Review by EVA_Unit_4A
In 2015, Earth is under attack from mysterious, powerful beings called Angels. Their origins and goals are unknown, but the focus of their attacks are on the post-apocalyptic, high-tech metropolis of Tokyo-3- a city designed to be a hidden fortress for the secret headquarters of the United Nations special organization NERV. What makes the Angels such an imposing threat is their ability to project and manipulate AT Fields- natural, invisible, omni-directional defensive shields which cannot be penetrated by any physical attack or weapon, including the most powerful N2 bomb. Learning of the Angels’ existence years earlier, NERV constructed a small group of advanced biomechanical robots called Evangelions to fight the Angels. However, only 14 year old children are capable of merging their minds on a near-spiritual level with the 700’-tall armored humanoids. Shinji Ikari is only one of a select handful who has been able to accomplish this. ...But he does not care. He has been push aside and ignored ever since his father abandoned him when he was four years old. And he does not care if he dies or lives, or if humanity dies or lives. Together with two female pilots in their own EVA Units- the confident, confusing redhead Asuka Langley Souryu; and the curiously silent, red-eyed, blue-haired Rei Ayanami- the abandoned son of NERV’s Supreme-Commander must face his inner demons and find the courage to go on protecting humanity while fighting to preserve what little is left of his own!
This is not a toy. It contains many small parts which can be easily swallowed, broken, or lost if used without great care. Needless to say, it’s a collector’s figure meant for shelf display only; so don’t go giving it to your kids!
[For the sake of those who have not seen the series by now (where have you been for the last ten years!?) or those who have not finished it yet (ahem...), I’m gonna stay out of the how and why of Unit-01’s position in the series and how intricately it ties into stuff later on. Needless to say, Unit-01 aggressive-looking yet odd-dressed purple, black and neon green body has become one of the standout icons of the series, right next to Unit-00’s pilot, Rei Ayanami, and the red half- maple leaf logo of NERV, so it’s sometimes hard to ignore some of these things...]
Evangelion Unit-01 (back) returns for a second go at the Soul of Chogokin saga. But this time, Unit-One (or pronounced in the original Japanese- “Shogouki”) is a specialized upgrade to set-off the brand-new Soul of Chogokin Spec line, and is taller than its original SOC counterpart by about an inch at 8¼”. It has less die-cast metal parts than the SOC version, but that does not mean that it is without die-cast metal altogether, which is specifically located in the upper & lower leg armor and ankle joints. Everything else is PVC or ABS, so even though it’s slightly bigger, it’s also slightly lighter because of this. The color of the purple has returned to the lighter shade rather than the darker, moodier one of the SOC version, and to be more show accurate. The proportions of the body are also noteworthy, and this applies to more than just the SOC line of Evangelion Units. It looks like the designers at Bandai took this official production image and made the SOCSpec version match it rather than the more well-proportioned versions seen in the SOC poseable figure and earlier LM-HG & Perfect Grade buildable models. Thus, the body of this Unit-01 has significantly short arms, thinning upper torso, and small neck, which hinders some of the classic poses pulled in the series, but makes it more accurate in that way with the visual style of the series.
Now, the fantastic joint system compensates for some of this, but some poses just can’t be done. Just about every single limb has two joints and can all twist in every direction imaginable. For example, the shoulders, elbows, and feet each have three joints; even the wrists have universal joints! The shoulders are more flexible than their SOC counterparts’, and allow Unit-01 to reach one hand all the way around to a hair’s width from the opposite shoulder! How often do you see that happen!? The feet are designed differently from the SOC version, and tend more towards its LM-HG predecessors, in that they flex inside the purple armor on the front half of the foot rather than flexing at the toe itself like the SOC. This is partially consistent with the series’ design- which actually have the foot and ‘spats’ armor flexing to accommodate foot/toe, like a common tennis shoe! The black-and-yellow triangular poleyn armor on the knee is identical in function to the one seen in both the series and many other physical forms of the EVA’s. Though Unit-01 can’t crouch down onto its knees very well with all its armor on like we can, the knee still has two joints that allow it to bend beyond 90-degrees. The faulds waist armor is actually composed of three separately-segmented sections which each have their own ball-&-socket joint inside for a fair [though not great] range of motion. The interlocking nature of the faulds armor can be more appreciated in back when they work together with the spinal-mounted armor segments in back to completely encompass the waist. The elbows bend beyond 90-degrees and even have their own twisting joint independent of the shoulders’. Alas, unlike the closed joint seen in the series, Bandai opted to have exposed joints here just like they did with the SOC version. (In fact, the only times I’ve seen any physical model of an EVA with a covered elbow joint identical to the ones in the series that could bend were the rubberized versions on the LM-HG line. Unfortunately, those suffered from too-tight-but-required fittings of the rubber material, and the elbows tended to default back to straight after being posed. The more-expensive and LED-equipped 12”-tall Perfect Grade model version of Unit-01 had a similar thin rubber-encased elbow, but without the flexing problem of the LM-HGs’.)
