On December 30, 2019 Syd Mead passed away at his home in Pasadena, CA at 86 years of age. He was an industrial designer and visual futurist famous for his contributions to films such as Alien, Tron, and Blade Runner. Relevant to this blog, however, is his involvement in Turn A Gundam. He was its primary mechanical designer.
Turn A Gundam was a project that celebrated Gundam‘s 20th anniversary and involved a lot of big names. Tomino sought to bridge gaps between cultures and mediums. Syd Mead was recruited to provide mechanical designs, an epic collaboration between Hollywood and Japanese science-fiction giants.
Syd Mead leaves behind a mark and legacy that shall be remembered. His designs for Turn A Gundam were very unique and definitive to his style. From the mustached Turn A to the sleek and curvy SUMO, we shall honor and celebrate his work. It is truly sad that he did not live long enough to see the decade through. He was even scheduled to receive the William Cameron Menzies Award at a gala in February. May he rest in peace.
There are numerous articles online detailing Syd Mead’s career. But if you’d like to learn more about his time on Turn A Gundam specifically, I invite you to read this staff breakdown I put together early in 2019. I also invite you to read a transcription of his interview that was packaged with the DVD releases.
One of my queued projects has been to scan the entirety of “Mead Gundam” and provide commentary as I go along. “Mead Gundam” is a 300+ page book featuring concept sketches, liner notes, and explanations by Syd Mead. It also contains copies of some of the faxes and transactions sent between Mead and Sunrise staff members. I am here to announce that I am bumping this up significantly on my priority list. Please keep an eye on my Twitter account in the coming weeks.
Upon Syd Mead’s death, a lot of folks on Twitter honored him in memoriam, including some industry people. Akira Yasuda (akiman), who was Turn A Gundam‘s character designer, lamented that he’d wished he could have met Syd Mead again. Tetsu Inada, Harry Ord’s voice actor, commented how impressed he always was with Mead’s designs, especially the SUMO. Below are a select few tweets.