Category: Anime

Master Grade New Gundam Ver Ka Buildlog 2

Oh man, this kit is awesome.

I apologize for the lack of updates, as I’ve been rather busy over the past few days. There’s a lot more to this kit than you can see, so assembly and painting has been taking a bit longer than anticipated. However, this kit, even in an unfinished state, has one hell of a presence. The kit stands incredibly tall, and no, that’s not a crack about Katoki and the gigantic legs his designs have.

First off, I’m going to give an update regarding the LED unit, and how to put it in. I managed to finally find some batteries for the kit, but I had to go to Radio Shack in order to find the right size. Not only that, they cost me six bucks for a battery! And each unit requires TWO! I certainly regretting not getting that huge bulk battery pack from Amazon before they changed their shipping policy for tiny stuff like that…

When installing the LED Unit, make sure to have the switch against the back of the plate it goes into. Otherwise, it’ll just switch on or off every time you insert it into the body. Hopefully this won’t make things too annoying once I have the backpack done.

And there it is! It’s pretty awesome, but I’m not sure if it was worth the extra $25 investment…

As to be expected from any Ver Ka design, this thing is COVERED with decals. I think I spent about three hours on the legs alone. Some of them feel sort of unnecessary, too, like the one on the side of the leg. To make the kit’s decals look more interesting, you receive a single Ra Cailum decal, or one split into two. The one split into two is used so you can have it look all cool when the Nu goes into destroy mode.

Also, you have to feel for Astonaige and the Ra Cailum’s mechanics… can you imagine being the poor sap who has to repaint all those decals after Amuro comes home from battle?

The Destroy Mode is… pretty awesome, and not as difficult to put it into as I initially thought! Some parts are a bit stiff, and you need to make sure you have all the needed flaps extended, otherwise you’re probably going to break something. It’s one hell of a presentation, though, mostly thanks to the silver stickers behind each of the green parts.

Unfortunately a lot of parts have to be taken off, too, and I actually forgot a couple for these pictures. Whoops.

The articulation is nice and smooth, thanks to a lot of the joints being based around circle pieces instead of your more traditional “double-jointed rectangles”. It holds its poses pretty well, too. It’s amazing how far the Ver Kas have come from the stiffness of the old Gundam Ver Ka about ten years ago.

While it’s been taking awhile, the Nu Gundam has been progressing pretty smoothly. Don’t worry, you’ll see the finished product by the end of the week. I promise it’s gonna be awesome! Make sure to look for yours at FPNYC!

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Master Grade Guncannon Preview



A few months back, you might remember the Real Type G-Armor kit I was going to build. Well, don’t worry, because I certainly haven’t forgotten it. I just got bogged down by Katoki-itis. I actually have plans on building a good chunk of the mobile suits from Mobile Suit Gundam, but in Real Type colors. As such, I made sure to secure myself a Master Grade Guncannon thanks to a very generous Twitter follower. My original plan was to use the color scheme of the American action figure from the early 2000’s, but I felt those colors looks a bit too Zeonic, so I looked up the old Real Type model kit from the 80’s, and I think these colors will work a bit better!

First thing’s first: this is a much older Master Grade, having been released exactly eleven years before the Nu Gundam ver ka. Of the Master Grades I’ve built in recent memory, this is pretty much the oldest in terms of initial release date, even though the Hyaku Shiki was originally engineered earlier. You can certainly tell this kit’s age by the inclusion of the box cover with a picture of the completed kit. I don’t know when they stopped making those, but it was CERTAINLY a long time ago.

While it was released after the Master Grade God Gundam, the Guncannon still has only minimal interiors, much like the Ground Gundam and Dom. However, the version of the kit I have here is actually the Gunpla 30th Anniversary version from 2010, with the special runner of clear parts. While the Guncannon doesn’t have many interiors, this kit can actually pull off the look better than some of the other older kits. I’m not entirely sure if I’ll actually display the kit with the clear parts on, but I’ll certainly take a few pictures with them. Keep in mind that I don’t think these versions of the kits are still being produced, so if you find any chances are, you’ve just found some older stock from 2010.

Much like the HY2M unit I purchased (and still haven’t used…) for my Hyaku Shiki, I went the extra mile for this kit by securing a set of B-Club’s resin hands. I’ve never worked with resin before, so this will be good practice. Typically, I have no real reason to go for extra hands, but I actually feel the Guncannon needs them. The suit spent a good chunk of the original series without a beam rifle, and Bandai never gives its kits fists! Now I can finally fix that!

The polycaps on this kit certainly show its age. The crystal visor is also quite cool.

I didn’t feel the need to purchase any decals for this kit, since I’m going to just use some from the Real Type Gundam and G-Armor, plus some spares from my Federation decal sheet. The Guncannon’s decals are thankfully rather nondescript, and all it really needs are the 108 labels and some for the Federation and White Base.

With the Nu Gundam nearly done, expect work on the Guncannon to commence soon. After doing two Ver Kas in a row, I need a serious break. There’s something magical about older kits with big, silly, chunky parts. Anyway, if you want your own Guncannon MG, make sure to check FPNYC for one!

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Chris’ list o’ things to throw money at in 2013

I suppose a 2013 preview list should not be written 14 days into year, but I did a lot of traveling over the holidays, and acquired several video games of worth. If anything, SEGA should be held responsible for pushing “Anarchy Reigns” back to this week.

Anywho, 2012 was a shockingly awesome year for collectibles, so hopefully 2013 will continue the trend. We’re a month away from Toy Fair, and 2 months away from c2e2, so some comics and toys new is light. “Some” being the key world here. There’s some things announced in 2012 that still haven’t seen the light yet, so I’ll talk about those!


