Hey guys! While I am quite happy with my full Gunpla Grades article, I realize some of you might prefer a quick overview instead. Short and to the point, with no excessive write-up, back story or pictures. Well, there you go: Gunpla Grades ver. TLDR.
Major Gunpla Grades
This category includes the lion’s share of all Gunpla released to date.
High Grade is the most popular Gunpla line, featuring mostly 1/144 scale kits.
It offers the widest selection out of all the Gunpla grades, as most designs are released as HG as soon as they debut in the show. New builders are often pointed to models from this line, as they’re simple to build and inexpensive, while still providing a good representation of mobile suits. HG sets a good baseline for details, articulation and gimmicks. Its main downside is that it doesn’t excel at any of those. Color separation is also lacking at times, with Bandai opting for colored stickers instead of separate parts in different colors. Nonetheless, with a little effort, those kits have the potential to look great.
Thanks to low price and simple construction, they are great for practicing painting and customization techniques.
Real Grade is one of the newer lines, featuring extremely detailed kits in 1/144 scale.
Most RG models feature two shades of plastic for each major color. All of them have full inner frame, often molded in two colors on a single runner. They also include tons of marking stickers. Overall, RGs are some of the best looking Gunpla kits out of the box. Major downside of this line are the complicated builds, involving a lot of tiny parts, which could prove troublesome for beginner builders. They are also not as sturdy as HG or MG equivalents, so reposing them might require some extra patience.
Master Grade is where things get really interesting. At 1/100 scale, MG steps it up in more than just size.
This line is designed to meet very high standards. They feature better quality plastic, more details (although not as much as RGs), better proportions and great color separation. Most Master Grades feature a full, detailed inner frame. This line tends to include a lot of gimmicks, like sliding armor panels, opening hatches or fully articulated hands. They also come with a bunch of extras, like 1/100 pilot figures, a lot of stickers and some dry transfer decals. As expected, they cost more than other lines and take longer to build, although difficulty-wise they are on the same level as HG.
There is also a sub-line of Master Grades called MG Ver.Ka, or Version Katoki. It’s exclusive to Mobile Suits revamped by veteran designer Hajime Katoki. Universally considered to be some of the best Gunpla kits ever made, they tend look a little more realistic and include tons of water slide decals.
As expected of the word “Perfect”, it doesn’t get any better than PG.
Perfect Grade kits, designed in 1/60 scale, stand over 30 centimeters tall. They feature mind-blowing amount of detail, color separation and gimmicks. Just like MGs and RGs, they have a full, incredibly detailed inner frame. LEDs are also included. Their articulation tends to be exceptional, although posing can prove difficult due to sheer size and weight of those models. Major downsides are long build time as well as very high price – $100 to $400, depending on the kit.
This kind of money gets you hands down best looking out-of-the-box kit, a crowning jewel for any Gunpla collection.
NG As the name might (or might not) suggest, this isn’t actually a grade.
The community forged the term NG to describe all the kits that do not belong to any of the other grades or product lines. No Grade is quite a mixed bag and includes kits in all major scales. The bulk of this “line”, however, is made out of 1/144 and 1/100 that do not meet HG/MG quality standards. The builds are usually rather simple, but don’t get me wrong – these are not universally bad kits. Just like the models within the grades, NGs evolved significantly over the years.
Secondary Gunpla Grades
While the majority of the Gunpla kits you’ll encounter fall into one of the Gunpla grades described above, there are actually quite a few “secondary” product lines. Some of them are quite popular, others more obscure.
Super Deformed, or SD, is the most populated of the secondary Gunpla grades. As the name suggests, proportions on these kits are completely out of whack.
Designed as comical/cute renditions of Mobile Suits, SD kits feature tiny bodies with very short limbs and giant heads. Some of them even include anime-style expressive eye stickers. SDs are small, simple kits with very few parts, limited articulation and sub-par color separation that relies heavily on stickers. On the plus side they don’t cost much, so people often recommend them for painting and basic modding practice.
RE/100 is one of the newer Gunpla lines, introduced in 2014.
This one mostly houses the models which deserved a proper 1/100 scale kit, but were too obscure, too big or otherwise not worth the time it’d take to make them into MG. Quality wise, they fall somewhere in between HG and MG. They boast a very impressive amount of surface detail and some nice color separation. They do not include inner frame or as many gimmicks as MGs though.
More of a marketing name than an actual grade, Full Mechanics is one-off line featuring only Gundam kits from Season 2 of Iron-Blooded Orphans series.
Not even all the Gundams, as Bandai only released four FM kits. They are pretty much 1/100 No Grades, although as I mentioned before, this does not imply they’re bad. Full Mechanics are a step above HG in terms of quality, color separation and details, although still not quite near MG level. As with all the IBO kits, they include a full, detailed inner frame.
Mega Size Model
Mega Size are huge models in 1/48 scale. Standing nearly 40cm tall, they easily tower even over Perfect Grade.
Those kits are pretty much oversized HGs with some extra surface detail. Despite (or thanks to) simple construction, they are quite sturdy for their size. Each kit comes with a small sheet of water slide decals and small Hobby Japan brochure, showing some simple tips on improving the looks of the model.
Mega Size kits work very well as a centerpiece of any Gunpla collection. They are sure to draw attention!
If Mega Size is not big enough for you, there’s always Jumbo Grade.
At 1/35 scale they are nearly twice as big as PG kits. Models from this line come mostly pre-assembled, with decals already painted on. The only thing left to build are the weapons, which come on the runners, but are already painted like rest of the kit. Jumbo Grade has been discontinued though, to buy one now you’d probably have to pay more than double the original price.
