Border Break Cougar type-1 Heavy Weapon Class-A Color
Review by Prometheum5
According to Wikipedia, Border Break is a new arcade series in Japan by Sega about customizable robots fighting. I guess. That’s all I know, so if you want to learn more about the game you’ll have to look elsewhere. It’s probably sweet. Like all good things involving robots, Border Break has spawned a series of plastic model kits (plamo) by Kotobukiya that feature a standardized frame design and interchangeable parts. I did not know the kits were interchangeable when I first saw the designs, but I dug the Cougar design as a sleek but chunky mecha, and that was all I needed. I immediately snapped up this kit when Kotobukiya sent it to CDX (huge thanks!) based on the design alone, so let’s see just what I got myself into. Bonus points for being 1/35 scale!
The Cougar type-1 Heavy Weapon Class-A Color comes in a tightly packed box with a very attractive CGI painting on the front. The design of the box is pretty classy, and the robot render has a great gritty feel to it that captures its not-too-flashy aesthetic.
The box is full of color molded sprues that even feature some painted details, as well as a nicely printed instruction manual that includes line art and some story text I can’t read, very clear assembly instructions, and a color guide for what I think are Gunze colors (they start with ‘H’).
The sprues are bagged to keep them safe, and full of parts. The pre-painted sensor(?) details are perfectly sharp and on-spot. There are some duplicate and extra parts spread out across the sprues, all called out in the instructions. Assembly is pretty easy, but there are some handed parts that you have to pay attention to. One of my biggest gripes with this kit is that, while it is a snap-fit kit, there are a number of parts that simply will not stay together without glue. The worst parts at staying together are the hands, hip joint assemblies, the heavy artillery gun mount on the back, and the spindly elbow assemblies.
The assembled Cougar stands about six inches tall, and features a great deal of articulation. The ‘Cross Frame’ system provides for a good deal of movement, and you can see plenty of areas where you could swap parts with other kits. Highlights of the articulation include the ball and swivel-jointed ankles and multi-joint shoulders that are also really nicely detailed. The hips are a bit annoying, however, because the hip armor is chunky, and the hip pegs are a bit short, so the hips have a tendency to fall off when doing very wide poses. The Cougar features VOTOMS-esque wheels on the feet and posable jet boosters on the hips, so if you want to put it in some intense jet-skating poses, you will be occasionally limited by the design of the kit.
The Cougar has a really attractive design that mixes blocky slabs of armor with a nice functional sleekness. The body shape in particular has a good geometry to it, and the mech looks really aggressive with those tread-plate knee-pads.
Along with an interchangeable skeleton system, the Border Break kits also feature a really interesting standardized weapon storage system. All of the weapons have a mounting clip on them that hooks in to hardpoints on the torso and arm(s). The fit of these parts is loose without paint, but they work great after some finishing.
The kit comes with a plethora of weapons. As far as I can tell, it really comes with two kits worth of guns, because there is a light version Cougar kit that uses just the green plastic weapons, which I used anyway. The Heavy Weapons type is armed with a sweet foldable rifle, a bazooka with a collapsible gun tube, and a giant artillery piece that folds up for storage. It is really cool how all of the heavy weapons collapse into a storage mode, and really adds to the look of the weapon storage system. The lightweight weapons from the other version include a sword that I did not use, and two great looking Uzi-type machine pistols.
One thing that you’ll notice in the unpainted pictures is that most of the guns have really bulky handles or wrap-around grips. These look great, but mean that you cannot swap the weapons without disassembling the fixed-pose gun-holding hands. The parts of the hands really do not fit together well at all, and were going to require glue, so I modified all of the gun handles to fit in and out of the assembled gun hands. A small loss in looks, but essential for enjoying the wide variety of included weapons.
I was really impressed with the look of the finished kit, but was not sure how much time I wanted to put into finishing it. Out of the box it is full color, but it just looked so plain in bare plastic, and there are a couple small details all over that need to be painted. There are a number of parts that assemble from two halves with very noticeable seams between parts, and a lot of sprue marks on visible spots. I think the Cougar looks a bit rough out of the box, especially when compared to some of the more recent Gundam plamo kits, which have almost no visible seams or sprue scars, and hold together much better without glue.
I decided to try something new, and only paint the small details, while using the plastic colors as the base colors of the parts. It was new and scary. I also knew that I wanted to really capture the gritty look of the box art and beat the kit up, since I think clean mecha kits are sacrilege. I cleaned up only the worst seams and the sprue scars, and used whatever leftover spray can colors I had for big details like the artillery barrel, assault rifle front, and color detail on the feet and hip boosters. I used knives and files to add dents, dings, and weapon damage, and then went to town using oils, weathering pigments, washes, drybrushing, and as little actual paint as possible to bring this kit together.
The Cougar cleans up and then dirties up really well, but I ran into some problems while finishing the kit. A number of parts rely on pretty small pegs or clips to stay together, and those parts did not hold up to the rough handling involved with painting and weathering. Of particular offense are the elbows, which are made of and attach to the forearms using some very thin parts, all of which I managed to break while painting and had to fix on both elbows. I also had troubles with the wrist-pegs breaking off of the hands. The little tiny pin hinge on the folding assault rifle is very small, but I was extra careful and managed not to break that. I DID, however, accidentally get glue inside the bazooka, so it no longer collapses.
The roller-dash look is really sold by the posable hip boosters that also feature posable exhaust armor. The exhaust cans are supposed to be left snap-fit, and have an extension bit for when they are in use, but the extra part was fiddly, and the armor covers do not fold up completely with the cans extended, so I left those parts out and glues the short cans in place.
With some glue in critical areas and some love, the Cougar looks great and holds up much better. I just wish the elbows were not so fragile, but they’re fixed now, with lots of superglue.
I used acrylics for the small details, drybrushed highlight colors, and then gave the entire model a dark oil wash. Using clean oil thinner to remove excess paint left dark colors primarily in the recesses, panel lines, and damage. Some more oil colors blended in added variety and some subtle tones to the armor colors. I used acrylics to add some silver chipping to the bullet wounds, and then rust pigment and oil paints to all of the damage in varying tones. The dirt and grime is a combination of pigments applied dry and wet, and some earth-tone acrylic dust washes. I added some splatters and dust higher up to make it look like the Cougar had been cruising around with its jet skates at high speed, zipping in and out of fire to score a few kills. I completed the effect with muzzle scorching and exhaust discoloration on the boosters, and varnish applications of differing finishes to seal the model and sell the wet and drying mud.
The Cougar really does have nice articulation, and looks dangerous wielding any of its weapons. It can skate along, stop and unleash some hell, kneel down for a tight shot, or dual-wield for maximum output.
Deploying the artillery cannon just gives the Cougar an even more ‘whoop-ass’ feel. It’s a Heavy Weapon machine for a reason, and looks great using as many guns as possible, with even more guns docked on the hardpoints.
Overall I really like this kit. It has a couple rough points, but comes together nicely with a little effort, and looks great. Maybe the rough points will encourage newer modelers who only snap their kits together to take the next step and try gluing and sanding and painting some parts. Big thanks to Kotobukiya for supplying this review sample, and I hope I didn’t rough it up too much! Well, just enough.
|Posted 3 September, 2010 - 21:01 by Prometheum5|