Geek Shopping: Gundam Mad
Gundam Mad, the company formerly known as Gundam Nation, is one of the UK’s biggest sellers of Gundam model kits – as well as other mecha models. I have a chance to chat to owner Gurinder amidst his hectic schdule and find out a bit more about himself, the company and the world of Gundams!
- Here’s your chance to tell the world a little bit about yourself and Gundam Mad:
Well that’s a broad and sweeping question 😛 To make it less epic I’ll go with, name is Gurinder S Gurm and I own the company Gundam Mad. We specialise in model kits from the anime and more specifically those from the genre that focus on Mecha/Giant Robots. We also have a vast range of anime merchandise from some of our favourite anime titles and you’ll generally find us dotted around the UK and Europe attending as many events as we have time for 🙂
- Gundam Mad was formerly known as Gundam Nation. Why the name change?
Originally I founded the company Gundam Nation shortly after I’d finished Uni and attended a little local event called Amecon 2007 in Leicester. I had no idea another company had already started what I thought was a new idea in the industry until I came face to face with Gundam Mad at the first event. That was an interesting first meet. But as time went on it became apparent that Nigel and the team (the original owners of Gundam Mad) were doing the business as a predomoinantly online thing and we’re also in full time jobs themselves whereas this was all I did. Eventually the guys approached me and offered to sell me their business as they felt I was continuing with what they had originally set out to do which was to bring Gunpla (That’s Gundam Kits to most regular folk out there) to the UK and provide a friendly and helpful face to a fantastic hobby that very few new about. I would like to hope that we’ve gone some way to achieving that. After taking over the company I decided to simply amalgamate the 2 as it made no sense to competing with myself and that’s why the name changed.
- Scott and I always see you at conventions across the UK. Do you have a particularly favourite event?
There are a lot of good events in the UK but one of our favourite has to be Minamicon. It’s been running the longest and the atmosphere is always one of a relaxed and enthusiastic group of old friends. Plus it’s the only one in the UK I have ever cosplayed at and gotten the most drunk at so you know that’s always a bonus 🙂
- Obviously, you sell Gundam kits. Go on, tell us what your favourite kit is!
Easy, Favourite is MG Sazabi ver .ka. It’s a stunning suit of my favourite mobile suit and I’m soo glad they went back a revamped the old kit. Seriously it’s awesome!
- Aside from the Gundam kits (and the tools and markers for them) we’ve also seen kits from other shows such as Code Geass and Neon Genesis Evangelion. Will we be seeing anymore non-Gundam releases from you soon?
Yes definitely, we are always expanding our lines with the last few years showing additions in Zoids, One Piece, Tiger and Bunny, Gurren Lagan and much more. Future plans include Nobunaga the Fool and we also have some exciting news about new suppliers but that’ll have to come a little later 😉
- There are different difficulty levels of kits that you sell. I remember starting off with a High Grade Blaze Zaku Phantom as my very first model. What kit would you recommend for someone that has never assembled model before?
To be fair that’s not a bad start, most HG kits are fine for anyone who wants to start out and get a feel for the hobby. We never recommend Real Grades of Master Grades to anyone who has no modelling experience as that would be asking someone to climb a mountain with the tools and no experience. You just don’t do it. You occasionally get people who have very little confidence in their own abilities and for them we tend to recommend the FG or first grade kits. These are smaller boxes to HG kits and have even less pieces but they provide the basic principles you’ll need to apply to all Gunpla.
- With Gundam Nation, you had a membership system for customers. Does this still apply for Gundam Mad customers?
Yes it does but it has changed and will be coming back in the upcoming months. Those lucky enough to have bought the original memberships and retained their cards and/or member packs will instead get immediate discounts at events and a new revised loyalty system will come into play. For everyone else a new system will be launched just as soon as we’ve gotten the art work and the website ready for its implementation.
- Your products vary in terms of difficulty level and rarity. What’s the cheapest kit that you sell and the most expensive?
