Ask Gunpla 101: Eco-friendly Gunpla?


Ask Gunpla 101 is our advice column in which we take questions and share them for our readers. Do you have any questions for Gunpla 101? Be sure to contact us by using our form, visiting Lauren’s account, or emailing us at [email protected].

What do you usually do with the empty runners after you finished the Gunpla? I was planning to write a note and packed and send all my empty runners to Bandai Hobby Center at Japan for them to reuse in order to melt them and make Gunplas since I’ve heard that they the company who care about environment. I just want to find if there is any method that can dispose the empty runner without causing hazard to environment. How do you deal with them? — Leon

First of all, we’re so happy to hear you’ve put so much thought into making your Gunpla hobby eco-friendly. As you remarked, Bandai puts a lot of stock into protecting the environment, and even released a line of Ecopla, made from recycled Gunpla.

Our research hasn’t indicated a way that you can send your empty runners to Japan. However, we have determined that sprues are recyclable, and you can put them with your other plastic recyclables to be melted down and reused.

Want more creative solutions? You can always turn your runners into a Gunpla model in its own right, as illustrated by our post cover image (source here).

Reddit’s r/gunpla community also has a lot of options for ways you can repurpose runners and sprues in different ways. For example, you can keep them around to test various paints and primers. You can melt them and soften them for 3D printing. One commenter uses the longer plastic pieces as bases for custom weapons.

We hope that gives you a few places to start. Happy belated Earth Day!

Hi, I model cars and mini figures. I have been looking for Gundam for a long time. And I am also curious if everything is already painted? I would love to get my hands on gundam models that need to be painted as well as put together. — Cole

Welcome Cole, we’re always thrilled to have new builders in the Gunpla community.

I don’t know much about cars or figures, but I can tell you that Gunpla almost always come pre-painted. This is great for beginners and definitely cuts down on modeling time, but if you’re looking for a challenge, you can always paint over them. You can stick to the colors they’re already painted, or try an alternate coloring. For example, the RX-78-2—a great beginner model that exemplifies one of the Gundam universe’s most iconic mobile suits—might look cool with purple and teal instead of red and blue.

One word of caution—I’m not sure if model cars and figures are designed to be posed in dynamic ways, but Gunpla definitely are. When you’re painting, you’ll want to individually paint all the pieces of the Gunpla so when you put it together, the joints still move and it can be posed.

Gunpla fans are divided on whether brush painting or airbrushing is the better technique, so you could try whatever you use for model cars and figures. In short, it sounds like you already know plenty about painting; you’ll just be applying it to a different kind of model. We can’t wait to see what you create!

I’ve almost always used a pour-type marker for panel lining since it’s very easy to use and give a nice finish. However, I’ve read that using a pour-type marker over paint is a big no-no. I’ve been told that panel wash over a gloss topcoat is a good alternative, but is the pour-type marker useable over a topcoat? — Rei

To be honest, Rei, before your email I didn’t know about pour-type markers! For anyone else who didn’t know, these are Gunpla markers that use an oil-based paint to melt into the grooves where we draw our panel lines.

Since I have never used them before, I had to check on Gundam Planet to see why you can’t use them over paint—it’s because the oil paint melts into the groundwork, so if you get any overflow you’ll end up removing your paint while you get rid of it! (Meanwhile if you use it on unpainted Gunpla, you can simply erase the excess). With that in mind, I wouldn’t recommend using them on top of topcoat either—you’ll end up removing the topcoat with the excess, too.

I always panel-line before before applying top coat anyway, so why not use the pour-type marker first, and then apply top coat? That’d be my suggestion.

I’m a newbie Gunpla builder I’ve got a question that may impact future customizations. How much cross-compatibility is there between kits? I’m wondering about cross-compatibility between different grades, especially those in the same size class like the HG and RG kits. — Tim

Cross-compatibility is relatively new in the Gunpla world, and came about with the dawn of HGUC (High Grade Universal Century), HGBF (High Grade Build Fighters), and other more specific versions of existing grades.

If you have two HGUC kits, I’d absolutely believe that you can mix and match their parts! Go ahead and put those HGUC RX-78-2 and HGUC Zeta Mk-II pieces into a wild homunculous combination spanning two of Gundam’s most enduring mobile suits.

But if you want to mix and match an HGUC RX-78-2, and say, an HG RX-78-2 made several years before it, I can’t guarantee you’ll have a good time. Earlier HG kits weren’t designed with this cross-compatibility in mind, so if they work it’ll be pure coincidence.

Top photo by Hirotyun1000.

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  • While most kits are not fully compatible with each other, especially the MG kits, You can do something called kit bashing to find similar parts and put them together to make some things unique. The issue with kit bashing however is sometimes you only get 1 chance to do it or else your kit might be damaged beyond repair. You can also make resin copies of parts to test fit and customize further on your kits, though this comes with its own issues. You can also go with some kotobukiya brand items like weapons which are surprisingly compatible with most gunpla even though they are not the same brands.

    If you want some true customization however, look at the Kotobukiya frame arms series, as they all have the same inner frame, and are designed to have multiple kits bashed together for full customization.

    But typically if you work and modify hard enough you can get any HG kit to work together with each other.

  • To go with those pour type markers, you can use them on top of a top coat, depending on the coat you use. If you use a gloss top coat of the opposite type (aka if the marker is enamel based, use a acrylic based top coat, and vice versa) then any paint for clean up and the top coat will not be *erased* on the clean up. Its also recommend to do one more top coat after panel lines and decals to protect them one last time.

  • “Notices them say HGUC Zeta Mk-II and clicks the link”

    Um minor error there, that isn’t a Zeta MK-II, that’s just the RX-178 Gundam MK-II AEUG Colors, which is an upgrade over the original RX-78-2 Gundam. There is a ZII though. (Or Zeta Two, or Zetsu for short).

  • I brought the unicorn gundam destroy mode ver and the gundam in 0079 and can someone help on building them cuz im new to this and dont know what to do

    • Did you ever finish that Gundam Unicorn Destroy Mode?.? My first Gundam was a PetitGGuy Chachacha Brown, then a Chibi Sengoku Astray Niels Nelson, and then a Hydra Gundam…. These were in the $5-12 dollar price range. I’m not a big fan of these Gundams physically, except I love the cartoons, its just the Gunpla themselves take up space. But im glad these 6 inch gunplas are good on a shelf. But yeah seeing that Unicorn Gundam and having to piece it together can be very tough.

“Gunpla is freedom.”

Gunpla is not about being perfect, it’s about building a model you love from a show you love with your own hands. Here at Gunpla 101, we provide resources for Gunpla builders of all skill levels.

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