Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Year in Review

New Logo!

As year 2016 is coming to an end in one more day, it is a good time to reflect and review on what I have amassed/ built/ collected over the past year. It has been a challenge trying to find time to build kits, let alone go through with full customs complete with modifications, detailing and decals. Oftentimes, I find myself going back to my straight building roots, snapping together kits but actually enjoying the building process. Going forward, I will probably do more straight builds while only focusing the hardcore builds on kits with clear, concrete ideas.  

In 2017, I will try to do what I can, striving to bring quick reviews on kits and collectibles to make it that bit easier for readers to make that purchase decision.

I look forward to your continued support for the coming year and beyond!

Read on to see what has been done the past year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

[Metal Build] Bandai Tamashii Nations Metal Build 1/100 Gundam Astray Blue Frame Full Weapons

As long as Bandai continues to make Metal Builds, people will continue to buy them. 

The Astray Blue Frame was teased sometime back along with a number of other potential releases, but the Blue Frame was more or less confirmed with a definite release date. True to the Metal Build brand, the Astray Blue Frame Full Weapons is exquisite, meticulously crafted with precision and a keen attention to detail. There are various sections on the armor that are painted in off-white, to give it a pseudo-camouflage look befitting of the clandestine Serpent Tail.

[Kit Insight] Bandai HGIBO 1/144 Gundam Flauros [Tekkadan Refurbished Model] (Customised Build)

When the Flauros was first teased after being dug out from a hole on Mars, the fans of the series collectively shrieked. Finally, a new Gundam Frame was to make an appearance and it was to belong to Tekkadan (who already has two Gundam Frames in possession), so naturally there was intense speculation on who will eventually pilot this new machine. Some episodes later, the Flauros officially made its appearance in Shino's ostentatious magneta, dubbed Ryusei-Go the 4th. Yes, it was a killer intro with the firing of the Galaxy Cannon, but the transformation sequence seems shoehorned in to achieve the "Transformable MS" quota and frankly it looks weird, not to mention that such a transformation system will wreak havoc on all of the Flauros' internal systems.

[Kit Insight] Bandai HGIBO 1/144 Gundam Vidar Ver. GPN (Customised Build)

The Vidar is an enigmatic machine. Swift, deadly and armed with more weapons than some colonies' militias, the Vidar's signature move would be the drawing of a new burst blade from the containers by its side. It is an inefficient way of fighting as the huge containers holding the incendiary burst blades will give enemies a larger target, but DAMN does it look cool.

[Accessory Analysis] Anubis Design Studio 1/144 Heavy Combat Weapon Set (H.C.W.S)

Anubis has been doing some great work for 1/144 modelers lately, with their awesome mechanical base forming the basis for many dioramas. Their latest offering is this weapon set, packed with many parts to create various polearm-style weapons. The best part: the weapon shafts are made of METAL.

[Kit Insight] Kotobukiya 1/144 PTX-003-SP1 Alteisen Riese (Straight Build)

Before this, I have never built a Super Robot Wars kit all my life, even if I religiously played the turn-based strategy games on the very first PlayStation when I was but a tyke. Perhaps the more grounded, militaristic look and feel of the Gundam series captured my heart more, relegating the more outlandish and flamboyant Super Robots to a less-accessed corner of my mind. The release of SRW model kits only in Kotobukiya's format turned me away even more, as Kotobukiya kits are priced loftier than Bandai's and make you do so much more work.

An old pal of mine passed me some of his old model kits a few years back as he couldn't find the time to finish kits while juggling ten thousand other hobbies. One of the kits in the mega-haul was this Alteisen Riese, one of the main characters of Super Robot Wars. Coincidentally, a mobile game that I was fooling around with at that time featured the Riese as your first playable character. Naturally, I was stoked to build the kit, but the machinations of life delayed its construction till now.

