Although these posts might bring in those specifically looking for model kits, I also expect the curious and clueless to find these posts, and I hope to fill in some of those blanks here. I’ve also included pictures of my own tools, both for transparency and as a reference!
I’m dropping this link for a complete list. I’m not typing it out when an excellent resource already exists. If you don’t want to go through the whole thing, here’s the terms I’ll use most often.
Gunpla – Short for GUNdam PLAstic model, derived from the Japanese abbreviation Plamo – for PLAstic Model
MS – Mobile suit.
OOB – Acronym for ‘Out Of the Box’, and can refer to a kit that is a snap build directly out of the box with no paint, or a kit that has been painted in the original colours with no further modifications.
Runner – The entire alphabetized rectangular plastic frame containing the parts with which you build your gunpla.
Panel Lines – Lines moulded into the kit to add detail to the armour or denote separation. Many modellers choose to add extra panel lines to their kit by scribing. Panel lines are often inked with a Gundam Marker or using a panel line wash technique to highlight detail and add depth to a model.
PC/Polycaps – Polyurethane joint parts. Typically a soft, floppy grey runner but can be moulded in other colours. Often used in ball and socket connections or pin and hole connections where an amount of flexibility is required.
Curing – Refers to the time needed for paints, putties, glues etc to fully cure before they should be sanded, painted over etc.
Nub – The small piece of plastic left over on the part after you cut it away from the sprue. Typically shaved down or sanded away.
Denubbing – The process of removing the Nubs from the pieces of your gunpla kit.
Nub Mark – The mark left behind when a nub is either cut away too deeply or the plastic is torn causing stress and discolouration to the plastic. Can sometimes be removed by sanding.
Flash – A small unintentional fishscale-like piece of plastic on your gunpla parts that is a result of a faulty injection mould. Flash is very uncommon in modern kits but can sometimes be found around fingers or very thin/tapered parts.
Frame – Can refer to either the internal skeleton of a Master Grade or Perfect Grade Gunpla kit, or a runner/sprue
Gate – The part of the sprue that attaches to the piece – typically where you will perform your cut when removing pieces from the sprue.
Lens – The eyepiece of a mono-eye suit such as a Zaku, the clear plastic piece that adds dimension to a rifle scope etc
Sprue – The passage through which molten plastic is introduced to a mould, so, therefore, all of the stuff left over on the runner when you’ve cut out all of your parts.
Masking – Refers to the process of covering an area of your model with modeller’s masking tape, blutack, or otherwise to prevent paint from covering that area. Also used to achieve different paint effects such as camouflage and slash striping.
Monoeye – Single eye camera lens mobile suit. Commonly referring to Zeon units or any unit with a single camera “eye” in its head.
Cement – Modelling Cement – when applied to the plastic creates a chemical reaction which causes the plastic to melt slightly. As the solvent evaporates the plastic welds together
Decals – Refers to markings one can apply to a kit to enhance its appearance. Can be dry transfer or waterslide, the former typically being supplied with a gunpla kit, the latter typically being an aftermarket purchase from Bandai or a third party manufacturer such as Samuels.
Gundam Marker – Any marker from GSI Creos/Mr. Hobby specifically made for adding detail to gunpla. These range from paint markers in specific shades of colour to “pour type” ink pens for panel lining to actual “real touch” markers for shading.
Side Cutters/Nippers – A sharp pair of cutters intended for cleanly cutting the plastic gates that attach the parts to the sprues. I always recommend Tamiya Sharp Pointed Side Cutters For Plastic as my favourite.
(refers to the degree of detail, typically)
High Grade / HG – Most commonly in 1/144. Decent level of detail and mobility. (Some past 1/100 lines have been labelled HG or considered HG due to a similar degree of detail.)
Real Grade / RG – Real Grades come in the 1/44 scale. They’re the same size as the average HG, but incredibly detailed and possible. Super satisfying to build.
Master Grade / MG – Master Grades come in the 1/100 scale. Very poseable, good level of detail, but not to the degree of detail as a Real Grade.
SD / Super Deformed – Essentially chibi versions of mobile suits. Giant heads, big eyes and stunted bodies. Typically aimed at children. Easy to build, requires no tools (pieces can be popped out by hand) and usually low in detail and mobility. Includes the original, long-running BB Senshi line, the aborted EX-Standard line and the new Cross Silhouette line.
