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The Art of Gunpla Building: Your Guide to Instruction Book Symbols (2023)

The Art of Gunpla Building: Your Guide to Instruction Book Symbols (2023)

The Art of Gunpla Building: Your Guide to Instruction Book Symbols (2023)

When you buy your first Gundam model kit open it and look inside you’ll first be dazzled by all the sealed plastic bags containing runners (frames or sprues) with all the gleaming parts attached. 

Before You Start Opening Up the Sealed Plastic Bags

The first thing to do is inspect each plastic bag containing the runners. You are checking to see if any parts have come loose from the runner during manufacturing and transport. Look at the bottom of each bag carefully. It's amazing how hard it is to find these tiny parts if they find their way onto the floor! Make sure you note what runner they are from and put them in a labeled container - so you don't forget later on.

 

Here We Go!

The excitement bubbles over until you pick up the instruction booklet and come face-to-face with a terrifying realization: the instructions are all in Japanese.

Your pulse quickens. The excitement gives way to fear. You’ve only just opened the box, and your heart's pounding like you're watching the season finale of your favourite anime. But trust me, you got this. Believe it or not, these instructions can be followed even if you don’t know a lick of Japanese. The trick is to understand the universal language of symbols. So, chill, grab your favourite drink, and let's decode these cryptic manuals together! You will note from 2016 onwards more Gunpla Instruction Manuals start to use more English.

Super Cool Tips Just For You

Let me share a few super cool tips that'll have you building Gundam like a pro in no time.

Tip #1 Look for Patterns in the Manual

Nobody's got time to learn Japanese overnight. But the great thing is, you don't have to. Gundam manuals use a lot of visual cues, and you’ll start to see patterns. The assembly is typically divided into sections— the head, torso, arms, and legs. The diagrams are fairly straightforward; you just need to match the pieces with the pictures. 

Tip #2 Use the Right Tools

Don’t try to twist pieces off the sprue with your bare hands. You’ll need a pair of nippers. Trust me, they're a game-changer. And while you’re at it, grab a hobby knife for any gnarly edges or stubborn nub marks. Even some sandpaper would be useful. Don't know what tools to buy? Check out Gundam Express Australia Beginner Boxes they remove all the guess work!

Tip #3 Follow the Symbols

Okay, this might be the only time you need to do a bit of translation. But it's worth it! Each manual has a few key symbols like a circle for "assemble" or an 'X' for "don't do this." 

The Number Game First off, we have the numbers circled in, which are your step-by-step guide. Start from 1, then move on to 2, 3, and so on. Simple, right?

The Big Fat X You might stumble upon a big, scary X. But don't freak out! It simply means you don't need that part right now. Kind of like a red light at a traffic signal.

The Runner Symbol Last but definitely not least, the runner symbol. This one's like your friendly neighborhood guide showing you which runner or sprue to pick the piece from.

Tip #4 Take Your Time

Yeah, I know, you can’t wait to see your Gundam in all its glory. But rushing through the process could lead to mistakes, like mixing up similar-looking pieces. Building Gundam is kind of like meditation – chill out, take it slow, and enjoy the journey!

Tip #5 Don't Be Afraid to Mess Up

Everyone's Gundam journey is filled with "oops" moments, and that's totally okay. You might snap a piece incorrectly, lose a tiny part, or smudge a decal. But it's all part of the learning process. Remember, even if it doesn't turn out perfect, it's still YOUR Gundam and that's what makes it special.


    Be reassured that the instructions can be understood by following the very clear pictures of each step and understanding a handful of key symbols. 

    What Do The Symbols Mean?

    Gundam Express Australia 2023 Guide to most common symbols used in Gunpla instruction manuals
    That's all there is to it! You've just mastered the language of Gunpla building. The next time you look at a Gunpla instruction booklet, it’ll feel less like reading an alien language and more like deciphering an exciting secret code!

    Remember, experience and practice are the best teachers, but we all need a bit of a boost when we're starting out. So keep these tips handy and never fear the Japanese instructions again.

    Guide to Snapping Together

    When following the instruction manual, following the correct snapping order is critical. Some pieces when joined together may have overlap if the order of assembly is incorrect this will lead to future assembly problems.Snapping together illustration

    Example of a Symbol's Use 

    Here's an example using the symbol of how the part is to be installed on the opposite side. Often a part number will be on either side of this symbol. Meaning part no.1 to one side and the other part no.2 to the opposite side.

    use of a symbol example

     

    Wrapping Things Up

    Here’s one final piece of advice before you set sail on your Gunpla journey - take it slow and steady. Building Gunpla is more than just assembling a model kit. It's a form of meditation, a journey to enjoy, a skill to master. So take your time, appreciate every small victory, and embrace every tiny mistake. It's all part of the beautiful process of bringing your very own Gundam to life.

    Now go forth, brave builder! With your newfound knowledge, show those Gunpla manuals who’s boss. Enjoy your journey and may your Gunpla adventures be filled with joy and excitement!

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