Monday, December 5, 2016

[WIP] Bandai HGIBO 1/144 UGY-R41-R[O] Man Ronin (Customised Build)

I'll be direct: this customised build is directly based off the Ronin from Titanfall II, the upgraded Stryder-class Titan with a huge mean blade. It's not everyday that you see a spindly, thin mecha wielding a gigantic sword like a ninja, let alone one with a design as striking as the Ronin. Therefore, I decided to attempt to recreate the Ronin in the Post Disaster timeline and universe, thereby resulting in this Man Ronin.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

[Kit Insight] Bandai HGUC (Gundam The Origin) 1/144 RXC-76-2 Guncannon First Type (Iron Cavalry Squadron) (Straight Build)

Okay first of all, let me qualify that yes, I know that the Guncannon First Type put up a dismal performance in Gundam The Origin IV: Eve of Destiny and yes, I know that the entire Iron Cavalry Squadron got wiped out by a force significantly smaller in terms of size and firepower. Nevertheless, I have a weak spot for expendable grunt mobile suits, the rank and file soldiers that form the backbone of any military force. The Ace Pilots are game-changers on any battlefield, but the grunts are the ones who face the unrelenting horrors of war day in and day out.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

[NEWS] Gundam Front Tokyo to close temporarily from March 2017

The RG 1/1 RX-78-2 Gundam outside Gundam Front Tokyo at Diver City will cease exhibition from 5 March 2017. It has been at the plaza of Diver City since 2012.

In addition, the merchandise area of Gundam Front Tokyo will also be closing its doors - albeit temporarily - from 5 April 2017. Bandai will be holding a LAST SHOOTING event to commemorate the closure before ceasing operations.

However, the Real G Project will return to Diver City in 2019 to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Gunpla. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

[ROBOT DAMASHII] Bandai Tamashii Nations Side RSK R-187 Cross Ange En-Ryu-Go

Cross Ange was such a guilty pleasure: it featured gratuitous amounts of fan service, glorified and then trampled on the female form, had copious amounts of mecha on mecha action as well as characters and mecha designs that bore more than a passing similarity to a small anime series called Gundam Seed. Heck, they even included the Freedom's shield and beam rifle in one of the sequences!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Sunday, November 13, 2016

[Kit Insight] Daban MG 1/100 RGM-96X Jesta Cannon (Straight Build)

If you've have been following this blog (thank you) or my Instagram account (@gunplanerd) for a while, you'd have noticed that I don't not discriminate between Gunpla brands, manufacturers and makers. Granted, Bandai will always maintain its lofty position as the developer of excellent model kits, but third party companies and sometimes individuals can also come up with fantastic offerings that Bandai cannot release due to any number of reasons. In addition, the low price tag associated with third party kits can be a godsend to builders-on-a-budget, although they will have to accept the quality accorded by the coin they paid. After all, caveat emptor.

Chinese copycat and model kit bootleg manufacturer Daban has been in the Gunpla circle for many years, having issued many knockoff versions of Bandai model kits. As with bootlegs, quality issues abound, as I've found out having built a number of them. The type of plastic used in earlier Daban kits are of the harder variety, and fingers screamed whenever parts failed to snap fit. A pair of pliers is actually a required tool when building Daban kits, along with sheer determination and endless endurance. With regards to the above reasons, I wouldn't recommend getting any Daban kits as the trauma is not worth the low (low!) price tag.

Lately however, Daban has been stepping up its game. Its recent releases came fast and furious: Master Grades, High Grades in rapid succession. Builders around me have said that these newer Daban releases are actually pretty good, although still notches below superior Bandai quality, but nevertheless very worthwhile for the amount of money paid for them. Intrigued, I was contemplating picking a set up just to see how far Daban has come. So when Daban dropped the MG 1/100 Jesta Cannon model kit, I ordered it in a heartbeat.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

[NEWS] Bandai Model Kit Fair 2016 (Singapore)

A local mall in the heartland of Singapore is currently having a small Bandai Model Kit Fair, complete with displays of upcoming releases as well as Gunpla for sale at heavily discounted prices. There is also a small collection of Expo Exclusive limited edition products on sale as well.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

[Accessory Analysis] Bandai HGIBO 1/144 210mm Anti-Materiel Rifle & Pile Bunker Shield (Gunpla Ace December 2016 Supplement)

I love magazine supplements.

They add a deeper dimension to existing model kits, granting them new weaponry and/or armor parts to further deepen their lore. The December 2016 issue of manga compilation Gunpla Ace comes with a runner of parts for you to build two weapons ostensibly for the HGIBO 1/144 Gundam Astaroth: the massive 210mm Anti-Materiel Rifle as well as the heavy Pile Bunker Shield. 

