Sunday, March 22, 2020

[Kit Insight] Bandai HGUC 1/144 AMX-104/02 R-Jarja Unit 02 - Customised Build

Model Number: AMX-104/02
Designation: Neo Zeon Prototype High Performance Commander Use Mobile Suit

Bearing a distinctive and striking visage, the R-Jarja finely toes the line between standard and unconventional mobile suit design.
The R-Jarja, with its peculiar name and even more peculiar design, has intrigued fans from its introduction in ZZ Gundam. Its knight-like visage invoked a regal feel to the mobile suit, however distorted by Zeon-style mechanical curvature and the signature monoeye of the Principality. We waited years for a proper HGUC 1/144 scale model kit of the R-Jarja, a wish which was somewhat fulfilled in 2015 with the release of the HGBF 1/144 R-Gyagya model kit (subsequently remodeled into a variant of the R-Jarja). Four years on, the R-Jarja finally has a proper HGUC iteration, with a P-Bandai Twilight Axis variant on the way. 

Build Notes
The R-Gyagya model kit was interesting for its time, with its larger size, distinctive design cues as well as varied armament. Despite its sharp looks, the kit suffers from fundamental shoulder joint problems, with the large rounded shoulders interfering with movement and often causing the entire assemblage to fall away. The HGUC 1/144 R-Jarja model kit sadly inherits this problem, although the joint connections for the bulky shoulder armour sections have been somewhat tightened.

Reusing most of the runners from the HGBF 1/144 R-Gyagya, the R-Jarja features a different head unit, different shoulder armour sections, different forearm parts and different variable shields. The rest of the kit is congruent to its earlier iteration. While the kit looks superbly badass, the ill-fitting arms take away some of the enjoyment, although it is a problem that can be remedied relatively easily. The large shoulders and their attached shields do get in the way of mobility but they are thankfully agile enough to be adjusted out of the way.

This build came about because I had a chrome-painted Kotobukiya Knight Sword lying around and I cannibalised the R-Jarja's unique beam saber for a knight-style customised build in the pipeline. The MG 1/100 Perfect Zeong model kit comes with a sick chrome-plated sword that looks similar to the Knight Sword, and that was all I needed to get this quick build going. To recreate the Perfect Zeong colour scheme for the R-Jarja, the following colours were used:
  1. Tamiya Gun Metal
  2. Tamiya Semi-Gloss Bright Gun Metal
  3. Nippon Pylox Light Blue
  4. Nippon Pylox Elephant Grey
  5. Nippon Pylox Deep Grey
  6. 7CF Gold
  7. 7CF Grey
  8. 7CF Deep Grey
  9. 7CF Matte Black
  10. Corex Matte Black
  11. Mr. DIY Sparkling Black
  12. Mr. DIY Decorative Chrome
  13. Red Fox Bright Silver
  14. Bosny Gold
Fictional Lore
The R-Jarja was developed as a sound testament of Neo Zeon's commitment to its elite "Knights", gifting them with a high performance close combat oriented mobile suit with which to slay the armed movement's adversaries. While a crimson-coloured R-Jarja was made popular by Chara Soon, the existence of a pink-purple-white variant found on Axis confirms the fact that multiple units of R-Jarja were actually produced.

The second unit of the line, Unit 02 was by all means a "perfected" version of the R-Jarja design, taking all available combat data from both Chara Soon and Danton Hyleg to create an extremely formidable combatant machine. Itself a difficult machine to pilot due to its control sensitivity and multitude of high-output thrusters placed all over the machine's frame, the R-Jarja could only be tamed by the most skilled of pilots, typified by the elite Neo Zeon Knights.

Issued to a secretive Knight in the already-reclusive upper echelons of the Neo Zeon, the R-Jarja Unit 02 was painted in a colour scheme reminiscent of the legendary Perfect Zeong and equipped with a massive claymore instead of the standard beam saber as the pilot denounced the usage of what was essentially a Federation-derived weapon. While usage of the beam rifle was still acceptable, the pilot drew the line at the beam saber, opting to go with a more elegant weapon from a more civilized time.

The R-Jarja Unit 02 became somewhat of an urban legend among the Federation and AEUG forces, with the long, gleaming claymore striking fear and lethality into the hearts of recruits and veterans alike. The Neo Zeon Knight made full use of the R-Jarja's exceptional mobility to generate enough momentum and kinetic force to execute devastating strikes with the giant sword, often delivering kills via crushed cockpits rather than lacerated mobile suit armour. 

The large-sized beam rifle provided long range tactical options for the R-Jarja pilot, although he (or she) preferred to use the claymore to free Earthlings from the confines of gravity. The low-output heat bayonet attached to the beam rifle was sometimes used as a makeshift jitte, parrying beam saber blades for the claymore to make the killing move. At times, the pilot rammed the bayonet into an opposing machine, following up with a point-blank blast of the beam rifle which ensured the enemy machine's total destruction.

The speed and agility of the R-Jarja Unit 02 resurrected rumours of the Zeonic Zeong Corps, a crack team of Zeong units that could - on paper - singlehandedly wipe out whole armadas of battleships with Newtype-fueled all-range attacks. The Neo Zeon machine attacked Federation assets and AEUG forces with near impunity, before coming face-to-face with a literal wall of overwhelming firepower.


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