This post was updated in June 2020.
I had an amazing exchange on Twitter recently. A Gundam fan told me he’d always been interested in getting started building Gunpla, but didn’t know where to begin. We chatted a bit and he ended up choosing not one, but two Gunpla models to build!
It reminded me why we started Gunpla 101 in the first place. For somebody like me who does most of my work on a computer, it feels extremely rewarding to build something with my hands. It doesn’t matter if there are some flaws, the process is what makes it fun.
Now it’s easier to get into Gunpla than ever. Bandai has spent a lot of time reviving older models and refining their molding process, so Gunpla fit together more easily than ever. If you’re looking for ideas for your very first Gunpla, you’ve got lots to choose from.
Here are my favorite beginner-friendly Gunpla kits:
20. HGUC Gyan Revive
The Gyan first appeared on screen in 1979’s Mobile Suit Gundam as an enemy mobile suit, but today its “knight in shining armor” design transcends definitions of good or evil. This new classic model is an attractive and functional first Gunpla pick for a beginner.
Gyan is part of the Revive line that Bandai released in 2015 to celebrate Gundam’s 35th anniversary. So even though Gyan is an old mobile suit design, it’s one of the most modern, articulate, and refined kits you can get today.
19. HGUC Gouf Revive
Another 2016 release from the Revive line. The Gouf is already iconic, and Bandai’s latest color separation technology means its distinct blue is a richer hue than ever.
Another reason Revive models are good for beginners aside from their improved construction: they’re just smaller. Over the years, you’ll notice that 1/144 Gunpla kits from newer shows are getting bigger and bigger, culminating in the massive Unicorn Gundam. That’s because, in the show, Gundams are designed as larger in proportion to humans than they used to be. Smaller kits mean shorter build times and fewer parts that make them less overwhelming.
18. HGBF Beargguy P
Looking more like a pretty pink teddy bear than a mobile weapon, Beargguy is an eclectic pick for a beginner who is interested in seeing the sheer range that Gunpla kits can cover. This beginner may have already known kits could be cool and deadly looking, but they may not have known that Gunpla could also be silly or cute.
Beargguy is a simple build with plenty of heft to show for its short construction time. Better yet, the show it comes from, Gundam Build Fighters Try, is a great “gateway” Gundam show. Released in 2015, it’s fast-paced and made according to modern animation standards, which might make it an easier sell if you’re trying to convince a friend to finally get into Gundam.
17. HGPG Pandagguy
Beargguy is a 30-minute build, tops. Petit Beargguys, like Pandagguy, barely take 15 minutes to construct. These tiny kits are cute and as easy as Gunpla building gets. And while there are so many colors and styles to choose from, the Pandagguy uses stickers and a three-color scheme to appear more visually complex than it is.
If you have or know a child who has reached an age where you can trust them with tools like Gunpla nippers, I would recommend this as a kid’s first kit. It will show them the fundamental skills required for much more complex kits, but without the lengthy time investment. On that same note, it’s a great kit for anyone who has a short attention span!
There’s nothing more iconic than Amuro’s original Gundam from Mobile Suit Gundam, the RX-78-2. Now it’s easier to build than ever with the RX-78-2 SD EX-Standard. The EX-Standard is a sub-line of the SD (super-deformed) scale of cute, cartoony versions of mobile suits. It certainly isn’t true to life, but it’s instantly recognizable and a quick, simple build.
Gunpla 101 contributor Mario Lebel reviewed this exact kit in 2016, praising its flexibility and straightforward construction. Check it out.
15. HG Momokapool
In the Gundam Build Divers universe, Momo is a novice Gunpla builder, so it makes sense that her own custom Gunpla, the Momokapool, is great for beginners, too. Molded in a cheery robin’s egg blue, this pleasantly rotund suit is based on the Kapool from Turn A Gundam but with cute penguin-like features. Best of all, it comes with a petit mint-colored Kapool pilot who fits inside.
The HG Momokapool is a quick build even by High Grade standards. Released in 2018, it uses Bandai Hobby’s latest color separation and sculpting techniques so it looks great even if constructed by an inexperienced builder. This bright, ball-shaped kit makes for a simple, quick, and fun build.
