Perfect Grade 00-Raiser
Review by Gunpla Rob
With the series complete and the movie just over the horizon, Gundam 00 has reached the penultimate limits of Bandai’s hobby division. Bringing the series full circle in model kit grades is the Perfect Grade 00-Raiser.
The 00-Gundam is the title mecha of the series and replaces the Gundam Exia as Setsuna F. Seiei’s personal Mobile Suit for the span of Gundam 00’s Second Season. Mounted with two GN Drives, it possesses the Solar Reactors of the original 0-Gundam and Setsuna’s Exia to complete the Twin Drive system, a theory devised to create the ultimate Gundam. Although exceptional in its performance, the 00-Gundam’s Twin Drive has a number of performance flaws: its earlier failed synchronization between other GN Drives, and its inability to use the Gundams’ Trans-Am mode. Enter the 0-Raiser. For the Twin Drive mounted Gundam to achieve its Trans-Am, the 0-Raiser support system monitors the drives’ synchronization and stabilizes the function while increasing the Gundam’s GN particle output exponentially. Combined, the mobile suit and the support craft become the 00-Raiser, a Mobile Suit system capable of an unforeseen output level in its particle emission which exceeds all expectations and the power to reform the world.
Scaled and Graded First, High, Non, Master, and Perfect
The 1/60 scale Perfect Grade 00-Raiser is an appropriate swan song to the Gundam 00 series before its movie conclusion, bringing the series as a whole to every scale Bandai has produced. With Gundam Exia and the GN-X in 1/100 scale Master Grade forms, the 00-Gundam was the only other option for the 1/60 scale Perfect Grade. In this scale, the 00-Raiser stands at approximately 12 inches in height and has a broad span of 15 inches in width when combined the 0-Raiser. Thanks to its size, the model is exceptionally priced but being a Perfect Grade makes the model even more expensive. The problem with this gouging price level comes from the 00-Raiser’s limited ‘perfect’ construction. To its credit, the Perfect Grade 00-Raiser makes up for the simplified 1/100 scale incarnations compared to its lighter 1/144 versions.
The 00-Raiser package is a three box ordeal: one big handled carrying case with the two distinctly labeled boxes inside for the 00-Gundam and the 0-Raiser. This makes the process of building that much easier by keeping both models separated. Otherwise the parts frames are clearly labeled should builders choose to handle both at once.
The Perfect Grade 00-Raiser uses some parts frames that are clearly labeled “GN-Frame” instead of the model’s name “00-Gundam” which promotes the theory that Bandai has plans to continue using its endoskeleton. My personal bet: the 00 Quan(T), the announced successor to the 00-Gundam for Gundam 00’s movie with the endoskeleton’s open chest cavity built around an open ring that could easily house a Solar Reactor.
Out of the box, the 00-Raiser comes molded in its primary colors of red, white, blue, yellow and the dark gray. The Dark Gray parts are molded in the high tensile strength ABS plastic for its load bearing properties, which are complimented by sets of polycap parts in the same color. True to the design, the 00-Raiser comes with the clear cells for its GN-condensers, those clear jewels on its elbows, knees, and wrists as well as the sides of the head. Unlike its 1/100 and 1/144 scale incarnations, these cells are molded in clear green plastic and have lettering etched on the reverse side can be read when shown in direct light. There are plain clear parts included for the Gundam’s eyes and the fins on the back of the GN-Swords, which can be improved with paint. Taking a page from their efforts in the Master Grade Exia, Bandai also has included a series of hologram strips that are fit into the 00-Gundam’s endoskeleton. These strips give an extra layer of detail to the overall model, and finally bridge the design differences between the First and Second Season Gundam designs. Additionally, the 00-Raiser benefits from the inclusion of stick-on rubber pads for the feet. These pads are cut to fit inside the tread marks of the 00-Gundam’s feet, providing a weight bearing cushion that helps the model’s grip on the ground.
Perfect Grade, Made Simple
First and foremost, the 00-Raiser is not the engineering masterpiece that the Perfect Grade scale has been in the past. Building the endoskeleton is not some overly mechanized nightmare nor is it too simplistic for a number of reasons. Bandai makes use of their mirrored assembly method where duplicate parts frames build both sets of limbs, which cuts down on production costs from making more unique parts frames. The size of certain parts are relative to their location on the body and allows the model to get away with using larger, less complex assemblies to cover the length of a given limb rather than using smaller and more intricate assemblies in greater volume. The overall construction of the Gundam’s endoskeleton is more about simplified mechanics with the appearance of function rather than a truly engineered system seen in Perfect Grade models before this one such as the Gundam Mk2. On a positive side, the 00-Raiser avoids running into those annoying engineering experiences from its predecessors.
