Beginner Gunpla Kits
Our 2019 picks for new builders.
Guidance for Gift Givers: When shopping for beginners, it’s a good idea to look for High Grade (HG) or Super Deformed (SD) kits. These grades have lots of availability, low price points, and not too many parts. They’re great for new builders as well as those pressed for time—most of these kits can be built in under an hour!
Guidance for Gift Givers: Some High Grade kits with a lot of layers of armor (like anything from Gundam Unicorn) are better for modelers who have built at least one kit before. High Resolution Models (HiRM) can be a good stepping stone before modelers tackle more complicated Master Grade (MG) kits, though some MG kits are good for intermediate builders who have built several HG and want something more complex. These kits may take a few hours, or even days, to build.
This gorgeous golden Phenex used to be a Gundam Base exclusive you had to travel all the way to Tokyo to get! Now this this gold-plated stunner is ready for its worldwide debut. An HG with complexities that make it more challenging than most of its grade.
This kit may be a High Grade, but its added accessories make it massive. Elaborate riding armor, complete with multiple expansion and deployment gimmicks, makes Narrative Gundam as formidable as it appears in the 2019 Gundam NT movie. You’re going to need some extra space on the display shelf!
Guidance for Gift Givers: These kits are great for experienced modelers who have built at least five to ten kits of various difficulties. Real Grade (RG) kits are similar to Master Grade in difficulty, but in the 1/144 scale which makes some of them tricky. These Gunpla are more complicated and may take a week or more to build.
Lockon Stratos’ fan-favorite mobile suit finally joins the Master Grade line! This kit has a flexible inner frame allowing it to recreate all of Stratos’ iconic sniper poses, plus the accessories and gimmicks to bring them to life. If this means we’re going to get each boy’s Gundam 00 suit, this is a promising beginning.
Normally outfitted in red and black, the Sinanju gets a completely different look for the 2019-release Gundam Narrative movie. Now it joins the Version Ka line of Master Grade with its own distinctive profile. Comes with great-looking waterslide decals, making it the perfect opportunity to learn a new Gunpla-building skill.
A 1/144 model that carefully replicates every pirate’s favorite Gundam down to the smallest embellishment. From the tiny skull motifs to the transformable gimmicks and cape, this is the most intricate version we’ve seen of this already detailed kit. Tricky but worth the extra effort!
For big spenders, this is a 1:60 scale kit that will keep you busy for at least 3 weeks of intense building (at least in our experience building a Perfect Grade)! This intense version of Gundam 00‘s signature mobile suit can be fitted with an LED kit to glow in the dark just like our PG Gundam Unicorn.
Guidance for Gift Givers: From clothing to accessories, these gifts are great for the Gunpla fan who doesn’t mind wearing their fandom on their literal sleeve. Not all of these gifts are official merchandise; some are fan creations (made by friends of Gunpla 101) that pay homage to the Gundam franchise.
Ashe isn’t just a Gunpla 101 contributor and talented builder, she’s also an accomplished resin caster. Her love of Gunpla informs her keychains, phone charms, magnets, and other accessories, which can be shaped like Zugokku, frame Amuro in a glitter star, or a number of Gundam-inspired designs.
This item comes from an official partnership from the Tokyo-based Cospa store, which sells both cosplay and anime-inspired clothing and accessories. This imported bag fits your cell phone or portable game console while showing off your Gundam fandom to anyone you pass.
I checked out the Uniqlo Gundam collab when it first came to America this April. Back then it was $15 a shirt, but the price has been reduced to $6! These thick, high-quality tees are durable enough to survive dozens of washes and their classy designs show off your Gundam obsession to an elegant, subtle effect.
In the Gundam fan art community, Rideth is famous for his stunning, almost abstract portrayals of some of the franchise’s most recognizable mobile suits. If you missed him at Otakon and Crunchyroll Expo, you can still pick up some of his most iconic artwork on his Society6 page. I love his “Beast of Possibility” design—I wore it on a shirt to the Gundam Narrative movie showing and got tons of compliments!
We’re smitten with these miniature Gunpla boxes made by modeler Kevin Lee. Pick any Gundam kit you like, and Kevin can make a custom magnet based on it! Not only are they perfect replicas of real Gunpla boxes, but they’re also functional: they open and close for a teensy bit of storage.
Guidance for Gift Givers: In 1979, a toy company called Clover sponsored Mobile Suit Gundam with the intent to use the show to advertise robot toys. Today, the show’s influence goes way beyond its initial role as a vehicle to sell toys! This section features the movies, shows, and manga (comics) that inspire Gundam model kits.
25 years after its release, G-Gundam gets a comprehensive, jam-packed box set that is just as over the top as the show is! Remastered color and smooth audio make the latest Blu-Ray transfer the ultimate way to watch this cult classic. Want to learn more? Check out my review on Anime News Network.
Take a deeper dive into the world of Gundam Wing with this comprehensive manga that delves even further into the adventures of Heero, Duo, Trowa, Quatre, and Wufei. Closely following the story of the TV show, “Glory of Losers” also touches on each protagonist’s motivations and backstory in a way the anime didn’t have time to do. It’s required reading for diehard Gundam Wing fans!
2019’s first Gundam film release picks up where Gundam Thunderbolt: December Sky left off. This gritty look at another battlefront of the One Year War is a visually-arresting piece of art. Just keep in mind, this jazz-infused drama is a little too violent and sad to be fun for the whole family.
10 years after it first came out on the SyFy channel in the United States, Mobile Suit Gundam 00 is on a crisp new Blu-ray transfer. You’ve never seen Setsuna F. Seiei and co. look or sound so clear. It’s a great way to rewatch this surprisingly well-aged show, or check it out for the first time.
Guidance for Gift Givers: Modern Gunpla kits snap together with no glue, and they don’t require paint. However, builders sometime do additional work anyway to make models look their best. Check in with your giftee to see if there’s a preferred process they have or a new skill they’re hoping to learn so you don’t buy them redundant tools.
We recommend the Vallejo Model line (not the Game line) as a bright, long-lasting set for people looking to start painting their Gunpla. These low-cost paints are versatile enough for both hand painting and airbrushing (with a little paint thinner in the mix) so they’ll work for any approach you want to take.
In almost every Gunpla 101 tutorial, you can see us and our contributors work on a trusty craft mat. A self-healing mat will keep its tough exterior no matter how many nippers, craft knives, and corosive battle damage substances you throw at it. We love this one in bright blue!
This is the not-so-secret weapon that got us through our PG Gundam Unicorn. It’s unparalleled among nippers, with the thinnest, sharpest blade allowing you to achieve the most precise cut. Use a pair of these to snip pieces out of their sprues, and you can leave your usual X-Acto knife step out of the equation!
As outlined in our airbrush guide from Otaku on a Budget, this American-made model is the best bang for your buck. It’s very adjustable and works with a variety of paint types. Not only is it long lasting, but its replacement parts are easily available and affordable, making it so you can use this airbrush indefinitely.