Tuesday, August 8, 2017

RG Unicorn Gundam (GEP) Review



About a year ago, I would've never believed this kit would happen. With the release of the HG FAUG Red having RG decals, being the definitive Unicorn kit at the time, and it's coincidental release of the RG Sinanju, rumour had it that Bandai had released that kit in place of an RG Unicorn, and thus it was left at that. Skip forward half a year and the RG Unicorn is announced to the public. This announcement surprised everyone, and the excitement and curiosity surrounding the RG Unicorn quickly grew. The Unicorn never seemed to have the greatest reputation for it's kits, the Ver. Ka was awful, the updated MG's were okay but had issues, the HG's were fine but not anything great to talk about, and the PG while awesome was a high end collectable with loose joints. Each Unicorn kit seemed to have an issue, with previous kits seeming to give the impression that the Unicorn would be fragile in most forms of a kit.

When the RG Unicorn was shown to be a transformable kit at the most fragile scale, some people were obviously iffy at the news considering the history of RG's and Unicorn kits, and it's understandable why. It was also told that it would be a kit for the recent Gunpla Evolution Project, and Bandai advertised that they would make a sturdy kit of the Unicorn with a functional transformation using the RG frame at 1/144 scale. Due to all of these bits of information and previous experiences, people began to theorise, speculate, and crave information regarding the RG Unicorn and how it would be made. Some news said it would be a partsformer for stability, some people predicted it would be a horribly fragile release, some people stayed optimistic and believed in Bandai's ability to make an awesome kit for us all. I was in the middle of the two latter categories, which I would describe myself as cautiously hyped, fully expecting that the RG Unicorn could be a possible grenade, but excited for it's release and hoping it would do awesome with it's GEP label, after all it's the Unicorn Gundam, one of my favorite MS out there.

Welp, I got it a day after it's initial release from the help of my dad. I was pushed to the purchase when the first review of it said that it was a sturdy RG and instantly went to try for myself. I spent my time on this kit non-stop after it's unboxing only stopping to eat, talk to friends on discord, and sleep. I quickly built the inner frame, finished the kit, decalled it, took pictures of it, and now i'm reviewing it. So with all this hype, anticipation, worry, and hope all building up to the release of this kit, how does it stand up against all of that? Lets find out.


Boxart:



You get standard RG style boxart which admittedly doesn't look as great as other boxart of the modern time. It's very simple, with the full CGI body of the RG Unicorn in Destroy Mode to be shown next to a close shot of the Destroy Mode head, both with glowing psycoframe. Next to the RG label you can see the GEP label on there, signalising that this kit was a kit released under the GEP.




Although this was the normal box, you could also have the Unicorn Mode's face on one side.




While the other has the standard Destroy Mode. During the time of release there was an event for the Gunpla Base, so that label is also printed on both sides of the box.




You can also see the focus of evolution that the GEP played into this kit, you can open the image in a new tab to read clearly.


Parts: 



You get 2 minimally off white runners, and one pure white runner. Interestingly two are are "1" runners, while this kit doesn't include any "2" runners, possible hinting for an RG FAUG in the future. Something to note is a few of the white armor pieces are undergated, which means that Bandai might be planning an RG Phenex in the future.




We also get a runner molded in soft grey plastic, a multi colored runner, and a runner molded in light grey plastic.




There is also a red psycoframe runner and a dark grey frame runner, both which are molded in ABS plastic.




Finally we get the clear beam saber effect parts and the RG Unicorn's new original inner frame (thank god) in a grey color and a dark pink for psycoframe.




We also get our standard RG sheet of decal stickers.


Manual:



The manual looks like your standard RG manual, you have the same face on the boxart on the cover, and inside you get your instructions...




...all mighty color guide...




...decal guide...




...and parts count.




You also get some building tips here...




...as well as some info on the MS.


