with an inner frame in a small 1/144 package. Parts are small and can be finnicky, however the posability and detail are unreal (ok, they look realistic. Sue meh!) These kits average $20-$30 US, and are not recommended for raw beginners.


Master Grades are next. These kits offer good detail in a larger 1/100 scale. More recent kits, from 2004 on feature partial or complete inner frames. More modern master grades hide nub marks extremely well. Master Grades range in price from $30-$100 and are not recommended for raw beginners.


Perfect Grades are the next scale. These kits are huge at 1/60 scale, averaging at about 15-18 inches tall, and perhaps taller. They feature hundreds of parts and hours of assembly work, but offer the best posability and technology Bandai has to offer, including independent fingers and suspension systems. These kits range in price from $120-$300 and are NOT recommended for raw beginners.

Mega Size are the next scale. They are even larger in 1/48 scale. Only two or three Mega Size kit types exist, but they are easy to build and require minimal sprue work. They are recommended for beginners.

To start kit building, many recommend choosing a cheaper HG that you like. There are also non-grades which do not fit into the above categories. Two kits I recommend to beginners are the HG Jesta or the MG Heavyarms. The MG Heavyarms is a fantastic build that will not disappoint, even for beginners.


Vendors

Gundam model building is a specialized sub-section of model building. It can be very difficult to find a hobbystore in the USA that stocks gundams. We call the universe of gundam building ‘gunpla’. a portmateu (spelling?) of the words gundam and plastic model. If you hear that term thrown around, that is what it means.

If you can’t find gundams locally, you will have to order off of the internet. A decade or two ago this was an almost impossible task. Here are some common vendors to order from that the community trusts and has made verified purchases:

Amazon.com
GGInfinite
Gundam Store and More
Robot4less
Hobby Link Japan (recommended)
Ebay
Modelgrade
Gundam Planet

Most accept paypal and almost any major credit card. It sucks we have to rely on mostly internet shopping, but that’s the way it is with a specialized hobby. Tools and paints, however can be bought locally.


Tools

There are a couple of basic tools you will need for kit assembly. You will need a pair of sprue cutters, which may also be labeled as model nippers. These cut off the gate from the tree so that you can remove the part and assemble it. These are essential for a clean presentation, and cost about $7-$15 US on average.

An x-acto knife is almost necessary. It is good for cleaning up flash (excess plastic) or nub marks. Be careful when using one and cut away from yourself, trying not to pit the plastic. These average $3-$7 US.

Since Gundams are snap fit, glue is not required. However, if you need glue to fix something or want to glue a part, we recommend liquid cement (NOT in the testors diamond shaped, black drip bottle) over the red tube cement. You may also use super glue. Remember that super glue may not begin to activate until you sand an area lightly. I personally recommend guerilla glue’s SUPER GLUE, NOT THEIR EXPANDING EPOXY.

A lining marker can also be used to line panel lines. You can use a gundam marker or a fine tip sharpie to do the job. Use rubbing alcohol and a q-tip to remove the excess. A white eraser will also remove excess sharpie.


Basic Assembly

For basic assembly, that’s about it. Follow the directions in the manual, and be careful not to snip off anything you may need. I like to use plastic bags to store parts and I usually keep parts on the sprues until I need them, so that I can identify them by part number. If something isn’t fitting together just right, you may not have cleaned off a nub mark. Also pay attention to the orientation of some parts.

If you snap a plastic part, often it can be fixed and re-glued with super glue.

Questions comments and concerns? drop them below.

Additional Reading (Portal):
Airbrush Central (all about airbrushes and paint)

-Jfl0

//youtu.be/ptGc9M-npPc

//youtu.be/pmKlSn-E834

//youtu.be/QmV_8dkqR28

(airbrushing not required for beginners)

//youtu.be/_TSoH7yhrB0

I’d like to add Gundam Planet and modelgrade.net as another set of online vendors. I’ve ordered from them before a few times and it’s been pain-free. Selection is pretty good too. Modelgrade.net so far has had the fastest shipping times for me so if you live in CA, they are a good place to buy from.

Also, I’d like to add HG AGE kits to the list of good beginner starters. AGE-1 Normal, G-Exes, G-Bouncer, Adele, Genoace (to name a few) are easy to build and have incredible articulation for their size.

Lastly, this thread needs to be a sticky :slight_smile:

lol poor girl. She seems… bored? Maybe its the culture divide.