COMICS:

I’ve poked a ton of fun at DC this past year (for good reasons), but there is some hope for them to acquire some of my cash-money in 2013. First off, Jeff Lemire (Animal Man, Justice League Dark) is taking over “Green Arrow”, which may have cool results. Given the success of “Arrow” on the CW, DC should have a book that’s readable for potential new readers. That and Lemire has put out some great stuff for DC. Lemire’s Rotworld-buddy Scott Snyder has 2 new books coming out from DC as well: a Vertigo maxi-series called “The Wake” with my boy Sean Murphy (Punk Rock Jesus) and a new Superman title with Jim Lee, which I’m fairly certain will be called “Man of Steel” (SYNERGY). Nice to see DC trying to step up as Marvel NOW is in full effect.

Speaking of the House of Ideas, A NEW UNCANNY X-MEN  STARTS IN 2013! YES I KNOW THIS IS THE SECOND TIME WE’VE GOTTEN A NEW UNCANNY X-MEN #1 IN 2 YEARS. BUT CHRIS BACHALO IS DRAWING IT! AND FRAZER IRVING TOO! HOPEFULLY CAPSLOCK AND CONVEY HOW EXCITED I AM! (Bendis is on writing duties, which hey cool, but man, those artists). Marvel actually has like hojillion new books announced so far: a new Uncanny X-force, Young Avengers, Nova, Guardians of the Galaxy, and like 3 other books there’s teasing at. And “Age of Ultron” starting this March. And Superior Spider-Man started this past week, so there’s that too.

2013 looks great for the non Big 2 companies too! Dark Horse has Hellboy in Hell rolling on, a Brian Woods’ penned “Star Wars” series, and something I stupid excited for- Gerald Way (My Chemical Romance) and Becky Cloonan’s long awaited “Fabulous Livse of the Killjoys”, launching this Free Comic Day. Image has new series/mini-series being launched like Matt Fraction, Kelly Sue Deconnick, Kieron Giellen, and Paul Pope. I’m fairly certain that’s only the tip of the iceberg though. Not to mention Robert Kirkman’s “Invincible” hits #100 this month.

And not to leave it off the list KaBOOM’s “Adventure Time: Fionna & Cake” mini-series has started this month and it is pretty damn great. You go buy now.

TOYS:

Like I said earlier, details for 2013 toys are still kind of scarce, and we’ll have more info next month. HOWEVER, we should have another wave of both Marvel Universe and Legends dropping this month, featuring the likes of Nova, Hercules, Red She-Hulk, Iron Fist and several more characters more familiar to the public at large. We’ll also see the return of the Marvel Universe 3-packs, consisting of the likes of the West Coast Avengers, the Inhumans, 80s era Uncanny X-men, and the now disbanded Uncanny X-Men Extinction team. Also I imagine we’ll see some toylines based on Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World.

Non-Marvel toys of interest coming out in 2013 consist of a whole slew of Superman (and probably Batman) toys from Mattel and DC, a Kid Icarus figma from Max Factory (I AM EXCITE), a butt-ton of various -Arts figures from Bandai (Gundam, Dragon Ball, Pokemon,) and like seven trillion new Square Enix Playarts Kai figures from the millions of licenses they have. I’m not kidding, Square dropped like 2 new PA Kai figures this past month alone. More on those next week.

2013 is shaping up to be a pretty dope year for collectibles and comics. As for me, I got some cool stuff lined up that I can’t talk about, but will shamelessly plug when I can. Convention-wise, you can stalk me at PAX East, c2e2, Heroescon and New York Comic Con this year, and on twitter @theanarCHris if you want to troll me and disagree with me over everything. FUN FOR ALL!

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Master Grade Crossbone Gundam x-1 Finished

Ah, good ol’ Crossbone Gundam. Totally badass and armed to the teeth.

Crossbone X-1 is an awesome design, but if it weren’t for my current play-through of Super Robot Wars Alpha 2, I probably never would have bit on this kit. Part of that is due to the lack of kits to use with it: the only other Crossbone kits are the Full Cloth X-1, and Harrison’s F91! You’d think the X-2 and X-3 would be an easy enough variants but well, sometimes Bandai just likes to completely skip out on the easy ones and make stupid stuff like Full Cloth! Oh well.

Keep in mind that I didn’t bother to assemble some of the X-1 Kai parts simply because I’m not that into that version of the design.

A lot of this kit, while cool in terms of presentation, is flawed from a design standpoint. I spoke before of the issues with the joints, and they’re even more noticeable on the completed kit. The arms function rather well without any polycaps, but the legs kind of suffer. You see, the big draw of polycaps were the extra “give” they allow the plastic, which meant that both making AND holding poses was easier. Removing that makes the kit feel stiff, and not in the right way. Sure, the joints themselves don’t feel like they’ll break since they’re still the modern-style Master Grade joints, but it still doesn’t feel… right.

The Core Fighter is VERY cool, but it’s where I started to get a little lazy on this kit. The Core Fighter along has about SEVENTY DECALS. Yes, seventy. Seven zero. Since it’s integral to the overall appearance of the suit, I’m not going to be displaying this thing on its own. I got pretty lazy with the decals on the boosters and just put on the most noticeable ones. Damn you, Katoki, and your love for over-decaling your designs.

But of course, the most important part about Crossbone is its weapons. This suit really is armed to the teeth.

First up, the buster gun. This is a pirate-style flintlock pistol. I made the handle brown to give it a more pirate-like look. But as cool as it looks, it’s way too big for the kit’s small hands and just getting it into the hands causes the fingers and thumbs to pop off. It still looks cool, though…

The Beam Zamber is my favorite of all the weapons because holy crap, it’s a cutlass! Honestly I can’t think of any faults with this. It’s a cutlass for a robot, how cool is that?

