Mark Simmons (scorpio@best.com)
Sun, 12 Sep 1999 17:49:02 -0700


Richie Ramos asks,

>That brings to mind anohter question: What MS suits (if any) started out
>as fan creations which then became official ones?

Dafydd replies,

>Similarly, MS-X and other variations were done by the pros, not fans.
>While there have been any number of scratchbuilds and fan designs, only
>those from Gundam Sentinel were ever released as official plastic kits.

  and

>On the other hand, the vast majority of MSV designs were from Kunio
>Okawara, among them the FA-78 Full Armor Gundam, MS-04 Prototype Zaku,
>RAG-79 Aqua GM, RGC-80 GM Cannon and a 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th Gundam, all of
>which were made "alternative" with the advent of the RX-78 NT-1 Gundam G-4.

To which Eddie responds,

>Not sure if these were the "official" MSVs - I do seem to recall that most
>of these were grouped in their own section of "Okawara MSVs" in the MS
>Encyclopedia books. The MSV files published by Kodansha in 1984 certainly
>did not include any of the above, except for the FA-78-1.

Before getting back to Richie's original question, let me straighten out
the lineage of the MSV series. Eddie is right - the "Kunio Okawara MSVs"
were created long after the original MSV line, first appearing in
Bandai's Entertainment Bible 25 (published in February 1991, two years
after Gundam 0080 had already accounted for the fourth Gundam unit).
These latter-day MSVs are pretty crappy, most of them being junk-covered
revamps with no functional differences. (I eventually gave up nagging
Burke Rukes to separate the original from the latter-day MSVs, but they
are correctly categorized in the MS Encyclopedia.)

  The original MSV series, on the other hand, could be characterized as
being at least 50% fan-created. The MSV line has its roots in two
early-'80s publications: the famous Gundam Century, which provided text
descriptions of several Zaku variants, and Kodansha's Gundam Story Book
series, which featured original mobile suit designs by Kunio Okawara.

* Gundam Century was the first to differentiate the identical-looking C,
F, J, and S type Zakus, and mentioned also the two-seater T type, the
high-mobility R type, the recon E type, and the psycommu testbed Z type.
It was also the first to propose that Char wasn't the only Zeon ace with
a custom color scheme, a claim that directly inspired the creation of
Johnny Ridden et al.

* Okawara's original designs, meanwhile, included what we later came to
know as the Zaku Marine Type, Zaku Desert Type, Zaku Cannon, YMS-08A test
unit, Prototype Gouf, MS-07C-5 Gouf Test Type, Prototype Dom, Prototype
Gundam, and GM Cannon.

  Inspired by Gundam Century's descriptions and Okawara's variant
designs, Bandai subsequently launched the Mobile Suit Variation model
line we know today. All of the above-cited variants were enlisted to fill
the ranks of the MSVs, and several new ones were created to round out the
series. Bandai commissioned Okawara and the famous trio of fan modellers
known as Streambase (about whom there's much more to be said) to create
these variants and provide them with detailed back stories.

  And the FA-78-1 Gundam Full Armor Type deserves special mention. It's a
redesigned version of Plamo Kyoshiro's Perfect Gundam, retooled by
Streambase member Masahiro Oda so that it would fit in with the
military-style MSV series.

Getting back to Richie's original question, I guess it would depend on
how you define "fan" and how you define "official." The MS-X designs, for
example, were created for an original story in the kiddie comic anthology
Comic BomBom; while the on-screen appearance of the Acht Zaku in Z Gundam
makes them pretty darned "official," would you consider a licensed story
in a big-name comic to be a "fan" work?

  Conversely, I see people rushing to cite Gundam Sentinel as a case
study in fan-created Gundams. However, this was a licensed spinoff
created by people who had consulted on the Gundam ZZ television series
(though few of their ideas were used). I'm not sure how different that is
from licensed spinoffs like the Gundam F90 and SIlhouette Formula comics,
though in the latter cases we can be pretty sure the artists didn't
create the mobile suits themselves. ;-)

  On the other other hand, there's the question of how something rates as
"official." While MSV and MS-X designs have appeared in the animation,
few other spinoffs can claim this kind of validation. Shindosha saw fit
to reference Gundam Sentinel, Double Fake, and Lightning Hathaway in its
timelines, which have become the de facto official ones (and are
excerpted in Bandai publications like the Big Bang event program). This
gives them more cache than stories not so favored, like Gaia Gear, Tyrant
Sword, Crossbone Gundam, et cetera.

-- Mark

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Mark Simmons, still available at <scorpio@best.com>
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