Friday, January 12, 2018

SQ Yuuki Overview



Sword Art Online is a controversial series, been here done that, but despite this, I gotta say that Yuuki was a character I could really say was well done. I really enjoyed the series myself, but even with all that, Yuuki and the Mother's Rosario arc stood out compared to the whole show and was on a whole other level of good. Due to my love of the character, I wanted a figure of her, but sadly for me, her figma is an exclusive. Due to this, I resorted to the cheapest statue I could find of her, which led me to buy the Banpresto SQ figure. I wanted the one where her outfit was in Asuna's colors so it'd still have a reason for existing after I eventually got the figma, but couldn't find it so dealt with owning this. 


Box:



Nothing special for the box, you get an illustration of Yuuki in front of a beautiful field. You also get to see the an image of statue.


Parts:



In the box, you get her base, her main body, her sword, her sheath, and her head in separate containers.


Product:




OOB and you get a pretty good looking figure of Yuuki. Details are well painted and nothing is really missing. Her stance is a brave and simple standing pose, and looks inspiring. There is one little issue I have with this, and that's the fact the sheath does not plug in securely. It falls off very often and it's a real hassle to deal with.




The base has a little hole that the sword rests in so making her hold it isn't hard.




Overall this is a satisfying figure of Yuuki, and for those who want an affordable, small-ish sized figure of her, this is a fine option. The price is low, details are well painted, and the sculpting is great, so you can't really go wrong with it if you're a Yuuki fan.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

1/100 HG Gundam X Divider Review



Ah Gundam X, known as one of the most underrated shows in Gundam until that knowledge gave it the recognition it deserves, I love the Gundam X and a lot of the suits from it. The Gundam X had three incarnations, the original X when the show just began, the Double X that accompanied us at the final stretch of the show, and finally the X Divider, the one that stayed with us throughout the middle of the show, and the one that was the most used of the three Gundam X's. Despite the fact it was the most prominently used one, the Divider is the least popular of the three variants, to the point where at the time of writing this review, it is the only one that has yet to receive an MG kit. The lack of popularity could be due to people preferring giant cannons with lunar panels as opposed to what the Divider uses, but in any case, it doesn't have an MG. Despite this, I still like this MS, and while I admit it is my least favorite as well, I do think it deserves more love. I saw this 1/100 HG in a store for a while and hesitated to pick it up. But after a few months of debating, my increasing love for older kits, and my curiosity for the kit, I ended up biting the bullet.


Box:



The box is your standard 1/100 HG boxart. Its got a green background with the Harmonica System on display, as well as art of the Gundam X on front with all the details of the kit. You can also see some information of the MS on the bottom bit.


Parts:



Here there are 2 white runners, a grey runner...




...another white runner, a pale blue-ish runner, and a small purple runner.



If you actually look carefully at the purple runner, there are actually sparkles and glitter injected into it, possibly due to symbolise the glowing energy of the X in those areas.




There's also a multicolored runner, as well as a black mekki plated runner with a purple base. This is not undergated, so prepare for gaudy purple nubs. It's also worthy to note the black coloring is only on one side, and the underside just has the raw silver underplate.




Finally we have a sheet of polycaps and a bunch of metallic-finished stickers.


Manual:



The manual is your standard stuff for the most part. Inside you'll find parts count, instructions, info on the MS...




...and the almighty color guide.




Interestingly enough, the manual is half a book-type, half a flip out type. I didn't know this at first and I assumed it was a flipout, so this was actually the most confusing manual experience I ever had. Nice job me.


Completed Product:



When all's said and done, with the kit built, it certainly screams 90's HG. The numerous panel lines, seamlines, joints and proportions all instantly give the impression that this is a kit of the past. Obviously due to this age, it's not without flaws. The metallic stickers simply look awful and stand out like sore thumbs, and large wraparound stickers don't look great either. Engineering was also not as well done as it is today, as if you look up at the forehead, you can actually see into the head of the kit, it's not covered by anything. However, the kit itself still looks really nice, especially with the sparkly purple plastic, and the 90's type panel line overdose isn't usually favoured by some, I find it to be a really cool and unique aesthetic. It should be to note though that some of these panel lines aren't very deep, so lining markers fade much easier in them.


Articulation:



The head is on a simple ball joint that poses around well.




The shoulder swings up okay, not great but enough. You also have to pull the arm joint out a bit for full potential range.




