Tuesday, December 11, 2007


The original Mobile Suit Gundam was an animated science-fiction series which debuted on Japanese television in 1979. In this groundbreaking series, the traditional giant robots of Japanese anime were for the first time portrayed as realistic war machines instead of invincible superheroes. The people who used these machines to fight in a futuristic space war were complex characters whose motivations and beliefs didn't break down into simple good and evil, and the story encompassed human drama and social commentary as well as thrilling robot battles.

Mobile Suit Gundam's popularity led to a series of sequels and followups - first a three-part movie compilation, then a succession of new television serials, original videos, and theatrical films. After more than two decades, this Gundam saga has expanded to include nine television series, four video series, ten movies, and countless novels, comics, and original video game adventures. This saga encompasses six different worlds, each with its own unique history and society, and showcases the work of the most celebrated talents of the anime industry.

Although this saga's stories encompass centuries of future history and span several alternate worlds, they all share a single unifying element - the legendary line of fighting machines which bear the name of Gundam. From the prototype RX-78 Gundam featured in the original series, to the unique and colorful machines which star in later stories like G Gundam and Gundam Wing, all these stories recount the adventures of heroic Gundams and their brave pilots.

The Gundam saga made its North American debut in 1998, and in the following years Bandai Entertainment has continued to release new chapters of this epic saga. Meanwhile, Bandai America has produced a wide range of merchandise for Gundam fans young and old, including fully poseable action figures and a selection of the astonishing model kits for which Gundam is justly famous. As you explore this Web site, we hope you'll enjoy learning about this fascinating and ever-evolving saga.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Type of Gundams

Gundam Models, or Gunpla, refers to plastic and non-plastic model kits depicting the mecha, vehicles and characters of the fictional Mobile Suit Gundam universe. These kits have become popular among anime fans and model-lovers, especially in Japan and in other nearby Asian countries since 1980s. The popularity of Gundam models increased in 1990s with North America and Europe being exposed to Gundam through television, video and manga.

Plastic Gundam model kits are manufactured by Bandai in Japan (or China) which has an exclusive license in manufacturing and marketing them around the world, the first of them being sold in 1980 in Japan. These consist of several trays of injection molded styrene parts ("runners" or "sprues") which must be cut out of the frame before assembly. The majority of post-1990 models have snap-fit parts, with models prior to that requiring an adhesive such as plastic cement. Plastic Gundam models kits are typically supplied with stickers and sometimes decals to apply extra colors and markings as seen they are seen in popular media such as TV shows, movies, manga or video games. Smaller or lower grade kits often require paint to give the model a finished appearance, due to colour discrepancies.

The kits range in different scales with the most popular scales being: 1:550, 1:220, 1:144, 1:100 and 1:60, and more recently 1:35 (UC HardGraph line). With a few exceptions, all currently-produced kits bear grade ratings that give a good idea about their final quality. The following lists the most well-known and common categories with humanoid designs (very roughly) in their order of quality, from lowest to highest.

Please note that other categories, such as EX Model, do exist. They are simply not listed here. Additionally, Bandai often produces limited-run kits for special events such as JAFCON or C3. These have different packaging, and usually only differ from their common counterparts in that they are metal-plated or made of translucent plastic.

Super Deformed

Not based on any particular scale, SD Gundam (Super Deformed Gundam) features comically-proportioned models, the most noticeable features of which are their very large heads. These kits are often very easy to construct but offer very limited posability and require paint and detailing to truly "finish" the kit. The most famous line is the BB Senshi (SD GUNDAM BB Warriors on Bandai's English page). Depending on the popularity of series, SD units may also be sold in separate product lines: For instance, Superior Defender Gundam Force. There was another line called Ganso SD Gundam but has since been discontinued in the 1990s.

Speed Grade

Bandai put the First "Speed Grade" Gundam Model kits into production in 2007. They are packaged in a bag, and come with minimal, precolored and painted pieces and a display stand. The kits are in the 1/200 scale. Lacking high mobility and detail, they are ideal for children. Unlike Bandai's other Model kits, the Speed Grade series of kits are made in China, not Japan. The plastic is cheaper, and of a less quality.