Both weapons combine to form the Zambuster, a very cool beam rifle. There’s a lot of part moving done for this, but thankfully no actually part-swapping. I quite like it.

The little “shields” under the arms are actually crazy punch-y beam weapons! I think these are the Brand Markers? I love them. They’re about as absurd as I would’ve liked.

Two knives are stored behind the legs, with removable blades. Pretty simple, right? Well, you can also put the blades in the bottom of the feet!! GEEZ. That’s ridiculous. Too bad this thing won’t fit on an action base, otherwise I’d be showing them off in a much more interesting way.

The skirt armor has two weapons, one of which is a claw on a chain called the Scissor Anchor. I have no idea what this is used for. The other is a whip-like weapon, but that’s used for X-1 Kai so I don’t have those accessories assembled. Sorry guys.

The suit also has a cape… but it’s pretty bad. I could barely get it on, and honestly, it doesn’t even look very good. Let us not speak of it.

In spite of some flaws I do recommend this kit, but just make sure to not go in expecting the levels of engineering we know these days. Crossbone is an awesome suit, and a welcome addition to any shelf. If you’re ever at FPNYC, it’s certainly one I’d suggest requesting!

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HGUC_ECOAS Jegan Review

I always love it when Gundam adds new concepts that don’t exactly add much to the story itself, but make the whole universe seem richer in a way. While characters like the MSV Ace Pilots don’t have much of an impact on the overall story to the One Year War, they add a nice little dimension to the time period that shows that there was more to the war than what the viewers saw the White Base crew encounter. Gundam Unicorn added the concept of the Federation’s ECOAS (Earth, Colony Asteroid) teams, which, from what I’ve gathered, is the Universal Century equivalent to the modern day Navy SEALS.

However, you may notice that the Jegan you see here isn’t the ECOAS Jegan, but in fact, the D-Type Jegan; the model we mainly see in Unicorn. Ever since I laid eyes on that design, I fell in love for some stupid reason. However, at first I was worried that this was going to be some BS like the A-Type Zaku I, where in order to make it you need a regular Zaku I kit and a Zaku Sniper. For this variant, everything you need is included in the box, essentially making this an “in-box kitbash”. Really, all you need to do is use the parts for the standard Jegan head and swap the torso plate out for the standard cockpit. Instant D-Type.

Of course, there are a few issues here. The most glaring being the dark brown color scheme, which is going to be a huge pain to paint in the Jegan’s trademark pale green color scheme. The second is the crystal visor, which here is pink instead of blue. I absolutely hate having to paint the visors on kits because it feels like I’m doing it a disservice. The whole point of crystal visors is, well, you see through them! You don’t really get that effect when you paint over them. Maybe I can get some clear blue spraypaint to work.

The kit feels very sturdy overall. It’s not as fancy as its younger brother the Jesta, but none of it feels like it’s going to break. Unfortunately the color distribution leaves a something to be desired, as none of the thruster and other yellow bits are their own pieces, which is going to result in some seriously frustrating painting.

The hip joints are a disappointment as well, but this is largely due to the mobile suit’s design and technological limitations. The triple-jointed hips we see on kits like the Jesta are absent, and instead we have the more traditional ball joints. If that joint system were used, the hips would have had to be completely redesigned and a lot of accuracy sacrificed, so sometimes you have to take the visually accurate route instead of the more functional one.

The weapon complement is pretty cool. You get the standard Jegan beam rifle, which is always neat; the awesome ECOAS Jegan Bazooka (which I hope to find a new home for), and a beam saber. Normally beam sabers are pretty unexciting for me, but this kit has beam sabers blades at two different lengths! Hell yes. Bandai, please do this more often, thank you. It also includes a hand rack for storing all… one of the extra hands it comes with. Oh well, the thought counts.

Yeah, I’m sorry I didn’t build this as the default kit, but the second I figured out I didn’t need a second kit to make the D-Type, I just ran with that. Maybe I’ll get to painting this sometime over break. In the meantime, I’d suggest picking up this kit or any of the other Jegans if you see them at FPNYC!

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Because I’m always right- Best of 2012, toys edition

Not to be outdone by fellow FPNYC blogger Unkie Dev, my wife and I also got an addition to our family this week. Only ours has come in the form of a cat. “Pixel” is currently hiding under a bookshelf after a an hour long train ride from Manhattan to Brooklyn, because that kind of thing is apparently traumatizing to cats. Anywho, belated congrads to Unkie Dev, his wife and their child, I wish them nothing but the best, even though this congrads comes a month late.

Meanwhile this cat ( and several video games), demand my full attention, which means it’s time for the annual best of lists. Obviously this is a 2 parter, with the 2nd part dedicated to comics. I’m starting off with toys in the event that the Mayan Apocalypse is a legit thing and I need something to ensure my sad, so very,very sad, legacy.

While it’s been forever, since I’ve picked up any sort of Gunpla, Bandai has continuously impressed me with the majority of the releases from the -Arts line over this past year. The former king Revoltech, IMO, has gotten a tad lazy with some of their stuff as of late, focusing on Western properties with various degrees of quality as the results. Bandai, on the other hand, stuck with the properties they’re known for (Gundam, Godzilla, Dragon Ball Z), added some new ones (Tiger and Bunny), and embraced some popular fan-favorite video game series (Persona 4, Megaman). It’s also worth nothing Figma had the blessing of the Nintendo license, and while the Samus Aran and Link Figmas are AMAZING, it’s not enough to carry the line when the rest of their non-Beserk offerings are so focused on barely legal school girls (Although I am a fan of their Fate/Zero stuff too). But the -Arts is definitely my import line of the year, as they’veall  had fantastic sculpts, unparalleled paints jobs, fantastic articulation, and feel a lot more sturdier than their peers. Also thanks to the distribution deal with Bluefinn, cheaper. In a year where both Revoltech and Figma kind of dropped the ball, Bandai’s Arts stepped up big.

