Gamura Twist (ガムラツイスト) and Ramen Bar (ラーメンばあ) were snacks made by Kanebo Foods, the former being gum and the latter being, well, a bar of ramen. Looking to compete with Bikkuriman, each packed a sticker bonus in the form of Wrestler Gundan (レスラー軍団, “Wrestler Corps”) seals. Although not as long lived, it obtained its own fan following and seems to be one of the more successful copycats.
via Koredama Betsu-kan
Double Seal Gimmick
Since they were competing with the immensely popular Bikkuriman at the height of its power in the late 80’s, not to mention other rip-offs vying to ride on its coattails, a little something extra was necessary to stand out. That something in this case was “W seals” – double seals – meaning you’d get one sticker, and when peeling that off, there’d be another sticker underneath.
This was used to clever effect: you’d get one character sticker, and underneath that you’d get the true or alternate form of that same character, which might even be a rare holographic version. And just like its inspiration, the back of the sticker would have character and plot information that could be pieced together into a larger narrative.
Initially, both Gamura Twist and Ramen Bar had the same sets of stickers to collect, but by the third set, this was changed so each product had its own. So to get all the seals, you’d have to buy both.
Further visual effects were added over time, the fifth set of each snack added another gimmick – for Ramen Bar, it was the ever-popular 3D hologram effect, and for Gamura, it was “W+1 seals” – that’s right, TRIPLE seals.
By Gamura 11/Ramen 10, triple seals became the standard for all stickers, and introduced layering effects. Having three images to work with, there were also stickers that emphasized story telling over simply being character image collectibles.
Something that also may become apparent from perusing these is the rising prominence of the blue haired, star-foreheaded character of “Robin God”.
It’s interesting to note that Wrestler Gundan seals had manga tie-ins in Comic BomBom, a monthly magazine aimed at boys full of such promotional comics and ads with toys, games, etc. Bikkuriman, meanwhile, was supported by CoroCoro Comic. By April of 1989, an anime adaptation began airing, “Go! Wrestler Gundan”, pretty much making it the only non-Lotte Bikkuri-like franchise to ever come close to reaching similar heights of notoriety during that time.
Not to mention, some later Bikkuriman sets started using double seals…
After 21 episodes, the show switched to “Wrestler Gundan <Ginga-Hen> Seisenshi Robin Jr.” (レスラー軍団＜銀河編＞ 聖戦士ロビンＪｒ．, Wrestler Corps <Galaxy Saga> Holy Warrior Robin Jr.). This tied into a major update to the products in general: Renamed Gamura Twist MARK II and Ramen Bar MARK II, and prominently bearing the anime logo, the double and triple seals were dropped in favor of a new variant.
Called “P&S”, or “Plate & Seal”, rather than having a standard sticker on a paper backing, the sticker was attached to a solid “plate” (sort of like a trading card) which had full color artwork on the front and back. The back being, well, the character’s back.
Some P&S also had power up/power down versions of the character, where the power ranking on the seal would hint at which it was. Also, although the seal would usually make it obvious who the character (or thing) underneath was at a glance, sometimes it’d be a symbol or object instead.
While there was text on the front seal, and occasionally on the back of the plate, it was a whole lot less than there was in the previous series – the whole collectible narrative angle was downplayed a fair bit.
And although the anime went for a full 50 episode run, the Ramen Bar MARK II P&S series only lasted for 3 sets, and Gamura Twist MARK II for 6. It’s worth noting that this was around the time Bikkuriman declined in popularity as well, although fan sites speculate over various factors.
Unlike Lotte’s series though, that would be it for Robin Jr. and the Wrestling Gundan – after 1990, there were no further seals for quite some time.
2000 Reprints and Final Ring
After a decade of nothing, Kanebo brought back Gamura Twist, in classic packaging and all, with reprints of select stickers from the very earliest series. Not long after, the same year, they released Gamura Twist Final Ring, a single set with bright new renditions of classic characters and a few new ones.
The title wasn’t kidding. Following that, there’s been no further releases. In 2007, following an accounting fraud scandal at Kanebo (which also had their hands in cosmetics, textiles, etc), Kanebo Foods became Kracie Foods – Kanebo Ltd itself was dissolved. Coincidentally, that same year, Comic BomBom shut down.
Where to Buy & Other Merchandise
As you may have already deduced by now, the whole double/triple seal thing makes for a huge headache for collectors: Assuming the seals weren’t already separated entirely, the act of peeling the front seels back and forth over and over results in further damage. Seals with all parts intact and in great condition are quite valuable.
And since there haven’t been any new releases in over a decade, you’re looking at an expensive hobby. All the same, if you’re up for it, check out the Used section in the “Where can you buy Shinra Bansho cards?“, and use any of the following terms instead.
ガムラツイスト (Gamura Twist) – ラーメンばあ (Ramen Bar) – レスラー軍団 (Wrestler Gundan) – 聖戦士ロビンＪｒ (Seisenshi Robin Jr.) – ロビンＪｒ (Robin Jr.)
Add MARK II or MARKⅡ (Roman numeral symbol) as needed
In terms of other merchandise, you may find some mooks, guide books, and sticker/card albums, or music CDs from the anime. Old as they are, all of these are also expensive and rare. It seems neither of the anime series had DVDs, or any other kind of home video release for that matter.
GO! Wrestler Gundan – TV, 21 episodes, 1989-04-18 to 1989-09-19
Wrestler Gundan <Ginga-Hen> Seisenshi Robin Jr. – TV, 50 episodes, 1989-10-19 to 1990-09-27
(Also aired in: Spain)
If you have any particular questions, comments, contributions, or just want to talk some Gamura Twists and Ramen Bars, come on down to this dedicated thread at our forum!