Sunday, December 17, 2017

[Kit Insight] Bandai HGUC 1/144 RX-78AN-01 Gundam AN-01 Tristan (Light Build)


An older release given new parts, a new backstory and a new anime series.

Twilight Axis is a beautifully animated anime series with amazing voice acting and well choreographed action sequences. In particular, the first fight between the Tristan/Isolde and Zaku III  is pretty solid, with fine edits and emphasis on the important areas. The series as a whole has so much potential as a UC spin-off but it is marred by the inexplicable decision to release the show as a web series in tiny, TINY bites.

The main mobile suit in the series is the Gundam AN-01 Tristan, a spare-parts Gundam cobbled together by a junkyard tycoon with a Newtype pilot. Due to its nature, the Tristan contains several familiar parts, such as the beam rifle (Nu Gundam), the arms and legs (NT-1 Alex) and the backpack (Gundam Mk-II). The head sculpt however, is brand new and is one of the few saving graces for the Tristan as a model kit.

Design-wise, the Tristan isn't that bad, although a little outdated. The model kit however, is a totally different story. Essentially a rehash of the 2004 HGUC 1/144 Gundam NT-1 Alex model kit, the Tristan bears no hallmarks of contemporary, modern HG model kits. No double-jointed elbows or knees, minimal surface detail and loose weapon grips, let alone interchangeable expressive hand parts. The age of the base kit really shows when you put it beside any of the Thunderbolt, Origin or REVIVE model kits.

Being a kit with design and engineering references from 2004, the Tristan is nowhere as agile, nimble or dextrous as modern HG model kits. That being said, it is still possible to coax decent poses out of the Tristan. The shoulder armour pieces are a pain and get in the way too often, and the knees can only bend about 45 degrees, which fairly limits the amount of dynamic poses the Tristan can achieve. The beam rifle is also disproportionately larger than the rest of the mobile suit, making it seem more like a cannon.

In all, the Tristan is lacking in many areas but has some saving grace in the form of its head sculpt that is versatile enough to be used on other model kits. Certain parts of the frame can also be used for customs and modifications, along with spare parts from the Alex runner (namely the 90mm Gatling cannons and the Alex Beam Rifle). 

I'm not sure if Bandai will release the Tristan Kurwenal as a mobile kit but if they do, I hope they revise the Tristan a little as well.

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