Gundam Exia HG 1/100 scale
Review by Gunpla Rob
It is the end of 2007, after nearly five years of living in the Cosmic Era of Gundam SEED, the Gundam Legacy enters its new age and one of its boldest steps since its beginning. Welcome to the age of Gundam 00, a time of rising fuel costs, intercontinental unrest, and the Gundam War on War on Terror.
Mobile Suits in the Twenty Fourth Century!
Since its inauguration, each Gundam has been associated with its own Calendar. The Universal Century (UC) was the first Gundam calendar which spanned across its own legacy of generations from the One Year War (UC 0079) and beyond. In later years, Gundam branched into new “Alternate Universes” (AU) to separate stories from the time line of the Universal Century. These then took place in individual calendars: such as the After Colony (AC) table of Gundam W and the more recent Cosmic Era (CE) of Gundam SEED. The year 2007 of our calendar introduced the next Alternate Universe: Gundam 00. Unlike its predecessors 00 takes place in the Anno Domini or simply the “Real Calendar” in the year AD 2307, marking the first Gundam to take place in the post modern age. With that comes a much closer look at the times in our current history. Underneath the glisten and glamour of the idea of a Better Tomorrow, Gundam 00 sets itself with a strong political undertone that takes much of its material from the current geopolitical structure and gives a harsh realization of mankind’s future in a progressive and divided manner. Additionally, Gundam 00 is the first Gundam to be broken into two seasons separated over a long break period (much like Western television series), with Season 2 coming sometime towards the end of 2008.
In the late 23rd century, mankind has finally abandoned its hopes of Ethanol and Petroleum based forms of power and begun seeking the advantage of solar energy. Through Orbital Elevators set in strategic locations to collect and distribute this abundant energy source, technology has reached a peak of proto-space colonization. However not all countries can reap the benefits, these lesser known and forgotten countries are forced to either crumble or join with one of the main national groups: The Union formed mostly by the American continents, the Human Reform League of Eastern Europe and Asia, and the Western European and African colony group AEU. Because of the fragile nature of the orbital elevators, each nation refuses to trust one another and continue to exist in a stalemate of never ending conflict. In the year 2307, a paramilitary organization has presented itself in order to eliminate war through armed intervention. They are Celestial Being, and they will end war with force through the power of Gundam!
Four is the Lucky Number
The Gundams of 00 are shrouded in mystery, from their conception to construction. Celestial Being is an even greater mystery; formed nearly 200 years ago by the enigmatic Aeolia Schenberg. The earliest mystery surrounding the Gundams is the glistening particle emitted from their cores that blocks out communications dubbed “GN Particles” which can be compared to the UC’s “Minovski Particle.” The Gundams’ power sources are called the “GN-Drive” which is powered by the “Solar Furnace,” a perpetual if not nearly limitless energy source that once powered can sustain and continuously produce energy for the mobile suit to operate and enhances the mobile suit’s basic performance. While the true functions of how the GN-Drive works remain a mystery, it is clear that these superior engines make the Gundams more powerful and adaptive than the current state of mobile suit technology.
Gundam 00 follows the unwritten rule of the AU and introduced not just one, but multiple Gundams as their lead mobile suits. Unlike the previous chapters where there were five Gundams, 00 introduced four Gundams as the lead models. While past AU series make note of these being the first Gundams known to the world, it is revealed amongst Celestial Being members that these are the third generation models. Continuing the tradition of the multiple Gundams law, the Gundams each conform to a particular combat style:
GN-01 Gundam Exia: close quarters blade combat. piloted by Setsuna F. Seiei
GN-02 Gundam Dynames: long range sniper combat. piloted by Lockon Stratos
GN-03 Gundam Kyrios: transformable, aerial combat. piloted by Allelujah Haptism
GN-04 Gundam Virtue: heavily armored assault combat. piloted by Tieria Erde
The Gundam Exia is the current poster child of the 00 generation because of its role as the lead mecha up until now. Its dynamic shape complimented both by its unique arsenal of blades and the traditional Gundam color scheme helps to make it familiar and more acceptable to long time Gundam fans hesitant to accept Gundam 00 as a whole. The Exia is a real spectacle in motion. Compared to its siblings it is the most simplistic in design and is relatively under armed by being a Close Combat machine. Still, it lives up to its purpose in the hands of Setsuna F. Seiei.
As a boy growing up in the Kurdish nation, Setsuna has spent much of his life in the battlefield. At an early age, he was coerced by the promises of giving his life for a cause and became guerilla fighter facing off against mobile suits with mere rifles and small explosives. Seeing he was no match for such weapons as the Tierren (the HRL’s mainstream model suit), Setsuna realized his cause was futile and abandoned the ideology of his leaders. It was then that he first encountered the ‘0 Gundam’ (Celestial Being’s first Gundam) and saw the promise of a cause worth fighting for.
