Basics for New Builders: Choosing the Right Kit

Okay, so you got your tools, it’s now time to get a kit.

You go to your local hobby shop/mall and you see the wealth of kits and feel slightly overwhelmed. “What’s with all these kits?”, you ask.

If you’re confused, don’t worry, this is a guide for you.

Now as discussed in the previous article: Basics for New Builders: Gunpla Talk there are different grades of Gunpla. This article will give a more in-depth look at these to help you decide the right kit for you.

 

  1. Super Deformed (SD) – This refers to cartoon-like models with big heads and small limbs. They have few points of articulation and detail but are quite easy to build. Some modelers avoid the SD line because of they find it too cute or think the proportions are unappealing, however they are very popular in Japan. The SD line has some kits which are unavailable as other grades and other kits have the ability to join together and transform into bigger kits.
    There are different variations of the SD line:

    • BBSenshi-GundamBarbatosLupusDXBB Senshi – This is the standard SD line, it usually focuses on the Musha Gundam kits.
    • SDEX-GundamExiaSDEX – This is a more recent series of kits which are cheaper than the BB Senshi line, though they have fewer variations of mobile suits.
    • Pros of SD kits:
      • Easy to build
      • Lots of variety
      • Less work
    • Cons of SD kits:
      • Style might not be to most people’s liking
      • Less articulation
      • Less detail and posability
  2. High Grade (HG) – High grade kits are 1/144 scale (although there are some HG 1/100 scale models) kits that offer the best entry point to building Gunpla. This line has the most model kits and spans all the Gundam series. The newer mobile suits from the animated series are usually made in the HG scale as well. This scale offers the most variety of Gunpla and even has some additional part sets that can be used to customize your gunpla without having to resort to making custom parts.
    • Hguc-s-gundam
      You can tell what series an HG kit is from by looking at the wording under the HG initials on the box
    • The advantage of HG kits is that they are easy to build and do not require much in the way of work, (unless you want to customize your gunpla). They are highly recommended for newbie builders.
    • Many builders stick to certain series of HGs to collect, this is sometimes recommended due to the sheer volume of available HG kits, however this is not a rule it is merely a suggestion. Any newbie is free to collect any kit they think looks good.
    • Pros of HG kits:
      • Lots of variety – can appeal to more people
      • Easy to build
      • Many add – on parts are available for easy customization
    • Cons of HG kits:
      • Lots of variety – can also be overwhelming when to choose
      • Average articulation compared to higher grades
      • Less detail compared to higher grades
  3. Master Grade (MG) – The preference for more advanced builders. The 1/100 scale kits are more complex than the High Grade counterparts and offer increased detail and articulation. Experienced builders usually prefer the MG line due to the size of the kits as well as the level of detail and articulation.
    • Master Grade kits usually include a working cockpit mechanism which also comes with a 1/100 scale  pilot which can fit inside
    • Some MG kits also have spaces to accommodate LED units for lighting up parts (sold separately)
    • MG_Full_Armor_Gundam_Ver.Ka
      Ver Ka – or Version Katoki. This refers to kits that have been designed or redesigned by Hajime Katoki a japanese mech designer. These kits have increased detail compared to the other kits in the line and are usually distinguished by having a white box with the picture of the mobile suit alone instead of artwork. Ver Ka kits are only released for the MG line.

      • However, while the Ver Ka is usually an improvement on the kit that has come before it, see Sazabi ver ka
        HeAB8Au
        First Release MG Sazabi  (left) and the MG Sazabi Ver Ka (right)                   *picture sourced from the internet*

        Sometimes the subsequent releases of the kit improve on the Ver Ka and produce a superior model as seen in the following link:
        Comparison between the Unicorn Ver Ka and the Unicorn OVA version Master Grades

    • Ver 1.5, 2.0, 3.0, OYW, Ver RM, Ver, OVA, etc. – These are used in showing the different iterations of a kit usually improving the quality and the overall design.
    • Pros of MG kits:
      • Increased Details
      • Improved Articulation
      • Exclusive redesigns
      • Perfect balance between detail and complexity of build
    • Cons of MG kits:
      • Lesser variety (some series do not have MG kits)
      • Longer build time
      • More expensive than HG
  4. Perfect Grade (PG) – These kits are the most complex standard release kits on the market. The line boasts the highest level of detail and articulation compared with the other kits. And obviously they are also the most expensive of the grades.
    • Perfect Grade kits are produced in a 1/60 scale and have a fully detailed inner frame and movable digits
    • This line also has support for LED systems allowing the some parts to be lit up in more complex ways such as the inner frame of the PG unicorn
      61bsKW9XDsL._SL1500_
      However, like the MG kits, these LED systems are sold separately.
    • Pros of PG kits:
      • Highest level of detail
      • Look good without the need for customization
    • Cons of PG kits:
      • Expensive
      • Weight sometimes hampers articulation and posablity
      • Complex build with many small parts can take a long time to construct
      • Least variety of kits with only 16 regular releases
  5. Real Grade (RG) – Real Grade kits are a more recent line of kits which have articulation and detail that rival some Master Grade kits but at a 1/144 scale. The line was designed to combine the different advantages of the other scale grades; the size and affordability of an HG, the use of an inner frame of MGs, and the level of articulation of a PG.
    • banm150872.jpg
      The inner frame of RG kits are designed for maximum articulation. The inner frame is also placed on a single runner for easier construction.
    • The RG kits have fewer variations, though this is a relatively new line, more kits are expected to be produced
    • While the detail and articulation are superb, this line is not recommended for novice builders due to the fact that it has smaller parts or parts made of thinner plastic that can easily break or get lost.
    • Pros of RG kits:
      • Articulation and detail are similar to the larger scale kits
      • Cheaper compared to larger scale kits
      • Look good when built straight without having to customize
    • Cons of RG kits:
      • Complex build (not newbie friendly)
      • Small parts are easy to break or lose
      • Lesser variety

*Other Kits – There are also kits that do not figure into the Grade category although they are also to scale

  1. HG 1/100 – These kits are essentially HG kits that are upscaled to 1/100 size.
  2. NG 1/100 – No grade kits are kits that have slightly better articulation than an HG scaled to 1/100.
  3. RE 1/100 – Reborn 1/100 line are kits that have better articulation than standard HG 1/100 kits but do not have a full inner frame. This line is usually for more kits that are too large and complex to make a full MG kit out of or models that are more obscure or not in the “main” Gundam Series
  4. Full Mechanics – this line of 1/100 scale kits was recently released specifically for the Iron Blooded Orphans series Mobile Suits. This line includes increased articulation and detail as well as a full inner frame. However, they do not include other more minute details such as pilots and cockpits.

Okay, that covers most of the basics when it comes to kits. Now the question asked by most newbies is usually:

“Where do I start?”

Now this is a more simple than it seems. While the sheer volume of gunpla kits might be daunting, new builders are better off just going with High Grade kits, specifically the High Grade Build Fighters (HGBF) or HG Build Fighter Try (HGBFT) kits, as these are aimed to ease newer builders into the hobby. Another good choice is the High Grade Iron Blooded Orphans Line (HGIBO) which include an inner frame and have good detail for kits with only a few runners.

Once you get used to the basics of a kit you can choose to move up to higher grades or you can stick with HG and try more advanced gunpla techniques like painting or scribing. These techniques will be covered in future articles.

 

Happy building!

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