RX-93 Nu Gundam Version Ka.
Review by Rob
The RX-93 Nu Gundam is one of the most iconic Mobile Suits in the history of the Universal Century and Hajime Katoki is one of the most prolific mechanical designers in the history of Gundam.
Hajime Katoki has been one of the leading Gundam designers since the mid 1980’s, whose breakout works include the powerhouse MSA-0011 [EXT] EX-S Gundam from “Gundam Sentinel,” the massive GP-03 Dendrobium from “Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory,” and the more recent RX-0 Unicorn Gundam of “Gundam UC.”
While his original works are impressive, Katoki is renowned for his dramatic reimagining for other artists’ works such as the Mobile Suits from Gundam W, where the designs from the OAV were extremely different from Kunio Okawara’s original designs from the television series.
Bandai created the “Version Ka” line of 1:100 scale Master Grade model kits in 2002, designed and produced by Hajime Katoki himself.
The ”Version Ka” RX-93 Nu Gundam marks the 163rd Master Grade model kit and comes packaged in the “Katoki-standard” box featuring poster worthy artwork of the boldly standing Mobile Suit with a silhouette of it flying behind itself.
Out of the box, the model is comprised of 24 PS plastic runners molded in the Nu Gundam’s primary colors.
The parts are fine molded in the Gundam’s sharp colors of white, navy blue and yellow, with the inner moveable frame molded in gray plastic. The model uses a pair of PC-208 polycap runners for reinforcing its joints.
Taking a cue from the Real Grade line, the model features parts molded in a dull, light gray colored plastic that add another shade to the surface armor.
Supplementing these parts, the model comes with a sheet of light gray and pale blue colored ‘paneling’ decals that fit across portions of the Gundam’s body to create a color pattern meant to separate the moving plates and the fixed armor.
Using these decals is optional or easily made up for with the right paint mixtures.
Building mine, I used Testors Model Master Acryl “Light Gray” right out of the bottle to cover the light gray areas.
For the pale blue, I made a mixture of Testors Model Master Acryl “Dark Sea Blue” and “Neutral Gray,” and applied it to a few more places than the decals suggested. Since this color is not included in the mold injection parts, there is some room for creativity in its application on the model kit.
On the subject of creativity, I decided to add more paint to the minute details of the Gundam’s surface, such as the indented panels on the outer armor of the body that I painted with Testors’ “Gunship Gray” to give the illusion of the inner frame being exposed through the armor.
For the RX-93’s newly designed Psychoframe, the model comes with clear green plastic strips that fit into the surface of the inner frame. This same plastic is also used for the Gundam’s eyes and sensor parts in the weapons.
The kit comes with a set of silver foil decals meant to help the clear parts stand out against the frame’s plastic colors which can be substituted easily with silver paint.
Although the model is a snap-together project, the psychoframe plates tend to lose their grip and I recommend using glue to hold them down.
Adding to the display value of the kit, the clear parts are designed to glow under intense UV black light. Luckily, this does not cause any negative side effects such as disappearing in a cloud of green energy.
One of the key differences between a standard Master Grade and a “Version Ka” model kit is the abundant warning labels.
The Nu Gundam’s decals are all water-slide types unlike past kits which used clear-back stickers and dry-transfers. Personally, I miss the dry transfer decals but the variety with this kit are not as difficult as they seem and are able to bond to unpainted plastic with the aid of some “Mr. Mark Setter.”
For my model, I opted to apply the bare minimum to the RX-93 with Amuro’s signature brand on the Gundam’s left shoulder and shield, as well as the Londo Bell symbol on the collar.
The model comes with a buildable display base which becomes necessary for displaying the completed Gundam with its Fin Funnels attached.
The base plate is recycled from the 2007 Master Grade RX-93-2 “Hi-Nu Gundam” and is molded in the shape of Amuro’s signature “A.” It features a new display arm that holds the model from underneath the backpack and comes with a set of articulated stanchions for displaying the Fin Funnels separately.
The Nu Gundam features Bandai’s latest series of hand parts labeled “MP-1.” Abbreviated for ‘Manipulator-Parts,’ the hands use the same multi-gate injection technique as seen in 1:60 scale Perfect Grade and 1:144 scale Real Grade models, bringing partially built and fully articulated hands to the 1:100 scale.
While the MP-1 runner is a bold new idea, it does have some problems thanks to the molding process.
The fingers are spread out in a spider web arrangement with the sprues used to inject the plastic linking each digit together. Cutting the parts free from themselves becomes an exercise in delicate blade work with an x-acto knife followed by the test of arranging them into their proper alignment.
Building my Nu Gundam, there was some excess injection slag that made it difficult to fold the fingers the first time, resulting in me breaking the joint pin in the proximal phalanx of the pinky finger of the right hand.
Fortunately, I was able to contact Bandai directly and they were generous to send me a replacement runner in addition to a new helmet piece.
Due to the fine details on the outside of the helmet, this part was molded with an offset sprue on the inside of the cheek vents which cut away from the runner incorrectly on my first attempt, and broke through one of the vents.
