Category: Gundam

Webshop Exclusives and You!

In all my years of collecting, I’ve come to notice one thing that is the bane of almost every collector’s existence: exclusives.

In a time that doesn’t seem so long ago, mail-away exclusives used to be incredibly commonplace. These were figures that you would purchase by taking proofs of purchase or little points from the backs of packages and mailing them in with a special form. After 6-8 weeks, you’d get your special figure that you could only get through this process. Some classic examples include the Ghost of Anakin Skywalker, Reflector from Transformers, and the hooded version of Cobra Commander; a figure released through various mail-in offers over the course of ten years.

The concept has sadly died out, but they’ve been since replaced with something much less fun and far more nefarious:

Webshop exclusives.

These are, thankfully, not that common in America. There’s MattyCollector, yes, but everyone pretty much universally hates them. What I’m going to talk about here are the three words that send chills up the spines of every SH Figuarts, Robot Damashii, and Super Robot Chogokin collector:

Tamashii. Web. Exclusive.

Now, it needs to be understood what exactly gets made into a webshop exclusive. Figures that end up with this distinction tend to be stuff that wouldn’t be very profitable on the main release market. Examples include Sentai Team members that aren’t the Red and Sixth Rangers, and movie-exclusive Kamen Riders. If a villain is to receive a figure, he too will probably be a webshop exclusive.

Now, some things make sense as webshop exclusives. Namely, weapon add-ons, like the GaoGaiGar Key to Victory sets, or the wings for Kamen Rider OOO’s TaJaDol form. That kind of stuff would just make the base figures far too expensive, and the figure itself can survive without them, making this a more logical monetary move.

However, Bandai Hobby seems to have taken to this idea lately, too…

Bandai Hobby Web exclusives have existed for awhile, but for the most part they wouldn’t be anything extreme. Typically they’d just be a recolored kit with extra decals and weapons. However, things have taken an odd turn lately. Significant variants have been getting webshop releases, such as the GM Sniper II (White Dingoes version) and now, the Tallgeese II. Sure, only a few parts are changed, but what gives? Those are two designs that certainly have a heck of a following, especially in the west.

And therein lies the problem: us. Unless you have a friend in Japan who can get you the stuff, or use a middleman service, you’re out of luck when it comes to finding these. Even if you’re able to get them, be prepared to pay a premium, so make sure it’s something you reeeaaally like.

But thanks to Bluefin, it’s been made clear to Bandai that they have a huge market in the US that wants this stuff, so what gives? All we’ve really gotten is Black Condor from Jetman, as far as domestically-released webshop figures are concerned. The DBZ ones don’t exactly count, since they’re mainly being released FOR the US market.

What I’m trying to get at here, is what to expect as far as webshop exclusives are concerned. It’s unfortunate, and I don’t think we’ll be getting them here any time soon. The best thing to do is to convince them through other means—buy up all the Figuarts and SRCs and whatnot you’re after, especially from places like FPNYC. Maybe that’ll get the idea in Bandai’s head!

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Master Grade Sinanju Version Ka Build Log-FINSHED

It’s done. I have conquered the beast.

No, this thing wasn’t a beast. The Unicorn Gundam is a beast. The Sinanju is more like a full-blown demon.

There are those kits that we fear. We know that when they’re completed, they’ll be a beautiful piece worthy of any collection. They tend to be the big, huge, complicated kits: Full Armor Unicorn, the Sinanju, the Kshatriya, EX-S Gundam, GP03 Dendrobium, and so on. They’re designs we find amazing, but feel we can’t do justice to them, and it can be pretty sad how so many people never end up doing them!

Well, I’m pleased to announce that I have kicked the Master Grade Sinanju’s ass.

It may have some obnoxious little imperfections that peeve me off, but honestly, it’s good enough for me. But I swear this kit tried to kill me, even after it was finished—somehow, it found a way to give me a migraine. Yeah, it’s that evil.

The backpack adds the true silhouette to the kit, and really makes it, in my opinion. The thrusters can extend, and they look pretty awesome in either position. The propellant tanks were a serious nuisance; however, as they required sanding and I absolutely hate painting any kind of cylinder. I swear, there’s no way to win!

