Friday, April 26, 2019

Gunpla #48 - HGGO Gundam Marine Type a.k.a. Gundiver Review

What will you think when somebody talk about p-bandai kits? People (mostly outside Japan) will usually just despise them, arguing that p-bandai kits are just a 're-colored, over-expensive' variants of the retail released kits, which is part of Bandai marketing strategy to get more profit. Fortunately (or unfortunately), this kind of excuse will probably meet its end as Bandai recently released better kits as p-bandai. What I meant with 'better kits' is, they are not just a re-color, but rather come with new parts or even totally new designs compared to the retail ones. It's obviously the same case I would like to talk with the reviewed kit on this post.

HG Gundam Marine Type a.k.a Gundiver (I personally like this nickname) is a p-bandai HG kit from Origin series, which was announced not long after Bandai released Gundam Local Type (GLT), the first HG Gundam released of the series. As p-bandai kits, people, in particular the ones not familiar with MSV (Mobile Suit Variations) expect it as a re-colored version of GLT, until they see the original design of the kit.

It looks totally different with GLT in so many aspects: colors, body parts and accessories. In fact, this kit comes with around 80% new parts thus it could be considered as a new kit rather than a variant of GLT. Just look at these runners:

Stickers, wire and the runners on the right side are new parts. The old parts on the left are similar with GLT, and mostly parts for only the visor, waist sections and feet. If we consider beam sabers and polycaps are exceptions-since they come with almost all HG kits-we could come to a conclusion that this is actually a new kit, not a variant. So why Bandai release Gundiver as p-bandai than retail release? You may be pretty sure Bandai will get more profit than if it's released as a premium exclusive. So why? Well, I think the answer lies within the Gundiver's design itself.

As a 'new design', the assembly was more complicated than GLT. There were so many extra details everywhere and part separations were amazing, especially for the orange-colored parts, the main highlight of this kit. The torso and backpack were arguably the most interesting parts of Gundiver, and Bandai did a great job by giving them so many extra details, even for very small parts. 

As other HG kits, there are-of course-foil stickers for the color separations. This kit comes with pretty big foils to get the correct color for backpack, feet and head. Yes, some parts of the head other than eye sensor also need orange foils: the forehead sensor and 'cheeks'. This sticker mess is probably one of the main cons of the kit. Anyway, I just applied the ones on the head for reference look and discarded the others.

Another main obvious differences with GLT are the legs. There were extra vents, fins, thrusters (propellers?) on them compared to its land brother unit. As the torso, the waist and skirts were also highly detailed. Remember some HG kits of EFF usually has a 'V' crest on it? Normally, the crest is simply a foil sticker, but for this kit, it's an actual separated part instead. Interesting.    

The arms are partially same with GLT, The main differences are bigger shoulders and attachments for each arms which are the hand anchor for the right arm and harpoon gun for the left. Hand anchor could be extended and connected by the wire which comes with the kit, while the harpoon gun could be detached as a hand-held weapon. Nice gimmicks for a HG kit.

The main weapon of Gundiver is underwater-beam rifle, which interestingly has a 'cover', probably to prevent water getting inside and causing short-circuit to the instrument. This cover thing pretty reminded me of HGUC Zee Zulu from Unicorn series. Another weapon for this mobile suit is a pair of beam picks which is actually a shorter beam saber for underwater use. The hilts could be stored on the right side skirt. And this is the look of fully assembled kit without decal stickers and beam-rifle cover.

It looks amazing, isn't it? So again, why the hell is this kit a p-bandai? Now, look at the manual.

It is obvious that even with stickers applied, there are still many parts which lack correct colors of the actual model: front skirts (dark-grey), beam rifle (white and orange), legs (dark-grey and orange), feet (blue), head (orange), harpoon gun (orange and blue) etc. This inaccurate parts probably don't concern much 'true' builders who prefer custom-painting the kits they have, but it might become less appealing for more casual, collector ones, who prefer out-of-the-box looks. I believe this was one of the main reasons why Bandai released it as a p-bandai, which is mostly popular for collectors.  

Since stickers are not enough, the only way to fix it is by painting the kit. I suppose that's also the reason why this kit has a colored manual (p-bandai HGs usually come with monochrome manual), to help modeler apply the right color for the kit. As a casual builder, I don't have sophisticated painting tools (e.g. airbrush) and skills, hence depending mostly on hand-brush painting. Since I have to paint many light color parts over the dark ones, for the first time, I applied primer to paint the kit. The painting process was quite tough and I made many mistakes, especially the gun-metal for the front skirts. Anyway, I eventually could finish painting the main parts and discarded the less revealed parts. Due to my tight schedule, for beam rifle, I discarded painting the white parts, and just went for the orange ones.  Finally, I applied matte top-coat (minus the beam rifle cover because I forgot it). The results was quite good in my opinion. Definitely not perfect, but OK for me. He looks gorgeous after applying the sticker decals.

Now, posing time! This kit basically has same articulation with GLT, with more gimmicks and option to play with.

