Hello! The last issue ended in December 1980. Before I go any further, I will tell you about an important group of modelers who helped with the development of plastic models. Masahiro Oda from the age of seven loved to design various aircraft models. In high school, he wrote science fiction character articles for Starlog Japan Version magazine. When he entered the Faculty of Economics at Seijo University, he founded the Stream Base club of 14 people, which included regular visitors to model stores. Oda and several members of this company were in awe of the Mobile Suit Gundam anime. At that time, Bandai, of course, did not release any gunpla, and Clover toys did not please with variety.
Therefore, Masahiro Oda, Masaya Takahashi, Katsumi Kawaguchi and KunihiroKatsuro decided to create their own models called Mobile Suit. Friends began to hold contests for the best created armor, in order to then send the selected works to magazines.
Oda has already submitted articles to Hobby Japan magazine, so he wrote a special “How to Build Gundam” guide in the August 1980 issue. The Char Zaku armor from Katsumi Kawaguchi was used as an example. After that Gunpla began to appear frequently in Hobby Japan magazine. But until March 1981, when the trilogy of the original series began showing, few were interested in these articles.
From January to April 1981, Bandai joined the 1/144 scale (MS-06 Zaku II and MSN-02 Zeong) and 1/100 (MS-14S Char’s Gelgoog, RX-77 Guncannon) line of armor. Also released was the new Char’s Musai in 1 / 1200th scale, with the front part detachable as a separate shuttle. Of these, MSN-02 Zeong and RX-77 Guncannon deserve special attention. In the first, the arms and head could be mounted on thin rods, thanks to which it was possible to extend and then completely detach these limbs.
The second armor was made on the principle of the RX-78-2 of the same scale, but in 1980. The upper and lower parts were connected by a core fighter. They saved a little on the hands and made the beam rifle fixed from the wrist.
In February, in addition to the release of the armor, a very important event took place that will affect both Gunpla and the entire Gundam franchise in the future. Kodansha was planning to turn the film version of Mobile Suit Gundam into a manga for their new magazine Comic BomBom, but did not dare without official consent from Sunrise.
In the end, the writer NaoshiYasui had to deal with this situation and decide what is the best to create for advertising the Gundam universe. In this he was helped by Shinhachiro Ikeda, who was the chief editor of Comic BomBom. He said that Gunpla was ranked first in the reader’s profile, and he suggested to Yasui that he should draw a manga based on Gunpla.
A kind of “Round Table” was organized, where there were Mobile Suit Gundam fur designer KunioOkawara, Bandai’s technical director Satoru Matsumoto, Hobby Japan magazine management, Masahiro Oda from the Stream base club and some others. Various important points for this project were discussed. Yamato Nijiichi was chosen as the artist.
The main point of the manga is that the main characters fight with each other using plastic models through the virtual space. The fight takes place using a device called the Plamo Simulation Machine. Players insert their models into special domes, sit on seats, enter information about their models, and wear a specialized helmet. They plunge into virtual space while shouting “Plamo Simulation Go!”
The fight is directly displayed in the minds of the players while the audience watches it on the screens. Damage received by models in combat is reproduced on real kits using laser systems. If the model is destroyed in simulation, it will be destroyed in real life.
The manga even tried to reproduce the real problems of the models. In the last issue I mentioned that GunplaZaku had limited leg movement to make development easier and cheaper. The main character in the manga finds this vulnerability in his rival and thereby gains the upper hand on his agile Gundam.
This genre, where characters fight each other using plastic models, will be animated both in future Gundam projects and in completely different works. So the usual advertising of plastic models in the future gave rise to new works from various authors.
I return to Gunpla, where in April 1981 the White Base ship became a pioneer in 1/2400 scale. The most interesting thing is that they decided to get rid of additional details. Therefore, here you will not see Rx-78-2 armor, Guntank, Guncannon and Gunperry transport. So the team decided to save money on small parts that would have to be built into the ship’s hull.
In the same month, they decided to please both fans and their wallet by releasing a set of weapons for the 1/144 line for Gundam, Zaku II, Char’sZaku II and Gouf. The Gundam now has two chain hammers and a bazooka. Zaku had a different bazooka, ax and rocket launchers on his feet. Gouf acquired a sword like RambaRahl. The kit turned out to be purely cosmetic and did not have spare parts for the released models.
By the end of April and throughout May, 1/144 scale models were released again. Priority was given to Federation armor. Kits with RX-77 Guncannon, RGM-79 GM and RX-75 Guntank are now available. And only one armor belonged to Zeon (MSM-03 Gogg). Like MSN-02 Zeong, Gogg’s arms were shooting back.
