Basics for New Builders: Gunpla Talk

Okay, so you want to get into gunpla, you join an group or a forum and people give you tips, but they use acronyms you aren’t familiar with, and you’re too shy to ask?

This guide is for you.

So first we start with the basic terms for the different gunpla grades (A more in-depth guide for which to choose will be published later on):

  1. Gunpla – this term was taken from the words Gundam Plastic model, it means a plastic model kit which was designed after the Mobile suits in the Gundam series. Kits which do not focus on Gundam are usually just called Plamo, shortened from the term Plastic Model.
  2. SD – stands for Super Deformed, these kits are not to scale and have big heads and fewer points of articulation and detail compared to the other grades, good for beginners, but the cutesy style turns most off.
  3. HG – stands for High Grade, the most common kit with the most models. This is in 1/144 scale, averaging about 5 inches in height (more or less)
  4. MG – stands for Master Grade, bigger models, come to about 7-9 inches in height. These are sized in 1/100 scale. More points of articulation, more detail, but less variation compared to the HG.
    • Ver. Ka – Stands for Version Katoki, these are updates to the current gundam models made by Katoki Hajime, a japanese mecha designer whose designs feature sleek forms usually avoiding too much “blockiness” on the part of a design. Each ver ka is an either an updated design or one featuring more detail and parts. These are highly sought by fans and are sometimes preferred over original releases
  5. PG – stands for Perfect Grade. These big kits are in 1/60 scale, these stand about 15 – 20 inches and have multiple points of articulation and the insane detail such as internal moving parts. Unfortunately there are very few Gundams made into Perfect Grade models and to date, there have only been 15 regular releases.
  6. RG – stands for Real Grade. This is a relatively new line of kits, they follow the 1/144 scale and are the size of an HG kit, however they differ from the HG by having articulation and detail rivaling Master Grade and Perfect Grade kits. These kits are not recommended for beginners due to them having small parts that are easily broken or lost if not careful.
  7. RE 1/100 – These kits are the scale of Master Grade kits, but are not as complex to build, unfortunately these type of kits have even less variations than the Perfect Grade having only 6 releases so far.
  8. NG 1/100 – Stands for No Grade 1/100. These kits are also the size of a Master Grade but have less detail and articulation, essentially they are upscaled High Grade kits.
  9. PBE or P-Bandai – This stands from Premium Bandai Exclusive kits, these are kits that might be recolors or variations of an existing kit with different color schemes and/or weapons/addons. PBE kits are usually rare and highly sought after. Unfortunately they are also expensive and prone to overinflated prices if they are no longer in production
  10. BL or Bootleg – these refer to kits which are unlicensed and unauthorized copies of Bandai Kits.

Moving on to series. There are many different Gundam Series and there are multiple gunpla of each, though not all series have kits in all grades. Keep in mind there are a lot of series and different spinoffs of those, however to ease in newbies here are the most commonly used terms for referring to series:

  1. UC – stands for Universal Century which is the fictional timeline in which the first Gundam Series and its spinoffs are set in
  2. 00 – or Double O stands for the Gundam 00 series which takes place in the fictional timeline depicting an alternate future based of the real world in AD time.
  3. CE – stands for Cosmic Era, this fictional timeline is the where the Gundam SEED series is set in.
  4. AC – After Colony timeline, this is the setting for the show Gundam Wing.
  5. BF and BFT – Stand for Build Fighters and Build Fighters Try respectively

Next we cover terms for Gunpla building:

  1. Cement – This does not mean concrete. This refers to plastic cement, a reactant put on the Gunpla Plastic to fuse it together to hold parts together permanently, usually used to repair broken parts
  2. Decals – refers to the different markings that can be put on a kit, there are 3 variations:
    • Stickers – Stickers are the least preferred type but also the most common, they are essentially stickers which come with the model to be placed in specific parts such as the eyes and other surfaces. Most advanced modelers do not use stickers as they are difficult to apply correctly and can lose adhesion after time. Many stickers can also accumulate dust in the edges making them look unsightly
    • Dry transfer – These decals are applied by taking the sheet, placing it on the part and rubbing on the exposed part to transfer the decak onto the actual kit. These type of decals are usually bundled with MG kits with the sticker sheet to give additional details like faction symbols or flags
    • Waterslide – The most preferred type of decal. The decal is cut from the sheet and put in water then placed on the kit. Once the decal dries it adheres to the kit. These sometimes have a border almost like stickers, but the use of certain solutions can remove the border and making the decal look more natural on the kit. Waterslides are usually added to premium kits.
  3. Runner/tree/sprue –  the plastic frame which holds the parts for a kit
  4. Gate – the plastic nubs that hold the part to the runner
  5. UG – undergated, this term refers to a gate connecting to the part is connected on the underside to hide the marks when cut
  6. Nub – plastic remaining of the gate when the part is cut off a tree
  7. Nub Mark – this term is used to describe the mark left from cutting the nub off the piece
  8. Stress mark – is a term referring to the white outline left from bending plastic. Stress marks are often made by cutting a nub off too close to the part (in this case the term is used similarly to nub marks). But Stress marks can also be caused by bending a plastic so it becomes deformed.
  9. Seam lines – the space where two parts connect and are visible as separate parts
  10. Molding lines – lines left over from the casting process of the plastic, these take the form of long raised lines that go over a part. Usually found on the hands of gunpla kits
  11. Polycaps – soft plastic which are used for joints in model kits
  12. Side cutter/nipper – the main tool used for cutting the parts from plastic
  13. Hobby Knife/Cutter – the special knife which uses thin blades to clean up nub marks
  14. Panel line – refers to the details on a kit that add to the look and enhance the design making it look like multiple pieces are used rather than just one
  15. Panel lining – the process of tracing a panel line with a marker to being out the detail
  16. Gundam Marker – a special marker with a fine tip used to bring out details in gunpla. There are also markers which contain paint for additional detailing of a kit
  17. Weathering – the process of applying paint or additional details to a kit to give it a more “worn out” realistic look
  18. OOTB – stands for “Out of the Box” which means a kit was built with only what was included in the Gunpla box, also known as Straight build
  19. Kitbash – Term which refers to using parts from multiple kits to create an entirely different design
  20. Scratch Built parts – Built from scratch, meaning that the part was custom made, usually created from plastic plates
  21. WIP – work in progress. Term meant to show your current progress while building a kit
  22. Pla plates – refers to plastic plates which can be used to make custom parts such as armor or weapons
  23. Mark Softer – a solution applied to Waterslide decals to melt the outline and adhere them to the kit better