First Grade

The First Grade Series is released because of Gundam 00 series. These kits were released in 9/07. They do not require nippers to remove parts from the plastic gates. First grade has also been the name for the very first gundam kits available from Bandai in the early 80's. These kits, when completed, had a very poor range of motion which rendered them almost unposeable. In addition, adhesives and paint were necessities, not options. Although not called as such back then, these models were retroactively categorized as FG (First Grade).

High Grade

Later the quality of the molding improved and HG (High Grade) level kits were introduced in 1990. These kits were either at the 1:144 or 1:100 scale, provided for a better range of motion and were more poseable. It would later lend its name to the more advanced High Grade Universal Century, and more recently High Grade Gundam SEED and High Grade Gundam 00.

SEED (Destiny) No Grade

1:144 and 1:100 kits based on the models seen in C.E. (Cosmic Era) productions, these are unique in that they have no official grade rating. In terms of quality, they are considered High Grade, but they come with some advancements not found on earlier HG models. Some Seed models come with improved arm and leg designs similar to what is found with the Master Grade line, that allow the models to be more posable than the previous HG lines. See also the section below. Some times called "No Grade" kits.

High Grade Gundam SEED

1:144 kits based on the models seen in the C.E. productions, mainly Mobile Suit Gundam SEED and Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny. They are considered equivalent in quality to earlier HGUC models.

High Grade Gundam 00

1:144 kits based on the units in Mobile Suit Gundam 00, currently 5 units have been announced to be released in this series. Unlike HG Gundam SEED, more advanced skills which has been previously applied on recent models in High Grade Universal Century has been used.

High Grade Universal Century(HGUC)

1:144 kits based on models seen in U.C. (Universal Century) productions, the first of which were released in May 1999. The HGUC line represented the chance to release many upgraded designs for the first time in kit form with modern injection moulding technology. These are of good quality, and new designs plus model improvements continue to be introduced into this line even today. This grade is largely considered to be the rightful heir of the original HG line. Until now, all unit from the HGUC series are mobile suits before U.C.0093 and over 50% of the units are from the One Year War (including variations).(Go to the High Grade Universal Century article for a complete list of HG models.)

High Grade EX

1:60 kits from various eras. These kits are enhanced High Grade models with extra details and usually transformation and/or LED gimmicks. These models are known for having ridiculous amounts of panel line detail, more so than the Real Detail line and even several Perfect Grade kits. Only 4 HGEX kits have been made to date: the V2 Gundam, Shining Gundam, God Gundam, and Wing Zero Gundam.

Real Detail

1:60 kits based on designs seen in the Seed and Seed Destiny series and upcoming 00 series. Although much larger than most of their brethren, Real Detail designs are functionally scaled-up HG models with slightly-improved detail, and gimmicks like embedded lighting and enhanced poseability.

Master Grade

1:100 kits, MG (Master Grade) models were first introduced in the summer of 1995. These are designed and produced to higher standards than most other models, with corresponding superior quality. Appropriately, these take much longer to construct and can easily cost a lot more. MG models are very presentable even straight from the box, but like previous grades can be improved through further detailing and painting. A notable design difference from earlier grades is that MG models are supported by a detailed internal "skeleton",(also known as "inner frame system") whereas lower quality models have no such feature. These may require screws and usually come with decals. The vast majority of MG offerings are from Gundam, with the rest coming from other properties such as Patlabor. As master grade has become a symbol of Gunpla, Bandai released another lineup called Real Robot Revolution, for the non-Gundam type real robots like Layzner and L-Gaim while applying skills of MG models into them. (Go to the Master Grade article for a complete list of MG models.)

Perfect Grade

1:60 kits, PG (Perfect Grade) kits are unmatched in sheer quality. First released in late 1998, these are made of even higher quality plastic and metal components than the MG kits. These kits include parts that have to be secured with screws, and often require some minor wiring for small LEDs. The market for the Perfect Grade models is limited due to their high cost, often topping $150. Highly-complex design makes PG models a true challenge and their construction can take a few days.

Non Plastic

Bandai has also released some Gundam garage kit under their branch, B-club. These models are composed of unpainted resin with no decals provided, often needing modification by the modeler due to the inherent properties of the manufacturing process. While comparably more expensive (some surpassing $400) compared to plastic kits, they offer an unparalleled level of detail for the dedicated and experienced model builder.

