First Gunpla - High Grade Exia

The Gundam series has always been something special to me. I still remember the days of middle school when I would run home to catch Gundam 08th MS Team on Toonami, and later on G Gundam. As someone who loved robots ever since childhood, Gundam was I guess what you could call my dream series. It's what replaced Power Rangers for me when I got older, and it's something I continued to go back to as the years went on. So why is it that I never got into gunpla? Honestly, I don't know? Maybe I was scared of messing them up? Well whatever the reason was, it no longer matters as last weekend I finally built my first gunpla.

So first of all, what IS a gunpla? If you've ever built one yourself, played the Gundam Breaker games, or watched Gundam Build Fighters, then you already know, but for everyone else... Well to put it simply, it's a Gundam Model Kit -- although it isn't quite as simple as that. Although they are all models, there's many different types of model kits, and each one requires more or less work based on the model's quality. My first gunpla was a "High Grade" which is a pretty detailed model, with a good amount of parts to work with, but it's far from the crazier higher grades you can buy. It's only a 1/144th scale, so it's nice and small, but they also sell the 1/100th scale Master Grade kits, as well as 1/60th Perfect Grade kits. While these two types are much larger with a LOT more detail (including an inner frame which must be built), they also sell Real Grade kits which are 1/144th scale with similar detail to the Master Grades (with the inner frame as well). Confused yet? Well it's really not as bad as it sounds. Basically you can either buy a small model with pretty good detail, a small model with crazy high detail, or larger models with crazy high details that could possibly take weeks to months to build. It's that simple!

Anyway the first gunpla I decided to go with was none other than the High Grade Exia from Gundam 00. With 00 being one of my favorite Gundam series, the Exia was a no brainer for me. Although I wanted to start with the Real Grade 00 Raiser, I figured it would be best to start off easy to get some practice. And this was the result:

(A closer look at panel lines)
For my very first build I didn't really do anything too fancy. Experts go all out with these things by adding battle damage and what not (as well as creating custom paint color schemes), but since I'm a beginner I went with a basic build with panel lining. Overall I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, but I will admit I did make a handful of mistakes along the way. Some of the plastic nubs from cutting it out of the runner aren't as clean as they could've been, and I did put a mark in one specific part, which hopefully isn't that noticeable. (Is it?)
(Another panel line vs no panel line)

(No panel line vs panel line)

(Build before panel lines)

So, for those of you wondering about it... How do you buy one of these, and what do you need to know to get started? Well the first answer is quite simple, and one of the reasons I'm even posting this here. Believe it or not, but Gunpla can now be bought at none other than GameStop! Yes, that's right. Power to the Gunpla! (Or something...) Of course Amazon has a much wider selection (and cheaper options, with Exia being around $13.00 only), but it's really up to you where you go. As for what you need to get started? Well, that's a little more complicated.

At the VERY LEAST you'll want to get yourself a pair of "Nippers." These little cutters let you cut the pieces of the plastic gunpla out of the runner, and then go back in for some extra trimming. (DO NOT CUT CLOSE TO THE PIECE STARTING OUT! CUT THE NUBS OUT OF THE RUNNER, AND THEN TRIM!) On top of that you'll also most likely want a hobby knife to cut even closer/shave off any extra plastic you couldn't get with your nippers, and even possibly use it to peal up stickers and apply them on the model. They can also be used to pry pieces apart if needed, but you'll want to be careful not to break something.


On top of the nippers and hobby knife, Amazon also sells Gundam Markers that allow you to apply detailing if you wish. I personally only bought the basic black and gray set for panel lining, but other colors are sold as well. Originally I didn't like the idea of going in with markers, but it's actually a LOT easier than it sounds.

The Gundam Markers are actually oil based (and dry out very quickly, so make sure you keep the cap on), and they clean off by either using a cotton swab, a white eraser, or your finger. To do panel lining it's just a simple matter of quickly smearing the marker on the indents of the model, maybe smearing it a bit with your cotton swab, and then just wiping it off with your thumb. The marker will be pushed into/stay in the cracks, and the rest will come off like it was never there. It's very easy to do, but again it's really up to you if you want to do this step. (I've found you can also cut the cotton swab's stick at an angle with the nippers to create a tooth pick to dig into the cracks if you'd like to scrape the marker out of them as well).

Other than these few things, that's really all you need to get started. Again the markers are optional (or you can even use paint if you wish), but you do need something to cut the parts out to build it. The plastic itself is snap together, so you don't need to worry about that. Of course there's a lot more you can do with these models if you have the skills or want to try something new, but as a beginner myself I can't really give you any advice there (sorry).

Well hopefully some of you guys found this all to be interesting, and maybe it got some of you to even go out and try this for yourself! It really is a lot of fun (assuming you like to build things), and I'd easily recommend it to all Gundam fans (or to those who like to build things in general).

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