It’s been 11 months since I said “I can already tell that 2020 is gonna be a big year for Gundam,” citing the Gundam theme park scheduled to open this summer in Yokohama. I clearly had no idea how hard the rest of 2020 was going to hit us!
The theme park finally opened in late December after Japan got the coronavirus pandemic under control, but at the time of this writing Gunpla builders around the US (and many other parts of the world) are still finding creative ways to keep their spirits up, whether that means connecting with Gunpla groups over social media, confronting their backlogs while in quarantine, or building Coronavirus Haro.
Personally, 2020 was not a big year for Gunpla building over here, especially considering how John and I built our first Perfect Grade in 2019. It can be challenging to build something with small parts when I have a one-year-old walking around who loves to put things in her mouth. It’ll be a lot easier when she’s old enough to build, too! I only built one Gunpla this year, but I made it count: my Trans Rights Z’Gok is my first kit with a custom paint job.
Raising a baby in isolation wasn’t easy, and Gunpla 101 couldn’t have gotten through this year without our incredible 2020 contributors. Thanks so much to Andrew, Doug, Emily, Erich, Julie, Marc Rivera, Megaplamo, Milky, Mokiplamo, Peter, Tex Merquise, and Tom Aznable. Your work has made Gunpla 101 so helpful, positive, and welcoming to builders this year.
I wouldn’t say 2020 was a great year, but it did mark the releases of a lot of great Gunpla (and many of which our contributors have test-built in the Reviews section). As usual, kits can be found in order of both grade and release. Releases are listed from oldest to newest in each section. Let me know if you have any questions or comments, and enjoy!
- 2019 Gunpla Year in Review
- 2018 Gunpla Year in Review
- 2017 Gunpla Year in Review
- 2016 Gunpla Year in Review
- 2015 Gunpla Year in Review
- 2014 Gunpla Year in Review
Table of Contents
We did not get a Perfect Grade in all of 2019, but 2020 is making up for it with this release so early in the year! All those detailed white pieces are going to look great with a sharp panel line. A sleek, elegant Gundam Seed suit created in the most possible detail that Bandai Hobby’s Gunpla technology is capable of rendering.
Our second Perfect Grade of 2020! This “unleashed” version of the Grandaddy Gundam is marked not only with a new appearance, but an experience that is supposed to replicate the experience of building a real life robot from the inside out. The kit is covered with hatches you can open to show off its skeleton so all that internal work pays off. The “photo” I’ve used of this kit is actually a CGI rendering; I’ll be excited to see what it really looks like.
The latest Version Ka kit comes from the Gundam Sentinel novel. I don’t know much about this suit (except that it’s actually pronounced “fahts”) but I am intrigued by that massive firearm.
Allelujah’s transforming mecha is the latest kit to join the Master Grade line. The primary gimmick here is the GN Shield, which can transform into a pincer claw just like in Gundam 00.
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Master Grade line comes this truly stunning take on the Unicorn: a stylish Ver.Ka MGEX (short for Master Grade EXTREME). The main attraction is an already-assembled flexible skeleton studded with color-changing LED lights. Simply build the armor around this inner frame and get ready to display the most jaw dropping Unicorn yet. Check out Hobbylink TV’s unboxing for more info—they don’t pay me, I just thought it was a cool video.
Don’t say nothing good came out of 2020. This is a completely new mold of the Endless Waltz Wing Zero. This immaculately detailed kit comes with waterslide details and its own display stand. BTW, how old were you when you learned that the EW suits are the exact same as the mid-season upgrades from Gundam Wing, but the art design was so different that in America they labeled them “custom” to make sense of it? I was today years old.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Gundam SEED Destiny is far from my favorite show, but I just love its mecha! Now, Shin Asuka’s legendary protagonist suit is joining the Real Grade line. With a more extensive range of motion, it should be the most posable version of this kit yet.
To make this section a little more navigable, since 2019 I’ve divided it into general HG and two subsections: Universal Century (HGUC) and the Build series (HGBF and HGBD). As always, these are all in order of release.
