A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO ONE OF THE OLDEST TOY COMPANIES IN THE WORLD
You are probably wondering what Bandai is, as you see us talk about it here constantly and see their logo in a lot of the box art we upload on here. Bandai is a Japanese toy and video game production company. Bandai is the 3rd oldest toy company in the world next to Hasbro and Matell, and also are responsible for bringing a good deal of Japanese pop culture to the states, such as Power Rangers and Mobile Suit Gundam. They where established in the 1950’s and in 1970 started producing model kits based off popular culture in Japan at the time. At first the models didn’t sell all that great and lacked many features of what we see in their model kits today.
BANDAI’S START WITH MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM MODELS
When “Mobile Suit Gundam” premiered in 1979, Bandai jumped on the toy rights and started to product model kits (called Gunpla in Japan). The first line from 1980 where very crude. They only came in 3 different color trees or spurs, required paint and gluing to be completed (much like American model kits and some Japanese automotive model kits). The first kits where not able to move either. After a view years a Bandai came with a new way of making molds and injecting the plastic into new molds. This new process made painting almost un required except for detailing work. Around the same time ploy caps where introduced to make limbs articulate and so was snap fitting parts eliminating the need for glue.
THE BEGINNING OF THE MODEL GRADING SCALE
In the early 90’s Bandai introduced the beginning of grading their models with the introduction of the High Grade Model kit line and releasing some older kits redone in the HG fashion. Each kit had more detail and articulation then their counterparts and where able to capture features such as transformation that some Mobile Suit where capable of. In 1995 they introduced the Master Grade kits, larger scale, more parts, more details, and better articulation where added to this line. 1998 they released their biggest and most detailed line yet, the Perfect Grade, the first and only non Gundam kit in this line was Evangelion Unit 01 from Neon Genesis Evangelion, since then the Perfect Grade is reserved for Gundam only. The Perfect grade featured a large number of parts, no painting at all needed, realisct articulation, and the procedure of building the kit is the same as they follow making the unit in the corresponding series (Gundam making the fame and placing the armor on top, Eva making the humanoid cyborg body and attaching the control armor on top of it,). The Perfect Grade is still the highest offered by Bandai.
In the 2000’s Bandai introduced different versions of the High Grade series offering different scales and sizes depending on the HG line. During the 30th anniversary they introduced the mega sized models and the Real Grade kits, which mixed all the features of the high grade and perfect grade, in the size and price of the high grade kits. They also introduced the Super Deformed series that introduced a cartoon look to models from all across the different Gundam series. Bandai also produces kits for other popular culture such as Evangelion, Godzilla, and so on. They lack the grading system and detailed put in the Gudam models (and are often more expensive, probably since Bandai own Gundam as a whole).
THE GLOBAL IMPACT
How ever the hobby has swept the world and has become part of the Japanese culture. With competitions filling stadiums like the Tokyo Dome and seeing spin offs that are only available to certain locations and promotions, such as the Linkin Park Gundam Model and the Seven Eleven Series of Gundam Models. The hobby is growing fast in America, with national hobby store chains like Hobby Town USA, selling the models and having a hard time keeping them on the shelfs, as well as bring over some harder to find Bandai items (in the United States) such as the Evangelion Action Q mini model line released two years ago, and Bandai mini model line called Mech Arts.