In 2016, a year after I had started my first build meetup, we had grown to over 20 people a week. It was an exciting year of weekly build meetups, and at the local game store we met at, our numbers had exceeded even the Magic the Gathering card game crowd. We had people of all age groups and backgrounds and Friday nights were something that everyone looked forward to.
As we had grown, we believed it was time for our first celebration, our first special event. Spring Break was rolling around and conveniently, the anniversary of Mobile Suit Gundam's first airing in 1979 happened at the same time. April 7th was the day that Mobile Suit Gundam hit the air. It comes once a year.
So we were going to throw an anniversary weekend of Gundam. We wanted it to be a fun neighborhood gathering and we encouraged our regulars to invite their friends and families. And we put up a small ad on Facebook.
We were expecting a small weekend party.
What we got was more than 200 kits in our exhibit and over 100 guests, all there to celebrate Gundam. Several were from out-of-state.
We called it Gundam Day Weekend. The plan was to have our Friday night meetup with some food, video games and prizes followed up by an all-day extravaganza with an open exhibition, build tables, cosplayers and video game tournaments.
The venue was Galactic Quest, a small local game shop in an Atlanta suburb. They took care of vending and provided us with build space on the ground floor, and upstairs we had video games.
Conveniently, the space next door was vacant and it used to be a pottery and craft shop. Conveniently, THEY LEFT ALL THEIR SHELVES BEHIND. We transformed this abandoned pottery shop into a Gundam exhibit, cosplay cafe and open building area.
A COMMUNITY EVENT
We had little to no budget. All we had was passion an empty space and a few tables and a gracious neighborhood shop. And we had people.
Members of our community provided video games, tvs, consoles, kits, tools and even prize support as giveaways for the raffle and game tournaments. A local convention, Momocon was gracious enough to provide 4 passes to their convention.
And there was more. We invited the Peachy Maid Cafe cosplaying troup, who donned Federation cadet uniforms and had a Gundam-themed cafe with tasty desserts and drinks.
It was an extravaganza. Built by locals with a love for the fandom, the hobby and the community. New friends were made that day, prizes were won, and many newcomers built their very first model kits.
To witness this event come together was a sight to behold, as Gundam has not been historically famous for its large presence in the US. But to see the turnout, the fun, and moreover the community effort to create such an experience further inspired me to pursue what can be done for the world using this hobby.
I hope reading this is an inspiration to you to grow your own local building community or to throw your own Gundam Day Celebration.