Like other 1/100 HG's, the elbows are two a dual jointed polycaps connected together, and while it has potential for good poseability, in reality you're only getting about 110˚, although you can pull the polycaps out a bit for more range.




They also allow the elbow to swivel which is...quite disturbing.




Similar to other 1/100 HG's, the fingers are on a hinge joint with a trigger finger three finger split, and a static thumb.




Waist can swivel a bit, but only a bit.




Spread and ankle pivot is decent for its time, does the job but nothing impressive.




Lets are double jointed but only go 90˚, looks really round too.




Ankles move a bit to and forth, but the armor blocks its full potential for movement.


Accessories:



It comes with a nice amount of stuff, all which are fun.




First off though are the pair of X-Grenadiers that are equipped on the left side skirt.




You can simply pull them of and display them in hand if wanted, they are in a bit tight though.




Or if they aren't to your fancy, you can replace that X-Grenadier holding skirt with a normal side skirt.




Second you have the pair of beam sabers stored on the backpack.




With those, you can use the power of this massive beam saber blade, which actually consists of two parts in the form of an + to kind of have a "3D" effect.




While it looks kinda corny, I also think it looks really nice.




You then get its double barrelled Beam Machine Gun, its main weapon.




Simply slides into the hand and it can hold it surprisingly well! Although it does have some weight issues and it occasionally falls out of the hand.




Finally we have what's really the main part of the X Divider, the Beam Harmonica Divider Shield, aaand it's kinda disappointing. On the bright side, it does transform and does it well, and the mekki black parts look excellent from the front. But on the other hand, half of it is metallic stickers which peel off often and look horrible. Not only that, but it's silver from the back, which doesn't look great. 




To make matters worse, the kit can't hold it, it's just too heavy. This image has the shield being supported by the leg to even have it at this weird angle, let alone hold it for itself. Not only this but the poseable fingers always give in. It will require blutack and joint strengthening for it to hold the shield, no question.




To open it for the harmonica system, you simply untab the side parts...




...open up the sides of the shield...




...swing them back and close sandwich the part in.




At least it looks great, the black mekki and metallic appearance looks really, really good, but I just wish it could hold it.




Finally, if you open up the back thrusters...




...and plug the opened harmonica shield in...




...you get the hovering mode! This is the only secure way to display the kit with the shield well, and it actually stands up excellently too! This on the other hand was a huge surprise, and how I'll ultimately be displaying my X Divider.




You also get all the parts to assemble the gatling gun addon for the original X, and if you so wish, you can disassemble the shoulder parts and add this thing instead of one of the beam saber bits if you so choose.


Size Comparison:



As expected, it's a little small for a 1/100, but this is correct as the X is slightly smaller than your average MS.


Verdict:

I always have a thing for kits of the past, and this one is no exception. However that does not change the fact this kit has serious problems. It's alright for the time, but there are definitely better options for kits out there. It shows it's age a bit with bad stickers, dated joints, and of course, the fact it can't hold it's shield, which is the real breaker IMO. But all things considered this thing is a decent kit for the older age it comes from. It's got gimmicks to offer and can execute them well, and it's accessories are really nice. It has the 90's panel lining detail which might be hit or miss, but gives the kit a unique look. The flakes injected into the purple plastic look really nice under inspection, and the mekki harmonica system looks really good when facing the right way. In the end, while it does have problems, this is a fine kit to collect if you know what those problems are and are willing to face them. It makes for a nice novelty item, and a unique kit for the age.

Pros:

- Lots of gimmicks for an HG, basically does all you'd want the X Divider to do.
- Purple injected plastic has metallic flakes in them that look really nice.
- Black mekki plated pieces for the Harmonica Divider shield, not undergated though.

Cons:

- Cannot hold up the Harmonica Divider Shield without extra support. (!)
- Joints are a little loose.
- Seamlines are atrocious.
- Lots of bad sticker use, most are metallic too so they really stand out.

Neutral:

- Lots of 90's panel lines and detailing, actual grooves aren't very deep either. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

HGIBO Hashmal Review



One thing I seem to like more than most other people I know are mobile armors. I definitely wouldn't love Gundam as much if everything were these things, but as another type of weapon in a show where most weapons were MS, I loved them. Sadly though, they never seemed to get a lot of kits due to their lack in popularity, especially in 1/144 scale, so when IBO had revealed they were bringing back their own Mobile Armor, I was heavily intrigued. When Hashmal was revealed, it's abilities were shown, the lore behind Mobile Armors in IBO, and that final battle was witnessed, I fell in love. So once the HG hit the shelves, I knew I wanted it, and had to get my hands on one, but decided to save the purchase for a later time.

