Bandai designer keeps ‘Gundam’ alive in models

Kyodo

Many of the kids who were mesmerized by the animated cartoon series “Mobile Suit Gundam” over three decades ago are now adults, but their passion for building models of the robot never faded.

Junichi Nishizawa, 36, is one of the character creators at Bandai Co. whose job is to come up with new ideas for “Gunpla” products — plastic model kits of the characters, vehicles and other components featured in the “anime” classic.

Every day at Bandai Hobby Center in the city of Shizuoka, Nishizawa consults with those who draft the designs and make the metal molds for the kits.

“From brainstorming to actually putting the new product on the market, sometimes the process takes almost an entire year,” he said.

The new model for this year is the Real Grade series Zeta Gundam.

“It can be built by attaching some 300 small parts to the parts that correspond with a human being’s torso, arms and legs,” he said. “It will look as cool as in the anime.”

Nishizawa, a Shizuoka native, learned how to make plastic models from his father before entering elementary school. He joined Bandai after graduating from a computer design school and has produced about 300 Gundam models since.

“From now on, I hope to market even more Gunpla that elementary school kids can enjoy making,” he said.