The term Gunpla refers to models of mecha, characters or plastic vehicles from the Japanese franchise Gundam and marketed by Bandai ; it results from the contraction of ” Gundam plastic model “. Appeared in 1980 , the Gunpla is gradually becoming a big success in Japan to the point of largely dominate the market at present. The term also refers to the assembly of the models itself.
In 1979 , Japan released the very first Gundam series produced by Yoshiyuki Tomino and Hajime Yatate , revolutionizing the mecha genre and initiating the new genre of the real robot . However, audiences are not good and it is partly the mecha models produced in 1980 by Bandai that save the franchise. These were aimed at a slightly older audience than usual (almost only children’s toys were sold before) 1and therefore presented more details and realism, although rudimentary bills. Moreover, Bandai focuses its advertisements towards the model makers (via the magazine Hobby Japan ) and insists on the good degree of personalization of the kits 2 .
The success is immediate 2 and extends throughout the decade, so that a large number of improvements are gradually introduced, including joints (rubber), colors, mecha convertible, etc. 3 . Also released in 1987 are SD Gundam models with an SD design that will also be very successful. Bandai then decided in 1990 , for the ten years of Gunpla, to create a range system (called “grade”) to classify the kits; the new line, high grade , therefore has a higher quality compared to previous products 4. Subsequently, different ranges come out and the number of models becomes very important. Thus, after the release of Gundam SEED in 2002 , a line of 130 Gunpla is marketed just for this anime 5 .
On the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the franchise in 2009 , a series centered Gunpla is realized: Model Suit Gunpla Builders Beginning G . A statue representing a real size Gundam (18 meters) is also inaugurated in full Shizuoka , although less related to models since not plastic 6 .
Popularity and sales figures
Model sales make the Gundam franchise the most juicy license owned by Bandai 7 . 400 million units in total (estimated in 2010) 8 , 9 and Gunpla alone accounts for 40% of model sales in the Japanese market according to a 2004 government survey (a figure of 90 % for character and robot figures only) 10 . The SD Gundam also won in parallel a great success, mainly because it is possible to combine different parts of different kits to customize new, highly valued concepts. Whole stores are reserved for Gundamin major Japanese cities 11 . In the 2000s however, Gunpla suffer from counterfeiting , mainly from China 12 .
The popularity of Gundam Wing (1995) in the world makes the first significant exports Gunpla in the West 13 . In France , the first models actually come out in 2001 4 , but sales remain marginal.
Closer to popular culture, various anime and manga references to Gunpla, including Genshiken , Keroro-gunsō and of course Model Suit Gunpla Builders Beginning G 14 .
As mentioned above, the Gunpla are classified by scale (called “grade”) according to their quality and / or size. The main ones are:
- no grade (1980), although the term does not appear until much later, it refers retrospectively to the first models released in 1980;
- high grade (1990), first high quality range at a scale of 1/144;
- master grade (1995), superior quality to high grade with for example the internal mechanics fully modeled at a scale of 1/100;
- perfect grade (1998), the most technologically advanced range at a scale of 1/60;
- first grade (1999), inexpensive clip-on range;
- high grade Universal Century (1999), a popular reissue of the Universal Century robots ;
- EX-model (2001), a range dedicated not to robots but to vehicles and related flying machines;
- UC hard graph (2006), focused on experienced modelers;
- speed grade (2007), small prepainted robots;
- mega size (2009), scale range 1/48;
- real grade (2010), similar to master grade with an internal skeleton pushed to a size called 1/144 as the “high grade”.
- RE / 100 Reborn One Hundred (2014), new range of gunpla 1/100 presented at the latest Shizuoka Hobby Show.
The exhaustive classification is however much more complex, since depending on the scale (ranging from 1/550 to 1/35), improvements (the master degree range exists in version 1.5, 2.0 and 3.0) and special events (a range Ver.G 30th is released for the thirty years of the franchise for example).
- ( ja ) ( in ) Bandai Hobby [ archive ]
- ( en ) http://www.hobbyforever.fr/ [ archive ]
Sources and references
- ↑ ( in ) Patrick Macias and Tomohiro Machiyama , Cruising the city alive: an otaku guide to Neo Tokyo , Stone Bridge Press , ( ISBN 9781880656884 ,read online [ archive ] ) , p. 73
- ↑ a and b ( in ) Tomohiro Machiyama , ” ” A Good War “- The Meaning of Gunpla ” , Otaku USA , ( ISSN 1744-9596 , read online [archive ] )
- ↑ Zenkuro, ” The history of Gunpla ( 1 st part). The 80s: birth and advent of Gunpla ” [ archive ] , Hobby Forever, (accessed November 12, 2010 )
- ↑ a and b Zenkuro, ” The history of Gunpla (2 e part). The 90s: diversity and technological innovations ” [ archive ] , Hobby Forever, (accessedNovember 12, 2010 )
- ↑ Zenkuro, ” The history of Gunpla (3 th part). 2000 to 2008: Bandai faced with duality for the general public / modelers confirmed ” [ archive ] , Hobby Forever, (accessed November 12, 2010 )
- ↑ ” 30 years of Gunpla, from 1980 to 2010 ” [ archive ] , gundam-france.com, (accessed November 12, 2010 )
- ↑ ( in ) ” Namco Bandai Holdings Releases Financials 2007-08 ” [ archive ] , Anime News Network , (accessed September 12, 2010 )
- ↑ ( in ) ” Mokei Senshi Gunpla Builders Beginning G Anime Announced “ [ archive ] , Anime News Network , (accessed November 12, 2010)
- ↑ ” Namco Bandai, 4.3 billion euros in turnover ” [ archive ] , The Journal du Net, (accessed September 17, 2010 )
- ↑ ( ja ) ” 日本の玩具産業の動向 (” Report on the Japanese toy industry “) “ [ archive ] , JETRO , (accessed September 10, 2010 )
- ↑ ( in ) Nathaniel T. Noda , ” When Means Letting Go Holding On: Why Should Extend to Fair Use Fan-Based Activities ” , Sports and Entertainment Law Journal , University of Denver, n o 5,, p. 6 ( read online [ archive ] )
- ↑ ( zh ) ” 国内商户山寨”高达”玩具遭日方索赔369万 (369 million yuan claimed to Chinese toy manufacturers) ” [ archive ] , cnfol.com, (accessed November 12, 2010 )
- ↑ ( in ) Mark Simmons , “Introduction” , in Yoshiyuki Tomino , Mobile Suit Gundam: Awakening, Escalation, Confrontation , Stone Bridge Press , (ISBN 9781880656860 , read online [ archive ] ) , p. 9
- ↑ ( in ) ” Gunpla Anime Announced ” [ archive ] , animenation.net, (accessed November 12, 2010 )