Monday, May 12, 2014

Kit Insight: RG 1/144 GN-001 Gundam Exia (Painted Build)


The Gundam Exia holds the distinction of being the first Gunpla model kit I've ever constructed, something close to ten years back. Therefore, this particular model has great significance and sentimental value, for it essentially launched my entire Gundam-modelling career.

So it was something of a pleasant surprise when the RG Gundam Exia was announced, with the prototyping shots whetting my appetite for it with each published image. Having made a preorder at the soonest opportunity, I could only live vicariously through the leaked images and fanbase speculations for the months before finally receiving the model kit in my eager hands.

As with the first Exia, the RG Exia has relaunched the way I tackle model kits.

Overview

The Exia appears in the popular OO Gundam anime series that aired some years back, taking place in the Anno Domini Century. Piloted by Muslim child soldier turned Gundam Meister Setsuna F. Seiei who incidentally became humanity's first true Innovator (read: super Newtype/X-Rounder), the Exia was designed as a protagonist unit, having a bitchin' Seven Sword System, a deus ex machina in the form of one of the original GN Drives as well as being a Gundam that did not ever truly fade from the series unlike its other Celestial Being mobile suit brethren.


The HG 00 Gundam Exia model kit that was released during the series' run broke new ground in terms of design and aesthetics: the elimination of longer front skirt armor meant that the Exia could do more human-like poses as compared to bulkier HGUC mobile suits, which it did. Although the HG Exia was a marvel of it time, it had a gauntlet of flaws that marred its otherwise refreshing design, nor did it have the level of detail flaunted by HGUC model kits.

All of that however, has changed with the RG Exia.

Construction


First and foremost, the RG Exia is not an easy build. The small parts aside, the directions to put them together can be confusing at times, so it is best to tackle this one when you are alert and have upwards of five hours to kill. The RG Exia also follows the building directions of its most recent predecessor: the RG Strike Freedom, in which the individual parts are constructed before putting them altogether a la HG kits, and not popping on armor components over the inner frame like older RGs.


As compared to the RG kits before it, the RG Exia has lesser parts, although the part count is still ridiculous as befitting its Real Grade. The realistic decals and stickers also come in a smaller sheet, about a third smaller than any other RG kit in the market. This could be attributed to better molding technology which saves on parts (aka plastic aka costs) while still retaining the detail as well as the stark simplicity of the Exia design.


Before snap-fitting, I gave the Exia colours more to my liking. The darker blue was repainted Deep Metallic Blue, the red become Metallic Red, the yellow became Titanium Gold, the inner frame was given Light Gun Metal while the grey parts became Gun Metal and the white was given a mixture of Matte and Pearl White. The painting took a while, but I suppose it's worth it.

Detail


The RG Exia is as detailed as they come, featuring plenty of panel lines, mechanical markings and  technical molding. There are also plenty of gimmicks in this RG kit. Most, if not all, of the flaws found in the HG Exia have been eliminated and resolved, although it still suffers from the insecure shoulder armor joint issue that plagues RG and MG kits. 


The most obvious gimmick is the inclusion of the chrome-plated blades for the GN Sword I, GN Long Blade and GN Short Blade.The GN Sword I in particular, has been revamped in design, boasting a movable mini-shield section and a more fluid range of motion in between the Rifle and Sword modes. In addition, the weapon is now ambidextrous, able to be fitted onto either arm with some part-swapping. 

It just looks so kickass.



One issue the old HG Exia had was weak-ass hip holsters for the GN Long and Short Blades, they just wouldn't or couldn't sit in those holsters properly. The RG Exia resolves this beautifully, featuring hip-mounted "drawers" that extend rotatable pegs for both GN Blades. Although the pegs may seem small, but the GN Blades will never, ever fall off. Never.


The Exia also has a feature called GN Power Lines, cables that ran the length of its body to transmit GN Particles from the GN Drive to parts of the machine for powered-up attacks and whatnot. The HG Exia used rubbery strips to show this, but the RG Exia is a little more creative, for better or for worse. 


Supplementing the decal sheet is a prismatic piece of plastic that contains the GN Power Lines for the RG Exia. Not terribly reflective, this pre-cut plastic sheets are reminiscent of the prismatic stickers I used for the Crossbone Maoh Aurora project, giving off a rainbow of colours under light. To better aid in their function, silver stickers like those found on most RG kits are applied to the parts before the GN Power Line goes over. I can guarantee you that these Power Lines will cost you some daylight before you get them where they are supposed to go. Tip: use a pair of narrow tweezers.

Articulation


Inner frame technology has its benefits, and chief of this is the superb articulation it offers. Being a melee-oriented combat unit, the RG Exia is more than capable of striking dynamic, human-like poses, although the shoulder armors do annoy a little. 


One little thing that impressed me was the fact that the RG Exia's TOES were movable. Yes, those things move up and down, giving more depth to any pose.

Extras


This particular kit comes with a buttload of extras: two closed fists, two saber hands, two open hands which differ from the usual open hands as they form more of a grab and the two PG-style hands that are included with every RG kit. Usually nothing more than decoration or to show some action that is not possible using the pre-molded hands, the PG-style hands of the Exia are able to wield its beam sabers (the pegged ones at least) with some degree of dexterity.


The RG Exia also comes with six beam sabers, four peg-less ones that go onto the body and two pegged ones that are used when "active". Two long saber blades and two short ones are provided for you to recreate pivotal scenes from the anime. The Exia also has an expandable GN Shield that is rather prone to falling off with the slightest jerk. The GN Drive on its back is also removable.

Conclusion


The RG Exia represents the most advanced extent of Bandai Gunpla technology to date, and it is evident that many of the features present in this RG will be carried over to future RGs, like the chrome-plated weapons. While we allow the RG Z'Gok to tease us with its pictures, we shall wait for the Trans-Am Ver. of the RG Exia to reach my waiting hands.

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