|I am Lion, hear me roar.|
The Unicorn series of Gunpla kits have received pretty much mixed reactions from hardcore modelers and hobbyists alike. On one side, they are lauded for their striking design, great proportions and need for little modification to look great. On the other, some have said that the series of Gundams are too "noisy", with too many things happening at once, and will need heavy modification to look good.
Personally, I dig the Unicorn-type Gundams. In Unicorn Mode, they look kickass enough, but when they transform to Destroy Mode, they look even better, with all the shiny bits throughout its frame. Unicorn kits also tend to be taller than contemporary kits, giving them the look and feel of superior machinery.
While we wait for the HGUC 1/144 RX-0(N) Gundam Unicorn 02 Banshee Norn [Destroy Mode] to reach my Backlog, I decided to build up its predecessor, or rather, the predecessor of its predecessor. Canonically, this version of the Banshee only appeared in an animated short screened at Gundam Front in Diver City, Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan. Titled "Mobile Suit Gundam UC: One of Seventy Two', this CGI feature also featured the only appearance of the RX-0 Gundam Unicorn 03 Phenex, the AMX-107R Rebawoo as well as the monstrous assault carrier the General Revil. As such, this version of the Banshee is exclusive to Gundam Front, as with its other brethren in the animated short.
As the story goes, both the Banshee and Phenex were constructed from data derived from tests of the original Gundam Unicorn (Unit 01). Based onboard the General Revil, the units encountered the Rebawoo piloted by the Neo Zeon group the Sleeves during performance tests in a shoal zone in UC 0095. After driving off the Rebawoo, the Phenex had a psychoframe resonance with the Banshee, and subsequently became uncontrollable. As a result, the Banshee was attacked and the bridge of the General Revil was damaged. After this encounter, the Banshee had to be overhauled, which led it to become the variant we saw in episode 4 of the OVA. You can see all three units plus the General Revil in action on the box art of the MG Unicorn Gundam 03 Phenex.
The differences between the Banshee GFT and the normal Banshee lie in its armaments. The Armed Armor VN (Vibration Nail) has been moved from the left hand to the right hand, and the claws have oddly become immobile. Secondly, the Armed Armor BS (Beam Smart gun) has been replaced with a more conventional beam magnum, as seen on all the Unicorn units. It also possesses a grey chest plate as compared to the OVA version's larger and gold one. Apart from those, this version of the Banshee is similar to the OVA one.
Building is largely similar to any of the Unicorn kits, with a large amount of parts going to the legs owing to its psychoframe. The psychoframe itself is molded in the pee-gold colour that is in the RG Strike Freedom's inner frame as well as the primary colour for the HG Seed 1/144 Astray Gold Frame. This is acceptable, as the psychoframe of the Banshee is supposed to be a gold-orange-red hybrid as opposed to full gold. The V-fin however, has been painted Titanium Gold.
Strangely, there are parts that are somewhat loose fitting, but its nothing that a little cement cannot solve.
Being in a dark shade of midnight blue, the Banshee has a unique colour. However, this also means that panel lines cannot really be seen, so you can save on that step. The detailing on this kit is congruent to any other HG Unicorn kits, since they pretty much share the same mold.
There are plenty of tiny gold-foil stickers for use on the entirety of the Banshee, primarily on the legs and side armor panels. These add nice additional detail to the generally drab outlook of the kit.
Now, some people have gripes with the poseability of the Unicorn series. Granted, the separated armor pieces and psychoframe will interfere somewhat with the kit's range of motion, but it isn't game-changing or planet-crushing.
However, I do have one concern. The elbow joints' design is quite horrid, as the individual parts for that component tend to separate with use. You can't really glue the two together as it has to remain movable, so you just have to be more careful when moving the arms. The knee joints however, have no such issue.
This version of the Banshee comes with all the parts to build the regular Banshee, including the Armed Armor BS. It also comes with a Unicorn Shield in Destroy Mode, molded in the Banshee's colours. The kit also comes with two trigger hands, a bonus as it means that it will be able to dual-wield beam magnums. However, you will need to transfer a gauntlet from one of the saber hands as there aren't enough to go around. Four beam saber hilts are provided, but not a single blade is given.
A watered-down, more basic version of the Banshee, it is still nonetheless a beautiful Unicorn kit.