Bandai Spirits Opens New Gunpla Factory in 2020 Due to Anticipated Increased Demand
posted on by Jennifer Sherman
Bandai Namco Holdings' toy and hobby subsidiary Bandai Spirits will begin production at the new Bandai Hobby Center Shinkan factory in fall 2020. The company anticipates increased demand for its Gundam plastic model kits (Gunpla) inside and outside Japan due to various collaborations marking the franchise's 40th anniversary, new anime, and the planned Hollywood live-action Gundam film.
Construction on the new factory will begin on the grounds of the existing Bandai Hobby Center factory in December. The expansion will include the addition of six new machines. The construction project is planned to increase production to 1.4 times the capacity as of this month. Including contract workers, the current facility employs 150 workers as of this month.
Gunpla kits debuted in 1980, and a total of more than 5 billion kits have shipped as of April. The current Bandai Hobby Center factory was completed in 2006, and it produced and shipped 6.6 million units in its first year. Gradually demand increased, and the factory's machinery expanded. In 2018, the same factory produced 15.73 million kits.
This year marks the Gundam franchise's 40th anniversary, and upcoming collaborations will include partnerships with Japan's 12 professional baseball teams and UNIQLO. The franchise is continuing to expand in Asia, especially with the new SD Gundam World Sangoku Sōketsuden anime that centers on China. The new anime is part of a larger project that also involves comics and plastic model kits. In addition, Sunrise launched a new "Gundam Channel" YouTube channel in July. Gundam Build Divers Re:RISE, the new Gundam Build franchise work, will start streaming on the channel in October.
A life-size moving Gundam statue will debut in Yokohama in 2020. Comic book author Brian K. Vaughan is writing Sunrise and Legendary Picture's upcoming live-action Hollywood Gundam film, which does not yet have a scheduled release date. The new Gunpla factory will respond to increased demand from these and other projects, as well as aid in expansion efforts in China and North America.
Bandai Spirits was established on February 15, 2018. The subsidiary absorbed the figure and plastic model business from Bandai and the convenience store goods business from Banpresto. The company had a capital stock of 100 million yen (about US$923,000) and about 450 employees at the time of its establishment. The company took over all remaining rights and duties from Banpresto when the latter company dissolved earlier this year.
Source: Anime! Anime! (MoA)