Gunship of the Valley of the Wind
|Character Design||Hayao Miyazaki|
Review by JoshB
I’m a huge Miyazaki fan, but I’ll admit to being introduced via the horrible dub of Nausicaä called “Warriors of the Wind”. To be fair, I had nothing to compare it to when I saw it on cable back in the 80s, but I was immediately captivated by the visual spectacle before me. This was 1984 – I was 11.
A few years later I discovered the Viz Comics adaption of Nausicca. This was 1988 and I was knee-deep in American version manga. Titles like Outlanders, Xenon, Lum, Appleseed, and Akira dominated my comic subscription box. I bought EVERY manga that came out at that time. It was so fresh and original compared to the superhero comics I collected, but even amongst those, Nausicaä was different.
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind began life as a manga drawn by Hayao Miyazaki in 1982, and was the first feature film of the newly-formed Studio Ghibli. The story tells of a Princess named Nausicaä who is caught in the struggle between two kingdoms set against a post-apocalyptic landscape. It’s a fantastic, beautiful movie and one of my favorite Ghibli films.
The Gunship is one of the more iconic machines brought to life by Miyazaki. So why then does it not exactly resemble the Gunship seen on screen? I don’t know for sure, but perhaps Miyazaki felt that the screen could not convey his full idea for the ship at the time? Miyazaki teamed up with Bandai to personally supervise this project, and it has his blessing, so we’ll just have to go with that.
Bandai’s display model line “Formania” is an ideal choice for a vehicle like this. It’s not a toy, nor is it a model. It’s a high-end display piece, with no detail spared in execution.
The packaging reflects its status. The thick, book-like packaging is beautifully designed. The front flap opens and there’s some text from Miyazaki and some images. In fact, the whole packaging is somewhat reminiscent of Sci-Fi Revoltech packaging. Opposite that is the window that shows off the Gunship and stand. To remove the Gunship, flip up the cardboard frame and lift out the plastic tray.
This thing is small and light. It feels fragile at first but after a few minutes you realize at how nicely put together it is, and the fact that it really is quite sturdy. The toy is made out of ABS plastic with apparently some diecast in the interior (I can’t feel any outside). It’s not terribly big, with a 12” wingspan.
The construction is fantastic, with no defects whatsoever. Each and every detail is finely sculpted, each paint application expertly applied.
The front of the Gunship looks like a gun. If this were a toy, it would fire projectiles, but it is not. For some reason Miyazaki always had something against mass-marketing actual toys with his movies (aside from some plush toys). The finely detailed cockpit features a movable rear window and fully sculpted interior. The level of detail is astounding, but a bit too small for my macro to capture accurately. Another nice touch is the clear globes on the sides.
Moving down to the rear of the ship you have a second cockpit, which is equally detailed and impressive.
The true beauty in this piece is the wings. Each wing expands through a series of joints that is just beautiful. It’s kind of like one of those Hoberman spheres, in wing form. These wings do not flex up and down – they just expand and collapse. With the wings fully extended you can see a clear plastic membrane that has a shimmery rainbow tint to it. It’s hard to capture on camera, but it’s there.
The rear wing flaps can also open on either side. Between the wings spreading out and the flaps expanding you get a really dynamic vision of the Gunship.
Underneath each wing are articulated landing gears. While flying these hug up against the bottom of the wing, but to land these fold down with three points of articulation plus a spinning wheel. There is also a third wheel that folds out beneath the rear cockpit.
Finally, the sides of the engine compartment underneath the ship can be opened, showing some engine detail. I really like the bronze paint application on the inside of the doors.
The ship itself is brilliant.
The stand, however, leaves something to be desired. It looks great, and is heavy, as it has actual diecast parts in it. Each of the three legs can expand with little articulated feet. The upper part of the stand has a hinge and a piston, and then two sections that support the ship. Unfortunately the ship does not secure to the stand in any fashion. It just rests there, and only in one horizontal position. Why make an articulated stand that can only hold the ship in one pose? It does not make sense. It’s beautiful, but flawed.
Still, that should not keep you from enjoying the beauty of this thing. The Gunship is an artfully rendered interpretation of an iconic vehicle from one of my favorite movies. You can get your Gunship from HobbyLink Japan
|Posted 23 May, 2011 - 20:33 by JoshB|