The beam rifle is simple, but quite nice. Its long profile makes it look very intimidating, and it poses excellently with it.

The shield is a lot of fun, even if the gold details are nearly mind-numbing. I threw an extra decal on the top of it because, hey, why not.

The shield can be mounted traditionally, or hung from a post in the shoulder armor. I much prefer the latter.

Inside it are all sorts of little goodies, including a pair of tomahawks and a beam pistol.

The tomahawks can swing down for some crazy stabby shield weapon.

They can be used with two different types of blades, AND can be combined to form some kind of terrifying super weapon! Geez.

The beam pistol is removable and can be held in the kits hands, albeit a bit awkwardly because of its lack of an actual handle, but it’s really a sidearm more than anything.

One beam saber is stored inside of each forearm armor. They’re pretty simple, and kind of boring compared to the tomahawks. The blades are cool, however.

Because I like going The Extra Mile, I bought the custom action base for this kit. Really, it’s just a red and black base with some extra stickers on it for the Sinanju, Neo Zeon, and Full Frontal (tee hee). The kit is joined to the action base by a simple connector, much like the ones on the 2.0 MGs and current SEED MGs.

So all in all, the Sinanju has been a challenge, from its sheer volume of pieces to its fragile plastic choices. Mine sure as hell isn’t perfect, but I’m okay with that. The end result is beautiful, and I recommend this project to any kind of experienced modeler. Remember though, if you want your own, you might just want to wait until FPNYC gets the new OVA version, which hopefully, will be out soon!

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Master Grade Sinanju Version Katoki Buildlog part 1

I have never gone up against a more frustrating model kit in my entire life.

Now, earlier I spoke of how the Version Katoki kits are essentially the gold standards of Master Grades these days, and that the Sinanju helped make that so. Well… it turned out I was half right. In terms of a design and engineering standpoint, the kit is absolutely marvelous so far. It stands with complete glory, and is rather sturdy in construction.

The problem lies with the materials used… this thing is FRAGILE.

For whatever reason, Bandai used a different type of plastic for the inner workings of this kit. According to some sources, the plastic used here actually melts when certain paints are applied. I learned this the hard way, as I’ve broken at least three pieces during the construction of this kit. The new OVA version (which I swear was announced just to make me angry) is going to have a frame made of traditional polystyrene, so hopefully, it won’t face the problems the Ver Ka has.

Now, ignoring all of that BS, the kit IS pretty cool.

For my kit, I decided to try something different. With the exception of my Destiny Gundam, Qubeley, and Hyaku Shiki, all of my kits have a dull, flat finish. I’m just really fond of that look. But, for something like the Sinanju, I felt that a dull finish wouldn’t cut it. This thing needs to be gaudy! So, I for all of the black and red bits, I gave it a gloss coat, whereas all the aluminum, gray, and white parts are done with a flat coat. I am MOST pleased with the result so far.

Since I wasn’t able to find the official Bandai decals, I resorted to third-party decals for this project. Everything went incredibly well… until I got to the white bars on the shoulders. Even with a decal sealant, they wouldn’t adhere, so I just left them off, and instead opted for some of the optional decals on the sheet. While I would like to have the white lines everywhere, the only time I notice their absence is when I think about it.

The gold decals… have been a mixed bag. They’re BEAUTIFUL, but they’re very finicky. Essentially, they’re metal stickers, and they don’t adhere very well. Thankfully, though, this can easily be fixed with just a dab of superglue on the edge that rose up. I used some of these in place of the traditional 10S decals, simply because it looks way cooler.

These metal tubes are a godsend, and you can find them from any variety of third-party Gunpla part groups. Seriously, replacing the plastic tubes for metal ones removes so much frustration, and is worth the extra money.

The kit’s articulation is pretty good for something of its immense size. It’s very flexible, and the frame certainly lends itself to that. It’s just a shame that comes at the fragility of many other parts…

In spite of some frustrations, this kit is damn impressive and I’d recommend it to some more advanced modelers out there… but I’d advise waiting until FPNYC gets the OVA version in stock!

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Toy Fair 2013 is going down, and we’re not there!

Happy Saturday everyone! Hopefully the snow didn’t mess up your weekend plans too bad, and if they did, I feel for you and can relate. I HAD MUSEUM PLANS TODAY DAMMIT!