Inner Frame:



Right off the bat, I can say that apart from the Z'Gok, this is the most unique RG frame i've ever built. Unlike other RG frames, the whole limbs aren't entirely molded on the runner, instead you use the pre-molded RG frame parts with some actual frame parts, and assemble them together to make the frame, in a way it's a mix of MG and RG frame constructions. Areas like the joints are assembled, yet areas that require transformation and psycoframe are pre-molded. Due to this new mix of engineering styles from the different grades, we have the sturdiest feeling RG frame to date, with most joints having the fluidity and stability of an MG kit due to not being pre-molded, as opposed to being stiff and segmented like previous RG's. Even with this, the bits needed for RG engineering are still there, and the completed frame is a frame that combines the greatest aspects from either grade. The thighs do fall apart really easily due to normally requiring normal parts to secure them into place, but despite this, this is still the most sturdy feeling RG frame to date, and the idea of combining both elements of each grade's frame is ingenious on Bandai's part.


Frame Articulation:



Head is on a ball joint while the neck is on a hinge, great head movement for the frame.




Shoulders swing up at about 100˚...




...and swing forward very well. The shoulders are one of the only pre-molded joints, so the joints on the shoulders are also the only ones i'd treat with high care like you would with standard RG's, it's also worth mentioning that the connection from shoulder to arm is also on an L shaped piece with 3 holes in each of them, these parts stress easily when inserting a peg with too much force, and can lead to the shoulders eventually breaking, so be cautious with the shoulders as you would any RG.




Arm is on a swivel and a double joint going 180, swivel joint is stiff and pre-molded, so it should be cared for like a standard RG, but the elbow is very fluid.




The hands are both on ball joints, no exceptions.




Ab crunch on the frame is insane, although it's all on a hinge at the upper ab, torso crunch does not exist due to transformation.




There is a however swivel below the torso.




Ankles pivot quite far and can allow for a decent spread.




Legs are on a swivel, kick up excellently, and bend 180˚.




The hips are also on this track, which allows for better movement front and back.




Feet go forward quite decently...




...and there is a slight toe bend.


Completed Product (Unicorn Mode):



With the kit completed and in Unicorn Mode, here is the kit we've all been waiting for, and I only bring good news. Just like it's frame, this kit is solid, really freaking solid. The use of built ABS parts for the frame joints increases stability and the overall feel of the kit, making it feel more like a smaller MG than an RG. Asides from the shoulders, the joints are all still fluid and easy to pose, with none of the stiffness found on previous RG kits, making posing have little to no hassle. It's all really well designed from Bandai, and even with all the transformation joints built into the frame and armor, it feels like a good sturdy kit that can take a bit of manhandling.

Due to being an RG, it also looks amazing, there are a lot of minor surface details like panel lines and etches, as well as a triple tone for the surface. The grey is far more distinguishable from the two whites, yet it still blends in well, and overall makes for an absolutely astounding looking Unicorn mode. There are many decals on this kit too, and they are really tedious to apply. While the sheet is average size, the decals on it are small and plentiful, and dot the MS, it's really tedious and will take a lot of your time. Despite this, the kit does look amazing when done, and i'd say it's worth the pain, especially since most or the Unicorn is white plastic and the sticker decals look quite good on it. Although the metallic ones used in the joints scratch really easily, i'd paint instead if you can. They also give you a sticker for the Unicorn Mode's visor, but honestly you should just skip it, the clear part is more than visible enough and looks spectacular. You might notice the proportions are off on this kit, like it's more sized body and larger shoulders. This was due to the transformation engineering that had to be accommodated, and thus proportional accuracy had to be sacrificed in turn for a better working transformation. I will say about this kit however, areas of the psycoframe don't always close up perfectly when transformed, specifically the shoulders. Other psycoframe showing on the image can be hidden better using the armor and transforming it better, overall a fantastic RG kit produced by Bandai.


Articulation (Unicorn Mode):



The head moves around on a ball and the neck is still on a hinge, but the armor prevents the kit from looking up too far.




The beam tonfas get in the way of the shoulders, but if you move them out of the way, the shoulders go up just past 90˚.




The shoulder can swing forward quite well.




Elbow bends at about 165˚, it does the job well, however as you can see, there are no sliding armor panels. This was due to the fact the joints are not pre-molded, and don't move in tandem to create movements like that. Instead it has normal joints and saves those pre-molded joints for transformation, allowing the kit to be fully transformable and sturdy at the same time, a fine sacrifice IMO.