A few select kits have also appeared manufactured from metal. These kits are offered by several different manufacturers and most commonly will result in a finished model of about MG level.

These types of models (real detail) usually take days to build

For display only

For trade shows and toy fairs, Bandai displays some extreme large model in 1:12 scale. True to the scaling, some of these models are well over 5 feet (1.50 meters) tall. Although only mainly used for display purposes, some stores sell these at high prices, topping a whopping price of $2000 CA. But, they are usually only for display and not for sale.

The kit that is being referred to as GIGANTIC or BIG (1.5M) is known as a HY2M model kit, and is actually a model that one can purchase.

Monday, October 29, 2007

What Is Gundam??

Gundam (ガンダム, Gandamu?) is one of the longest running series of anime featuring giant robots or mecha, created by Sunrise. Gundam is the collective term for the Universal Century (UC) series like Mobile Suit Gundam and series in alternative timelines, such as Gundam Wing, Gundam X or Gundam SEED. The name "Gundam" itself stems from a variety of theoretical sources, most commonly attributed to a need to conform with common giant robot naming conventions during the 1970s.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Detailing Tips

Detailing your model really improves its realism. This page explains some of the methods that you can use to detail your model. Among all the detailing methods, detailing with a pen is the most popular method. It also requires a lot of patience and a really steady hand.

Inking Panel Lines

You can improve the realism of your model by inking some or most of the panel lines. You can use the documentation or box art that came with your model as a guide. Or you can just ink the models according to your liking. Here are some recommendations for pens and pigment liners (click on the picture). First, you want a pen that has a very small tip, I do mean small. The pens I recommend are a Sakura Microperm .01 and a Staedtler pigment liner .005. These pens are great for creating panel lines. The Sakura Microperm is great for plastic because it marks plastic permanently. If you make a mistake with this pen, it is recommended that you erase the mistake with a little rubbing alcohol immediately. As for the Staedtler pigment liner, you can use the rubbing alcohol or your finger to erase the mistake. Note, the Staedtler pigment liner takes a while to dry on plastic and can cause smudging if you accidentally rub your finger on it. If you can't get any of these pens, you can stop by your local art store and look for similar items.

The objective for inking is simple, all you want to do is ink the panel lines. I recommend that you ink your model one appendage at a time. That is, you want to detail an arm or a leg before your model is put together. You could ink parts of the model while on the tree, however, you might still have to ink panel lines after assembly. All you want to do is pass the pen along the panel lines you want to ink. Since most panel lines an indented on the model, it would be easy. However, there are some panel lines that are not so indented and will require a very steady hand. If you make a mistake, you'll have to be careful to erase only the mistake you made and not the rest of work you already completed.

Painting Small Details

There are may be some little details on your model that your pigment liner can't detail. That's where paints come into play. Little details like gun turrets and vulcan cannons on the head of a Gundam model might need a little touch up paint. All you need to use is a small paint brush. Note, the smaller the paint brushes tip, the harder it is to control. In case you need to get finer details, like the eyes on the 1/144th scale Tallgeese III, you could use a toothpick (replacing the paint brush). Yes, I did say a toothpick. I used a toothpick and green paint to detail the Tallgeese III's eyes. The toothpick is very precise because of its not so sharpened end. Unlike the paint brush, it has a hard end. If you use the paint brush to detail, you'll need to be precise. I recommend that you paint your details before you put your model together. You could paint it while it is still on the frame, giving you more control on how you paint. Or, you can paint the model when the specific part is assembled. You can determine which method is easy to handle. I prefer painting on the tree, which gives a lot more control.


Your model may come with decals, either a sticker sheet or dry transfer sheet; depending on the gundam kit you bought. I usually don't like using a sticker sheet and prefer painting on the details. However, if you feel that you cannot paint details follow these few steps. First, make sure that the surface you placing your decals on are clean. Use a mild soap water mixture to clean the surface. The objective is to prevent grease between the surface and the sticker contact. Second, you can use a pair of tweezers to help align the sticker on the surface or until it is aligned properly. Do not use your fingers, it could put grease on the sticker contact and reduce the sticker's effectiveness to stick to the surface. Third, when the sticker on the surface, press firmly to ensure good contact. For dry transfers, it's a little trickier. Make sure the surface is clean. Place the dry transfer sheet on the surface or on the position you want; then rub firmly on the specific decal. If a piece of the decal remains on the transfer sheet, don't panic. Simply place the transfer sheet back on the surface and re-align your work and continue to rub the decal into place. When finished, your decals should make your model look realistic.


