Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Gunpla #37 - HGUC Efreet Nacht Review



I fell in love with this mobile suit from the first time I saw its promotional poster on internet. I've never known Efreet Nacht since I don't play Battle Field Record 0081, the game which it came from. However, one thing is certain for sure: it's totally cool! Probably one of the coolest Zeon grunt mobile suits, on par with Jesta from Feddies side. Therefore, I couldn't hold myself for a pre-order when Bandai announced it would be released as P-bandai.


It's basically an Efreet (which will be also released as p-bandai), but with a slight twist on the design. It attires much darker color scheme from the original, with additional armors on the shoulders, arms and thighs. Outer sides of the legs also equipped with additional armor and thrusters, while there are more spikes on the shoulder armors. Anyway, the armaments should be the one which differentiate it from other Efreet variants. Instead of twin heat blades or knives, the Nacht is equipped with 4 kunais (or Cold kunais, to be more precised) and one badass Cold Sword. It also has hidden machine gun under the left arm guard. Rather than a samurai equipped with Katana, the Nacht strictly resembles a ninja with its ninja-to, kunais and color scheme.


There's nothing too special for the assembly, except the polycaps. This kit use very few polycaps, which made me quite anxious since HG kits heavily depend on polycaps for their joints articulation. There are no markings and only two sticker comes with this kit, for mono-eye and upper parts of the feet. This kit also lacks hands other than two standard closed hands for holding the weapons. The sword also need to be painted since it just comes with standard grey color (and I don't complain since it's a HG). 


Nevertheless, the finished kit was looked awesome, with slight color separation on some parts of the body. The articulation however, was limited (ironically) because of the extra armors, in particular over the thighs. Also, since it lacks polycaps, the hands were easily popping-out from the arms after being posed several times. I had difficult times to pose it using its two arms without making the hand pops-out.


One more thing I noticed after finished building this kit was the spare parts. Bandai includes some spare parts from the previous Efreet Custom with Nacht. It's nice since we may have options with some parts of the body, however, what irked me the most was, they were not complete. For example, the missile launcher (from Efreet custom) lacks the back side parts, hence we should modify it more (using putty or pla plate) to make the launcher.


The verdict, for a p-bandai, this kit is really cool and worth the money. There are some aspects however, which are the cons of it: lacks of marking, polycaps, accessories and limited articulation. In the end, this is still one of my favorite Zeon suits, and I plan to customize it in the future.

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MS-08TX/N Efreet Nacht

Pros:
  • Cool ninja theme and color separation
  • Nice weapons set
  • Lots of spare parts from Efreet Custom
Cons:
  • Limited articulation due to extra armors and lacks of polycaps
  • Lacks of marking and extra hands
  • Some of the spare parts are not complete

Friday, May 25, 2018

Gunpla #36 - HGGO Heavy Gundam Review


Looks like I have a fetish with gundams of HG origin line. This time, another long awaited kit: P-Bandai HG Heavy Gundam. This kit is one of the most anticipated HG kits of 2018, alongside Blue Destiny Unit 3 and Gundam Ground Type. Not only because it's the first time for the Heavy Gundam to be released as HG, but also because the origin version treatment it received compared to its MG counterpart.



From the outside, the kit looks no different with the previously released Gundam Local Type (LT) and FSD from the same line. It sports the same black color scheme and basically same markings, hence many assumes that this kit is just a retool of the LT/FSD. However, once you start building it, you will realize that Heavy Gundam kit is completely different from LT/FSD. The building steps are different, for almost all parts, the torso, arms, feet, waist and even for the head. At least 70% parts are new. 



Heavy gundam has new joint systems for the head, arms, waist and crotch areas. This new joints provide much wider articulation than any gundam kits released in HG origin. One which could be easily seen is the waist, which provide crouching gimmick to the kit while the crotch joint system makes the kit be able to kneel in more natural way.





Another thing to be noticed is the design aesthetics itself. While it's different, no one can deny that Heavy Gundam has resemblance with RX-78-02 Gundam in many ways. Interestingly, I found several things which might be an indication that Bandai will released RX-78-02 in the near future. For example, an unused peg hole on the back skirt of Heavy Gundam. It's obviously made as a connector for something. So why it's unused? Because Heavy Gundam doesn't have weapon to be attached on its back skirt. So, why does the peg hole exist? Probably it was made for another mobile suit which has weapon attached on its back skirt, for exampe, Bazooka. And what is another gundam which has bazooka attached on its backskirt? RX-78-02! Binggo!




In contrast with another gundams released previously, Heavy Gundam's backpack becomes one with the torso, or we can say that it's actually doesn't have backpack. Just a torso equipped with thrusters at the back. Thus, it might be a little strange if the shoulder cannon is built as the part of the torso. Another weird thing is the ankle armors. Unlike LT/FSD, the ankle armors have articulation since they have joints connected to the shin parts of the leg. Strangely, they're connected to the shin through ball joints! While it may looks weird, thanks to the ball joints, the ankle armors could be now moved freely.



