There are few icons as recognizable as the Gunpla. Even if you haven’t heard of Gunpla, you’ve probably seen it. With bright colors, rigid structures, and impressive weaponry, it became one of the biggest franchises for not only model enthusiasts, but anime fans as well.
Gunpla, otherwise known as Gundam Plastic Model, is most commonly used name for the plastic kits that are used to create and depict characters, vehicles, and others from the incredibly popular Gundam series. With a universe as vast as Bandai’s Gundam franchise, the possibilities for these kits are almost endless.
With walks up and down Akihabara the kits are a frequent in shops, prices ranging from moderate to almost unattainable. But even outside Japan the kits can be found in hobby shops, although less frequently.
If there are no shops nearby, there’s always online. With a surplus of websites to choose from, the possibilities are endless from kits that are easy to assemble to ones catered towards master craftsmen.
For beginners, it can be difficult figuring out where to start. It’s a hobby that takes on a life of its own, so understandably, there are numerous resources out there to help you become the Gunpla builder you’ve always dreamed of.
For some, its a place of nostalgia. Gundam became massively popular in Japan since its inception, whereas the hype soon spread to North America and Europe in the nineties. It often rivals other series such as Sailor Moon and Dragonball Z as one of the first anime franchises kids in North America were introduced to.
WIth the rise of nineties fashion coming back in full force, Gundam is coming back in a big way as well. Not only influencing games and television but clothing as well. This has helped reinforce the Gunpla kits as an essential for Gundam fans. Much like the anime figures we all know and love, Gunpla kits are up there for most fans.
When Gunpla Takes over, There’s Only One Place to Go
But for some, it’s not quite enough to buy from local shops or even online. Instead, they head to arguably the most important place for Gunpla fans.
The Gundam Base Tokyo is listed by the official website as “an official Gunpla facility for Gunpla fans around the world.” A quick glance at pictures and even videos on the website make it very clear that they take that title seriously.
The Gundam Base was built in 2017 after replacing Gundam Front Tokyo. Since then its become known for its numerous attractions, such as the massive Unicorn Gundam Statue stationed right outside.
The Unicorn Gundam, or its more official title of RX-0 Unicorn Gundam stands strong to welcome guests into the base. Every hour it changes from Unicorn Mode to Destroy Mode. The statue is modeled with LED panels and movable features that bring the statue to life, beginning the magic of the base before you’re even inside.
The base is made up of four zones, each with a specific theme in relation to Gunpla. Known for being a place for kids and adults to enjoy, the base has become a beacon in Gunpla circles as the pinnacle of the fandom.
The first level is the shopping zone, where you can find the kit of your dreams. It has every grade you can purchase, from high grade to perfect grade. The walls are neatly lined with immaculate boxes, each boasting the model in perfect form.
When you’re done with shopping you can head over to the builder zone, where you can set out to build your newly purchased kit. Or you can watch others craft as they please. There’s even a painting room. Even if none of that sounds as appealing, you can takie a quick peak at the Gundam Builders World Cup Champion.
After that, pop over to the factory zone. A mini replica of Bandai’s Hobby Center in Shizuoka, the factory that creates Gunpla. Then you can finish up at the Event Zone, where you can get the newest info on various series and happenings within the Gundam franchise.
Scattered throughout the base are statues, artwork, and screens showing off everything Gunpla, from inspirations to artistic renditions. Popular Gundam shows such as Gundam Build Divers and Mobile Suit Gundam can be found to please fans new and old. Outside is marked by the iconic Gundam statue, welcoming those in to experience everything they’ve dreamed of.
After all of that, you can relax in the Gundam cafe, where they serve an assortment of Gundam themed food.