More Things Change, the Color Stays the Same
Within weeks of 00’s premiere, Bandai had already rolled out the first wave of models based on the series’ machines in Low Grade and High Grade 1/144 scale kits and slowly begun filling the ranks with 1/100 scale kits, and pushing for 1/60 scale for the primary Gundams. Naturally, selecting a kit can be narrowed to simple choices of scale and execution of the design. So what better scale to get into than 1/100? In this review, we take a look at the first 1/100 scale kit of Gundam 00, the GN-01 Gundam Exia.
In plastic, the Exia comes molded in full color: white, blue, red, yellow, gray and clear parts. The clear parts are one of the unique features of the Gundam 00 mobile suit designs, used in the Gundams at important hard points which represent reservoirs for the Solar Furnace. The second design point is the arrangement of flat cables and soft plates in the Gundams set around their joints. These cables channel the power of the Solar Furnace through the Gundams as they activate “Trans-Am” mode where the suits exceed their limiters to their full potential.
Before the build I surveyed the most of the kit’s needed paint work, and much to my surprise there is very little need to paint parts in a color that does not exist in the current color pallet. As such, the Exia’s only demand for paint is black and gray for panels and filling in around some of the model’s hard points. The solar furnace disks (clear parts) have some room for creativity, by either painting under them or painting over them with a clear coat or metallic colors. In mine, I chose to paint the under side with a clear green coat, and a coat of Gunmetal (metallic black) where each disk lays. The result is a stable contrast of green with a glistening underside.
The Exia’s head is constructed out of ten parts: two parts for the face, polycap for the neck, two for the main section, two outer plates, two solar cells, and the V-Crest. When completed, the head is rather bland with needed paint work on the vents of the outer most plates and cheeks of the face as well as the underside of the Gundam’s ‘Mohawk’. Also the V-crest piece also has a triangular strip which needs paint to be the Gundam’s frontal eye. Like the last generation (the SEED Destiny line), the eyes are molded into the same strip as the nose and chin piece, so there is the needed paint work to be done there as well. With the additional color to the solar cells, the Exia’s head looks a whole lot different and balanced to the rest of the kit.
The torso sports a range of the innovation and execution into the Exia’s agile shape. The central body is built around its Solar furnace, which takes up the bulk of the upper torso. Had it not been built sandwiching the main chest and waist assembly, the furnace almost presents itself as a whole kit. The basic design is almost like an aircraft turbine engine, minus the fan assembly. The rear section is a cone shape built outward. The base, solar cell ring and cone tip. From there the furnace is locked by a series of clasps which locks it into the back. On the front side, there is the round cell disk enclosed by a ring and covered by the outer armor cowling and cockpit hatch. In between the halves of the body are two of the rubber parts that fit into the arm pit and lock under the armor that fits around the waist. In the bottom of the torso there is a detail plate, a simple box shaped sheet of plastic that fits under the torso armor to block in the armor.
The Exia’s shoulder blocks are built on a double hinge; one for vertical orientation and horizontal shifting. Unlike most kits, the Gundams from 00 all flex from the pectoral structure and not just a separate shoulder block. This means that there is a substantial shift in the body when it moves its arm as the shoulders are built around the torso rather than just being an extension built onto it. In a physical form, Bandai has made a shoulder that is constructed into the chest, and that is a welcome addition to the construction. The torso also has one of the 00 Gundams unique features for aesthetics, canard fins on the top of the shoulder. These are simple snap hinged blades that fit into a groove on the torso, and what they serve is beyond me at this point but they do look cool. It sort of reminds me of the “Flame paint job that makes things go faster” Theory of Awesome.
The Waist of the Exia is built according to the design’s minimalist form. Construction is simply a central block with pegs for the legs to connect, a front block with skirts, and a rear section. There is some paint work to be done on the front skirts, but there is really not much as building that is concerned here. The rear section however is constructed with a rolling bar with hinge mounts on it, to which a set of docks for the beam sabers are attached. This is one of the Exia’s unique action features that a pair of sabers mounted on its rear skirt can roll up and fold out to the sides for it to grab them.
The arms take into consideration a method of construction that has only been used in the 1/144 scale HGUC line and rarely done for anything in 1/100 scale outside of the Master Grade line: double hinged elbows. In a 1/100 scale, the model’s elbows have been faked using polycaps and a decorative ‘elbow sock’ to cover the polycap and bicep peg. Instead of that, the Exia’s elbow is a set of plates sandwiching two hinges, one with a peg to go into the bicep and the inner hinge block that goes into the forearm. This block in the forearm is also used as the docking point for the Exia’s weaponry and shield.
