On February 14, 2019, Bandai Hobby suddenly revealed a new model line. Called 30 Minute Missions (or 30MM for short), these kits look similar to Gunpla, but have nothing to do with any Gundam property. Contributor Dallas shares what the deal is with this inventive new kit type, its partially user-generated lore, and why Gunpla customizers might want to check it out.
So you’ve seen a few cool custom builds online or maybe a box you didn’t recognize at your local hobby shop and it’s got you wondering exactly what 30 Minutes Missions (30MM) means. The short answer: it’s a fairly new line of original plastic model kits designed by Kanetake Ebikawa, a mechanical designer best known for his work on Gundam 00 and Full Metal Panic!. But you’re probably not here for the short answer, are you?
Just keep reading for a thorough breakdown of what the 30MM line is, what EXAMACs (that’s 30MM for “mecha”) are available for you to build and customize, and a basic overview of the background lore Bandai has crafted for this fledgling mecha IP. Join me now as we take a deep dive into Bandai’s line of fully modular 1/144 mecha model kits, 30 Minutes Missions!
Just a small sample of the kits available in the 30 Minutes Missions range. Your imagination is the limit!
30MM first and foremost exists as a way for Bandai to have direct creative control over a line of mecha model kits that are created to the same high standard as their traditional Gunpla offerings. Like many Gunpla, EXAMACs are available in 1/144 scale. They’re similar in size to Bandai’s High Grade model kits, standing a little shorter than the average HG Gundam. Presented in a la carte fashion, individual 30MM kits tend to be simple and affordable, with the typical 30MM kit costing around $20. They are also designed with polycaps and connections that are fully compatible with modern HG Gundam kits, which means that even if you aren’t interested in diving fully into the 30MM setting there are still plenty of options worth taking a look at to take your custom Gunpla builds to the next level!
Customizing with 30MM
That customization is the real highlight of the range. Whether you want to dip your toes into some custom parts for your existing Gunpla collection or create your own squad of prototype ace units within the 30MM setting. Taking inspiration from Kotobukiya’s Frame Arms and Modeling Support Goods ranges, the 30MM line has a variety of small customization sets on offer. These range from small, low-priced blister packs with customization options for one specific EXAMAC model to small boxed models similar to offerings from Bandai’s Build Custom Gunpla series. Regardless of the type of 30MM custom parts that end up in your hands, you will find a variety of connection pegs that adapt various types of connections to the 3-millimeter pegs that are standard for 30MM and expand your customization options to incredible heights.
While it’s not the case for every builder, a lot of Gunpla enthusiasts get attached to a model kit because of the rich history of the Gundam franchise and the excitement of owning an iconic mobile suit from a piece of media they enjoy. 30 Minutes Missions takes a different approach, with Bandai offering a sparse overview of the lore behind the model kits and running custom build contests that also function as a way for builders to directly shape the direction of the ongoing narrative. Unfortunately, these events and contests are largely exclusive to Japanese speakers, but I hope that as the line continues to grow internationally that we will see global events allowing hobbyists from all over the world to include their custom builds in the official canon of 30 Minutes Missions!
The 30MM Lore So Far
The story of 30MM is set in the year 2XXX, several decades after an event known as the “Skyfall”, where a strange portal known as a Space Transition Gate opened above the Earth, raining advanced technology onto the planet. This technology was used to develop the Extended Armament & Module Assemble & Combine System called the Alto, the first EXAMAC. As the story begins, another Space Transition Gate opens above the Earth, bringing with it human-like aliens known as the Byron and their own EXAMACs. Open warfare between the United Earth Alliance and the Byron soon followed. In the aftermath of the first decisive victory in the conflict by the Earth Alliance, yet another Space Transition Gate opens above the Earth, bringing with it the Maxion army and yet more EXAMACs. The Maxion’s motives are still mysterious, but they have no problem engaging in conflict with both the EA and Byron forces.
Within the range, you can currently find 6 basic EXAMACs, two for each of the three factions. The Earth Alliance has the Alto and Rabiot, both invoking aesthetic influence from Earth Federation mobile suits like GMs and Jestas. The Byron have the Portanova and Cielnova, clearly reminiscent of Zeonic mobile suits. The Maxion have very unique EXAMACs known as the Spinatio and Spinatia, very lithe and humanoid and somewhat reminiscent of Evangelions in proportions. In addition to these, you can find special versions of the Alto and Portanova, with the Alto coming in Aerial and Ground combat varieties and the Portanova coming in Space and Aquatic combat varieties. In addition to these larger kits, there are dozens of sets of customization parts available, and as previously mentioned all of these kits are compatible with one another as well as the vast majority of modern HG Gunpla. The options for customization are truly stunning!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this overview of 30 Minutes Missions, and I hope it has convinced you to give a few of these truly awesome (and affordable) kits a try! Below, I’ll post some photos of customs I’ve built to give a sense of how much variety you can get out of these kits.
Dallas is a scale modeler and hobbyist from Knoxville, TN. You’ll be able to find his work for purchase in the near future at his Etsy shop, PrimaryVillage.