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What Is Gunpla? 5 Reasons Why You Should Start Building Models

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Gunpla Gundam Model
Image Credit: Pat Krupa/Unsplash

Games and hobby stores have begun gradually stocking Gunpla kits, but they’re not quick to fly off the shelves. Most people don’t know anything about Gunpla, and that’s not all their fault. It doesn’t really help that its packaging is almost entirely in Japanese.

If you’re boggled by just looking at a Gunpla kit, or have never even heard of it, then you’re in the right place. We’re going to discuss the basics of Gunpla, and why you should start building.

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What is Gunpla?

The word “Gunpla” is a combination of the phrase: “Gundam plastic model.” In other words, Gunpla kits are buildable and moveable plastic models inspired by the animated series, Gundam, that debuted in Japan in 1979.

The Gundam series is the original Pacific Rim, only humans pilot extremely large, weaponized robots called Gundams, not Jaegers. There have been several different Gundam TV series, making the whole Gundam universe very complicated, to say the least. Luckily, you’re not required to know everything about the show in order to build Gunpla.

After the series exploded in Japan, Bandai released hundreds of plastic Gundam models with varying sizes and features. Despite the popularity of Gunpla in Japan, the hobby hasn’t achieved mainstream status in other countries quite yet.

Why You Should Start Building Gunpla

Any hobby that allows you to simply build intricate models deserves some recognition. Here are the reasons why you should make Gunpla your next hobby:

1. Gunpla is for All Skill Levels

You don’t need to be an engineer to build Gundams. All you really need is the ability to interpret simple diagrams.

That being said, some Gunpla kits are easier to build than others. Anyone can master the simpler kits, but you should work your way up to the more challenging ones. You can usually tell which models have a higher difficulty based on their plastic grade.

The most difficult Gunpla kits have the best plastic quality. They’ll have a label that reads “MG” for Master Grade and “PG” for Perfect Grade. The easier, cheaper models will have an “SD” for Super Deformed or an “HG” for High Grade. If you want a Gundam that’s somewhere in the middle, find one labeled “RG” for Real Grade.

2. You Don’t Need Glue

Glue is a dealbreaker (for me, at least). It’s messy, stinks, and usually ends up all over my hands. For all my fellow glue-haters out there, I’m sure you’ll be glad to know that you won’t have to use one drop of glue to build Gunpla.

Gunpla pieces come in several trays. You have to clip each piece out with a small pair of nippers or an X-Acto blade. As you put your model together, the pieces will snap together without the need for glue. When you feel that you need glue to fit two pieces together, that’s how you know you did something wrong.

3. Nearly Unlimited Options

I mentioned earlier that the Gundam series has many spinoffs that take place in different universes. While this might be irritating if you’re actually trying to watch the show, its diversity is what makes it great for model building.

When you step into a hobby store and head to the Gunpla section, you’ll probably be overwhelmed at all the options. Gunpla varies widely in color, sizes, and accessories. While some come with a shield and wings, others come equipped with guns and missile launchers. It’s up to you to decide which Gunpla kit you want to build.

4. Gunpla is Addicting

No hobby can give you a more awesome result than Gunpla. As soon as you finish building your Gundam, you can display it in your home. Gundams come with a small stand that’s perfect for showing your model off.

That’s what makes Gunpla so addicting. You start with one completed model on your shelf, and soon you’ll have twenty more. Don’t be shy about adding to your collection—you’ll begin to notice that you want to collect Gunpla kits from every series.

Eventually, it becomes an out of control collection that you and your houseguests can appreciate. Who else can say that they have an army of plastic robots on display?

5. Building Gunpla is Relaxing

You had a tough day at work, and your eyes hurt after staring at the computer screen for way too long. When you don’t want to turn to video games or the internet for relaxation, what can you do? Build Gunpla instead.

There’s nothing more relaxing than opening a Gunpla kit and trying to put all the pieces together. Since it takes such a high degree of concentration to follow the directions, your nagging thoughts will slowly fade away. Plus, nothing beats the satisfaction that comes along with completing a model.

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Getting to Know Gunpla

Hopefully, I’ve convinced you enough to drop whatever you’re doing and buy a Gunpla kit. Just a fair warning that once you buy one Gundam, you can’t stop.

Have you been bitten by the Gunpla bug? If you have, let me know why you love to build Gunpla in the comment section.

Emma Roth
Emma is a staff writer at WhatNerd. In addition to being an avid writer and tech geek, she's a fan of games, anime, manga, and more. She's based in Connecticut.
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