June again became the month for the introduction of new products. 4 figures of the main and secondary characters (Amuro, Char, Matilda, Sale) of the first series were released in separate boxes. The scale was 1/20 and you had to paint yourself. The figures required minimal assembly. Basically, arms and legs were required to be attached to the body. Well, small round objects (Haru or helmet) were also divided into two parts. The box contained a platform on which the finished model was placed. For this series, 10 sets will be sold in total, which will be replenished by Kaiden and Frau in August, Garma, Ayselina, Bright and Lala in October.
Additionally, the Zeon Armor Sets were released in June and July. For 1/144 line: MS-09R Rick Dom, MS-14S Char’s Gelgoog, MS-15 Gyan, MSM-07S Char’s Z’Gok and MSM-04 Acguy. And for 1/100: MS-14 Gelgoog and MS-06S Char’s Zaku II. The latter even received several guns, which were without a glued brush.
In addition to all this, in July for the first time they released full sets of dioramas. The first reproduced RambaRahl’s attack on White Base. The kit included the MS-07 Gouf, MS-06 Zaku II and RX-75 Guntank. The scale was changed again to 1/250. The second set was dedicated to the attack on Jaburo’s base. The box contained the MSM-07S Char’s Z’Gok, MS-06 Zaku II and RGM-79 GM armor. In the same month, they reissued How to Build Gundam in a separate issue, which again had a huge sales success.
A couple more sets were released in August. Doole in Texas (RX-78 Gundam, MS-14S Char’s Gelgoog and RX-77 Guncannon) and A Bao Ku space fortress (RX-78 Gundam, MSN-02 Zeong and MS-09R Rick Dom) are all on the same scale. The main features in them were that the box contained two rectangular fields imitating the earth’s surface and the background on the horizon. Each model needs to be glued together, and they already have certain poses prepared, that is, you cannot move your limbs. In addition to the large armor, the box also contained parts for the small one, which was more of a souvenir. Moreover, the mini version could differ in the version of the armor. Let’s say the diorama RambaRal Suicide Attack. The large model is the regular Zaku II, and the small model is the commander’s Char Zaku II with a horn. And Zeong from A Baoa Qu was out of luck, as he was the only one without a mini version. Neither your own nor someone else’s.
The main disadvantage of dioramas was that the modeler could not install the armor as he wanted. Therefore, these kits have been criticized for their small capabilities. This led to the Bandai management no longer releasing dioramas based on this series.
The month turned out to be meager for armor, and only the marine MSM-10 Zock 1/144 was released. And now September has again demonstrated new dimensions. The Federation RB-79 Ball armor was released in one set in two scales 1/144 and 1/250. Moreover, the large Ball was awarded a stand, but its reduced copy simply lay next to it.
The Zeon MA-08 Big Zam and MA-05 Bigro in 1/550 scale have been introduced to further show the difference in bulk compared to regular armor. And that month was closed with the 1/144 scale G-Armor, which cost 1,000 yen. Let me remind you that only the 1980 White Base was sold at this price. Of course, the most expensive was the 2,000 yen 1 / 60th line, but the price tag was not small.
And such figures were more than justified by the fact that the set could reproduce 6 variations of this device at once. Plus, the kit included an Rx-78-2, on which these amplifiers were installed. Without them, it was also quite similar to the usual Gunpla model of the first release. The mobility of the parts was excellent. If desired, you can even spin the wheels of the ground type.
October was replenished with giants of the 1/550 scale, namely: MAM-07 Grublo and MAN-08 LalahSune’s Mobile Armor Elmeth. The latest set added interesting components such as 10 separate beams and a miniature Chara armor that could cling to the tail of MAN-08. Plus, the MS-05 Zaku I armor (1/144) and the Dodai YS bomber (also 1/144) began to be sold. Moreover, Dodai could easily put models of the same scale as him.
November brought two new models that pushed the price cap down to 2,500 yen. They created the armor of the main characters in 1/72 scale: RX-78 Gundam and MS-06S Char’s Zaku II. These kits were distinguished by a more complex assembly due to the use of LED elements in the eyes, leg and abdomen, and most importantly, a removable surface was made on the right side.
Thanks to this, the insides of the armor could be seen. Of course, the engraving of the insides did not coincide with the image on the box, but for that time there was enough detail for fans to rejoice at such a modification. Surprisingly, the kit included almost all types of weapons. But the bulbs had to be bought separately.
December ended with the Zeon models 1/100 MS-07 Gouf, MSM-07S Char’s Z’Gok and 1/60 MS-14 Char’s Gelgoog, MS-09 Dom, which, like last year’s models of this scale, had miniature pilot figures (Char Aznable and Gaia), as well as LEDs on the eyes.
