The fictional metal Gundarium was realized just for this model kit.

While last year saw the 40th anniversary of the Mobile Suit Gundam anime, 2020 is the 40th year of Gunpla, or Gundam plastic model kits. A long running passion for many enthusiasts in Japan, it seemed everything had been done from amazing paint jobs and Gundams in bottles to models made from toothpicks and lobster shells.

At least, it seemed that way until Bandai Spirits came along with a truly unprecedented innovation: The RX-78-2 Gundam 1/144 Gundarium Alloy Model.

The RX-78-2 Gundam is easily the most well-known mobile suit of the series and was piloted by Amuro Ray to win a decisive victory against the Principality of Zeon. This was partly thanks to the RX-78-2 Gundam’s advanced weapons, systems, and especially armor which was composed of a Luna Titanium Alloy that was refined on the surface of the moon.

After the success of the RX-78-2 Gundam, Luna Titanium was renamed “Gundarium” which is also the very metal used in this limited edition Gunpla kit. Much like its fictional counterpart, real Gundarium is incredibly costly to produce, especially since lunar development is nowhere near what the series had probably envisioned back in 1979.

So, Bandai Spirits had to develop a way to work under the same conditions here on Earth. 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.

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.

So it took a lot of trial and error to get all of the pieces to fit together properly and result in an authentic looking RX-78-2 Gundam figure.

In the end not only did they achieve that, but these models have a distinct metallic black sheen and deep contrasts never before seen on a Gundam. Whether it can really withstand most physical impacts, gunfire, and radar is unclear but you’re free to try if you have the money to burn.

Speaking of which, considering all of the R&D that went into making them, a single kit costs 220,000 yen (US$2,000). That’s really pricey, but it did little to stop all the pre-orders from getting scooped up right after they opened on 20 July.

However, it’s hard to imagine Bandai Spirits not doing something like this again in the future after going to all that trouble to create a whole new production method. So be sure to keep an eye out for their next endeavor, which might even be made of the superior Gundanium or have the legendary Gundam Microphone included.

Source: RX-78-2 Gundam 1/144 Gundarium Alloy Model, @Press
Images: @Press
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