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.
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.