GP04 Gundam Gerbera
|Character Design||Mika Akitaka|
Review by Rob
This sample was provided by HobbyLink Japan!
Bandai’s RE/100 (short for Reborn One Hundred) line began in late 2014 in order to produce high quality model kits based on Mobile Suits from “Mobile Suit Gundam” that have never seen an official Gunpla release. The key focus for the line is designs considered too expensive to produce as Master Grades or too obscure to the franchise’s more passive hobby audience.
As the name implies, the models are produced in 1:100 scale to fill the void of an absent Master Grade model kit and are built with a level of engineering that sets them above the smaller High Grade scale.
Alongside the Mobile Suits that existed only in novels such as the MSN-04II Nightingale of “Beltorchika’s Children,” the RE/100 line is also making headway with models for Mobile Suits that only existed as story material and concept drawings which never made it to the final production of a series.
One of the lost Mobile Suits in particular that made me excited for the new line is the unrealized prototype from “Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory,” the GP04G Gundam Gerbera!
“WARNING: ILLEGAL ACCESS TO CLASSIFIED INFORMATION”
The RX-78GP04G Gundam Gerbera was supposed to be the fourth prototype Mobile Suit developed for the Earth Federation as part of Anaheim Electronics’ Gundam Development Project from the year Universal Century 0083.
It was originally planned to be a General Purpose model built for high speed combat.
Outfitted with additional propellant Sturm Boosters to increase its flight time and maneuverability in space, the Gundam would be able to perform the same blitz tactics used by the Zeon during the One Year War.
However the Gundam was never built and has been the subject of conspiracy theories over the years.
It was publically believed that Anaheim Electronics halted the GP04’s construction as an economic decision. Its single function making it redundant and limited when compared to the multipurpose Gundam GP01 Zephyranthes and its “Full Burnern” upgrade.
The truth is Anaheim Electronics had become more corrupt following the One Year War, with the company absorbing the Mobile Suit manufacturers from the Principality of Zeon after its collapse. Senior members of Anaheim willingly turned a blind eye to technicians who were Spacenoid loyalists actively supporting the remaining Zeon forces, including those working on the Gundam Development Project.
The development team behind the GP04 was comprised of former employees from the Zeonic Company who were able to complete the base frame of the Mobile Suit in secret from the Federation.
Transforming it into the AGX-04 Gerbera Tetra, the Mobile Suit was later given to Cima Garahau as a political favor for partnering with the Delaz Fleet depending on the outcome of “Operation Stardust.”
While the true form of the GP04 never saw an animated appearance in the “0083” series, its existence has been recognized in other medium and production illustrations.
The most notable appearances by the GP04 include its redacted blueprints shown at the end of the “Gundam Evolve 4” short film that came with the HGUC GP03 Dendrobium model and being an unlockable, playable unit in a number of SD Gundam video games.
Even though the RE/100 model marks the GP04’s first official Gunpla, Bandai did produce an action figure of it under the “FIX Figuration” line that came with parts to transform it into the Gerbera Tetra Kai.
The GP04 Gundam Gerbera is the third model under the RE/100 line and was released in early 2015.
Without any real moment of Universal Century history to capture, the Gundam’s box is a typical action shot of it in space charging forward.
I can’t help but wonder if there is some foreshadowing in the bright red and orange color of the background.
Out of the box, the GP04 is built from eight plastic runners molded in the “0083” standard colors of white, cobalt blue, yellow, and light red plastic for its armor with gray plastic for its joints and weapons.
Despite its scale and the number of sensors across its body, the GP04 has only one clear plastic piece for the Gundam’s eyes and forehead sensor.
It comes with the typical 1:100 scale “SB-1” beam saber blade set and the model also includes a beam jitte for its long rifle molded in the same soft clear pink material.
The RE/100 line shows many of Bandai’s quality design techniques that really stand out in the 1:100 scale, and the model is built without going to the extremes of being too simple or too complex.
Building the model is made a bit easier since the limbs are constructed from the duplicate runners and the way parts fit together.
Many of the parts are molded using Bandai’s specialized “under-gate” injection process in order to remove nub-marks from the model’s surface and give it a clean finish when built right out of the box.
One of the things that make the RE/100 line so unique is its attention to color separation in the parts design.
Different colored parts fit over each other in layers. In some places this masks part seams along the existing panel lines and where two different colored parts connect.
The RE/100 models use polycaps in the same format as the 1:48 scale Mega Size series. They function as gaskets inside each assembly rather than the interconnecting point of articulation like a High Grade.
The polycaps also have teeth that grip firmly against the ribs molded onto the adjoining post of the plastic parts. This helps the body hold its weight better and also gives a subtle, yet satisfying ‘click’ to each movement.
For me, the hardest part of building the GP04 was watching the paint dry.
