Gundam... the name that shines out as one of the most famous anime franchises of all time. Since it's beginnings with Mobile Suit Gundam in the late seventies, the series has spawned several sequels and spin-offs, computer/console games, endless variations of toys and model kits, and loads of merchandise, making it's creator Bandai bundles of money every year.

So it seems logical that every effort is undertaken to keep this powerful franchise alive by adding new material (such as the latest series Mobile Suit Gundam: Seed) and expanding the fanbase to other continents (look at the he releases of all things Gundam in the states).

In fact, there are so many series and subseries, with so many different continuities that it can confuse beginners.

Oh yes, for those of you who who wonder what the name means: The word Gundam is derived from the fictional new metal element Gundamium, an alloy several times stronger than the strongest steel/titanium/what-have-you. This is the metal from which all Gundams are made, as the big humaniod fighting robots are known. So there...

The name Gundam is actually derived from the first Gundam series, Mobile Suit Gundam. The giant humanoid robots in most series are referred to as "Mobile Suits." In Mobile Suit Gundam, the main character pilots a mobile suit known as the Gundam (model number RX-78). The Gundam is actually made of luna-titanium, which is basically titanium found on the moon - not Gundanium, which is from Gundam Wing (see below). Later on in the timeline, luna-titanium comes to be known as Gundarium, in honor of the legendary mobile suit called Gundam.

The creators of Gundam have said that the famous mobile suit's name was essentially arbitrary. (It was, in fact, going to be called the Gunboy, but they decided to change that to Gundam.) This is odd, because the Gundam itself has two "sister MS" that have fairly descriptive names (the Guncannon has cannons on its shoulders, while the Guntank is pretty much a huge tank).

The idea that Gundam is named after a new element comes from an alternate-universe series, Gundam Wing, where a Gundam is merely a mobile suit made from the element Gundanium. This idea is rather widespread due to the fact that Gundam Wing was the first Gundam series to be shown on Cartoon Network, making it most Americans' first exposure to the Gundam franchise.

Life Size Gundam Mecha Invades Japan!

Seriously. The Japanese has no limits. They don't even need computer animation for this. Meet the life-sized RX-78-2 Gundam. Standing 59-feet tall, this massive war machine intimidates all that go near this large icon. When I was little, I used to build the model kits for all the Gundam models including those from Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz, Turn-A Gundam, and so much more. I always dreamed that they would release a model large enough for man to pilot the Gundam but found out it was physically impossible due to the actual height. Turns out the Gundam built at Tokyo's Odaiba neighborhood is held up with beams on the inside and only has an automated head unit. However, there are awesome lightings all across the body with over 50 lighting elements, and 14 points of mist (imitating smoke) across the model.

This model was built to commemorate the franchise's 30th anniversary and the main protagonist Amuro Ray's first Gundam RX-78-2. Everything was sponsored by Japanese anime/toy conglomerate, BANDAI NAMCO Group. However, there is some sad news; the life-sized model had to be taken down. The 18-meter Gundam only stood up for two months in Shiokaze Park and will be disassembled. However, people believe that they are trying to make the Gundam fully functional. It wouldn't hurt to dream. Long live Gundam!

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