Throughout the late ’80s and early ’90s, certain garage kit manufacturers established themselves as major brands. Companies like Kaiyodo, Wave, Kotobukiya, Volks, and Max Factory were some of the biggest names in the industry, and each had its own niches; their favored materials1, regular licenses, specialties, scales, and styles.
Kotobukiya’s specialty during this era was, certainly, giant robots. They produced plenty of figure kits, too, but most of those were based on characters from series featuring giant robots. The catalog included below gives a solid outline of what Kotobukiya’s lineup looked up in 1991; a lot of Gundam, some Aura Battler Dunbine, a little Iczer, and a whole lot of Monster Maker. I’m not entirely sure of its provenance, you’ll notice in the scans that it looks to have been cut out of a publication.
I’ve already talked at length about Kotobukiya’s line of 1/220 scale Gundam kits based on Kazuhisa Kondo and Makoto Kobayashi designs, but they didn’t pigeonhole themselves to that one scale, with other resin offerings in both 1/100 and 1/144 scales. Their larger mecha kits, like their Super ZZ Gundam or Neo Geo kits are some of the finest you’ll find, with crisp castings and a staggering amount of detail. The 1/100 scale Geara Doga kit highlighted in the catalog is particularly interesting; not only did it include a Kondo-style “flat-top” head, but it also included parts to recreate the Gear Doga Heavy Armed type designed by Mika Akitaka.
The 1/20 scale “Gundam Character Collection” figures shared the same scale as Bandai’s earlier plastic figure kits, but with a much wider range of characters; everything from 0080 to ZZ. Despite their size, they tend to go for a surprising amount of money on the secondhand market these days, in part because Gundam figures at that size haven’t really existed aside from those original Bandai offerings.
Monster Maker was a popular series of card games with art by Kugatsuhime that relied on fantasy tropes in an era when stand-alone card games were quite popular. In addition to some larger kits, Kotobukiya released a wide range of small figures based on the series’ characters and monsters. These kits were typically composed of only a couple of pieces and in shape and form were a bit like resin keshigomu2
Detonator Orgun and Iczer kits were both par for the course at the time; popular OVAs were usually well represented with garage kit offerings. In the Figure Collection section, you’ll also find a variety of figures, though I’m not clear on how many are original designs and how many are based on established series. At least one of them is based on Haruhiko Mikimoto’s Marionette Generation manga that was serialized in Newtype for about a decade.
Lastly, a page dedicated to “Otasuke Goods,” an early effort to offer generic model kit parts to help modelers detail or customize their kits. As such you’ll see a selection of hands (cast in metal), verniers and fuel tanks (cast in resin), along with some bases and decals. Kotobukiya, like Wave, began offering modeler support goods like this around this time and continues to do so. They’re just not cast in resin and metal, anymore.
Kotobukiya Garage Kit Catalog 1991 Gallery
- In the early days of garage kits (think late ’70s, early ’80s) metal and vacuum-formed kits were commonplace, but by the mid-’80s soft vinyl and resin kits were the most common.
- Sometimes called “eraser figures,” these were small, rubbery toys cast in bright colors as super low-cost products. Particularly popular during the ’80s and based on a wide range of subjects. Check out Mandarake’s keshigomu section for an idea of the sheer variety of toys produced in this style.