As the title implies, the 2013 Toy Fair is going down, and we’re not there because getting a press pass for the event is SERIOUS BUSINESS. But I’m sure a plethora of TF-related images will flood the internet over the weekend, and that in turn will lead to some sort of best of recap later this week! (Blogging 101 folks!) MTV Geek’s already revealed some stuff, like toys based on the Walking Dead, Pacific Rim, Breaking Bad, and Man of Steel already, and I’m sure there’s more to come. We’ll get to that and more later this week, where I promise to only dedicate half the article to Square Enix and Marvel.

As we mentioned before, Jeff Lemiere’s run on “Green Arrow” started this week, and surprising no one, it’s a pretty great debut. Not “Hawkeye” good of course, says a bias Chris. Showing some incredibly good timing, DC Collectible Justice League “Green Arrow” figured has hit shelves! DC Collectibles is promising more articulate figures for 2013, but I guess that’s going to start with the Injustice figures. Still Ollie’s new 52 figure is relatively solid if you know what you’re getting into. It’s definitely influenced by Jim Lee’s take on the character, meaning it will fit in just fine with the rest of the League we’ve seen so far. Arrow will set you back about $20, which is reasonable. In terms of accessories, you obviously get a bow with a “workable” string, and 2 removable arrows. The quiver on his back has a bunch more, but those are permanently attached. Again, it’s probably the best new 52 Green Arrow figure we’re going to get for awhile, as the next couple of GA toys/statues to be released this year seem to be focused on the CW’s “Arrow” show or the “Injustice” game.

A pair of new import figures from Bandai also hit the shelves, based on two of the more popular n0n-Shonen Jump franchises in the Bandai catalog, Megaman and Gundam Wing. After getting several D-Art figures based on the X games, Bandai has released a classic Megaman (“Rock Man” if you’re one of THOSE nerds) figure. Highly articulated? CHECK! Variant parts? You know it! In addition to a sweet figure. Megaman comes with his robot dog Rush  (which no, cannot turn into a car or jetboard sadly) and Met. Great package overall, and definitely worth the cash-money. Hopefully we’ll see a Protoman or Roll in the future. Airman is fine as well Bandai.

The Robot Spirits Epyon is also 5 1/4″ of awesome. Much like Megaman, it’s has an amazing sculpt, is plenty articulated, rocks variant parts and weapons, but most importantly it can transform in a robo-dragon. I love any figure that allows me to type that in an article by the way. The Robot Spirit line is a nice alternative to Gunpla if you’re not familiar with them, as they’re high-end figures that don’t require any assembly, and cover other non-Gundam fracnhises like Evangelion and Code Geass. They’re Gunpla for the lazy mecha fans if you will. We also got in a decent amount of Dragon Ball, Tiger and Bunny, One Piece and Persona 4 currently in stock, if those series are more of your thing.

Final note/shameless plug: I’ll be speaking at C2E2 in Chicago again it’s seems! Expect more on that front come April, where the shameless pimping of said panel will be sickening!

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Master Grade Sinanji Version Kai Preview

I remember when this kit first came out. The Unicorn was awesome and cool and everyone was talking about it. A friend of mine mentioned the Sinanju and all I could say was, “what the hell is that?” I’m not sure if it was my ignorance of Master Grades at the time, but I had no idea what this thing was! I wasn’t following anything for Unicorn, because at the time it was just some novel to me that was doomed to die in obscurity after a couple Master Grades only the crazy fans were interested in. Funny how times change.

Honestly? If it weren’t for the Nu Gundam, I’d probably have no interest in this thing. What’s worse is Bandai has plans for an OVA version of this suit, so it’s entirely possible that I just wasted my time buying this thing because a superior version is coming out. Just my luck, huh?

Obviously, there’s a lot of kit here, probably even more than the Nu Gundam ver Ka. Yet, I’m not sure what I’m getting myself into here. This was the last kit of 2008, yet it uses no polycaps. This kind of worries me, namely after my experience with F91 and Crossbone. It’s entirely possible it won’t be as bad here, but we’ll have to see. The idea certainly didn’t stick, considering kits these days use polycaps again.

