Friday, May 4, 2012

Gunpla Shop Review

One of the most common questions I get is, “Where do you buy your kits from?”. There are a lot of retailers to choose from if you’re in the US. Today I’m going to give you some insight into the shops I have used.
I’m only going to review shops I have used, and I’m going to provide information on the 3 aspects I find to be most important: Price, Customer Service and Shipping. I’ll also point out any special features the shop offers.

Model Grade:

Pricing: MG combines some of the best pricing features of other sites into one, they have lower than average prices, free shipping on orders over $100, and have offered some pretty decent discounts in the past. MG is  also running our master grade Blitz Group buy.
Customer Service: The owner is always friendly, and he usually responds to your emails same day. He’s also a Redditor which can help out quite a bit!
Shipping: Free shipping on orders over $100. Free shipping also takes about 5 business days to get to the east coast, but same as R4L it’s well worth the wait.
Special Features: Free shipping on orders over $100. For information on the Master Grade Blitz group buy you can go here:  MG Blitz Groupbuy



Pricing: It’s my impression that GGinfinite’s prices tend to run slightly higher than some of the other shops. Lately I have noticed that GGinfinite has offered sales on Fridays on a select few items.
Customer Service: I have always been impressed with the customer service at GGinfinite, they’re always friendly, and they usually respond to your emails same day.
Shipping: As far as I know GGinfinite only offers the following shipping options USPS Express 1 day, USPS Parcel Post 7 days and USPS Priority Mail 3 day. Shipping can be expensive, as one kit will normally run about $14.50 to ship.  
Special Features: GGinfinite is one of the few sources for buying replacement parts for your models. I have used this service a number of times, and I really appreciate them offering the service.


Hobby Link Japan:

Pricing: HLJ’s prices are all based in Yen, which can be a good or bad thing depending on the exchange rate. Lately with the dollar being weaker versus the Yen, the prices have gone up. HLJ does seem to offer a large number of sales on a regular basis to offset this though.
Customer Service: I’ve noticed that customer service at HLJ can be kind of bi-polar. In the past I’ve sent short emails about the availability of certain products, and the responses I received were often, very curt and terse. On the other hand after I placed and order I’ve found their customer service to be much warmer and more responsive. I was even lucky enough to have Syd from Hobby Link TV sign my ReZel box.  
Shipping: Predictably shipping from Japan isn’t cheap, sometimes it costs more than the cost of model. During some of the holiday sales they do seem to offer flat rate shipping on certain large items.  
Special Features: Prices are based on the Yen, so buy when the dollar’s strong. And try to wait for Holiday sales.



Pricing: Hobbywave offers lower prices than average. On occasion they have been known to offer promo codes too, but less often than some of their competitors
Customer Service: Overall I have found customer service to be acceptable, it can take a few days to hear back from the shop owner. But in general his communications are friendly and helpful.
Shipping: Hobbywave offers a flat shipping rate of $12. Flat rate shipping can be a very good or bad thing depending on what and how many you’re buying.
Special Features: Flat rate shipping, a good option for Canadian builders.



Pricing: R4L’s prices tend to run higher than average, but they always offer $20 off an order of $100 dollars or more with the Coupon BUY100. So you can offset their price quite a bit by buy right around $100 worth of product at t time.
Customer Service: Customer service is generally really good at R4L, the owner is very responsive and in the past has added preorders upon asking. If you ask nicely sometimes they’ll draw stuff on your order forms.
Shipping: R4L offers free shipping on orders over $100, free shipping can take about 5 business days to get to the east coast but it’s well worth the wait.
Special Features: $20 off of $100 with coupon BUY100, free shipping on orders over $100.


Tatsu Hobby:

Pricing: Tatsu’s prices are pretty average overall, their site has a wide variety of resin kits, and optional parts that some of the other stores don’t carry.
Customer Service: I haven’t had as much communication with Tatsu as some of the other stores, but overall they’re friendly and informative.
Shipping: Tatsu’s shipping policies are all over the place, for small items like decals shipping only runs around 50 cents, a kit might run around $11, the maximum they will charge for shipping is $21
Special Features: Carry products other shops don’t.