The last things I would like to mentioned are the accessories. Heavy Gundam comes with an FSD shield, a special beam rifle, 2 beam saber effects with only 1 hilt and lastly, a bigass flame launcher. I don't consider the shoulder cannon as accessories since it becomes the part of torso. The flame launcher is big ... and HEAVY. It has a small compartment for the gundam's right hand placement while using the weapon. The special beam rifle on the other hand, just an ordinary beam rifle. Story wise, the beam rifle is actually the proper beam rifle used by Gundam FSD. So, if you've already had FSD and Long-range beam rifle prototype, now you accessories are now complete.



The marking stickers are more and less similar with FSD or LT. The only annoying things are the small stickers wrapping hands and legs. The quality is basically the same with previous Gundams. Nothing so special here.

So, now the conclusion: should you buy it? I would like to say yes, because compared to the previous gundam release of origin line, Heavy Gundam build is almost completely new, and it's a badass kind of gundam. The articulation is so amazing, although I could say that it's still not in the same level as HGUC revive kits.

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FA-78-2 Heavy Gundam

Pros:
  • New design and engineering, not a mere retooled kit from previous HGGO Gundams
  • Badass weapon and accessories
  • Improved articulation from Gundam Local Type/FSD
Cons:
  • Almost nothing ... probably the weird ankle armor connector and overall same markings with Gundam local type/FSD             

Monday, May 7, 2018

Gunpla #35 - HGGO Gundam FSD + Long-range Beam Rifle Prototype Review


This kit is basically an upgrade of Gundam Local Type North American Version. If you check the package, it's obvious that Bandai just added one extra runner for the mini gattling gun, big shield, ammo drum and some body parts. The rest of the accessories are from local type. It's quite a greedy business strategy by Bandai, since they just provide the original beam rifle with Heavy Gundam which is a p-bandai, and long-range beam rifle which is a special-limited bonus from Gundam Ace manga magazine.


Since this kit is actually identical with local type (except for the chest and waist parts), I won't talk about articulation. Anyway, one of the best reason to buy this kit is probably the spare parts. You'll get ALL part and accessory from the local type, which means, you can choose making gundam FSD, original local type or the north american type, or if you can also mash those kits as you like. Unfortunately, the sticker decals are just enough for the new parts of FSD, thus you can't add some markings for the extra parts/accessories.


Now, let's talk about the gun. Not the puny machine gun of local type, but that BIG long-range beam rifle prototype from Gundam Ace magazine. The weapon is one of the original weapons of FSD as depicted on Origin MSD manga, and it's designed by the famous Katoki Hajime.




That big beam rifle had two barrels and could be extended (if you buy more than 1 magazine, of course). It also could switch into a kind of ordinary beam rifle and beam 'pistol' if you remove the barrels. The gun also has attachment for the backpack and shield (the one with stance).


It's a badass big gun, but as you may expect, it's also heavy, and that means, it will be hard to pose  the gun with the gundam kit. I found the flimsy hands of HG kits (not just FSD) were struggling to hold the gun properly, especially for the trigger handle. Luckily, there's an option to move handle to the back side of the gun, hence making it easier for posing. Furthermore, the mini gattling gun is on the way while posing the big gun, thus it's better to detach the gattling gun before putting the long range beam rifle.






Overall, I'm quite satisfied with these kits, and I recommend it for everybody who wants to try the HG kits from the Origin series. If you're confused to choose between FSD, local type or north american local type, I suggest you to choose FSD since you'll get all parts from the previous gundams to make either one of them, or a custom one.

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RX-78-01 [FSD]

Pros:
- All parts from previous gundams included
- Badass color scheme and markings

Cons:
- The original weapons are limited release (p-bandai and gundam ace magazine)



Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Gaijin Story #11 - UTokyo WiFi Networks for Newbies

When the first time I became student of Todai, I barely used the wifi connections provided by the university except the one at my research institute (AORI). Moreover, as a research student, I have never been provided UTokyo account by the university or the student affair section of my graduate school. I survived somehow by cable and wifi connection from my laboratory. It's such a hard life to become a kenkyuusei, wasn't it?

After (officially) becoming a graduate student however, the university bombarded me with so many information, procedures and guidelines, including for the wifi networks on campus. One of my fellow student joked that with such massive information, we may not be able to finish reading all of them in 3 years of our study.

I write this post for student or anybody (including visitors) at UTokyo who needs wifi connection at the university and still confused with the guidelines. Please note that the wifi connections I mentioned here are the ones provided by the main university network system, not the graduate schools/faculties as they have their own wifi system.

