As my year of building Gundam models in Taiwan drew to a close, I was faced with the problem of how to bring them back to the US. Whether I would ship them, pack them in my luggage, or even carry them on the plane, one way or another they had to be securely and safely packed to prevent any damage in transit.

With little on hand in the way of packing materials, I improvised using what was available. This guide details my simple method of protecting my precious models, which has seen them safely halfway across the world both in luggage and in the mail.

Down to Business

How do you pack a gundam?
Figure 1: How do you pack a Gundam?

The first stage of packing serves to protect the surfaces of your model from being scratched, whether by other objects or by the model's own limbs. To begin with, wrap each limb in a bit of soft tissue paper and bind the wrapping with some tape or a rubber band, as shown in Figure 2.

Packing a gundam 1
Figure 2: Wrapped limb

The important thing is to cover each limb with something soft so the limbs won't scratch any other part of the model they might come into contact with. In this case, it's easiest to wrap another piece of tissue around the torso, like so:

Packing a gundam 2
Figure 3: Wrapped legs and torso

This way the arms and torso are protected from each other without having to wrap each arm individually. Of course, extra wrapping won't hurt.

At this point, it's best to remove delicate parts like Gundam's V-fin, and stash them somewhere safe.

Packing a gundam 3
Figure 4: Removed V-fin

By placing the V-fin flat against the model's chest, it'll be snuggled securely between layers of wrapping, where it won't get broken or be misplaced. When I can — with suits like Zakus or the Type 100 — I'll stick a suit's antenna into its cockpit before wrapping up the torso.

Use additional pieces of tissue to wrap the rest of the suit. In this instance, we can wrap a piece all around the arms and torso, which will both protect the arms and safely tuck away the V-fin.

Packed-up gundam
Figure 5: Mostly wrapped model & separate weapons

In Figure 5, one more piece of tissue could stand to go over the model's head.

Finally, wrap up the model's weapons and accessories separately as necessary. Notice that I've taken off Gundam's beam sabers.

The second stage of packing pads the wrapped model to protect from crushing damage. Bubble wrap or even packing paper will work best for this purpose.

When I packed up my models in Taiwan, I didn't have bubble wrap or packing paper lying around. However, we did have an abundance of small plastic bags. I surrounded each of my models with an ample cocoon of crumpled plastic bags, making sure to line the bottom and sides of the Gunpla kit boxes into which I packed them. I finished off with another layer on top before closing each box.

Packed Gunpla
Figure 6: Packed models

When I flew from Taibei to San Francisco, I packed some of my models into my checked luggage, while taking my favorites on the plane in my carry-on baggage. To be sure to protect the boxes in my checked bag, I surrounded them with clothing for as much padding as possible. When I arrived, both the models in my checked luggage and my carry-on bags were fine. With adequate padding, even baggage handling on an international flight didn't harm my Gunpla.

Subsequently, before I returned from California to Portland, I decided packing these boxes in my luggage was a bit much trouble. I repacked the boxes in a large cardboard box, again padding the box's bottom and sides with additional packing material, as well as putting a bit of padding between model boxes. When my big box of Gunpla arrived, the models were again unharmed.

I still have all those Taiwanese plastic bags, and use them to pack up my models when necessary. If you're concerned to keep your kits safe during travel or storage, I can attest that the method of packing described here does the trick.

As always, feel free to contact me if you have questions or thoughts.