We (the collective conscious that is Toy Joy) are proud to announce that we now possess the largest collection of Gunpla for sale in Austin!
"What's Gunpla?" you probably ask. Toy fans, that's a great question! In short, they're scale models of giant Japanese robots. While that's interesting enough on its own, to really get a feel for what these are and why we're in love with them, we're gonna spin you a yarn, full of useful information and tales as old as 1979!
About 39 years ago, Bandai, a toy company known mostly for car models and Astro Boy figures, came under new management and underwent a change in focus. This change would lead to the creation of such great icons as Pac-Man and Super Sentai (what would become Power Rangers in the west) in order to sell toys. At the same time, a brilliant man named Yoshiyuki Tomino created a series called Mobile Suit Gundam about space politics and giant fighting robots. Over the decades this series would be reimagined in a multitude of shows, manga, games, and several other forms of media. Back in June of 1980, Bandai introduced the Gundam Plastic (or GUNPLA) models, based on the incredibly popular series.
History lesson over - let's get to the actual models! Gunpla models come in color molded trays called “runners”. The color molding of the pieces means that the final model won't necessarily need to be painted (although many hobbyists paint and customize their kits). They are molded so that all the pieces snap together, meaning that that they don't need to be glued and fit together on their own. Over the years Bandai has improved, added, and diversified these models, while still keeping this same basic premise. The biggest thing they've done to diversify their product is to release models in different versions, or “grades”, of figures to distinguish between size and complexity.
First are the High-Grade, SEED, and SEED DESTINY kits! These are the most basic model kits, with parts to make a small posable robot model, its weapons, and optional parts. These are only available in 1:144 scale, or about 6 inches tall.
The next level up are the Master Grade kits! These take the basic premise and improve on it. Instead of snapping armor pieces together to make the figure, the armor is attached to an inner frame. This allows for a wider range of motion in the final figure. The plastic is higher quality, the models are more complex, and these kits come in a larger 1:100 scale - that's about eight inches.
Next are the Real Grade kits. These are some of the most complex kits, with an inner frame and a high armor piece count making for amazing detail and exquisite design. Like the High Grade, the Real Grade is 1:144 scale.
And finally, the grand daddy of all the kits, the aptly named Perfect Grade kits! The detail, color, and quality of these models are second to none. They feature more points of articulation than any of the other kits, including jointed fingers, a special base, and these kits stack up to an impressive 1:60 scale - standing around 12 inches. Some of these models also have extra features, such as LED lights or transforming armor panels.