Master Grade Build Barbatos Heading

In our last post we looked at what to expect when building a High Grade Gunpla. This time we’re going to look at a Master Grade kit whilst going through what the differences are between the two grades.

The Kit

We’ve chosen the MG Barbatos as it is a super popular kit and a great example of what Master Grade kits can offer. Gunpla technology advances over time so as a general rule: the more modern the kit is, the better it is to work with.

To delve into what ‘better’ means in this context. We’re talking about:

  • Higher quality plastic
  • ‘Undergating’ – The parts cut from the runner are easily hidden and covered by over parts during assembly so you don’t get a nobbly end result.
  • Colour Separation – Master Grades in general usually have more colour separated parts than high grade kits. There is less reliance on stickers to achieve an anime accurate colour scheme. Newer kits are especially good at this.
  • Sturdier inner frame – The inner frame on newer kits is much sturdier. Some older kits such as the MG Exia are famous for being unable to stand on their own and weaken over time. Modern kits are more refined and thus sturdier.

The MG Barbatos was released in 2019 and is immensely popular so we know we can expect a great kit. Let’s open the box!


In the image you can see we’ve unwrapped the intimidating amount of runners, the sticker sheets and the manual.

The first obvious difference we can see when going from HG to MG is the amount of plastic in the kit. Some builders assume that because MG kits are bigger, there would be a similar number of parts but they would be larger. This isn’t the case, in fact many of the parts are much smaller as MG Gunpla are extremely detailed.

The Inner Frame

With High Grade kits, the Gunpla is built and assembled as a whole. Master Grade kits feature a skeleton like inner-frame to which you then attach the armour.

The MG Barbatos manual is structured so that you can choose to first build the inner-frame and then attach the armour later so we’ll do that.

We have a good example of a modern Gunpla manual. At the top you can see how it will split the instructions as we said above and the runners we need for the part we’re about to construct.

Instructions are helpfully provided in both Japanese and English. Older MG kits may only show instructions in Japanese but since they are mostly image based, this wasn’t too much of an issue.

Inner Frame Manual Example

Inner Frame - Chest

The chest unit was probably the most challenging part of this build due to the tricky pistons which at the time of writing are unique to the MG Barbatos.

We’ve mentioned this before but cutting out your pieces are laying them out in order of the instructions before assembly is a good habit to get into. It helps you to stay organised and also means you can sand down your parts / panel line (more on this later) if necessary before you assemble.

Master Grade torso’s also usually include a functional cockpit which can be opened to show the pilot inside. There are two scale white pilot figurines included with each kit which can be painted if you so wish. One sits in the cockpit and the other can be used to pose outside of the kit.

Inner Frame - Head

There isn’t much to say about the head frame except that we’ve chosen not to apply the provided stickers to the eyes.

This is completely down to personal preference but we prefer to let clear parts show rather than cover them. The downside to this is the eyes don’t show up as well under certain lighting.

Inner Frame - Arms + Hands

The arms once again feature pistons on the elbow joint so can be a little fiddly.

Master Grade hands are a little more involved than High Grade hands. Some provide individually pose-able fingers and pretty much all have a separate thumb. The hands here are quite forgiving.

We’ve opted for a closed hand and an open hand part so we can try to create a cool pose later on.

Inner Frame - Waist

Gunpla waists are often easy to build. They feature skirting around the front and back as well as joints to hold and pose the legs.

Master Grade kits feature more moveable skirt armour than High Grade kits which often allows for greater poseability.

Inner Frame - Legs + Feet

We have a lot of parts to make up the legs and feet!

The legs seem to use pretty much all the gimmicks we have come to see so far. There are ‘gold’ detail pieces, flexible pipes as well as pistons.

The feet can pivot from side to side on a ball joint.

Inner Frame - Complete

Once assembled, the inner-frame looks very cool on its own but we’ll disassemble it and attach the armour.

There were stickers provided for additional details but we’re covering much of the frame with armour anyway so these were not applied.

Attaching the Armour

The gallery on the right shows the armour pieces laid out and then attached to the inner frame.

The parts have been ‘panel lined’ using a Gundam Marker:

Panel Lining – Using paint, pen or pencil to colour in the small detailed parts on Gunpla pieces. These are called ‘panel lines’ and allow you to make the kit look even more detailed. You will find panel lines on Gunpla of all grades. As a general rule, use grey colouring on white parts but you can use black for a more striking ‘anime’ look.

The Finished Product

Now we have a finished MG Barbatos wielding its signature mace weapon in a pose similar to the box art. That was fun!

Master Grade vs High Grade

The most obvious difference between Master Grade and High Grade is size / scale.

In the image you can see the MG Barbatos stood next to the HG RX-78-2 [Beyond Global] which featured in a previous guide.

When we talk about ‘scale’ we’re talking about the size of the Gunpla model compared with the Gundam it is based on. Remember Gundam are supposed to be huge robots piloted by humans.

High Grade kits are 1/144 scale which means they are 144 times smaller than the Gundam they are based upon.

Master Grade kits are 1/100 scale so are 100 times smaller than the Gundam they are based upon.

When you stand the two Gunpla together, there is more going on with the MG Barbatos owing to the increased number of parts and larger scale.

Hopefully we’ve given you a good look at what a Master Grade Gunpla can offer, particularly the MG Barbatos.  In the future, we will look at other grades of Gunpla in a similar fashion as well as general building tips + tricks.

Want to Build this Kit?

The MG Barbatos is an extremely popular kit and doesn't stay in stock for long!

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