The Rifle is HUGE, taller than the Astaroth and also the Barbatos Lupus. It also comes with a small joint part for attaching to your Gunpla, although attaching to the Astaroth requires the removal of its right skirt armor. You will need additional joint parts to mount it on the backpack, as I've done with help from the joint from the HGIBO 1/144 MS Option Set 5.

Although the Rifle is massive, it is still fairly light enough for any mobile suit to grip and pose with, although the bulk may make holding the rifle with both hands a tad difficult. Patience is key. The Pile Bunker Shield is interesting in the sense that it looks heavy enough to both deal and take a significant amount of punishment, but is actually pretty light to be able to be mounted on the forearm. 

This supplement is a great addition to the arsenal of IBO, more guns are welcome to the plethora of melee-oriented weapons!

[Kit Insight] Bandai BB Senshi SD Gundam Barbatos DX (Ver. GPN)

Along with the SD EX-Standard Gundam Barbatos released earlier in the year, Bandai also dropped the BB Senshi DX version of the titular mobile suit from Iron-Blood Orphans. The DX version of the Barbatos comes with every piece of armor and weaponry worn/wielded in the anime series, including a SD-fied version of the Kutan-III Long Distance Transport Booster. For the price point, you get a lot of plastic!

That being said, you only get enough parts to create one Barbatos in a chosen form at any one time; creating the Barbatos in multiple forms simultaneously would require you to acquire more SD EX-Standard Gundam Barbatos, which is essentially the same thing in a smaller package with far lesser things. It is a blast to switch the armor pieces around to create different versions, but the 6th Form easily takes the cake.

Since it's still a SD at core, expect to apply lots of stickers or do a lot of painting to bring out the colours. But as compared to older SDs, the level of part separation here helps immensely. The feet are the troublesome, sticker-heavy part, while the Kutan-III is devoid of any other colour apart from white.

Accessories wise, the DX Barbatos set is loaded. From the Mace to the Long Sword to the 180mm Gliding Cannons, the Barbatos is spoilt for choice. The Wrench Mace even has opening jaws to recreate chomping attacks, although it can be a little stiff and may come apart if handled incorrectly.

If you're looking for a SD Barbatos to add to your collection, consider getting a DX one first, before deciding if you need five more SD EX-Standard ones to create all six forms of the Barbatos.

[Kit Insight] Bandai Macross Delta Figure-rise Bust Makina Nakajima (Straight Build)

Figure-rise Busts are an acquired taste: they are somewhere in between a full fledged figurine and a head bust, so they won't have the mass market appeal of either. Nevertheless, Figure-rise Busts can be refreshing to build, especially if the end product is pleasing to the eyes (not referring to you, shirtless Mikazuki Augus).

The Macross Delta series has no shortage of beautiful heroines since the entire premise of the show rests on the beautiful heroines sent to combat the Vajra disease by the power of love and song and all that mumbo-jumbo. We will definitely see Figure-rise Busts of all members of Walkure, but the only one that caught my eye is Makina, apart from Mirage, for obvious reasons.

Construction-wise, Figure-rise Busts are simple, but attention to the orientation of the parts must be paid since most of the parts only fit a certain way. Large stickers are used for colour separation on a good number of parts, probably to keep costs of an already pricey kit down for mass appeal. Although these stickers can be tricky to line up, position and secure, they don't look too bad once transferred to their corresponding plastic surfaces.

The eye parts warrant a mention, simple because they are marvels of colour injection. Reminiscent of the multi-colour gating seen in the early Bandai Star Wars 1/72 TIE Fighter model kits, the eye parts are composed of three separate colours, gated together into beautiful optics. Once transplanted to the face unit, the eyes look absolutely remarkable.

The final product is interesting to look at: visually pleasing and easy on the eyes. It would be a sight to behold if you have all members of Walkure, lined up in front of 1/72 Siegfrieds!

[Kit Insight] Bandai Universal Unit RX-105 XI Gundam (Straight Build)

Bandai really loves its shokugan series of candy toys, with the new Universal Units commanding higher prices that regular HGIBO model kits for far lesser plastic. However, these small tabletop collectibles feature great sculpting, decent colour separation, a sizable part count and delicious articulation, making the lofty price tag almost worth it.

