Thursday, 23 June 2016

Assault Kingdom EX 10 : RX-0 Unicorn Gundam & Banshee

So... it appears we have come to the end of the road. Assault Kingdom EX 10 marks the latest and most likely last sign of life we will ever see from this figure line. It had a short run, of roughly two years time, which initially produced a steady set of interesting figures only to decline rapidly over the last year to peter out into nothingness with a bland set of Unicorn figures. Seriously, is there anyone out there who collects Assault Kingdom who doesn't own at least one of these?

Assault Kingdom EX 10 is the last in a line of loosely counted nine waves of regular figures and ten especially pricey EX figures. The latter type has made up the entirety of the figure line for the past year, with the last regular figure wave appearing back in July 2015. EX 10 was officially released in the end of May 2016 and features a suggested retail price of ¥3200, which puts it on par with for example the ZZ-Gundam set.

As most of you are acutely aware, nothing Assault Kingdom seems to be so numerous as RX-0 variations. The closest thing out there would be the Zaku II with a total of five variations. After the Full Armor Unicorn and recent Banshee Norn I felt quite pleased that by now Bandai would have to put the Unicorn to rest. Perhaps if they had been bold enough we'd have seen a Phenex, although admittedly that would have required at least a little bit of new engineering. It was apparently way easier to just chuck the ol' RX-0:s in a new box and ship them out again.

I didn't exactly have high hopes for this last of the EX sets, but with Bandai using the term exclusive, you sort of  hope for at least something interesting other than a basic price hike. So I opened the box and out spilled what must indeed be considered a mixed bag(s). Upon seeing the contents spilling out on the floor, I was struck with a terrible sense of fatigue and déjà vu which almost stopped me dead in my tracks. I felt a sudden urge to just chuck the stuff back into the box and hide it away in a closet but decided to persevere for the sake of the review. Taking one for the team, so to speak.

RX-0 Unicorn Gundam (Destroy Mode)

Well, at this point this sucker requires no introduction, as I'm sure most people out there are familiar with the good ol' Assault Kingdom Unicorn by now. If not, there are several reviews of its previous iterations available in our archive, as I feel no need to go over it all once again. Instead, let's focus on just exactly what is unique about this particular version of the figure.

As you can see from the parts list picture, this figure is best described as a cross between the regular Destroy Mode Unicorn figure and the green Awake Mode Full Armor figure from the old (and still excellent) EX 05 set. Apart from the basic weapons we also get a new pair of pointing hands (same as those on the Full Armor Awake Mode figure) and some of the components from the Base Jabber which has to function as the figure's action base.

Since the figure in this box is basically a souped up Destroy Mode Unicorn (released as a regular figure in wave 2 back in June 2013) we can do a simple line up comparison. As the pictures clearly point out to us, the new version indeed has a couple of cosmetic changes, but mainly for the worse. Notice how the grey segments on the shield and waist have been axed for all white, including the entire backside of the shield. The previously all blue backpack which is now modified also has an ugly white peg sticking out of it.

The two beam tonfas also make a return in this pack, but where you'd think an exclusive figure might get, oh I don't know, maybe some translucent plastic, we instead get a pair of white toothpicks. Geee, thanks a lot.

Not everything is worse though. On the figure's plus side we do find a little bit of gray paint on the front legs as well as a little bit of menacing red on the figure's shoulder backside, where there previously was none. The hands are now painted in metallic grey which I suppose might also impress some collectors out there.

This new iteration really is a middle of the road thing. While far from a disaster in its own right, it is quite underwhelming from a completist collector's point of view. Apart from a pair of hands you really don't get anything Unicorn of value in this box except more of the same.

RX-0 Unicorn 02 Banshee (Destroy Mode)

The second figure in the box is pretty much the same deal as the previous one. While there have only been two previous incarnations of the Unicorn 02 both were of the RX-0[N] Banshee Norn type. This is actually the first vanilla Unicorn 02 figure so a bit of a mini-premiere at least.

As far as the figure goes, it has a lot in common with the Unicorn Destroy Mode figure. Presumably because they are more or less the exact same figure with a couple of minor variations. This however does mean that the Banshee is pretty well stocked with gear and although we have seen much of it before, the Newtype Destroyer components (again repaints of the ones found in the Awake Mode EX05 figure pack) are pretty much essential stuff for a Banshee. We also get a pair of underwhelming if slightly novel navy blue beam tonfas and a navy blue Base Jabber base plate which looks just as ridiculous as the white one.

As you can see it is quite hard to tell the standard RX-0[N] Unicorn 02 Banshee Norn (left) apart from the new Unicorn 02 Banshee figure (right). The base colours in destroy mode appear to be a bit more orange on the old Banshee Norn figure, and there are a few extra painted details on the new figure's legs. Overall, the differences between these figures are less obvious, but the extra gear is more useful here.

As you can see, Assault Kingdom EX 10 is a pretty competent set, so why do I dislike it so greatly? Well, we covered part of it already. As a standalone product this is fine, but as a tired Unicorn rehash it most certainly is not, there's simply just enough value here. You could have added the few new extra accessories and put them in a zip lock bag, selling it as an accessory. As an exclusive set, this set misses its goal by far.

The worst part is the action bases that have been recycled from the Full Armor Unicorn set. Or rather; parts of it have been. While in that particular box we got a complete Base Jabber which could, in emergencies, act like an action base, here we just get a part of it. it wouldn't exactly have been rocket science to plonk in a pair of standard transparent bases, regular ¥400 figures have been using them for quite some time, and rather successfully I might add.

Then there's that black sprue filled with extras, again taken from the Full Armor Unicorn box, simply because one two pieces were needed, the two rotating barrels that go on the one Gatling Gun. So if you happened to wonder what you were supposed to do with the rest of the stuff you can relax in the knowledge that you may as well toss them away.

The worst offence on part of the EX 10 pack though is not what it is, but what it could have been. Two pairs of translucent beam tonfas and a couple of proper action bases would have gone a very long way towards that. But it seems clear that the remainder of the Assault Kingdom budget was spent on oversized $200 limited edition figures, in some vain hope that it would turn the series around...

All is however not lost. The Universal Unit figure series, which can best be described as an Assault Kingdom v 2.0, is just around the corner, with its first releases to appear later this summer. While Bandai lauds it as figures of higher technical quality, it more importantly also gives them an excuse to peddle the same old mobile suits all over again. Just as Assault Kingdom was coming out of its corner and starting to hit some really creative ground, I fear we will be relegated to seeing the usual suspects on shelves as the UN² series kicks in.

With Assault Kingdom now dead in the water it seems way smarter to hold on to your mobile suit budget and do a gigantic skip across this depressing package. For those of you still missing out the Unicorns in your collection, this is a decent way to get them, although you'd probably have more fun collecting the original figures on the secondhand market. They're not that terribly rare as some of the other figures in the line (those that only made one single appearance that is).

As far as Universal Unit is concerned, Bandai claims it to be somewhat size-compatible with Assault Kingdom and surely it can only be a question of time before that range gets inundated with Unicorns of all shapes and sizes as well. Assault Kingdom EX 10 is for the most obssessed completists out there only.


  1. And here we go another great marketing step by Bandai , all ended up just good.

  2. Thanks for the info, your review convinced me to cancel the pre-order I had on this and grab some Kamen Rider Converge figures.

    I really hope Universal Unit can better fill the gap that StandArt leaves as whilst I sold my collection (and made a decent amount) I still regret selling them...