Sunday, 6 October 2013

Mobile Suits Gundam Ultimate Operation Plus 1

Yep, I have completed another Ultimate Operation set, so it is time to take a look at the first of the five expansion "Plus" sets. I don't really know the story behind why Bandai after having released ten Ultimate Operation sets decided to call this one "Plus" instead of eleven. Only three months are between this and set number ten which would seem to be the usual time between sets, so it doesn't seem to be an indication of the series having been cancelled and brought back from the dead that quickly.

Any which way, the Ultimate Operation Plus set (which I shamelessly refer to as Ultimate Operation Plus 1) appeared in September 2005 and features six figures from the Zeta Gundam storyline. And I am madly in love with it. Contained here in are simply some really excellent looking army builders and kindly enough Bandai has seen it fit two make alternate colour versions of them. Flanking these are two badass hero units, the colourful Z Gundam and the towering and wonderfully odd looking Messala. Lets get down to business and inspect the six figures that make up this set!

MSZ-006 Z Gundam : The set opens with the mighty Z. Zeta always comes out looking good and the Ultimate Operation variant is no exception. Lots of lovely colour detail on this figure and a very striking colour scheme. Standing with legs wide apart the figure balances well even though it comes loaded with bulky gear.You have the usual articulation at the head, waist, shoulders and over the elbow. The figure is equipped with the massive (BOWA) XBR-M87A2 Beam Rifle and the iconic shield. Interestingly, the Zeta also ships with an optional righthand which holds the hilt of a beam sabre. No blade is included for this weapon though. Out of all the figures in this set, the Z Gundam (unsurprisingly really) appears to be the one most difficult to find.

RMS-099 Rick Dias (red version) : Fielded by the A.E.U.G., the Rock Dias workhorse mobile suit has been given a really chunky look in the Ultimate Operation set. Armed with a Clay Bazooka the figure's arms can be manipulated so as to allow both hands to hold the weapon, but with the large chest of the figure it is a bit difficult to do so successfully. An alternate closed fist version of the right hand is also included. The legs stay in their wide spread while the waist rotates freely, as does the shoulders arms and wrists. The head can wiggle a bit from side to side. The figure also carries two beam gun weapons stowed in a rack on the back, these are not intended for active use which otherwise would have been a nice touch. Much like many FWUO figures these guns are made from soft plastic and it is likely that the figure you find will not have completely straight barrels.

RMS-099 Rick Dias (black version) : This is the alternate colour version of the Rick Dias. It has a nice black and dark blue colour scheme but otherwise shares all the characteristics of the red version. According to Zeta Gundam lore the Rick Dias was first seen in black and later red units began to pop up. The Rick Dias figures are among those you see online most often, so you should have no problem finding a good deal on these two and they really look great in the collection.

RMS-108 Marasai (red version) : Opposing the Rick Dias figures are the also great looking Marasai mobile suits. This is one of the most outrageously posed figures in the entire Ultimate Operation line, forget about a standing pose for this one. Even though the mobile suit is bending forward it still rises to almost the same height as the Z Gundam figure but if you pose it next to the recently released Marasai of the STANDart collection it looks a bit dwarfed (it doesn't help that the STANDart figure is glowing orange-red either). Articulation is fine and up to the usual FWUO standard, rotating head, waist, shoulders and arms. The left shoulder pauldron can also rotate a bit but the shield which is carried on the shoulder can not be rotated and slavishly follows the rotation of the arm. Overall I find the Marasai figure is a small and compact figure with a great look.

RMS-108 Marasai (Titans) : The alternate colour version comes in the classic two-tone blue livery of the Titans. However, the red version is sporting the Titans logo as well, so I don't really know what Bandai were thinking when they named the two versions. Apart from the colours the two versions share attributes and characteristics. I guess the only thing to point out is that the beam rifle of the blue version has a nice two-colour scheme whereas the red version has an all grey beam rifle. I should also mention that my blue figure has considerable problems standing up as soon as the surface is not 100% flat. This seems to be caused by the plastic having been slightly bent (during the years it spent packaged in its blister I presume), but my red figure handles tilting surfaces slightly better. Overall though, the Marasai is not the most stable of figures.

PMX-000 Messala : Rounding off the set is the gigantic transformable experimental Messala suit, a Titan powerhouse which stands several meters taller than the Zeta. The figure has been given a very dynamic pose which requires you to fiddle a bit with some minor assembly when you take it out of its packaging. This is one of those figures which definitely should not be allowed to remain carded, as when you take it out of the packaging and put it together it changes appearance completely. Due to its striking pose the articulation is very limited and not of much use. You can fiddle a bit with the arms but the entire body (including head) is molded as one piece. The figure comes armed with a large beam sabre which shares the characteristic of many of the FWUO soft plastic weapons,  it is probably not going to be completely straight. I normally do not pose the figure with the sabre but instead with the optional right hand fist.

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