Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Assault Kingdom vol. 4

It has to be said from the start: Assault Kingdom volume 4 is a really, really, really excellent set. As much as I think the entire AK line up has been pretty great so far, though perhaps with a heavy focus on (not surprisingly) the Gundams themselves. AK4 takes a big step towards correcting this by adding some really great looking Zeon figures which desperately help to balance your collection for the better. The overall leanings toward the colour blue in its variations is an interesting touch, I wonder if it was accidential or a calculated move by Bandai. In either way, it is a peculiar little twist on things. To me, AK4 will always be known as "the blue set".

Anyway, having the honour of being the fourth wave of regular figures AK4 was released in January 2014 following hot on the heels of AK3 which was released only two months earlier. As you can see from the above image the set is very varied in terms of mobile suit appearance, and it is made up of only high profile figures. too. Let's take a closer look at what this set has to offer.

13 : Perhaps this presentation is a bit superfluous,as AK4 opens with a real heavy hitter, the RX-93 Nu Gundam. Now this mobile suit has been around, it is one of those that have managed to make an appearance in all the figure lines covered by this blog, and has even put up multiple appearances in Converge and STANDart. Basically it is a rather generic looking Gundam though in a scaled back black and white colour scheme. The Nu Gundam's standout feature is the large fin funnel weapon system attached to its left shoulder.

Apart from this detachable equipment you also get optional equipment in the form of a beam rifle, a bazooka and a removable shield. As per Assault Kingdom standard, both hands are offered either as open or as fists. The shoulder mounted binder system is also available in two slightly different configurations, fully loaded as well as where some of the devices have been launched. The three missing binders themselves are found spread out in the boxes of figures 14-16 to give you an (although completely unnecessary in this case) incentive to buy the full set. As usual with figures with bulky back packs, wings and similar, the Nu Gundam has to be balanced carefully so as not to topple, unless you use any of the stands that are found in all AK boxes.

14 : We're still waiting for the RGZ-91 Re-GZ mobile suit to make an appearance in STANDart, the AK4 version can give you an indication of the massive potential this figure has. At least the figure is due any day now in Converge volume 14 where it will also be very appreciated. As you can see from the images above, this well designed figure has a smooth and sleek appearance and a great colour scheme.

The Assault Kingdom version of the Re-GZ comes equipped with a puny beam rifle, a shield and a transparent beam saber. A choice of hands is also included. This gives you enough options to tweak the figure to your heart's content, although I think the beam sabre configurations are the way to go here. Notice also the first of the three binder weapons belonging to the Nu Gundam in this parts set above. Another truly great figure that livens up the AK figure line.

15 : And now for the real stunner of this set, the incredibly awesome MS-07B-3 Gouf Custom of Zeon notoriety. This figure has also seen widespread release in Converge, STANDart and FWUO, although it is somewhat hard to track down there. Anyway, the Gouf is here now, and it might just be the best figure to come out of the entire Assault Kingdom line, perhaps outshined only by the widely customizable Black Tristar Zaku II. The Gouf Custom simply delivers in spades.

The mobile suit comes armed with two weapons, the combined gatling shield and a heat sword for those nice close encounters. Whichever way you decide to pose it it will do so nicely. In spite of the large gatling shield the figure stands up fairly well without support. Once again the box comes with one of the binders for the Nu Gundam. If you are a picky collector, this is probably one of the AK:s you'd be interested in.

16 : The last figure in wave four is another truly classic figure, which has probably featured in almost every figure line by now. The amphibian MSM-07 Z'Gok has finally found its way to Assault Kingdom (I suppose Char's red version is not far behind...) and although this is a really great figure it does have some minor niggles. I guess the main reason we've had to wait for the Z'Gok is that the engineers would have to think a bit harder on how to articulate it. It is surely no coincidence that we have seen so many sleek Gundams appear in the line, they are all similar in composition with minor artistic deviations only, and the thin and square limbs are fairly straightforward to articulate. It is also not surprising to see the many versions of the Zaku II and Gouf coming out, as the designers take advantage of a previous figure and tweak it somewhat.

Now the Z'Gok is a whole different fish altogether. With its bulky limbs the articulation has to work somewhat differently, and as a resault the options for the Z'Gok are a bit limited when compared to the more flexible figures (the RX-78-2 Gundam for example). You'll find that the legs especially aren't very tweakable, and the strange wide legged stance can only be used so much. Another thing which needs correction is the appearance of the head. The Z'Gok has a 360 degree field of vision but the AK figure only has two slots looking like eyes. The mould is still there for the other "viewports", you'd really want to paint these black to give the figure a smoother and more rounded appearance more true to the real deal. A nice touch though is that you can move the red monoeye inside the head to look left and right by using a small lever at the back of the head. I'd use it sparingly, there's no telling how fragile it is. The figure also comes with a choice of open or closed claws, as well as the third and last binder for the Nu Gundam.

Above you can see all the components needed to put together the three binders that are released by the Nu Gundam. The first box contains the piece you plug into the lower back of the Gundam and then attach the three binders on transparent arms extending from it, similar to the way the Kshatriya figure was designed.I didn't bother trying this out yet as I'm not really convinced by this whole idea of transparent pieces sticking out from figures to simulate in weapon systems flight. if I do try it out, the review will be updated accordingly.

In conclusion though, there is much to rejoice about in regard to Assault Kingdom vol. 4. If you like to collect these figures I'd say the entire set is a given. At the time of writing they are still easily available on the market, so shouldn't prove too difficult to source at a decent price.

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