OP-ED: Why 3rd Party Kits are Good for the Community
First and foremost, let’s get this out of the way, this is an opinion piece plain and simple. I’m not advocating for or against 3rd party companies, I’m just giving my opinion on why I think they are good for us in the Gunpla Community, so please take this with a grain of salt as this editorial is meant purely for the purpose of starting discussion (and maybe to get Bandai to take notice).
For those of you who ask why I’m writing this editorial, allow me to provide my ‘street cred’. I’ve been building Gunpla since 2000 when Gundam Wing first started airing on Toonami. I even remember purchasing my first kit from Toys-r-us, which was the 1/100 HG Epyon. I also have a small community on YouTube that I call my Squadron and I’m venturing into customizing so I’ve had experiences with a decent amount of the community since I became an addict. Ok, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get down to the meat and potatoes of this editorial. So what is a 3rd party kit first and foremost?
That’s a loaded topic in and of itself because there are those that say 3rd party doesn’t even exist, it’s all bootleggers. I guess the argument can be made both for and against that statement but for the sake of this editorial, I’m going to classify 3rd party as a kit, made by another company that is not Bandai, nor was it licensed (just like 3rd party Transformers). Now why am I saying that 3rd party kits are good for the community?
Firstly, it gets everyone talking.
Taking a look at some examples of 3rd party kits, let’s look at the Metal Build Strike Freedom that both Daban and Dragon Momoko put out, the Metal Build Gold Frame that Daban released and the Deathscythe Hell that Dragon Momoko put out. My 3rd party experience is purely Dragon Momoko but the buzz surrounding the Metal Build Strike Freedom kits was more than intense. There were those who completely dismissed them as rip offs and bootlegs that should never have been made. Me personally? I’m glad they were made because when faced with the possibility of having a pre-made figure that would be in the $300 to $400 USD range or getting to build a model for $50 USD that would look the same, I’ll take the model any day, especially since I was on a part time retail worker’s budget when that kit came out.
Price is another reason why 3rd party kits are good for the community in my opinion. As I stated before, why pay $300 to $400 USD for a figure when a company is offering a kit of said figure for anywhere in the $30 to $70 USD range? Granted the price can be a little higher or lower but that’s about the average I’ve seen. 3rd party companies are able to offer relatively good quality products for competitive prices to those of us in the community and quite honestly when the product is something Bandai won’t give us, why not go after it?
That’s my third reason why 3rd party kits are good for the community. 3rd party companies give us what we want, such as the aforementioned Dragon Momoko Gundam Deathscythe Hell, or the Akatsuki or even Testament Gundam, something Bandai would NEVER give us. When we’re given kits by 3rd party companies, we then begin to wonder why Bandai themselves aren’t giving us these kits officially. This leads to us lobbying Bandai and continuously asking them to listen to us. While I admit this doesn’t seem to yield much results, trends recently do seem to be showing that Bandai are listening to us when we make enough of a racket.
Either way, again this is my opinion but all in all, I truly think the kits provided to us by 3rd party companies are good for the community because of the reasons mentioned before and because all through these reasons, one thing is happening. We’re talking with each other, trying to talk to Bandai or just talking in general. Talk is what is going to grow our community and get things happening with Bandai. Thanks for reading everyone.
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