Hello, I am thinking about Christmas gifts for my bf and he mentioned possibly picking up gunpla at some point. He has watched the first season of Gundam but has the rest downloaded to watch eventually. My question is this: what would be a good starter set/things to get for my bf as a Christmas gift?
To build a kit you will absolutely need a pair of model nippers/side cutters; there are a variety of brands but i like Tamiya a lot. There’s a bunch of other stuff that’s more optional; I like to use an x-acto knife to help trim nubs even further, other use fine-grit sandpaper, etc., but basically the model nippers are the only MUST have equipment wise.
As for kits, I would generally recommend something in the “HG” line of products; they’re the simplest kind of kit to make. They’re 1/144 scale and generally feature a fewer number of parts, which you want for someone just dipping their toes into the hobby. Because they’re the simplest, they’re also the cheapest- they tend to go from between 8-20 bucks per on amazon, so you can easily get more than one to start. As for which kit to buy, everything in the HG line has relatively the same level of complexity and is good for beginners. I generally recommend just buying a kit of a mobile suit you (or in this case your BF) really likes. The good thing about HG kits is that, because they’re the simplest to manufacture, they also have the widest range of mobile suits to build. Chances are that if your bf has heard of it, there’s an HG kit of it. If you really want a recommendation for a kit, the OG RX-78-2 Gundam or a Zaku-II are the most iconic mobile suits.
As for actual instructions, if you buy a recent (2016ish or newer) kit, there’s english for everything, if you don’t, there’s enough english and the rest are in diagrams; I’ve built several older kits and what little text there is really isn’t necessary. There are a ton of good beginner’s guides available in terms of teaching the basics of technique; I haven’t read a ton of them but I can point to the video/video series I watched when I started building: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_tiv_FKUsw . I found it pretty helpful and subsequent videos get into more optional/advanced techiques if your BF wishes to pursue the hobby further. Perhaps others in here might also be able to share more guides/tips/tutorials.
Thank you so much for the help! I’m probably gonna get HG versions of Char’s Zaku and the RX-78-2 Gundam, a starter tool kit, and a lining pen for my bf. Should be a good place to start and let him figure out whether or not he wants to get more!
Glad to be of help! All that stuff’s good picks for sure!
There used to be a starter set that had HG versions of the RX-78-2 and a green Zaku as well as a full colour “how to build gunpla” guide (all in Japanese of course), I’m not sure if it still exists but from memory it was sold around the same price as a single HG kit.
@quartermoose, just a heads up that there’s a “Revive” RX-78-2 that’s going to be a little updated compared to the plain jane High Grade that was originally released about 20 years ago.
For starter equipment, @DystopiaX is right on. Side cutters/nippers are a must have. A hobby knife and some sandpaper are really useful for getting the nubs down. A lining pen is the single easiest way to make HG’s look better, so I’d definitely recommend that.
For another starter/intro guide check out: this series. There’s a giant pool to dive in if he’s interested, but you can make a lot of new kits look really good with just a little bit of work.
For equipment I honestly found a cheap pair of side cutters in the art/fabric section at Walmart for about $5 that work great. I’m sure it’s not as good as some of the fancier ones but starting out they’ve served me well for my first 3 kits. I would also recommend maybe some tweezers for stickers. Another great small thing I found was those stick erasers, they work great for cleaning up the markers if you mess up.
Instructions are in Japanese but they are laid out like Lego so it’s easy to follow.
I will say I started with a pair of side cutters from a craft store as well and the spring snapped like, immediately bc they weren’t built for cutting plastic, so just a word of warning that if you do go this route to make sure that they’re up for the job.