Gunpla Newbie Guide: Construction Manual Icons, What Do They Mean?

If you have built at least one Gunpla, you will recognize these icons as they are all over the construction manual. Non-Japanese-speaking (or –reading for that matter) folks like me, could only try and decipher these icons. Although Bandai’s construction manuals are easy to follow—even without any reading involved—it is still useful to know what these icons stand for.

Apply Glue


Bandai’s early Gunpla kits require the use of plastic cement or glue. Although today’s kits are snap-built, you may still see this icon in a few construction manuals.

Apply Sticker

StickerNumberThis icon comes with a Japanese symbol that identifies which sticker to use. Unless you will be painting your kit, it is recommended that you apply stickers as you go on assembling your kit.

Apply Decal

DecalLetterMore complicated kits—such as MGs and PGs—come with dry transfer and/or waterslide decals. This icon indicates that you may apply these decals during the construction of a part/section.

Attach Part to Opposite Side

AttachToOppositeSideSome parts are intended to be placed on a specific side of an assembly. This icon indicates that the specified part should be attached to the opposite side of the part related to it.

Attach Identical Parts to Each Side

IdenticalPartWhen you see this icon, attach two pieces of the same part to each side of a section.

Do Not Over-Tighten Screw


Some Gunpla kits—usually PGs—require screws. This icon warns you not to over-tighten the screw as doing so can crack the plastic and damage the part.

Also Move the Other Side


RG frames oftentimes require loosening or moving a part into position. This icon tells you to also move the opposite side of a part/section.

Cut Off


Some parts may have nubs or stumps that should be removed. Remember to only cut parts that are indicated by this icon. Otherwise, stick with cutting parts from the runner gates.

Assemble First


Construction manuals provide step-by-step instructions that should be strictly followed. Complete any section that is accompanied by this icon first before you proceed to any other assembly.

Assemble Later


This icon is the opposite of the above icon. This indicates that the section should be assembled after one or a series of assemblies have been completed.

Multiple Assembly


You can usually see this icon when assembling multiple parts/sections such as arms, legs, funnels, wings, etc. The value indicates the number of parts/sections you must complete.



This icon simply tells you to rotate a part to a specific direction as well as how many degrees it should be rotated.

Mind the Orientation

PayAttentionSome parts are a bit tricky to position so you have to pay attention to its orientation when attaching.

Alternative Parts


Some kits include alternative parts. Choose the part that you prefer and attach it. This usually solves the mystery of additional parts that are left over from your kit.


1/144 HG Kamiki Burning Gundam – Painted Build by Laurenz Tumbaga

Modeler: Laurenz Uriel Tumbaga
Base Kit: 1/144 Kamiki Burning Gundam
Build Notes: Painted with Gaiacolor
Awards: 2nd Place – Junior Category, Gundam Model Kit Contest 2016, Philippines

Barnaby Brooks Jr. Becomes a Trendy Stormtrooper – Conversion Build by Acoy Delgado

It’s one thing to build a model kit and do some bad ass customisations. But, it’s another when you create an entirely unique character from a totally different kit. Such are the skills of premiere modeler, Acoy Delgado. One of his latest projects, a Galactic Empire Stormtrooper crafted from Bandai’s 1/8 MG Figure Rise Barnaby Brooks, Jr. kit. See the progression of the build below.


You’d think that the concept is simple until you look into the obvious details of this build: the red Chucks, double-striped sleeves, mace from a 1/100 Kampfer,  backpack-mounted Gundam rifle, even the Kanji gives the figure much character.

Modeler: Acoy Delgado

Painting Notes: Airbrushed and hand painted with Pylox and Vallejo paints; Washed with MIG products.

Modeling Notes: Modifications  using sculpted AquaStop clayputty, Gundam parts, and plastic plates.

Decisions… Decisions, Getting Your First Gunpla

So you want to try out building Gunpla, see if you’d enjoy it, and (maybe) eventually start your own collection. Now, you’re trying to decide with which kit to start. Given that Gunpla has been around for more than 30 years now, there are literally thousands of options. Here are a few tips or what to consider that may help you on finding your first Gunpla kit.

