Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Gunpla: An Introduction

Hello, folks.  As I continue to organize this blog little by little, you're probably asking, "What is Gunpla?"  "What is this guy talking about?"  First off, I advise you to think before you comment on the off-chance that I'm not actually a guy.  Second, while a lot of websurfers out there already know what Gunpla is, I offer this brief history lesson for the uninitiated.

It started with the animated TV show Mobile Suit Gundam airing in Japan in 1979.  A space-age war drama that treated giant robots as military weapons, the show gained poor ratings in its initial run but achieved great success in reruns.  Around the same time Gundam plastic model kits, or "Gunpla," were introduced.  As Gundam went on to spawn various TV shows, movies, videos, comics and a flood of merchandise, Gunpla would also advance and become a franchise unto itself.  Breaking into the American market in the late 90s, Gundam didn't really take off in the U.S. until Gundam Wing aired on Cartoon Network in 2000.  As Americans enjoyed more Gundam, they bought Gunpla at Toys"R"Us and other select stores.  Though it's pretty much dead in America these days, the Gundam franchise is still going strong in Japan.  If you find that hard to believe, a life-sized, 59-foot-tall replica of the iconic RX-78-2 Gundam was built to commemorate the franchise's 30th anniversary in 2009.

In case you're still asking, "What is Gunpla?," they're scale models depicting various robots and vehicles from the Gundam universe (the way scale models depict real cars and airplanes).  Featuring snap-fit plastic parts molded in color, soft plastic joints and foil stickers, you don't need glue or paint to build the model (though painting will greatly enhance its appearance).  But the best part is that the instruction manual consists of easy-to-follow diagrams, so anybody can get into it.  To give a better idea of what Gunpla's all about, here's a clip from the anime miniseries Gunpla Builders Beginning G:

This wraps up my personal introduction to Gunpla.  Next time, I'll describe the different types of Gunpla available.  Until then, I'm gonna keep working on organizing this blog!