May in Japan means extra days off at the start of the month, the ‘official’ start of spring, and the Shizuoka Hobby Show which is where model makers display their current and upcoming model kits and so it was that yesterday I woke up bright and early to make my way to the exhibition hall in Shizuoka to see all the Gunpla goodies. Interestingly, I almost didn’t make it.
I left my home very early giving myself a cushion of about 30 minutes, planning to arrive at Tokyo Station at 7:38 AM in order to catch the 8:03 Bullet Train. When I got entered my station I noticed that the train I needed to catch was showing as being 15 minutes late. Not 30 seconds later it changed to 20 minutes late. My 30 minute cushion was disappearing. Instead I left the JR line and went to the Tobu line to take a different route into Tokyo which meant I left my station 12 minutes later than I had planned and the train I was now riding doesn’t go directly where I needed to go and I would be transferring. One of the transfers was at Ueno station but the main train that runs a loop inside of Tokyo, the Yamanote line, was also delayed, so I hopped on a different train which turned out to be, you guessed it, slightly behind. When all was said and done I boarded my 8:03 Bullet Train at 8:01. Yikes.
But I did make it to Shizuoka and I did see all the Gunpla Exhibitions and now I can write about it. I’ll start with the biggest exhibit first and go from there so those who are interested in the big news needn’t read the entire post if they are short on time or just don’t like my writing. heh
The big exhibit this year which, unfortunately, can’t be considered a surprise because Bandai released the news two days before Shizuoka, is the MG 1/100 RX-78-2 Ver. 3.0.
This is the first shot I took of the kit. Standing beside the now almost five years old Version 2.0 kit the 3.0 looks much better in terms of proportions and markings, etc, but to me at least it looks identical to the Real Grade. In fact, when I watched the promotional video that was being shown on a screen just above the presenter’s head, I could see that when it comes to the armor application, the assembly is almost identical on this new MG as it is on the RG. It was uncanny actually. This shouldn’t be surprising considering the advancements that the RG RX-78-2 brought with it almost three years ago now and the upcoming MG 3.0 at least allows you to build the frame which you can’t do with an RG.
No denying it looks fantastic.
And it will be very posable. The promo video and the display also showed what they are calling ‘Movable Armor’.
This armor moves almost exactly like the armor on the RG and they even had a couple of assembled legs to check out to see the armor in action.
What else did I learn about the MG RX-78-2 Ver 3.0 while I was there? Well, actually, this is a bit of a controversial topic. When I first got to the show they had a small placard displaying an ‘expansion set’.
This ‘expansion set’ looks like it will contain a yellow LED, the Gundam Hammer, the Hyper Bazooka, the Beam Javelin, and ‘slide mark’ markings (waterslides). That’s pretty cool.
However, about half an hour later when I returned to the booth hoping to get some more pictures, the ‘Expansion Set’ placard had disappeared. It never returned to the display which I’m taking to mean that something may have been incorrectly listed and Bandai had removed it to eliminate any confusion. Nearer the end of the show when there were far fewer people at the Bandai display I spoke to Kishiyama-san, one of the lead designers on one of Bandai’s production teams, who I’ve encountered at all the shows Bandai has been a part of the last few years, and asked him about the markings for the kit. He said the kit will come with the ‘Realistic Decals’ which is the term Bandai uses for the stickers they introduced with the RG RX-78-2.
He explained that the recent Sinanju Stein Ver Ka and MG Nu Gundam Ver Ka came with waterslides but that had to do with them being Ver Ka kits and the fact that there were so many small markings they wanted to give modelers the ability to put them on very precisely. I also asked about the areas around the elbows and knees, areas which take gold foil stickers for the RG kit, and if I understood him correctly (the music for the promo video was quite loud and it was tough to hear exactly he was saying) that area for the MG will use foils as well but in not quite the same way that the RG did.
Whether this means that we can expect to see waterslides as part of an expansion pack and what exactly will be in said expansion remains to be seen. It will be interesting to see how things develop as we move closer to that August release date.
After the RX-78-2 Ver 3.0 I headed to the kits I personally wanted the most to see and that was the two July release Real Grades; 1/144 RG RX-78GP01 Gundam GP01 Zephyranthes and 1/144 RG RX-78GP01Fb Gundam GP01 Full-Burnern
Oh baby! Both of these looked amazing. These guys look ready to go as Bandai had the markings for both on display.
It actually seems subdued after seeing (and applying) the markings for the recent RG Destiny.
The box art was also on display.
I prefer the look of the Full Burnern over the Zephyranthes, but after seeing how good a job Bandai has done on the RG for both, the gap narrows. The Zephyranthes looks hot!
I’m loving the detail in the legs and the proportions are amazing.
But the Full Burnern!
I can’t wait for summer (a season I’m not too fond of here in Japan). Seeing these reminds me of how I felt when I saw the Mk IIs and these GP01s seem to have the potential to match them at the top of my kit rankings. Hurry up, July!