I, like any other sane modeler, hate the stupid little tubes. So, for my project, I decided to delve into the world of crazy third-party pieces in addition to my standard allotment of decals. I wanted to buy replacement thrusters, too, but I couldn’t find any that I liked. All the thrusters I saw looked ugly with giant poles sticking out of them, and the ones that looked better required drilling. How about no.

In addition to some standard decals (which had to be third-party because the Bandai ones are too hard to find), I bought some metal decals for the gold details, because there’s no way in hell I’m painting those. Interestingly, the kit actually came with waterslide decals for the gold bits, but they just aren’t as shiny as I would have liked, so I’m opting to go with the metal ones. I’ve gathered that they’re more like stickers, but the finish is too awesome to not consider.

Still, I have to wonder how hard it would have been for Bandai to actually make these molded details. It feels like a cheap way out for them, especially on a 1/100. I’m very much in the school of “if you don’t like the way it looks out of the box, you should paint it”, but this is a bit much, especially when you take into account how hard those details are. Trust me, my Geara Zulu was no walk in the park.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t equal parts excited and terrified of this project. It’s incredibly far out of my comfort zone, but I feel it’ll be good practice for when Bandai releases the Sazabi later this year. If you want this kit now, I’m not going to stop you, but just remember than an OVA version of the Sinanju is coming soon, so go for that when it comes out at FPNYC!

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Master Grade Nu Gundam Master Kai Build Log Finished

So close, it’s just so damn close!

Never before in my life have I built a more satisfying kit. The Nu Gundam Version Katoki Master Grade is an engineering marvel, and it looks damn impressive too. It comes so close, so COMPLETELY CLOSE to being perfect in every way, but there is one critical area that it fails in, and while it can be fixed without TOO much effort, it’s annoying enough to honestly shave a few points off this kit, especially since it’s something that so easily could have been avoided. But it certainly doesn’t make it a bad kit.

Nu Gundam has quite a profile, largely thanks to the Fin Funnels. The final kit comes covered with well over 100 decals, all painstakingly applied, and I don’t think I missed any. At least, I hope to god I didn’t miss any. Some people were bothered by the inclusion of waterslide decals, but honestly, they work so much better than dry-transfers do. Remember, whenever you’re using these, make sure to topcoat your kit afterwards!

I figure I should talk about the Fin Funnels now, since they’re the kits key flaw. While they look AMAZING, they just don’t work like they should. The new mechanism is great in theory, but it just doesn’t work. All of the funnels are identical, and have interlocking teeth to keep them in place. The problem is, they aren’t strong enough, and fall off at the slightest touch and lean forward. I hear you can fix them just by cutting out some internal plastic and adding a little brass rod, however.

I hear the Double Fin Funnel configuration is more stable, but I was never a fan of that so I’m not building that for mine. Sorry guys!

That said, the rest of the kit is absolutely fantastic. The new mechanism for the hands works flawlessly with the weapons. They’re essentially the same as the Real Grade hands, but far more effective. A dual peg/slot system not only allows the hands to grip the weapons tightly, but it also makes weapon swapping easier.

Both beam sabers are included; the standard lightsaber one and the crazy one with the tiny bit coming out the bottom. I have to say, it can really reach for its sabers!

For the bazooka, I actually didn’t paint the inner mechanism because otherwise, it would just be paint scratch city. Not like it matters after it gets topcoated, though!

The shield is a lot of fun, too, and I painted some gray details on it to enhance the appearance. It’s even mounted on a ball joint for more articulation potential.

The final destroy mode is a sight to behold. I actually forgot to take a few pieces off when I took the pictures for the last review, whoops. That would explain why I had so much trouble with the back of the legs! But honestly, just look at this thing–whether you like the concept or not, Nu Gundam in Destroy Mode looks freakin’ SWEET.

The stand is very effective, too, including six poles for all of the Fin Funnels. I’m keeping mine with half on the back and half deployed, since with only half on its back, they’re actually stable. The full stand design can allow for some really impressive poses.

Do I recommend this kit? You’re damn right I do. Is it perfect? No way. It comes close, so VERY VERY CLOSE, but the issue with the funnels is far too annoying to ignore. They certainly aren’t a dealbreaker however, and I have to say, the rest of the kit is still worth it. It still comes highly recommended, and I certainly suggesting buying it on sight if you see it at FPNYC!

