Friday, 17 January 2014

Mobile Suits Gundam Ultimate Operation Plus 5

It's time again for a dip into the historical archives, and a closer look at another smashing set from the ol' Ultimate Operation line. I love scouting these figures out online, though their availability seems to drop quite rapidly now, adding that small sense of urgency to the hunt. If you plan on getting onboard the train it probably wouldn't be wise to let too many of them pass you by.

Ultimate Operation Plus 5 was the last of the fifteen regular sets (or the last of the five extra sets after the first ten if you will) and appeared on the market in September 2006. They were not the very last figures of the line though, followed by first the "Plus - U.C. 0079" set in December (which was a repackaging of six popular figures) and then the last set ever, the Operation Maelstroem collection of three new figures. So, with this set being pretty much the last regular set, it has to be said that the series went out with quite the bang. Five great looking figures in the usual dynamic poses you've come to expect from this series. You can still find a couple of these figures popping up occasionally on eBay and I wouldn't consider any of them very rare or too pricey, but you'll need to look high and low if you intend to complete the set. Now, on to the figures themselves.

Opening the set is the RX-78GP03S Gundam GP03S, also nicked "Stamen" or "Dendrobium Stamen". It is a prototype suit featured in Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory. The most obvious feature of the figure itself is the two hip-mounted skirt-like binders for extra mobility (these two binders are also a source of much frustration as they tend to fall of the figure as soon as you look at it). The mobile suit comes armed with a M-82A Beam Rifle and a medium sized shield. It features the typical FWUO articulation at the shoulder, neck and arms. The arms have a couple of articulation points which means you can come up with a couple of variants in its pose. The legs are also -again typically of Ultimate Opreation- moulded in place. With such a dynamic pose the designers had to attach the left leg to a black plastic block which allows it to stand up. I'm not a huge fan of these foot supports, but I must admit that it allows for a nice action-like pose.

Although not evident from first sight, the AGX-04 Gerbera-Tetra has more in common with the GP03S Stamen than meets the eye. The funky red Gerbera-Tetra actually started its life as a white Gundam, the RX-78GP04G "Gerbera" prototype to be specific. However, the Gundam never reached completion and the prototype under construction fell into the hands of the Neo Zeon who had it converted into the AGX-04. This figure has a truly striking design and a look that means business. As usual with the Ultimate Operation figures the legs are molded in place, the head rotates and the arms feature multiple articulation points. Of course the somewhat bulky Beam Machine Gun weapon limits this poseability a bit. As awesome as this figure looks it has two minor flaws. The first one is the small feet. There's not a whole lot you can do about that of course, but this figure is one of those that will tip over if you happen to walk past it too quickly. The other minor flaw is, surprisingly for a UO figure, the colour scheme. The red shiny colour has a very artificial and plastic look about it, some weathering and a toned down colour would probably have worked a bit better here.

The RGZ-91 Re-GZ is yet another prototype mobile suit intended for mass production. Featured in Char's Counterattack this was the Earth Force testbed for creating mass produced transformable mobile suits. The project was ultimately a failure since the design proved too costly, resulting in this single unit built. The figure has a very attractive colour scheme in cyan and blue colour with many fine colourful details all over. The figure is armed with a Beam Rifle and a great looking multicoloured shield. Articulation comes in the usual Ultimate Operation flavour with head, arms and waist able to rotate. Out of the five figures in this set, this one proved the most difficult to locate, so if you are interested in it I recommend keeping eyes and ears peeled..

Nearing the tail end of the set, things are really getting into motion. Introduced in Char's Counterattack as newtype-capable mobile suits are the two iconic Jagd Dogas. The first of them, the MSN-03 Jagd Doga (Gunney Guss Customized) belongs to the character Gyunei Guss of the Neo Zeon faction. This is a big, chunky machine in startling colours and lovely overblown proportions in the way that only Ultimate Operation can do them. We're talking huge, golden shoulder binders, massive legs, attractive colourful detail and weathering, and a huge detailed shield in striking colours. Perhaps the least impressive thing about it is its still massive Beam Sabre which comes out a bit plain, even with the small Heat Knife that is attached to its hilt. As the blade is made of soft plastic, don't be surprised if it has been bent during years spent sitting on the card. Still, with the articulation of its arms and torso you will be able to do a lot of interesting poses for the figure and I would consider this fundamental to any Ultimate Operation collection.

Last of the set is Quess Paraya's MSN-03 Jagd Doga (Quess Air Customized). Paraya is a defector from the Earth Federation and uses "Quess Air" as her alias. Now, if you though that Gyunei's Jagd Doga was brutal, Quess' version will probably raise your pulse a bit more. Apart from the attractive red and silver colour scheme the figure has a slightly different helmet and drops the blades in favour of a mighty Mega Gatling Gun. This weapon is nothing short of spectacular and makes the figure that more intimidating. The body of the mobile suit also has the usual weathered look to it which enhances the appearance even more. Articulation is the same for both Jagd Dogas and offer a lot of poseability, I say it again, these two are absolutely essential components of your mobile suit collection. I am still waiting for the Jagd Dogas to make an entrance in the STANDart line. Good news are that these two will finally enter the Converge line with volume fourteen, which is anticipated later this year.

Comparative size of the figures in the Ultimate Operation Plus 5 set. The Gerbera-Tetra (ca 9 cm), the Jagd Dogas (about 8 cm), the Re-GZ (9.5 cm) and the Gundam GP03S (ca 8 cm).
As far as Ultimate Operation sets go, pretty much all of them were excellent, and I keep repeating myself as I try to find the proper superlatives to describe also this very fine set of figures. Something really unique was achieved with the somewhat cartoony features of FWUO, and their expressions sometimes tend to put their STANDart cousins to shame. The good thing of course is that Ultimate Operation and STANDart are size-compatible (together with Assault Kingdom as well) which means there's no excuse not to round out a collection of one with some of the cool looking mobile suits of the others.

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