Gift Ideas For Gunpla Builders (That Aren’t More Model Kits)

Panel-lining markers work for nearly any build.

Holiday shopping season is here, which means it’s time for all the websites you visit to come up with ultra-specific gift guides for our respective niches. This year, we’ve gratefully handed that task to contributor Doug Wilder, who’s got some creative options for Gunpla gift giving.

Ever wanted to get that Gunpla builder in your life a great gift, but don’t want to add to their already unruly backlog of unbuilt kits? I’m here to help with a list of ideas to fit any budget, and any type of builder! Read on for some of my best ideas, based on my own building experience:

For $10 And Under

Panel Lining Markers – $10 (pictured at top)

When I first got back into building Gunpla a few years ago, one of the things I promised myself that I would learn was how to panel line a kit.  Thanks to the Gunpla 101 panel-lining tutorial, I learned that it’s not that complicated and it has made my builds look much better. Whether they’re for somebody who is just starting out or is a veteran builder, a set of panel lining markers are a great way to help the Gunpla builder in your life make their kits look even better. Even if they have a set, it’s always a good idea to refresh them every couple of years, which means builders always need them. This set has all three colors described in the tutorial.

Tamiya Small Cotton Triangular Swabs – $6

This is a simple one, but it’s a product I’ve come to love. I started using Tamiya’s small triangle cotton swabs for cleaning up panel lines, wiping up excess paint and glue, and applying waterslide decals. At around $5-$6 for a pack of 50, this still might seem pricey for what you’re getting, but these are not your ordinary drugstore cotton swabs. The small triangular tip on these can get into lots of nooks and crannies of a kit, and they will last much longer than regular cotton swabs you buy at the grocery store or pharmacy. My first pack of 50 lasted through several Master Grade kit builds before I finally had to get another one.

For $11 to $20

Micromesh Sanding Sticks – $19

Micromesh Sanding Pads – $14

These two products are used for the same task, but different builders will prefer one or the other. From cleaning up nub marks to weathering, from battle damage to polishing, there are all sorts of things that require sanding when building a model kit. These tools come in a variety of grits so you can use them on many different tasks, but they’re nice and flexible for uneven parts. They come in both sticks and pads, both of which work great on both flat and curved pieces. 

Tool Box with Sliding Cases – $14

I’m looking forward to when I can once again visit my local model shop and spend a large chunk of the day working on a kit in their build area or getting together at a friend’s place for a build night. But lugging tools back and forth can be a pain, especially when you’re carrying an in-process model kit, too. A nice small toolbox comes in very handy. I recommend one with modular boxes that slide in and out. They’ll adjust to fit a variety of tools, and you only need to slide the boxes you need out instead of opening up a regular toolbox and digging through everything. You can even use them for storing small pieces if you’ve taken them off a runner.

Action Base 3 With Backdrop Insert Panel – $13

Ok, I lied, there is one item on this list that’s technically an unbuilt kit. Bandai’s Action Bases come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, many of which can link together. If you’re not sure what colors go well with what someone is building, clear, black, and white are good neutral colors that will go with a wide variety of kits. One of my favorites is the Action Base 3 because it can be angled more than some of the standard bases and it comes with an insert panel. It’s great for when a builder wants to put in a piece of scenery or a pilot’s personal emblem. 

Document Holder – $13

This is my number one gift suggestion since I see so many builders constantly moving their directions around their workspace while building a kit. An easy way to free up some real estate on anyone’s workspace is to get a copy holder to hold up things like instruction manuals and reference pictures.  It also ensures that you stay on the same page while you work. You can get a very simple one that will just go on the workspace like the one pictured, or go for the pricier desk-clamp option for a little more versatility. One word of caution: if you opt for the clamping model, make sure the recipient’s workspace isn’t too wide for the clamp!

For $20 And Up

Wireless headphones – $39

Lately, I’ve been doing a weekly virtual build night with friends as calls on Discord. We all talk about what we’re working on and share progress pictures: a great way to keep Gunpla social during the coronavirus lockdown. When I’m not doing that, I like to listen to music while I work on a model. A great way to make sure the builder in your life can do the same is to get them a good pair of wireless headphones that can be paired with a computer, tablet, or phone. They can stay in touch and listen to whatever they want—without a troublesome cord in the way of their build. 

Desk Light – $54

While we’re on the topic of improving workspace and things that can clamp to the side of a desk or table, a little extra lighting can go a long way. It will reduce eye strain when working on a kit. This LED lamp clamps to the table and has six color modes so the builder can see how their panel-lining or paint finish will look in multiple types of lighting, with adjustable brightness for different times of day. Just remember to make sure the recipient’s workspace has room for the clamp.

Lightbox – $39

Many builders enjoy being able to show off our finished builds on social media, blog posts, and various online forums, but to do that, we first need to get some good looking pictures. A lightbox helps a modeler take pictures that show off the kit and help highlight all the hard work that they put into building it. Many lightboxes come with either stand lights or LED strips, which means you don’t need to provide your own lighting setup. This model not only comes with its own lights, but multiple colored backgrounds. The whole thing folds up neatly for easy storage. 

Turntable Display – $46

If you know that your recipient would rather record video than take still photos, or have the model on full display at home, a turntable will rotate the kit so it can be seen from every angle. The Mr Hobby brand turntable is popular with a lot of builders. Its mirrored base means that no part of the build will escape notice. 

There are lots of great gift ideas for Gunpla builders that aren’t just more model kits. They can help improve their craft, their workspace, or just give them a welcomed break. Think about modeling supplies that are handy or consumables that always need refilling. Putting the thought and effort into giving more than just a model kit shows that you want to help them make the best builds they can. 

Doug Wilder is a long time Gundam fan who recently came back to the Gunpla hobby after his self-control was broken by the release of the Master Grade Deep Striker. When not hosting panels about Gundam and other giant robot anime series at conventions Doug can be found on the AnimeCons TV podcast or on Twitter as @nigoki.

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1 Comment.

  • I just want to throw out there 3D printed items. My sister printed me some special stands and so far one tank from 0079.

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