The verdict, this is one of the most interesting (if not the most interesting) p-bandai kits for me. Bandai did a very good job by pushing the design of the kit nearly over the limit of a typical HG kit with its details and part separations. Casual collectors probably find this kit incomplete with some inaccurate colored parts, but if you are a true gunpla builder, you will definitely love this kit ;-) 


RAG-79-G1 Gundam Marine Type (Gundiver)

  • Fantastic design, with lots of details and color separations
  • Around 80% of the parts are new, compared to the retail released Gundam Local Type
  • Lots of accessories and nice decal stickers
  • With original price tag of 2160 yen, it's pretty inexpensive
  • Lots of foil stickers
  • Inaccurate out-of-the-box color separations
  • Weak hands 

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Gunpla #47 - HGGO GM Cannon (Space Assault Tyoe) Review

Another GM! This time,  it's a p-bandai GM Cannon from Origin MSD, and the last of the four GMs in the series released by far. As previous released GMs, this kit offers a high detail design and great articulation, something special to HG of Origin series. Due to its similarity to previous GMs in the series, I would emphasize this review for the new aspects special for this kit.

Firstly, as always, let's talk about the aesthetics. There's no doubt that all GM of the Origin series are pleasant to watch, and this one is no exception. Mainly consists of red, white and black color scheme, GM Cannon looks so badass! Again, the details and proportion look so much better (in my opinion) compared to its MG counterpart, something you rarely found in a HG kit. The marking stickers set are gread and blend well with the colors. Some stickers though, need to be trimmed because they just lay over panel lines. Only one foil sticker used for part separation on the cockpit armor, but I just painted it grey. 

As its GM brothers, this kit has great articulation. The front skirts certainly articulates better than GM Guard Custom or GM Sniper Custom, mainly because of one-piece design which is not hindered by the waist section of the mobile suit, thus it could do kneeling pose without any problems at all. Unfortunately, neck articulation is blocked by the shoulder cannon, making this kit couldn't turn its head to the right. The cannon itself has very limited articulation, it cannot level the barrel to high, or moving left or right freely because of the narrow space beside the head.

This kit comes with two weapons only: a beam spray gun and a shoulder cannon. No melee weapons at all which is unfortunate. As previous GMs, it only has three hands: 2 standard and 1 right trigger, and as before, the hands are so weak which is not really a big problem considering the minimal weaponry this kit has. Another good thing is, there are several vacant connector plugs on the back skirt and each arms in case you want to customize it for using other weapons. The left side of the backpack also has a connector plug which could be use as the rack for beam saber, another shoulder cannon or any other accessories.

The verdict, this kit is a nice addition to the Origin's GM series. It is highly detailed, well articulated and customizable. The weaknesses are weak hands, limited neck-cannon articulation and lack of accessories. If you are a GM fan, you will not regret adding this kit into your collection.


RGC-80S GM Cannon (Space Assault Type)

  • Beautiful, highly detailed aesthetics
  • Great articulation (in general)
  • Customizable, with several plug connectors
  • Very minimal weaponry
  • Weak hands
  • Limited articulation for neck and shoulder cannon


Monday, March 18, 2019

Gunpla #46 - Exceed Gundam Head Vol.1 Review

I am not a fan of gashapon toys, but this one is an exception. Exceed have been successful with its previously released Zaku head (I even have two of them on my desk), and this year, they made it again. This time though, it's not Zaku, but Gundam, the protagonist of the franchise. The first volume of Gundam head have been released in January 2019 in Japan, and consists of three kinds of head: 'granddaddy' RX-78-2, FA-78-1 Full Armor Gundam, and RX-78-3 G3, with price of 500 Yen for each head. It became a big hit when it was released, and the toys were quickly sold out. Now, it is so rare, you won't likely find it, even in Akihabara except at very few hobby stores or auction sites.

Unopened head in their 'helmet'
Construction wise, it is pretty simple and not so different with the Zaku head. Each had was encased in a kind 'helmet' along with the manual. The manual itself is in Japanese, but quite self-explanatory and easy to understand.

The manual
The head will be revealed after opening the helmet case, where v-fin, forehead, and chin parts are stuffed inside it.

The main parts of the head

By opening the side vents hatch (which is the main gimmick of this kit), we can pull the forehead and back sensor out. The v-fin could be constructed and attached on the forehead, as well as the chin parts. Take caution when opening the plastic bag of v-fin parts since they are quite fragile.

Last step, connect the head to the neck which is made by using the base of helmet. The color of the neck might be inaccurate but the head looks totally cool!

As mentioned above, the only gimmick of this kit is the side vent hatch which could be opened. Other than that, nothing special could be done with it. Of course, there are possibilities for customization eg, installing LED inside the head etc. Nevertheless, for a 500 Yen gashapon toy, this kit is highly detailed, with lots of panel lines over it. As previously released Zaku head, each Gundam head has a marking on it. Panel-lining the head should be easy using Tamiya Panel Lines Accent (TPLA) or even Gundam Marker. Anyway, the ones who use TPLA should be aware because its excessive use could melt the plastics as well as the paint (on forehead or chin).

The verdict, this kit is a nice addition for those who love gashapon toys, and of course, Gundam. I'm truly looking forward to see the Vol.2. I wonder how Exceed will make Gundam head from different universe such as Wing or Seed series :-)