The upper torso has been completely redesigned. The armor covering the space between the neck and shoulder (where the support bridge’s lock-down hydraulic bolts attach to hold the EVA still when in storage in its Cage) no longer flexes like any of its predecessors. This is one of the things about the proportions of the SOCSpec version that conflict with the series in one way or another. The Evangelion Units typically have wide chests & shoulders than humans do, but here the upper torso is a bit on the narrower side; this was probably done to allow the arms to cross the chest and provide for the double ball-&-socket joints to do so. The back of the upper torso has the short-jump thrusters and umbilical power cable mount located in their typical position(s) below the armored sections that cover the Entry Plug port. Both sections open as expected to admit the tiny 1?”-long Entry Plug. (Try getting that tiny-ass thing out of there unassisted! I dare ya!) The Entry Plug gives you a real sense of the scale of an Evangelion Unit- the 14-year old pilot sits horizontally on a sled-like cockpit seat inside the cylindrical escape pod. (This, coupled with the inconsistent shifting of size of the animated EVAs in the series, shows you the difficulty in determining just how big one of these things would be! That, and no model/figure made yet has had a 1:1-scale number attached to it... Personally, I think the Entry Plug is about 3m [9ft] in diameter!) The technical details inside the armored sections doesn’t closely resemble what’s seen in the show... but its not like it’s big enough or easy enough to access to see it clearly! (I will note that there is an additional third section/hatch door which is supposed to cover the inserted Entry Plug itself that was not made; but alls the better since it’s really hard to pry the two sections open without breaking them as it is!)
Finally, the most ‘expressive’ part of Evangelion Unit-01- the head. This is actually a disappointing part of the whole shebang. While everything is very well crafted (no need to worry about that horn popping off since it’s integrated into the head design and can’t separate), painted, and assembled, the neck actually does it in. Specifically, it is too short. Without getting into specifics, Unit-01 has a personality issue first encountered in the second episode which defines it as no less than a barely-contained monster, thus giving it its iconic status as an anime mecha. So, naturally all those clearly-defined teeth in the mouth get little exposure here because the head cannot tilt back and fourth very well because the neck is too short. (This also greatly hampers getting the Entry Plug out.) And because the head cannot tilt back very well, the jaw cannot be opened very far at all. Unit-01 can look left and right fairly well, but it can’t look up or down enough for my taste to put it into any really good action poses like running or bending down low. Again this is due to the proportions chosen by the SOCSpec design team. A bit disappointing this- really the only low point of the entire boxed set; the original SOC surpasses in this regard. I mean, come on- if you can’t have Unit-01 throw its head back and roar, what’s the point, ya know!?
---Hand-held & Mounted Accessories---
The accessories for Unit-01 haven’t varied much in the last 10 years. Just to be clear right off the bat, there are six pairs of dedicated, specific-use hands for the XS-01 set!
- Open hands for general expression & posing
- Opposing fists
- Opposing hands for gripping the Pellet Rifle
- Opposing hands for gripping the Pellet Handgun
- Opposing hands for gripping the Progressive Knife Mk-I
- One dedicated left hand for holding the katana-like short sword, and one dedicated right hand for holding the katana-like long sword
First is the clip-less Pellet Rifle- they all use this one at some time or other. Second is the less-seen Pellet Handgun used exclusively by Unit-01. While made of just two pieces of black ABS, the barrel can slide back a bit for a recoil effect! The other more standard hand-held weapon is the Bowie knife-inspired Progressive Knife Mk-I. There are actually two versions of the Mk-I knife: a larger one for Unit-01 to hold for when displayed, and a smaller out-of-scale one to fit inside the alternate utility wings provided to portray Unit-01 removing it from its internal sheath in the left wing. The alternate utility wings are thicker to accommodate the moving internal sheath feature for the stand-in Progressive Knife. However, while the SOC version had only this one kind, the SOCSpec version has a separate set of utility wings which do not open up and are more streamlined like they are in the show. Both version of the utility wings function the same on the spaulder upper arm armor regardless of their opposing designs.
