Space Pod Crab 03
Review by The Enthusiast
When I was a child, my local hobby store shelves held mysteries. In-between the models of military hardware and a few lonely Star Trek kits, there were maybe a dozen or so artifacts from a foreign land, each with only a handful of cryptic english phrases to help decipher the nature of the contents. The words were of little help: Scopedog, Dougram, Gundam. The characters appeared to be distant cousins to the Transformers, but inexplicably did not transform. These were somber, adult things, with dry specifications on the sides and muted paintings on the front.
The fun of maturing into an adult collector in the age of the internet was finally finding out where all of those fantastic kits came from. Though of course by then the mystery was gone. There aren’t many mecha mysteries left.
Happily, the Keiko’s Space Pod Crab 03 has stirred in me something of that childhood feeling of glimpsing an unknown world. As far as I can tell, this is Keiko’s first stand alone kit (a Chinese company distributed by Wave, they have also produced a Gunpla figure base). There’s no anime or manga being promoted. The SPC03 is not a character from a fully realized universe. It’s a maintenance machine which can fit snugly into other mecha worlds.
The review sample is a “twin set,” featuring parts to make both the original color scheme and a variant with clear orange parts.
Photos and CG images adorn the box alongside a charming Engrish description.
Each kit consists of 7 sprues: 2 orange, 2 gray, 1 clear, 1 clear red, and 1 smoked. All construction is friction fit, no polycaps. I could see this being a long-term issue, but initially everything is tight and well engineered. All of the posts are tapered slightly, as are the connecting sockets, so that the fit becomes tighter the more the pieces are engaged.
The sprue connections are problematic - excessive and fat and placed in prominent areas. On painted parts it’s not such a big deal, but the two big, inescapable bruises on the front of the clear cockpit are unavoidable. I think I’ve been spoiled by Bandai’s mastery of the minimalist sprue connection.
The build is mostly a breeze. This is a smallish kit, and goes together in a few hours. Some of the parts for the undercarriage tool arms get a little fiddly. I ended up having to glue a few moving parts just to save my sanity, though clear nail polish might have worked equally well.
I took this opportunity to learn how to airbrush, so the final construction took some time. The construction lends itself well to painting. There aren’t any major sub-assemblies with seams requiring sanding.
The airbrushing is a whole other article, but suffice to say that it’s a very involved process to get your setup working, but once you’re cooking it goes pretty smoothly. There are lots of helpful youtube videos for gunpla finishing.
First I applied one coat of Tamiya Fine Surface Primer (from a rattle can) to all non-transparent pieces. For the standard color version, I finished the gray pieces in Tamiya Metallic Grey (XF-56) and the orange pieces in Tamiya Orange (X-6). After a clear coat on the orange panels, I applied a thin black wash to the whole model. I wanted to pull out the mechanical details without giving it a weathered look.
For the transparent version, I used Tamiya Chrome Silver (X-11) and the wash on the gray parts. The chrome didn’t work out super great, but I’m still fine with the results.
The Sace Pod Crab is a thing of beauty. The styling is reminiscent of the Syd Mead’s Power Loader design, but not slavishly derivative. The proportions of the compact mode are a little awkward, but the deployment of the gripping arms makes the Crab come alive.
Though this kit is non-scaled, the pilot is close to a Diaclone figure (see below). I’ve read that Diaclone is anywhere between 1:35 and 1:55.
This looks wonderful from any angle. All of the parts are highly detailed with thoughtful embellishments. The sculpt is crisp. Taking the time to finish this properly really heightened my appreciation for the craft that went into the design.
All of the panels are easily demountable, so you can see the mechanical parts underneath.
The transparent model has the added pop of the mechanics always visible.
Articulation is amazing. The main claw arm panels slide along pistons. There are six joints in each arm assembly, not counting the claws.
There’s another articulated claw folded onto the front of each unit.
The Crab is comprised of a few modular sections. The core Pod is the cockpit, over which fits the claw “backpack.”
The backpack without the claws also looks great.
The core is a nifty little piece all on its own. My hope is that Keiko’s intention is to produce further attachments.
Standing platforms are included to plug into the back.
The cockpit is spare, but at this scale it works fine. I also didn’t spend a lot of time on it.
There are four smaller arms which unfold from the undercarriage of the core unit. These are the fiddly bits I alluded to earlier. They fall apart easily, so manipulate with care.
Two of these can hold up an included platform.
That platform also attaches to the included stand.
I can’t recommend this model enough. It has so much charm and quality and play value. And at 30 bucks, a bargain.
Special thanks to our resident modelers, Rob and Leo, for your advice and encouragement!
|Posted 23 March, 2014 - 17:11 by The Enthusiast|