Painting terms:

  1. AB -stands for Airbrush. a device that uses air to spray paint. This is the most preferred painting style of advanced builders due to the way of which different layers of paint may be applied thinly and overlayed on top of each other to create a custom colors
  2. Spray Can – acrylic or enamel spray cans to paint the kit, this is the most common for new builders due to the ease and simplicity of use, however, the paint spray is thicker leaving less room for more complicated coloring
  3. Handbrush – A style which is less preferred due to the difficulty in getting an event paint covering on parts.
  4. Primer – a type of solution put on a part so that paint adheres to it easier. Primer is also used to protect it from the damaging effects of some paints
  5. Thinner – a chemical used to dilute certain paints so the coat on a part is not too thick making it harder to dry.
  6. Paint – not all paint can be used on plastic. There are 4 common paints used to paint Gunpla
    • Acrylic – Acrylic is the safest paint to use on a kit, it can be used in airbrushes or handpainted and also comes in spray cans, it is the most accessible and most used type of paint
    • Enamel – Enamel is a thicker type of paint and usually must be thinned to apply to a model. Enamel reacts to certain plastics and can make a part brittle if applied without priming. Enamel paint must be applied with proper protection and ventilaion to the painter as it is toxic.
    • Lacquer – Lacquer produces the best finish, however it can also damage the part if applied too liberally since lacquer is more reactive to plastic than enamel paint. Laquer paint must be applied with proper protection and ventilaion to the painter as it is toxic.
    • Urethane based – Urethane based paints are usually automotive paints. They are highly toxic and must be applied with proper protection
  7. Type of paint finishes. There are different kinds of finishes:
    • Flat – this gives a dull look to the paint, which is usually preferred for those painters going for a weathered type look
    • Gloss – this gives a glossy and polished look to paint. This is used to give kits the metallic or candy coats
    • Semi-gloss – middle ground between flat and gloss finishes, this type of finish creates a slight reflective surface
    • Matte/satin – a finish that has a dull type of sheen which catch the light. Satin finishes are on the glossier side, and matte finishes are closer to flat
  8. Top coat – a coat of clear paint used to protect the finish of paint jobs. Top coats also come in Flat and Gloss. Putting flat top coats on glossy paints or glossy top coat on flat paints can produce semi gloss or matte or satin finishes. Top coat is sometimes applied on kits without prior painting to protect the decals that are applied.

Buying terms:

  1. Unbuilt – or “Unbuild” for people who butcher the term. The correct term is UNBUILT. Meaning a kit that has not yet been built.
  2. Built – or “build” (which is retarded). BUILT kits are kits that are already built (no brainer). There are different types of built kits being sold these are the terms used to describe them:
    • Straight Build – meaning built without any additional work besides assembly
    • Clean Build – meaning care was taken in the build, nub marks are not visible and molding/seam lines are hidden or removed
    • Panel-lined – a marker was used to being out panel line details in the kit
    • Decals/stickers applied – the different decals were put on the kit
    • Half/partially built – some parts built
    • Glued parts – cement or super glue was used in repairing parts that were broken or loose
    • Painted – Paint was applied in some parts of the kit was given a custom paint job
    • Top coated – Top coat was applied to protect markings/decals/stickers
  3. Dibs – Term used by buyers to indicate that they wish to purchase the item
  4. Snipe – Term used to describe a kit being taken early without prior notice

Lastly, some advice to Gunpla Newbies: You can be an asset to the community or a hindrance, the best thing to do is not act like a jerk, don’t be scared to ask, everyone started out the same as you. If you can find a local community, it’s better. But be careful of the aforementioned jerks. Don’t let bullies and idiots kill your interest in a great hobby.

So that’s it for now.

Stay tuned for more tips for newbie builders in the future.

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