Sunday, 5 July 2015

Assault Kingdom EX 05 : RX-0 Full Armor Unicorn Gundam (Full Weapon)

It has been a bit more quiet on the Assault Kingdom side of things for a while. Three months passed since the latest installment which might not seem that much when compared to e.g. STANDart, but when considering the very busy year of 2014 the AK line seems to have shifted into lower gear. Actually, later this month we are expecting the release of the ninth Assault kingdom set, but after that we haven't seen any further announcements on the Bandai shokugan page.

Today though, we are looking at the most recent entry into the AK line, the still fresh RX-0 Full Armor Unicorn. This figure was released in mid-June and comes with a suggested retail price of ¥2400; a price which compares to six regular AK figures or twice the price of the Sazabi.

You are getting quite a bit for your money though. The EX05 box is absolutely loaded with Unicorn gear. As impressive as it may first seem when the bags come out of the box, we have to remember that a lot of these parts are variations on a theme; this is after all the fifth Unicorn to come out of Assault Kingdom since the line began.

We can recognize a lot of features and parts from the Banshee Destroy Mode figure but we also discover some new interesting pieces like the new pointing hands and the fully articulated claw weapon. Why on Earth didn't the Banshee receive these parts when it was released last autumn? I foresee a new version of said figure in the near future...

More heavy duty gear follows; the possibilities of this figure seem endless.

In the third bag we find even more weapons, though here they are mounted on sprues, something we are not accustomed to in Assault Kingdom. The EX05 continues to blur the line between shokugan figures and plastic model kits.

Here are the parts after they are removed from the sprues. For any reader not used to working with model kits, exercise a bit of caution when removing the pieces from the runners, a sharp cutting tool is preferrable. There will most likely be small artefacts or paint scrapes that you may want to polish before you continue assembling the Unicorn.

Now, before we go on with the review I want to point out that I actually modified this kit somewhat before I proceeded with assembly. There are so many awesome pieces in this box, but I felt that a couple of them needed a little tune-up to look better. In the image above are the parts I have applied a bit of acrylic paint to. Basically I just plopped a little blob of orange colour on all missile tips, and painted all the windows on the Base Jabber which I think improves on its look immensely. Keep this in mind when reading the rest of the review.

Basic figure

Unless you are completely new to Assault Kingdom, chances are that you already have one or more Unicorn figures in your collection. The Full Armor Unicorn offers little in the form of surprises here. It is basically the same figure as the Unicorn Destroy Mode and the Banshee Destroy Mode figures, although with a bit more optional gear.

The base Unicorn Gundam figure is slim which means that it is very well suited to the freeflow Assault Kingdom articulation system. You will be able to strike up many interesting poses with this mobile suit. Past Unicorn experience suggests that its hip joints could become a bit worn, too much wear and tear here will probably make the figure a bit loose-legged. I have this problem with a pair of my other Unicorns. This can of course be solved by placing him on an action base, and in this box that is precisely what the Base Jabber platform is intended to be.

I am not going to try to cover even half of all the possible gear choices for this figure. You will have a lot of fun trying out different weapon combinations with the Unicorn. Leftover parts will also come in handy if you want to re-arm other Assault Kingdom figures whose gear selections were underwhelming. There are however also a couple of suggested themes for this figure, which we will look at in a bit more detail below.

Full Armor Mode

If you glance at the box you will find that Bandai had a couple of ideas in mind when they created this figure. In traditional Assault Kingdom fashion you will find somewhat relevant assembly instructions (in Japanese of course) on the inside walls of the package. Unless you want to tear open the box you'll have to read these in a less than optimal fashion, surely a little piece of paper with assembly instructions wouldn't have been too much to ask for. We get them with the Converge EX figures already, so I don't see why Assault Kingdom could not incorporate such aid.

Anyway, the Full Armor Gundam mode basically revolves around a gray shaped fram which is inserted into the figure's thruster pack. Weapons and booster tanks are then placed on it and the whole kit is rounded out with dual twin Beam Gatlings for good measure.