  • Are you really into it? That’s should be the first question you ask yourself. Are you really interested in the hobby or a friend just pushed you to try it out? If you’re into toys, statues, action figures, anime, manga… Gunpla should be interesting to you, and you should start with the latest kits. If you’re just peeking to get into a new hobby, start with simple kits so as not to get you intimidated.
  • What’s your favorite Gundam anime? If you don’t have one, pick one. Most starting collectors—may it be model kits, toys, statues, etc.—lose interest quickly because they fail to have a connection with their collection in the long run. Starting with your favorite Gundam anime’s Gunpla line allows you to create that connection. If you have seen the mobile suit in action, you get more enjoyment in building the kit. You will know its character and that increases your eagerness to finish the build. If you haven’t watched a single Gundam anime, you may want to switch to another interests.
  • Are you a novice or experienced modeler? If you have been building model kits (aircraft, ships, tanks, mecha) for a while now, you might want to start with the more complex Gunpla grades (RG, MG, PG) to make it worth your while. Gotten used to plastic cement? Gunplas should be  a cinch because you don’t need it. If you have never built a kit before, it’s not that difficult since everything is snap-fit. You may want to start with HGs (1/144 or 1/100 scale) or, if you’re into cutie figures, SDs.
  • Do not let others decide for you. Down to two kits? Just flip a coin, do an eenie meenie miini moh, or better yet, buy them both. Other people’s opinions practically don’t matter. These are probably your best options, anyway, and any choice you make would be the right one. So, get the kit and start having fun.

I did not include Gunpla price as a consideration. This hobby WILL require some monetary investment. If you are unprepared to dish out a little bit of dough, maybe this is not for you. Try out papercraft or origami, instead.

Build Burning Gundam Model Kit Contest – Photo Gallery

Event: Build Burning Gundam Model Kit Contest
Date: February 6-28, 2016
Venue: ToyTown Glorietta, Makati (Philippines)
Rules: Out-of-the-box build (1/144 HG Build Burning Gundam only), custom colors allowed, after market/custom decals allowed, no stands, action bases, diorama, vignettes.
Photo Credits: Nagiyaka Pepper

Gunpla Building Tutorials? Here’s the ‘Fun to Build Gunpla’ Campaign

I have been asked a lot of times for Gunpla building tutorials. I always direct them to the Fun to Build Gunpla Campaign which can easily be found on Youtube. All the instructions you need to properly build Gunpla are practically here.

For those who are too lazy to search, here’s the complete playlist of the Fun to Build Gunpla videos.

  1. Introduction to Fun to Build Gunpla
  2. Basic Tools
  3. Cutting Out Parts
  4. Dealing with Gates 1: Cleaning Up Nubs with a File
  5. Dealing with Gates 2: Smoothing Out Nubs with Sandpaper
  6. Touch Up Painting 1: Basic Tools
  7. Touch Up Painting 2: Panel Lining with a Mechanical Pencil
  8. Touch Up Painting 3
  9. Decals for Gunpla
  10. Basic Decal Application 1: Foil Stickers
  11. Basic Decal Application 2: Transparent Stickers
  12. Basic Decal Application 3: Gundam Decals
  13. Basic Decal Application 4: Waterslide Decals
  14. Trimming RG Decals
  15. Smooth and Clean Polycap Insertion
  16. What to do When You Forget a Part
  17. Smoothing Over Edges
  18. Taking the Next Step 1: Sharpening Up Parts
  19. Taking the Next Step 2: Boring Barrels with a Pin Vise
  20. Using Lining Pens 1: Choosing a Color
  21. Using Lining Pens 2: Wipe-away Pens
  22. Using a Marker for the First Time
  23. Before Painting 1: About Different Types of Paint
  24. Before Painting 2: Oil Base Color
  25. Before Painting 3: Acrylic
  26. Before Painting 4: Enamel
  27. Trying Out Airbrushing 1: Good Paints for Airbrushing
  28. Trying Out Airbrushing 2: Thinning Paint
  29. Trying Out Airbrushing 3: What Happens When I Don’t Thin Properly?
  30. Trying Out Airbrushing 4: Basic Painting
  31. Trying Out Airbrushing 5: Keeping Paint Off of Shafts
  32. Airbrushing Techniques 1: Gradations
  33. Airbrushing Techniques 2: Shading 1
  34. Airbrushing Techniques 2: Shading 2
  35. Airbrushing Techniques 3: Metallic Colors 1
  36. Airbrushing Techniques 3: Metallic Colors 2
  37. Airbrush Maintenance

Sources: GUNDAM.INFO, Youtube