The umbilical power cable for the Evangelion Units is represented here as well since it plays such an important, if un-glorified, part of their functioning on the battlefield! The cable itself is about 12” long and can separate from the light gray ‘plug’ section that attaches to the mounting point beneath the Entry Plug port. The paired long- and short-blade Magoroku-Exterminate Swords fit inside a pair of color-matching sheaths which fit together on the back of either of the black and neon green spaulder-mounted utility wings via a pair of black clips. (The sheath assembly can only fit onto the thin, non-functioning utility wings, though typically it is portrayed attached to the left utility wing.) While the short-blade fits comfortably in its sheath, the original design of the long-blade sword has the yellow section actually lock into the sheath to hold it in place. Since this is typically a hinged section, here the part simply disconnects form the long-blade sword; but this is too subtle a change to notice unless you’re really eagle-eyed. (...or someone tells you.) Some claim that because of the trigger on the handle, the smaller of the two Magoroku-E Swords is actually a variant of a “Final Fantasy™” weapon called a gunblade. (I can’t confirm or deny this even though the nature of a Progressive-type weapon vibrating makes this additional feature redundant, so...)
Something I think I need to point out about the two swords is their origins- which no one seems to talk about despite their being a near-constant accessory for Unit-01 in all its forms! The katana-like Magoroku-Exterminate Swords (or Magoroku-E Swords for short) are never seen in either the series or the two spin-off films, “Evangelion: Death and Rebirth” and “The End of Evangelion”. They actually made their first appearance in the first console/PC/Mac game from Gainax based on the “Evangelion” series- “Girlfriend of Steel” (aka “Iron Maiden”). While it is mostly a Japanese-only interactive storybook/semi-dating-sim game (some call it an official Gainax ‘fanfic’ of their own franchise), it doesn’t quite fit the continuity of the series, and takes place just after the 11th Angel strikes. In it, a competing public company to NERV develops a prototype non-biotech mecha to eventually replace the expensive and dangerous Evangelion Units. Crucial plot details aside, the prototype mecha goes out of control and the EVA Units are sent out to stop it. (Sound familiar?) It is in this 1998 game that the Magoroku-E Swords make their first appearance. While I have not witnessed this first-hand, I have read/heard/guessed that they are simply bigger versions of the other Progressive bladed weapons that the EVAs use. And like all Progressive-type weapons, they vibrate on molecular levels to inflict maximum cutting damage to the target, but are also useless against direct contact with AT Fields. [This sometimes leads to them being called by the more-common term “Progressive Sword(s)” rather than using the more-difficult Japanese name!] Since then, they have appeared as a common standards accessory only for Unit-01 in many other video games, official manga, and various poseable figures & models. The Magoroku-E Swords are [quite-possibly] the only frequently-seen accessory for an EVA that does not appear in the official continuity of the series and/or movies.
[Can someone please tell me what “magoroku” means...?]
So far, the SOCSpec version of Evangelion Unit-01 has pretty much matched its regular SOC counterpart move-for-move. But there is one feature which completely overshadows all its predecessors- pre-assembled or otherwise. And it has never been attempted before except on smaller scale... Throughout “Evangelion”, many examples are given to the biological nature of the massive constructs. In the second episode, this is made glaringly apparent immediately after the destruction of the 3rd Angel, when Unit-01’s punctured head armor (some call it a mask) is ripped off in the crucifix-shaped explosion. Its wildly-aggressive behavior displayed a mere minute earlier is somehow downplayed by the appearance of a featureless, tan-colored, dome-shape head. Shinji- having just survived his first battle by shear luck and with no prior training whatsoever- is absolutely terrified and overwhelmed by this unexpected development, but the passive, dormant EVA stares coldly at him through its instantly-regenerated green eyeball in its own reflection against a skyscraper. It is in this crucial moment that we, as an audience, know that this is no ordinary giant robot we’re gonna be following here!
Many instances later over the series’ length reveal more and more, yet the biological appearance of an Evangelion eludes us completely. Rough sketches from early pre-production stages reveal little in the way of what an Evangelion Unit really looks like without all that form-fitting armor on. A single black-and-white sketch seen in an official mook (magazine + book) release by Newtype called “The Official Art of Evangelion” is the only real glimpse that fans had of a ‘naked’ EVA Unit, but was regarded as a discarded design since it was out of proportion and inconsistent with what was eventually seen on-screen. Glimpses of an unarmored Unit-01 also appeared in a dream/hallucination sequence in the first volume of the official manga by the series’ character designer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto. (Having not read the entire manga, that I am aware of this is the only time in the manga where a completely-unarmored Evangelion appears.)
