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. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Dragon Momoko MG Testament Gundam Review



The Testament Gundam, a very obscure design from the Gundam SEED Astray manga series. Developed by ZAFT but stolen by the Earth Alliance, this suit was awesome with it's ability to hijack the computers of nearby MS, making this thing quite a fearsome foe on the battlefield. Due to this obscurity however, not a lot of people knew about it, and the best Bandai did was make a Robot Damashii figure and forgot about it. Eventually, a user on Reddit gave some design requests to one of Dragon Momoko's staff on the sub, which gave birth to this beast of a kit. When this kit was announced, I wasn't even aware of this MS's existence, but once I did, I heavily anticipated Dragon Momoko's release of it, and hoped the finished kit was just as good as it looked.


Box:



On the box, you get DM's typical white background with hexagons, with a painted, decaled build of the Testament on the box. Due to obvious reasons, this kit is officially just known as the "Testament" instead of the "Testament Gundam", as the word Gundam is owned by Bandai. Also do your best to ignore the small "engrish" around the text for this kit.


Parts:



In the box you get 4 red runners, one being a runner for the handguards...





...5 brown frame runners with have a bit of a glitter effect injected into the plastic...




...4 injection silver runners, 2 which are duplicates...




...3 maroon runners...




...a clear green runner, a black runner, a yellow runner, and finally a clear pink beam saber runner.




You also get a brown hand runner, and an awful, awful poseable hand runner. The hands on that runner are not molded well, and have a lot of flash and imperfections. I will talk more about these hands later.




You of course also get a pair of polycap runners, one much larger than the other.




And of course, you get the foil sticker sheet and waterslide sheet. Please note that all the foils except for the eyes are optional, and honestly I don't recommend using them because they missed a few extra stickers when they made the sheet, plus they don't look all that great, so stick to the plastic.


Manual:



The manual for the kit is your average DM type manual.




You get stats and info of the MS.





...as well as a page and a a half of parts count. No painting guide here, sorry!


Inner Frame



The inner frame on this kit is quite nice. Despite how it might seem, the only real non frame parts here are the standard feet and the upper arm armor. The maroon legs and silver chest can still be considered frame parts due to how they're used. The frame itself is sturdy, and frankly it looks decent too. Although it's also very simple and full of pegs, not a lot of mechanical detail to be found on this thing's frame.


Frame Poseability:



Head is on a balljoint that has good range in looking around, the neck however helps a lot in looking up.




But not so much down, but as you can see, it's not needed.




The arm swings forward pretty much perfectly.




The shoulder goes up extremely far.




Arm swivels, and goes about 170˚ on just a single joint.




Safe to say the double joint for the frame makes a perfect 180˚.




Wrists are also on a hinge, while the hands are on a ball joint.




There is a swivel at the waist.



There is a bit of side to side movement right in the rib area.





A massive abcrunch due to a joint at the bottom.




The ankles have a decent spread, and the thigh movement accommodates it well.




Leg bends a perfect 180˚ with a floating knee.




There is also a sliding armor panel at the thigh.




The knee is actually on this fun barbell shaped mechanism, and it's quite satisfying to do.




Ankles go forward quite far and quite back.




And the toe is perfect.


Completed Product:



The kit completed and I gotta say I really dig this kit. As a third party redesign, it's not completely faithful to the Testament in canon, and design liberties have obviously been taken, still i'm a huge fan of what DM has done to the Testament Gundam. The bulkier proportions appeal immensely to me, and I adore the panel lines all around the kit. As it is a third party kit, you might be wondering about QC, and IMO it's fine. Fitting is tight for the most part, that also benefits the kit with stronger joints and sturdier build, just be sure to follow the instructions and not miss any parts. Some parts like the fins on the back and the v-fin are loose though, and the head outright will not fit together OOB, so it's safe to say that glue will be a requirement for this kit. Still otherwise, flash is minimal, molding imperfections are few, and overall i'd say the kit is very well done for non-Bandai standards.


Articulation:



Unlike the frame, head poseability is extremely hindered due to the collar and the head armor, it's always colliding and is thus a lot more limited.




Again due to the design, shoulder upwards movement is also greatly limited.




However the arm isn't as hindered, and goes forward really well.




Swivel and elbow are still perfect, zero problems.




Abcrunch is not as insane but is still fine.




Waist swivel is hindered due to the skirting, so it's not perfect, and the spread is limited a bit by the ankles but still works fine for posing.





Upwards kick is a lot more hindered due to the front skirts, trying to go further pops them off so don't bother. Knee bend is fantastic though, so you need a base for full use of it.




Toe also bends quite nicely.


Accessories:



Testament Gundam comes with more than a decent amount of stuff, lets go through it all.