1/144 – One One Hundred and Forty-Fourth scale. Most common scale. Typically, a finished kit is about hand height. (You’ll see a lot of HG 1/144 kits this year.)
1/100 – One One Hundredth Scale. Master Grade is synonymous with 1/100 for most Gunpla fans, but lines have also come in gradeless varieties (low in detail), “High Grade” 1/100s that are either labelled so or assumed to be similar in detail to a 1/144 HG, and the more recent Reborn-One Hundred line.
1/60 – One-Sixtieth Scale: A large scale model produced by Bandai typically in their Perfect Grade line
1/48 – One Forty-Eighth scale: A large scale model, typically from Bandai’s Mega Size Model range.
1/144 High Grades and 1/100 Master Grades are the most common releases. For the past nearly twenty-five years, they’ve been the most consistent releases. Real Grades are much newer, and Super Deformed series are all over the place in quality and scale, but HGs and MGs are a nice constant from Bandai.
Jesus, I should’ve checked the overall quality of the picture after I added the numbers and saved. Yikes.
Anyways, left to right.
#1 and #2 are nippers/side cutters. Black are Gundam Planet’s Side Cutters (purchased by me) and the blue are God Hand Ultimate Nippers 5.0 (Christmas gift from my sister!) I’ve also got a green pair from Tamiya’s basic set somewhere. Good nippers are important because they reduce stress marks (ugly white marks on the plastic) and cut closer/cleaner. If you’re building for the satisfaction of building or planning to sand/paint anyways, there are basic pairs that run for ~$15USD. God Hands ARE really nice, but Gundam Planet’s do the job almost as well (I’m talking, like 98% compared to 100% here, seriously) and cost much less.
#3 and #4 are Fine Point Gundam Markers For Panel Lines. They’re exactly as advertised. There’s grey for white plastic and black for other colours.
#5 and #6 are Pour Type Gundam Markers for Panel Lines. They contain fast-flowing thinned out paint/ink for panel lines. I like them for doing hangs. Again, grey for white plastic and black for other colours.
#7 is a Gundam Marker Remover. It’s a solution for removing excess Gundam marker paint from parts. Lighter fluid is also commonly used for this purpose.
#8 is a “blending” marker for Real Touch Gundam Markers. It’s actually… kind of useless. It’s used in blending colours when using the Real Touch Gundam Markers.
#9 is a Real Touch Gundam Marker. It’s basically just a marker. That’s grey, not pictures is a black one. I sometimes use them for panel lining. A marker is a marker.
#10 and #11 are Pilot Pens in silver and gold. They have a high shine and are nice for very small metal details. I also use (not pictured) metallic sharpies for slightly bigger areas. There’s another excellent pen for shiny details, but I can’t recall it at this moment.
#12 are Tamiya Angled Tweezers. Useful for holding small parts.
#13 is Tamiya’s Modeller’s Knife Pro. The first time I used them, it was 6am and I angled it toward myself. My finger still has the scar.
and #14 is my trusty purple cutting mat. Helpful, but not necessary for building. Slightly more necessary when you’re cutting out waterslide decals.
These are your typical tools when applying waterslide decals.
#1 is a goddamn unnecessarily fancy decal tray. I went a little too gung-ho when getting back into Gunpla. And you know what? I just take the tray out and saturate a paper towel in it instead. A much better method.
While #2 and #3 are debatably necessary for building, they’re 100% necessary for decals. You need your tweezers and knife at this party. Knife cuts them out, tweezers handle them because oh my god, some of these bitches are tiny.
#4 is Mr. Mark Softer, from Mr. Hobby. It melts decal edges and helps decals conform to curved surfaces. Necessary, as Bandai’s decals are on the thick side. I also have Mr. Mark Setter, an adhesive, but it’s not necessary unless your decals are old, or possibly third party.
and you should recognize, #5, cotton swabs. Wet one end and use it to gently arrange your decal in place. Also for rubbing away excess marker panel lines.
The foil stickers are useless, ignore them. More important are the sticker-type markings on the left (green sheet) and the waterslide decals on the right (in package, blue sheet.)
The stickers are nice, but once you put them on, they are so very obviously stickers, and there is nothing changing that fact. They’re also less forgiving to get on correctly, I find.
… And that wraps up the Mecha Monday Primer!