His vision of the RX-93 celebrates the 10th year the collection and the 25th Anniversary of the film, “Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack” in which ‘Gundam’ series writer Yoshiyuki Tomino, brought the rivalry of Char Aznable and Amuro Ray to its bitter conclusion.
Originally designed by artist Yutaka Izubuchi, the RX-93 Nu Gundam was Amuro Ray’s personal Mobile Suit during the Second Neo-Zeon War of UC 0093 otherwise known as ‘Char’s Rebellion.’
As the true successor to the original RX-78-2 Gundam, the RX-93 was built around harnessing Amuro’s Newtype abilities, incorporating the sensitive Psycommu control system in its cockpit which can amplify the pilot’s mental energies and reflexes to near supernatural levels.
With the advanced Psycommu technology, the Nu Gundam was capable of using “Funnels,” thought-controlled remote weapons. Compared to the normal varieties of the time, the Nu Gundam used “Fin” Funnels, larger variants of the weapon that were highly sensitive and far more powerful.
It was constructed by the Earth Federation’s Londo Bell taskforce and Anaheim Electronics after Char Aznable deliberately leaked the plans for “Psychoframe” technology to Amuro’s development team, intending to defeat his rival on an even level in his MSN-04 Sazabi.
“Nu Gundam isn’t just for show!”
-Amuro Ray, UC 0093
Katoki’s interpretation of the Nu Gundam is more than just a revision of Izubuchi’s original work but an amalgam of different variations of the design.
In an interview inside the kit manual, Katoki sites his inspiration from the Tokyo Front “Dome-G” and the “Gundam Evolve 5” short films that featured more mechanically elaborate versions of the Mobile Suit.
Katoki takes some creative liberties with his redesign for the RX-93 from his own RX-0 Unicorn by putting more focus on Nu Gundam’s Psychoframe and adding more surface detail to the Gundam’s armor with raised panels, accentuated ridges and folds that add more depth to the Gundam’s outer layers.
Continued influence from the RX-0 for the RX-93 comes in the form of the “Invoke Mode,” a feature that did not exist in Izubuchi’s original work since Katoki’s design has psychoframe built into the entire frame of Mobile Suit rather than just the cockpit.
According to its source material, the semi-paranormal Psychoframe responds to the will of the Newtype pilot and when it reaches critical overload, it emanates a light called the “Psychoframe Luminescence Phenomenon” transforming mental energy into physical force across an area of space.
The Invoke Mode is much like the RX-0’s “Destroy Mode,” where the Suit’s body expands and gaps in the armor expose the psychoframe underneath.
The RX-93’s mode change also reveals a second set of Verniers that fold out from the back of the legs.
For the model, transition to Invoke Mode is controlled by pulling and shifting portions of the body and purging sections of armor in the legs, backpack, and the front skirts.
Hinged plates on the Gundam’s back and legs control the model’s mode shift from normal to Invoke configurations and keep the model locked together steadily.
The two plates of armor on the forearm are linked together so that when pulling one armor plate in one direction will force its connecting plate to push in the opposite direction.
“Old and Nu”
Like many of the Post-One Year War/Neo-Zeon War era Mobile Suits, the RX-93 is massive; measuring at 23 meters in height compared to the 18.5 meter tall RX-78-2.
Fully built, the 1:100 scale Nu Gundam stands 9 inches tall from heel to v-crest, towering over its predecessor.
The first Master Grade Nu Gundam was produced in the year 2000 and it is interesting to see how much of the design process for Master Grade models as a whole has evolved in the span of 12 years.
Comparing the two Master Grade models of the RX-93 Nu Gundam side by side, the version based on Izubuchi’s design is much heavier and bulky in contrast to Katoki’s lighter and much sleeker frame design.
Inspired by the 1:60 scale Perfect Grades, the first Nu Gundam model was one of the earliest Master Grades to incorporate a complete inner moveable frame. It was constructed using ABS plastic, with screws in its joints and diecast metal parts for the Gundam’s pelvis and ankles in order to stabilize the overall weight of the completed kit.
The “Version Ka” does not use any of the design techniques of the original, and is constructed entirely out of PS plastic with the bulk of the assembly is in the Gundam’s legs to give the model a well-balanced low center of gravity.
That is, except when the Fin Funnels are attached. Then the model must rely on its display base.
Much like the Version 2.0 series Master Grades, the RX-93’s inner moveable frame can be built in its entirety before any of the outer armor is needed. There are exceptions such as the plates on the model’s back and legs that are integral to controlling the ‘Invoke Mode.’
Katoki’s artistic focus for the inner moveable frame is on its surface detail more than the functional mechanics of a near-Perfect Grade quality Master Grade model kit. It still features the Grade’s standard of moving mechanical parts such as sliding elbow and extendable knee pistons.
Like all Master Grades, the model features a detailed pilot figure and an opening cockpit hatch. However, the pilot becomes impossible to see once the model is completed.
With or without the outer armor attached, the frame is very limber.
The frame features a hyper articulated shoulder built on swinging hinges that pull out from the arm socket to extend the range of motion in the arms and give more clearance for the shoulder armor.
Applying the model’s outer layers is one of the more difficult points of building the Nu Gundam as each layer of armor needs to be attached in the proper sequence.