In the Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans universe, Gundam Marchosias was thought to be lost forever. But this demonic suit made an unexpected appearance in the IBO cell phone game (Japan only, unfortunately), where its bombastic look has made it a fan favorite.
Mass-produced mobile suits have never looked so sleek. Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny is a show with a lot of visual style, and I’m loving this Earth Alliance grunt’s latest iteration.
Did you know that 2019 marked the 15th anniversary of Gundam SEED Destiny? That’s why it started getting so many new kits at the end of last year. The celebration continues with this newly flexible Infinite Justice, which has been remastered for increased poseability.
This hulking Gundam frame is the protagonist mecha of the Mobile Suit Gundam Iron-Blooded Orphans Urdr-Hunt mobile game, which is not available in English. It has a gimmick I’ve never seen before: a “Crab Shield” that shoots out a needle into enemy armor.
I have a soft spot for this aptly named suit that is exactly what its name describes. Accordingly, it’s the weapons and extras that make the High Grade After Colony version of the kit special, from the infamous Beam Gatling Gun on its left arm to the huge retractable army knife on its right. Build it in its “Full Open” configuration to display its full firepower at a glance.
High Grade – Universal Century
This Origin-specific version of the Grandaddy Gundam was made to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Gunpla hobby, which first kicked off in 1980! It’s an easily poseable, smoothly-jointed, and expertly-molded version of the model that started it all.
More than 40 years ago, Kunio Okawara designed the RX-78-2 for a little cartoon called Mobile Suit Gundam. For the franchise’s latest anniversary, Okawara has tweaked his design for a brand new version that promises to be the most poseable Beast of Possibility yet.
This new kit from Mobile Suit Gundam: Hathaway’s Flash still has a pending name, perhaps because it sounds like the English word “messy?” Its hulking frame is based on the ever-popular Geara Doga, but with multiple segments of articulation in the torso, it’ll be far more flexible.
I almost didn’t include this one because there are at least three recent HGUC Char’s Zaku II kits out there. This one is a counterpart to the new HG 1/144 Gundam Beyond Global designed to celebrate Gundam’s 40th birthday. It features ‘79 mecha proportions with new, upgraded parts.
You can tell from the loud color scheme and unique silhouette of this bell-shaped oddity that it’s an older model, from Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam to be specific. This asymmetrical suit will stand out in any collection in either its mobile suit form or bizarre “lower half only” construction. At 19cm tall, it dwarfs the Zeta Gundam and makes for truly striking diorama scenes.
I was wondering what this was because at first, it went online under the name “Hero Machine New Form” to avoid spoiling the show. Now we know that it’s the super-beefy fifth armor set for Hiroto’s intergalactically interchangeable Core Gundam, designed for space combat.
A different color version of the RE:RISE baddie Gundam Seltsam’s asymmetrical arms. Add them to your Seltsam, or make ANY HGBD kit twice as freaky by sticking these babies on instead of its usual arms. Competitive Gunpla builds are gonna be giving me nightmares soon.
Another kit that had its name hidden until it came out in January! Now that you’ve seen May’s mobile doll form in the anime, you can build this cute, poseable kit yourself.
So far in Re:RISE, we know Sid as the pilot of the Seltsam. But before that, he was the builder of this bulky purple number. Looking forward to learning more about him and his build!
The fact that the Core Gundam’s underwater armor is named for Mercury makes more sense in Japanese, where Mercury (水星) translates literally to “water star.”
This is a set of optional parts to enhance Parvis’s SD suit, the Valkylander. Like in the show, it can be assembled in multiple ways, including as a backpack or a standalone robo-bird.
Hiroto’s water-specific armor can attach to the Core Gundam or work as an aquatic support unit—you decide how to build it. It can also be mixed and matched with the already-released Earth, Venus, or Mars armor for a variety of color and style combinations.
This was initially labeled as an unnamed villain mecha to avoid spoilers for Re:RISE, and now we see why: Alus’s Gundam has the same gimmick as Hiroto’s! Hmm. This is basically a spikier version of Hiroto’s Core Gundam with a sleek blue-and-purple paint job.