The Xi Gundam is larger than its brethren, giving you a little more justification for making the purchase. Fitment can be a little tight around the joints, and the plastic used on certain white-coloured sections can be pretty tough. One gripe I have with this collectible is that the head unit doesn't turn at all, limiting the type and number of poses that the Xi Gundam can accomplish. 

So if you want a better Xi Gundam but don't want to break the bank by getting a Mechanicore 1/72 version, you might want to consider the MC Model 1/144 version until Bandai decides to release the Xi in RE100 format.

[Accessory Analysis] Platz 1/12 Realistic Handgun Series (Limited Edition Silver Chrome Ver.)

What's not to like about intricately sculpted 1/12 scale replicas of real-world handguns finished in silver chrome?

Materia adores them, but they are too small for Gunpla manipulators, so best to save them for Figmas, SH Figurarts and Frame Arms Girls or Armor Girl Project figurines.

Monday, October 10, 2016

[Kit Insight] Bandai HGIBO 1/144 Gundam Barbatos 6th Form (SoulModel Metallic Coating Ver.)

What's not to like about a metallic Barbatos!

[Kit Insight] Bandai HGIBO 1/144 Gundam Astaroth (SoulModel Metallic Coating Ver.)

You have to hand it to third party companies for filling gaps that the mainstream companies cannot or would not. Soul Model is a Chinese firm that applies a beautiful metallic coating to Bandai Gunpla kits before reselling them, for a fee of course. Essentially, your regular model kits now become coated ones, looking fantastic on any shelf. 

The coating quality is superb, similar to the coating found on the MG 1/100 Hyaku-Shiki 2.0. Although fitment can be tight around certain areas, the parts still generally snap together well. Nub marks are a given on any coated kit, but Soul Model is kind enough to provide markers for you to do any minor touching up.

These SoulModel babies look awesome, but can be a tad expensive for casual modelers to cough up the cash for.

Monday, September 12, 2016

[Kit Insight] 極尚模型 RG-01 HG 1/144 RX-78-2 Gundam (Light Build)

This third party variant of the classic RX-78-2 in Ver. Ka form was bundled with a Hong Kong hobby magazine some months back, featuring a downsized RX-78-2 Ver. Ka in 1/144 scale with a full inner frame. Although the potential for this kit is high, the execution is wanting and leaves a lot to be desired: fitment is inaccurate, although snug; plastic quality is inferior at best. However, the best part of this kit is the amazing inner frame that features RG mechanics (read: moving armor panels) in the legs.

Nevertheless, it still looks pretty good in a RX-78-2 collection. Oh yes, it also comes with metal thrusters and beam saber hilts. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

[Kit Insight] SPL 1/100 Mobius Zero (Straight Build)

As far as third party model kits go, the SPL brand is not as prolific as say MC Model, Dragon Momoko or even Daban. In fact, apart from this 1/100 Mobius Zero, it doesn't seem like the Chinese has been producing many kits or will produce them in the near future. This is a shame, as the Mobius Zero kit holds much promise, although marred by engineering issues that could be rectified given time and/or funding.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

[Kit Insight] Bandai HGBF 1/144 MSZ-008X2 ZZII (Straight Build)

With the release of the Gundam Build Fighters Try Island Wars OVA, we finally see the previously-teased Gunpla in action: the Gyancelot, the Force Impulses fitted with the Northern Pod, the Shia Qan[T], the terrifying Scramble Gundam and my personal favourite - Minato Sakai's ZZII. 

[ANIME] Gundam Build Fighters Try Island Wars OVA

After much hype and anticipation, the latest installment of the GBF series is released! Boy, does it deliver on the feels!

We want more!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

[Kit Insight] Bandai HGIBO 1/144 Gundam Barbatos Clear Color Ver. (Gunpla Expo Exclusive) (Customised Build)

It's a Barbatos with clear armor parts (except the Frame runner) that also comes with the 180mm smoothbore cannon as well as a cute little CGS Mobile Worker in clear black molding.

