Review by Prometheum5
Starship Troopers is one of my favorite novels of all time. I try to read it yearly. It helps me get back to the roots of all the science fiction I love so dearly. Paramount among the Starship Troopers experience is the powered suit that Rico and the other Mobile Infantry (MI) boys use to wreak complete destruction on anything that stands in their way. The Powered Suit is only vaguely described in the novel, leaving it open to many renditions over the years. The most lasting and influential of those renditions is the design by Studio Nue. I’ll leave further background to Andrew in his review of the Revoltech Powered Suit. The takeaway is that Starship Troopers is a founding work of science fiction drama, and the Studio Nue Powered Suit is one of the most influential designs in mecha.
The Studio Nue Powered Suit has been the subject of soft vinyl garage kits, diecast figures that were prone to breakage, and a very lovely Revoltech in the past. Now, up and coming Japanese toy maker SEN-TI-NEL in conjunction with the design wizards at T-Rex have set out to make the definitive version. I think they’ve succeeded. The SEN-TI-NEL Powered Suit is rendered in 1/16 scale, making it around six inches tall to the top of the head, more with the gun upright. Wraith Pheyden gives some idea of scale.
The back of the box reveals how much work has gone into this latest Powered Suit toy. Of special note in the credits are Kazutaka Miyatake, credited with the original Studio Nue design, Naoyuki Kato, responsible for the most iconic illustrations of the Studio Nue design, and Wave Corporation, who have released a number of plastic model kits of this design and its rarely seen variants (build reviews coming someday!)
Out of the box the Powered Suit immediately oozes quality and sophistication. The molding is fine and the details are sharp. The toy has a great heft to it thanks to what seems like a good amount of internal and structural diecast. The only exterior diecast I noticed is in the feet, but I could have overlooked other small parts.
The Powered Suit is tastefully covered in standard mecha decals, reminiscent of a gunpla kit. The decals are smartly applied in key areas, not slathered on like a Katoki job.
The printing is razor sharp, resulting in perfectly readable decals. Also visible here is the beautiful, subtly weathered paint job. There’s browns and greens and blacks and so much goodness going on, it brings a tear to my model building eye.
The pilot status display on the crotch is made with a nice clear lens. I always liked the idea of an exterior pilot status display and control console for technicians and support staff.
The big backpack houses one of the primary gimmicks of the toy, the deployable hand flamer. We’ll come back to this in a bit.
First, we’ve got to get our suit a pilot before it’s ready for the drop. The cockpit hatch flips open with a hinge and sliding mechanism in the ‘chin’.
A nicely painted pilot bust is included that slips into place in the torso. Two sliding panels in the shoulders allow access for the bust and then slide back into place to cover any gaps. The only articulation is a swivel neck.
Disembodied heads in bulky power suits are nothing new for SEN-TI-NEL, as seen on their Maschinen Krieger Super Armored Fighting Suit, a not so distant cousin of the Powered Suit.
Rico can practice his armored dexterity before buttoning up thanks to the inclusion of the now ubiquitous egg accessory, showing how delicate the Powered Suit’s touch can be. The egg is a tiny piece of white plastic secured in the box with a piece of tape, where it will remain once this review is complete.
Before closing the hatch we can install the Powered Suit’s massive backpack containing the flight boosters, Y-rack weapons system, shoulder cannon, hand flamer deployment mechanism, and likely oodles of ammunition. The backpack clips on in three places, but my one complaint on the entire toy is that it could secure a little tighter.
All geared up and locked in, Rico can still see out of the clear faceplate. The head locks nicely in place and does not open up unless you want it to.
The Powered Suit includes one strange, minor set of option parts. Two different pieces are included for the lip under the faceplate. One has an angular shape to it, and the other has a smoother curve. I’m not totally sure which is based on what depiction, but I use the rounder one because it matches the General Products vinyl kit. Both attach securely.
The articulation on this toy is astounding. The Revoltech might have a little more motion in one or two spots, but SEN-TI-NEL’s toy is as good, if not better, with accurate mechanical joints. Panels slide organically, providing a seamless appearance, even in the complex hips and knees.