Eventually, HLJ hosted their Playing with Plamo 2017, and I decided to enter, and over time, I decided that the Hashmal would be my choice of entering. I didn't win, but I still got a cool Hashmal on my shelf, and i'm happy with that alone.


Box:



The boxart is awesome, a very flat but very wide box contains this mobile armor, and the boxart depicts the Hashmal facing off with the Barbatos Lupus, with a swarm Plumas behind it. With the explosions and cloudy sky, this is definitely a cool looking box.


Parts:



For parts, you get 2 white runners, a mostly white runners with a bit of clear pink...




...a dark grey runner, a light brown runner, and a pinkish orange runner. You'll notice this kit doesn't have a lot of plastic in it, so that might be disappointing to people.




You also get one purple runner for the included Pluma.




As well as super strong wire and a giant stand.




Not only is plastic content seemingly lacking, but despite this, there is a huge sticker sheet with wraparounds and stuff, not super great.


Manual:



Like a few modern kits, you get a piece of paper in a few languages that teaches newcomers how to build Gunpla.




The manual itself is your average IBO manual, you get information about the Mobile Armor Hashmal, and due to having no pilot, you get information on the Pluma instead. You get your standard instructions, parts count...




...kit info and color guide.


Completed Product:



Finished and all, and the Hashmal looks pretty good. It's definitely big and screams for presence, this kit will not go unnoticed on any 1/144 Gunpla shelf. The kit itself does have seamlines that aren't great, however some bits are used to remedy it. Parts separation is alright, but as expected from an IBO kit, could also be done better. Stickers as expected are not very pleasant, lots of them could've been parts, however there are a few exceptions that I find okay. Still, this kit also has some of the worst stickers i've ever had the displeasure of dealing with in Gunpla, which I will get to later. You have to display this thing on it's stand though, it's got a specific adaptor for this specific stand, and it will not fit with any other asides from the same stand type. The kit also does include a stand to display the wire in more trying poses, however the wire itself is very stiff and holds up alone very nicely. Instead, it's actually the connection of the wire and head that gets loose over time, and is what ultimately makes this kit resort to using the wire stand.


Articulation:



Articulation is going to be difficult to describe considering what this thing is, so i'll do my best. First off, the head can look down and around on a ball joint as well as a minor hinge.




The neck and ball joint can also tilt sideways.




The back of the head can also move up, which is also where the wire blade attaches.




Outer wings can move up on a hinge.




The legs have a swivel on the top, and can move up and bend outwards.






You can also kick back the legs quite far, and bend them inwards as well.




The claws are on a hinge at the end and a small ball joint that connects to the actual feet. Now remember how I said this kit has some of the worst sticker use i've ever hand to deal with, this is it. The individual claws on this kit were geniusly decided to be given stickers, which means they have to be horrible looking wraparounds. This on it's own is not awful however, what is awful is the fact that the way the claws are assembled. You're meant to slot the red piece containing the claws as well through the white piece with the stickers on, but that pushes back on the sticker and could possibly flatten them, meaning you have to begrudgingly pull the parts back out, and somehow put it in place again. Not only this, but it possibly damages the sticker and even assembling it correctly could lead to scratching the sticker. This is awful designing on Bandai's part, as the claws could've easily just been extra brown parts. I don't usually say should have to paint a kit for accuracy like this, but this time I'm making an exception. Paint the claws, do not use those fucking stickers, they are awful and impossible to do perfectly.




Moving past that rant, the leg can kick out quite far to the side on a hinge.


Pluma:



Included with the Hashmal is one of it's many support drones. It's definitely not completely color accurate as asides from a few stickers, is entirely purple, paint is required for accuracy. It can kinda stand on it's own, or more accurately crawl, but you can use the kit's tail stand with it. However if you do choose to use the stand, you won't be able to use the stand to support the tail, so you have to either find a pose for the tail on it's own, or have this guy on the ground.

If you want more, you have to buy the P-Bandai Pluma set which comes with 6, but before you complain that it should've been an option set, at least we get one OOB.


Pluma Articulation:



Despite being a simple drone thing, it does have a bit of poseability. The tail can move down, which is also where the stand connects, so the Pluma will look down as well.




The Pluma also can rock a bit in all directions on his stand. The arms also are on a ball joint on a the shoulders, stretch outwards at the elbow, and a little bit inwards. You'll also notice that the entirety of the inner arm is hollow, so you'll either have to putty it up, or deal with it.