I also added springs to the torso pistons to give it a little more mechanical depth and also to beef it up a little. The Frame was also painted Metallic Black.

[Kit Insight] Bandai LBX Ikaros Force (Limited Gold Ver.) & LBX Custom Effect DX2 (Straight Builds)

I haven't built any LBX model kits before, since I am loathe to channel capital to yet another model kit line. Even so, I recognise the merits of the LBX line, and some of the mecha designs look great. 

I picked this limited edition gold-plated Ikaros Force from a toy sale held by Takashimaya in August. It was too good a deal to pass up as the set contains the Ikaros Force kit, the LBX Custom Effect DX2 add-ons, two LBX Weapon add-ons as well as a LBX Sticker Set for the grand total of S$15. Talk about a good deal!

LBX kits are fun to build and don't take a long time, with a decent range of articulation. I like how the parts are labelled according to the section of the kit it corresponds to, makes finding of parts that bit easier. The DX2 effect parts are just sweet, but that are a tad heavy due to their massive size.

I have one more LBX kit in my backlog, let's see if I can find the time to do a Painted Build of that one!

[Kit Insight] Bandai Yokai Watch Robonyan Eco Ver. (Painted Build)

Bandai is releasing a new line of model kits (again) based on the popular children's series Yokai Watch. Full of cute spirits cats and other assorted demons, Yokai Watch was touted to be a Pokemon-killer, although it quickly became evident that Pokemon was not going to vacate its spot as the League Champion anytime soon. Nevertheless, the franchise has amassed a pretty sizable following, and merchandise - particularly the titular Yokai Watch - have seen admirable sales.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

[GUNPLA] Premium Bandai MG 1/100 Weapon & Armor Hanger for Full Armor Gundam Ver. Ka [Thunderbolt Ver.]

A gorgeous add-on for a gorgeous mobile suit! The redesigns of the classic Gundam weaponry give this Expansion Set even more bang for your buck!

Release date: Preorder begins August 2016
Pricing: 2808 yen

[GUNPLA] Premium Bandai MG 1/100 Gundam Heavy Arms Custom EW

Rejoice, Heavy Arms fans! This mobile suit is the definition of GUNS GUNS GUNS.

Release date: October 2016
Pricing: 5184 yen

Sunday, July 31, 2016

[Kit Insight] Bandai Tamashii Nations NX Edge Style MS Unit-016 Banshee [Destroy Mode]

The NX Edge Style Banshee is the best non-scale Banshee in existence and nothing can change that fact.

[Kit Insight] Bandai SD EX-Standard TBG-011B Try Burning Gundam (Straight Build)

The SD EX-Standard is the latest in Bandai's revised SD model kits that has strangely appeared to Japanese builders only very recently. For everyone else, these SD EX-Standards have largely served their intended purpose well: killing some time and producing a fun kit to toy with at the end of the day.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

[GUNPLA] Premium Bandai MG 1/100 Armor Hanger Expansion Set for MG 1/100 Full Armor Gundam (Thunderbolt Sector) Ver. Ka

P-Bandai add on set for the MG FA Gundam! Looks like a revised Hyper Bazooka and Beam Rifle from the original RX-78-2 Gundam!

Price: TBC
Release date: August 2016

[GUNPLA] Premium Bandai HGUC 1/144 Waterproof Gundam

The Waterproof Gundam from days of old is finally getting a proper model kit release! Last seen in the Gundam Unicorn Manga, this remarkably designed aquatic-use mobile suit was double-teamed by a pair of Neo Zeon Zee Zulus, which were years ahead in terms of technological superiority.

Nevertheless, this P-Bandai rendition of the Gundiver (based on the HGUC Gundam Local Type) is a must-get for UC fans!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

[GUNPLA] Premium Bandai RG 1/144 Expansion Set for RG 1/144 Sinanju

We finally have information on the upcoming P-Bandai expansion set for the RG Sinanju, slated for a September 2016 release!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

[GUNPLA] Gunpla Expo 2016 Limited Edition Expo Exclusive Gunpla

The Gunpla Expo organisers just dropped a whole bunch of new Expo Exclusive Gunpla that will be sold at the upcoming Expo in Ikebukuro in August 2016 as well as during the Winter Expo in Akibahara in November 2016.