Thursday, 29 December 2016

Assault Kingdom : Hambrabi Team!

So, I finally got myself a complete trio, the last thing you'll ever see on the battlefield! The Assault Kingdom Hambrabi figure is truly excellent. It is a bit lacking in the accessories department, but you can always steal Haman's beam saber and if I weren't so lazy I would have dug out the Sea Serpent shock weapon from the HCM Pro figure too. Maybe for next time... :)


Sunday, 11 December 2016

Universal Unit : G-Bit Set

The G-bit Set is the second Premium Bandai expansion into the quickly expanding Universal Unit product range. It was made available in October 2016 through the Bandai webshop at a price of ¥1200, which seems cheap for a UN² package containing three figures. Especially when you consider that your basic figure sells for ¥500. Quite the bargain... or so I thought.

As is typically the case with Premium Bandai shokugan figures the packaging is a bit Spartan and does a rather poor job of explaining what exactly is contained inside. Looking at these pictures you'd be hardpressed to make a correct assumption. Especially since the GX-9900 Gundam X is the main figure on both the front and back pictures. There is a good reason for this, as we shall see.

On opening the box you will find three identical plastic bags, each containing the parts needed to assemble a FX-9900 GX-Bit (or G-bit as the box suggests) autonomous mobile suit.

Gazing at a bag like this for the first time you will immediately see a kinship with Assault Kingdom figure series. The first thing I noticed was the hexagon action base making its return, a direct modification of the Assault Kingdom base although here it is not transparent. In fact, almost everything here is basic gray plastic, save for a few blue blotches on the torso.

As you can see on these parts pictures the GX-Bit figures are extremely basic. Where a standard Universal Unit figure has a leg consisting of around 10 parts there are only two snap together parts here. As a result the legs are perfectly rigid with a minimum of flexibility at the hip. In fact, the way the legs are positioned, the figure cannot even stand up and has to use the action base.

Because the figure is so utterly plain and gray looking I had to do some limited colour applications. I simply used a blue and a black marker pen to colour the feet, face and some panel lines. I also applied the two red stickers to the torso and the reflective stickers (which are very nice) to the solar panels. As I have mentioned before, the 3D-style stickers included with Universal Unit figures are a bit finicky to apply and even with very basic skills you should be able to do a better work yourself.

Notice also the horribly hollow arms; we didn't even get some extra pieces to cover up those holes. And the left hand with an expressive gesture features webbed fingers as if it were a mobile suit made for a duck. These things are clearly made to sit in the background. Did you notice how the Gundam X figure is the point of focus on the box? Clearly to draw your attention away from the limited features of the GX-Bit figures themselves. The only thing these can do is dangle their legs around and move the left arm a bit to the sides and up and down. The right arm connects perfectly with the Satellite Cannon, but the whole assembly is not meant to move at all.

GX-Bits mounted on Assault Kingdom action bases.
The GX-Bit figures are the first Universal Unit figures I have seen which feature action base support. Since they are similar to the Assault Kingdom figures in this regard I tried them out on the (obviously much nicer) transparent AK action bases. They work fine together with the basic AK figure action base, but not with the larger bases (that you would find with figures such as the Kshatriya and Qubeley), which they would only slide off.

Look mom, webbed hands!
The GX-Bit figures were really only made as cool backdrops for the Gundam X figure (released October 31 as part of Universal Unit Wave 2) but I am still a bit disappointed with them. I had expected these figures to be fully articulated and was looking forward to doing some cool poses for them. I almost went ahead and bought a second box before even the first one arrived, but I now know that it would be pointless since they would only end up sitting in a straight line looking pretty much identical.

Overall one or two make a nice backdrop to the Gundam X figure (which I do not yet own by the way). If you are planning to skip on the X there is obviously no reason to pick this set up either.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Gundam Front Converge Ver. GFT Limited - RX-0 Unicorn Gundam 03 Phenex

So, I finally received my silver Phenex after it had toured the international postal system for almost two months, which is some sort of new record. Mail from Japan usually takes about three to four weeks to arrive here in Europe, although packages from some areas in Japan consistently arrive within a week only. These guys were released as Gundam front Tokyo exclusives already back in August, but I also had to wait for a couple of weeks before some suitable (read: within my accepted price range) units popped up in the mailorder market.

The two Phenex figures are supposedly sold for ¥1600 a piece if you go to GFT. I ended up having to pay ¥2500 per figure through a mailorder, which is still a decent price when you see what these guys are sold for on the overseas market.

The two Unicorns come in some nice looking mini-boxes similar to the ones used for the GP00 Blossom and some of the CORE:s, and is only marginally wider than the redesigned boxes used for the standard figures. Since these are Japanese imports they will also have the classic Converge chewing gum inside.

Parts-wise the two figures are similar to each other. We are basically getting a repurposed Destroy Mode Unicorn with some tweaks like the new V-fin and a new backpack designed for the two shields. And speaking about the shields, they are in turn drafted from the bronze-coloured CORE Banshee Norn Destroy Mode figure although they have been redesigned from having had a peg to now feature a peg hole instead. (May I also take this opportunity to point out that we still haven't seen a bog standard navy blue Banshee Norn Destroy mode figure with this shield? Bandai, this is low hanging fruit, I'm sure you know what to do...)

The two Phenex figures are pretty awesome looking in their spiffy metallic colours. Neither the hands nor the beam rifles have been given this treatment though, which make them stand out a bit against the rest of the figures, which is perhaps not ideal, but not really an eyesore either. Notice also the hole in the left arm where the shield was originally supposed to go.

Due to their backpacks now being laden with two heavy shields the Unicorns are quite back-heavy and coupled with the tiny feet this makes them inherently unstable. The ability to pose them without use of the ankle support will come down to the exact slant of the surface they stand on as well as the general mood of the soft plastic in their legs. A little bit of warping there is all that is needed for them to keel over constantly. How I wish that a few more yen had been spent on upgrading the figures to the new Converge base plate system.

Unicorn Destroy Mode Development History...

Joining the team of unusual Unicorn versions.
In spite of a couple of quirks I think that overall the two Phenex figures turned out great. I can easily recommend them to any Converge collector out there, although if you are a casual fan one of them is probably going to be well enough. The price point is a cause for concern though, while they aren't entirely easy to find keep looking for a figure that isn't too crazily priced.

Slightly off topic but if you are planning a visit to the actual Gundam Front Tokyo center in Odaiba, be aware that it is currently rumoured to be closing down in early April 2017. The lifesize RX-78-2 figure has also been scheduled for removal in March next year, presumably to make way for a new mobile suit with movable limbs, speculated to be completed in 2019 (in time for the 40th Anniversary perhaps?).