Giant Gundam robot in Japan shows off slick moves

Six years in the making, the 18m-tall robot at Gundam Factory Yokohama took its first steps and gesticulated, as seen in a video posted on Monday. But with the Covid-19 pandemic delaying the tourist attraction's opening, fans will have to wait to vie
Six years in the making, the 18m-tall robot at Gundam Factory Yokohama took its first steps and gesticulated, as seen in a video posted on Monday. But with the Covid-19 pandemic delaying the tourist attraction's opening, fans will have to wait to view the robot up close.PHOTO: GUNDAM FACTORY YOKOHAMA/YOUTUBE

YOKOHAMA • A six-storey-high robot - modelled after a character in classic anime series Mobile Suit Gundam - made its first killer moves this week to win the hearts of fans of the Gundam franchise.

Standing tall at 18m and weighing 24 tonnes, the giant robot could be seen in an online video posted on Monday taking two steps forward, before getting down on one knee, standing back up and gesticulating.

This was a test of the robot, which was built with more than 200 parts made from a mixture of steel and carbon fibre-reinforced plastic, in Yokohama, a Japanese city south of Tokyo, CNN reported.

Six years in the making, the life-size humanoid was created as a centrepiece for Gundam Factory Yokohama at Yamashita Pier, and was to debut when the tourist attraction was set to open next month.

Visitors would have been able to view the towering robot up close and learn about the design and technology behind its slick moves.

But the opening has been delayed.

"This decision was made to ensure the health and safety of our fans and employees in response to the worldwide spread of Covid-19," the company that operates the site was quoted by CNN as saying.

A notice on the website of Gundam Factory Yokohama says the grand opening will still take place this year but the details are not yet available.

The anime about space robots, created and directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino, was first introduced in 1979 for a television audience but the initial run was cut short due to dismal ratings.

But the robots became a phenomenal hit and must-have toys for boys when Japanese toymaker Bandai bought the copyrights to build plastic models of the show's giant machines, and Gundam began to take off with sequels, manga, movies and other spin-offs.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 25, 2020, with the headline 'Giant Gundam robot in Japan shows off slick moves'. Print Edition | Subscribe