Monday, 10 June 2013

Ultimate Operation Plus 4 : AMX-003 Gaza C

So... I decided to branch out a little. When looking around the net to obtain more information about the current miniature sets offered by Bandai I soon stumbled on the now slumbering Ultimate Operation series. For those that don't know, this is the precursor to the STANDart series, also produced by Fusion Works, and again sculpted by Volks. The full name is Mobile Suits Gundam : Ultimate Operation, though it is commonly referred to as Ultimate Operation or simply FWUO. Some hundred or so models were released in this range between 2003 and 2007, though many were simple colour variations or re-packs, rendering the actual number of models significantly lower.

Ultimate Operation models come on J-cards sandwiched in plastic blisters, similar to action figures in general. In addition they are tied down to the bottom blister by plastic cords that need to be untwined, eleven per model in total. It wasn't immediately clear if the figures scaled with the STANDarts but since the line features some really neat models I decided to try out a pair of Gaza C:s. As you can see in the below picture the models feature some optional and moveable parts.

The figures in the FWUO range are known for their often outrageous posing, and the two I obtained certainly have a really cartoony feel about them. Frozen as they are in a turning step they look more like som nefarious cyborgs than pilotable machines. The two models are similar save for a colour scheme variation; poor ace pilot Karn doesn't even get any alternative weapon to duke it out with, she is stuck in the vanilla model.

The first thing you will notice when assembling the Gaza is that it is not a sturdy machine. Parts snap together or go on pegs, and though the most components stay in place the torso's attachment to the lower spine is really loose on both models, and you can expect that the model will come in two as soon as you attempt to move it. There is no particular instruction as to which part goes where, I had to check the little images on the cardback and only then did I notice that I had assembled the flight pack upside down...

The figure has some limited and uneven articulation. The head stays in a fixed position, the right arm rotates at the shoulder while the left arm rotates both at the shoulder and the elbow. The torso sits on a rotating spine however its slumped posture will give a fairly limited turning arc due to the positioning of the massive legs, which are fixed in the tripping over its own feet pose.

You have a choice of hands meaning you can equip the mighty Knuckle Buster beam cannon or go for a fist fight. One neat detail is that the beam cannon is attached on a peg to the torso, and a pegged tube also connects into the cannon's rear, meaning you can remove the cannon and attach the tube into the torso. With some clever positioning you can also remove the fin from the flight pack, place the legs lying down and balance the torso in a position above it, giving it a desperate final stand kind of pose.

As you can see in the figure above, removing the massive gun does leave a rather unattractive gaping hole making the figure look like some sort of skeleton. The last image is a scale comparison with the Zaku II and the Rick Dom from the STANDart series. In other words the Ultimate Operation figures seem to go well together with their replacements. All in all I like the Gaza C a lot despite its quirkiness. There are quite a lot of models in the FWUO series that have so far not appeared in the STANDart line which makes it an attractive complement to a STANDart collection.

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