Released in 2011, the HG Nobell Gundam is one of the oldest kits on this list. As a rule, older Gunpla are typically more difficult to build because improved technology means that the newer the kit, the better the color separation, poseability, and consistency of part connection. However, this unique kit from G Gundam is an exception in that it’s still fast and fun one decade later.
The HG Nobell Gundam Berserker Mode, not to be confused with the demure, ladylike standard mode, features bold pinks and purples and a shock of blond hair. Since it’s petitely-proportioned with fewer parts, there’s less for beginning builders to get stuck on. In fact, this was one of my first Gunpla, too!
With dramatic shoulder armor reminiscent of butterfly wings, the Quebeley Papillon casts a deceptively complicated silhouette. As theatrical as it may appear, this Gundam Build Fighters kit is actually fit for a beginner just starting out with Gunpla for the first time.
Released in 2014, this kit is designed to resemble charming antagonist Aina’s primary battle mech. In the same way Aina is a pro battler but an amateur Gunpla builder, it doesn’t take a lot of technical know-how for this vibrant kit to make an impact. The most difficult part of the construction is the slew of red stickers—great for learning how to apply stickers evenly or even to replace them with Gunpla markers or paint.
A great rule of thumb for picking out a great beginner Gunpla is to look for a High Grade with an unusual colorway. The HGUC Mk-II Zeta Gundam has an easy-to-build Zeta skeleton that is given a newly interesting appearance through its contrasting Titans coloration.
This is one of the first Gunpla in Bandai Hobby’s Revive line—a more easily-constructed remake of a classic kit. Reviewers have pointed out that it’s more stable and poseable than earlier versions of the Zeta, which bodes well for beginners. This one even comes with its own stand so you can pose it as it would appear soaring through space, just like in the Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam anime.
With elaborate bat wings and pointed boots, the Deathscythe Hell is a complicated mecha. But its latest iteration, as a petite member of the Super-Deformed EX-Standard line, finally makes the model realistic as a beginner’s first build.
The dynamic, devilish Deathscythe has been one of my favorite Version Ka designs ever since Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz first aired on American TV on November 10, 2000. This cutting-edge take on its form may simplify the build, but it doesn’t remove any of its style.
Watch out, Haro’s got legs now! This unexpected body unit adds visual interest and increased poseability to the simple Gundam mascot. This is a cute build that is also very flexible—you can keep Haro in the pilot seat, or take him out for poses on his own.
This Haro kit is a fun, quick build right out of the box, or you can experiment with easy customizations. For example, our friend and contributor Doug turned his into Coronavirus Haro, a quarantine buddy.
This is one of the simpler protagonist mobile suits to build. The G-Gundam universe features suits that are used for martial-arts combat, and perhaps it’s for this reason they are proportioned smaller than the usual mobile suit in comparison to people. So a 1/144 G Gundam is smaller than an RX-78-2, etc.
In fact, the G Gundam is so easy and quick, I built it twice while learning to paint with metallic Gunpla markers. Even if you’ve built Gunpla before, I would definitely recommend picking this or another suit on this list while you’re trying to pick up a new Gunpla-building skill.
Who doesn’t love this basic, rotund little orb? The Ball has come a long way since its first portrayal in Mobile Suit Gundam. Despite its weakness as a fighter mech, the little guy has become a fan favorite and has been the subject of many Gunpla kits. In the photo above, you can see Joey’s build of a 1980s Ball Gunpla kit next to the far more recent one we’re recommending for beginners. While both are fairly simple, the newer kit on the right looks great even with an out-of-the-box build.
Better yet, the modern Ball Gunpla kit comes with two identical models, so you can practice constructing the same thing twice and wind up with twice the mecha for your trouble. Having two of them could be handy for your first foray into Gunpla dioramas, too!
Aquatic Gundams are characterized by their smooth, watertight armor and curved, aquadynamic silhouettes. It’s these features that give them fewer pieces and make them easier to build. That’s one of the reasons we return to Char’s Z’Gok again and again—a simple and inexpensive, but brightly colored take on one of the most classic aquatic Gundam designs.
With big, flat parts that are easy to tell apart, the Z’Gok would be particularly great for your first custom Gunpla painting project. Just be warned: contrary to what Marc’s photo may imply above, your Z’Gok will not be able to help you build Gunpla!