But it is the pre-production sketch and the manga’s dream sequence(s) upon which Bandai based the internal look of what the SOCSpec Evangelion Unit-01 would look like… [It just kills me that my scanner doesn’t work because I have that friggin’ mook! But I don’t want to damage it trying to either- it saw some good use and the pages are on the verge of tearing out of the binding... But I can’t find an image of it online either; all the black-&-white images I’ve found are either fan drawings of characters or adults-only stuff!]
Unit-01’s unarmored body (back) is striking in that you don’t really know what to expect when you first see it. More for the sake of simplicity, the body is still wrapped in that skin-tight black material that hides beneath and behind its purple armor rather than showing it truly ‘naked’. However, the head, neck, certain areas of the upper torso and shoulders, hands, and front of the ankles all show the exposed tan-colored flesh of the giant biotech construct. (No wonder these things move like gymnasts- they look like they’re wearing leotards!) It is quite alien-looking (Angel-looking?) because of its thin, almost-skeletal body and mouth-less head. (Something I’ve never gotten about Yamashita’s design of Unit-01’s head- if it has all those teeth and long jaw when armored, why doesn’t it have a mouth when it’s unarmored???) However, looking closely, you can see strong muscle structures, fittings, ports for cables or internal sensors, and silver support guards all over the body. The most tech-looking detail on the body is where the Entry Plug port is located. You would expect a hole there leading directly into the center of the torso’s mass, and then below it a network of cables for distributing the power from the external umbilical cable it drags around behind it. But instead it is covered with a silver- what I’ll call- ‘armored spinal brace’ which [perhaps] makes up part of the EVA’s internal structure. The three Y-shaped armor pieces that appear along all of the EVAs’ lower back remain where they are and really enforces how important (and possibly vulnerable?) this part of its body might be. Yet another set of detachable hands are provided- this time showing the tan-colored hands without the purple gloves. An interesting detail on the knuckles is where the silver-colored ‘brass knuckles’ the EVA has, which appear as slight ridges surrounded by tiny mounting holes. The lower torso and hip assembly is perhaps the- erm… ugliest section of the whole body, even though it is so vital to the EVA’s movement! While the ankle joints are nearly identical to the armored version’s, the feet are designed to flex like the original SOC version’s did, at the subtly-indented toes. This is really the only break in the style of the figure’s unarmored form, showing the square-like die-cast joint of the ankle. And finally, one thing that anyone who watches “Evangelion” early on will recognize immediately is the red core in the center of its chest- which is usually associated as the frequently-exploited weak point… of an Angel! To give it its inner shine, the transparent-red core is mounted in front of a silver-painted panel [which can be seen behind the chest part when removed]. This part of the chest can actually be swapped with a version that does not have the core there. When in its standard armored form, the chest without the core is used to make room for the armor; but when you want the core to be exposed at the same time, the black panel in the center of the chest can be removed during assembly of the armor.
[I’m sorry that I cannot show Unit-01 in its armored form with the core exposed because it is really, really, really hard to remove that black panel! I oh-so-slightly chipped mine the first time I did it, and refuse to do it again for fear of breaking it! Besides, the only reason we saw the core exposed like that was because the armor had been penetrated by an Angel to begin with! So I only use the red core panel when it’s unarmored.] As with humans, the EVA’s body is incredibly flexible without its armor in place, and can even do things that the armored form can’t!
Arming Unit-01 is a combination of tricky and difficult. The head & neck, upper arms, hands, mid-torso, lower legs, and ankles actually separate from the body, and either swap for pre-armored components, or require the space for the armor to slip over them. There are other areas that are designed to pop-off just in case too much force is applied, but you really you can’t avoid doing these specific ones during the transition. I will say this, though; some of these parts make me nervous because of how thin and frail-looking the figure is! The legs are the best example. The thighs and lower legs are all PVC except for the ABS knee joint. And- I kid you not- the die-cast metal armor which is added later, I believe, actually reinforces them better than they are stand-alone! The upper leg armor is composed of one die-cast and two ABS armor sections which perfectly conform to the lines seen there in the series; and the same with the lower legs! Same with the shoulder joints; you can’t imagine how fragile these things look! It absolutely scared me when I got those curved shoulder pieces off to convert them to accept the utility wings, all of which slide-snap on/off. And you really have to fight to get them off too! The armored spinal brace also snap-slides out of place to make room for the more recognized multi-armored section that the Entry Plug later fits into; as does the aforementioned chest/red core section. Fitting the chest armor is a bit of guess work according to the colored instructions, and you’re better-off attaching the two yellow neck armor pieces before you hunt around for the holes with the chest armor itself.
