Gunpla fans are rejoicing over Gundam Build Divers, a new Sunrise anime all about our favorite model kits. But it could be tricky to catch the more obscure Gundam references in the show… until now. 

Welcome to Deep Dive, a new column from Gundam expert Tom Aznable that points out the more unexpected aspects of the Gundam multiverse that make it into the show. Nothing passes Tom’s eagle eye for spotting this stuff (we suspect Newtype abilities), but this column focuses specifically on rare sightings and deep cuts. Read on to see what you may have missed.

Episode 14: A New Power

MS-05B Zaku I (Topp Custom), Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team (anime)

This commander unit Zaku I was the personal unit of Topp, leader of a Zeon MS squad that (unfortunately for everyone involved) moved to occupy a village inhabited by guerillas. This Gunpla used by a member of Rommel’s force is a perfect recreation, right down to the red mono-eye that all of the Zakus in Topp’s squad had.

And that’s it! That’s all! Episode 14 is, for all intents and purposes, a clip show. And now, so is this installment of Deep Dive! Here, in no particular order, are my five favorite deep cuts so far of Gundam Build Divers:

Episode 0

EMS-10 Zudah, MS Igloo (CG anime)

The standout cameo/custom Gunpla of Build Divers’ Prologue episode for me was the “Zudah Sniper Type.” This custom unit brought together elements from multiple Gundam series that had an aesthetic of gritty realism: the mothballed Zaku I competitor Zudah from MS Igloo, Zeon remnant Yonem Kirks’ Zaku I Sniper from episode 4 of Gundam UC, and the Living Dead Division from Gundam Thunderbolt. Even this Zudah’s pilot, Jack, would look right at home in Thunderbolt. The Zudah in particular is a personal favorite and one of the best examples of designer Yutaka Izubuchi nailing the One Year War look.

Episode 1

Pikilienta Pohles, SD Gundam Mk. V (anime)

Somewhere between traditional Haniwa clay figures and SD Gundam are the prehistoric blobs from Pikilienta Pohles. When I saw these little guys march across the screen, I was completely floored that Build Divers would go this obscure this early.

Episode 2

YMS-08B Dom Test Type, Mobile Suit Discovery (design series)

Build Divers has proven to be a reliable place for cameos from recent Mobile Suit Variations, but this Dom Test Type team was actually a major part of an episode’s featured battle! Of all the battles in the first half of the show so far, this one still sticks in my mind as being one of the most memorable. The Dom Test Type is a great design that modernizes the ideas from several older MSV but in a way that feels at home in both classic UC and the more detailed Origin aesthetic.

Episode 8

Yoshiyuki Tomino’s Cap

The custom baseball cap has been original Gundam creator Yoshiyuki Tomino’s signature for a while, but he’s had a bunch of them over the years. The island here was based on a hat he wore while promoting Gundam: Reconguista in G. Tomino’s become notorious for his controversial takes in recent years, and has had some pretty severe words on videogames in the past. Tribute or not, I can’t imagine Tomino would be much of a fan of Gundam Battle Nexus.

Episode 12

MSZ-006C1 Ζeta Plus C1, Gundam Sentinel (novel)

I will always have a soft spot for Gundam Sentinel. It helped bring a new dimension of “realism” to Gundam’s aesthetic and introduced the detailed design work of Hajime Katoki to a generation of fans. Gundam Build Fighters finally debuted the protagonist’s S Gundam in animation. Later that year the final episode of Gundam UC debuted the Zeta Plus A1 in the actual Universal Century setting, in a show where its conceptual cousin the Delta Plus played a prominent role. Even a small, detailed cameo like this for a very slightly different variant of the Zeta Plus is always welcome. For all those fans who clamor for a Crossbone Gundam adaptation year after year, my dream adaptation is still Gundam Sentinel.

Honorable Mention:

Episode 6


When I saw “Zwinemn” up there prominently in several shots in the GBN lobby, I lost my mind (that should be obvious for how detailed that Deep Dive got). It immediately made me go and dig my copy of Anaheim Journal out of storage, and suddenly all the pieces fell into place for every logo that appeared in that episode (and many afterwards). The story of Zwinemn is just so strange; to go from a fansite creation to ending up in officially licensed Gundam media to finally being put up in lights in a Gundam anime was really surprising.