Contrary to the Master Grade formula of being able to strip the model back down to its bare frame, much of the Nu Gundam’s outer armor is designed to remain in place once the model is completed.
Never the less, the model remains an impressive display piece of Master Grade engineering.
The MP-1 hands feature tabs that fold out from the palms and peg into the sides of the Gundam’s weaponry which are also built with folding tabs to interlock them with the hands.
By design, the RX-93 retains the same basic range of hand held weapons as its predecessor RX-78-2.
The weapons are very basic in their construction but make up for their simplicity with the level of surface detail.
The Gundam’s beam rifle is well detailed and blends nicely with the Version Ka aesthetic. Unlike the other weapons, it has no means of attaching to the RX-93’s body when not being used.
The shield mounts onto the back of the left forearm using a hinged clasp fitted to a polycap that allows it to rock and rotate to give the arm more freedom to move while it is attached.
On the back of the shield is a beam cannon and four missiles molded into a single piece that blend together nicely with some paint applied to where they connect.
The hyper bazooka is well built using solid tubes and features a telescoping barrel. The open magazine on the back end shows off the 280mm ammunition.
The weapon has a clasp on its upper rail to stow it on the Gundam’s backpack.
Rather than the traditional paired set, the Nu Gundam carries two different types of beam sabers.
A standard issue unit is stored on the back of the Gundam’s left forearm which features a sliding action to reveal it, and uses a common beam blade molded in clear pink plastic.
The large beam saber features a folding cross guard and uses a heavier, curved blade with a dagger for its pommel.
The saber is stored on the Gundam’s backpack that features a swiveling action to bring it into a better position for the arm to reach it.
The signature weapons of the Nu Gundam are its Fin Funnels.
In its default configuration, the RX-93 carries six Fin Funnels in a wind sail arrangement on the left side of its backpack with four of them folded up in order to make the pattern of Amuro’s signature “A.”
The Fin Funnels interconnect using folding arms with fingers that fit into the notched teeth on the inside of the main ‘strip’ pieces.
Capitalizing on the grandeur of the “Version Ka” Nu Gundam, Bandai released an expansion kit through their Premium Hobby Store for recreating the Mobile Suit Variation of the RX-93 called the “Double Fin Funnel Custom Unit.”
The Nu Gundam was incomplete by the time Amuro was forced to use it to fight Char’s Neo-Zeon forces, and the “Double Fin Funnel Type” MSV represents a more complete version of the Gundam similar to the RX-93-2 Hi-Nu Gundam from the novel adaptation of “Char’s Counterattack,” Beltorchika’s Children.
The conversion to the MSV begins with replacing the large beam saber’s storage block with a second docking rack already molded into the existing parts runners.
Even without the expansion kit, this symmetrical variation of the Suit was already designed into the model using its original set of Fin Funnels.
The expansion kit is cast from partial molds from the original model to only make the additional six Fin Funnels as well as the complete runner for building the display base for the additional stanchions to display all of the Fin Funnels.
The 12 Fin Funnels are built…
All 180 parts of them…
As an added bonus, the expansion kit comes with a set of special effects parts made from strips of soft plastic with painted details of surging energy. The strips fold over and fit into grooves on the inside of the Funnel plates.
The effect is really good but unfortunately Bandai only included enough parts for six Fin Funnels rather than the complete package.
The Fin Funnels are both a highlight and a burden to this model.
If either by design or caused by their weight, the Fin Funnels have a tendency to curve around the Nu Gundam and fall towards the shoulders.
Since the model is made entirely of PS plastic instead of ABS, the locking arms in the Funnels have a problem of losing their grip over time. Drying some glue over their tips do provide some help but the overall weight each Fin Funnel can still cause them to give way.
As an incentive to buy additional upgrade parts, the Nu Gundam features a hollowed out collar piece designed to fit a “Gunpla LED” unit. This pre-built light module, originally from the ‘Gundam 00’ series Master Grades, transmits light through the clear plastic ball stem inside the neck and channels the light into the Gundam’s head to make the eyes glow.
The end result is a more glorious, grandiose display of the legendary Nu Gundam.
“They did not call it a Master Grade because it would be easy.”
-Rob Braun, AD 2013.
The Version Ka RX-93 model kit has been one of the most complex yet easiest high level Master Grade models I have ever built and I enjoyed every minute of it.
While impressive in both its scale and detailing, the Nu Gundam is not without its faults. The armor design and molding process for some of these pieces are extremely delicate. Along with the aforementioned helmet piece, there are other areas where the size of some sprues change and connect to two different surfaces at the same time which made it more tedious to clean the parts.
With Bandai’s decision to use PS plastic for the inner frame instead of ABS, the model suffers from its low tensile strength. This ranges from showing signs of stress, parts coming loose even in low impact areas and the more noticeably weak connections between the Fin Funnels.
While I cannot recommend this version of the Nu Gundam to the novice builder because of its mold injection and artistic complexity, I can still say it is worth building. The Master Grade RX-93 Nu Gundam “Version Ka” is an amazing model kit that goes above and beyond the time!
|Posted 26 October, 2013 - 18:46 by Rob|