At a press conference earlier this summer, the Gundam Global Challenge was announced. It is an enthusiastic project designed to foster International collaboration among technologists, roboticists, engineers, and software engineers with one common goal in mind: To make a full-scale Gundam actually move.
The full-scale Gundam in question has already been built, and is the famous 1/1 scale RX-78-2 Gundam model located at Diver City Tokyo Plaza in Odaiba, Tokyo. Originally built in 2009 and based on the iconic Gundam piloted by Amuro Ray in Mobile Suit Gundam anime series, the Odaiba Gundam, as it’s come to be known, is set to be partially or fully dismantled, and then refitted with working mechanisms and parts by summer 2019. Between late July 2014 and February 27, 2015, submissions are being accepted for assistance and ideas regarding both general and specific engineering problems and intended changes. Gundam Global Challenge hopes to build a crack team of experts and people passionate about making this project a reality. The organization will be pulling from an international pool of applicants of all ages and occupations.
Mobile Suit Gundam, an anime and manga metaseries about the trials, loves, and losses of giant robot-driven mechanized warfare that spans over 30 TV shows, movies, and OVAs alone, is widely popular in Japan and generally well-known worldwide. Although it’s fallen in popularity in the West in recent years, it remains a fan favorite and a shining example of part of what started the mecha and real robot categories of anime and manga. Gundam has become an over 50 billion yen property since its inception, and Gundam Plastic Model kits (known as Gunpla in Japan) account for 90% of Japan’s plastic model market.
Gundam Global Challenge will feature a panel of judges, including Mobile Suit Gundam creator Yoshiyuki Tomino along with Vice President of Waseda University Shuji Hashimoto, and Pitoyo Hartono, a professor in the Department of Mechanics and Information at Chukyo University. Other judges are slated to be added soon, and a roadmap for the project has already been put into place.
It’s an ambitious goal, to be sure, and one that they hope to accomplish by 2019, which is the 40-year anniversary of the ubiquitous Mobile Suit Gundam franchise.
As a Gundam fan, I know that I’ll be watching further developments with bated breath and I hope to one day see a moving Gundam model. What do you think of Tomino’s mission to retrofit the Odaiba Gundam and make it move? Let us know in the comments, on Google+, Facebook, or Twitter!