Is it GP Rasetsu Ten? Or is it the weirder-sounding GP Rase-Two-Ten, which is what is written on the model box? Either way, the middle of Gundam Build Divers Re:RISE is a weird time for Ogre’s custom mobile suit, first seen in Gundam Build Divers, to come out. From its massive shoulders to its enormous feet, this big boy is beefy all over.
A combination of “Saturn” and “Six,” this is Hiroto’s sixth Gundam configuration in his bespoke Planet system. Keep in mind that this is just an armor set that is compatible with the Core Gundam. Unlike with the Earthree kit, the Core Gundam is not included.
Apparently the Saturnix also comes with this extra support accessory—a big ol’ drill. With the show on hold, I don’t think we know what the Saturnix’s specialty is yet, but the color scheme and box art are giving me desert vibes.
This one is a combination of “Uranus” and “Seven,” and it does come with the Core Gundam included. I have to say the Planet System was an inventive way for Bandai Hobby to keep us buying more Gunpla.
Wodom, short for “Walking Dome” is a peculiar unit from Turn A Gundam. (But which Turn A mech isn’t a little weird?) Now May’s black-and-green custom take on the unit from Gundam Build Divers Re:RISE invigorates this obscure suit with a new release.
Gundam Build Divers Re:RISE loves an asymmetrical custom, especially when it belongs to a bad guy! This is an armor set designed for an enemy version of Hiroto’s Core Gundam, so I’m guessing from the images that it can fit on Hiroto’s mecha as well. This armor can also be posed alone on an included display pedestal.
How do you feel about the trend of armor and weapons being sold separately for Gundam Build Divers Re:RISE kits? On the one hand, it ensures that there’s a lot more detail put into the weapons and gimmicks. On the other hand, it means you need to buy two kits. This accessory features a cascade of verniers that riff off of the classic Nu Gundam.
A real winner from the Re:RISE anime, this Try Age Magnum combines the armaments and abilities of Gundam AGE-1, 2, and 3 with neat accessories like an iridescent teal cape. My guess is this will be the Champion’s new mecha in an upcoming episode of the anime!
Hiroto’s latest Core Gundam armor is its specialty “cruising form.” With seafoam armaments and a trident-like V-fin, the design harkens back to the aquatic connotations of Neptune.
A halo-like backpack and arm unit to go with the Nepteight armor. You could also use this on any HGUC kit or custom to give your mecha an angelic appearance.
Justice Knight has leveled up! This bulkier version focuses on defense and support to reflect Kazami’s formerly teamwork-averse character growth. The shiny, dynamic beam effects for the thrusters are a nice touch.
Check out those flashy metallic icons, looking like something right out of Transformers! This is from yet another Japan-only Gundam franchise, the manga Gundam Build Diver Rize, a sidestory in the Build Divers universe starring a newly born EL-Diver named Rize. Definitely a weird-looking kit from a manga I will probably never read, but I love the asymmetry.
This armor can combine with and be used to upgrade the aforementioned Animarize. It comes with its own stand for display, or can be added to the main mecha as booster extensions.
Now you can build the showstopper final mecha from the Gundam Build Divers RE:Rise finale! This shimmery gold suit has a commanding aura and comes with special gold versions of the four suits it’s combined out of: the final versions of Hiroto, Kazami, Parvis, and May’s mecha.
This accessory set is designed to enhance Gundam Tertium, also from RE:Rise. The massive backpack resembles wings, while the two shields can be used individually or combined.
There are still quite a few more Re:RISE kits coming out. This one, made jointly by minor characters Koichi and Tsukasa, doesn’t figure hugely in the show, but its fierce, bladed exterior cuts an elegant figure. The “double” part of the name refers to its main gimmick: this kit can fully transform to the “Reverso” mode, with a whole new look.
This accessory set includes a cape and sword in an alternate colorway for the weapon that comes with the Try Age Magnum. Will shiny clear purple tempt you into buying the same thing twice? Or maybe you can use it with another kit—it’s compatible with any HGBD:R kit.
