Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Assault Kingdom vol. 7

Alright, the wait is over. Ever since it was announced, I was drooling at the thought of examining the figures of Assault Kingdom volume seven. Here is an incredible line-up of Gundam All Stars mobile suits which would seem impossible to mess up. Volume seven released in November 2014, and it is the fourth regular set to come out of an explosive year of expansion for the AK-line.

If Assault Kingdom volume 5 was the blue set, and volume 6 was green, then red is surely the predominant colour of choice for volume seven. Not only that, but with a strong line up of early One Year War designs, this set is loaded with classic designs that were just bound to show up eventually.

To fit all these goodies, Bandai have done a really great job of topping up the small boxes to their very brims. Let's dig into the plastic bags and see what we can find inside.

25 : With volume seven we see the first true figure reissue in Assault Kingdom. Although there have been colour variations of the Zaku II and Gundam Mk II before, here the granddaddy RX-78-2 Gundam of volume one appears again although this time with a closet full of new accessories. The base figure however remains pretty much the same, there are a few cosmetic differences which will are shown in a photo below. I can understand why Bandai choose to reissue the RX-78-2, but at the same time I don't see why they couldn't have gone one extra step and instead made a G3 or Real-Type figure with a different colour scheme; this would have been great for collectors to be able to display the two together.

Reissue or not, the RX-78-2 is absolute blossoming with weaponry. Shown only with the Beam Javelin on the front cover I was totally unprepared for the massive armory that came with it. This is a truly spectacular set of items but it is the flail-like Hyper Hammer weapon that steals the show, although the other items are all very nicely detailed. I don't want to complain about such an awesome figure, but it does seem a bit incomplete without its trademark red shield, and a beam saber would have truly completed the figure. If you have the original figure you can of course grab the shield from that one (or the GM), the modularity of the AK weapons is as always phenomenal.

Although the two figures may look similar at a quick glance, there are a couple of details which will easily tell the two versions of the RX-78-2 apart. The three main differences to look for are the different colouring of the feet, the different blue and red combo on the back, and the stand attachment point on the back skirt. The new version of the figure also looks distinctly more white than the older counterpart.

26 : Next up is another vintage E.F.S.F. design, the RX-77-2 Guncannon (worst name ever?). It is great to have this figure coming to the AK-range and although not entirely without faults it adds a unique profile and much needed variation to the figure line. Due to its bulky design the articulation s rather limited when compared to more fluid moving figures like the RX-78-2 or the GM, especially the legs and feet suffer from limited movement which makes it a bit tricky to pose. Bandai even suggest posing it lying almost flat on the ground, perhaps great if you want to recreate a scene from the movie, but not for much more.

The Guncannon figure comes with a simple set of hands and its traditional Beam Rifle. This is a Spartan set of equipment but it follows the lore of the figure. On its back are two cannons that can be tilted 90 degrees between forward-facing deployment to vertically stowed. As with other Assault Kingdom figures there are no unit markings or logos on the hull, so there is nothing stopping you from getting two and sticker them with "108" and "109" or so. All in all a basic but still very welcome figure for the E.F.S.F. line-up.

27 : The E.F.S.F. invasion continues with the awesome RGM-79 GM army builder figure. Considering how much this figure has in common with the RX-78-2 Gundam I am a bit surprised that we have had to wait for so long for it, but finally here it is. Being a vintage mobile suit design, the GM also comes across as a bit plain when compared to later generation mobile suits, but this does not detract from the figure at all. The colour scheme is simple and effective, and the shiny green visor (also found on the Ball mini-figure) is a very nice touch. The figure has more or less the same articulation as the RX-78-2 although the single-piece front skirt makes leg articulation a bit limited.

As with the Guncannon, the accessories for the GM are a bit limited. We are given the small Beam Gun armament and a typical E.F.S.F. shield of the type that the RX-78-2 should also have had. This figure would have benefited immensely from a Beam Saber weapon, especially for army building purposes. You can of course always steal one from another Gundam figure, but surely this would not have been a costly item to include with the kit. Overall, this figure is essential if you are planning to do an E.F.S.F. line-up, so grab it while it is hot, I have a feeling that this figure will be especially difficult to find as time goes by.

28 : After three vintage One Year War-designs, the last figure in this set is surprisingly from the Zeta Gundam-era. This was also the figure I was most eager to obtain, as the RMS-099 Rick Dias is one of my absolute favourite designs. There are two main colour variations of the mobile suit, red and black; here we are treated to the red version. Although this is a bulky and heavy design, the model is admirably articulated, and allows for far more variation than what you can accomplish with for example the Guncannon. As it is rather back heavy, you will of course have to take that into account when posing it without a stand.

The Rick Dias comes with its most commonly seen equipment, the Clay Bazooka and a pair of Beam Guns that can go either as stowed on the back or into the figures hands. Again fair enough, but a beam saber would have also come in handy. I wish they would be more common among Assault Kingdom figures. As will all bazooka type weapons, the large weapon can be a bit clunky to place in the hand, but with a bit of fiddling around you should be able to sort it out. Now because I have a strong Rick Bias I will say this figure is absolutely essential to any AK collection, but I know that opinions are divided on the subject...

Bonus Item : As is the tradition in the Assault Kingdom line, every figure contains some spare parts that allow you to construct something from them, provided you buy all the four figures in the set. With volume seven, Bandai have got rid of the mostly tired and gimmicky items and instead provide us with an actual bonus figure which not only features the same level of the detail as the main figures, but it actually also sits hand in glove with the figures it accompanies. Ladies and gentlemen; the awesome RB-79 Ball.

This is hands down the most useful accessory to ever come out of a bonus set, and is absolutely essential to go together with the E.F.S.F. mobile suits in this set. Frankly this figure is so good that it could have featured as a main figure on its own, a twin pack (like in Converge) together a yellow Improved Ball would have been brilliant. The new transparent stands that come with the figures in AK7 also lend themselves well for displaying the Ball. It is a good thing that volume seven contains so many related figures because you will want to get this one as well.

While we are on the topic of accessories, I do have one major complaint against AK7. For the first time in the product line history, Bandai have seen it fit to strip all weapon handles of paint, allowing the underlying white or red plastic to shine through (and here I was thinking the entire piece was grey or black...). I imagine the reason to be either a cost saving gesture or some convoluted idea about making the weapons fit better into the hands, but since that was never a problem I can't really see any saving graces behind this idea. It makes the weapons look absolute terrible and useless for display purposes unless they are placed in hand. May I humbly remind Bandai that you made quite a big deal about assembling a weapons rack from the bonus parts shipped with volume 2? Well, here's a set of weapons that won't go into any such configuration unless you decide to paint them up. A horrible and useless decision that I hope never to see in Assault Kingdom (or any other line for that matter) again.

Although there are a couple of weird design choices for AK7, as a whole it truly shines. As an E.F.S.F. builder it cannot be bested, and the overall feel for the set just oozes Gundam ambience. I recommend interested readers to go out and obtain this set with due haste, as it will no doubt become scarce before long.

1 comment:

  1. For those curious the 10pc box set's extra figures are GM and Guncannon