Ab crunch is a lot more limited due to armor, it's only slight now.



Still has a swivel at the waist.




Spread is slightly hindered by the armor, but for the Unicorn, this is all it needs.




Knee is a perfect double joint at 170˚, but just like the elbow, no sliding armor for sacrifice of stability and transformation.




Toe still bends and can go forward and backward decently. Overall, articulation is fantastic, with the sturdy joints and great poseability, this is easily the Unicorn kit that will pull off the most poses.


Accessories:



The kit comes with a decent amount of accessories.




You first get two v-fins, asides from the default standard transformable one, you get one permanently for Destroy Mode and one permanently for Unicorn mode. I'd pick the transformable one and go with it until it breaks personally since it's not a hassle to mess with, and it looks alright. However the v-fins do use the same metallic RG stickers that scratch really easy, and thus they will wear over time, painting these is recommended.




You get two extra pairs of hands asides from the default fists, two holding hands and two widespread open hands. No poseable RG hands, but I always hated using them so i'm completely fine with their omission.




For weapons, you get the Unicorn's powerful beam magnum.




It tabs into the holding hands and the kit holds it well.




You can also extend the front from the back of the rifle.




This allows you to detach the ammo clip, sadly you only get one to mess with.




If you want to, you can store the ammo clip on the back skirt.




You could also see that there is also a tab on the side of the magnum.




This allows the rifle to be plugged into either arm for storage.




Alternatively, you can flip out this tab.




This allows the rifle to be stored on the backpack, although it looks really tacked on IMO.




For defense, you get a shield, which has a surprising amount of decals on it, none which are fun to apply at that point.




The adaptor clips onto the side of the arm and allows you to put the shield to the side or under the arm, or you can reverse it to put it on the top of the arm if you want to for some reason. The connection isn't super secure, and the shield falls off quite a bit.




The when connected, the shield adaptor can also slide on a track for more poses.




Another thing to note is that there is a considerable gap between the shield and the arm due to the adaptor design.




Still, it works like a shield should do, sadly this is the only weapon which can't be stored, which is unfortunate because it would be the only one that would look good when stored.




Finally you get it's hyper bazooka, which has the least decals out of all 3 weapons. A minor complaint that I have with this thing is that the handle to the bazooka is not on a hinge, therefore it's permanently at an angle. However you're really only getting shoulder poses since this is a bazooka, so it's not a huge deal in that department.




You can extend the track a bit and pop out the ammo clip, in fact the ammo clip comes out very easily, it could become an annoyance when trying to pose with the bazooka, especially against gravity, it can also be stored on the backskirt just like the rifle ammo does.




There is also a handle that swings out for the left hand to grab, although the arms are strong enough to hold them single handedly.




The barrel can also extend, this can help with the handle for some poses.




Pew.




For storage, you can remove the ammo pack entirely and close the rail.




Now you can store it on the backpack, which looks just as tacked on as the rifle. 




You also get an adaptor for action bases and stands, which is a major improvement over previous RG stand adaptors.




While previous RG adaptors were held in by friction, this RG adaptor actually slides into a track on the kit's crotch and locks into place. Very sturdy connection from a simple yet huge step up from previous RG stand adaptors, very happy with this.




As expected, he is a god.




You also get a tiny 1/144 figure of Banagher, a neat inclusion that RG's have.


Transformation:



Most of the kit is a full on transformation, however there is a bit of partsforming involved due to the size. First, remove the head, backpack, and shoulders from the kit.




First, you remove the cheeks.




Then you flip out the psycoframe cheeks and take out the face.




The face is two sided, simply switch it around and use the Destroy Mode face.




Insert it in and lock it in with the frame. Reattach the cheek armor upside down compared to how they were from Unicorn mode.




Open the v-fin, and you're done with the head.




For the backpack, flip out the beam saber blades.




Now use the other joint and swing them around.




Then extend swing them out fully making them stick out.




Finally, open up the side panel to reveal another pair of thrusters to finish the backpack.




For the shoulders, open the top up.