In terms of video game figures though, NECA certainly put some cool stuff out this year, but Square Enix definitely showed up to play. With only 1 “new” Final Fantasy game to tie-into, Square did it damnedest to secure a lot of huge  3-party licenses, ones that had fans dying for toys for years. Both their Halo, Street Fighter and Metal Gear lines saw figures released on popular characters never done the justice they deserved, and Squenix branched out to handle huge western properties like the Batman: Arkham Asylum/City titles and Mass Effect. Not to mention cult title Vanquish finally getting the plastic treatment we were promised! And like I mentioned in the past, COWBOY BEBOP PLAY ARTS FIGURES, HOW COOL IS THAT?! 2013 also looks like another promising year for the company, but more on that in a few weeks. They’re another best for being the best buy at their scale/price, and delivering usually solid products that represent both Easter and Western Video Game properties.

I tend to talk about super hero toys a lot here (UNDERSTATEMENT, yes I am aware of this), but I got to say, I’m a little underwhelmed by what were offered this year overall. DC Collectibles is working on putting out more articulate toys, but we won’t see the fruits of their labor until 2012 most likely. Mattel’s DC All Stars line felt like a no-show this year, with the exception of some of the Bat-toys that made it on the shelf this year. Hasbro’s Marvel Universe line is getting better, but I think I’m going to give the nod to the return of the Legends line, which was slightly more diverse, although repaint heavy. 2013 will be interesting for both line for certain, given we’re now in the Marvel NOW era of comics, meaning everyone’s getting a redesign. Also props to the Hot Toys Avengers line, which has been nothing short of amazing.

Overall, if I were to choose a single figure to be my toy of the year, it would be the  Figma Samus Aran figure. It’s perfect in every way and it’s a great reward for all of us who waited so long for a quality figure based on the legendary Nintendo franchise. That’s all for this week, next time, I talk about comics!

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Master Grade Crossbone Gundam X-1 Build Log Part 1

With the end of the school year upon me, I haven’t had as much time for Gunpla as I would like. But, no need to fret; I’ve been keeping with a pretty decent schedule on my Crossbone X-1 kit. Turns out I was wrong about the release date of the kit: it was 2006, not 2007. Funny that I thought that, considering I got my Harrison Custom F91 in 2007. Ah well. As far as the whole “Ver Ka” practice goes, the kit’s tiny little decals haven’t proven to be as bad as I expected them to be, but trust me, the worst is yet to come…

So far, a lot of the kit’s construction is actually shared with F91. This isn’t all that surprising, as the “no polycap” structure was still in its infancy, and Bandai likes to cut corners whenever possible when it comes to similar suits, so it was a logical choice. It’s also possible Bandai wasn’t expecting a Crossbone kit to do very well, sales-wise. This is somewhat reinforced by the fact that the mold gates clearly indicate plans for X-2 and possibly even X-3 kits, neither of which ever happened. A shame, because I love the design of X-2.

When I was constructing the torso, I was incredibly confused by the lack of any cockpit. Then I remembered, “oh, that’s right, this suit has a Core Fighter”. Oops. I haven’t started that part yet (and trust me, it’ll be an adventure), but I love how it works on this suit. It’s similar to the Core Landers from G-Gundam, and is a hell of a lot more practical. I can’t wait to get to use this thing in full.

There are two different chest pieces for the cockpit, but I only have one so far. There’s this one, the standard version with the Crossbone Vanguard emblem, and the X-1 Kai version with the Jolly Roger. I’ll show that one when the kit is fully completed. Also, for whatever reason, I could NOT get the waterslide decal to adhere to the chest. I actually had to resort to a dry transfer for this. I hate using those. They’re so tricky and can be unreliable. Still, it looks better than the sticker would have.

The head proved to be a slight irritation. For reasons I’m not entirely sure of, the faceplate can open to reveal a face closer to some of the suits used by the CB’s main forces. Unfortunately, that plate is rather fragile, and I actually cracked it while assembling. It was an easy fix, but I certainly panicked for a few minutes.

The arms don’t have many surprises, and I’ll give a better analysis of the articulation with the finished product, but I need to talk about the part distribution here. The circles on the shoulders aren’t molded in yellow. Nope, they need to be painted. I could have used a sticker, but that would have looked awful. I guess this was the cost of a smaller Master Grade.

In spite of a few hiccups here and there, this has proven to be an enjoyable project thus far. The decals haven’t proven as awful as I initially expected, and so far, it’s been giving me plenty of experience. I should hopefully have this one done around Christmas so I can start on Nu ver Ka, which, by the way, will be hitting US retailers fairly soon! Make sure to ask FPNYC about getting one for yourself!

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Master Grade Crossbone Gundam X-1 Preview



Did someone say Pirate Gundam? I think I heard someone say Pirate Gundam.

I remember the day this kit was first announced. I was talking with my friend Keith (who used to write here) at the time, and he just starts messaging me with “CROSSBONE GUNDAM MASTER GRADE” and whatnot. I also recall the word “Crossboner” being used. Oh, Keith. In all seriousness, this was the type of release that I never thought would happen, even after the Gundam FIX releases. My best guess is Bandai wanted something to go with the then-recent Gundam F91 Master Grade, and since nothing else from that era is popular, they opted for Crossbone X1, in good ol’ Ver Ka style.

