WATCH: This life-size Gundam moves

Published September 27, 2020, 6:00 AM

by Rom Mallick

While we were all cooped up in our homes in quarantine, the Japanese have been building a moving Gundam

Who says 2020 isn’t a time for building great things? Certainly not a team of engineers, designers, and hobbyists, a team of dreamers and movers who have been working on a not-so-secret secret project since 2014 that’s now become almost a reality somewhere in Yokohama, Japan. 

Standing a little over 18 meters, this 25-ton life-size robot at the Gundam Factory Yokohama isn’t the first Gundam made to mimic the Japanese science fiction manga/anime mecha. But it is the first one that moves almost like those in the countless shows and comic books. Modeled after the RX-78-2 Gundam, which was first introduced in the 1979 anime by Yoshiyuki Tomino, the Yokohama Gundam is able to move not just its head and torso (like those in Odaiba) but its arms and legs as well. 

Over the previous weeks, its developers have been working on putting together all the moveable parts, separately made in factories located in other areas of Japan. And, as this video recently posted shows, this Gundam indeed moves. 

A wonderful feat of modern engineering and design, the Yokohama RX-78-2 looks like the original that Tomino made for the 1979 anime but made more modern-looking. It was Tomino himself who suggested that the moving Gundam should not look exactly like his original design. 

You can watch the development of this project, which the folks at Gundam Factory first thought about in 2014 as a special Gundam Global Challenge, here: 

The Gundam Global Challenge, from conceptualization to execution

Six years later, the moving Gundam is nearly done. Its head, before being installed, was purified by Shinto priests in a modified version of the jotoshiki. Jotoshiki is the roof-laying ceremony usually performed for new buildings, a wonderful combination of tradition and innovation that pretty much describes the Yokohama Gundam project and the spirit of building Gundam plastic models, which have captured millions of fans all over the world for decades. 

A special experience preview was originally scheduled for Oct. 1, but has been indefinitely postponed due to the ongoing pandemic. 

“This decision was made to ensure the health and safety of our fans and employees,” the organizers said in a statement posted on their website. “We apologize to all of our fans who were looking forward to our grand opening and ask for your understanding.”

When it finally opens to the public later this year, fans can view the moving RX-78-2 via platforms surrounding the life-size robot, like those hangars in the Gundam shows.