First of all you get the open hands beam saber hands, and "gun holding" hands. The open and beam saber hands work fine, however the gun holding hands are the ones with trouble. Basically, this kit just plain out reuses the 2.0 DM hands, and due to this, the hands are not accustomed to the unique grips of any of the kit's weapons. Modding will be required for the fixed posed hands if you want to use them, which is a huge disappointment.

What about the poseable hands you might ask? Well, if you didn't know, DM's poseable hands are garbage. They are extremely easy to break due to the way they're molded, since they're pre-molded on the runner, DM's lower QC does not work well here. Even the balljoints don't really fit with each other, let alone the fingers and runner. The flash gets in the way of the joints as well, making them even easier to break. The lack of working hands OOB detriments the kit a lot, and it's safe to say I broke them while building them. So for this review, I had to buy HobbyBase's Mechanical Hands at 1/100, which fit surprisingly well with 1/100 Gunpla. You'll be seeing those for a majority of the rest of the review.




The beam saber handles are stored on the side skirts.




You plug the beam saber effect parts into them and they work like a charm.





Then you get my favorite of the Testament's weapons, it's four pistols.




The standard beam handguns act how they should once you get hands that work with them, they're nice.




But what I really love are the custom handguns. These things are revolvers with an armor schneider on the end. They hav a semi-working barrel, it s rotate, but only a bit, does not go 360˚ which is a shame, but in the end it's pointless. It does however have a full rotation at the barrel, meaning you can switch from beam shots to physical shots and vice versa. Not only that, but it does flip open, meaning you can do some reloading shots.




Very nice weapons in my opinion.




Can put them in both melee and shooting poses.




Finally is arguably the Testament's main weapon, the Trikeros Kai. It's a shield with a beam gun, claws, and some blades at the end. It has a few hollow parts like said claws and the yellow blades, but overall it's quite cool.




It does pose a bit, the sides move on balljoints and each individual claw moves.




It's an awesome gauntlet-like weapon once you get hands that work with it.




You also get these respective clips to store two of the pistols on the shield. You only get two clips however, so you can't store two of the same pistol on the shield, a big shame IMO.




You just store them there and they look cool.




Finally, you get the Divine Striker Pack that the Testament uses.




There are teeth on the end that do move, and it's also worth mentioning the teeth do not sit parallel, and the instructions are a little incorrect here. You want to have the longer hinge joint on the top side, so the teeth on the top should be kinda on an overbite.




It plugs into the Testament's Striker pack connection via an adaptor, due to this adaptor, it does work with official Bandai kits that use Striker packs. The connection is a bit far from the body but it's not too bad.




When that's done, you get the Divine Testament, and while it doesn't look super impressive now, it's just in it's deactive mode.




Spread it's wings out like it should, and then it just gives the Testament more presence, and the black looks really awesome, perfectly complementing the red and maroon IMO.



Fun shooting time.




The Divine Striker pack itself has joints in it, a swivel on the connection for to the back and striker, a hinge on one end, as well as two hinges on the other.




It can make this thing look way too awesome.





You also get two adaptors that allow you to connect it to an action base. The clip one is extremely hard to remove mind you, so don't expect it to come of easy if at all.


Size Comparison:



The Testament is as tall as your average MG, if not a teensy bit taller.


Verdict:

The Testament is an obscure design with no official plastic representation asides from a Robot Damashii. Not a lot of recognition was given to it until DM gave it the popularity boom it needed with their MG release. Now it's one of my favorite MS designs, and having this kit greatly satisfies me as a new Testament fan. Yes it has issues like the QC issues, the head requires glue as it just doesn't fit right when done and god forbid those awful, awful hands, but if you're looking for a kit of the Testament, this third party kit does not disappoint. Yes fitting is tight, but it also makes the kit more stable and lets it hold poses better than a Bandai kit does. Speaking of which, poseability is awesome, asides from the head and front skirts, this thing has a lot of articulation and it can hit some nice poses with it's strong joints. The surface detailing on this kit is superb, lots of panel lines and bits that make the kit look amazing once you simply line it, and of course, the bulkier redesign gives a more sleeker and more intimidating presence than the normal Testament. Overall if you don't mind third party kits, and are interested in picking this up, absolutely do so, all Testament fans that want one on their shelf should definitely consider this kit. 

Pros:

- Accessories are very plentiful, look great, and work mostly fine. The custom handguns have a lot of neat gimmicks. (!)
- Frame articulation is essentially perfect. Overall poseability is pretty good, if a little hindered in small areas, action base fixes mostly everything.
- Lots of panel details, simply line it and this kit looks awesome OOB. 
- Little actual sticker use is needed, only eyes are compulsory, everything else is optional.

Cons:

- Pre-molded weapon holding hands don't work OOB and the poseable hands are way too fragile to use. (!)
- Head does not fit without glue. (!)
- A few loose parts like the fins on the back.

Neutral: 

- Fitting is very tight and hard to separate, but also gives a more solid and stiffer kit that holds poses well.