History’s Strongest Disciple: Monthly BANDAI Making Journal, March 1987

Following the Gundam model kit boom in the early 1980s, Bandai’s model kit marketing machine was relentless, and in the world of monthly publications it took two forms. The first and probably most familiar to western fans was B-Club Magazine,…

Following the Gundam model kit boom in the early 1980s, Bandai’s model kit marketing machine was relentless, and in the world of monthly publications it took two forms. The first and probably most familiar to western fans was B-Club Magazine, which spent about half of its pages covering assorted garage kits made by Bandai’s B-Club division. B-Club Magazine was aimed at a more hardcore audience, with lots of kit build-ups and coverage of niche anime releases. The other periodical from Bandai is the one we’re focusing on today: Monthly BANDAI Making Journal.

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The first thing you’ll notice about Monthly BANDAI Making Journal is its size — it’s decidedly smaller than other model or anime magazines of the period, about the size of an American comic book. It also sports a decidedly cheaper price tag than its peers, at 100 yen, something that could be attributed to both its miniature size and the fact that it’s a fairly obvious advertising piece for Bandai products. The cover illustration for the March 1987 issue is from GAINAX’s masterpiece Royal Space Force: Wings of Honneamise, although there isn’t much actual Honneamise content within.

The magazine is a mixture of glossy and matte pages, both black-and-white and color. The non-glossy pages are decidedly nicer than the typical newsprint you’d find in bigger anime magazines. The main features you’ll find in the magazine include the MJ Forum (news section), a color preview of Honneamise, color spreads on both Dragonar and Gundam model kits, photos of model kits built by readers (including a cardboard Zeta Gundam costume) and a letters section. In truth, it’s the typical stuff you’d expect to find in any magazine of this sort, just on a smaller scale. There’s a nifty section called “Mechanic My Original,” a section that shows off original mecha designs sent in by readers. There’s also a two page spread on kaiju hero Iron King, part of a “Memorial Hero Collection” feature.

Further Bandai product placement comes in the form of a look at new Bandai releases, like Dragonar model kits and a replica of the yo-yo from Sukeban Deka, as well as a brief mention of new B-Club garage kits and new toys based on Mask Man. Rounding things out is the first chapter of Kazuhisa Kondo’s Side Story of Zeta Gundam manga and a serialized story based on Relic Armor Legacium. The magazine finished up with a look at Gundam Plamo Contest ’87, where a Mr. Noguchi and Mr. Uchida both took home Golden Prizes for a Zssa and Quebeley Mk. II, respectively.

In short, Bandai Model Making Journal is a strange publication. Small, cheap and light on content, its existence as anything other than a marketing publication would be hard to deny (although, you could admittedly say that about any other Japanese anime or model magazine). Oddly, there is very little about actual model making in the magazine.

9 Comments

  1. How strange–that’s a Honneamise-related thing that I didn’t know even existed (B-Club Magazine, which also produced a fantastic mook on the film, but not Bandai Making Journal). And I speak as someone who’s got the fucking Honneamise *shopping bag.* Hey, remember anime-themed shopping bags as merchandise? Are they still around?

  2. Don’t fret, Carl, it would have been all but impossible for you to have gotten this even back in the day.

    IIRC this was a hobby shop pamphlet done, as should be obvious, to promote Bandai products and serve as an ‘entry level’ taste of B-Club magazine.

    I’m trying to put some context on the time in my head, they didn’t really need to COMPETE with Takara at this point as Taraka was about done as far as being relevant in anime plamo is concerned, I think this was a reaction to the then ongoing ‘Nintendo mania’ that was sucking the kids away from anime and plamo. I would bet the local corner hobby shops didn’t charge the 100 Yen cover price but just handed them out.

    As to anime shopping bags, those beautiful heavy glossy coated paper promotional things (I have a sweet Be Forever Yamato one) I haven’t seen one in AGES. I don’t think I’d like to see today’s MOE hugpillow lolicon rape bait imagery on a shopping bag….

  3. I got a Detective Conan shopping bag with my Tezuka robot t-shirt in Uniqlo last year, and I think I saw more on the streets this year. Does that count, even though it’s a store promo and not a bona-fide purchased item?

  4. Well, I would say it counts. Yes I would.

    Were there shopping bags as items at the theaters for any of the recent movies like Eva 2.0? I’d have to believe the Ghibli Museum sells shopping bags with characters on them.

    Of course it’s one of those things the current gen of AmeriOtaku wouldn’t even notice. Heck, do they make chara based pencil boards anymore?

  5. Pencil Boards are cool. I’ve got a WONDERFUL one for Perfectual Earth Defense Force that is just a riot of comedy and nice art. I like it when it’s original art and not just a copy of a poster or ‘key’ ad art that’s been seen over and over.

    Pencil Boards used to be the ‘default’ product sold by various upstart anime goods sellers, because you could get a good stack sent from Japan in one package and they used to be high profit margin, generally 200%, but like other goods bought by the upstart stores, they never know their market, so they have a few things that sell, a TON of merchandise that nobody wants, and shortly thereafter they go out of business.

    My, I do natter on. Let’s talk UFO! 🙂

  6. Let’s, indeed. I can even make a link, for those purists who think anime/manga blogs should stay resolutely OT – apart from the awful UFO manga, that is…

    I think the character of Ed Straker has been influential on a number of anime heroes and heroines of the repressed-Aryan-blond-in-shades type. I gave a paper at Schoolgirls and Mobile Suits a couple of years back, describing Integra Hellsing as the secret love child of Ed Straker and Emma Peel.

    Discuss?

  7. *hehehehe* I am hampered by a total lack of knowledge of Hellsing, except the most broad strokes, so I will assume you have something there, OK? 🙂

    OTOH I think there’s no question whatsoever that Freeman from Tekkaman Blade is a mostly direct swipe.

    Does Rei from Evangelion owe her design to the Moonbase Ladies? Lt. Ellis with her thin neck and large, expressive eyes was surely a pinup on the walls of the Gainax offices.

    Hmm, on reflection, the lady commander in Argento Soma has more than a trace of Straker genotype in her.

    It’s funny, I don’t think anyone has done a thing with how influential the works of Gerry Anderson have been in the Japanese animation community. There’s no question the various ‘pilot travels to his super robot'(more and more elaborate and convoluted as the genre progressed) owe everything to Thunderbirds, as an example.

  8. I’m pitching a book on just that topic but so far I can’t raise a flicker of publisher interest… today’s market is very, very tough and very, very picky.

  9. That Honneamise shopping bag was a trip in other regards; not only did I buy it before I even got the chance to see the film (I was in Japan between the time it left the theaters, and its release on home video), but it also contained the first translation of it I ever saw–that is, the opening monologue is translated into English (more or less correctly) on the shopping bag itself.

    The bag that was SLICK was the one for AKIRA, which had an image I really wanted as a poster: the famous shot of Kaneda looking back as he screeches his bike to a halt, with Neo-Tokyo rising in the distance. That hung on my inside doorknob all through college.

    There’s a reminiscence in THE NOTENKI MEMOIRS of the first time Yasuhiro Takeda went to Toshio Okada’s place (that is, his family’s factory); he had heard it looked like the base in Thunderbirds, and then was surprised to see it was true ^_^

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