The RX-78 Gundam is a fictional manned robot, introduced in 1979 in Yoshiyuki Tomino's and Sunrise's anime series Mobile Suit Gundam. In the series, it is a testbed weapon for the Earth Federation when it falls into the hands of Amuro Ray, the son of its designer in story (Tem Ray), who goes on to pilot it in the Earth Federation's war against the Principality of Zeon.
As the success of the series began the Gundam franchise, the robot's design was the first of many variations in subsequent works. The design appearing in Mobile Suit Gundam serves as the iconic symbol of the Gundam franchise and sparked the creation of its multiple sequels and spinoffs.
As part of the 30th Anniversary of the Gundam series, the company officially announced a project on March 11, 2009 called Real-G planning to build a 1/1 real size scale Gundam in Japan, it was completed on June 9, 2009.The 18-meter tall statue was reconstructed in Shizuoka Prefecture and was dismantled in March 2011.
The RX-78's initial concept was that of a powered armor, the primary design for Yoshiyuki Tomino's proposed series Freedom Fighter Gunboy. The series later changed its name to Mobile Suit Gundam and Kunio Okawara was given Tomino's concept to shape into a finalized design for the anime. Okawara created multiple designs before settling on the current, samurai-styled design for the anime in 1979.
Enemies in the series keep referring to the RX-78-2 as White, or The White Devil while it is a mix of blue, red, and white. Tomino's response in the novel version of Gundam is that the original design was to be a grayscale machine, made up of mostly white and light gray colouring. However, Sunrise disapproved of the colouring and insisted the unit to be painted in brighter colours to attract attention, like other super robot anime at that time.
The 'original' Gundam, the RX-78-2 design was expanded to be the second in a line of 8 Gundams; preceding model RX-78-1 and later models RX-78-3~8. The 1st and 3rd Gundam were designed by Okawara between 1980 and 1983 for Gundam Century and Mobile Suit Variations and the 3rd appeared in the novel version as G-3 Gundam. The 4th through 8th Gundam is designed by Okawara in 1989 for Kunio Okawara collection, or known as M-MSV(Missing-Mobile Suit Variation). Other mechanical designers later added further design variations; including Yutaka Izubuchi's RX-78-NT-1, designed in 1989 for Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket, and Shoji Kawamori's and Hajime Katoki's Gundam Development Project designs in 1992 for Gundam 0083. Katoki redesigned the RX-78-7 for the upcoming PlayStation 3 game Mobile Suit Gundam Battlefield Record UC 0081. The RX-78-2 has also been redesigned several times by other artists. In particular, Hajime Katoki's version of the Gundam (referred to by Gundam fans and Bandai themselves as Ver. Ka) has become popular enough to be made into both injection plastic model kits sold by Bandai and resin-based garage kits sold by their B-Club subsidiary. Okawara himself redesigned the Gundam for original character designer Yoshikazu Yasuhiko's manga Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin, a retelling of the events of the original series. Though mostly identical to the original, it features slightly different designs for its weapons, a small vulcan pod in its shoulder, and the ability to replace one of the beam sabers stored in its backpack with a cannon similar to that of the Guncannon. In addition, the fifteenth installment of the Gundam Evolve series of shorts features another variation on the RX-78's design, a highly stylized version of the iconic machine based on "modern" design aesthetics. It has been referred as Ver. Evolve 15.
The continuing popularity in Japan of this mobile suit has led Bandai to create a 1.5m tall model version, which went on sale in Japan in 2007.
The Japan Self-Defense Forces built an approximately full scale RX-78-3 Gundam with styrofoam in its show and contains a simulation pod.
Gundam Expo (Hong Kong) uses the RX-78's last shooting scene in its logo's X.
In the Super Robot Wars series of tactical role-playing games, the Gundam franchise is the chief representative of the "Real Robot" genre and one of the three mainstays of the series (the other two being Mazinger and Getter Robo), and the original Gundam itself is referred to in the series as the First Gundam (ファーストガンダム Fāsuto Gandamu?) in order to distinguish it from its many successors.