In celebration of the hobby’s 40th anniversary, Bandai has announced production of a limited edition Gundam gunpla model crafted entirely out of an expensive, specially crafted ‘Gundarium’ metal.
‘Gundarium’ is an until-recently fictional metal seen in the original Mobile Suit Gundam series. Seeking a lightweight, yet defensively sturdy material to construct their mobile suits from, the Earth Federation eventually created a new material known as ‘Luna Titanium,’
This metal would eventually be used in the construction of the RX-78 series of mobile suits, including the iconic RX-78-02 piloted by Amuro Ray during the One Year War.
Following the Earth Federation’s victory over Char Aznable’s forces and the Principality of Zeon, the alloy was renamed ‘Gundarium’ in tribute to the RX-78-02.
The custom metal was recreated by the team at Bandai Spirits through a complex process of metallurgy that mixed “high-purity titanium, aluminum, and rare-earth element yttrium.”
Te actual parts for the Gunpla model were created through the use of a “metal injection molding system” according to translations provided by Japanese news outlet SoraNews24.
SoraNews24 explained, “The base metals of high-purity titanium, aluminum, and rare-earth element yttrium were gathered but mixing them in a molten state would not be ideal in a low gravity environment, so instead they were each reduced to a powder form and mixed. Then they were combined by sintering, which means they were fused together through pressure and heating to just below the melting point.”
They added, “This was all done in a metal injection molding system to create the precision parts required for Gunpla kits. This is where the other challenge lies, as Gundam plastic models use interlocking parts that snap together and don’t require glue. While cheap and easily formed plastic make this easy to produce, it’s a whole other ballgame with a completely different material and one as unpredictable as Gundarium.”
Unfortunately for Gundam fans, though this custom-process results in an impressively beautiful, obsidian-colored recreation of the series’ most recognizable mobile suit, it also resulted in a hefty price tag.
Due to the complex process required to recreate Gundarium, the RX-78-2 Gundam 1/144 Gundarium Alloy Model retailed for 220,000 JPY (~$2000 USD).
Adding to the heartbreak of some Gunpla enthusiasts, this price point did not deter the masses of die-hard fans, as the model completely sold out shortly after pre-orders were made available on July 20th.
As of writing, Bandai has not announced a further production of the RX-78-2 model, nor has the company announced the use of the custom material for any future models.