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Gundam Grades 101: A Rundown of Common Gunpla Kits and Scaling

Gundam grades, their different sizes, scales, and what they mean for you

From the casual builder who has an hour to spare, to the tournament veteran who has poured countless months into perfecting a masterpiece, Gunpla can be a hobby or a lifestyle and has something for everyone.

gunpla grades in order of scale
The common scale of Gunpla grades

This article is going to act as a guide to provide you a rundown of the standard types of Gunpla model kit, more commonly referred to as “grades.” Gunpla boxes are typically labeled with badges denoting their grade. From smallest to largest, they are:

  • High Grade (HG) — 1/144 or 1/100 scale
  • Real Grade (RG) — 1/144 scale
  • Master Grade (MG) — 1/100 scale
  • Perfect Grade (PG ) — 1/60 scale
  • Mega Size Model (MSM) — 1/48 scale

For reference, a full-scale Gundam is roughly 60 feet (18 meters) tall.

In general, as Gunpla grades increase, so does their size, intricacy, and price. And though the rules laid out below are generally steadfast, there can exist some intermixing between grades and scales.

1. Super Deformed Grade (SD)

sd crossbone gundam model
SD Crossbone Gundam

SD or Super Deformed Gunpla are also known as “chibi” because of their smaller and disproportionate stature. Although smaller in size, these kits still have amazing gimmicks and really cool details. The other pluses are that the SD kits are usually simple to assemble and come in at a low price point.

2. High Grade (HG)

high grade gundam models
Source

HG or High Grade kits are either 1:144 or 1:100 scale in relation to their respective Gundam or Mobile Suit. They were introduced in 1990, and included high quality molding and posability that their 80’s First Grade (FG) predecessors did not have.

These kits often include features such as hidden compartments or transformable parts as well as minimal panel lining for additional detail. HG kits are usually good to mix and match with others of the same size for homebrew model building also known as “kitbashing.”

3. Real Grade (RG)

RG or Real Grade kits were introduced in 2010 as part of the Gundam 30th Anniversary. They are the same size as standard HG kits (1:144), but contain a significantly higher level of detail and sophistication, including an inner frame (see MG and PG below). As a result, RG kits usually take longer to assemble but are worth the payoff. Some RG model kits also contain paintable pilot figures and more weapon options than their HG counterparts.

(H/T gundamkitscollection.com)

4. Master Grade (MG)

master grade mobile ginn showing inner frame
Master Grade Mobile Ginn’s inner frame

Introduced in 1995, MG or Master Grade kits are 1:100 scale, so they are visibly larger than the HG and RG kits. In addition to being larger, MG kits provide superior detail and higher quality parts. A hallmark of MG kits is an inner skeletal frame, giving them excellent articulation. Some MG kits also include stands specifically designed for those models.

Master Grade kits look very finished out-of-box and don’t require much post production to make them presentable. The majority of custom painted Gunpla you’d find online are Master Grade.

(H/T gundamkitscollection.com)

6. Perfect Grade (PG)

Introduced in 1998, PG or Perfect Grade Gunpla are the end all, be all of detail and craftsmanship. These model kits come in at a massive 1:60 scale and are not for the beginner.

Although in this case bigger is better, bigger also comes along with a challenging level of detailed parts to assemble. Many PG Gunpla come with metal parts, and may require securing with screws, or minor wiring for LED elements.

Perfect Grade look like mechanical marvels when they’re finished. Don’t rush. It’s about the journey.

(HT: gundamguy, gunjap)

7. Mega Size Model (MSM)

mega size model gundam unicorn
Mega Size Model Gundam Unicorn

Mega Size Model (MSM) kits are the largest available on the open market, coming in at a whopping 1:48 scale. The level of detail is simplistic, somewhere around that of the High Grade model kits, and only a select few Gundam come in this size. Don’t let their simplicity deter you though. If you want the biggest Zaku you can get your hands on, look into Mega Size. Your inner child will thank you.

(HT: Frontline Builder)

The journey into Gunpla can be as long or as short as you want it to be. Just take your time, find your zen, and enjoy it. This breakdown is not exhaustive, as there is always something new coming down the Gunpla pipeline (not to mention the handful of existing special grades), but it should give you enough info to jumpstart your knowledge.

COVID has hit everyone to varying degrees in some way or another so things are not as easy to get in the USA, especially coming from Japan. Take that in mind when placing your orders with any retailer.

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joeydukesphotography
Joey is a modern renaissance man. He is a human beatbox artist, a toy collector, a customizer of Gundams, a stand-up comedian, and a writer.

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