For many anime fans Japan is some halcyon distant paradise where anime graces every TV channel all day every day, manga grows on trees and anime merchandise is everywhere. This isn't all true. Anime is generally shown very late at night there and you have to buy manga in bookshops like you do here. However, merchandise is indeed everywhere. For example when I was there you could get Gundam figures free with bottles of Pepsi.
Yes, you read that right.
In a bizarre bit of promotion to tie in with Gundam's 25th
anniversary, a series of figures and mini busts were given away free with
bottles of Pepsi Twist. As is usual the figures were sealed in a
non-transparent packaging so you didn't know which one you were going to get.
However, these figures were packaged in foil bags that were hung on the neck of
the bottle, rather than the usual box.
The range consisted of 30 'bottle cap' figures, so called as they are fixed to a bottle cap style base. There were three types of figure in the range, the first type is the mini-figure of a Gundam itself, the second is a mini-bust of a Gundam's head and the third was a mini-bust of a Gundam pilot. The image to the right is near enough actual size, the mini-busts were slightly smaller but looked better. Each figure is made from stiff rubbery material which makes them feel like pencil erasers, and are surprisingly detailed. The range covers several series, amongst the ones I got were the Wing Zero Gundam shown to the right, plus mini-busts of Gundam Deathscythe Hell and Amuro Ray, so there's plenty of variety. However, they are far from perfect.
The first problem is the painting. It's pretty shoddy and leaves the figures looking really cheap. It's only really the busts that look any good and the small size of everything in the range doesn't do them any
favours as display figures. They're also pretty flimsy and are very easy to bend out of shape. Another annoyance is that of the 30 figures, 15 can only be picked up on bottles of Pepsi Twist, and 15 on bottles of Diet Pepsi Twist. In other words to get the entire range you not only have to drink a hell of a lot of Pepsi, but also 15+ bottles of one you may not normally buy.
To be fair they are free, so the lack of quality can be forgiven to an extent. Fans will be pleased that even the more obscure Gundam series, such as Turn-A Gundam, Gundam X and G Gundam are represented, but the sheer volume of Pepsi you'd have to drink to get the lot would put most people off. As freebies they're great, but unless you have teeth of steel and the ability to discern between a RX-78 Gundam and an RX-79 Gundam simply by feeling them through the bag, you're unlikely to get the entire set. A fun curio, but a curio nonetheless.
The bottle cap base of the figure isn't actually a bottle cap, it is actually a cover for a normal bottle cap. Why you would want to fix this to a bottle is beyond me, but you could if you wanted. The only other thing included is a leaflet showing the entire range and details (in Japanese) of how to send off for a display stand to put all the figures on.