Sep 26, 2017
It’s probably fair to say that the Gundam statue that once stood outside of shopping center DiverCity in Tokyo’s waterfront Odaiba was a hit, and a giant one at that. One didn’t need to be fans of, or even particularly familiar with, the Gundam world to be taken aghast by the sheer size of the thing. Gundam RX-78-2 (a combination of letters and numbers which means little to me) stood at around 18 m tall and had done so since April 2012, until it was dismantled earlier this year. Any shock or feeling of chagrin on the part of fans (or those who had yet been to see it) was soon placated when statue majority owners Bandai Namco Holdings Inc. announced a replacement set for autumn this year. The new statue, it was announced, would be modeled on the character from “Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn” and would check in a 19.7 m in height, weighing 49 tons.
The new Gundam statue was unveiled in Odaiba Sunday (Sept. 24). This after Bandai Namco Holdings Inc. opened a flagship “Gundam” store in August at DiverCity, site of the Gundam statue (in both of its guises). Surprisingly, given the fervour surrounding the models, “Gundam Base Tokyo” (the store’s name) is the first official retail outlet in Japan for models from the series. Taiwan and South Korea already have them. Of course, the unveiling of the statue was accompanied with words about the 2020 Tokyo Olympics although quite what spage-age fighting suits from the 1970s have to do with an event that traces its roots back to Greeks wearing little if anything at all as they compete to see how far they can throw stuff, this expat can’t be sure.
Anyway, here we are, a friend and I, standing in the post-work dark gawping up at this giant plastic (?) Gundam Unicorn model. It’s just before 6 pm and there is a fairly sizeable collection of fellow gawpers gathered at the statue’s base. We hadn’t timed it thus, but it turns out we were a few minutes away from a bit of a sound and light show which commenced on the hour. Few people though were actually looking directly at the thing during the show. As for us, their Gundam in Odaiba experience was a battle to fit the damn thing into smartphone screens and camera lenses. The show is short and the sound unnecessary. The lighting looks cool though, especially for the shadows and shapes it casts on the model.
It’s not possible to touch the model as the base is roped off, but you can get close enough to see the inscriptions and even the nuts and bolts. In fact, for a model of this size, the details are impressive and must have proved a test of patience far beyond that demanded by the finicky models you can buy in the shops.
Oh, and in case you've forgotten what the old Gundam statue looked like ...
We made our approach to Gundam Unicorn from Daiba Station on the Yurikamome Line. The statue is right outside of the shopping mall, about a 5-min walk from the station (take the station exit labelled “DiverCity”).