Mecha Fridays: The Bootleg Issue

Yes, we’re all gonna argue about this.

Some major new shook the mecha model kit scene this week as photos of what looked to be a factory raid on one of the most prolific non-official third-party y Gunpla manufacturer Dragon Momoko with the raid instigated by none other than Bandai themselves, albeit other rumors state that it was another non-official third-party manufacturer Daban Model who instigated the raid on the factory given how both Dragon Momoko and Daban Model got into a beef when Daban Model ironically accused  Dragon Momoko of copying one of their kits.

Anyhow, regardless of whoever instigated the raid, the probable shutdown of Dragon Momoko surely sent waves of varying critique and has resulted in numerous retailers to cancel preorders of any of the upcoming non-official third-party manufactured kits by Dragon Momoko particularly their new GN-001 Gundam Exia, which comes complete with optional parts and the MBF-P03R Gundam Astray Blue Frame and might also result in the prices of the kits that are still in stock to have their prices jacked up given how these non-official third-party Gunpla variants have become in-demand in the market lately.

But why is this raid such a big deal, enough to tear the community with their mixed reactions both positively and negatively not only to Dragon Momoko but also to Bandai itself, when in fact it shuts down one of the most popular non-official, non-official third-party copycats and is one big step to shutting down the bootleg market?

Yeah, you’re going down Weapon Strike Fighter

Earlier this year, we first discussed how Bootlegs have become every builders guilty pleasure given factors such as the much more lower pricing, kit variety and even model availability with certain manufacturers releasing Gunpla or Model Kits that Bandai haven’t produced yet or better yet, only produced in limited quantity or being tagged under the dreaded “P. Bandai” line which is commonly pricier than their regular releases. Now, while we do not intend to defend bootlegs, it is worth noting that their existence has somehow “eased” collectors in completing their mecha kit lineups without having to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars just to buy kits alone, and hours of hunting, and building connections, and even to the point of travelling just to get that one piece that is you can only get from events or is only sold in Japan.

Like this 7/11 Astray for instance, which is a must buy since it’s P.Bandai

Given these constraints, it really isn’t that hard for anyone to try and step in and sustain the demand that Bandai has been somehow ignoring with their general fond of re-releases, limited edition kits that don’t really instigate demand, at least for the foreign market, and the numerous variants of the RX-78 which, let’s face it, has resulted in their part of the Gunpla industry to be a little to stale for quite sometime now, and has everyone gunning for any non-official variant, whether it’s a complete kit or resin casts of the kits that a good majority of the market itself has been demanding for years, just like the NZ-666 Kshatriya for instance whose only Master Grade variant is the Repair version or even the numerous P-Bandai only releases that don’t really have that much of a variety in differences contrast to the regular kits which makes us wonder why they’re tagged as Premium in the first place and are only shipped in select regions, ALTHOUGH, the stance itself is supposed to give more value to the kits, hence putting more essence into Gunplas being collectibles which then grants the P-Bandai thingy a more sensible meaning if viewed from that standpoint.

Who wouldn’t pay top dollar for this?

Still, even with the gap in the market, it would never legally justify the existence of non-official third-party manufacturers because, whether we admit it or not, have been diverting the market’s attention away from what is official, and has made their impact in the market in a major way, enough for the crackdowns to officially begin. On the other hand, Bandai should also start to listen more to the market demand, given that the kit variety is going to be limited now to what they only release given how the Dragon Momoko raid is seen as a start of fully cracking down bootlegs as one of the biggest reasons as to why buyers resort to unofficial third party makers, aside from the price that is, is the fact that there is a noticeable lack of supply, if not no supply at all for certain fan favorite models.

The bootleg crackdown is something that everyone should have seen coming, and well, it’s happening, whether the lot of us like it or not. Of whether moves such as raid can completely shut down the bootleg industry though is going to be a different case for as long as there is a gap in the Market Demand that any official manufacturer can’t fill up, then we’d all have to expect that someone is gonna do the job that them legit guys won’t.

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