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Gundam Lets Kids Pilot Yokohama’s Massive, Life-Sized Mecha

The operators of Yokohama’s 1:1 scale RX-78-2 are giving Japanese school children a once in a lifetime chance to pilot a Gundam for themselves.

A group of lucky school children were given the chance chance to control Yokohama’s famous life-sized Gundam statue.

As reported by Anime News Network, Yokohama’s Gundam Base, which is a store and museum dedicated entirely to Bandai Namco’s popular sci-fi anime franchise, has been hosting robotics classes for elementary and middle school-age children ever since last November. Kids got to learn about engineering and mechanics by studying the venue’s 59-foot tall RX-78-2 Gundam statue, which features robotically powered limbs that are capable of a wide range of movement. On June 21, the students enrolled in the program were allowed to control the massive robot’s hand, which houses 12 motors that allow for independent movement of each of the robot’s fingers. According to the report, over 1,400 children have taken part in Gundam Base’s educational program.

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The RX-78-2 installation originally opened in 2020. In addition to being able to move, the 18-meter tall mobile suit’s eyes and vents light up, and it is powered entirely by renewable energy, which is provided by a wind turbine located nearby. The statue was always intended to be a temporary installation and was originally planned to close last March; however, the Gundam Base’s managers have decided to keep the statue open for another year. The decision was made with international Gundam fans in mind, as since the statue opened just before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns, relatively few fans outside of Japan have been able to travel and see the iconic original mobile suit for themselves. The statue is currently closed while technicians perform the required maintenance that will be needed to keep the giant robot’s machinery functioning for the additional year. The installation is scheduled to reopen to the public on July 16.

The Yokohama statue is just one of several life-sized Gundam statues that Bandai Namco has erected throughout Japan. A RX-0 Unicorn Gundam has been built in Tokyo, which is capable of transforming between the mobile suit’s “Unicorn” and “Destroy” modes, and the country’s newest 1:1 scale mecha, a newly redesigned version of Amuro’s final mobile suit, the Nu Gundam, was put together in Fukuoka this year.

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Fans who can’t travel to Yokohama to take part in the Gundam Base’s robotics classes can still see plenty of the RX-78-2 in the franchise’s latest movie, Mobile Suit Gundam: Cucuruz Doan’s Island, which opened in Japan earlier this month. The movie is a feature-length remake of Episode 15 of the original 1979 anime series, and sees Amuro Ray and his “White Devil” Gundam traveling to a supposedly deserted island in search of Zeon stragglers from the battle of Jaburo. Details about the movie’s release in other territories have yet to be announced.

Source: Anime News Network

Michael is one of CBR’s Anime News Editors, a Link main in Smash Bros., and once tried to eat 100 tacos in one sitting (He tapped out after about thirty.) After working for several years as a writer and copy editor for companies like an advertising agency and a music label, Michael has come to CBR to pursue his true passion: sharing his love for giant robots and collectible monsters.

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