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Something a little different today – something not directly related to anime or manga – but something I’m pretty sure you’ll agree is pretty damn cool.

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A few years ago, whilst innocently browsing for mecha reference images for one of my sci-fi writing projects, I stumbled across Bryan Krueger’s mecha kit images on his Mashine Krieger site. It would be no exaggeration to say that my jaw dropped; not only were the models so skillfully made and painted, but the mech designs themselves were not quite like anything I’d seen before. Gone where the Macross/Patlabor style sleek curves I was so familiar with from anime, replaced instead with gritty, industrial designs, the clear World War II influence giving them a certain instant, bulky realism, whilst still looking distinctively Japanese.

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Intrigued, I dug deeper. I was expecting to find out there where a spin-off of some obscure anime or manga I hadn’t yet come across, but instead their origin was even more interesting. The Maschinen Krieger ZbV 3000 Wikipedia page gives a great overview:

Maschinen Krieger ZbV 3000 is a science fiction universe created by Japanese artist and sculptor Kow Yokohama in the 1980s. It originally began as the science fiction series SF3D which ran as monthly installments in the Japanese hobby magazine Hobby Japan. To develop the SF3D storyline, Kow collaborated with Hiroshi Ichimura (story editor) and Kunitaka Imai (graphic designer). The creators drew visual inspiration from their combined interest in WWI and WWII armor and aircraft. Kow built the original models from numerous kits including armor, aircraft, automobiles and real space. The designs were predominantly of powered armor suits, but Kow also created two legged walking tanks, anti-gravity flying aircraft, and automated robot walkers. Hiroshi Ichimura and Kunitaka Imai added the graphic style and created the background story for the new models. Together they created a unique series with a very different visual style from the typical “Giant Robot” series in Japan at the time.

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The actual plot of the series – a story of a post-apocalyptic world war some 800 years in the future – is pretty average sci-fi stuff – but the designs, and in particular Bryan’s modeling skills, are still some of the most compelling mecha images I’ve seen. As such, I feel very privileged that Bryan has allowed me to showcase some images from his two-decade spanning collection here – his painting and customisation work on Yokohama-san’s original designs instantly reminding me of the powered armour suits from Heinlein’s original Starship Troopers and Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War novels. Plus you can’t help but wonder if they’ve more recently influenced the mech designs from both James Cameron’s forthcoming Avatar and Neil Blomkamp’s stunning District 9.

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Again, I can’t thank Bryan enough for letting me use these images here; head over to his site right now to check out the massive gallery of his work.

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