HiRM is the newest 1/100 product line. Part model kits, part figures and 100% impressive.
HiRM come with pre-built inner frame with decent amount of die-cast metal parts, multiple plastic colors and a ton of mechanical details, like working hydraulics. The frame joints are somewhat stiff though and don’t have as much articulation as those on standard Gunpla kits. The armor pieces come on the runners, just like classic model kits, with fair amount of surface details and good color separation. Quite a few pieces come in pearlescent finish or gorgeous mekki plating – thankfully most of them are undergated.
This is a line dedicated to non-mecha designs from various Gundam series.
EX Model includes mostly 1/1700 scale battleships, as well as various fighters, tanks and support vehicles in 1/100 and 1/144 scale. Sadly they are molded in only 1-2 colors and have multiple visible seam lines. Painting them requires extensive masking and guess work, as the manual does not provide a color guide.
On the plus side, they have a good amount of surface detail and can look really good if you put in the effort – just look at what GoodGuyDan did with Gundam SEED EX kits .
Universal Century Hard Graph
Just like EX Model, U.C Hard Graph focuses on non-mecha designs.
This line is aimed mostly at traditional military & armor modelers. UCHG (not to be confused with HGUC) features highly detailed 1/35 scale kits with numerous gimmicks. Models come with various extras for use in dioramas, like tables, ammo boxes and even to-scale mobile suit pieces. They also include figures for vehicle crews, water slide decals and, in some cases, photoetched parts. Although they are molded in color, painting those kits is highly recommended.
1/400 Gundam Collection
Similar to the previous two, Gundam Collection features battleships and giant Mobile Armors in 1/400 scale.
Unlike EX Model’s 1/1700 kits, spaceships from this line are massive – roughly 60 cm bow to stern. They offer quite high amount of surface detail, as well as various opening hatches and functional hangars. Those can be filled with tiny, pre-painted Mobile Suit figures, few of which come with every kit from this line. 1/400 Mobile Armors are slightly bigger than an average HG and just as detailed as ship models. They come with factory detail painting, done right on the runners.
High Grade Mechanics
HGM is another line featuring Mobile Armors, this time in 1/550 scale.
Like the Full Mechanics, this one is also series-exclusive and includes only 3 designs from Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory. Sadly, they lag far behind Gundam Collection Mobile Armors in terms of details, gimmicks and colors. 1/550 Mobile Suits are also included, although they come entirely in white plastic.
First Grade is a line of cheap, simple 1/144 scale kits.
There were two iterations of FG – originally released in 1999, it featured modern remakes of the very first Gunpla kits released in 1980. Second batch of FG kits included four lead Mobile Suits from Gundam 00 series and was released in 2007. Overall these kits are very low quality, lacking in every major area. I wouldn’t recommend them, unless it’s for cheap base to practice scribing and painting on.
Much like FG, Entry Grade was a line of low cost and low quality 1/144 scale kits.
Unlike other lines, EG kits were manufactured in China. Probably absolute worst among Gunpla grades, Bandai marketed it mostly for emerging asian markets. Kits used only 3 colors and contained no polycaps. Details, color separation and articulation were pretty much non-existent. Only four Entry Grade kits were released – thankfully Bandai discontinued the line after its first run.
Advanced Grade is another line of cheap 1/144 Gunpla kits.
This one is exclusive to kits from Gundam AGE series. AG line uses more colors than other low-end grades, sometimes even clear parts. Kits are still pretty low quality though. They lack details, have numerous visible seam lines and their articulation remains extremely limited. Their main distinguishing feature is inclusion of a microchip, allowing owners to use their kits for GAGE-ING arcade game in Japan.
Speed Grade Collection
Speed Grade is a line of super quick 1/200 scale models.
SG kits can easily be completed in under an hour. They come with most of the colors, as well as decals, factory painted right on the runners. Each kit includes a base, which can serve either as basic stand or semi action base. Considering the scale, they offer a decent amount of detail and somewhat acceptable articulation. Certainly better than the three grades described above.
This is a fun one. 1/200 scale kits given as a bonus to Cup Noodle… cups.
Usually they pop up around anniversaries (most recently Cup Noodle’s 40th). As expected, they’re supper simple, though they have some articulation and color separation. All things considered, I’d call them okay. Most recent batch had surprisingly high amount of surface detail. Plus, noodles.
I’m totally not sorry for that supper pun.
Technically this isn’t a separate product line.
Just like most special edition kits, Bandai sells Ecopla exclusively on conventions. They’re pretty much HG and SD kits made out of recycled plastic (usually faulty runners). While molded entirely in gloss black (aside from clear pieces), their construction, details and articulation are exactly the same as the original kits’.
Hyper Hybrid Model
Where all the other lines are rather easily classified, HY2M is all over the place.
Hyper Hybrid Model originally started out as a line of upgrades for MG kits – heads with LED lights installed, as well as glowing hands for Shining / God Gundam. Shortly after Bandai released HY2M Glorious Series – a sub-line consisting of 1/60 kits, slightly above HG quality. Main feature – LEDs, LEDs, LEDs. Eyes had LEDs, thrusters had LEDs, even Gouf fingers had LEDs.
HY2M also includes 1/24 and 1/12 scale RX-78-2 Gundam. The latter is 150cm tall, weights 35kg and includes speaker and a remote, letting you play some retro battle sounds.
That’s about it for this quick overview of Gunpla grades and other product lines you might come across. I opted out of including the super obscure ones, as well as various figure lineups. Perhaps I’ll add more in a future revision.
For more information, check out the full version of this article.