To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Gundam franchise, 18-meter-tall (59-foot-tall) RX-78 was built in Odaiba’s Shiokaze Park, Japan last month.
I wish I was there right now.
My love for Gundam started when I was very young. The whole giant robo genre always mesmerized my best friend and I. As I grew older, many of my old hobbies and interests faded, except for Gundam.
It’s hard to explain this particular obsession of mine. Sometimes even I wonder why I act like a little boy when surrounded by my robot toys and figures. I just turned 33 years old. After some soul searching, I’ve concluded that the affinity I have for Gundam will always be there. Gundam, and other robots I love give me a sense of comfort. This sense of comfort has varied at different phases of my life.
When I was a kid, I didn’t have any Gundam toys and the cartoons weren’t available. In fact, I didn’t have a lot toys at all. My childhood best friend and I used to collect Gundam stickers and comic books. We’d use our imagination and made up our own giant robo fighting scenes. We spent hours talking about how cool it’d be if we were Gundam pilots, fighting evil.
When I got older, having watched most of the Gundam series, I gained appreciation for the plot, beyond the battle scenes. Most Gundam series share the same plot: the struggle between two political forces, neither is good or evil, but both are driven by pride and power. There’s always one dangerously idealistic vigilante who tries to achieve greater good by committing an atrocious act. He/she of course, gets stopped by the heroic and often troubled Gundam pilots. I enjoyed the subtext and political overtone.
During my college years when I started making money from freelance web work, I fulfilled my childhood dream: owning a lots ‘n lotsa of Gundam models and toys. Gundam at the time, symbolized my financial independence and served as my muse while I worked.
For two years, I received a package from Hobby Link Japan hlj.com every single week. Every week was Christmas. Here’s the result(a portion of my final collection, photo taken in my college apartment):
All together, I have a backlog of 300+ model kits, ranging from high grade to the massive perfect grade. I still remember one year when my friend Jess bought me a hard to find Perfect Grade Zeta from Canada. He hand-delivered the giant box all the way home. He mentioned the stares he got from people at the airport when they saw the label “A.E.U.G. Attack Use Prototype Variable Form Ver 2.0.”
Gundam modeling is probably the most fun hobby I’ve ever had. The sheer amount of engineering behind the models is incredible. I used to spend 40+ hours on one model. It involved a lot of patience when it comes to cutting, sanding, puttying and airbrushing. Some photos of the making of my master grade Zeta Gundam:
I seriously doubt I’ll ever be able to finish all the Gundam models I’ve collected over the years. After my first son was born, most of my Gundams were put in storage. Now that my kids are older, I think it’s time to bring them out for some father-son projects. See, Gundams keep on giving.
Perhaps, the reason I’m so attached to Gundam is the memories it’s associated with: childhood, friendship, care-free single days, painting late at night and now, enjoying it with my kids.
Do you have a childhood obsession that you never grew out of? I think there’s a Peter Pan side in all of us.