Initially I was planning on doing something else after the Zeta Gundam, but my plans got shifted around when I realized that if I were going to do the Nu Gundam Ver Ka, I’m probably going to need some practice with the crazy decals he uses. I opted for the regular version of Crossbone instead of the Full Cloth for three reasons: price, style, and the Peacock Smasher. I don’t care much for the more cartoony style, which grates against the whole Katoki aesthetic; and the Peacock Smasher, as awesome as it looks, doesn’t stay in the hands very well. Besides, sometimes it can be best to opt for the simpler release.

Being a smaller suit (coming in at roughly 15 meters, which will make the finished kit a full centimeter shorter than any of the Wing Master Grades), there obviously isn’t an abundance of parts here. I think this is going to be a great change of pace after the massive assortment of parts included with the Zeta, including all of its weapons and terrifying transformation gimmick.

Also, this kit has some awesome translucent pink plastic beam weapons.

The pilot figure is… amusingly pudgy. I guess it was done to emulate the art style of the manga?

One of the big defining factors in my choosing this version was the skulls. These ones are more “realistic” in style, as opposed to the almost Matsumoto-esque ones from the Full Cloth. Full Cloth includes these skulls, too, but I just felt it would be kind of wasteful.

You may have noticed already, but this kit actually has no polycaps. In 2007, Bandai was experimenting with a “no-polycap” frame in that time period and… it didn’t last long. If I remember correctly, Crossbone and F91 were the only kits to use it, and from my experience with the Gundam F91 Master Grade, it could have been much better. Hopefully this one will be a little more stable.

Yep, I purchased some water slide decals yet again. The cool thing about this is the inclusion of decals for both versions of the kit! Always nice when Bandai actually SAVES us money. The decals are also primarily numerals, so I won’t have to search high and low on the sheet looking through a ton of hiragana.

Crossbone also comes with a freaking cape. It’s probably not going to be the best or most stable thing in the world, but hey, it’ll be cool to have for some poses. I think part of it has to be cut, though.

The paint guide and decal guide are one in the same, which is going to make decaling MUCH easier.

Crossbone X-1 is shaping up to be a pretty fun project. I blame Super Robot Wars Alpha 2 for finally getting me interested in this series. It’s a shame Bandai never gave us X-2 and X-3, though. I would have LOVED to make X-2. But if you want to get started on your own Crossbone kit, make sure to take a look at FPNYC’s stock!

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Zeta Gundam Build Log FINAL

After about a month of construction, it’s finally done!

I have to admit, I was never one of those crazy-obsessed Zeta Gundam fans. Sure, it’s one of the best series but it’s far from perfect. I’ve never really been the big of a fan of the Zeta either, but I’ve always loved its variants like the White Unicorn Zeta, which I made several years ago (unfortunately before I started painting everything). Now, I was able to do a full Zeta Gundam with custom decals, and get the whole experience of the kit. Long story short, it’s pretty awesome.

The Zeta Gundam 2.0 Master Grade has a very lean, sleek frame, in an almost stark contrast to the first version from 1996. From what I’ve heard, that kit is a floppy mess and people didn’t like it when it was new. That just goes to show you how long it took for the Master Grade line to mature. This kit was the first Zeta Gundam that managed to do a proper transformation without any sense of floppiness or part swapping. I imagine the Real Grade improves on everything learned from this, but I don’t plan on making that for quite awhile.

And speaking of the transformation… it’s quite terrifying. I don’t think I’m afraid of death after this.

I’ve owned some monstrous Transformers in my day… the first that comes to mind is that stupid horse from Beast Wars Neo: Mach Kick. But as terrifying and complex as he was, nothing holds a candle to transforming a fully-painted Master Grade, especially when that suit is the Zeta. Wing and Epyon seriously had nothing on this. That said, it does everything it needs to, with parts sliding and locking into place like they should, and no part swapping is needed unless you’re attaching the beam rifle to the underside.

That said, I don’t think I’ll be transforming this again anytime soon.

For a weapon loadout, the Zeta has its rifle and shield as its main weapons. The beam rifle can be stored on the wrists when not in use, if you’re the type of person who likes to have as many weapons on your kit at once.

Two packs of grenades can also attach to either forearm, and can be used to display a pair of grenades on each arm via a sliding mechanism. When not in use, they can be stored underneath the stand.

The beam sabers store in the hip armor. Alternatively, you can stick a saber blade into the beam rifle to represent the long beam saber from the later episodes of the series.

But the best weapon is clearly the Hyper Mega Launcher. It’s huge and awesome, and probably stands taller than the Sazabi. It can fold up for storage, too, and you can do that “hey look how big my gun is!” pose everybody does with their Zeta kits.

For the decals, the only ones remaining were the custom “Z” for the shield, and Roux Louka/Zeta Gundam emblems for the knee and tailfin. I was supposed to have a big “NA-Nahel Argama” for the shield, but it wouldn’t fit. Ah well.

The stand is very cool as well, and it’s basically designed to be a launch catapult when not in full “stand” form. It actually lets you put the little in-scale figures to use!

The Zeta Gundam 2.0 is one damn fine kit, and I recommend it to anyone who’s looking for the suit in 1/100 scale. Really, they might as well discontinue the old 1.0 at this point, since it’s inferior in pretty much every way. While I’m sure the Real Grade schools the Master Grade, it’s the ideal choice for any 1/100 collector. If you want one, make sure to look for yours at FPNYC!

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Hey look, more Play Arts!

