Chiba Days #25 - Unicorn Gundam @ Odaiba

Hello everyone and welcome back to another chapter of Tiro Finale! Today, we will be taking a look at the iconic 1/1 scale Gundam Statue in Odaiba. While the original RX-78-2 Gundam statue was quite a landmark and icon in and of itself, the prolific statue was recently replaced by the new poster-boy (or mech in this case) or the Gundam universe, Unicorn Gundam. 

Officially unveiled in fall of 2017, the new Gundam stands a whopping 19.7 meters tall compared to its predecessor which stood 18 meters in height. This increase in height is immediately apparent especially when taking photos as the entire Gundam no longer fit into the frame where the original would. 

The mostly white mobile suit certainly strikes awe in all those who witness it, even for those who are intimately familiar with the suits design. With such a large scale to work with, Bandai's designers and engineers made sure to honor Katoki Hajime's original design with a bevy of detailed panel gaps and an abundance of warning decals adding a splash of color to the white knight. Of course, this is the Gundam Base version and it sports a few minor changes compared to the original design. One of them is the change in the backpack vernier design. Can you spot anything else? Let us see if you can spot them all?

Fans of the series would know that Unicorn's claim to fame is its ability to transform from a "standard" mobile suit into a full-fledged Gundam via the utilization of it's NT-D system (Destroy Mode). Knowing this, Bandai has tried its best to preserve Unicorn's transformation mechanism. Although, keen-eyed fans would probably already realize the long list of parts areas which are already in Destroy Mode. Unfortunately, such were the concessions that had to be made were an outdoor exhibit with longevity in mind. 

Come sun-down, in this case 4:00 p.m., Unicorn Gundam would begin its transformation to the Destroy Mode. Regardless if you are a fan or just a random passerby, the transformation sequence has something for everyone. For the uninitiated, they are treated to a dazzling light and sound show as Unicorn Gundam's bright red psycho-frame illuminates and certain armor panels shift to reveal the glowing frame beneath.

While fans of the series are treated to a unique presentation featuring lines by Banagher Links serenaded by the now iconic track, Unicorn, by Hiroyuki Sawano. The most impressive part of the entire transformation, in my opinion, had to be the head's where the V-fin separates and entire face plate changes. I am certain Bandai knew they had to nail this particular segment and cut no cost in doing so. 

The original RX-78-2 Gundam was not a very detailed mobile suit to begin with a stood out mostly for its classic hero colors of white, red and blue. For the 1/1 scale statue in Odaiba, Bandai made sure to help the mobile suit stand out more by greatly increasing the number of panel gaps and applying a two tone color scheme for the white panels similar to that seen in the Real Grade model kit. This served to inject a more industrial design into RX-78's otherwise decades old design. 

But for Unicorn, no such efforts had to be made and I am glad Bandai did not go over board with the detailing. Unicorn had already been a massively impressive mobile suit in terms of details ever since the original designs were penned by Katoki Hajime. Bringing it up to scale merely accentuates the detail even more which allows everyone, not just the fans, to appreciate the design that much more.

Prior to this, having owned one too many Unicorn Gunpla, I was beginning to find Unicorn's design to be rather stale with its sharp angular lines and all-white color scheme. But seeing it in full scale really helped bringing a new sense of appreciation towards what made me go so crazy for Unicorn in the first place. 

Fans of the series may argue that another Gundam should have taken the hallowed spot rather than Unicorn. Be it Strike, Zeta or even Nu Gundam. But the fact remains, no one Gundam has such universal acclaim, recognition and adoration from fans such as Unicorn Gundam. So if you are going to erect a 20 meter statement, I see no better candidate than the one standing before us. 

Even when viewed up-close, the details do not betray Unicorn. A testament to the fine work done by the entire team responsible for the 1/1 Unicorn Gundam project. 

An iconic shot, now redefined. It the place of the old, stands the new standard bearer for the entire Gundam series paving the way forward to new horizons. And it also happens to be a very, very good advertisement for Diver City Tokyo Plaza. It is no wonder they do not charge an admission fee.

One thing worth mentioning about the new statue. Due to its increased height, taking photos of Unicorn has now become notably more difficult. If you are using the camera from your smartphone, chances are the photos are going to come out alright at best. Moreover, the stark contrast between the glowing frame and the white armor is one that is certain to challenge the dynamic range of your device's camera. It would be best to use a dedicated camera if you intend to capture the full detail of this new towering mobile suit.

Of course, I am not the only one who noticed this new "issue" apparent to Unicorn's increased height as Bandai has been quick to capitalize on the issue too by offering an elevated photo booth. The elevated photo booth allows you to take pictures which fit more of Unicorn into the frame without having to stand so far away as to make the Gundam appear small. There are even kind staff who will help you take the photos with your camera or phone. 

Only one catch though, the photo-taking is not free. While they do provide you with a physical photo taken by their own dedicated camera, you are expected to purchase it. Whether or not that is justification for paying for the photo is ultimately up to you. Either way you go, I do not think you lose out on too much.

Throughout the gallery, you might have noticed that the grey, cloudy sky is still very much in the background of the shots. Worry not as there will be a follow up featuring Unicorn at night in a later post. Do stay tuned for that together with a full coverage of the newly-revamped Gundam Front store located on the top floor of Diver City. With that, thank you so much for reading and have yourself a wonderful day ahead!


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