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The Guide is a constant work in progress. If you see poorly written sentences or missing pictures and have questions, let me know.- Falldog
Layman's Gunpla Guide - Construction Guide
Right, so I assume that you're as you're about to embark on your first Gunpla kit. If you've built a few before and are just looking for tips or an idea about how another builds then you're still in the right place. However, you might want to skip ahead past the first section...
Getting to know the Construction Manual
A lot of people on their first kit might open up the manual and be overwhelmed by the amount of Japanese, and their inability to read kanji/rōmaji. This won't stop you from building your model. Before starting take sometime to browse through the documentation that came with your kit. HG/MG models usually come with one booklet, while PG kits usually come with two, sometimes three manuals. Flip through to familiarize yourself with the process. Most manuals follow the same steps, build individual components first (arms, legs, torso, head, etc, not necessarily in any consistent order) and final assembly. Additional details such as transformation procedures or weapon outfitting may follow. Be sure to mind any details the manual provides. Some temps may be accompanied by Japanese text but often include simple picture explanations. Before you know reading the manual will become second nature.
Watch where you cut:
Sometimes pieces are attached to a runner in such a way that the line between the runner and piece can be ambiguous. Notes like this let you know where you should cut so you don't take too much off. Snapping order:
Note the red !s I've placed in the above picture. Often pieces need to be pieced together in a specific order. If you don't follow the order you may find yourself having to take a piece apart (which can be rather difficult at times) Piece direction & random alerts.
Bandai's guides like to use little hash marks to draw your attention to piece orientation. Failing to note these can cause frustration from parts not going in correctly to limiting articulation. Unfortunately not all guides are clear on just how a piece should be placed. In these instances it becomes a matter of trial and error. Note the odd white and black arrow icon. Bandai used common icons like this throughout their guides to indicate specific events. Some are fairly obvious, others I still don't understand. Luckily for you I have an awesome, multilingual, reference...
Click to Enlarge
Now, this is the simple part! Basically all you have to do is follow the instructions and you'll have a new gunpla in no time! (Apologies for the shitty photos, it's hard to take them and build at the same time) When building a kit it's best to follow step by step with the guide. Advanced builders will be able to multitask or jump around but it's not recommended for all. It's easy to miss a step or piece. Disassembly to insert a forgotten part can be time consuming and potentially damaging to your model. Patience upfront always pays off. [pictures of runners laid out] If you haven't already remove all of the runners from their plastic bags and lay them out. Keep an eye out for any screws or smaller runners. Some people like to lay them out alphabetically, I prefer logically. You'll find out that for many kits specific runners correspond with different parts of the kit. If you're ever having trouble identifying the proper runner take a look at the inventory section early in the manual. Sometimes it helps to associate the runner letter with the shape or pieces it holds. Newer manuals start each section with a list of the different runners you'll be using for that component. Before you start cutting make sure you have all the appropriate tools at hand. For more info see my list of building equipment.
When cutting the pieces out from the runners it's best to cut a bit away from the piece instead of cutting flush to the piece.
The excess plastic on the piece when removing it from a runner is often referred to as a sprue or nub. Cutting too close can cause defects in the plastic. I'm not sure how it happens but often it will create a dimple. Making two cuts also allows for the secondary to be cleaner against the rest of the piece. It's recommended to remove pieces from the runners with a pair of snippers and remove the sprue with a hobby knife. Hobby knives create a cleaner edge and reduce the risk of deforming the plastic. A dull pair of snippers can squeeze the plastic leaving white stress marks on the piece. Always be careful when using a hobby knife. Use a cutting mat to protect your work surface and when cutting slice away from yourself. Depending on how close your second cut is you will probably have to sand down the area.
I generally use a fine metal on straight edges and sandpaper for curved sections. You'll find that kits are generally made with different grades of plastic, some stronger and some softer. Always start with very little pressure and slowly work up if need be. It's easy to remove too much plastic. When using sand paper wet/dry 200 or 400 grit is recommended. Some people like to glue the paper to a popsicle stick or wooden down to make a handy tool. If you're careful sanding won't leave any visible marks unless you're looking at it up close. The easiest way to completely mask any marks (if you're not painting) is to apply a nice top coat. Before you know it you'll have gone from a pile of pieces...
...to a piece of your Gunpla...
...to the whole bloody thing!
Congratulations! Construction is a lot of fun, especially if you spent your childhood nose deep in Legos. Many people are happy to reach this stage and leave their kit be. I encourage people to take things a little further by taking care of those detail lines and giving the guy a good top coat. You'll find the pay off immense. Don't forget to poke around the rest of my guide for more tutorials on how to make your kit unique.