While the model is not difficult to assemble, it really looks better with a coat of paint and panel lining. Even with its injection molded primary colors, I still found myself with the task of painting this model like I would a High Grade and added the missing colors to their implied locations.
Two prime examples of this are the bottoms of the feet and the vents along the sides of the Sturm Boosters which I painted with Gunship Gray acrylic.
I used this color throughout the build process by painting the exposed seam lines and underneath the armor.
One of the colorful details prominent in Mobile Suits from “0083” is the insides of the thruster cones which are typically painted red.
Even though the large Verniers on the shoulders aren’t shown to be colored this way if you go by the box art, I painted them anyway to match the smaller nozzles which are.
Instead of trying to match the paint to the original color of the plastic, I opted to repaint the two red plastic pieces instead. For this, I used my personal mix of Testors Model Master Acrylic that I call “Red Comet” from its eventual use on another model.
The back of the shield is molded in white plastic, but is meant to be colored differently.
Going by the color guide in the model’s manual, the GP04’s beam rifles and the backside of its shield are suggested to be painted dark gray. To do this, I painted the weapons and shield with the same “Frame Gray” paint I mixed for my Real Grade GP01.
Bandai also takes their typical shortcut with the sight piece for the long rifle as the parts are molded in gray plastic and need to be colored white.
I painted the eyes with Clear Green but I had to do something else for the remaining sensors on the Gundam’s body.
The model makes up for the sensors by using decals. Obviously, I rejected and painted them over instead with a silver and clear green mixture.
I gave the beam sabers and beam jette a light sanding to remove the excess flash molding and improve the intensity of the blades.
“… and then I did something Awesome!”
When I thought I was well past the point of painting the model, I finally got to work on building it. This was where I encountered the one thing that annoyed me with the model.
With all of their mold injection techniques that make fully formed parts of different shapes and sizes, Bandai still likes to split the ankle armor along the folded edges on the front. Had I just snapped this model together, the result would have an obnoxiously visible, asymmetrical seam. Gluing the parts together and then sanding the area smooth made the parts look more even, yet the seam was still obvious.
As a way of masking the work, I decided to add more color to the model by painting over the ankle armor but instead of going with white paint, I used a mix of Cobalt Blue that I made with a list of paints to better match the GP04’s original colors.
After I was satisfied with the change to the ankle armor, I thought “I’ll just add it to a couple of small areas…”
Starting with the hip armor…
The raised panels on the shoulders…
And then I painted the sides of the Sturm Boosters.
Did I mention this was all hand brushed?
Fully built, the GP04 stands at 7 inches tall from heel to V-crest.
With its Sturm Boosters attached, it measures 8 inches in length and 7 inches wide.
To me, the model captures the look of Mika Akitaka’s original illustration almost perfectly with the only exception being the different design for the shield.
Like the GP02, the GP04 has a very robust curving look about it that sets it apart from its other sibling models.
While the 1:100 scale would imply the model to have features like a Master Grade, there are many places it still feels like building a High Grade.
The joints are compact and tight and have a considerable amount of weight to them. In fact the entire model is built around its joints first before any of the armor is attached.
The GP04 is well articulated from top to bottom. Its limbs feature double jointed elbows and knees that can bend over 90 degrees.
The hips feature swiveling pelvic posts that extend the legs past the skirt armor.
The shoulder armor and the main joint for the arm are connected but the parts can move independently.
The GP04 features a movable midsection that allows it to bend to the sides and lean forward.
The clavicle joint gives the arms better movement across the chest for balancing its long rifle with both hands.
The model comes with a modest amount of interchangeable parts.
Although the model can hold itself with the Sturm Boosters attached, it comes with a deployed landing skid that fits onto the end of the lower booster for resting it on the ground.
While the RE/100’s premiere model of the Nightingale came with Bandai’s MP-2 manipulator parts from the Master Grade Sazabi “Version Ka” simply due of its size, the GP04 takes a step backwards and comes with hands molded in fixed poses.
There are a set of closed fists and a pair molded to hold the weapons.
Compared to the typical ‘closed fists’ of other models, the GP04’s have better molded details including a more natural looking gap between the thumb and curled fingers.
For the hands molded to hold the weapons, there is a groove cut through the palm for the tabs molded onto the rifles and beam sabers to interlock them.
The shield has a mounting bracket that wraps around the forearm. The piece is almost identical to what you would find in a smaller High Grade with posts that dock the shield to either the back or side of the forearm.
Last but not least, the model comes with a clip to suspend it from an Action Base, which you’ve seen in the pictures already!
To me, this model is better than High Grade and represents the RE/100 Line’s promise. The GP04G Gundam Gerbera is a design I have waited a long time to see a model for, and I’m not disappointed in what Bandai has created!
Moreover, I am equally proud of the work I did on it.
|Posted 16 March, 2016 - 13:50 by Rob|