The 10 Best Gundam Model Kits
The History Of Mobile Suit Gundam
They were essentially tools used in combat between warring factions of spacefaring humans, much like how tanks or fighter jets are used today.
It's been almost four decades since Mobile Suit Gundam changed the way the world viewed the mecha genre and established a totally new class of anime. Before the release of Gundam in 1979, giant robots depicted in films or cartoons took the form of super robots. These super robots generally appeared in kid's shows or comic books and would usually combat aliens and monsters. They were an evolution of the super hero rather than a science- and technology-based creation used in military settings.
In Mobile Suit Gundam, the large, pilotable robots known as mechs were usually owned and operated by governments. They were essentially tools used in combat between warring factions of spacefaring humans, much like how tanks or fighter jets are used today. Surprisingly, for a series that has persisted almost 40 years and is currently one of the most popular of all anime shows in Japan, it wasn't well-received during its initial run.
Lady luck smiled on the Gundam series when the Japanese toy manufacturer Bandai purchased the rights to produce toys based on the show. Much like how Gundam defined a new genre in anime, Bandai defined a new niche of toys: plastic models that required the owner to assemble and paint them. Up until this time, most models were made of die-cast metal and came fully assembled. Bandai plastic models were considerably cheaper, costing around $3. As they took off in popularity, they sparked an interest in Mobile Suit Gundam. Soon, reruns of the series were performing well on TV, as did theatrical compilations in 1981 and 1982.
The 1980s saw the release of additional Gundam TV shows and movies, but it wasn't until the mid 1990s, with the release of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, that the series exploded in popularity worldwide. Interestingly enough, the Mobile Suit Gundam Wing wasn't very well-received in Japan. It was, however, the first full Gundam series to air on TV in America and broke new ground as one of the first Japanese animation shows released in America without heavy editing of the source material.
Since that time, Gundam has continued its worldwide popularity and has influenced a number of mainstream movies and television shows. For example, fans of the series can easily spot commonalities between Gundam mechs and those appearing in the Hollywood blockbuster Pacific Rim. The real robot genre even inspired the Japanese government to allocate $7.5 million of its 2015 budget into research and development of robotic mobile suit technology and exoskeletons for military use.
Making Sense Of The Large And Confusing Gundam Mulitverse
There are very few shows out there that have such an overarching multiverse as Gundam. In fact, even diehard fans of the show sometimes have trouble navigating the different timelines. To help simplify things, we have put together a brief overview of three of the most well-known universes.
It begins with Gundam SEED, which many fans believes takes the very best aspects of Universal Century and updates them to meet the demands of a contemporary audience.
Universal Century is the original Gundam Universe and where all subsequent series have their roots. It kicked off the entire franchise, beginning with Mobile Suit Gundam in 1979. While some of the series set in Universal Century haven't held up well over time, the majority of them are worth a watch just to get you firmly grounded in the Gundam multiverse. Universal Century has the most diehard fanbase of any Gundam universe and new content is still being added nearly 40 years after its inception. It mostly centers on the events that took place during, or the fallout from, the One Year War. It features clear cut sides of good and bad, the Earth Federation and the Republic of Zion, respectively.
The Cosmic Era is another we much-loved universe well worth delving into. It launched in 2002 and depicts characters with a more modern anime look that includes oversized eyes, somewhat waifish figures, and highly detailed mechs. It begins with Gundam SEED, which many fans believes takes the very best aspects of Universal Century and updates them to meet the demands of a contemporary audience. If you want to get your feet wet in the Gundam multiverse without having to watch the somewhat dated initial Universal Century series, the Comic Era is a good choice. It tells the story of a war between regular Earthlings, called Naturals, and the spacefaring, genetically-engineered humans known as the Coordinators.
After Colony is the Universe that helped to popularize mecha anime with Millennials. It launched in the United States in 2000 and in Japan in 1995. Most of the Gundam series that aired on the US Cartoon Network Toonami block in the early 2000s take place in After Colony. While older fans of the franchise may not appreciate most of the story lines, it is undeniable that the younger generation loved it, so it may be worth giving it a chance. As with the Cosmic Era and Universal Century, in After Colony Earth is at war with the space colonies. The main difference is that this time, viewers are led to sympathize with the spacefaring colonies rather than Earth inhabitants.
Does Building Models Make You Smarter?
Sure, it may look like child's play to the untrained eye, but many researchers believe that putting together models is extremely healthy for the human brain. Considering how many building toys, such as Legos, Lincoln Logs, and K'Nex, are labeled as educational toys, this doesn't seem very farfetched. In fact, Kikunori Shinohara, a professor and researcher in Neuroscience Department at Suwa Tokyo Science University, has stated that assembling Gundam models specifically increases blood circulation in the brain. Increased blood circulation to the brain improves a person's ability to remember, concentrate, and react to external stimuli.
Not only does building models improve brain function, it also helps to improve fine motor skills. The more advanced a model kit is, the greater dexterity it will require to assemble correctly. According to the National Toy Council, the act of assembling models fosters spatial understanding, which is an important life skill. And, as anybody who has ever tried assembling something with tiny, intricate parts can tell you, it requires a high degree of patience, as well.
All of this means that assembling models is good for both the young and old alike.