Accessories:


The accessories are completely what you expect, not a lot asides from a few tidbits for the MA.




First off is the stand, comes in two parts, with multiple ridges on the side that lock in.




Basically you can disassemble and put back together the stand in different positions to have it at different heights.





The way the stand attaches to the tail is simple, remove the tail blade, thread the stand through it, and reattach.




You also get the new long sword, which the Hashmal itself cannot use. This is an accessory meant for the HG Barbatos Lupus, and was included in this kit, which is strange because it was never used in the show, not even for the Hashmal fight. Still, a neat inclusion just in case you didn't care about the sword mace.




You also get two kinetic energy shots, this time the Hashmal can use them.




The shots just plug into the hole in the middle of the claws.




They don't actually shoot out, but they make nice displays.




Finally you get this massive beam effect part to replicate the devastating Hashmal beam in the show that's also useless in a way.




To use it, you need to open the head, which requires partsforming sadly. First you take off the top of the head.




After that, take off the bottom.




Then, flip a piece in the middle to a different resting position that will give a wider gap.




Then you take the "cheeks" of the head, and put them on a higher notch.



...like so. I must say the connection on the higher notch is as as secure as the one on the lower one, so that is slightly annoying..




After that just reattach the head pieces.




Now hooray, he has an open mouth.




You now can plug the beam for one hfll of an awesome display pose, at least IMO.


Gimmicks:



You actually can reveal the Hashmal's energy supply system in the shoulders. These are used to not only power the Hashmal, but power the Plumas using microwaves.




You simply display them by pulling the red panel out, which is a little hard, and reattaching it in a different place. The entire section is meant to be grey, but OOB they come white like the wing and completely unpainted. Since this was my entry for the HLJ contest, I took some artistic liberties, and painted the inside silver, and the power supply itself gold.




I'm happy for what it is, and it looks pretty neat. 


Transformation:



Hashmal actually has a proper long distance flight mode. This is barely an actual transformation but it exists so i'm including it anyways. First, posititon the claws exactly like this, with the two top claws back and the bottom claw swung forward, similar to an underbite.




You then have to collapse the leg as shown on the Hashmal's right leg, the left leg is how it looks like when not collapsed.





Then you use the swivel to put the legs to the side...




...before tucking them into the wings.




Now you have the flight mode, which looks cool. I don't think it's worthy of being a mode on it's own, but it's still neat.


Size Comparison:



The Hashmal is quite large in the image, especially when compared to a standard MS. Heck the Pluma alone is actually the size of the RX-78-2 length wise, but it somehow feels bigger in person. Definitely a lot of presence and a huge thing for any display.


Verdict:

I'm going to say right now, out of the 3 1/144 Mobile Armor HG's, Hashmal is probably the worst one in terms of presentation. It has the least gimmicks, the least plastic value, easily the worst sticker use, and the least presence due to other MA's just being bigger. However, this is also the most affordable Mobile Armor kit, and don't be fooled, while the Hashmal isn't very big compared to the other 1/144 Mobile Armors, it's very big on it's own as it's competition is against beasts. The Hashmal is a decent kit for what it is, but at the same time I do think it could've been improved with more gimmicks, more parts separation, and maybe more stability. The Hashmal is really just a big, simple display pice that looks cool, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Sticker use definitely could've been better, and while some are alright, the majority, especially including the claws should really have been parts. The Pluma is a nice inclusion to display with it, even though it needs puttywork and paint for a better display. Overall, this is just a cheaper mobile armor kit that screams with it's presence. It's a big beast of a kit that will tower over standard 1/144 kits and screams presence with it's unique concept. Definitely pick one up if you're a fan of what you see, because while it does have issues, i'd still say it's a satisfactory kit for what it is. 

Pros:

- Very big, this thing demands presence on the shelf and looks even bigger in person. (!)
- Comes with a free Pluma. 
- Unique build and overall concept for being a 1/144 Mobile Armor model kit.

Cons:

- Awful sticker usage, especially those bloody claws which were just a really bad design decision on Bandai's part, unironically some of the worst stickers i've had to deal with. (!)
- Parts separation could've been a lot better on both the Hashman and Pluma, the Pluma itself is entirely one color asides from the stickers.

Neutral:

- Very simple build, not a lot of special engineering, it's just a big mostly-hollow HG.
- For 3800 yen, the plastic content is not a lot, but the product itself is still enormous.