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Master Grade Guncannon Review

Well, that was easier than expected.

Honestly I can’t say I’m surprised. As a much older Master Grade, it was pretty clear that it was going to be much simpler than the Nu Ver Ka, but I wasn’t expecting this. Maybe it’s like a video game, and the Nu just caused me to go up several levels. Either way, the Guncannon was a pretty welcome change of pace after that, with its minimal white parts, enormous chunky pieces and sparse decals. It couldn’t be any further away from the Nu Gundam if it weren’t a Gundam kit!

Like the Hyaku Shiki, there is little different between the Guncannon’s Master Grade and High Grade counterparts. Back then, Bandai didn’t really make distinctions between the designs of High Grades and Master Grades, which honestly kills some of the appeal of the older kits to me. I like my kits to have some distinct style so they feel like their own independent kit, not just an upscaled/downscaled version of another. I think that’s why the SEED Master Grades appeal to me so much.

But I’m getting off topic.

The Guncannon is very blocky, and I’m not sure if I mean that in a good or bad way. When the HGUC Guncannon was released, in some ways it was the pinnacle of 1/144 engineering at the time. The Master Grade just doesn’t have that feel. I know it’s old, but it doesn’t have any special feel to it. It just feels like a kit that was made because they had to do it, and that’s kind of sad. I’m not one of the types who thinks every inferior kit needs a 2.0, but this one certainly does, especially considering that the Gundam 2.0, GM 2.0, Guntank, and G-Fighter are all based around the same Core Fighter. Poor Guncannon is just the odd man out.

Speaking of the Core Fighter, it’s pretty much what you’d expect. I’m using the standard cockpit block instead because, well, I worked on this damn thing so I want it to be seen!

For mine, I painted the area behind the visor in aluminum. Yeah, I almost always do this, but for some reason it REALLY works on this one!

The articulation is nothing special. Honestly, it can’t really do the “cow pose” properly. However, I did use the resin hands I had for the fists, and they’re fantastic. Now my Guncannon can punch stuff! I used one for the beam rifle, too, which is much more stable than the included hands.

Like always, a pair of spray missile launchers are included as replacements for the standard cannons. I was never a big fan of these, because they always look like they aren’t really on properly. The standard cannons look great, however.

The kit also includes a pair of hand grenades, but I forgot to film those (oops). All the same, since I haven’t built the hand needed to properly hold them.

For the decals on mine, I used a few leftover decals from the sheet I bought for my Hyaku Shiki, and some I won’t need on my Real Type Gundam. The color scheme looks fantastic, especially the finish over the red.

Really, I’m not sure if I recommend this kit to the casual Master Grade collector. I’d say go for it if you want all three V Project suits (but make sure to build it first), or if you’re used to Master Grades and want to make the foray into MGs. Recommended, but with reservations. If you want your own, make sure to check FPNYC for one!

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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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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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Master Grade Nu Gundam Version Kai Build Log

HAPPY NU YEAR. I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist.

I’ve been working during pretty much all of my spare time in some way or another on this kit. I kind of wish I had it all it all done in time for the New Year so I could make all the “Nu Year” jokes I wanted, but oh well. Assembling this has been an incredibly enjoyable experience so far and I’m very excited to have this thing finished, but I’m also making sure to take my time so it looks as good as physically possible.

Even as just an upper body, this thing has PRESENCE. This is what I love about some of the modern Ver Ka kits. Up until maybe the Sinanju, the Ver Ka series was kind of a joke. They were nice-looking kits, but they tended to have some horribly gimped articulation or difficulty carrying their weapons. Now the Ver Ka series has become a sort of a gold standard, and I’m totally okay with that.

The detail on this kit is amazingly sharp, especially on the face. The eyes come molded in translucent green, which is ideal for the LED unit. I don’t actually the LED unit installed yet thanks to the battery size they come in. I managed to find them only, but only in a huge pack of ten! Come on, I don’t need that many!

In order to get the unit in, you need to remove the panel for the back and take out the entire head unit. I’ll give a better demonstration on how this works in the next update.