The feet have one of the coolest joints I have ever seen. The Studio Nue suit has these crazy articulated soles independent of the main foot, allowing the Powered Suit to gain a stable footing on any surface. The ankles are fully articulated themselves, with a sliding armor panel in the front, and then the sole articulates on a ball joint in the toe. Sploosh.
Heinlein describes the suit as providing incredible protection and weaponry without hindering an MI trooper’s mobility in any way. SEN-TI-NEL’s toy makes that seem possible.
The hips and belly joints with their sliding panels and layers of armor are just incredible. I know it’s gushy, but everything moves exactly as it should with just the right level of tightness. This toy feels so good to handle and looks incredible in any pose you can think of.
The default hands are articulated with a hinge at the base of the fingers and the thumb. The articulated hands can’t pose to hold a gun or anything, but they look great for everything else. One area where I must concede superiority to the Revoltech release is in the wrists. SEN-TI-NEL’s toy can’t flatten its hands out for that classic lying down pose like the Revo can.
The forearm armor can slide off, revealing the pilot’s undersuited arm underneath. No detail for the hand mechanism is provided, which seems like a missed opportunity since the armor panel comes all the way off.
Both vectored thrust ducts and the main propulsion thruster are movable.
The hand flamer deployment mechanism is wild. The multi-segmented arm unfolds out of a small compartment on the backpack, allowing the hand flamer to make its way up front to the suit’s hand. The green external panel of the arm feels like diecast for extra durability. That little peg on the back of the flamer even pegs into a spot on the backpack, securing the retracted assembly when not in use.
So that’s where Patlabor got the idea from…
Two hand flamers and two sets of hands are included. One flamer features a folding handle and clip for use with the deployment arm, the other has a detailed grip. Both flamers can be used with the included trigger hands, allowing for perfect transformation or perfect detail.
The hand flamers feature a sliding stock with a pin that mounts to a port on the forearm armor. The pin pegs in tightly, but there is some movement to the stock so wrist articulation is not restricted by the mechanism.
What else do I need to say? This toy looks incredible and is fun to boot. Look at this bad mother, spewing deadly flames all over rebellious Skinnies and not asking questions in the name of earning citizenship.
With some careful posing the suit has a real sense of weight and purposefulness.
Also included is a flight stand adaptor that mounts between the back of the suit and the backpack.
SEN-TI-NEL includes a really nice flight stand with most of their releases and the Powered Suit is no exception. The suit is a little heavy for the stand arm in some poses, but I managed to balance it well enough.
ON THE BOUNCE
Coming in for a landing, the Powered Suit still has enough weapons at the ready to level and depopulate a small city.
Being 1/16 scale, the Powered Suit plays nice with SEN-TI-NEL’s MaK releases. These two represent pretty different approaches to power armor design, but there’s no doubt that there’s a little Powered Suit in Kow Yokoyama’s work.
The last comparison we can do for now is with the old General Products vinyl kit I reviewed a few years back. The GP kit is specifically based on the DAICON version with its anime-tastic proportions, but the two are still pretty close. The legs on the GP kit seem to go on forever. I have a few of the Bandai vinyl kit from the OVA stashed away that I’ve been meaning to do a build review of, so I’ll be sure to get a larger family photo together when I finish one of those.
What else do I have to say? SEN-TI-NEL’s Powered Suit retails for around 12000Y, which seems perfectly fair to me. It’s not a very large toy, but the engineering, fit, and finish are impeccable. It’s a respectful and impressive rendition of a deserving, iconic design. The Studio Nue Powered Suit is pretty much required reading for Japanese mecha fans, and I can’t think of a reason to pick up any version besides this, except maybe the Revoltech based on price. This is a beautiful, almost perfect toy. Here’s hoping SEN-TI-NEL works with Wave to bring out some repaints and equipment variants, because I’ll buy them all!
|Posted 30 January, 2014 - 07:55 by Prometheum5