Giant Gundam to return--with lightsaber

Toy giant Bandai is bringing its giant Gundam statue back, this time with a lightsaber. The robot will go on display in Japan's Shizuoka, which produces Gundam models.

Tim Hornyak
Crave freelancer Tim Hornyak is the author of "Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots." He has been writing about Japanese culture and technology for a decade. E-mail Tim.
Tim Hornyak
2 min read

Wanna fight? This photo illustration shows what the saber-wielding Gundam might look like. Pink Tentacle/CNET

This time it's armed.

Japanese robot fanatics are planning to rebuild the giant Gundam statue that wowed millions of visitors at a park in Tokyo in 2009. But this time, Gundam will have a lightsaber. What are they thinking?

Well, a beam saber, to be precise. The iconic mecha robot from the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise will tower over Higashi-Shizuoka Station, southwest of Tokyo, for five and a half months starting July 24, according to the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper.

Conceptual images of the new installation show the Gundam RX-78 with a glowing beam saber in its right hand, and Mt. Fuji in the background.

The "life size" display (same height as in the anime series) will mark 30 years since the first plastic models of Gundam robots began to sell, and a hobby fair will accompany the unveiling. Higashi-Shizuoka Station is near a factory that churns out the plastic kits, the object of unlimited desire among Japan's geek legions.

Bandai has sold more than 400 million "Gunpla" models since July 1980, in endless variations. No doubt it will release a few commemorative kits for the anniversary, and log even more sales.

The statue itself is expected to boost the local economy to the tune of $4.5 million and attract around 900,000 people. Its presence last summer in Shiokaze Park in Tokyo's Odaiba district drew more than 4 million gawkers who witnessed the photogenic colossus emitting light and steam.

Now, if only Gundam could move around and go toe to toe with Gigantor, a 60-foot robot statue that went up in the city of Kobe last year. That would really bring the bucks in.

(Via Kotaku)