Monday, March 30, 2009

1/35 Guren Type-02 [Review]

Yet another non-gundam model kit (they deserve some attention to), today we look at the 1/35 scale Guren Type-02 from the Code Geass series. It is piloted by Kallen Kouzuki, and it is in some ways a main mech and in some ways the anti-hero mech. You'll understand if you watch the anime (which is amazing by the way).

It is a 1/35, and most rookie modelers who only buy Bandai's Gunpla would expect something enourmous. Unfortunately, that is not the case. It stands at about 13cm, slightly taller than the average 1/144 Gundam model. Above is a height comparison between the Guren, a 1/144 scale Impulse Gundam, and the 1/100 scale Over Flag.

The model comes molded in 7 colors: brownish red, a much darker red, an orangey yellow, dark gray, black, white, and metallic gray. The first thing you will notice about this model is the glossy finish. Just about every piece is glossy (excluding the right arm, which is a dull silver color). It will depend on your preference in determining whether or not the gloss is a good thing. In my opinion, the gloss makes it look really plasticy and cheap. If you do not like it, a coat of paint will make it look more fine.

The left arm is the regular arm. It is very slim and has a machine gun grafted onto its wrist. The shoulders move up and down thanks to its unique connection to the torso. The arm will bend at the shoulder and of course at the elbow. There are two sets of hands: a standard open hand and a fist holding onto a knife. The knife cannot be removed, the whole thing is a single, solid piece. The knife and its blade will be molded in the same color as the hand (dark red) so you will have to paint the blade to make it look like an actual knife.

The right arm is its main weapon and the best part about this mech. There are three separate joints on the arm, and each fold up and can extend for attack poses. Each finger on the hand is an individual piece, but the fingers themselves do not not bend. There is a small red piece on the palm (this is where it sends its energy towards to blow shit up).

The legs can spread quite far out and have a lot of freedom to turn side to side, in and out. This articulation will allow for some decent action poses. The front of the foot bends up and down, and the two pieces it has for heels also move up and down. There are sets of wheels that are hidden in the calf of the leg, and can be lowered for its "skating" movement. The wheels are rubber and actually spin so thats a plus. There is also a rubber belt that attaches to a shield on one thigh and goes through a pocket piece on the other thigh.

Construction for the torso is pretty basic, and fortunately it is molded in all the right colors. There is a small piece on its left chest that can be removed for attachment of a "slash harken", which is basically a rocket anchor. It is a long rope like piece with an anchor on the end of it that can attached to a hole in the chest for some action posing. The torso itself can move back and forth for the lunging action poses. The large yellow pack on its back is where the pilot is, and the top and be opened up to reveal the unpainted pilot, Kallen (who actually requires assembly). The head can move up and down and move around as much as its ball joint allows it to. The only vital foil sticker is for its eyes, which are small and barely noticeable (but a pain to get on just right).

It comes with a unique stand that allows for it to do some of the attack poses it takes in the anime.

Overall, this is a very good representation of the Guren Type-02. Its proportions are just right, it is molded in all the right colors, and its right arm is perfectly functional. The joints are nicely reinforced and doesn't use too many polycaps. Articulation is fantastic, as it will be able to take some incredibly accurate action poses with the help of its action base stand. My only complaint would be the gloss, which makes the sprue marks really visible and ugly. Nonetheless, this is a must buy for any Code Geass fan, especially since there are no better model kits for Code Geass mechs.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

1/72 VF-25F Messiah [Review]

Today we review Bandai's 1/72 scale VF-25F Messiah Alto Custom model. The VF-25 is from the most recent entry into the Macross series, Macross Frontier. This particular model belongs to the show's protagonist, Alto. It is a 1/72 scale, but it is pretty much like a master grade. It stands about as tall as a master grade, and has almost enough detail to be categorized as a master grade. It is definitely a worthy rendition of Alto's Valkyrie.