After the GP01 I didn’t really have a kit I needed to see immediately so I made my way through the Bandai booth in order. Naturally, I started at the MGs.
The 1/100 MG AMS-119 Geara Doga is looking to be a solid release and actually gave me the same vibe I felt when I saw the MG Marasai at the 2012 show.
The head assembles very much like the Marasai’s and it looks like it will house and LED, too. One cool feature I noticed is that the yellow piping, for lack of a better term, is molded from very spongy, flexible plastic which allows it to bend and move as you move the joints at the knees, etc.
They even had this sweet CG image of the kit.
July is looking to be a monster month for Gunpla.
Next to the Doga was the 1/100 MG Gundam AGE-2 Double Bullet.
Box art looks sweet and the kit looks pretty decent as well.
I like the Double Bullet version of the AGE-2 better than the Normal so my interest is piqued by seeing it at the show. But it was the kit next to it that was the MG I came to see.
The MG Aile Strike Gundam Ver. RM should be in my hands within a week and with its release so close I’m already pondering what I can expect in the build so seeing it there in its assembled glory got my very excited.
I’ve yet to build the original MG Aile Strike and after seeing this one I don’t know if I ever will build that 10 year old kit, though I’ve heard good things about it.
After the three Master Grades the rest of the Gunpla was all HG kits and the first I encountered was the 1/144 HG Gundam Astray Blue Frame 2nd.
Having experienced the joy of RG I have to admit to not being aroused as much by the HG line but even I gotta admit the Blue Frame looks really good. Beside the Blue Frame was a kit I had no prior warning would be there, a Red Frame Flight Type.
It looks like we can expect this guy in the fall, and along with that there is a special release tying in with the Hobby Japan magazine.
The October issue of Hobby Japan (release date is August 25th) is going to have this rather crazy looking sword/rifle combo included.
(I encountered it again later at the Hobby Japan magazine booth.)
But the biggest news for HG was the pseudo-prototype they had on display of a 1/144 scale Astray Gold Frame Amatsumina!
This was quite the surprise. This is one of those kits that many would love to see as a true Master Grade release to go along with the Red and Blue Frame Astrays but was only previously available as an 1/100 NG kit. Astray fans are getting some love this year.
And Zeta fans aren’t being ignored with the release of the 1/144 HGUC PMX-000 Messala.
This baby is pretty big for an HG and it does transform!
Next to the Messala was an 0083 HG kit, the 1/144 HGUC AGX-04 Gerbera Tetra.
It’s a very unique Mobile Suit/kit in that it’s pretty much only one color. I like the look of the suit’s shoulder and legs but don’t know how I feel about that spike sticking straight out from its back.
After the Tetra there were three more HG, two of them still in the prototype stage. First up was the 1/144 HGUC Type89 Base Jabber.
You can see they had a Jegan and Jesta taking a ride on this June release kit.
How do you feel about a 1/144 HGUC AMX-014 Dooben Wolf (Unicorn Ver.)?
Or a Gundam UC Zogok?
Does anyone else think he looks like a balding dude with his last wisps of hair swept backwards?
And the last new release kits that I made a point to see were the two Char’s Counterattack SD Gundams, the BB Sazabi and the BB Hi Nu Gundam
You know, the Sazabi works in these SD proportions. Looks badass. The Hi Nu is no slouch either.
Good to see it’s going to come with effect parts for the fin funnels.
That is it for all the new Gunpla I saw, but that is by no means it for interesting Gunpla in general. Check out what else they had there!
As part of the display showcasing Bandai’s Builders Parts series, they had some kits all done up using parts from various sets and two of them really stood out such as this Tallgeese which uses its backpack thrusters as legs! Craziness. This outdoes my Tallgeese kitbash by a factor of 10! And here’s a Jesta making use of the Radome.
Speaking of custom craziness, check out this Gunpla Builders World Cup kit.
You, sir, win the (gunpla) internet.
The new Gundam Breakers PS3 game will hit stores very soon and Bandai had a display showcasing the kitbashing/swapping idea that is the main feature of the game. The best of the kitbashes, this one.
This is the greatest idea.. ever! It just works and I’m thinking of ripping it off because I have both of these kits at home waiting to be built. I’m inspired to steal I mean, replicate, this design.
I also spent some time at the RG section looking at RGs past and there was the Destiny and its Wings of Light.
Looks tight. I already ordered myself a set.
And I ran into two of my best friends there.
One other thing I couldn’t help but gawk at was found at a booth that had nothing to do with Gundam. 1/18th scale die cast replicas of two of my favourite cars the Pagani Zonda Cinque.
Cinque means 5 and that’s exactly the amount of this car that Pagani released. Yup. Only 5 were manufactured. And the car that held the record at the Nurburgring Nordschliefe, the Pagani Zonda R
Hang on tight.