Sunday, April 29, 2018

[Kit Insight] Bandai HGBD 1/144 GN-0000DVR Gundam 00 Diver [Diver Versus Environment Equipment] (Customised Build)

Model Number: GN-0000DVR Gundam 00 Diver
Designation: Riku Mikami's Custom Gunpla + DvE Equipment

The protagonist machine with a face lift!
Gundam Build Divers finally dropped after months of teasing, especially with that prologue that showcased the thrilling battle between Team Avalon and the 7th Panzer Division while also showing off all the new Gunpla that we can expect from the newest iteration of the Gundam Build Fighters franchise. As a virtual-reality simulation that may or may not take place in the same universe of Sei Iori and Sekai Kamiki, Gundam Build Divers is nevertheless a logical progression of Gunpla Battle, although the stakes are significantly reduced as the actual Gunpla is never used in battle.

Build Notes
As part of the still-ongoing promotional efforts for the 10th anniversary of 00 Gundam, the protagonist machine is a modifed 00 Gundam, christened the Gundam 00 Diver and is both built and piloted by newbie Diver Riku Mikami. Staying true to the roots of the base Gunpla, the 00 Diver still presents several aesthetic and functional changes to the frame, most evident when building the actual HGBD-000 1/144 Gundam 00 Diver model kit. The first kit of its line, the affordably-priced (1000 yen) 00 Diver resurrects (again) the 10-year old mold of the 00 Gundam, but adds on quite a number of new parts. The head, chest, GN Drives, cuffs, back skirt and shins are all new molding, although you still get all the parts required to make the vanilla 00 Gundam (but why would you do that?).

An interesting addition to the set is the inclusion of hand parts: two pairs of grabby hands, a pair of expressive open palms and an unexpected pair of trigger hands. According to the manual, these hands should fit most HG 1/144 weaponry, intended to make your kit-bashing that much easier. For 1000 yen, these hands are a bonus!

For a 10-year old kit design, the 00 Gundam has aged very well. For one, it doesn't have the ball-and-socket hip design of many older HGs, even within its own HG00 1/144 line. This allows the 00 Diver to go head-to-head with contemporary HG model kits, with their fancy part separation, working inner frames and delicious articulation. Yes, the 00 Diver cannot be compared to a kit from the HGTO 1/144 line, but it's pretty decent considering its age.

As I didn't want to just straight build the 00 Diver, I thought about possible colour schemes and modifications for the model kit. Initially, I wanted to just do a colour correction build: darken the blues, add greys, upgrade the yellow to gold, etc.; at the eleventh hour, I decided to modify the colour scheme further and add new weaponry to form a Diver Versus Environment (DvE) variant of the 00 Diver.

For this build, I used the following colours:
  1. Tamiya Gun Metal
  2. Tamiya Gunship Grey
  3. Nippon Pylox Pewter Grey
  4. Nippon Pylox Naval Grey
  5. Nippon Pylox Medium Grey
  6. Nippon Pylox Deep Grey
  7. Nippon Pylox Light Blue
  8. Nippon Pylox Deep Blue
  9. CT7 Gold
  10. Bosny Metallic Gold 
  11. Red Fox Flat Black
  12. Red Fox Bright Silver
Fictional Lore
What is essentially a MMORPG, the Gundam Build Network (GBN) is really just an immersive video game where players, or Divers, can be anyone they want. This is very similar to the concept of the Oasis in the book/movie Ready Player One, which coincidentally also featured a Gundam. In such video games, there are a number of activities players can partake in. Aside from the usual Diver Versus Diver competition mode, more casual Divers would prefer to take part in Missions to farm Diver Points in order to go up the ranks. Far from the Force Wars, these Divers are content with fighting computer-generated opponents, honing their control skills against these relatively weaker enemies. 

One such mode is the Annihilation Mission, whereby a Diver or a party of Divers enter a thematic zone set in any Gundam universe and attempt to complete the stage before the time limit. As per its nomenclature, Annihilation Missions usually require Divers to knock out Non Player Diver (NPD) machines, which get progressively more powerful as the Mission persists. The Mission usually culminates in a Boss Fight, whereby the Divers need to overcome a classic adversary from the Mission's universe, usually a highly recognisable antagonist unit. For example, in the Gundam F91 Annihilation Mission, the final boss is the Rafflesia, and Divers must work with the allied, NPD-controlled Gundam F91 to free the captive Vigna Ghina before time runs out.

Wishing to experience the story of his base Gunpla, Riku selected a 00 Gundam Annihilation Mission during one of his solo bouts into the GBN. During this Mission, Riku made use of the GBN's in-game systems to temporarily modify the 00 Diver's colour scheme to suit the mission's urban environment. Riku also toggled on the Warning Decals function, just for fun.

Set during the reign of the A-Laws, this particular Annihilation Mission took place in a Federation city under A-Laws control, and Divers must successively annihilate A-Laws Aheads, Advanced GN-Xes, GN-XIIIs as well as GN-XIVs before facing off with the Master Grade 1/100 GN-XII Sword and GN-XII Cannon as Final Bosses.

While the 00 Diver was a well-made, well-rounded machine, its strength lies in Diver Versus Diver (DvD) combat, going against one to three opponents. The machine's performance and output allows it to excel in this area but its armament is not optimised for the DvE nature of Annihilation Missions, as painfully learnt in earlier instances. When surrounded by upwards of five enemies, the 00 Diver faced significant difficulty in quickly dispatching the foes. The 00 Diver's weapons could easily destroy any low or medium level NPDs with a single hit, but the damage dealt is disproportionate: that same amount of damage could easily wreck five other NPDs. 

To circumvent this, Riku equipped a pair of beam assault carbines to better conduct mid and long range combat. The shorter assault carbine allowed Riku to lay down a concentrated field of fire while still maintaining his mobility, taking down NPD grunts with one or two shots. The long assault carbine gave Riku an answer to long range enemies, something the Gundam 00 Diver's GN Sword II could not do. The powerful penetrating beam of the long assault carbine also allowed Riku to effectively snipe NPD targets, although the rate of fire was significantly lower than the short assault carbine. The additional equipment transformed the Gundam 00 Diver into a formidable DvE machine, able to hold out against waves of NPDs and assorted grunt machines. However, Riku had to resort to his signature weapons when he encountered tougher foes.

The GN Swords II remained as the 00 Diver's flagship weapons, used when Riku needed an ace in the hole. Lined with GN particles, the physical swords were able to cut through most armour plating with ease, even being able to parry beam saber attacks. Riku made use of his Gunpla's mobility, agility and dexterity to execute deadly attacks with the swords, reducing his enemies to ribbons. The GN Swords II retained the Beam Rifle mode from the base Gunpla, although the physical blades no longer needed to be rotated to activate the beam rifle. A pretty standard-output beam rifle, a lower-power, rapid-fire mode can be activated, although heavy use significantly drains the internal battery.

Riku would use this DvE-optimised version of the 00 Diver through instances of the A-Laws Annihilation Mission, eventually making it to the last stage and coming face-to-face with a machine that wasn't supposed to exist: a Celestial Being Gundam bearing the colours and logo of the tyrannical A-Laws. On hindsight, this unit was likely generated by the GBN's AI as a result of the bugs currently infecting the GBN systems.

The Gundam 00 Diver [Diver Versus Environment Equipment] allowed Riku to experiment with various playstyles and weaponry, helping him to solidify his preference for melee combat on his journey to become an Ace.


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