Holy crap it is really December?! Ugh, this means I need to buy multiple gifts for people. And by gifts I mean video games and gift cards. My friends are actually kind of easy to shop for truth be told, but that’s money I could be spending on myself, especially if we’re going to end up going  gift card for gift card. Seems kind of redundant if you ask me. Like these intro posts. Assuming “redundant” means “takes up space”, which according to Dictionary.com, it does not. Killjoy.

If you’re thinking Square Enix has gone a little release crazy as of late, you’re correct. They’ve been releasing a bunch of figures over the last few weeks, possibly because they’ve dropped all of 1 game this quarter, and they got to make some money. I’m okay with this, because for the most part, they’ve been pretty “solid” releases. I SAID SOLID BECAUSE HEY LOOK, A METAL GEAR SOLID FIGURE, THAT’S JOKES KIDS! Rounding out the 2012 MGS releases, is Meryl Silverburgh who joins the previously released Solid Snake and Ninja. I’ve had been of plenty of love for the former 2 figures, and Meryl’s just as good as them. Look at that lil’ smirk on her face, it’s adorable!  But seriously, it’s a dope sculpt and the paint job is pretty fantastic as well. Meryl had a great design and the figure totally does it justice, despite not being as complex as Snake or Ninja’s design. A must for the Metal Gear crowd, Meryl comes backed with variant hands & weapons, and will probably not last too long on our shelves, if the other MGS releases were any indication.

Continuing the trend of Squenix releasing figures based on games they have no hand in actually developing or releasing are the brothers of destruction from Devil May Cry 3, Dante and Vergil. And yes, I just made a dated pro-wrestling reference. Devil May Cry 4 was one of the first non-Square game-based figures the company released, and apparently the company felt they needed to jump back in the game’s history. UNPOPULAR OPINION TIME: I was never a fan of either character’s design for DMC3, and would have preferred to see something from DMC1, but Square Enix did the original designs justice. That being said, the knee and should joints for both these figures are odd, something that’s plagued Squenix figures throughout the years. That’s the only major flaw though, although it may be a deal breaker for some. Otherwise they’re both well-sculpted, articulated, well painted and come with a decent amount of accessories. Hey even the packaging for both figures is fairly impressive. DMC3 Dante never got a good figure outside of a Minimate, so hey, a victory for most!

Outside of “Bleach” and “Fullmetal Alchemist”, Square Enix really hasn’t released much in terms of anime figures. That changes now, as the classic “Cowboy Bebop” joins the Play Art Kai ranks with 2 amazing figures. The iconic Spike Spegial is offered up to the masses with his friend-turn-rival Vicious, and they’re both pretty fantastic. I’m not crazy about their wrist joints, but that’s some nit-picking on my end. They’re a little more simplistic in design when compared to some of the video game stuff, but that’s alright, as it’s 100% show accurate. If you’re a Bebop fan, there’s no excuse, it’s not going to be get any better than these 2 anytime soon. ALL of these Play-Arts are available now by the way, so you know the drill. GIVE US YOUR MONEY! (please)

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Gunpla Expo 2012 part 1-High Grades and Real Grades

Oh yes. It’s time for Gunpla Expo again.

Gunpla Expo World Tour has come, and there are some pretty interesting reveals this time around: some kits getting announced that I thought we’d never see. Images for this article came from gundamkitscollection.com.

Five years ago, we got our first RX-79 kit in the HGUC line: Blue Destiny Unit 2. Shortly thereafter, we received the other two Blue Destiny Units and the Ground Gundam. Curiously, they never gave us an Ez8. I was worried we were going to get one right after I made mine back in 2008, but I guess a four year wait isn’t bad. Whether or not it uses the older frame remains to be seen; I know I want an appropriate Ez8 to take on my Gouf Custom!

In a move that surprised nobody, the HGUC line is getting a Jesta Cannon. I knew we’d be getting one of these sooner or later considering how the mold gates on the Jesta were set up.

Bandai seems set on continuing the SEED HD Remaster line, and we’re getting at least two more releases in it: Perfect Strike and Blue Frame 2nd L. Perfect Strike is… well, it’s Perfect Strike. It’s hilarious. It unfortunately looks like it uses the old kit from 2002, which is hasn’t held up very well. However, it will be a good way for builders to get all of the weapon packs at once.

Blue Frame 2nd L is a HUGE surprise, and certainly one I welcome. The Astrays were sadly underrepresented in the 1/144 line, with only the basic forms of Red, Blue, and Green getting kits, and Gold Frame with next to nothing. While I’m more interested in getting this suit in 1/100 scale, I think a 1/144 is LONG overdue.

In a very curious move, it looks like Bandai has plans for a pair of Real Grade Zeta Gundam variants, both based on the Gundam Evolve 9 short. These are the White Unicorn and Red Snake Zeta Gundams, with the former the unit Amuro Ray used and a personal favorite of mine. A third Zeta Gundam also appeared in this short, the Gray Wolf “Buster” Zeta (piloted by MSV’s Shin Matsunaga), which, despite its name, is actually yellow. I have a sneaking suspicion these will all be web shop exclusives or something, however.

But for me, the big announcement of the event was clearly the High Mobility Type Zaku II.

Leading with the Black Tri-Stars once again, this kit looks like it’s based on the recent Zaku Mariner kit. This is great for several reasons: 1) the Zaku Mariner was incredibly well-designed; 2) the old HGUC Zaku II was never very good; and 3) Holy crap we’re actually getting more MSVs in the HGUC line. Of course, I know feel like a moron for stocking up on so many MSV kits, but whatever. If the old kits in the background are any indication, we’ll be seeing HGUC GM Cannons, GM Sniper Customs, Zaku Cannons, and more High Mobility Zakus in the future. Yeah, I’m ready.