Unlike Hasegawa's 1/72 scale Macross models, this one is fully capable of transformation. It can transform between Battroid, Gerwalk, and Fighter modes. The process is pretty faithful to the anime but its harder than it looks. The transformation involves every single piece of the model, from the side skirts to the leg armor and the chest completely coming out of place. It's very complicated, so you'll have to be careful. You might even smudge or break a few decals so watch your fingers. The pieces have to fit very precisely when its in fighter mode, and it actually has a bit of trouble staying together. It would have been better if it all fit together snug and precisely, but at least it looks good.

The fighter mode requires you to tack on extra parts as landing gear (the wheels) if you want it to sit on a flat surface because you can not slide them into the body as it normally would in the anime. The wheels are also a solid piece so they don't spin. This isn't really a bother because it looks a lot better posed mid-flight with an action base stand anyway. Overall, it looks fantastic. Edit: One important thing to note. There is nothing holding the legs up in fighter mode, so it sort of sags down when its in mid-air. This can be a minor problem.

The Gerwalk mode has always been an interesting aspect of the Macross series and its trademark Valkyrie transformations, but I wouldn't bother posing it in this mode. I just prefer the fighter and battroid modes. Its legs have very firm joints and the body doesn't sag over in the gerwalk mode. Articulation remains the same as if it were in battroid mode, its just the waist thats technically backwards. A very accurate transformation overall.

The battroid mode is definitely where the beauty of this model lies. It's proportions are near perfect (it seemed a bit taller in the anime) and it has all the details you would expect from a gunpla master grade. The poseability of the arms is excellent as the shoulders can move in and out, back and forth, and up and down. The legs, however, are much less poseable. The engine intakes at the top of the legs prevent the legs from really spreading, locking it in a standard standing position. The knees have two joints for some flexibility, but the thighs still prevent any dynamic posing. The ankles can slide in and out of the leg (for transformation), which allows for slightly better turning of the feet so its planted firmly on the ground. The thighs are really the only downfall for this model in terms of articulation.

I've discussed most of the important bits about the articulation in the above paragraph, but I'll fill you in on the details. There are absolutely no polycaps in this model, so joints are firm and will not wear out very quickly. There are separate hand pieces for open hand and closed fist. The closed fist sort of has trouble holding the gun firmly, but it is not terrible. The head can turn 360 and move up and down, back and forth thanks to the transformation mechanism. The antennae on its head can move around for any laser pointing you may want. The wings on its back steadily move in and out.

The colors on the VF-25F are left up to the decal sheets it comes with. Without the decals, it is a plain white with black and gray parts where necessary (as seen above). There are two sets of decals: clear stickers and water-transfer decals. I personally prefer the stickers because water-transfers are a pain in the ass. If you decide to go with the water transfers, you should trim the clear outlines from each marking and cover it with a solution to protect it from scratches and peeling. I'm sure you know how to put water transfer decals on though. There are also shiny green stickers for the visor and the gun, but I hate these stickers cause they peel so I went with a metallic green gundam marker. It worked out a lot better. The model is also abundant in panel lines. They are plentiful and rather deep so you should get to fill the lines in and give it a more lively look.

Theres not much in terms of weaponry. It comes with the usual gatling gun and knife. The knife is a solid dark gray piece so you'll have to paint it for any actual visual effect. The gun is sort of a dull bluish gray color so you should probably paint it to keep it from looking like a phallic piece of gray plastic. The bottom of the gun where the turret is opens and moves down, which is supposed to be some sort of mechanism to allow for more powerful shots (I don't know how that works). Its great for posing though.
Overall, this is a fantastic model and definitely the best Macross Valkyrie kit that's come out so far. The construction, inner workings, articulation, and details rival that of Gundam master grades, which is really great considering we've never had that in a Macross kit before. It is fully transformable and looks great in each mode. I am really happy with my kit, and it should be no different with any other kit. A must buy for any modeler or Macross fan.

Oh, and I also recommend the VF-25S, Ozma's Valkyrie! It is the commander version with a different head design and color scheme, but its definitely worth buying along with the Alto custom. Get it if your budget allows for it!