If you're at any campuses of Todai (e.g. Hongo, Komaba, Kashiwa etc) and turn on the wifi connection of your device (laptop or smartphone), you may notice some wifi connections available like this one:


There are basically three kinds of wifi connection at Todai (in red circle), with their own advantages and disadvantages.

1. UTokyo-WiFi
User            : UTokyo students, staffs and faculty members only
Account issuance: Using UTokyo account
Network setting : Required
Pros            : Fast and reliable, Free access to many e-journals, Good for academic works
Cons            : Limited locations, Complicated network settings, Expired after 6 months

This is the official wifi connection of Todai which could be accessed exclusively by the members of the university. In order to use this wifi, you firstly need to obtain your UTokyo account. The account should be distributed during the guidance session of your department when you firstly admit as the student of Todai, and it's extremely important for accessing any on-line academics/administration system (course registration/UTAS etc.)

After obtaining UTokyo account, you should login and register an email address for any contacts/notification regarding the account. After that, you can issue UTokyo-Wifi account by accessing this website. Please keep in mind that UTokyo-Wifi account is different from UTokyo account. In the past, UTokyo-Wifi account could be issued after taking seminar of ECCS at Hongo campus. Starting from FY2018, the account could be issued directly after admitting into the university (no seminar needed).


Log in using your UTokyo account and make new account application. The account information (user id and password) will be sent to your registered email address. After obtaining the account information, you should add the UTokyo-Wifi connection using the settings as described on this page. Tell the truth, the network setting is quite complicated, even for me who used to work with network systems in the past. If you feel confused with the settings, you can ask help from friends or inquiry form of the above mentioned website. Another important thing is, the UTokyo-Wifi account will be expired after 6 months, thus you should issue/renew new account periodically in order to use this service.

The good thing of using this wifi connection is, it's fast and reliable. It's also extremely important if you want to access academic information system such as UTAS or e-journal libraries from campus. 

2. UTokyo-Guest
User            : Visitors, Anybody at UTokyo campuses
Account issuance: Using cellphone number
Network setting : Not required
Pros            : Easy access, No account expiration, Free
Cons            : Limited locations, Slow connection, No academic services provided 

This wifi connection mainly targets the visitors of  Todai. In order to use this wifi, you just need your phone number to get an account (your user id). Either international and domestic phone numbers are eligible to use this service, as long as they can receive call (from audio guide). It's free and no network setting required for using UTokyo-Guest, hence it's really convenient for visitor or user with limited knowledge in network settings.

Users can directly connect to the wifi and open web browser. When trying to open a web page, user will be forwarded to the login page. The login information will remain even if the browser is closed (reset only in shutdown/restart). For more information about this wifi, you can access this page and manual.



Anyway, as the name suggests, it basically can not be used to access academic information systems of the university. The users however, could use this wifi and VPN to access the internal network of the university if they have UTokyo account. Another bad thing about this wifi is, it's slow, especially in the period of high network traffic.

3. Eduroam
User            : Anybody who uses participating institution email service
Account issuance: Using participating institution's email
Network setting : Depends on the visited institutions/locations
Pros            : Fast, Worldwide access, Free
Cons            : No academic services provided, Network setting could be complicated

This wifi connection is the most interesting (at least for me) of all. Eduroam is a free international roaming service for user in research, higher education and further education. Using this service, you can access wifi connection not only at Todai, but also at any participating institutions, all over the world. So let's say you join a conference at a university in US or UK who uses the same roaming service, you still can access the wifi using the very same account you use at your home institution (in this case, Todai) and vice versa. The authentication system/network settings however, should follow the ones of the visited institution.



In order to issue an account, it's necessary for the user to have an email address of participating institution. In case the user is a member of Todai, he/she needs to have an email address using Todai's domain (u-tokyo.ac.jp). Next thing to be keep in mind is, if the user uses eduroam service at Todai, then the network settings should follow the ones used in Todai. That means, the network settings will be the same with UTokyo-Wifi, which is yeah ... quite complicated. Anyway, if you have done the settings for UTokto-Wifi, you should be able to do it again with ease for eduroam.

For issuing an account (for Todai's member), go to this page, click on the "New Account Application" link, and input your name and Todai's email address. After confirmation, you will receive an account notification on your email with user id and password information. You can log into the account management page to check the details (change password etc.).  After issuing an account, you could do the very same network settings as UTokyo-Wifi as explained above. Just remember, if you want to use eduroam anywhere else than Todai, the network setting should be different.

The account will be expired after 1 year, but could be renewed if the registered email address is still valid at that time. Another important thing is, similar with UTokyo-Guest, eduroam could not be used to access academic information system of the university, unless the user uses VPN and UTokyo account.