A few other Real Grades and High Grades were previewed at the event, but I wanted to focus solely on what had a prototype and wasn’t being shrouded. Really, I’m pumped for most of these, and I hope you are, too. Make sure to get yours from FPNYC when they’re out!

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Master Grade Zeta Gundam Build log part 2

After a week delay, the Zeta’s build log is back.

While my power was only out for about 39 hours, I still got pretty damn bored. So, I figured, hey, I’ll do some work on the Zeta Gundam! I picked up the parts for the arms and build and sanded them, which took me over two hours. Two hours just for the arms! It probably would’ve been half that had I not done any sanding. It just goes to show you that if you want your kits to look as nice as possible, you need to have almost inhuman levels of patience…

The construction of the arms is fairly straightforward for a transforming kit. A lot of it uses the repeated parts I mentioned before are seen in the arms, so during constructing, things feel insanely repetitive, since you are LITERALLY building the same thing over and over again. But, I suppose building it in the order it was intended makes sure you don’t get lazy and skip over parts.

The joint in the elbow is a very efficient double joint, with a peg going into bottom of the forearm. I really like this idea because it made disassembly INCREDIBLY easy, so painting was much easier! There are a lot of joints in the wrists, too, which will probably make the gun much easier for it to hold.

One thing you might have noticed about the arms here is that I used the stickers for the tiny yellow bits. Frankly, I HATE painting yellow, especially in tiny details like these, so I opted for the stickers. I actually did this on my HGUC Zeta, too. I just don’t find the frustration of painting something that small to be all that rewarding. Stickers are fine, so long as you use them in moderation!

A pair of grenades deploys behind each wrist, but they’re difficult to use right now, since I haven’t built the ammo boxes yet. I’ll cover these in greater detail once the weapons are all completed.

The waist is actually pretty complex, due to the transformation mechanics. There are a lot of moving parts here that, amazingly, all fit together. There’s no floppiness here whatsoever. I’ll be able to better discuss these parts when I move onto the transformation mechanics.

Unlike the last log, I can actually talk about the custom decals now! So far, three are present on the kit. On the waist, we have the Nahel Argama assignment patch. I absolutely LOVE the design my friend made for this. This kit will only have the one on the waist, but I had several others made that might get put on some Unicorn suits.

On the shoulders, we have a “signature” decal based on the ones from the Destiny Gundam set I purchased over the summer. It just reads “Roux Louka, Zeta Gundam: Anti Earth Union Group, 006”, with the 006 representing the Zeta’s model number. On the other shoulder is the emblem from Roux’s pilot suit, which I figured she’d have on her MS proper SOMEWHERE.

I’d put the Zeta at about 40% completion right now. Next, I’ll be hammering out the legs before Thanksgiving, if all goes as planned, then it’ll be onto the wings. Don’t worry, it’ll be done by Christmas! And speaking of, you should pick up some kits for your friends from FPNYC for Christmas… just saying!

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Master Grade G-Armor Preview

Sometimes, I can be a big silly hypocrite.

Every so often, a kit or toy gets announced that I get pointlessly vocal about. “Man, why are they clogging up the main line with that thing? Recolors like that should just be un-numbered special editions!” is something I remember saying when this kit was first announced. I could understand the need to include the Gundam and the G-Fighter in one kit, but Real Type colors seemed like a silly way to do it. Well, one day I got hit with the inspiration to do a whole series of MG Kits in Real Type colors so well, here we are.

This is probably the Gunpla biggest box I’ve ever gotten.

Bandai has done the Master Grade Gundam in Real Type colors before, but it never really worked out. The last kit to try this was the One Year War Gundam, which was never designed for anything more advanced than the original Gundam’s color scheme. As a result, an ENORMOUS amount of spare parts had to be included in order for that color scheme to be achieved. You’d more or less end up with enough parts to outfit a second OYW Gundam’s frame, just in a wide variety of colors.

Thanks to its mold gates, the 2.0 mold for the Gundam achieves this without the need for spare parts. Indeed, the bizarre color layout of the Real Type Gundam doesn’t exactly lend itself to model kits, what with the bizarre inclusion of dark green AND black areas that seems almost repetitive. This kit managed to pull it off with complete success.

Seeing as this kit is two kits in one, there are a lot of parts here! With all these interior gray bits needed for just one project, I’m probably going to invest in a big can of gunship gray spraypaint for this…

Having done the 2.0 Gundam in the past, I know exactly what to expect there, so I’m excited to finally be painting one. The G-Fighter is another story, however. I’ve only done really old support mecha kits in 1/144 scale, so doing (pretty much the only) one in 1/100 scale Master Grade is going to be a hell of a thing. As a result, I’m probably going to build the G-Fighter first since it’s something I’ve never covered or done before. It’ll be quite the learning experience!

For this, I’ve purchased two sets of decals: the standard set for this kit, and a special one for the Real Type Gundam by itself. Since the decals for the Gundam included in the G-Armor set aren’t very exciting, I’ll probably use the Real Type decals primarily with a few extras from the G-Armor for detail. When I’m done with this, you’d swear Katoki drew it, not Okawara!

Now, when I actually start this project is up in the air, because it was kind of an impulse buy. I still have the Duel and Buster to make, and I want to be completely free when I get the Nu Gundam Ver Ka next month. You’ll probably see a review of the 2.0 Gundam by itself soon, then a build log covering everything in greater detail later on. But hey, you know you’re just here to get sold on kits, so why not head down to FPNYC and look for one of the 2.0 Gundam’s many incarnations?