The main joints are polycap enforced sub assemblies that connect between the series of rings that make up the Gundam’s main joints. The wrists, elbows, shoulders, and knees are designed to house a locking gear mechanism that is controlled by a depressible spring clutch. Controlling the spring clutch will engage the articulation for the primary joints with a maximum turning range of 90 degrees and an intermediate range of 45 degrees. Making up for the additional articulation is controlled by secondary joints built into track-mounted sub-assemblies in the upper leg/thigh and forearms. Thanks to the locking joints, the 00-Gundam’s range of articulation is fluid and dynamic with the clutches holding the model in place. However there are some short comings such as the interference from the Twin Drive’s frame arms getting in the way of the shoulders and the load tolerance of certain weight bearing polycaps.
Bandai’s focus on using the clutches is a sound development while at the same time hurting the 00-Raiser’s rank in the Perfect Grade scale. As practical devices, the clutches hold the model’s weight better and prevent the joints from structurally breaking down over time. The simplified endoskeleton design makes the joints less susceptible to assembly errors as seen in the more sophisticated models. On the other hand, the clutches sacrifice the model’s interior mechanical detail and make the endoskeleton of the 00-Raiser feel like an over scaled Master Grade model. However, the 00-Raiser’s inner workings do have the range of interconnecting functions which are inherent to the Perfect Grade standard of quality despite their simplified parts design.
The outer armor of the 00-Gundam breaks away from Bandai’s prior use of designer Kanetake Ibikawa’s animation model for something more akin to his dynamic illustrations. Where the previous 1/144 scale High Grade and 1/100 scale variations of the 00-Raiser simply mirrored the animation model, the Perfect Grade designers have more room to showcase some much needed detail to the Gundam’s look. The interweaving pattern of broadened creases folding into sharply recessed panel lines breathes life into the once smooth design and gives the 00 an appearance of bulk without getting in its own way. With exception to the central body, all of the Gundam’s armor is done in the same duplicate parts method as its endoskeleton and does just as good a job of hiding that fact through the attachment method of finger tabs fitted from the front and back rather than standard pegs fitted from the sides.
Lighten Up! And thanks for the batteries!
Where previous models such as the RX-78-2 would have the builders assembling the battery contacts and diode assembly for the light-up functions, the 00-Raiser cheats and uses pre-assembled LED modules. The unit for the Gundam’s head is a now standardized module which Bandai has used before in the previously released Master Grade Gundam Exia (Ignition Mode), which is encased in a clear plastic case and a mirrored decal to channel its emitted light through the Gundam’s eyes and rear optics.
The most unique part of the Perfect Grade 00-Raiser is the Twin Drive. The two GN-Drives on the Gundam’s shoulders are the iconic feature of the series, and Bandai not only replicates their look but also their activation without the effects on one’s Quantum Brainwaves.
Due to their mechanical complexity, the drives come fully assembled right out of the box. The Twin Drives only need to be mounted with their batteries and fitted into place on the Gundam’s shoulder units. Activating them is a matter of pushing down on the tips of the cones which turns on the LED light inside and activates a spinning drive coil that slowly begins to rotate and reach full speed. With this much involvement in the gimmick, it was a smart decision by Bandai to produce the drives separately than have builders go through the agony of assembling them and risk building them incorrectly.
Raising the 0
Contrary to the 00-Gundam, the 0-Raiser is more of an expansion kit for the Perfect Grade than it is a Perfect Grade model itself. Most of the construction in the 0-Raiser is focused on its combination with the 00-Gundam than its own interior mechanical detail. Some parts of its fuselage can be stripped down but this relates only to its nose section and the inside of the two detachable binders. There are structural design points of interest in the 0-Raiser such as its opening cockpit and access panel on the back, the fold out landing gear on its belly, and the linked pull-tab system on its tail which deploy like an air-break. The external surface area of the 0-Raiser is well detailed, and can be brought to life through paint and a marking pen.
The two binders of the 0-Raiser have an additional feature with an opening weapons array. The weapon functions are a block controlled lever mechanism designed to expose the 0-Raiser’s missile pods and gun barrels. By pulling the block on the outside of the binders opens the missile pods pushes a lever to open the forward gun barrels on the opposite sides. Since this is done using only the necessary parts rather than a complex array of space consuming pieces, the 0-Raiser avoids putting any extra weight onto the 00-Gundam for the 00-Raiser combination.
