FEATURE: Gundam Front Tokyo – Last Shooting

Two years ago, this collector was set to visit the 1/1 RX-78-2 Gundam and Gundam Front Tokyo in DiverCity Tokyo Plaza, Odaiba — or at least that was the idea. However, things didn’t exactly go as planned thanks to changes in the travel itinerary and unforeseen delays. Ended up arriving at DiverCity Tokyo Plaza at almost 7:00 PM and unfortunately, Gundam Front Tokyo was already closed for that day. Was still able to see the life sized Gundam and bought some merchandise, but the promise of that day was left unfulfilled. Come late 2016 and news that the life sized Gundam will be dismantled in March and Gundam Front Tokyo will be permanently closed a month after. And so, plans were made for a trip to Japan, primarily for finally seeing the much hyped cherry blossoms, and to back to the unfulfilled promise of two years past. With less than a week before it finally closed, here’s Gundam Front Tokyo – Last Shooting.

Tokyo Gundam Project 2017

Before going straight to the 7th floor of DiverCity Tokyo Plaza, this collector first went outside and straight to where the 1/1 Gundam was supposed be to see if remnants of the Gundam, even if the last parts of the internal framework or some scaffolding, were left. But alas, it’s completely gone. However, the site where the Gundam previously stood was walled off with a tease of the next statue to rise in its place. Because, as previously revealed, Tokyo Gundam Project 2017 is all about the 1/1 RX-0 Unicorn Gundam [Destroy Mode]. But that’s still months away so it’s just walls with pictures right now.

As for the Gundam Café located at the back of where the 1/1 Gundam used to be, not really sure if the store is permanently closed as well. But at least there are some cherry blossom trees in bloom within the vicinity.

Experience Fields

Gundam Front Tokyo (GFT) was divided into two zones (click the LINK for the full map). Most of the attractions and main highlights were within the ‘pay zone’ while the official shops and Gunpla Tokyo were in the ‘free zone’. GFT staff refer to the major attractions inside the pay zone “Experience Fields” as visitors could immerse themselves with the most realistic representations of artifacts from the Gundam franchise. These included life-sized replicas of Amuro Ray’s Core Fighter as seen in the closing moments of Mobile Suit Gundam, and a Real Grade-styled bust of the Strike Freedom Gundam, one of the most popular mobile suits of the last decade from Mobile Suit Gundam SEED DESTINY. Both replicas were chock-full of details that any follower of the franchise would really amazed were left to wonder if they really existed.

Other attractions in the Experience Field included a scaled replica of the A Baoa Qu asteroid base, also from Mobile Suit Gundam which also acted as a projector that illuminated the inner walls to further enhance the experience of being in the final battle of the One Year War. On the other side of the life sized replicas were Character Photo Spots where visitors could take photos of themselves with life-sized images of their favorite Gundam characters — from the original series all the way to Mobile Suit Gundam IRON-BLOODED ORPHANS. There’s also a simplified cockpit of the Unicorn Gundam where visitors could sit and look like they’re piloting the actual mobile suit.

Front Lane & Dome-G

Then there’s Dome-G, a hemispherical display where some of the best CG-rendered Gundam shorts were shown. Taking photos within Dome-G is prohibited, but not at the Front Lane — the open hallway leading to Dome-G. It’s a glorious mural of life-sized Gundam illustrations from various series. Looking at the Front Lane before entering Dome-G reveals a beautifully illustrated line art of the Wing Gundam Zero EW. The illustration is plastered all over the uneven walls of the Front Lane so it will only look correct at certain angles.

Also within the Front Lane were panels showing the history of the 1/1 RX-78-2 Gundam statue. For those unaware, it was first erected back in 2009 as part of the Gundam 30th Anniversary celebration, known as the “Green Tokyo Gundam Project”. Since then, it was transferred to various locations until it’s last stop at DiverCity Tokyo Plaza in 2012 along with the opening of Gundam Front Tokyo.

Gunpla Factory & Gundam Game 30th

The last part of the pay zone was the Gunpla Labo / Factory but as of this visit, it’s just the Gunpla Factory. Upon buying tickets for the pay zone attractions, visitors were given a small runner of clear parts for building the head of the RX-78-2 Gundam. This is primarily because upon entering the Gunpla Factory, visitors were given the rest of the parts needed to build a 1/144 GFT RX-78-2 Gundam in clear colors. Aside from the kit itself, they were also given the materials needed to build the packaging of the aforementioned kit, which also required coloring the RX-78-2 Gundam line art in the box art. Unfortunately, building the kit itself isn’t really allowed in the facility, probably due to time constraints.

Exiting the pay zone from the Gunpla Factory leads to the free zone and the visitors are welcomed to the Gundam Game 30th Anniversary exhibit where all Gundam games released so far were on display. While only a few games were well received, one will be amazed of how much has been released in 30 years. Also on display were plastic and resin kits made in conjunction with these games, including those of the Gundam Pixie and the RX-78-5 Gundam “Mudrock” Still waiting for their HGUC versions though.

Gunpla Tokyo

While Gundam is a franchise known for its complex stories and polities, it’s more known for Gunpla or Gundam Plastic Models. With 35 years of history behind its back, one can’t help but wonder how old school Gundam kits looked back in the day and how they compare to the modern Master Grade or HG IRON-BLOODED ORPHANS offerings. That’s what Gunpla Tokyo was, a display of every Gunpla produced so far to give a better idea how Gunpla technology has evolved from the days of solid colored kits that require glue, to 1/144 scale kits that have internal frames despite the small size.

For this collector, the curiosity was more on the older kits as he’s very unlikely to build them, let alone give them justice. So for the next set of images, please be treated with a plethora kits with odd proportions, limited articulation, and poor (or rather, no) color separation.

Final Thoughts

Gundam Front Tokyo was the first attraction to celebrate the rich history of the Gundam franchise. Sure it wasn’t perfect and could have offered more, but it was still a treat to Gundam enthusiasts everywhere. After all, it wouldn’t have lasted five years if visitors weren’t constantly going in and out of there. But as they say, all good things must come to an end, and Gundam Front Tokyo has served its purpose. So to answer the earlier question, did this fulfill the promise of two years past? It did and was definitely a treat to have visited this place before it closed down for good. And much like the Gundams in their respective series, Gundam Front Tokyo has to go through a mid-season upgrade… to The Gundam Base Tokyo coming autumn 2017. Time to plan that Japan trip once again!

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