Flip out the vent, which in turn brings out some of the armor.




Before locking the top back in.




Repeat for the other shoulder.




Back to the main body, pull out the chest.




Then swing out the vulcans on the main body.




After that, fold down the panels at the front.




Then you flip up the the lock on the back of the lower torso...




...pull up the torso to reveal the psycoframe, and lock it back into place to finish the torso.




For the arms, undo the lock at the top of the beam tonfa.




After that, pull the armor with the beam tonfa to the side...




...and pull down the wrist to reveal more psycoframe.




Repeat with both arms, and you've done the arms.




Now at the waist, bring up the panels on the front skirts.




Before sliding them to the side.




Flip down lower crotch armor...




...and flip out the top one, bringing out more psycoframe.




After that, extend the sideskirts.




Then, bring out the thrusters on the backskirt.




For the legs, slide the calf armor to the side...




...pull the calf down, and slide the armor back in to lock it into place.





Taking off the leg so this is easier to see, open the knee armor as shown, bring the upper knee up and the lower knee assembly down.




After that, flip out the calf fin...




...and slide it down. This pushes up the psycoframe up for the knee.




Fold up the lower knee assembly to go around it, and move the upper knee down until it hits it. This can get a bit finicky, but it's easy enough to handle.




After that, take off these grey locks....




...pull down the ankle...




...and lock them back in.




Flip down the heel so it goes on a high heel.




As well as position the toe by bending it up so it balances well with the higher heel.




For the feet, take off the ankle armor.




You then take the armor on the sides of the feet and swing them up.




Now you reattach the ankles armor in a different position to accomodate for the new position of the parts to finish the entire leg.




Repeat again with the other leg.




Now attach the head, shoulders, and backpack back on.


Completed Product (Destroy Mode):



The transformation is honestly very easy to do, with how solid the RG Unicorn is, it's not at all a hassle to just transform this kit back and forth, in fact, it almost feels like a genuine Transformer toy, no joke! Everything moves around and shifts easily, and there is some neat engineering and designs in this kit to make it able to transform the way it does, and it does so excellently.

Transformation done and you're greeted with the much more aggressive and intimidating Destroy Mode. The Unicorn gains height in this more, and bright red psycoframe pops out all over the suit signalising the activated of the NT-D system. There are a few of the joint mechanisms visible due to the need for transformation convenience, however I think they are overall worth it for a fully functional transformation at this scale, let alone with with extreme stability.


Articulation (Destroy Mode):



The head is on a ball joint with a hinge on the neck like before, but it can't really look up at all.




Shoulder movement is slightly more hindered due to the increase of parts getting in the way of each other.




Despite extensions to the torso, movement is still pretty much the same.




Even with the transformations, elbow movements are the same as before.




Torso swivel is perfectly fine still.




There is still a double joint at the knee, although the fin at the back of the thigh limits articulation a little bit.




You'd think ankle pivot would be more limited in Destroy Mode, but that's surprisingly not the case.




And the pivot front and back is still fine.




The rifle still works as normal.




Even when transformed, the joints of the kit are still solid enough to hold the bazooka.




The shield is the only weapon that it has that can also transform into destroy mode. First, you extend the shield as such.




After that, flip out the psycoframe behind the shield to finish.




It works fine, however the shield still comes off a little to easily.




Finally now that the kit's in Destroy Mode, you can have these beam sabers.




He can grab the hilts on the backpack and hold beam sabers like that.




Alternatively, you can flip out the tonfas on his forearms to show the beam tonfas.




Plus the sabers into those hilts to have the beam tonfas, which are a nice use of beam sabers.


Extra Gimmicks:



You can open the cockpit in either mode, although it's kinda badly molded in the clear psycoframe.


Size Comparison:



As you can see, the RG Unicorn towers over standard MS at a huge size, but it's actually larger than it's supposed to be as it's the same size as the HG Unicorn Gundam Destroy Mode in Unicorn Mode.




In Destroy Mode, the kit is larger and bulkier than the HG, being even larger than a standard sized MS. This was again due to the engineering constraints of the kit, with the increase of size also attributing to the kit's transformation engineering and overall stability.


