Getting into Gunpla: The basics

Good afternoon and Happy New Year people! I hope everyone is continuing to be safe during this panini (I know it’s a pandemic lol). I know it’s been a very long time since I’ve posted. I plan on posting something at least a week…and please hold me to it!

During this pandemic, I’ve found that I’ve missed building Gunpla. I would start one and kind of meander about and do other things while neglecting the model I started. The year previous, I had finished at least 6. This year I want to finish one a month and I’m taking you guys with me. I’ve always been a straight build kind of guy (mainly because I hadn’t learned anything else) but this year I want to try new techniques and try my hand at customizing….and would love to bring you guys along with me!

But today, we will be learning about some of the basics of Gunpla building. I hope to answer some of your questions….what is gunpla, what types of gunpla are there, what tools you need, etc. I won’t be describing everything in one post but would definitely like to give you guys some familiarity. So let’s get into it!

What is Gunpla?

Gunpla is the combination of the phrase “Gundam Plastic model”. The models are based off of the manga/anime of the various “Gundam” series. Similar to plastic car and plane models, Gunpla can be highly customizable and easy to get into. The major differences between Gunpla and other plastic models is the fact that Gunpla doesn’t require glue or paint. Can you use glue and paint? Yes you can but they are not required to build a Gunpla model successfully which makes Gunplay easy to get into. Most models are made of plastic with a few exceptions being made out of metal. Just like regular models, Gunpla has levels of difficulty which are called Grades. Unlike regular models, grades not only show difference in difficulty but in size. We’ll discuss grades in another post…don’t want to overload you guys with too much right now!

What tools do you need?

Courtesy of this site!

Now just like any other plastic model, there are tools you would need to put them together. But unlike regular models, Gunpla has a bit of a variety of tools you can use. I will go over the absolute basic tools needed to get started and we’ll go over more advanced tools in a later post.


These are probably the most important tool you will have and use…not just for Gunpla but for other plastic model building as well (if you do other plastic model building). They go by a few names like snippers, snips, nips, side cutters, etc but they do the same thing. Nippers assist in separating model parts from their runners (Gunpla parts holder) along with cutting some decals. We will go over using these in another post but know that these are absolutely an essential tool to have building Gunpla.

Xacto Knife

Now to be honest, I have a few of these but I haven’t used them in the way they are meant to be used. This tool is often called a hobby knife and it can be replaceable or retractable. It’s intended use is to assist with the clean up nubs (the left over parts after cutting from the runner) and to help with giving more detail. Using this tool is something I want to explore doing because I have seen the difference it can make.


I didn’t know realize the importance of having a pair (or two) of these at my disposal. Most of the Gunpla will come with stickers or decals that you can add that contribute to the detail of the mobile suit. They are also helpful when placing small parts that are even small for fingertips onto a model.

There are many more tools that can go along with building Gunpla but that would take a lot more writing and pictures. The fun thing about this hobby is that you don’t necessarily need all these tools to start your first Gunpla. Gunpla is a hobby that is great and fun for everyone, no matter the skill level. Over the next few months, I plan on having you guys follow along with me while I teach myself new techniques to further my builds. As it stands currently, I’m a straight kit builder…meaning I just build models straight from the box with no modifications.

Thank you for taking the time to read about Gunpla basics. I’m currently finishing up a new model so I will do a review on that along with some posts about learning about other tools as well as panel lining! Would you try Gunpla? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments! Until next time, Nerd out!

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