Once you’ve decided that you want to get into Gundam kits, an important step in picking your first model is understanding the Gunpla grade and scale system. FROMJAPAN breaks the system down for you so that you get the right model the first time.
Understanding Gunpla kit grades and scales
|1/144 or 1/100
|13cm (1/144) or 18cm (1/100)
There are 5 existing Gunpla kit grades that you can buy in the market. They are the High Grade (HG), Master Grade (MG), Perfect Grade (PG), Real Grade (RG), and the Super Deformed Grade (SD), respectively. Let’s talk about each grade in detail.
High Grade kits are the most collectible because the line-up of Gundams and mobile suits in this grade, whether it be a protagonist’s or an antagonist’s mobile suit, is vast and High Grades are one of the most affordable grades available aside from the Super Deformed kits.
High Grade kits have two scales: 1/144 which is around 13 cm tall depending on the model. Some models are a little bit taller like Sinanju and Sazabi, while some HG models are somewhat shorter like Exia. 1/144 kits are nice to collect and display because they occupy less space than Master Grade or Perfect Grade kits. The other scale is 1/100 which is around 18cm tall.
You can readily determine that it’s a High Grade kit because it will have the abbreviations “HG” on the box and its box art is in landscape format. As for the 1/100 Scale High Grade kits, you won’t be seeing any HG letters on the box, though you’ll know it’s a 1/100 HG kit if it doesn’t have “MG” or “Master Grade” printed on the box art, and the box art is usually in portrait format. Don’t get confused between 1/100 HG and 1/100 MG kits! First timers might get confused because they looks the same.
With regards to detail, HG kits already look great when built straight from the box without any painting. They have a moderate amount of parts to assemble. Adding some panel lining will boost the detail and appearance of your High Grade kit as well as some minor painting in some areas. High Grade kits include some foil stickers for added detail of your model and sometimes the kit also includes some clear stickers as the model’s decals.
The ability to pose models has been improved through the years. In older High Grade models during the 90s, the articulation HG kits were limited but satisfactory, but in recent years, Gunpla technology has advanced a lot and articulation of newer HG kits are superb to the point of being comparable or equal to that of Master Grade kits!
High Grade kits are suitable for everyone, and it’s usually where first time Gunpla hobbyists start their Gunpla modeling journey.
Now if you want more detail, mechanics and an inner frame skeleton to show off, then Master Grade kits are for you! They are the next level up from HG kits, and while more expensive, the pay-off is worth it due to the kits’ level of detail, included gimmicks, mechanics and some dry rub decals that will greatly improve the awesomeness of your model.
Master Grade kits only have the 1/100 scale which are usually around 18 cm tall. Some recent MG kits are much larger like the MG Sazabi Ver. Ka and MG Unicorn Full Armor. MG kits have the “MG” abbreviation on the box art, which is colored gold so that you don’t miss the labelling. The kit box sizes vary depending on the number of assembly parts with the largest being from models like the MG Sazabi Ver. Ka.
The details of an MG kit is where it starts to get very interesting and amazing. The big difference between an HG and an MG kit is that MG kits have an inner frame or skeleton mechanic where you put on the armor pieces one by one just like a Samurai warrior would do when preparing for a battle. Color variation and separation of the armor pieces are also well designed; most MG kits don’t need additional painting since they already look awesome straight from the box like HG kits. Some MG kits also include some LED light-up mechanics.
One of the best parts of the MG kits is applying the dry rub decals! Decals, which are standard additions to MG kits, really make the model look realistic and add to the detail. It takes some practice to apply them to a kit but it’s worth it. If you want crazy amount of decals to put on your model, then consider buying an MG Ver. Ka. Kit. MG kits with a “ver. Ka.” extension on the model name are redesigned by Hajime Katoki, and he really likes lots of decals. You won’t be disappointed with the amount of decals that ver. Ka kits have. EW kits also include lots of decals since EW kits are also redesigned by Katoki.
Master Grades are recommended for the enthusiastic Gunpla modeler/hobbyist, which craves more detail on their models. MG kits requires more effort and work but the payoff is wonderful.
Perfect Grade kits are the holy grail of Gunpla model kits! They’re the best of the best in detail, mechanics, and gimmicks, and are the largest highly detailed scale available. PG kits are the most expensive in the market because they have the most number of parts to assemble and their scale size of 1/60.
Perfect Grade 1/60 scale kits are around 30 cm tall. They’re the tallest Gundam models that you can build, and take up a lot of display space! So, you must prepare your display area well. In essence, they are Master Grade kits with so much detail they will blow your mind away. They also include decals like MG kits and usually have LED light-up mechanics, too! They cost a lot of money, but as in all Gunpla model kits, they are worth it. Especially when you’re an enthusiastic Gunpla modeler/hobbyist who wants to take their hobby to the next level!
If you want a Perfect Grade kit but don’t want to hurt your wallet too much, then this is the kit for you! Real Grade kits are roughly palm sized Perfect Grade kits. This is the latest model grade that Bandai has begun producing, and they are one of a kind! It’s the first model grade that is 1/144 in scale but still has an inner frame just like MG kits. How cool is that?
The RG kit’s level of detail are comparable to PG kits. Articulation in RG kits is as best as it can get, armor color variation and separation is also at its finest in RG kits. They are heavy on decals, too. Now you know why it is called “Real” Grade, because the goal of this model grade line-up is to produce the most realistic but affordable Gundam and mobile suit model kits available. To pick out this kit grade, look for “Excitement embodied” on the box art and the abbreviation “RG”.
Super Deformed kits are a whole new world of Gunpla. They have no scale but are around 8 cm tall, they are very short because SD kits are “chibi” in form, hence “Super Deformed”. They are the most affordable kits available and the least amount of parts to assemble. The most popular series in this model grade are the Brave Battle Warriors and BB Senshi, which have their own anime series. If you want something different and “chibi” in appearance, then SD kits are for you! They are a great choice if you want to expose your children to the world of Gunpla since they are easy to assemble and cute in nature.
How to Buy Gundam Kits by Grade and Scale
No matter which model grade you choose to purchase, you will surely be amazed with the technology and ingenuity that has created them, and you will be proud to have built and assembled them yourselves.
The Gunpla Model Beginner’s Guide for Building Amazing Kits
The Gunpla Kit Painting Guide for Realistic Models
The Gunpla Tutorial: How to Decal your Gundam Plastic Model
The Gunpla Top Coat Guide: Giving your Gunpla a Fantastic Finish
The Gunpla Panel Lining Guide: Gunpla’s Guide to Markers and Paints
The Gunpla Weathering Guide: Creating Realistic Battle Damage