they're like human sized and have people in them.
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[/url]SF3D 1982 - 1986
In the 1980s, those outside of Japan could only learn about SF3D from either the role-playing game "SF3D" or the source, Hobby Japan Magazine, where it all began...
In 1982, a graphic designer named Kow Yokoyama began designing what would soon become a world populated by armored fighting suits, battling it out in a pseudo-replay of WWII. Yokoyama-san was a popular illustrator for magazines and an accomplished military modeler, and designed his retro-futuristic mecha as a response to the waning first wave of the popular Gundam series. The back story of SF3D takes place on a future Earth in the process of being recolonized after having been rendered uninhabitable. It is the late 2800s, and two main factions are at war. The Mercenary Forces can be seen as the "Allied forces" and are generally considered to be a little more rag-tag than the Strahl Demokratisch Republic, who are the more omnipresent "Axis forces".
Yokoyama-san's drawings and kit-bashed models first appeared in the May, 1982 issue of Hobby Japan in a one-off article entitled " Wonderful Junk Kit ". The first design featured was the "Armored Fighting Suit," constructed by Yokyama-san using a Takara Microman (known outside of Japan as "Micronauts"), ping pong balls for armor plating, putty, and other materials. Response was so positive that the magazine's editor, Hiroshi Ichimura, decided to showcase the designs in a series of articles without approval from the chief editor. This was to be a fateful decision. Ichimura-san coined the phrase "SF3D Original" for this new endeavor. Yokoyama-san approved of the idea, and both men set to work, without taking the concept too seriously.
Yokoyama-san would make the model and explain its background story to Ichimura-san, who would then write the text. Material was borrowed from WWII media - terms such as "Strahl" and "Bomvol und Zionel" were taken from the film U-Boat , and the rest was simply made up by Ichimura-san. Yokoyama-san, as always, was primarily concerned with the models and designs. When Yokoyama-san created the Super A.F.S power suit, the men decided to offer a resin kit to readers. They were met with over two thousand requests.
Nitto, a model kit company, caught wind of the phenomenon, and were given permission to make injection plastic kits of the SF3D hardware. The model company always deferred to Yokoyama-san and Ichimura-san throughout the kit development process, and gave them creative control over packaging and kit design. Soon thereafter, the package design was reworked by Kunitaka Imai, fresh from a trip to Germany, who would lend his Bauhaus-influenced hand to the iconic model kit packaging. The packaging was unlike anything else on the shelves. The layout was minimal and evoked the 1940s with its parchment-like paper and typography.
Nitto would release the AFS design in 1984 as the world's first truly multi-media sci-fi kit. All SF3D kits were shipped with springs, hoses, wires, photo-etched parts, and more. The AFS sold for 700 yen, and the injection mold plastic was extremely well engineered. In conjunction with the release, Hobby Japan published a groundbreaking article detailing the design process and production molds. It was an enormous success, even boosting the sales of related products, such as the Microman figures. High on the wave of SF3D mania, the AFS was followed by many other kits over the next few years.
In 1986, Hobby Japan fired Ichimura-san for running the unapproved series, and the line abruptly ended. Nitto was nearly put out of business, and the models all but faded from the public view. Ichimura-san went on to found Model Graphix magazine, and Yokoyama-san continued his career as a designer. If you remember the Playstation video game "Kileak", you remember his design work. SF3D, however, quickly became the stuff of legend.
Maschinen Krieger 1998 - Present
Ten years after the demise of SF3D, Ichimura-san began to realize that in his travels abroad, he often saw the kits represented at hobby events. Simultaneously, Yokoyama-san was receiving a stream of SF3D fan letters from abroad, and magazines were featuring the kits. When he connected to the Internet for the first time, Yokoyama-san was amazed to discover SF3D fan sites in Japan, USA, and Australia.
Coincidentally, Nitto was trying to resurrect itself, and asked Yokoyama-san to reissue the kits. He agreed, but Hobby Japan refused. A court decided that Yokoyama-san held the intellectual rights to the designs, but the name "SF3D" was registered to the magazine. Some faithful fans abroad were contacted, and a new name was coined - Maschinen Krieger ZVB3000, which was a term used previously in the series, with the "ZVB3000" added. This name is usually contracted and appears as "Ma.K." (It is also a nod to the Macintosh Computer, which the Ma.K. designers use).
By the late 1990s, Maschinen Krieger, or "Ma.K." was back. Nearly all of the kits saw re-release, and the Internet helped greatly with the series' exposure. Fans outside of Japan relied on Hobby Link Japan and Sentai to get the kits again, and eBay was always a source for the originals. Model Graphix continues to support Ma.K. by showcasing new designs and reports on upcoming kits and figurines.
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