Edward Ju (gundam@loop.com)
Tue, 19 Sep 2000 14:31:02 -0700

Last week I took a friend to shop for kits at a local show (Frank & Sons
at City of Industry, CA, for those who live in the area) because he wanted
to get a 1/100 Wing Zero Custom kit. There are now several vendors that
either specialize in or sell Gundam kits, and due to cutthroat competition,
MG Gundam v1.5 kit and RX-79(G) MG kits were as low as 30 bucks a pop.

We found most dealers were willing to sell 1/100 HG Endless Waltz that go
for 2,000 yen at $25, which was a pretty good deal considering how stores
like Legends jacked up Gundam kit prices because Wing made everything
Gundam popular now. My friend, being a total newbie, asked me to open the
box and examine the parts to see if they are complete before he pays for it.
When I opened it up, I was rather surprsied to see that the 1/20 pilot
figure that come with those 1/100 HG EW kits were molded in a color that's
got a very yellow tint (compared to the original color, which has no hint of
yellow at all). Examine the parts, I also found that the white parts of the
Wing Zero Custom were molded in a very, very bleached out shade of pale
white, as opposed to the original release's slightly grayish white. The
resin they used for these reissued 1/100 HG EW kits also appeared to be
cheap and brittle compared to the original ones I got from Japan about 3
years ago.

Aware of numerous bootlegs that were coming out from China, I carefuly
inspected the package for signs of counterfeits, but the Bandai trademark
was on the box (not a sure bet these days, as I've seen fake Carddass Masters
trading cards that has the Bandai trademark on the package), and the printing
quality on the box and manual appeared to be the same as the original. In
any case, I informed my friend that these kits could be fake and he decided
not to risk his money, even though the price was cheap.

A few days later I mentioned this to a friend who's in the business, and he
told me that these kits probably were indeed made in China, courtesy of
Bandai Hong Kong. Apparently they've mustered enough clout over the years
to demand the right to manufacture kits for Bandai of Japan, and Bandai of
Japan gave them the non-graded and HG kits. These 1/100 HG EW kits were
part of the kits "given" to Bandai HK, who in turn have them made in the
factories of China. What stinks about this is there were no longer any
changes made to the box or any part of the package that'd indicate this is
a regional release (like the "R" prefix for Asian, non-Japan releases of
SD Ganso kits) so consumers can tell Japanese and Chinese made kits apart,
regardless of the difference in quality.

What does this all mean? While the re-releases in Japan were probably
churned out from Japanese plants, for the global market, you never know
if you are getting a quality kit or a slightly inferior version if you are
buying any kit below MG class. And if the price sounds too good to be true,
maybe you need to inspect the parts before you buy, something that's
impossible with mail ordering or stores that put shrinkwrap over the box.


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