Full Armor Unicorn Gundam (clear action base not included with this kit and missiles have been painted).
The large booster tanks on the figure's back are not articulated, so the figure cannot stand upright without a bit of aid. You can choose to place some support underneath the booster tanks or plop the figure on any Assault Kingdom action base. Although the Unicorn is designed to use the fuselage of the Base Jabber as its base plate, this looks rather ugly, so it is better to borrow a base from one of your other figures. In the pictures above I have used the Kshatriya's sturdy action base. I wish these were sold separately as they are very useful for Assault Kingdom figures.

Destroy Mode

The Unicorn Destroy Mode (for lack of a better term) is a much less complex design. You switch the thruster packs and then use the white frame instead of the black one, which doesn't hold that much gear, but it does feature a pair nice ball joints for some flexibility. On the arms we place the very much Banshee-accessories, how I wish that this claw will be made available for that mobile suit as well.

The Destroy Mode is completed with a triple shield wall (which looked way cooler on the box art than when I tried to pose it myself...).

This shield wall is intended to be placed on the same ol' ugly opaque action base that comes with the figure. Again, if you have other AK figure with clear bases, use one of those instead.

Type 94 Base Jabber

This is actually my favourite aspect of this kit. Unlike some of the other gimmicky vehicles we have seen in the Assault Kingdom range, this is actually a detailed and well-proportioned figure in its own right. Intended for ferrying a Mobile Suit or its equipment into battle, it is a simple design incorporating many of the accessories from the Unicorn itself.

The result is very convincing and lends itself very well to creating displays with the Assault Kingdom mobile suits.

It is worth pointing out again that I have painted the cockpit windows on the base plate, this is a simple touch up which really brings out the character of the vehicle. If you wish to display the Base Jabber this is almost a must.

The Type 94 Base Jabber takes to the air on an action base not included with the kit. Some parts have also been painted.
Since the Base Jabber itself is intended as the action base for the Destroy Mode Unicorn, it has no action base of its own. This is my only real gripe with the model. Both the Gundam itself and its Base Jabber require good action bases to really shine. You can of course, like I have, scavenge other Assault Kingdom kits, but surely Bandai could have given us at least something in the box. There are so many cheap Gashapon figures with clear supports included that I feel it could have been included with an expensive figure such as this too.

The Unicorn can successfully ride the Base Jabber although I had problems getting mine to hold the two handle bars. Perhaps with a bit of fiddling this can be accomplished, but I decided not to put any stress to these parts.


Right, time for a bit of Unicorn chronology. Above are the three figures we've seen in Assault Kingdom thus far. The Unicorn Mode figure belongs to the very first Assault Kingdom set which appeared in March 2013 and the Destroy Mode followed in volume in June 2013. And now, two years later, we have the Awake Mode / Rouse Drive / Full Armor Unicorn Gundam that Bandai cannot seem to decide on naming definitively.

We can expand the Assault Kingdom Unicorn range even further by adding the Banshee to the mix. The Banshee Norn (Unicorn Mode) figure appeared as a Dengeki Hobby Magazine extra in March 2013 (this rare bird must be getting ripe for a reissue by now...), and the Destroy Mode Banshee appeared in September 2014 as part of wave 6.

Here is our Full Armor Unicorn Gundam compared to its STANDart counterpart, which is affectionately named "Rouse Drive Ver". Said Rouse Drive figure was released as a "limited overseas only" edition (this translates to something like Hong Kong and South Korea) and flooded eBay for a short while in June 2013.


Despite a sense of Unicorn fatigue I must say that, in my opinion, the EX05 figure is one of the best releases to come out of the entire Assault Kingdom range. Not only do we get a box loaded with optional gear, the left-over components can also be used to enhance other models in your AK collection. The only two complaints I have against this figure is the lack of a proper action base (this is a problem for much of the AK range) and of course the rather high price point. If you can stomach that though, you'll find lots to like about this figure and now is the best time to acquire it, since supply is doomed to dry out over the remainder of the year.

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