Verdict:

After this review, it should all be clear by now, the RG Unicorn is a kit nobody has to worry about. It has none of the fragility, design woes, or problems you'd expect from a fully transformable RG kit of the Unicorn, instead it goes past the expectations and beyond with new innovations and engineering for the entire line. Instead of being the most fragile RG, the RG Unicorn is contender for the most sturdy RG to date with it's mix of an MG and RG type frames, smooth, unhindered joints, and a fantastic transformation that have parts lock into and hold in place when they get into position. The transformation is absolutely easy to do and it feels like it can be done again and again without a lot of hassle, and the articulation is barely hindered by it. Speaking of which, the poseability is awesome, with the sturdy joints, modern joint engineering and the joints that are built instead of pre-molded, this the most poseable Unicorn kit to date, and the only other Unicorn figures that can stand up to this kit are the Robot Damashii and PG, the former which is a figure that does not transform and the latter which has loose joints due to it's weight. The details are also awesome, the three tone white allows this kit to look exceptional OOB, and with some lining for the minor details, as well as applying the countless stickers, the kit can look even more detailed than it already did before with lots to look at. It's absolute eye candy in terms of appearance and also feels like a well engineered figure that is easy to handle and fun to pose. For a Unicorn kit, this is the definitive Unicorn kit to get if you want the best one, no other really compares to it, as this kit is almost flawless in most regards. 

So isn't it obvious by now? This kit is absolutely amazing and well deserving of the GEP label it has on it's box. Unlike the GEP HG Zeta which only showed minor evolution in bits, this kit is truly groundbreaking from beginning to end, even the Zeta has issues like stickers and limited articulation in areas while this kit has none of it. The Unicorn had always had a bad reputation when it came to kits, but the RG absolutely breaks through all fears, expectations, and limitations people initially gave it. This kit is no short of revolutionary, if original RG's following this kit follows the example of the Unicorn, the following RG's will no longer be known for their stiff pre-molded joints and fragility, instead they will be known for awesome kits with seriously impressive engineering with the most back for your buck period. If all RG kits follow this kit's example, Real Grade as a whole will have been redefined, given a new sense of meaning and connotations for what they can do, no longer the most fragile grade, but instead possibly the best overall grade out there, and that's no short of amazing. Considering that out of all kits, the Unicorn, a fully transformable MS that has a bad reputation for it's kits, at RG scale, the most fragile grade can completely turn our expectations over and be one of the sturdiest RG's out there? Bandai has really shown what they can do when they put forth all effort in their second entry of the GEP, and the RG Unicorn could very possibly signal a new age for RG's in the future.

On a personal note, i'm a huge Unicorn fan, so because this build was really fun and watching the kit be so awesome felt great, so not only is this kit my favorite RG, but it's also now one of my favorite kits.

Pros:

- Fully transformable with minimal partsforming at 1/144 scale, and it's both stable throughout and extremely easy to do. (!)
- Very sturdy RG, possibly the sturdiest out there, surprising considering it's a 1/144 Unicorn kit in the Real Grade. (!)
- Joints are the most fluid and smooth in an RG to date, no stiffness in the joints due to them being assembled and simple asides from the shoulder joints. (!)
- Poseability is awesome, especially considering it's a Unicorn and it's previous kits had lots of issues. (!)
- Triple tone white looks really good, especially the light grey used in the white sections.
- Lots of molded in details that give the kit an extra layer of eye candy, especially when lined. 
- Decals are plentiful and add an extra layer of detail for the kit if you want to apply them, and they almost all look good since the Unicorn is mostly white. At the same time, none are compulsory asides from the eye stickers.

Cons:

- No sliding panels that RG's are known for in sacrifice for stability and transformation.
- Like other RG stickers, the reflective stickers are awful and scratch easily, this is a problem specifically for the v-fin.
- Shoulders don't seem to like to close perfectly when transformed. 

PS. I actually finished this review on my birthday, so happy birthday to me! Thank you everyone for reading this review, and thank you again RG Unicorn for being such an amazing kit, the fact you're so good is almost like your birthday present to me.