Sunday, December 4, 2022

[CUSTOM] Bandai HG 1/144 LF-04 Mass Production Type Lfrith

Model Number: LF-04
Designation: Ochs Earth Corporation Mass Production Type General Purpose GUND-ARM Type Mobile Suit

The military applications for the GUND Format will always be tantalising.

Build Notes
The HG 1/144 Gundam Lfrith has big shoes to fill as the inaugural kit-of-the-line for its series, being a fresh model kit from a completely new timeline and universe. We got a look at how badass the Lfrith was in the Prologue, holding its own against the Beguir-Beu and its combat-seasoned pilot and eventually scraping through with a pyrrhic victory. It is no wonder that the model kit is incredibly popular and sought-after, almost on the same level as the HG 1/144 Gundam Aerial.

The Lfrith model kit is simple yet robust, making use of modern Gunpla design philosophies (C-joints a la 30 Minutes Missions) and cutting-edge technology (in-mold printing) to bring forth a detailed, articulated and well-rounded model kit that looks amazing out of the box with no additional effort. Indeed, this seems to be the way Bandai is approaching the High Grade line – creating low-cost, high-reward model kits for casual builders to construct and collect. After all, there is more money to be made in the casual market than the hardcore one, it’s just better business.

The Lfrith is very well part and colour separated, making it a breeze for builders to paint and further customise. In line with the fictional lore developed for this particular build, I went with a colour scheme inspired by the RX-94 Mass Production Type Nu Gundam, with a more military-style look that still conveys high performance. I chose the printed in-mold shell unit to use with this build to give it more visual variation and add a little splash of colour to an otherwise drab colour combination.

Fictional Lore
Developed from the prototype XGF-02 Gundam Lfrith after its recovery from the Vanadis Incident, the Mass Production Type Lfrith was considered a significant technical development milestone as the Ochs Earth Corporation had lost all of its Pre-Production Gundam Lfrith units and their collected data during the same incident, setting back their GUND-ARM advancement plans by a few years. While the Lfrith was meant to help humanity transit to becoming a true spacefaring race, the GUND Format was basically made for military applications. Therefore, a covert branch of Ochs Earth was tasked to test out this concept with a small squadron of Mass Production Type Lfrith units, with the Gundam name dropped to minimise scrutiny from prying eyes and sensors.

Cosmetically congruent with the regular Lfrith (save for its colour scheme), the Mass Production Type retains most of the Lfrith’s core features but simplifies some of its systems for the sake of easier reproduction. For example, the central core of the Compo GUND-BIT shield is no longer a Bit Stave, it is now a hub for the other Bit Staves and also functions as a beam cannon. When combined with all Bit Staves, the Shield is able to withstand most beam attacks short of a shipboard mega particle cannon barrage. The hub itself also had anti-beam field properties, just significantly reduced in strength without the 
other Bit Staves but still able to absorb several medium beam attacks before dissipating.

Mass Production Type Lfrith units were typically deployed in Bit-On Form (mounted to dedicated hardpoints on the purpose-built backpack to provide additional thrust) to take advantage of its enhanced mobility from the get-go, leveraging the mobile suit’s agility to evade enemy fire and close in on their targets. The GUND-BIT rifle – composed of the Receiver Gun with the topmost and bottommost Bit Staves in Shield form – was used by Mass Production Lfrith units to engage targets in the medium to long range, taking advantage of the weapon’s high output to decimate targets. Although the rifle had immense destructive power, the Bit Staves had to be recharged after 9 shots, forcing the machine to use the shorter-ranged Receiver Gun or one of its beam sabers in the meantime.

However, these armaments pale in comparison to the sheer power, flexibility and utility of the Mass Production Type Lfrith’s Bit Staves, even if they are operating in a reduced quantity and capacity from the prototype version. While the prototype Gundam Lfrith could deploy all seven Bit Staves for use, the Mass Production Type Lfriths only had four for all-range attack applications, with the the Bit Staves used to form the GUND-BIT rifle reserved solely for that purpose. 

Nevertheless, the four backpack-mounted Bit Staves were still lethal - remotely controlled by the shell unit with precise accuracy and sensitivity to swarm enemy units and positions with all-range attacks. Equipped with thrust vectoring nozzles, posture control thrusters and verniers, the Bit Staves were also armed with a single light beam cannon with rapid-fire capability. While weak individually, Bit Staves almost always worked together to overwhelm enemy defences, wearing them down from repeated beam attacks coming from every direction. Mass Production Type Lfrith pilots were trained to carry out coordinated attacks with their Bit Staves to make it look like the enemy was under attack from a much larger force and force them to beat a hasty retreat. When push came to shove however, the Mass Production Lfriths were more than capable of going toe-to-toe with modern mobile suits deployed by the other factions, an activity that was not in short supply given the other factions’ propensity to send their own machines to continually probe Ochs Earth Corporation’s ability to safeguard their interests.

During one such incursion, a team of three Mass Production Type Lfriths were sent to defend one of Ochs Earth’s orbital warehouses from marauders when they came across a new type of machine that had the signature visage of a mobile suit operated by Dominicus. Looking more like an insect than a machine, the humanoid mobile suit with purple optics launched two wireless pods from its backpack, which immediately caused the shell unit of the lead Mass Production Type Lfrith to fail. The enemy machine then surged forward and caught the Lfrith’s head unit in a single clawed foot, wrenching it off in one fluid move. The other Mass Production Lfriths immediately deployed their Bit Staves, but they wobbled feebly and struggled to engage the target, as if the enemy machine was protected by some sort of anti-GUND forcefield. 

The Dominicus machine pulled its emerald blade out from the chest section of the now-inert lead Mass Production Type Lfrith just as its surviving teammates recalled their Bit Staves. The two machines then took up holding positions near the perimeter of the Ochs Earth warehouse, as if preparing for another machine to arrive to turn the tide.

In a brilliant flash of azure, a new mobile suit appeared to do battle in this part of the infinite universe.


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