This last one you’ll have to mess around a bit more with- the wrist-to-hand connections. This is another key area that I think is really fragile considering the materials used (ABS joints, PVC hands) and the size of everything involved. You have to force it to get the hands on or pull them off, but that peg on the wrist joint is sooooo tiny! The two waist sections of the unarmored body tend to pop or slip off their rotation joint, but putting them back on is no big deal and more of an annoyance. [Though it’s obvious from the final technical production drawings, it’s interesting to be able to remove the head/neck assembly and look inside to see where the Entry Plug ends up- which is just behind the red core! Makes you wonder if there’s some kind of special connection involved there...]
The cardboard box is dressed in a black background, and marked in white lettering. The front primarily shows Unit-01 holding the two Magoroku-E Swords, but behind grid lines is an image of the EVA tearing an octagonal hole through an AT Field (which is repeated more clearly on the top of the box); a partial cutaway showing inside the armor; a back view of the umbilical cable in place; and Unit-01 removing its Progressive Knife from its utility wing. The back shows details and accessories of the figure. There is a select window showing the EVA’s unarmored body kneeling before all of its armor and weapons. In the background, there’s a picture of the unarmored EVA’s body submerged in a clear brown liquid. The front of the box can flip open. The top panel shows reveal clearer details of the features and accessories, which is basically a repeat of what’s on the back. The lower section features cutout windows that show the unarmored body in clear plastic surrounded by the attachable armor. A nice touch is that that lower panel is configured very similarly to a technical computer schematic that appears in the first episode of the series. (Of course I can’t find a picture of the real display to show you--! That would be too easy!) Nice touch!
There are two transparent plastic trays that hold everything. The top one, which is visible through the window cut-outs, contains all of the armor & unarmored body. The lower, thinner tray contains the spare hands, weapons, Entry Plug, chest replacement piece, umbilical cable plug, and the two bulkier utility wings with the removable knife feature. The cord is curled separately in a simple bag beneath the second tray along with the colored instructions- which [I’m assuming] tell some of the history of Unit-01. [I don’t usually cover packaging, but I figured this is a special set that needs attention to all of it’s assets.]
Perhaps it is my lack of experience with smaller and more-detailed figures speaking here, but I thought that some of these joint areas could have done with a better choice of materials. They made the right choice in using die-cast metal in the ankles, but I wish that they had extended into the shoulder and wrist joints too- those just make me so nervous! Also, instead of providing all those hand sets which are used exclusively for some weapons, they could have made an extra set of the weapons with the hands already attached. (Hey- they did it for the LM-HG models...!) And I would have liked to have seen a display stand of some kind for those famous leaping and running poses. (...and I still think that they could have made that neck more accommodating for its berserker mode.) Overall, this is very impressive. I’m glad I didn’t get the regular SOC version! The additional flexibility is there. But it is the ability to strip off the armor which really made my jaw hit the floor when I first saw the Soul of Chogokin Spec XS-01 set. I also like that you can now have a choice between having the functional-but-blocky utility wings, or go with the slimmed down versions that don’t open up and better fit the style of the figure. And I’m willing to put aside the chosen proportion of the body to get [some of] those features. Well done, Bandai. Great way to start off the line! Highly recommended. The XS-01 set is a compliment to the spirit of Evangelion Unit-01!
[Ohh- I really hope that they release my namesake as an SOCSpec--!!!]
- Series’ plot spoilers ahead! -
In late May 2007, an upgrade to the SOCSpec XS-01 set was released. This updated version contained everything I wrote about above, but will also contains all of the parts necessary to show Unit-01 beaten-up by various Angels, specifically-
- the stump of the severed left arm
- damaged chest armor with exposed red core
- a regenerated left arm
- a blood-spattered bandaged head-wrap
-all from during/after the battle with the 14th Angel. Two new heads were also included-
- a ‘shut-down’ version with the eyes painted completely black to show them closed (first seen in the battle with the 3rd Angel)
- a ‘berserker mode’ version based more closely on the one seen in the climax of the battle with the 14th Angel, which had enlarged white eyes and human-like teeth showing the open jaw. A new extended neck is also provided so that Unit-01 can look up better from a crouched position.
- End spoilers -
[If I had known beforehand that the battle-damaged version was coming, I would have waited for it! Man- you get the latest computer, and a few months later it’s rendered out-of-date...!]
Soul of Chogokin Spec XS-01 Evangelion Unit-01 is preceded by: --[none]--
Soul of Chogokin Spec XS-01 Evangelion Unit-01 is followed by: XS-02 SPT Layzner
|Posted 23 May, 2007 - 02:01 by EVA_Unit_4A|