Don’t be intimidated by the flames. The Try Burning Gundam has a simple design and fun but easy-to-construct accessories that make it an ideal pick for beginning Gunpla builders. It’s apt that this kit belongs to Sekai, a protagonist in Gundam Build Fighters Try, who was a Gunpla beginner himself.
The Try Burning Gundam makes use of clear parts (both shiny blue “Plavsky particle” conductors and roiling red flames) to give it extra oomph, but these parts are not complex. If you’re looking for a fairly classic kit design with unique additions, this is your pick.
Just as our contributor Marc said in his review, “[this] should be an easy build for builders of any skill level. Since the suit is tiny compared to other High Grades, and the runner connections are very slim, it’s easier than usual to cut out the pieces with nippers and have them look good.
The Core Gundam makes for a particularly great starter kit because it acts as a base to a handful of armor sets that protagonist Hiroto uses in Gundam Build Divers RE:RISE to give his kit customized battle abilities for any setting. Once you build the Core Gundam (which comes with the Earthree armor here), you can add support armors (aquatic, flying, range, and more) to give it different looks.
It doesn’t get any easier than this. Whether you’re looking for a quick win or you have a young child in your life who is interested in starting a Gunpla hobby I’d recommend this 2019 iteration of Amuro Ray’s loveable round companion.
Haro has appeared in dozens of Gundam shows over the years with a timeless and instantly recognizable design. The Figure-Rise Mechanics Haro comes in classic green, Gundam SEED pink, and even glossy Tri-Stars purple and black. Best of all, it retails at around $10 so you can launch your Gunpla hobby without breaking the bank (at least, at first)!
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans delighted and surprised Gundam fans with a protagonist mobile suit as unpredictable and feral as a wild wolf. Now, you can build this unique mobile suit in its most accessible-possible version: the 2019 miniature edition.
This kit comes with two internal skeletons, so you have the option of building your Lupus Rex with classic Super-Deformed proportions or the taller and more poseable Cross Silhouette frame. You can even build both inner frames and attach your armor to one and then the other to see which one you prefer—that way, you’ll get twice the Gunpla-building practice!
This early 2020 kit came out of an unlikely partnership between the Gundam multiverse’s ultimate weapon and Sanrio’s charming beribboned mascot. Both Hello Kitty and Gundam have recently celebrated milestone birthdays—it’s Gundam’s 40th and Hello Kitty’s 45th birthday—which makes them nearly the same age. Their complementary color schemes make for a photogenic collaboration.
Hello Kitty’s globular proportions combine with the SD RX-78-2, which by this point Bandai Hobby has re-engineered so many times that its ease of construction is down to a science. This kit comes with multiple configurations (build Hello Kitty and Gundam as two separate kits or together) which means more practice learning to build Gunpla for you!
Finally, the top recommendation on our list is the classic protagonist suit from 1979’s Mobile Suit Gundam, the RX-78-2. This was the first mecha to ever be converted into a Gunpla, back in 1980, and it continues to be the mobile suit that has had the most Gunpla kits constructed in its likeness.
The most recent version of the model, the HGUC RX-78-2 Gundam Revive, has the thinnest connections on its runners yet, which means it will have near-invisible marks from removal—meaning it’ll look better even if you put less work into cleaning up parts before assembly.
Beginner Tips For Building Gunpla
These are my picks, but they’re not the only great beginner builds out there. Like I said in my first post on Gunpla kits for beginners, it’s really up to you. If you’re on the fence about whether a model is too hard to begin with, here are some good rules to stick to:
- Stick with newer models. You may love Turn A Gundam, but the latest Gunpla kit based on the Mustache (aka SYSTEM ∀-99 ∀) came out a decade ago. Older kits have earlier forms of plastic molding that are harder to build than models that came out more recently. When you’re more experienced, you’ll have the skills to tackle an older kit.
- High Grade and SD are your best bet. For a crash course on grade and scale, click here.
- Use the right tools. Gunpla may seem simpler at first without a pair of side-cutters, but as you delve into more complex kits, you’ll be glad you learned to use them.
Most importantly, pick a model you love. If you’re trying to choose between a kit that looks easier to build and a kit that is really meaningful to you, pick the latter.
Here’s to a fun start to your Gunpla hobby! Happy building!