Thursday, 1 May 2014

Assault Kingdom vol. 2

Today we are jumping back a bit in time to take a look at the second wave in the Assault Kingdom line. The set followed three months after the initial wave, releasing in June 2013. As usual each figure comes with a set of parts to create an action base, and these pieces in turn combining to something larger, in this case a mobile suit launch catapult.

With set number two Bandai continued to set the focus on classic and well known mobile suits, keeping the heavy focus on Gundams in particular. I suspect that a strong reason for this is the relative ease for the designers to tweak the existing moulds into new figures. It would be relatively easy for Bandai to have the Unicron and the RX-78-2 from the first wave modified into the Unicorn Destroy Mode as well as the two new Gundams in this set. The Zaku II though is a brand new sculpt here, and it will lend itself well into being modified into variations such as the High Mobility Zakus and the Gouf (which is also exactly what happened down the line as more waves were released). Alright, on to the figures themselves!

05 : Set opener is the RX-0 Unicorn Gundam (Destroy Mode). If you consider that the Assault Kingdom line was a total of nine figures (counting the Dengeki limited Unicorn Banshee) at this point, the fact that three of them were Unicorns left me a bit miffed. The figure itself is great though, although I recognized most of it from the two previously released figures. The articulation is flexible but it shares the Unicorn problem of small and unsteady feet; an action base will help it a lot. However, with a bit of fiddling around I was able to pose it in more ways than I had first anticipated. The figure comes armed with a pair of wrist-mounted beam sabers, a bazooka and the cool looking shield which gives you a lot of customization options. Hands are offered as open or closed. As you can see in the pictures the figure's gold coloured V-Fins are made of soft plastic (mostly resembling insect antenna), this enhanced durability is much appreciated.

06 : Derived from the original Gundam the improved RX-178 Gundam Mk-II also has a lot in common with the RX-78-2 figure which preceeded it in the Assault Kingdom series. Mostly it looks like a beefed up and more colourful version of the original. And considering that the RX-78 was a really sharp figure in regard to articulation the same can also be said about the mark two. As great as it looks, I still can't shake the feeling of white Gundam overflow in the AK line, surely the blue version of the Titans would have been cooler to liven things up a bit? Anyway, apart from its excellent articulation, it also offers a beam rifle, a spiffy shield and the regular open and closed hands.

07 : Although at first look, the RX-79(G) Gundam seems a bit spartan it makes up for it with some cool features. This G-model Ground Type Gundam is geared for heavy combat and comes armed with a light beam rifle as well as a massive 180mm cannon and a simple shield. The shield can be clipped into the action base and act as a support for the cannon when fired from a kneeling stance. Not all Assault Kingdom figures manage do to a convincing kneeling  pose but the RX-79(G) figure seems to have been developed specifically for this purpose. As you can see from the pictures above you will have lots of posing opportunities for this figure.

Note that the Heat Hawk weapon on the last panel is borrowed from one of the Black Tri-Star figures and is not included with this figure.

08 : Ending the set is the truly new sculpt of AK volume two. it is the MS-06S Zaku II. Although not evident from the packaging, this Commander Type Zaku II is of course painted in Char Aznable's red colour. Considering how well his name sells it seems odd for the packaging designer to omit it from the box. Nevertheless, not only is Char Aznable a popular guy, his Zaku II is also one of the classics, and you will be pleased to learn that the Assault Kingdom version of it has turned out really well.

Although a Zaku has slightly more bulky limbs than a Gundam the AK figure has really excellent articulation, offering lots and lots of cool poses. The commander antenna on his helmet is not made from the soft plastic as the Gundam V-Fins, and is therefore crisply straight (and a little bit more fragile). The figure comes with the typical open and closed fists, and you can place the Zaku Bazooka in either hand, using the other hand as support. The bazooka also clips into the peg hole on the figure's skirtback for storage. A truly great figure which really only has one fault - it lacks extra weapons. This figure really should have come with optional machine gun and heat hawk axe weapons, but you can always borrow these weapons from another Zaku figure in the line.

If you collect all four figures you will end up with the action base parts as seen above.Although the components in each box will give some basic support for your figures things get more interesting when you combined them. You can combine the two pieces with rail to create a launch pad catapult, then place one of the smaller base plates onto the rail and place a Gundam on it. As mentioned previously the ground Type Gundam also interacts specifically with the smaller plate, clipping its shiled into it.

Overall Assault Kingdom 2 is a great set, though at the time of its release it felt a bit limited with so many Unicorns and an overall white and red figure mix. Things did liven up come volumes three, four and five, and of course with the Black Tri-Star triple pack, so in hindsight I find this set is more interesting to the collector than when it first appeared.

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