Gundam Statue
Japan is aiming to build a full-scale Gundam robot Getty Images

A team of engineers and animators in Japan have started the Gundam Global Challenge (GGC), an ambitious project to bring a huge 18m-tall (60ft) Gundam robot statue to life and walking by 2019.

Gundam is a hugely popular Japanese anime franchise that began in 1979. There are over 30 different TV and film incarnations, a live action series and a popular comic, as well as more than 80 video games based on the show and lots of merchandise, including Gundam model kits.

There is a 1:1 scale replica of a Gundam robot located in Tokyo, Japan, and the project's creators want fans from all over the world to help them get the statue walking by 2019, the 40th anniversary of the popular show.

They are invited to send in their ideas and those that are successful will be implemented into the 2019 working model.

GGC is looking for participants to enter into two categories: the Real Entertainment section - to make the actual statue move, and the Visual Entertainment section - to make the statue move using virtual reality.

The statue was originally built in 2009 to commemorate the show's 30th anniversary and is made of a steel frame with fibre-reinforced plastic for the armour.

The statue weighs around 35 tonnes (35,000kg) but the robotic version will weigh significantly more with all the extra adjustments to be made.

A study done by the Japan Science and Technology Agency in 2008 estimated a working Gundam model would cost around $724m (£437m) to build, minus labour. That figure would now possibly top $1bn.

Speaking at a press conference on 9 July in Tokyo, Bandai CEO Kazunori Ueno said, "We are aiming for a new form of realism similar to that of an actual Gundam."

However, many experts believe the outcome of this project is impossible to achieve.

"I want to say, 'Ha, ha, ha, impossible' meaning that no one will be able to do that except if someone will be able to make super-power actuators that can move the joints of the robot very fast to maintain balance," Atsuo Takanishi, a professor of mechanical engineering at Waseda University, where the first 1/1 scale humanoid robot was made in 1973, told PC World.

The Gundam Global Challenge is now open and the deadline for primary applications is 27 February 2015.