The PSU anime club will host a Gunpla-building event on, May 21, from 4–8 p.m.
Gunpla is a portmanteau of the words Gundam and plastic, a Japanese amalgamation of two English words. The first Gundam was aired in 1979, and less than a year later the first kit appeared. The term was coined at the same time as the first kit.
Gundams first graced United States television in 2000 on Toonami, hosted by Cartoon Network, with Mobile Suit Gundam Wing. Giant robots, or mechas and mobile suits, were not new to the U.S., but ushered in a new era of Gundam. In Japan, the Gundam franchise is worth 80 billion yen; they sold toys and hobby items totaling 18.4 billion in 2014.
Abdullah AlKhabbaz, a member of the Portland State anime club, has always loved mecha animes like Voltron, Grendizer, Mazinger and others. When he was introduced to Gundam, he fell in love.
“While I have been a Gundam fan for the last 15 years, and model building has existed for a long time, I only got into the hobby in the last year due to the Gundam Build Fighters, a Gundam series geared specifically toward the hobby,” AlKhabbaz said.
Alexander Driskill, a photographer, was first introduced to Gundams through Toonami. A couple years later he found the original series, Mobile Suit Gundam, and has been hooked ever since.
“It’s a creative, detail-oriented hobby that tests one’s patience and dedication, but it’s very rewarding to see a completed work,” Driskill said.
Driskill recently started photographing his models and builds.
“I feel that photographing them in various poses gives them a lively feel that I can share with others,” Driskill said.
Bryan Ammonds, a technical consultant, grew up watching Gundam and made a few of the Gundam kits when he was 12. Recently, he attended a comic con with his fiancé.
“I wanted a souvenir to take home, and it brought back a wave of nostalgia seeing them at the con,” Ammonds said.
Ammonds’ most recent and time consuming build was the RX-0 Unicorn Gundam OVA, which he bought from Emerald City Comic-Con.
“After building, panel lining, decaling, weathering and top coating, [he] took about 20-plus hours,” Ammond said.
AlKhabbaz has never built a Gundam kit, but does collect action figures. He is excited to build his first kit during the event.
The Gundam-building event will have 25 kits available. It’s completely free, but there are a handful of rules that need to be followed to attend. Attendees must be a current PSU student, mark themselves as attending on the event’s Facebook page, and comment on a post that says they are going and show up before 4:15 p.m.
“If there is one thing I have learned from building Gunpla, it is that you shouldn’t rush anything,” Driskill said. “Take your time and be careful, and everything will turn out great.”
For a full list of rules and restrictions, check out the PSU anime club Gundam model build workshop event on Facebook.