Amid a sea of mostly male adult fans of iconic Japanese robot character Gundam at Takashimaya Square last Saturday, two stood out - sisters Renee Teo En Rui, 12, and Reyna Teo En Min, nine.
They were there to attend the official opening of Gundam Docks At Singapore, billed as one of the world's largest exhibitions dedicated to the robot characters from the pioneering anime series.
The event also features two 6m-tall robot figures at the outdoor Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza. It started last Thursday and is on till the end of the month to mark the 35th anniversary of Gundam toy kits.
Renee, who has been building Gundam kits since she was eight years old, says: "I like that the Gundam characters come in so many colours."
The two Raffles Girls' Primary School students were there with their mother, Madam Jennifer Lim, 39, who says they prefer playing with the robots instead of dolls or princess-themed toys. Their father, Mr Simon Teo, 45, runs a hobby shop in Jurong that specialises in Gundam figures.
Says Madam Lim, who works in the real estate industry: "It's better for them to play with Gundam than with dolls as they have to build these figures from scratch. It teaches them to be patient as they follow the instructions from the manuals."
Among the more than 200 figures of various sizes on display are several with a red-and-white SG50 design done by Gundam designer Kunio Okawara, who flew in from Japan to attend the opening. He also signed autographs for fans lucky enough to snag limited sets of the SG50 Gundam kits which sold for $38.95 each. The limited numbers made available for sale each day sold out within one to three hours.
Toy and video game company Bandai Namco Asia, which organised the event with Takashimaya Department Store, declined to reveal sales figures. However, a spokesman said that Gundam Docks At Singapore "has broken the record in Asia, with a sales volume of five times more than any Gundam- related event held in Asia".
National serviceman Foo Yong Huang, 22, who owns more than 300 Gundam model kits, was pleased with the SG50 model. "It's really unique. It's an honour for us to have our own Gundam model to coincide with our 50 years of independence."
But information-communications technology executive, Wilson Koh, 32, also a Gundam fan, said: "I don't like the Merlion design on the shield. I think it can be improved, but the colour contrast is nice."
Sales engineer Lim Yang Zhen, 27, who has been collecting Gundam for 11 years, says the event is a place for Gundam fans to get together. "The older ones might be more into space war elements while the newer fans are more into building model kits."
Besides model kits, which included a 1.5m-tall model sold at $9,000, the show also offers Gundam- themed items including key chains, mugs, wallets, sunglasses and jackets. The event is on till June 28.
This article was first published on June 8, 2015.
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