When the Star Winning Gundam transformed into its 1/144 Real Mode form, many viewers gasped in awe: they have never seen a SD kit accomplish this monumental feat of plastic engineering before, and waited with bated breath for the inevitable Gunpla kit to hit the stores. When the set finally became available, hobbyists and viewers alike exploded over the internet, commending and commenting on Bandai's ingenuity and engineering excellence, heralding a new age for SD model kits.
The thing is, said ingenuity and engineering excellence have been around since 1995. The SD-to-Real-Mode gimmick is not a novel design, it existed in old-timey kits and accomplished what the Star Winning's six runners did with only three. Yes, the detail and articulation of the older kits no doubt pale starkly in comparison with today's superbly engineered plamo, but the transformation mechanism embedded within these ancient relics hold potential lessons for hobbyists, modellers and Bandai themselves.
The Goken Gundam is a Musha SD variant of the Gundam Double X, evidenced by the X-Shaped protrusions on the head unit. The shape of the feet as well as the forearm microwave reflectors mirror those found on the original Double X, with a distinct Musha flavour, of course. It's primary weapon, seven swords of various shapes and sizes, can be arrayed in a way reminiscent of a Double X with fully deployed backpack reflector panels, with the Real Mode limbs stored on its backpack (a la the Star Winning) serving as the double Satellite Cannons, although they cannot point in any particularly useful direction.
The transformation gimmick of the Goken is where the kit truly shines, featuring well thought out morphing procedures that would make you go "Wowwww". For a start, the entire process is far less awkward than the Star Winning's: its abdomen is not attached to its back like a hunk of meat. The head unit also differs from the Star Winning: instead of concealing the Real Mode head within the SD head, you simply turn the SD head around, remove the back of the helmet to reveal the Real Mode head.
However, the most remarkable transformation feature of the Goken Gundam is in the Real Mode legs. In SD form, the legs double up as Satellite Cannons stored on the backpack, complete with cannon muzzles. Upon transformation, flaps on the back of the Real Mode calves open up to accept a rotating cannon muzzle, which reveals a peg for the SD's feet. It is a simple, clean and amazingly useful concept that is somewhat replicated in the Star Winning, but not exactly.
As expected of such a kit, articulation is sorely lacking, faring worse than the Star Winning which has the privilege of at least five years of engineering advancement to bank on. Nevertheless, it is still an interesting build and a testament to the term "Gunpla is freedom".