The Psycoframe is equal parts amazing and frustrating. It looks impressive as all hell, but getting the silver stickers on the back is a huuuuge pain, and there can be problems opening up the frame. I actually broke the lower waist armor when I was pulling down on it to open up the Psycoframe once. Oops. That was an easy fix, though.

But man, you cannot argue with how impressive all of this looks. I can’t wait to see the whole thing.

The articulation is quite impressive, too, but I had some problems with the paint on the elbows scraping off. I just made sure to sand the joints even more, so I don’t have to worry about that anymore. It’s something you might want to watch out for, though.

As for the hands… my god. They’re amazing. They’re each one injection-molded piece with built-in joints, but still made to come apart. Even the fingertips move! Just be careful, they’re a total pain to sand…

Also, the shoulders are incredibly cool, if a bit paint-scratchy. They’re quite possibly the most fluid shoulder joints I’ve ever seen on a kit.

I’m really happy with the inclusion of waterslide decals on this kit. They’re the same quality I’ve come to expect from the official Bandai decals. They’re just all over the damn thing and it feels super overwhelming. But hey, that’s Katoki for you.

I’m excited to have this kit finished, and hopefully it’ll be all up to spec before I’m done with my winter break. Remember, if you want yours, make sure to check out FPNYC!

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Master Grade Nu Gundam version Ka preview

Ohhh yes. It’s finally here.

When I was at Otakon this past summer, I was pretty close to buying the old Nu Gundam Master Grade. I haven’t done a kit that appeared in Char’s Counterattack proper since the old 1/100 scale kit back in 2001, and I scrapped that a looong time ago. The only kit from CCA on my shelf is the HGUC Hi-Nu Gundam, which isn’t even in the movie itself! Sure, this one’s a Version Katoki which technically doesn’t appear in the movie either, but whatever. Nu Gundam is Nu Gundam!

Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of parts here. Ignoring the G-Armor, which is really just two kits sold together as one, this is probably the most complex kit I’ve owned so far. I’m not too daunted by this, however. It’s complex, sure, but it doesn’t look as awful as it could be thanks to Bandai’s recent simplifying practices.

As a result, there are four runners of repeated parts here. That’s an awful lot, and once again I understand the reasoning. Bandai tries to keep costs down whenever possible these days, and if they can do that without negatively affecting the kit itself, then bring on the repeated runners.

The big controversy with Katoki’s take on Nu is the full psychoframe. I love this idea. Yeah, it wasn’t in the movie, but who cares? Katoki does stuff like this all the time. His version of the Wing Gundam has six extra cartridges for the buster rifle, so why can’t Nu have a full psychoframe? It makes it feel like the Unicorn’s daddy, and the “psychoframe” part now seems like an actual frame, not just something around the cockpit, or a little T…

Silver stickers are included to go behind each of the translucent green parts to give the psychoframe a more “luminescent” look, but I’ll probably just paint the insides silver and save myself the trouble.

Most important is this kit’s inclusion of waterslide decals! It took them long enough. I’ve gotten tired of searching high and low for the official Bandai decals, or having to try my luck with uncut third-party decals that I’m absolutely terrible with. It seems like Bandai realized this was a good idea, and I hope this becomes the standard from here on out.

The hands here are… quite a thing. These are clearly based on data gathered from making the real grades, and I’m excited to see how they perform. I’ve heard good things so far!

Interestingly, there are a lot of empty mold gates here. At first I thought these were just on the Fin Funnels for the double Fin Funnel set, but they’re present on some of the other runners as well. Maybe we’ll be seeing another variant sometime down the road? I’m hoping for Katoki’s take on the Mass Production-type Nu Gundam. I love that design.

A unique stand is included for displaying with all the Fin Funnels active. Unsurprisingly, the base is shaped like Amuro’s trademark “A” emblem.

Additionally, I picked up an LED unit to install in the head. Yes, this one has light-up eyes! I haven’t used one of these before (I still haven’t made the one for my Hyaku Shiki) so hopefully this won’t be too hard. I’ve really come to hate painting eyes.

I’m really pumped about building this kit, so I’ve been feverishly working on my Crossbone Gundam to get that up to spec. As soon as that’s done, I’m cracking this puppy open. Make sure to get yours from FPNYC!

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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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