Currently the cheapest kits we sell are the Non-Grade original re-release kits from the 1980’s and in 1/144. Suits like the Aggu and Guntank come in at around £4 each. The most expensive at the moment will be the Dendrobium, who is very close to £300 but we did once in the past sell a Silver PG Zeta for £700 so cool rare stuff does turn up now and again.
- Any tips for readers who are looking to start out putting a kit together?
Honestly and this isn’t me trying to be patronising, look at the instructions carefully and take it one step at a time. You’d be shocked the number of new fans who come into the hobby who clip all the pieces out and then get confused. Also if you wish to reduce the dreaded white sprue marks always cut as far from the piece as possible leaving a big nib of plastic and then re-cut the nibs down. This reduces the stress on the plastic and the likelihood of getting large white marks.
- Tell us the pros and cons to running your own business:
Hrrrm, thats a tough one but I’ll just go into the highlights. The pro’s are you are your own boss. You make the rules (within the law of course :P), you decide the schedule so you’re never working to someone else’s demands but the flipside is if you don’t put enough in you won’t succeed. I admit to many fans that it was soo much easier when we started out, now we’re constantly working and when we we’re asked about Japan and how we’re so lucky to go on holiday I say yes it was awesome but that was our first real holiday in 6 years because without you being physically available there is no business.
- Do you have any odd customer experiences that you could share with us?
Lol, you will inevitably get many weird and wonderful experiences working for yourself field but the ones that I remember tend to be the slightly strange fans who seem to want to act like they buy things but don’t. Basically there was one instance when we we’re pretty well stocked at a London Expo and a fan came up to me and asked if I had a 1/100 Leopard kit from Gundam X. I said yes, to this he looked shocked and then asked if I had a 1/144 Kapool from Turn A to which I also replied yes. Lastly after looking very confused he asked if I had any white base kits which I stated I had 2 types of. Now to any hardcore Gundam fans you will know that some of those kits are obscure and a royal pain in the ass to find so what did this customer do after I presented him with the holy grail of Gundam wants? He thanked me and walked off never to be seen again! Baffles me still to this day?
- Any messages for your customers and the people out there that follow Gundam Mad?
I would only like to say a great big thank you. Thank you to all you lovely people out there who supported and helped us grow over the years. And thank you for always being so friendly, enthusiastic and such a great community to work with. You have all helped me in being able to live my dream and I hope we are able to provide you with even a fraction of that awesomeness back to you.
- And anything to say to people that haven’t heard of Gundam Mad before?
Well it is the 10th Anniversary of Gundam Mad this year so please check out our Facebook at www.facebook.com/gundammaduk as we’re having a huge range of giveaways and competitions this year for all our fans and it’s a great way to get involved with community who wants to spread the world of Gunpla. It’s an addictive hobby but one that’s immensely enjoyable and satisfying . . . until you cat jumps on a kit you’ve worked 6 months on 😛
- Finally, is there anything at all that you’d like to ask any (or all) of the crew here at Renegade Revolution?
Sorry it took soo long to get this back to you, I hope you can all forgive me? Oh and when will I see you all next?
Jojo: No worries, dude! All is forgiven! Hopefully, I’ll see you next at October MCM Comic Con / Expo!
Scott: Well, you have my number, man and you see me every Wednesday when you pick me up from the street corner… (joke). No worries, mate! I’m sure we’ll see you soon! GUNDAM FIGHT! READY!! GO!!!
Holly: Of course we forgive you! However you are now bound to join the Revolution 😛 I’ll be at Kitacon next year so see you then!
Many thanks to Gurinder for taking the time out from his very busy schedule in order to chat with us.
Building and customising Gundam models is a great past-time. As mentioned in this article, there are different model kits for varying skill levels; which means there will always be something for everyone!
If you are interested in delving into the world of mecha model kits, or want to increase your already-existing collection, here are some links to keep up to date with Gundam Mad:
Photos used with permission from Gundam Mad
Kitacon photos © Jojo Yap and Scott Sanderson