Admit it, you’d be lying if you say that you haven’t thought of buying one.
The high popularity of Gunpla, model kits products inspired by one of Anime’s biggest franchises, Gundam, has not been safe from the plague that are bootlegs and knock off brands. While our brothers of the Gunpla elite has been helping with the campaign against the existence of knockoffs, discouraging fellow enthusiasts from even thinking of nabbing one, there is no denying that even of the most purist of builders has once thought or maybe even bought himself a knockoff no matter how much he denies.
But why do these brands continue to exist, much less still propagate up until this day to the point that more and more knock off manufacturers appear in the market? As a fellow builder myself who, I shamelessly admit, have bought a few knock-offs, there are some major reasons as to why we own one or two or even more of these filthy, filthy knockoffs.
Now first off, the obvious, it is without doubt that knockoffs costs significantly lower than ones sold by licensed retailers for instance the Master Grade version of OZ-00MS TallGeese I EWversion is listed at around USD 35 depending on which retailer you buy it from, whereas the knock off version sits at only about half the price depending on the brand. Of course, we have to take in the overall quality and the cost of production plus materials together with the additional fees that licensed retailers shell out just to ship and stock available Gunpla models but most of the time, especially for larger kits, knockoffs offer a more friendlier price, giving you a bit of extra cash just to buy a few more kits.
Bandai’s HG Exia can cost more than USD 20 depending on which retailer you buy it from, as for the knock off version, well, you can pretty much have one for only USD 5.
See one problem that I noticed with licensed retailers is how limited their available models can get, for instance, a popular toy store here in our turf seems to be very overstacked with kits from the Build Fighters series while having a few of Iron Blooded Orphans’ current releases, and some Cosmic Era and Universal Century mobile suits to spare. Rarely do you see kits from timelines such as Anno Domini or After Colony and if there were only the 2 or 3 of the main MS are available. Although we cannot actually blame them for they are only following Bandai’s set marketing tactic of selling what’s new in order to entice builders to nab what’s available “while supplies last”, it’s kinda hard not to get the knockoff version of a Master Grade TallGeese III just because Bandai stuck the dreaded “P-Bandai” tag on it making it not unavailable on licensed outlets.
But the sales promotions looks kinda good though…right?
Mobile Suit Variety
So we’ve talked about price and kit availability, but perhaps the biggest pull knockoff brands have against legit Bandai kits is the additional variety or that “they have kits that Bandai doesn’t want to release”. Take for example that big-ass Deep Striker which everybody really wants to get their hands on openly or secretly or that Super Deformed version of Char’s Nightingale. In addition to kits that Bandai doesn’t have, some knockoff brands also have their own versions of kits that contain the P-Bandai tag such as the MG version of OZ-00MS2B Tallgeese III, not to mention an MG sized Kshatriya, the non-repair version, which helps you complete your main MS collection for the Unicorn series.
I mean, come on, this thing just screams “BUY ME!”
Buying for Scraps
Ah, everyone’s favorite excuse, see, the greatest thing about Model Kits such as Gunpla is that your imagination is the true limit to what you can do with them (and money of course) as you can pretty much mix and mash kits and parts to create your own unique kit, such process if called Kit Bashing and utilizes parts from 2 or more different kits, bonded together by glue and plastic plates, cleaned up, painted and put on display for the whole world to see. Buying knockoffs for scraps would seem to be the most acceptable reason as no one would really wanna spend more than USD 20 just to grab one of Wing Zero’s Colony busting rifles unless you’re really that desperate to complete your Ultra Mega Artillery Guncannon Space Ver. Ka Model Arts Kai III P-Bandai.
Behold! The weapon to surpass every MS in the whole Gundam universe!
Sad as it may seem we may not see any end regarding the production and sale of knockoff brands, even with both Bandai and Sunrise going through great lengths in making sure that you only buy legit kits with marketing strategies that involve previewing kits before it even goes out in whatever existing series there is, churning out monthly releases and even tweaking their 1/100 line to make it a little more affordable, there will still be those who run towards knockoffs for whatever reason they may have.
Still, whether you have purchased a knockoff or not one thing stays true, people like us absolutely love Gundams.