What Could Happen if Bootlegs Win Against Bandai

I once saw this post in one of the Philippine Gunpla community groups in Facebook: “Bandai should just close down if they can’t compete with the prices of [enter bootleg company here].” —or something within that context. It seems that he is a bootleg collector as there was a smiley at the end of his statement.

So let’s think about that for a while. What if the bootleg companies actually bring down Bandai and the company just decided to shut its doors for good? What could go wrong? First, let’s view this promotional video from Bandai to get an idea on how Gunpla are produced.

What’s the next release?

Okay, so point number one, Bandai has engineers who create the Gundam designs. But why engineers? Why not artists? Because more than the aesthetic form of the mecha they also have to plot each part of the robot to make the framework mechanically movable. Or else, you end up making a static statue rather than a dynamically posable action figure.

So if we lose Bandai, it takes its entire design team with it. Since bootleggers primarily just copy the design molds Bandai engineers created, the possibility of new releases goes down the drain. We’ll be stuck with what is generally left existing in the Gundam world.

Where’s that mobile suit from?

Let’s say one of these bootleg companies shell out the money (I’m pretty sure that investment will reflect on the price of their kits) to hire their own design team, that would be awesome, right? But wait, Bandai also owns Sunrise, which is basically the soul of Gunpla. Without the Gundam series, animes, manga, OVAs, etc., these mobile suits are just shells that do not have personality because they do not have a profound backstory.

When you build an RX-78-2, you don’t just visualize the Gundam, you also remember Amuro. You see Char in the cockpit of that Sazabi. These pilots, characters, personalities are the ones that bring life to Gundam and, subconsciously, you feel that when building Gunpla. Honestly, would you continue supporting a Gunpla that does not have any essence whatsoever?

New studio, new anime?

Again, hypothetically, that bootleg company creates its own anime studio and revives the Gundam series. That will again, of course, cost money. They will now gamble on the premise that the new series will be a hit with the fans, so as to increase sales of new Gunpla releases. That’s if they legally get the rights. If not, they will be left with the choice of introducing a new mecha series. Which is an even bigger gamble on their part.

What has happened here?

So what do we end up with all these hypothetical scenarios? Well, practically, the bootleg company has replaced Bandai as the legitimate brand. And with all those new investments, you should expect that their model kits will also increase to cope with the extra overhead. Which, opens up the opportunity for another bootleg company to release imitations at a lower price. And the cycle starts again.

But all of these scenarios are accompanied by big IFs. IF a bootleg company would actually invest. IF they decide to continue with their demographic of just bootleg another brand. IF they actually visualize themselves as the primary brand for Gunpla. Because otherwise, Gunpla will no longer move forward and will inevitably end. Sucks for us.


3 thoughts on “What Could Happen if Bootlegs Win Against Bandai

  1. bandai will never lose. but that’s inside japan only; gunpla is basically one of their national product and japanese consumer base always prioritize their own stuff rather than looking at the ones from outside. thus bandai can never be wiped clean off the earth. sunrise will still continue producing anime and new kits will continue to exist

    but what if they stop exporting their stuffs for sale in foreign market? like what happened to star wars kits recently? even more so if they do it because we glorified bootlegs too much, profit margin for gunpla foreign salesas well as demand dropped so low, they deemed it unworthy to continue selling outside? japanese companies are well-known to be able to do this; selling their product only for their market (like they did with video games); they wont hesitate to take such step if there’s the need to

    bootlegs will control that specific market; they’ll just continue to copy bandai’s design, remake it with cheap, LQ material- leaving us technically with low value product on the shelves and us consumers cant really complaint since it’s us that willingly buy that… crap, while whoever that owned bootleg companies bath themselves in cash. bandai’s existence so far forced them to play the dirty card; sell at almost half price and throw in some misc bonuses. effective bait for people who thinks ‘as long as they are cheap, it’s fine’. if bandai is somehow exempt from the market, bootlegs price will rise for sure since they no longer have to compete with bandai; they own the market, and they want to scoop as much cash as possible out of it. also, since bandai already pulled out from their foreign affairs at that point, there’s nothing left to be said about endorsed events like expo and gbwc/myc. good chance they’ll even prohibit foreigners to compete in japan-based gunpla contest too

    maybe it’s not possible now, but at the rate we’re going, having it happen in the future is not that far-fetched, even more so if we keep teaching the new generations in the hobby to buy bootlegs since ‘they’re there, they’re cheap, and quality is not bad so why should we buy the original?’

    my 2 cents. take it however you want it

  2. The reason why the bootleg is because they don’t want to shell out the money to make their own product or brand. If the product they copy is gone, they will continue to exist and reap the benefits of no longer having competition and eventually move on to another brand to bootleg.

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