By now, you should already know that I have a thing for grunt units. The past few Kit Insights have been on grunt kits and my latest customised project is the Ultra GM, the epitome of an awesome grunt unit. The RGM-79 GM is the predecessor to all grunt units bearing a compound sensor, that is, the visor that is fixated on the head unit in place of two individual Gundam-type optical sensors. Therefore, when the souped-up, Thunderbolt-style version appeared, I knew I had to get it. It just looked too right to pass up.
The RGM-79 GM is a simple mobile suit: basically a no-frills, stripped-down, mass-produced version of the powerful RX-78-2 Gundam, designed to complement the Gundam in mobile suit combat as well as go head-to-head with the Zeon Zakus that were utterly decimating Federation forces. Being a grunt unit, its loadout was pretty bare, being equipped with only its beam spray gun (a pistol-styled beam cannon adapted from the RX-78's beam rifle), a single beam saber, a standard EFSF shield and a pair of twin head-mounted vulcans.
The Thunderbolt GM however, seems to take this concept and throw it out of the window. Existing in the same timeline and continuity with the RGM-79, the Thunderbolt GM features a host of upgrades, improvements and add-ons that serve to enhance its durability and survivability in the harsh Thunderbolt Sector in which it operates. Bearing the same protective encasements around all exposed joints with the Full Armour Thunderbolt Gundam, the Thunderbolt GM features a similar specialised backpack outfitted with numerous thrusters, two sub-manipulators capable of wielding standard shields as well as multiple verniers and smaller manoeuvring micro-thrusters placed all around its frame. The Thunderbolt GM's armaments have also been very much improved over the original RGM-79's.
Building the same way as regular HGUC kits, the Thunderbolt GM is a little different from usual grunt kits. Construction may be simpler than building a Gundam-type kit but there are numerous steps to each component. A sheet of foil stickers is provided for the lazy hobbyist (me), as well as a sheet of on-so-awesome RG-type realistic decals to increase the GM's realism.
The stock brown that came with the runner containing the joints didn't really stick, although it is geared towards being more of a bronze colour. The entire runner was painted olive drab, while the sub-arms became gunmetal, the weapons become metallic black and the ammo pack on the backpack become gunship grey.
The level of detail on the Thunderbolt GM is decent, featuring many more panel lines and mechanical markings over its predecessor. Indeed, nearly every armour component has a panel line or marking of some kind, working well with both the stickers and decals to produce a beautiful product right out of the box.
While not nearly as detailed as the flagship Thunderbolt Gundam, the Thunderbolt GM is still decades ahead of the RGM-79 in terms of aesthetics and engineering.
The original GM wasn't very articulated, featuring basic polycaps in the elbows and knees but it can still manage a beam saber drawing pose. The Thunderbolt GM is far superior in terms of articulation, able to effortlessly execute a perfect high-kneel pose, touch its shoulders, perform more complex gun-fu poses as well as being able to easily stand unassisted.
The sub-arms aren't able to move much, since they are fixed molds and not the flexible arms as in the manga. Care would have to be taken when moving the arms, as they are angled pretty close to the main body and will come into contact the the GM. While the backpack is large and may seem cumbersome, the Thunderbolt GM's range of motion is not hindered in anyway.
The Thunderbolt loses its original weaponry in favour of brand spanking new ones. The beam spray gun is replaced with a larger, more menacing version that seems to be its logical upgrade.
In line with the design motif of the Thunderbolt Series, the GM also receives a double-barrelled beam rifle with a sub-shield, similar to the one found on the Thunderbolt Gundam. It also has double the number of shields from the original GM, but loses its beam saber. In fact, the Thunderbolt GM seems to lack any sort of melee weaponry, apart from closed fists.
Two trigger hands are provided, with the beam spray gun and double-barrelled beam rifle pegged to each hand specifically. Two closed fists are also provided for you to recreate any asteroid punching scene.
A simple yet interesting kit, the Thunderbolt GM is a great reimagination of the classic RGM-79 GM grunt unit.