When it comes to Gundam, I was more a fan of the shows first and didn’t know much about the Gunpla models. That all changed once I got into painting miniatures. Flash forward and that hobby lead me to warhammer, gundams, airbrushes, painting in general! I always thought art was painting apples and flowers or whatever, but no, you can paint scale models of a 60 foot Gundam! Why would you not want to do that?
This article is dedicated to a younger me, when I was trying to figure out what the grades and scales meant. Is Real better than High? Is Master better than Perfect? Roughly how tall is 1/100 scale? That kind of thing. So I made a chart! Now you can see the scale, size and my notes on each grade. And then scroll down a bit and my buddy Jamie did a scale image so you can see the relative sizes.
What are the different grades of Gundam models? The most popular grades of Gundam models are High Grade, Real Grade, Master Grade, and Perfect Grade. There are other grades that are harder to find, like First Grade, Advanced Grade, and Mega Grade, just to name a few.
|Easy to build and uses many stickers. Usually has limited detail.
|More details than HG and has more pieces.
|Fewer sticker sheets, more detail and pieces.
|Lots of pieces, very detailed. Not released as often as other grades.
|Remake of 1980s 1/144 kits. Few pieces and few details.
|No need for paint. Doesn’t have the same articulation as HG.
|Bigger versions of HG Gunpla that lacked the detail of MG Gunpla.
|A remake of the “No Grade” 1/100 series.
|Big pieces, but not much articulation or detail.
|Not to scale. A “chibi” or caricature version of the other models.
Let’s get into some more detail about the information listed in the chart above.
- An Explanation of Grades
- Common Grades
- Rare Grades
- What Tools Do I Need to Build a Gundam?
- Recommended Gundam Models for Beginners
An Explanation of Grades
Grades are essentially the level of the build. Grades are determined by considering both the quality of the model and the skill it takes to build.
Let’s take a look at High Grade (HG). It’s the lowest grade out of the common four grades, High Grade, Real Grade, Master Grade, and Perfect Grade.
HG is the cheapest out of this group and is prone to having some color flaws.
These models tend to use a lot of stickers rather than details printed on the pieces. The total number of pieces is far less than what you’d find in a PG kit.
In the chart above, you’ll notice that each grade is one of the following scales:
These numbers indicate the size. The Gundam in the anime are 18 meters (59 feet) tall. So, a 1/144 model is 144th the actual size, which means it’s a small model.
The 1/48 Mega Size (MS) model, however, is much taller compared to a 1/144 model.
If you need more information about sizes, head on over to my article “What Are the Different Sizes of Gundam Models?”
Grades and scales coincide with each other. You won’t find an HG 1/60 model just as you won’t find a PG 1/144 model.
Occasionally an “in-between” grade will be made, like the 1/100 “No Grade” line of Gunpla that are remakes of HG models in the size of Master Grade models but don’t have the same detail or quality as an MG model should.
The four most common grades are:
- High Grade (HG).
- Real Grade (RG).
- Master Grade (MG).
- Perfect Grade (PG).
As you shop online or in stores for Gunpla, these are the four grades you’ll find the most, especially if you’re at a local store with a limited selection.
HG and RG release new models frequently. New MG models are only released a few times each year, and PG models are only released once a year.
The higher you go in grade, the harder they might be to find. Plus, the price goes up with each grade, as well.
HG and RG are recommended for beginners because they have fewer pieces than other grades. RG has more details than HG, but both will probably rely on a lot of stickers for detailing.
You might want to paint over some areas because there can be pieces that were covered incorrectly.
MG models are more detailed and larger than HG and RG models. They use fewer sticker sheets and are overall better quality than the lower grades.
These are suitable for beginners who prefer to start with a challenge.
PG models are about 12 inches tall, have several pieces, and are highly detailed. They can also cost over $200 for a kit.
They can be harder to find, but they’re top quality and highly articulate.
Throughout the years, there have been a variety of Gunpla lines that came in new grades outside of the common four. These grades are:
- First Grade (FG).
- Advanced Grade (AG).
- 1/100 (“No Grade”).
- Reborn 100 (RE100).
- Mega Size (MS).
- Super Deformed (SD).
Many of these lines are hard to come by now because they aren’t made anymore or just aren’t popular enough to keep selling them.
Due to the difficulty of finding them, it’s probably best for a beginner to skip over these until they become more dedicated to the hobby.
The prices of these grades can be high depending on where they’re sold and how difficult they are to obtain.
The most notable of these grades are the MS and SD. The MS are huge and recommended for beginners because the pieces are easier to handle.
The SD are caricatures of the other models. They’re tiny, disproportionate, inexpensive, and will offer you a fun time while building them.
What Tools Do I Need to Build a Gundam?
Building Gunpla is a simple process, but it can become quite time consuming with larger and more detailed models. The basic tools you need for each model include:
- Side cutters.
- Hobby knife (X-Acto).
You’ll need side cutters to remove the pieces from the runners. A piece of plastic called a nub is usually left behind, which is why you’ll need the hobby knife and sandpaper.
The hobby knife will allow you to get a closer cut to the piece without causing damage, and sandpaper will allow you to even out the area.
Other tools that aren’t necessary but you might want for detailing include:
- Rubber eraser.
- Tweezers (for decal and sticker placement).
- Topcoat spray paint.
You can learn more about choosing types of paint in my series of articles on paints and brushes.
Recommended Gundam Models for Beginners
The following models are recommended for beginners because they’re easy to put together and don’t require any additional detailing, unless you want to do so, of course.
Even though this model is a Master Grade, it’s a great place for a beginner to start. It’s slightly more challenging than a High Grade, but still simple enough for a beginner.
Paint isn’t required for this one and it’ll take approximately five hours to complete. Sticker sheets are included, and you can pose it in a variety of ways.
This is a High Grade Gunpla that doesn’t have a ton of pieces. It should only take about an hour to complete.
It comes with stickers and doesn’t require paint unless you want to use it. The model is pretty articulate for its grade, so you can pose it in several different ways.
This High Grade Gunpla has a different runner system, so the pieces are easier to remove and won’t cause too much damage.
This system can almost erase your need of a hobby knife and sandpaper, but you should still have them on hand just in case.
This model is highly jointed for its grade and comes with several accessories that you can change out.
Grades help you determine the quality and skill level of each Gundam model. The four most common models you will see are High Grade, Real Grade, Master Grade, and Perfect Grade.
There are several other grades that are harder to find, and many of them might be expensive if they are older models.
Remember that the grade is always related to its scale size, so you will always see the same grade and scale sizes together on the cover of the box.
Image credit: The Magic Tuba Pixie