Combining the 0-Raiser with the 00-Gundam has been improved since its earlier scales and remains just as easy to figure out. Due to its scale, the 0-Raiser is designed to not only connect with the 00-Gundam, but it locks itself in better. The two binders that attach to the GN Drive mounts of the Gundam’s backpack are designed to connect using folding arches that fit into the central rings of the Drive mounts rather than just attaching to simple hard-points on the back units. Contrary to its earlier forms, the shield sections of the Drive mounts do not rotate, and the resulting stiffness improves their stability for supporting the weight of the 0-Raiser binders. The main fuselage of the 0-Raiser uses a three point hitch assembly where it connects via a peg into a secured polycap in the Gundam’s back unit, locked down by two hooked tabs which come over the back unit to the Gundam’s shoulders. This main fuselage is the only real grievance of weight distribution as the 0-Raiser pulls the 00-Gundam back at its waist. Fully outfitted, the 00-Raiser maintains a steady range of mobility and is far more stable than it may appear.
Armed and Scaled Dangerous
The weapons of the 00-Raiser are more in tune with being 1/60 scale versions than they are Perfect Grade quality. True to this stage in its release, Bandai leaves nothing out of this incarnation of the 00-Gundam: the beam sabers, combining shields, GN-Sword IIs and the GN-Sword III, a weapon missing from all of the earliest forms of the 00-Gundam and 00-Raiser before its 1/100 scale Designer’s Color Edition and the final 1/144 scale High Grade models.
None of the weapons have any stripped down forms and most of the construction is based on including action features missing from the previous 1/144 and 1/100 scale versions. The GN-Sword IIs now have additional actions such as locking tabs in the hilts that link both units to each other for their combined blade form which also lock them into the Gundam’s forearms in their rifle modes. The GN-Swords also have a floating rod in their central points that can be drawn out to connect the swords onto the Gundam’s hip skirts that removes the need for accessory cradles. The 00-Raiser’s final weapon, the GN-Sword III also has the added feature of docking with the 0-Raiser, and now has the added feature of retracting landing gear.
All of the weapons do have clear pieces to exemplify their display value. On the downside, the large cone beam for the GN-Sword III does compound the weight issues.
While the 00-Gundam is outfitted with its full range of weapons, the 0-Raiser takes the award for having the most accessories in the whole kit. The number of weapons included for the 0-Raiser nearly outnumbers a Macross Valkyrie, with four sets of missiles, two large missile pods, two tube missiles, and two added weapons that look like batteries, all of which can be docked with the 0-Raiser at once. There is one additional mount included designed to dock the 0-Raiser with the GN-Sword III.
While Supplies Last
Like all Perfect Grade releases, the 00-Raiser has its own incentives for early sales such as the mail-away offer for clear armor parts. Included with the first initial batch of the 00-Raiser is the Two-Way Stand, a base stand designed to support both the 00-Gundam and 0-Raiser independently on two stanchions which can be combined to hold the 00-Raiser. The Base Stand is a more worthwhile incentive than clear parts since the base will insure the model’s stability over time and helps make the model more of a dynamic display item.
Dear Bandai, please Read this Review
I want to break away from this review to discuss an error in Bandai’s quality control. Assembling the shoulder mechanism for this model, I encountered a mold injection error in the locking teeth of the central ring. With the press method of injection molding, the two halves of the mold shifted, and the parts frame for the central ring had shifted in its molding process, causing the teeth of the ring to not line up properly. While minor to the naked eye, this error could have caused the entire assembly to the shoulder to not function properly. This error was quickly fixed with a fine-tipped sanding file. If Bandai hopes to have success with the clutch mechanism in future kits, this kind of error should best be addressed sooner than too late.
We now return to our Review, already in progress.
Overall, the Perfect Grade 00-Raiser is the perfect conclusion for the Gundam 00 line-up. While its simplified construction method takes away from the experience of a Perfect Grade model, the 1/60 scale gives the designers more room to show off the design and the builders, a satisfaction of building a model from the ground up and inside out. To its credit, the simplified frame work gives Bandai the options for recycling it. Be it for the inevitable ‘Trans-Am’ mode or maybe even the future 00 Quan(T). Either way, the 00-Raiser is still impressive!
|Posted 27 January, 2010 - 11:35 by Gunpla Rob|