And now 1982 begins with new products and various problems. There was a shortage of products at Gunpla points of sale due to abundant demand. In Chiba Prefecture, on January 24, a huge line of 250 people formed at Aeon Food Style Shin Matsudo while trying to buy imported Gunpla. This led to a strong crush on the escalator, which injured a dozen people, and according to some reports, one boy even died.
Naturally, the press did not miss such an event, and the next day the newspapers were full of headlines “Should I buy a Gunpla?” Before the boom, Bandai was driven by the need to build more models to satisfy all customers. However, the number of orders was far beyond what the factory could manufacture.
The staff at the plant worked 24 hours a day. According to statistics for December 1981, almost 4 million Gunplas were produced per month, but even that did not help. As I mentioned in the last issue, at that time the molds were made of wood, and the exact fit and finish were done by craftsmen after test checks, and therefore it was not possible to strictly manufacture the same mold. And this led to the fact that one template could exceed the prescribed load 14 times the original limit.
The most ardent buyers went straight to the factory before shipment, and some tried to infiltrate its territory to steal the models. Many tried to make their Gunplas as realistic as possible. And for this, physical damage was inflicted, which imitated hits from shots.
Of course, the easiest way to do this is with matches or a soldering iron, which led to frequent fires, since the models used glue and paints. During the three months from March to May 1982, there were five cases that were confirmed by the Tokyo Fire Department.
There were also positive aspects from the boom. In 1981, sales of plastic models grew 1.5 times. Many began to predict that demand will stop after the final film from the trilogy, when all the armor will be released in plastic form. But no one could have imagined what this would result in next.
In January, only the 1 / 100th scale MS-15 Gyan was released from new products. And such a meager set was not accidental. Bandai launches a new Real Type line in February. In the first issues of the magazine “How to Build Gundam” armor was often shown with a different color scheme and different emblems. Everything, of course, was by agreement with KunioOkavara, who provided the rough work.
MS-09B Dom and MS-06 Zaku were chosen first for redesign. They decided to release this line only in 1/100 scale. The boxes depicted three types of colors at once. One was always normal, but the other two were always different. For example, Dom called these colors “Assassin” and “Camouflage”. And besides that, up to 70 stickers were placed on special sheets, which had to be placed on Gunpla.
In March, there was also the RX-78 Gundam Real Type, which differed from others in the already dark color of the plastic. Both he and Core fighter had their own stickers. Plus, the regular ruler was diluted with MSM-03 Gogg in 1/100 scale. He had a unique trait in that he could tuck his hands into his shoulders, which looked pretty cool.
In April, the Real Type models were temporarily completed with the launch of the MS-11 Gelgoog and RX-77 Guncannon. They were accompanied by an aerial model, namely Gaw Attack Carrier 1/1200. It came with miniature Zaku II, Z’Goks and Dopps. There were two of them each.
April suddenly delighted fans with the Magella Attack ground vehicles in 1/144 scale. As in the animation version, the turret of the tank was detached and used as an aircraft. In the same month, the MS-14 Gelgoog armor was released on the same scale.
June has become the richest in new items this year. The MSM-07 Z’Gok in 1/100 scale and three giants appeared. The first set contained the MAX-03 Adzam armor, its component, and the RX-78-2 with Agella Attack. Each model was in 1/550 scale. The MAX-03 boasted movable guns and piston legs that could retract and retract.
The second MA-04X Zakrello set, just like the released Ball, consisted of the main model in 1/250 scale and two miniature 1/550 models: MA-04X Zakrello and Gundam Sky (RX-78-2 Gundam + B-Parts). Miniatures (and, in fact, a large version) could be mounted on a rack, imitating the pursuit of the Zeon armor for the Gundam. Zakrello’s arms could move both along the XY axis and 180 degrees to the side. In addition, the blades themselves in the hand also turned up and down.
The third set contained the MAN-03 Braw Bro and RX-78-2, all in the same 1/550 scale. The side parts of the MAN-03 could be detached from the central element. All four guns were held on a flexible rod that extended to a short length.
July was the MSM-04 Agguguy in 1/144 scale and the MS-05 Zaku I in 1/100 scale. In August, both the usual RGM-79 GM (1/100) and MSM-04G Juaggu (1/144) armor and the FF-X7-Bst Core Booster (1/144) aircraft were released. The latter consisted of two Core Fighters. One was normal, and the second with folded wings, which was placed in the amplifier.
September was replenished with one armor for 1/144 (EMS-05 Agg), and three models for 1/100 (MS-06 Zaku II, MSM-04 Acguy, MSM-04N Agguguy). October was very poor on the model. Only one EMS-05 Agg in 1/100 scale has been released. And the year ended in November with the release of MSM-08 Zogok (1/144) and MSM-08 Zogok (1/100). Again, this decline was not accidental, as in 1983 fans were again awaiting hot announcements.