Terebi Land (テレビランド Terebirando), or TV Land, was a children’s magazine published by Tokuma Shoten from 1973 to 1997. Filled with colorful production stills, manga inspired by popular shows, toy advertisements, and more, Terebi Land helped kids of the late Showa and early Heisei eras keep track of everything happening in the turbulent world of Japanese pop culture.
A few months ago, I was digging through some boxes at my local comic book shop when I came across an incredibly well-kept copy of Terebi Land. The explosive front cover of this January 1986 issue featured headshots of tokusatsu favorites Juspion from Kyojuu Tokusou Juspion and Change Dragon from Dengeki Sentai Changeman. Among the hodgepodge of illustrations and photographs, however, one headline in particular caught my eye: “Christmas Banzai!”
Yes, this was the Christmas issue!
Inside the magazine were many Christmas-themed specials, such as a Christmas contest featuring one of Terebi Land‘s characters, Don-chan. Kids could mail in a postcard for a chance to win a bundle of toys and games from the hottest franchises—including Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam.
Produced by Nippon Sunrise and Sotsu Agency, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam (機動戦士Ζガンダム) is the second anime series in the Gundam franchise. It originally aired from March 2, 1985 to February 22, 1986. Set eight years after the original Mobile Suit Gundam storyline, this 50-episode anime pitted the Anti-Earth Union Group against the Earth Federation’s Titan task force.
By the time this issue of Terebi Land hit store shelves, the Zeta Gundam anime was nearing the end of its run. But that didn’t mean the end of promotional specials, like the contest I mentioned above. To get readers into the Christmas spirit—and, perhaps more importantly, to boost toy sales—a special full-color Zeta Gundam gag manga graced the pages of this magazine. Short and sweet, this lighthearted manga was created using several gachapon toys and plastic model kits from Bandai’s Zeta Gundam line.
In honor of the holiday season and to celebrate the Gundam franchise’s 40th anniversary, I’m happy to present to you Gachapon Gundam Theater #4! Like any other manga, this one reads from right to left. Open the images in a new tab to see them at full resolution.
Puramaru-kun’s Plastic Model Land
Gachapon Gundam Theater #4
SD Zeta Gundam: “Today’s Christmas!”
Zeta Gundam: “We’re the three Zeta brothers.”
SD Gundam Mk-II: “I wonder if Santa will come soon…”
Zeta Gundam: “?”
Rick Dias: “Hello, I’m Santa Claus!”
Rick Dias: “I’ll give presents to good children~”
Zeta Gundam: “Yay!”
GM2: “I’m so happy!”
Rick Dias: “Who should I give to first?”
Gachapon Zeta Gundam: “Me, me!”
SD Zeta Gundam: “No fair, me first!!”
Zeta Gundam: “No, me first!”
SD Zeta Gundam: “No I said me!”
SFX: Whack, whack, whack!
Rick Dias: “No presents for children who fight! Goodbye~!”
GM2: “Ugh, Santa left because of you, Zeta-kun!”
Hyaku Shiki: “We lost out on getting presents!!”
SD Zeta Gundam: “Wahhh!”
Unfortunately, many of the original Zeta Gundam model kits and gachapon toys featured in this manga are no longer available for purchase (unless you have a time machine that can travel back to the 1980s) or a bit hard to find on the secondhand market. But if you want to recreate this comic on your own, try picking up these modern alternatives:
- HGUC 1/144 Zeta Gundam
- HGUC 1/144 Gundam Mk-II
- HGUC 1/144 Hyaku Shiki
- HGUC 1/144 Rick Dias (Quattro)
- HGUC 1/144 Nemo
- SD Cross Silhouette Zeta Gundam
I want to give a big thanks to Mel for translating the manga and to my boyfriend Andrew and my friend Matt for helping identify all of the Gunpla models and toys used in it!
BONUS! Zeta Gundam Morinaga Chocolates Promotion
Fans of Zeta Gundam had a chance to win a free 1/144 scale plastic model kit if they purchased these special-edition Morinaga chocolate bars, according to this advertisement. Inside the chocolates were scratch cards that, if revealed to show a certain number of points, could be redeemed for a model kit. The promotion ended on June 30, 1986.