Sunday, 2 February 2014

Gundam STANDart volume 19

The latest STANDart figure set is in town, and after having examined them for a few days it is time to come up with some useful blah-blah to describe them. My initial reaction when the set was introduced was, "What, another RX-78 again!?" but the three other figures looked more interesting. With only three types of mobile suits (typically for STANDart) it seemed a slot wasted on something we've already seen a gazillion times. Granted this time they tried a new approach with "open hatches", which all things considered seems more a novelty than anything else. Do we now have to brace for a Zaku II (Open Hatch version), RX-0 (Open Hatch version) and so on?

Anyway, I shouldn't moan too much, because as you can see above this is a fine set with four attractive figures although perhaps a little bit of imagination at the Bandai HQ wouldn't hurt. There are still so many mobile suits never seen in either of the Shokugan figure lines, and I tend to get the impression that once a figure pops up in one series the designs are milked by passing them over to Converge or Assault Kingdom. If so, perhaps the coming Converge Jagd Dogas will spill over to STANDart (wishful thinking mode I know).

Some assembly required...
After taking the figures out of the sandwiching plastic blisters you'll find that assembly required is at an all time minimum even for STANDart, one piece stands between you and completion. The only other loose piece dangling around in each box is the iconic chewing gum of course.

072 : Alright, we'll begin by taking a look at the much fussed about gimmick of the first mobile suit in the set, the granddaddy RX-78-2 Gundam with the added (Full Hatch Open Version) twist. The 78-2 is hardly a newcomer to STANDart, it has been featured twice before; first in Volume 3 in September 2008, then with the Hyper-Bazooka in volume 11, released in October 2011.

The first thing you notice is that the Open Hatch version is really slick, and admirably detailed. It is not so much the fact that it has a couple of hatches opened (and no, they are not moveable) as it is the amount of detail that has gone into this figure resculpt. While the STANDart 3 version was pretty detailed (the early STANDarts were in a class of their own compared to the later ones) it can't hold a breath against the open hatch version. Modelwise, small details such as the beam rifle having a proper handle, and the shield having a small porthole are now corrected, where earlier molds lacked these features. The figure itself is also taller and features more panel lining. The hyper bazooka-version of the figure now looks awfully toy-like in comparison. So, open hatches or not, the new RX-78-2 is a marked improvement upon the older two, and worth to get for this reason alone. I just hope this doesn't mean we will see the relaunching of updated old figures at the expense of never before seen ones.

073 : MSZ-006 A1 Zeta Plus A1 (Amuro Rei Color). It seems some guys get all the love around here. Not only is Amuro Ray the legendary pilot of the original RX-78-2 Gundam we just looked at, here STANDart 19 is showing off another ride of his, the Zeta Plus. Lore has it that the Zeta Plus is a scaled down mass-produced version of the Z Gundam, eliminating equipment for space flight and limiting it to use within atmosphere only.As leader of the 18th Tactical Fighter Aggressor Squadron our ace friend has the ignition keys to one of these puppies as well. Painted in a striking red and white livery of the Karaba Air Force this unit is the definitive highlight of volume 19.

What the Open Hatch Gundam has in detail, the Zeta Plus has in style. And if you place it next to any of the other Zeta Gundam figures it will put them to shame. We're talking beautiful detail and markings on this figure, absolutely essential for a collection in my opinion. The only drawback of this figure is the wide stance of its feet. It makes the figure a little bit unbalanced and easy to topple, don't place him close to a shelf-edge unless you have something to anchor with. Considering that a couple of the STANDarts have in the past featured small transparent supports (the last I recall, was the Wing Gundam of volume 17) for the mobile suit to lean against, this was a curious omission.

074 : Here's another new aquaintance I was not familiar with before. Described as a late version, the MS-06F-2 Zaku II (F-2 Type) (Neuen Bitter's Custom) is the choice ride of ace pilot Neuen Bitter, featured in the 0083 Stardust Memory story-line (interestingly referred to as a "fictional character" on the Gundam wiki as opposed to all the other heroes walking among us, unseen). Bitter had the dubious glory of being stranded on Earth once the war against Zeon came to a close. STANDart 19 models his F-2 type Zaku II in a pale dark green livery with unit insignia on the shield. Unlike the other figure in this set he is armed with the classic Zaku type machine gun. The figure has lots of nice little details and panel lining, and is easily one of the better Zaku II:s to appear in STANDart as far as I am concerned. Wow, so far volume 19 is turning out to be a real winner!

075 : MS-06F-2 Zaku II (F-2 Type). Closing the set is the customary colour variation figure. In this case Bandai go the same route as in the previous set, making a E.F.S.F. variant sporting desert colours. This of course means bonus points if you got the GM III from STANDart 18 as you can display the two together, although they have slightly different sand tones. The E.F.S.F. version is similar to Bitter's Zaku II save for the lack of a Commander Type antenna and a different type of Zaku Machine Gun. I would say the figure's main purpose is army building as it does not come off as impressive as the other figures in this set. But on the other hand... you can never have too many Zakus.

As this set basically contained repaints and remodellings of older STANDart figures I figured we should add some pictures for comparison.

Above you can see the new Open Hatch version Gundam (far right) compared to the Hyper-Bazooka version from STANDart 11 (middle) and the RX-78-2 from STANDart volume 3. In this case, pictures really do speak louder than words. The refined sculpt of the open hatch version really relegates the previous figures to obsolete status.

Let's also take a closer look at the various Zeta Gundams. All of the Zetas released in STANDart so far are quite spectacular in their own right, and the new Zeta Plus fits the bill. From left to right are the MSZ-006 Z Gundam (with logo on the shield) from STANDart 4 released March 2009 (volume 4 also features a colour version, the white and purple Z Gundam Type-3). Next up is the MSZ-006C1 Zeta Plus C1 from volume 10 which was released in July 2011. March 2013 saw a reissue of the MSZ-006 Z Gundam in STANDart volume 16 (this time with an A.E.U.G. logo on the shield). And finally we are at the MSZ-006A1 Zeta Plus A1 of STANDart 19.

Talking about the Zaku II, above is a chronology of their appearances in STANDart. Missing in this shot, obviously, is Char Aznable's red Zaku II due to the simple fact that I do not yet have it. The other figures are, from left to right, the very detailed MS-06J Zaku II (ground type) from STANDart volume 1 (released November 2007), a decidedly blander but classic and lean looking MS-06 Zaku II from volume 13 (released May 2012) and the two new F-2 Types from the latest set. As far as quality goes, the MS-06J type is the premier version here, released in a box with optional partsand superb details, though it looks quite bulky by comparison to its space flight-capable siblings.

There are also a couple of high mobility versions available that differ a bit with more thrusters and wilder colour schemes, they don't really belong in the comparison but here you go. From left to right: The Black Tristar Custom MS-06R-1A Type (STANDart 10, released July 2011), ace pilot Johnny Ridden's MS-06R2 (STANDart 16, released January 2013) and another MS-06R-1A Zaku II from set 10, this time Shin Matsunaga's Custom.

Size comparison: The Open Hatch RX-78-2 comes in at about 8.5 centimeters, the Zeta Plus at 10 centimeters (top of shield) and the Zaku II at about 8 centimeters.
Wrapping things up, although STANDart 19 does not contain many new surprised, it is an excellent set and especially so for recent collectors who can now get hold of several classic designs without having to search high and low for the original figures (which is a real pain in the back side I might add). So, all in all, STANDart volume 19 does come recommended, and as usual, get it while it is hot, these figures never seem to sit on the shelves for very long.

No comments:

Post a Comment