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Gundam Tips

Ten Assembly Tips

  1. Do some homework first. It is tempting to just run out and grab the last kit left at your local Toys'R'Us store, but please do take a few minutes to find out what the action figure model kits are all about.
    • The Speedlines column on the Raving Toy Maniac did an excellent summary feature about Gundam toys. Perhaps the most important page of that Speedlines is the one covering kit divisions: it summarizes the differences between the various sizes and grades of Gundam kits, from 1/144th scale Basic Grade kits to 1/60th scale Perfect Grade kits, and everything in between
    • Another way to see what is involved is to "watch" someone else assemble a Gundam kit: James Kahle built a 1/144th Tallgeese and detailed it online, and Eric of RTM did the same with a 1/144th Gundam Sandrock & 1/100th Gundam Epyon.
  2. Assemble a 1/144th basic kit to get it out of your system. If you are like me, you are too impatient to follow anyone's tips for your first Gundam model... get one of the $8.99 1/144th scale kits and assemble it to get the impatience out of your system. I learned a lot putting my first one together, including patience. My first Gundam has something wrong with one of his arms, because I didn't pay attention, and put a piece on backwards - fixing it involved snapping/breaking one of the pieces on a connecting part.

  3. Read all the instructions first. Because the instructions are in Japanese, they are worthless to people who can't read the language, but do study the diagrams. When you did your first one, you got a good feel for the way the instructions are coded, but study each diagram carefully before beginning. This avoids the surprise of "hey look at that, I made a leg."
  4. Break the pieces off the frame only as you need them. There are tons of pieces in every model, and the only numbering (to match up with the instructional diagrams) on them is on the plastic frames. If you think you are saving time by taking all the pieces off at once, you are wrong. I know that it is tempting, but leave them on the frame until you need them. It really is worth the extra time to take each piece off only as you need it, and shave it then, rather than trying to shave down all the pieces at once.

  5. Do shave each piece as you add it to the model. Don't wait to shave them down later, it's MUCH easier and much less damaging to do it one piece at a time. Some people choose to use a hobby knife to cut the pieces from the frame, and this saves a good bit of time - if you cut the piece off carefully, you won't need to shave off any extra bits of frame. (If you carefully rock and gently twist the pieces off the frame, you may have to trim or shave off small bits of plastic from each piece.)

  6. Save the extra "rubber" joint pieces for your next model. If you have any left over rubber bits, save them for your next model in the same scale. Especially if you have pets, or dark carpeting.

  7. Color as you go. Whether you use pricey Gundam markers (US$3-5 each), or just an ultra-fine point Sharpie (2 for US$1.50 at Wal-Mart) to color in the lines of your Gundam, color as you go. It's a lot easier to color in just a leg or an arm at a time than it is to hold the whole model and color it later. The RTM Speedlines feature mentioned in Tip #1 has a page for finishing techniques, including inking with markers, brushing on ground charcoal, and using an air brush.

  8. Do color it. For me, stickers are good enough, and I don't feel the need to break out the paints, but the Gundams do look a lot nicer with the lines colored in.

  9. Use tweezers to help place the stickers. You only get one sheet of stickers with each model kit, so be careful with them. The dinky tweezers that come with pocket knives are especially useful here - they minimize the contact you make with the sticky side, and they are extremely helpful in getting the proper placement of the sticker.

  10. Use tweezers to help place the stickers. You only get one sheet of stickers with each model kit, so be careful with them. The dinky tweezers that come with pocket knives are especially useful here - they minimize the contact you make with the sticky side, and they are extremely helpful in getting the proper placement of the sticker.

One Last Warning

Once assembled, Gundam kits are fairly durable. If you pull on an arm or a leg, it will come off, but you can put it back on with no problem. If a Gundam on display decides to shelf-dive, usually a few pieces will pop off, and you can snap them back into place. However, from time to time, a Gundam on a higher shelf will take a dive, and in those cases the plastic might snap. So either keep some glue handy, or make sure to display them in "safer" areas.