Monday, 24 June 2013

Assault Kingdom EX 01 : NZ-666 Kshatriya

At the moment, the Assault Kingdom line is Bandai's latest shokugan effort, taking the popularity of the STANDart series and giving it a massively articulated overhaul. At the time of writing it currently consists of two sets with a total of eight figures, out of which six are various white Gundams and then rounded off with a Sazabi and a Zaku II to form some sort of opposition. Not too exciting right now, but obviously it takes time to design new articulated models so it is not unexpected that the default Gundam frame is utilized a lot in these early waves, hopefully further installments will see some branching out into other weirdly articulated models.

Proving that Bandai are on the right track is the first special kit in the series, the April 2013 offering of a massive NZ-666 Kshatriya mobile suit. Considerably larger than the average figures in the series the Kshatriya dwarves its Gundam counterparts, and it is so nice to get some more colour into the series. The figure comes in a box similar to the regular figures but larger. Inside are two dozen or so pieces to assemble to prepare your mobile suit for flight.

As you can see in the above picture the basic body is already assembled, one leg needs to be attached to its ball joint and the head snapped into place, but that's it. Next is a choice of hands. Each hand is available as a clenched fist or open; in the fist mode each hand can wield a beam sabre. With that out of the way comes the iconic feature of the Kshatriya, the four "shoulder binders" which attach to the upper shoulders in one of two configurations. The image below illustrates the binder assembly and its two options. Two binders are attached to each shoulder, either on a common peg assembly (see middle of image) which locks the binders into a tight shielding cloak. Alternatively each binder is attached to a jointed assembly which gives each binder the option to swing independently left and right, as well as up and down.

The second defining characteristic of this outrageous looking mobile suit is its funnel attack system. Each shoulder binder stores several projectiles, and you can attach up to eight of them to the figure to simulate its ferocious all out attack. Putting aside the look of this concept for a moment, they way it works is that you can attach up to eight independent projectiles, one for each shoulder binder and the remaining four sit ball jointed into a clear plastic piece which is inserted into the figure's back. This may look somewhat convincing from the front, but the big clear plastic block on its back breaks immersion much like the clothes pins on the backs of magazine models showing off tight dresses.

Lastly, the figure comes with a large clear base to allow for it to strike some action flying poses. Just like the other Assault Kingdom figures the Kshatriya has a couple of extra holes under its feet and on the back to allow for it being pegged in different ways, but due to its comparatively heavy weight it will not  agree well with the small plastic assemblies that are normally included with the ordinary Assault Kingdom figures. The Kshatriya's own support also differes in that its arm is not freely moving, you need to peg it into place in one of a few predefined settings, since the figure's heavy weight would otherwise cause the stand to drop it back to the ground. A nice touch is two small pegs on the base where you can store the two leftover hands, but since you will end up with other leftover parts anyway you might as well store the hands together with those.

My initial reaction to this figure was "meh", but after having seen it up close I have taken a liking to it. There are some ridiculous design aspects of the basic concept, which you can hardly blame the model for. The diminutive head especially looks really silly peeking out over the massive chest. As for the model itself, I am not a big fan of the clear plastic parts. The beam sabers would have looked nicer with some colour, and as far as the projectiles go, the idea is great but comes off a bit unconvincing. The Kshatriya definitely looks meaner when not firing its fire crackers all over the place.

So, should you get this figure for your Assault Kingdom collection? I guess that mainly depends on how you feel about the implementation of its weapon systems -does it look cool or just silly? The price is certainly a factor as well, as this figure is considerably pricier than the average one. On the other hand, with all the white Gundams ganging up on the poor lone Zaku II it sure is nice to give them something else to try their luck on, especially the two Unicorn Gundams. However, Bandai have already announced the next EX special item, which will be a triple pack of Black Tri-Star Zaku II:s, which would probably the better buy if you can't get both.

July 2013 update: A special version of this figure has been released exclusively for the San Diego Comic Con (SDCC 2013). This particular version has all its transparent parts replaced with translucent green ones, which better mimics the way the funnels appear on the show. However, this also means that the action base (the stand) is now also a neon green which looks a tad silly. If you are really hardcore about it I suppose you could get both versions and use the clear action base and translucent green for the beam sabres and funnels for best effect.

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