The bicep and shoulder armor are linked together by the rubber strip cable in a fashion that could be considered free floating. The shoulder armor is built around a plate hinge, this fits onto the shoulder block of the torso and then held down by the actual arm, but what unites both the armor and the arm is the cable itself, one end going into a groove in the arm a while the other fits into a block of armor on the inside edge of the shoulder armor. When completed, the arms have a significant range of motion, from the nature of the double jointed elbow to the separation in the shift of the arm rotation compared to its free floating shoulder armor.
Typical of the past few years, the hands of the Exia are simple open fists constructed in three parts: the fingers, palm, and backhand. There is one additional open palm hand for the left arm. Unlike the early entries from SEED the new hands connect together at an added point in the base of the palm rather than just the thumb and fingers region. This improves the stability and grip strength for the hands and makes them less likely to separate.
The legs of the Exia are particularly interesting form of engineering. The hip joint is a sphere shaped component with a cover plate (which is then removed and adjusted to dock its swords), which connects to the upper leg assembly consisting of a stable blend of underlying skeletal structure and outer armor construction. The upper portion of the leg is constructed as two square halves with a rubber plate laid into the front, with a long conjoining peg that locks it into the knee. The lower leg is built into the knee through the knee’s lower subassembly which is then covered by an outer layer of armor, and a rubber strip in the front that is neatly tucked into a groove in the inner leg which floats just above the outer armor layer. Continuing the trend of the kit, the legs also have reservoirs and such they are built into the knee armor.
The base build starts with the knee, as two large circular blocks come together and joins the upper and lower leg from within as a single unit rather than individual sections. The knee itself is rather large than the typical assembly has been in the past. According to the design, the knee is integrated into the lower leg, but is not locked in place. This allows for a greater range of flexibility and makes the Exia physically impressive. At the ankles, the Exia abandons the typical style of wrap-around ankle armor, and goes for a front guard with a rolling guard on the rear. The feet are also a combination of the classic style but done with a sort of ‘floating’ block for the upper portion of the foot, so there is a distinctive gap between the sections of the feet.
Gundam Seven Swords
In the essence of ending conflict with conflict, each of the Gundams surpasses the typical load of weaponry to compliment the specialty of each machine. As sword combat is Exia’s field of focus; it has an assortment of cutlery at its disposal. As expected for a Gundam, the Exia comes packing beam sabers: four to be exact, built from two halves for each blade. These sabers are stored in docks on the back of the shoulder armor and the waist unit. To compliment the sabers’ versatility, the Exia comes with four clear beams in different lengths, two long beams and two short dagger beams. Unlike past entries, these are not the typical tube shaped sabers of past generations instead they follow 00’s style of a squared shape with smooth round edges. The end result is they conform to the grip of the Exia’s hands much better. Also, due to the extreme range of flexability, the Exia can be posed reaching for them more naturally than any other Gundam outside of the Master Grade line.
Exia’s additional arsenal consists of two ‘GN-Swords’ which are solid blade weapons set at two different lengths; a long blade and a short sword. While different in length, both share the same volume of parts: six pieces to form the grip, scabbard, and blade (the body with a fill-in strip for one side). The GN-Swords are then stored on the Exia’s hips. However as mentioned before, the swords requires two additional canister shaped parts that fit onto the outside of the hips. These added parts makes the Exia lose some of its flexibility unfortunately.
Clearly noticeable is Exia’s primary weapon, the GN-Blade, a large folding sword that runs a full arm’s length and mounts to the shield docked onto the right forearm. According to its design, the blade folds back and shifts underneath the shield. However to simplify the design in plastic, there is no secondary shifting, and the blade simply folds back at the hilt.
In addition to its swords, the Exia comes with a short shield which docks onto the left arm. Constructed in four parts; the back side, outer shell and two flairs on the sides with an added polycap on the back side which connects it to a docking mount. According to its design there is no grip or realignment points for it to move on. This makes the shield a single point mount with some rotation via a polycap socket in the back of the shield. There is relatively no impact on the Exia’s range of motion, and the shield makes a nice contrast to the GN-Blade on the right arm.
As a small bonus to the kit, Bandai has included a docking cradle to connect the Exia to their ‘Action Base.’ This has been an increasing trend as of late, where kits come with mounts for the base rather than coming with a base of their own. The Exia’s dock is a small ‘Y’ shaped piece fits on the under side of the Exia’s waist, and locks into a small groove between its legs. Although easy to miss in the Exia’s parts, it makes for a nice addition if one has the Action Base to go with it.
The Gundam Exia 1/100 scale kit is a nice introduction for the new generation of the Gundam franchise. From the execution of translating the design in plastic to its engineering, the Exia sports a few new design components and makes 00’s presence known in the hobby world. It shows incredible promise for what Bandai has in store for the future of the series and their next generation of models.
|Posted 25 June, 2008 - 15:26 by Gunpla Rob|