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Sat, 13 Nov 1999 08:09:34 +0800

Newtype Asylum: Gundam 20th Anniversary in Hong Kong 1999 - 10ft scratch-built RX-78-2 "Gundam"

Celebrating Gundam's 20th Birthday in Hong Kong
Reported By: Nightingale

November 10, 1999

A note from the reporter:

This is a report long overdue, but for a variety of reasons I have to postpone the write-up of this exciting event until now. For future Gundam related events I promise to share it with you at the first instance possible. To all Gundam fans across the globe, enjoy!

-- Nightingale --

Date: July 25, 1999.
Place: Kingswood Plaza, Tin Shui Wai Town Centre, New Territories, Hong Kong.
Event: Celebrating the 20th anniversary of Gundam

      The year 1999 marks the 20th anniversary of Mobile Suit Gundam, a ground breaking sci-fi animes that would mesmerize fans across generations all over the world. As one of the most loyal and rabid Gundam fanbase outside of Japan, fans in Hong Kong are certainly in euphoria to know their hometown will be known for creating the first official Gundam radio drama broadcasted live all over the territory. "Mobile Suit Gundam 0079" radio drama was broadcasted during the period of July 12-24, 1999 (see our review for more details) which was well received publicly, and the local celebration reached its climax on the very next day, when hundreds of fans were gathered at the Kingswood Plaza for the officially sponsored Gundam celebration event, which started off with the appearance of the four lead characters/voice actors of the series - Leo Koo Kui- kei (Amuro), Cecilia Cheung Pak-gi (Sayla), Gigi Leung Wing-kei (Lalah), and Tam Yiu-man (Char) - for two hours of live vocal performances plus playing games with fans on stage. Being the hottest Canto-pop singers/actors in their own rights, the quartet quickly energized the fans and the atmosphere was highly charged. During the show, the host from Metro 997FM (the radio station which created and broadcasted the '0079' radio drama) also unveiled an eighth wonder - a 1/6 scale RX-78-2 "Gundam" model (or statue if you like) scratch built by a veteran local garage kit specialist (more details below). With a press of the button, the fans were at their ecstatic high when a cloud of smoke, which signified the offical launch of the 10ft model, descended onto the majestic giant which will be displayed publicly at Kingswood until the end of August. The day ended with the ever-popular autograph signing session by the quartet, and countless snapshots at the Gundam model by enthusiastic fans (your truly included). For Hong Kong Gundam fans, however, the celebrations continue well into the next millenium, with the TV broadcast of "Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory" during this summer and "After War Gundam X" well under way, not to mention a flurry of Gundam models, books and all sorts of memorabilia that will certainly keep a fine tradition going for generations to come.

RX-78-2 "GUNDAM"
1/6 scale scratch built
modeled by "Ken"

      The details of the scratch built Gundam 'statue' was revealed during the third installment of "The Making of Gundam 0079 Radio Drama" which was broadcasted live on July 7, 1999, when its creator "Ken" was interviewed by the programme host Andy Chan. The following is a summary extracted from the interview.

      The gigantic Gundam garage kit (gk) stands at almost 10 feet. It was designed by "Ken", a famous local Gundam gk specialist who bought his first gk under peer pressure and now he has more than 300 Gundam and related gks and counting! He also acted as a supervisor of the entire project, as he hired two experienced sculptors to construct the actual gk. According to Ken, the design blueprint came mainly from the original RX-78 design by Kunio Okawara, with gk's from early period by B-Club / Kotobukiya formed the basis of the design, plus bits and pieces of idea borrowed from Bandai's recent Perfect Grade (PG) and Master Grade (MG) Gundam model kits. Much of the modification are done on its shoulder (PG), torso (B-Club) with slight adjustments such as contemporary panel lines for an enlarged gk like this one. Such measures are necessary in order to give a sparkling, sophisticated feel in tune with today's MGs and PGs. Surprisingly, the gk is made entirely of styrofoam, with its wooden internal frame being covered by styrofoam plus several layers of paper to strengen the body and for easy painting, then a thin layer of lime was applied to smooth out the body surface before the final paint jobs and panel lines are applied. The stability of such a tall model, Ken told us, was not really his main concern, as the internal flame was well designed and structured, plus the light weight of styrofoam ensured that accidental falling was unlikely. Moreover, the gk was fastened to a wooden base so balancing was no problem. Rather, he stressed the difficult part of the entire project came from two areas: to choose a favorble design during the design-research phase, and how to convey the exact idea to the sculptors since they have no previous exposure to Gundam and Gunpla modelling. As for the construction part, the most difficult body parts were the Gundam head, how to keep the spirit of the original RX-78 alive. To minimize complexity, Ken opted for a traditional gk design, with the detachable Gundam 'helmet' as a separate part as well as a detachable face mask to facilitate the sculpting of the eyes, the face, the red chin, etc. In the end, the finished product has a nice touch of an enlarged gk, with its head and face parts fit perfectly.

      From initial design phase to the completion, the Gundam gk project last about eight weeks. By Ken's standard, this is a pretty quick time span. This was due to a stress on keeping the big picture in mind, with less emphasis on specific body parts and designs. What he worried the most was whether it could capture the spirit of the original RX-78 as comparing to the likes of PGs and MGs. Judging from the fans reaction and the non-stop photo-snapping on July 25, I think Ken's worry was unnecessary. ^_^   (click on the photos below to view them in full size)

                                 Gundam Mug                      Bird's Eye
(Left) frontal view of the 1/6 Gundam gk. (Right) Bird's-eye view of the Gundam gk. Its size is certainly comparable with the surrounding visitors.
                              Front                            Side
(Left) full frontal view of Gundam gk, which is securely fastened to a decorated wooden base. (Right) side-view of the Gundam gk.
Close-up of Gundam's torso, with its shoulder armors being decorated with comtemporary decals commonly found on Bandai's Gundam model kits.
                                    Left                 Right
(Left) another close-up of Gundam's torso, showing decent body proportion. (Right) side-view of the Gundam gk. Its panel lines are mostly borrowed from early B-Club gk's.
                                    Back                          Thruster
(Left) a shot at Gundam gk's back, with details from early Gundam gk's being faithfully reproduced. (Right) close-up of Gundam's thruster backpack, with small thrusters reminescent of the one from TV series and movie trilogy.
     Base                    Poster
(Left) close-up of the metallic base, on the left are the three sponsors of the event - Metro FM997 Hit Radio, Kingswood Plaza, and Sotsu Agency/Sunrise Japan. (Right) promotional poster for 'Gundam 0079' radio drama, featuring the four lead characters: Cecilia Cheung Pak-gi (Sayla Mass), Leo Koo Kui-kei (Amuro Ray), Gigi Leung Wing-Kei (Lalah Sun), and Tam Yiu-man (Char Aznable).
"Three... two... one... go!" A press of a button and a cloud of smoke signify the official launch of the 10ft Gundam gk. The 'White Doll' (heh heh :) made its stay at the Kingswood Plaza until August 28, 1999.

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Copyright © 1999 Nightingale/C. Liu.

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