Are Gunpla Models Painted Straight Out of the Box? Why Do Others Paint Gundam Models?

Gunpla models don’t come painted. Instead, their plastics are colored according to the manufacturer’s design. This is why they look great out of the box without painting. However, though optional, many modelers tend to paint Gundam models to personalize them based on their liking.

This blog post will explain why Gunpla models aren’t painted. We will also talk about the benefits of painting your models. Finally, a simple introduction on the paints that can be used on Gunpla models.

Do Gundams come painted?
Rg Gundam (Unpainted)

Do Gundams come painted?

Generally speaking, Gundams don’t come painted. Instead, their plastics are colored based on their design. Thus, painting a Gundam is unnecessary.

But here is what I mean by colored sprues.

Colored Gunpla Sprues and Runners
Colored Gundam Model Sprues. Photo taken from How to wash Gunpla models?

In the photo above, we can see that there are different colored sprues. For example, some are pink, red, black, gray, white, etc.

However, these aren’t painted. In fact, even if you sand these kits. The colors are all the way to the bottom.

When you paint objects, you spread a layer of paint on the top of the body. That’s why the object will return to its original color when the paint is removed.

Gundam kits aren’t like that. Instead, the color is in the plastics themselves. That’s why sanding these plastics wouldn’t affect their color.

Furthermore, this is Bandai’s way of making the hobby easier for modelers.

In Gunpla modeling, painting is optional because the models are already colored thanks to these plastics.

Rather than including paint in each box which could leak or make the build harder, they put the colors on the plastics themselves.

This is why generally speaking, Gundam kits don’t include paints. This is because painting is optional.

In context to the photo above, here is the built model using the sprues in the above image.

Gundam Blaze Zaku Unpainted
Gundam Blaze Zaku without Paint

Almost all Gundam models are like this. Their plastics are colored so that painting is only optional.

These colored plastics are also a factor in knowing a Gunpla’s grade.

Some modelers call this color differentiation.

Essentially, higher grade Gundams tend to have better color differentiation than the lower ones. So, expensive Gundams models will have better colors than their ordinary counterparts.

For example, an ordinary Gundam model will be yellow-colored, but an expensive one will have gold-colored sprues.

Recommended Read: So, what Gundam grade has the best color differentiation? Well, that crown goes to the PG or perfect grade models. To find more about them, you may check it here: What are PG models?

To help you see the difference, here is an SD Unicorn Gundam Phenex (Narrative Ver.)

SD Gundam Unicorn (Narrative Ver.)

Here is a standard version of SD Gundam Unicorn.

SD Gundam Unicorn

Can you see the difference in their plastic color? Both are unpainted, but the Narrative Version looks better.

As you can see, Gundam models don’t come painted, but their plastics are colored according to the manufacturer’s design.

But what if you don’t like the model’s color? Could we paint these models? If yes, why do people paint these kits? So let’s talk about that next.

Can you paint Gundam?

You can paint Gundam models according to your liking. These models are highly modifiable, and you are free to do what you want.

The good news is Gundam models can be painted, and most modelers love painting their Gundam.

For example, here is a painted Gundam model.

PG Gundam Unicorn (Painted)
PG Gundam Unicorn (Painted)

As you can see above, that’s a painted PG Gundam Unicorn. Yes, the same Gundam Unicorn but in a different grade.

Since it’s painted, its colors are entirely different from the actual PG Gundam. However, it looks excellent in a metallic bronze color.

In context, that PG Gundam was white before it was colored.

Painting is a skill that modelers build over time.

But why is painting popular in the Gundam modeling space? Let’s talk about that next.

Why Do People Paint Gundam Models?

People paint Gundam models because it helps them personalize the Gundam according to their wants. Furthermore, it helps remove models’ scratches, nubs, and stress marks. Lastly, it can upgrade the model’s look, especially if it is an ordinary model.

So, here are the reasons why people paint these models.

1. Personal Customization

One of the main reasons people paint their models is that they love making them unique or want to personalize their models.

For example, in the PG unicorn. The white looks fantastic, but metallic bronze looked better.

Basically, you are free to do what you want on your model. You can combine two models, such as attaching wings to Gundams that don’t have one, via a process called kitbashing.

You can also change its colors by painting the models.

Building Gundam models is fun. But painting your models according to your liking is better.

PG Strike Freedom with gold panel lining (painted)

2. Removing Scratches

Suppose you are careful building your model with a hobby knife, then suddenly you accidentally slash your model part leading to a minor scratch.

The problem is that the scratch is visible once the model is built. So now, it feels like your day is broken.

Well, that’s not a big problem if you know how to paint your models because painting can remove minor scratches.

This is because painting involves priming, and some primers can act as a filler. This means they fill those scratches to remove them.

Thus, painting removes these scratches, even the ones you couldn’t notice, leading to a smoother surface.

Recommended Read: I already introduced you to priming, which is a step often neglected by most modelers. I have a blog post discussing the benefits of priming, which includes removing scratches. You can check the post here: Do you need to prime models before painting?

3. Removing Nub Marks and Stress Marks

Once you’ve built your first Gunpla kit, you will notice that the parts where you cut the model part from the sprues include some discoloration. These are called stress marks.

Furthermore, you may also see protrusions that make your build look amateur.

Stress Mark on Plastic
Stress Mark

The good news is that you can easily remove these marks by covering them with paint.

However, if you don’t want to use paint, for now, you can also remove these marks using sandpapers or a model file.

Recommended Read: I know that painting can be tedious, especially if you are a beginner with no place to paint your kit. That’s why I made a post discussing everything you can do to prevent and fix stress marks on your models, even without painting. You may check the post here: How to remove stress marks on your models.

The recommended post above also includes a video tutorial of me removing a stress mark from my model.

4. Quality Upgrade

If you remember what I said earlier, lower-grade Gunpla kits have poor color differentiation.

The good news is you can circumvent them with paint.

For example, the SD Unicorn above can be painted with a gold color to make it look like its more expensive counterpart. You can also spray a clear coat to make it even shinier.

The beauty of Gundam modeling is that you may make your models look better than expensive kits the better you become at customizing.

Thus, painting can also be used to make your models look better.

What paint do you use on Gundams?

Generally speaking, you may use enamel, acrylic, and lacquer paint on your Gundam models. Each of these paints has distinct advantages and disadvantages, and using one over the other depends on the modeler’s preference.

However, I can’t discuss these paints in detail since this blog post is already long.

Thus, if you are still interested, check the recommended post below.

Recommended Read: If you’re still interested in finding out the paints used in Gundam, including their benefits and drawbacks, please check this post: Gunpla paints.

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