Bandai’s “30 Minutes Missions”: New Kits to Challenge Kotobukiya’s Frame Arms
It’s no secret that Bandai have been trying to push their model kits into the west’s mainstream hobby scene for quite some time now, and to an extent, they have enjoyed some success.
Their most recent foray into bringing model kits into the western hobby market is being launched by Bandai Spirits under the “FUNPORTER” line of products with the aim of “Overturning the existing idea of plastic model.” According to the speaker at the event, the term Funporter came from combining, “FUN = pleasure” and “PORTER = carrying person / bringer” with the idea being that the fun and pleasure of creating something will bring people together and build a community.
They plan to bring this idea to fruition by launching a series of model kits which are, comparably, more simple than most regular Gunpla kits and mech kits. Advertised as being minimalist from a component perspective, the advertised base model is two sprues and one set of polycaps.
However, there isn’t a great deal of interest in the idea at the moment. Not because hobbyist communities don’t want to grow, but because the 30 Minutes Missions kits are rather ugly, derivative and lacking as they currently exist.
Once built, the kits will largely rely on additional purchases to outfit the model with equipment. Hence the lack of decent color separation and the ugly holes in the chest, arms, and legs.
The idea of a base frame that you build upon and improve with new releases as an iterative platform already exists and in a far more refined way. Bandai’s kits are being viewed as an attempt to undercut and divert customers away from Kotobukiya’s hugely successful line of Frame Arms. While many a builder will pick up a Funporter 30 Minutes Mission kit out of curiosity, they have a long way to go before they are going to be considered a worthy purchase. After all, you’re not likely to invest in a hobby if your initial purchase is unfinished until you buy more pieces.
Thus far, the official contents of each kit haven’t been revealed, but we know that the base kit is ¥1250, or roughly £8.50. That’s about the same price as an old 1/144 scale High Grade Mobile Suit from Bandai, but so far all we know is that there a extra armor and weapon sets provided separately for around ¥500 on a not very impressive looking kit. Whereas even a basic High Grade Mobile Suit comes fully armored and with the base equipment that the unit comes with by default.
Whether or not the 30 Minutes Missions will take off is almost entirely dependent on the quality of one’s local hobby groups and hobby scene. If you’re in a group of accomplished and veteran model makers, irrespective of the origin point of their model building experience, they are likely point you towards an entry point in an area that they are familiar with. Nobody is going to tell you that you should invest in a 30 Minutes Mission and see if you enjoy it, especially when you both have no attachment to the Funporter brand which is hitherto unheard of. Bandai Spirits have their work cut out for them, and I hope things go well, but they need to course correct soon and make the 30 Minutes Missions stick out as something that is strong enough to stand on its own two legs.
They are clearly trying to expand into original content that doesn’t make use of the Gundam name. Their SD and Gachapon lines are also being combined into a new generic mecha IP called Robot Concerto which is much smaller and will likely catch the attention of Gacha fans.
It will be interesting to see how this all turns out, whether it’s considered a success, or if it’s going to be another failed attempt at pushing Plamo content into the mainstream west. But for now, all we can do is wait and see.
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