Secondary Gunpla Grades
While the majority of the Gunpla kits you’ll encounter fall into one of the Grades described on page 1, 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 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. Super Deformed lineup has been around since late 1980’s, and just like HG includes multiple sub-lines, some of which have since been discontinued.
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 – usually $5 to $15. As such, 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 an 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.
Although this lineup is somewhat limited (only 7 kits), this line is still very much alive.
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 – Barbatos Lupus, Vidar, Barbatos Lupus Rex and Bael. Kits themselves are pretty much 1/100 No Grades. As I said before though, NG does not immediately imply that a kit is bad. This “honor” belongs to FG & EG described below.
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
Another case of the name describing the line very well, Mega Size are huge models in 1/48 scale. Standing nearly 40cm tall, they easily tower even over Perfect Grade.
Originally introduced alongside RGs as a part of 30th Gunpla anniversary, 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.
Many people thought the line dead, since its last kit was released back in 2012, but it was recently reactivated with the announcement of Mega Size RX-0 Unicorn.
Usually priced at $60 to $100, 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.
This line ran from 2001 to 2009 and includes 10 kits total, although it only used 3 Mobile Suit designs. There are multiple color versions of RX-78-2 and Zaku, as well as single Zeta kit.
Depending on the model, they ran for $150 to $250 originally, though the price has risen since the line was discontinued. Currently the Amazon has them listed for $300 and up, plus a hefty shipping charge.
HiRM is the newest 1/100 product line, introduced in March 2016. Part model kits, part figures and 100% impressive.
At the time of writing Bandai released only one Hi-Resolution kit (plus a P-Bandai variant), with another one on the way. Therefore, some of below might change in the future.
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 detail and good color separation. Quite a few pieces come in pearlescent finish or gorgeous mekki plating – thankfully most of them are undergated.
Hi-Resolution Models sure do look amazing, but are quite pricey – over $100.
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, those kits tend to look rather disappointing out of the box, as 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.
Released in 2006, 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.
In addition to 1/35 kits, Bandai also released two High Grade 1/144 Hard Graph sets (a.k.a. HGUCHG, because why not), each including a Mobile suit, two tanks and a bunch of extras.
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.
Kudos to /u/King_Smithy for finding this line’s logo for me.
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, released in 2001 and 2002. 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.
Finding a logo for this line was a nightmare, big thanks to /u/okomaticron for providing me with a box scan.
First Grade is a line of cheap, simple 1/144 scale kits.
There were two iterations of FG – originally released in 1999 as a part of 20th Anniversary, it featured modern remakes of the very first Gunpla kits released in 1980. Like the originals, they had no polycaps and were molded entirely in one color. Unlike the old versions, they did not require glue though.
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. Their price reflects that, as they only cost $3 to $5. 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.
Introduced in 2011 and manufactured in China, EG is 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. In some parts of Asia, customers subscribing for Bandai mailing list received them for free.
Entry Grade included only four kits. 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. Its name references Advanced Generation – the timeline AGE series is set in.
Also introduced in 2011, 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, another case of perfectly descriptive name, 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. Batch pictured here had surprising amount of surface detail actually. 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
Researching this last one almost drove me insane. Where all the other lines are rather easily classified, HY2M is all over the place, its only unifying feature being tons of LEDs.
From what I could gather, HY2M started out in 2002 as a line of upgrades for MG kits – heads with LED lights installed, as well as glowing hands for Shining / God Gundam. Shortly after, in 2003, 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.
I’m saving the best for last though.
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.
You won’t find bigger Gunpla kit outside Tokyo, where 1/1 RX-0 Unicorn is currently being built.
That’s about it for the Gunpla grades you might come across, hopefully it proved informative. For the sake of finishing article this year, I opted out of including the super obscure ones, as well as various figure lineups. Perhaps I’ll add some of them in a future revision.
Big thanks to Dalong.net for cataloging and photographing every Gunpla kit he can get his hands on. His website was a great help when working on this article.