By Christopher Troy
Reissuing older toys to celebrate an anniversary is something both Western and Eastern collectors are familiar with. On this side of the world, we have seen re-released version of such properties as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and Star Wars, or redesigned version of classic characters with modern sculpts and articulation with properties like Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and both Marvel and DC Comics. In Japan, where Gundam reign supreme, it’s very common to see the same Gundam re-released every so often, with a different scale, accessories, color scheme or action gimmich. The RX-78 for example, has had several different incarnations this year alone, and we’ll be looking at an original reissue of the very first kit today on the FPNYC blog!
Series Origin: The RX-78 of course originates from the very first Gundam series, Mobile Suit Gundam, which debated in the late 70s in a post-Star Wars influenced Japan. It’s piloted by one Amuro Ray, the hero of the Universal Century universe, who would also pop up in such series and movies as “Zeta Gundam” as well as “Char’s Counterattack”. For non-Gundam fans, think of him as the Gunam universe’s Luke Skywalker.
Legacy: It’s easy to say that the RX-78 is easily the most popular Gundam, at least on the Japan sides of thing (No idea which Gundam is the most iconic or popular in the States, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was Gundam Wing related). Aside from being made into a staggering amount of different Gunpla, the RX-78 has appeared in dozens of different manga, anime, video games, stamps, promotions, as well as a “life-sized” statue that currently resides near the Gunpla factory in Shizuoka.
Appearances and Equipment: Prior to acquiring this kit, the oldest Gunplay I ever worked on was a 1/144th scale Gundam from Stardust Memory that I found while browsing Chinatown several years ago. As odd as that was, this kit is an entirely different beast itself. Not that it’s a bad thing mind you, it’s just a bit of a shock to go from the modern days kits from the OO line to what is more or less one of the very first Gunpla.
For comparison sake, this is a photo of a 1/144th kit next to the Reissued box. Aside from entirely different style of box art (retro!), you’ll be surprised how close the boxes are in scale with each other, despite the different scales of the 2 kits. Upon opening the box, you’ll see the reason why.
As you can see, the kit doesn’t come with much, aside from a simple instruction manual, and 4 sheets of parts, which is a really low number for a 1/100th scale skit. Again not a complete surprise given how old the kit is, it’s just something out of the norm for me. You get the traditional RX-78 weapons (cannon and beam saber) as well a the iconic shield, as well as the smaller ship that makes up the stomach of the Gundam. Also after screwing around with the kit, the plastics used for it are a little more rubberly, but tougher than the current counterparts. I’m glad to see that a bulkier kit with a less accurate sculpt is also less fragile than it’s modern day counterparts.
Construction: And here’s where the big difference lay. If you noticed in the photo above, the pieces only come in 2 colors-red and white. What of the yellow, black and blue bits of the kits? Well looks like you’re going to have to paint those yourself. A little bit of warning though: the material used for the kit isn’t compatible with all Gunpla branded paint markers, so you may want to stick to model paint if you want to avoid colors running.
And for the construction, this isn’t the snap together variety. Oh no, this is an old school, glue together type of kit, which is rage inducing to me, as you’ll have to let the glue set. Assuming it sticks to the surface.
Overall Opinion: To the left, you’ll see how far I’ve gotten with this kit. which is actually at least half of it. As I’ve said before, the yellow, black and red paint had no problem sticking to the kit, were as the blue began to fade over time. Also I had some problems with glue sticking on the left fist, hence it missing.
Does that make the reissue kits bad? No, but these kits certainly aren’t for newbies. They require more effort than the standard kit in terms paint and construction, but it’s also a neat little history lesson in Gunpla. They’re also relatively cheap, as the 1/144th scale kits go for $5-$10 each, and the 1/100th ranging from the $10-$15 range, both cheaper than most 1/44th kits, let alone 1/100th scale kits. Again, they’re not for everyone, but Gunpla enthusiasts deserve to give one a shot, just to see what nerds of old had to work with.