Suit Gundam Invasion Tour 2001
(at Toys R Us)
Note: This article was originally written waaay back in the fall of last year.
Initially, it had been submitted to - and accepted by - one of the modeling
magazines that exist. Unfortunately, I was just recently informed that interest
in it had dissipated. …Bummer!!
This news (naturally) came as a BIG disappointment. However, their loss turns out to be your gain, since you now have the opportunity to read the write-up and view the corresponding pictures free of charge!
Hope you enjoy!)
Bandai has been making their presence felt here in America for quite some time now. The Power Ranger craze took control of our kids, (and subsequently our wallets and purses) around 13 years ago. All sorts of Power Ranger action figure and "Zord" - (or Giant Robot) - toys started appearing on store's shelves.
DigiMon began taking hold of our children's imaginations around 4 or 5 years ago. Again, our kids started requesting all sorts of toy figures and electronic games from this series.
And then, there is Gundam. The Cartoon Network started airing the Gundam Wing series several years ago. Since then, the popularity of Gundam has been steadily rising.
Something else surprising happened as well. Toys R Us - (who has been notorious for carrying very few model kits of any kind) - started stocking their shelves with Gundam action figure (robot) model kits. What was going on here?
What was equally surprising - (to me, at least) - was the fact that The Cartoon Network next started showing the "Gundam: Endless Waltz" short series, followed by airing BOTH the original Gundam series ("Mobile Suit Gundam") and the more gritty "War in the Pocket" and "08th MS Team" series' later. (KOOOL! Gundam Anime and Gundam model kits in the US)!
I imagine that sometime after the first Gundam cartoons started appearing here the marketing gurus at Bandai came up with the very kool idea to take their show on the road, literally. The Mobile Suit Gundam Invasion Tour 2001 is what resulted.
(The Gundam Invasion Tour of 2001)
The Invasion Tour 2001 started on March 31, 2001 at St. Louis, Mo. It was scheduled to appear at both Toys R US and Wal-Mart stores.
The Gundam Tour worked it's way all over the US and Canada, hitting locations like Los Angeles and San Francisco California, Las Vegas, Nevada, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio Texas, Daytona and Orlando Florida, and Toronto Canada. The tour headed over to the east coast for its finale', finishing up in Boston, New York, New Jersey, and the Philadelphia area.
On Sunday, September 16 (2001), the Gundam Invasion Tour dropped by the Toys R Us located in Deptford, New Jersey. I (along with my two sons) attended.
Actually, it initially looked as though I was going to miss it. That Sunday morning found me still beat from a rough week at work. I convinced my kind wife Clara to take our two sons to the event instead of me, (so I could catch up on some much needed R & R).
However, once they arrived there my sons were soooo excited about what they found that Clara decided to give me a call. My eldest son described to me in detail all of the very kool things that were at the show. A short hour later I was down there as well.
(The Gundam Trailer & the Games)
The very colorful 53 foot Gundam trailer was the tour's base of operations. It was pretty impressive. One of the first things I noticed about it were the two Sony Playstation and four Playstation 2 units set up on one side of the trailer. Both kids and young adults were playing the "Gundam Battle Assault" and the "Gundam Journey to Jaburo" games. There was also a small line that was formed of others who were waiting to get their shot at the games.
(Inside the Trailer & the Tour)
A gentleman named (Captain) Teeg and a young lady named (Captain) Amy were on hand conducting the tour and running the show. They were not actually Bandai employees, but worked for a promotion agency called ProMotion, Inc., that had been hired by Bandai America to run the show.
Once a good-sized group had formed at end of the trailer Teeg and Amy began the tour, taking us inside.
Once inside I was literally BLOWN AWAY by what was there. There was a BIG, WIDE-SCREEN TV at the entranceway, along with numerous smaller TV's situated all around the room showing excerpts from different Gundams Shows.
There was a "life-sized" Gundam hand cupping the wide screen TV. (We were informed that if a Gundam was standing outside, its foot would be as large as a car).
There was a fragment of "Luna Titanium" or "Gundanium" on display. ("Luna Titanium" or "Gundanium" is an expensive and rare, super strong alloy that makes the Gundam's armor impervious to most weapons - in case you're interested).
There were very colorful pictures decorating the walls inside. Some were vibrant images depicting scenes from different Gundam Shows. Others were interesting and informative charts and graphs showing different facts from the Gundam Universe.
There were several "life-size" uniforms from both Amuro Ray, (the first Earth Federation Gundam Pilot), along with Sayla Mass, (the first woman to pilot a Gundam). Both characters appeared in the original Mobile Suit Gundam series.
(The Gundam History)
One of the charts on the wall listed the first 9 Gundam series': the Mobile Suit Gundam, The 08th MS Team, Gundam 0080 "War in the Pocket," Gundam 0083 Stardust Memory, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, Gundam Char's Counterattack, Gundam F-91 and Mobile Suit V-Gundam.
(The different Gundam Shows)
The first Gundam show to air was the Mobile Suit Gundam. It originally appeared in Japan over 20 years ago, in 1979.
The first Gundam series to be shown by The Cartoon Network here in the US was the Gundam Wing series. Following that was the Endless Waltz short story.
Recently the original Mobile Suit Gundam, War in the Pocket, the 08th MS Team and the G-Gundam series' have all appeared on TCN.
If interest remains high, Cartoon Network has plans to show additional Gundam series'.
(The Gundam Built-ups)
Despite all of the animation segments being shown, the very colorful and informative pictures and the "authentic" Gundam artifacts, the real star of the show (in my humble opinion) were the Gundam built up model kits. There were a whole lot of them being displayed (in protective, acrylic cases). Included were a full range of Gundams, beginning with regular kits, going up through High and Master Grades and ending with three different types of Perfect Grade Gundams.
There was a display that concentrated on the different levels of complexity of the Gundam models. There were 5 different levels shown. Level 1 was listed as being for the novice modeler, while level 5 was listed as being for the advanced model builder. The High Grade kits run from level 3 to level 5. The Master Grades begin after level 5. The numbers of parts, the points of articulation (and the prices) increase with the higher kit levels.
Built up models from different Gundam series' were also displayed in separate cases. There was a sampling of different Mobile Suits conducting their miniature wages of war, against very colorful and attractive backdrops. The shows that were represented were Mobile Suit Gundam, Gundam 0080 "War in the Pocket," The 08th MS Team, Gundam 0083 Stardust Memory, Gundam Wing and Gundam Endless Waltz.
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Copyright © 2010 by Anthony I. Wootson. No material may be reproduced without permission. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.