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New Toys…is what we got

Yeah, I know, making a reference to Sublime’s “What I Got” is dating myself, but I don’t care. It’s a great song, which is why it’s in Saints Row the 3rd. TWO GREAT TASTES, ETC.

Speaking of music and ignoring my age, LOOK KIDS, IT’S LINKIN PARK! IN NENDOROID PETIT FORM! THAT’S….exciting? I guess? I dunno what the market for tiny deformed import figurines of popular “rock” acts are in the US, but I imagine there’s got to one. Right? Again, no clue, the thing seems about 9 years too late, but hey, I just referenced Sublime above, which only proves my musical tastes are questionable at best. That and Linkin Park are reportedly big Gundam fans and they contributed to a Gundam-game soundtrack or something, so I guess these figurines  makes sense? But wait, no Bandai doesn’t make Nendoroids, so now I’m extra confused. Swell. Regardless, as the LP set is a Max Factory product, it means the set is dead-on accurate to what the band looks like,  but limited to zero points of articulation. $60 will get you 6 band members equipped with their  instruments and a stage. If Revoltech counters by offering a Fort Minor set, I will never stop laughing.

Alright so that sucked. Let’s try something Max Factory made that I am up to date with. Following up to their Guts Figma, the Griffith Figma is currently in-stock at FPNYC and DAYUMMMMMMMM! It’s kind of great, which given how much I praised Guts, surprises no one. It’s a very clean figure, which makes sense, given how Griffith is mostly silver and white, and it captures the character’s….well, everything really well. The scale armor looks fantastic, and while the default head gets his pretty boy looks down, the alternative helmet head is my favorite, because it makes the dude look so bad ass. Which is good, given the fact that he’s kind of the villain and what not. The cape is really well sculpted too, which is nice, because a poor cape could easily ruin this Figma.  It’s also removable, so if you want him capeless, you got it. Aside from the cape and variant helmet, you get a sword, 5 variant hands and a variant face. Not too bad actually, given the cost of the figure (around $60 give or take). Also I may be mistaken, but this is the first Figma with spurs. What that means to you is probably different than what I think, because I think that’s fantastic.

Hey remember the DC Direct,er, DC COLLECTIBLES, Justice League line? Sure you do, it’s the 1st line to feature all seven of the new Justice League figures redesigned by Jim Lee? No? Me neither, I’m still pissed about the “Hellblazer” reboot. Well, in the event you care, let me remind you that we currently have all seven members of the Justice League in stock (I personally think the Cyborg figure looks the best, and that’s coming from someone who usually doesn’t care much for the character), and we just got some new  baddies in stock.  There’s the Parademon which you can buy several of for to serve as  punching bags for the J-League, or the MASSIVE Darkseid figure that towers over, well all of them! Again, I’m not a fan of the Lee designs but this is an awesome figure. For $80. Again it’s steep, but considering how big it is, it make sense.

That’s all for this article. I have to ensure my Fantasy Football wins tonight, so that I may dine of Turkey with a sense of accomplishment this Thursday.

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HGUC GM Sniper II Review

Pinch me, I must be dreaming.

Two years ago I wrote a review for the Robot Damashii GM Sniper II, saying things like, “My god, dreams do come true!” because at the time, I thought that was the closest we were going to get to an actual kit. It’s a good enough figure, but it could have been better.

Earlier this year, I was super excited about plastic conversion parts for the HGUC GM Command that were actually affordable. I was so pumped I bought three. It turned out they were terrible, yeah, but it was better than nothing.

Then, what does Bandai do? BAM, HGUC GM Sniper II announcement. At the time, I was pretty upset! What horrible timing. But you know what? I’m glad this kit is finally here, because it is awesome.

I’m actually glad it took us this long to get this suit made. Since every major animated GM variant save for the Ground GM has gotten an HGUC, Bandai now knows exactly what to do. And trust me, it works. While I would have liked a Sniper II built on the Powered GM Frame, the new GM III frame trumps it in so many ways. But all things considered, I would’ve been fine even if this kit was built on the body of the original GM Command from 1989!

Many of the GM III’s bells and whistles have carried over here, like the double jointed knees and hinged joints at the hips. Funny thing about those is it uses stick joints, not ball joints. Kits in the 80’s also used stick joints, but they broke incredibly easily. Ball joints proved to work better, but the newest design is the sturdiest and has the best range of motion. I guess everything old is new again.

The head is absolutely awesome, with a pseudo monoeye inside the visor, just like in the animation. The Sniper Scope has a crystal piece too, and yes, it does swing down! It’s just… so wonderful.

The weapon layout is, well, what the hell else did you expect. You get the gigantic sniper rifle, the machine gun, two beam sabers, and the shield. The Sniper Rifle looks so great in the kit’s hands, and the only complaint I have is that the rifle doesn’t have a crystal piece for the scope.

To prove that yes, literally every mobile suit from Gundam 0080 has a kit, Bandai included a 1/144 scale Draken-E to accompany the suit! It’s obviously not very poseable, BUT it can also be built as a Petit Mobile! I think I’ll be going with that.

Oh, and before you ask…

Yes, there is a White Dingo version.

Yes, it’s amazing.

No, you can’t get it at FP. Why? Because unfortunately, it’s a web shop exclusive. Not a problem if you’re in Japan, but here, you’ll need a friend in Japan or a middleman service in order to get one. It’s a shame, too. The kit comes with so much extra stuff (seriously it has the ENTIRE RUNNER OF EXTRA STUFF from the Ground War Gundam) and is just… completely wonderful.

So there you have it. Was it worth the wait? I think so, yes. It’s a fantastic kit and I’m certainly not stopping at two. I just wish I didn’t put all that time and effort into those crappy conversion parts six months ago…

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