//youtu.be/aUeJClQtoiw

Kit Recommendations For First Time Builders:
HG Jesta
MG Heavyarms
HG AGE-1 Normal
HG G-Exes
HG G-Bouncer
HG Adele
HG Genoace

Fun to Build Gunpla Series (English subs)
Basic Tools
Cutting out Parts
Dealing With Gates
Dealing with Gates 2
Touch Up Work
Touch Up Work 2
Touch Up Work 3 (Crap, I learned something!)
Decals
Basic Decal Application
Basic Decal Application 2
Basic Decal Application 3
Basic Decal Application 4
Trimming Decals
Quick and Dirty Polycap Installation (Why didn’t I know this! >:O)
Part Separation
Scribing New Panel Lines
Sharpening V-Fins
Drilling Barrels
Using Gundam Markers

Cheesy 80’s Music Themed Lessons in Building Gunpla by Bandai
BAKUC 1- Tools and Raw Basics
BAKUC 2- Intermediate Techniques, Gundam Markers, Scribing Panel Lines, Sandpaper, Cement, Weathering, Decal Application

Other Videos
HLJ Introduction to Gunpla
HLJ Introduction to Gunpla- Cleaning Up Nubs, Gundam Markers, Seam Lines
HLJ Introduction to Gunpla- Beginner Spray Painting with Cans

This is an amazing array of information man. Thank you for posting this.

Edit: Since this can be an updated data base for new modelers. I have stickied this thread.

Expectations:
Set your expectations high- but not so high that you are disappointed with your work. There is a reason cheaper kits are recommended at first- in case you mess up or aren’t satisfied, it won’t hit your wallet as bad as as MG or PG. If you browse websites like gunjap.net or even Google, you will notice pictures of these breathtaking models folks have done. This is after years of experience and probably dozens of kits.

Newer kits are the way to go. They give you the most bang and bling for your buck. Start with as much technique as you are comfortable with, then try new things when you move onto new projects. Eventually, if you stick with the hobby you will be ready to discuss things like paint, spray cans, and the eventual holy grail of painting- airbrushing (which isn’t that bad).

How many kits have I bombed (destroyed)?.. 1… 2… 3… probably half a dozen in my lifetime that I bombed or didn’t finish. It happens. Start smaller, start reasonably ($10-$30) and have fun with the build, then come back here (Gundamforums.com) for age (no pun intended) old tips we use.

Instant results only take you as far as Bandai provides. To make those good looking models… takes time, patience and creativity. It’s worth the improvement journey.

Also, don’t dwell on your mistakes. There will be mistakes, screw-ups, things won’t go as planned, great ideas shelved because of lack of time or passion, and you might even lose interest in the kit you’re working on.

All normal and always learn from the bad things that happen. It will make your future kits better.

good info so far, you might wanna make a mention of the FG (First Grade) line of Gundam models. They are supposed to be a beginner line of Gunpla, but I personally wouldn’t recommend them. Far, far too simple.

Hi guys! I am still fairly new at Gunpla, and I want to know, do you cut ALL the parts off of the sprue and clean them before you start building the kit? Or do you cut the parts off of the sprue while building?

Depends on the kit, and on how I am feeling when I am starting a build. If I am feeling lazy I usually cut the parts by section (legs, arms, chest, weapons, etc) rather than at once. Otherwise, I do it all at once.

It really depends on what you feel comfy with. For me, I feel most comfy cutting all of the parts off the sprue at once, but in sections, following the order in the manual for simplicity (so head/torso first, then arms, then legs, then weapons/accessories). I cut out them from the sprues and then put all of the parts in each section in a ziplock bag. Less thinking that way when you’re figuring out what to work on first.

After that, it’s sanding/surface prep and then washing with dishwashing liquid and a toothbrush.

That makes sense with the Ziploc bags. I’ll try that. Thanks Dlinker and Ginga!

Someone here on the boards once told me that they got Sandpaper at an auto store. Can anyone tell me what type of grit you get? Can somebody educate me on grit numbers? I get confused by the letters after the grit numbers. What do they mean?

Not really sure what the letters mean. But the numbers means the grit amount. The lower the number, the more coarse the paper is. As for the auto store, I believe it was 1500 grit that was mentioned. Which would be a very fine almost smooth feeling sandpaper.

You can get grits ranging from 400 to 3000 at an auto store so your choices are many. I tend to buy 600, 800, 1000, 1500, 2000, and 3000 grit at an auto store so those may be good starting points.

What brand of sandpaper were you seeing there? I always buy the 3M brand and I’m not seeing any letters after the grit numbers in my pack of 1000-grit sandpaper.

I was looking at O-Reilly’s website. Should I look for regular sandpaper? I’ve seen sandpaper with cloth backing and whatnot. Will those work too?

As long as the grit matches what you’re looking for, then yeah, it should be fine. Regular sandpaper works too if that’s all you can find, or even a sanding sponge.

Ok, so I went to O’Reilly’s and picked up some 3000 and 1500 grit sandpaper. I was looking them over, when I found out that the 3000 grit sandpaper HAD to be used with water! (That’s what it said, anyway) It has a foam backing, but should I only get the thing damp, or soaked? Thanks! This is the item that I am talking about: http://3mcollision.com/products/featured-products/trizact/3m-trizact-performance-sandpaper-3000-grit-03064.html