You could only buy Hiroto’s Core Gundam as part of one of its seven armors… until now. This version of the standalone unit comes in the G-3 colorway, based on an alternate colorway of the RX-78-2 first seen in the Mobile Suit Variations kit series.
The standalone Core Gundam also comes in the Titans colorway, based on the dark and evil-looking color palette of the antagonists of Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam.
If you think the Astray Noir’s backpack looks super cool, you’re not alone. In fact, Bandai designed this accessory so you can add it to any HG build you want.
This is basically a heavily customized version of the Gundam 00 Sky, with a new colorway and new armor. First seen in Episode 24 of Build Divers, Riku’s new suit has new gimmicks like the Sky Leg Guards which do… Well, I’m not sure what they do yet. Somebody tell me.
Gunpla building doesn’t get easier than this. This is the first EG, a new grade that features “touch gate specifications” designed for you to assemble with only your hands, without even using nippers. The light package version comes in a plastic case instead of a box.
Char’s Custom Zaku gets the Cross Silhouette treatment with this salmon-colored armor that can be arranged on the standard SD or more dynamic CS inner frame.
This red inner frame is designed to coordinate when peeping out from the aforementioned kit.
… And this green inner frame is likewise made to match the standard Zaku-green.
Extra parts to match your red inner frame…
… And the same for the green one. Get the picture?
This is almost indescribably adorable! It wasn’t until I saw the two mascots’ colors and super-deformed shapes mashed up that I realized what a genius collaboration this was.
Gundam Build Divers Re:RISE isn’t done airing but its protagonist’s mobile suit already has an SD riff. I wonder if this one will eventually include all the planetary armor add-ons?
Barbatos Lupus Rex joins the SD line with this new kit that can fit on either a classic SD or a more posable Cross Silhouette frame. Both frames are included.
The upgraded version of Parvis’s Valkylander features armor with a metallic gold sheen characteristic of the SD Gundam Sengokuden series of kits. The red gems and white wings also remind me of attributes of the Wing Zero. A really elaborate little SD.
Another 40th anniversary special item! This set combines two existing Cross Silhouette kits with a CS frame for each kit included. The SDCS line is purported to be flexible by allowing you to build the kits on either CS or SD frames, but note there aren’t SD frames included here.
An expansion set proportioned for the Cross Silhouette series, this booster contributes additional functionality. With this add-on, your CS Gunpla can have different facial expressions, improved joint flexibility, and new accessories.
Now I no longer need to wonder what the Nu Gundam’s iconic funnel gimmick would look like in SD form. It’s the cutest version of Amuro’s Char’s Counterattack suit ever.
And where the Nu Gundam goes, the Sazabi is never far behind. Now you can pose Amuro and Char’s final standoff in this cute-and-compact form.
Speaking of cute, here’s the Hello Kitty/Char Aznable teamup you didn’t know you wanted! Kitty’s jaunty red bow looks surprisingly color-coordinated with the salmon-colored Zaku.
There’s also a Zaku grunt version of the Hello Kitty combo. Build the SD Zaku and Kitty separately, or build them together so Kitty appears to be wearing it as a costume. It’s a little silly, but at the end of 2020 I can appreciate something sweet and gimmicky like this.
Beargguys + Haros
Two cute mascots collide in this distinctly feline Haro model. This collab celebrates Gundam’s 40th and Hello Kitty’s 45th birthday, and it’s hard to believe they’re almost the same age.
The cutest little version of Kazami’s Gundam Justice Knight. Unlike a lot of Petitgguys, which are merely conceptual, we actually got to see Justigguy in action in Re:Rise!
Put Haro to work in this heavy-lifting machinery kitted out to carry a Haro at its core. Yes, a tan, blue-eyed Haro comes with the loader.
Just like Tom Aznable described in his Deep Dive for episode 21, this Haro Fitter shares many attributes with the repair-type Karel from Celestial Being in Gundam 00. Its cute cat ears and seafoam color scheme make it clear that this is Parvis’ custom Haro Fitter.