Review by Gunpla Rob
With an adaptation into manga and collectible figures based on its scandalously curvaceous pilots, Muv Luv Alternative’s machines are the only part of the franchise which has seen virtually no attention. Giving the Tactical Surface Fighters the attention they deserve is Kotobukiya, makers of almost anything not Gundam, starting with the Type-00R Takemikaduchi.
If only other dating games involved giant robots.
“Muv Luv Alternative” is the sequel to the PC game series Muv Luv, created by Age. From what I can gather, the series is a romantic comedy/science fiction Adventure that seems like a Visual Novel and a Dating Simulator with some mecha combat action. The story itself focuses on a young man who is transported into a reality where he and his female high school classmates (in his reality) are now soldiers. Catering to fanservice, they wear skintight and revealing armor to pilot giant, sleek looking mecha called Tactical Surface Fighters to fight an alien force called the BETA, which is short for “Beings of Extra Terrestrial origin who are Adversaries to the human race.”
I am pretty sure that sounds better than BoETowaAtthr. On a side note, it does have a theme song performed by Jam Project!
Despite its potential for mass mecha merchandising, Muv Luv has seen very little outside of the main characters crafted into figurines. The series’ mecha, dubbed Tactical Surface Fighters, have only seen limited action outside of the games and manga in the form of expensive figures produced by Volks. However, they are starting to see new life with Kaiyodo’s Revoltech series and Kotobukiya with non-scale kits such as this Type-00R Takemikaduchi.
Aircrafts and fighter planes are useless against the BETA, so giant robots are the only practical means of saving humanity. As it should be!
The Type-00R Takemikaduchi is one of the custom types of Tactical Surface Fighters designed exclusively for members of the Japanese Imperial household. By design, the machine itself has a somewhat organic look with a saurian feel about it. Comparing it to other mecha designs in general distribution, its appearance seems as though someone crossed the Evangelion Unit-01 with an F-22 Raptor into a demure, shapely figure. With Kotobukiya handling the Takemikaduchi’s incarnation in plastic, its form takes precedence and the end result is a well sculpted, demure and shapely figure.
I think if its detail color were orange, people would confuse it for the Eva.
The Takemikaduchi comes molded in its primary colors of dark purple, gray (in two tones) and clear red, with its weapons molded in dull metallic-injection plastic. Common to virtually all mecha-models, the Takemikaduchi uses polycaps for reinforcing its joints and key assembly points. Kotobukiya continues to live up to its reputation for fine scale, as most of the intricate colored shapes on the design are recreated in smaller cut plastic.
Out of the box, the model is entirely snap-together and can be assembled without the need for glue. Although there are some points where it can be useful due to their more fragile nature, as well as other areas where parts do not hold together properly. After all, this is a Kotobukiya model so there will be ultrafine detail points that will be bound to separate over time without it.
With most of the model’s primary details molded in plastic, there is some need for paint to give the Takemikaduchi the look it deserves. Out of the box, some of the finer points can go unnoticed the first time over, however there are some points that just demand attention. Areas including the soles of the feet, weapon sights, and even its finger tips are some of finer areas that can really add some life to the model when painted. The bicep armor and the knees however are just some of the key regions where the Takemikaduchi demands attention with the paintbrush. When given proper time, painting these areas can really push the value of the design further.
On the lighter side, the design can still benefit from time spent with a detailing pen to bring out more of the intriguing details etched in the body’s surface.
Taking the extra time and being creative, the Takemikaduchi’s swords were one area that really stands out with paint. Where it is shown to be in a single color, I painted the blades and grips with silver and black Testors Model Master paints.
Assembly of the Takemikaduchi is a mixed arrangement of using duplicate and single set parts. The duplicate method, be it either parts on replicated runners or on single trees, makes building the model much faster as one step can be repeated (and reversed at key joint locations). Otherwise, the Takemikaduchi relies on individually crafted parts for its greater assemblies.
The Takemikaduchi is a ‘Non-Scale’ model, but the completed kit stands shorter than the Bandai standard 1/100 scale model in height. Although stunted in without a genuine depiction of its actual height, it stands out by comparison for its unique form.
The Takemikaduchi’s sharp curves blend remarkably well into an interesting assembly scheme. Such includes the shoulder sockets and outer armor of the torso, where each plate of the outer body has to be angled and fit into place first before locking them down.
The Takemikaduchi utilizes a very interesting concept of multi-jointed articulated shoulders. As the shoulder assembly for the arm is built from two different assemblies which connect via polycap sockets, the shoulder has three articulated points: a ball joint connecting it to the torso which is hinged at the shoulder base which is hinged on a polycap sleeve that links into the arm itself.
The shoulder armor is connected to a second ball-joint which is molded into the assembly that attaches the completed arm into the torso. Although the shoulder armor has a limited range of motion, it floats just far enough above the arm not to impede movement. The extended articulation assembly of the shoulder compliments this by allowing the arms to move freely and avoid being in conflict with the shoulder armor.
It surprises me that despite Kotobukiya’s attention to assembly and detail that the arms were so simple below the shoulder. The arms utilize a variation of the standard shell assembly around polycap seals to reinforce the articulation. The forearm weapon units are separate blocks that have removable plates in the front to attach one of the Takemikaduchi’s hidden blade weapons and the wrists are open port sockets where the hands connect via long stems. Complementing its vast array of weapons, the Takemikaduchi has one hand set for each of its weapons as well as the additional open palm and closed fist varieties.
The Takemiduchi’s booster units were another area of the model that required some additional alterations. For the sandwiched stabilizers fins, one of the fins was not properly molded. At the connecting tip, each fin has a groove cut in it to fit it against the outer shell, but this one fin was a solid plate instead. Seeing how this was a fluke in the molding process, I had to use my blades and cut out the groove by hand in order to correct it.
Where I had originally thought the booster units of the Takemikaduchi were attached to the waist, I was surprised to see they connect directly into the hips on the legs. Although given their own means of articulation, the boosters greatly reduce the model’s articulation below the waist when they are attached as well. Also, they greatly impact the model's stability over time.
While the boosters take away some of the leg movement, the legs are remarkably articulated without the boosters in place. With almost an entire kit’s worth of parts in their assembly, the legs make the most striking impact on the Takemikaduchi’s design.
From the heel upwards, the ankle uses a similar variation of the hinge used in the shoulders, allowing the feet to extend at the ankle and accentuate the model’s posture. While the wide-spread toe design allows for more dynamic poses, they feet are very stiff, which can be a good thing considering the weight the model has to carry.
The knees use an assembly that gives the Takemikaduchi the effect of a floating knee armor that is linked into lower leg where flexing the leg articulates the knee armor out and away from its starting position. The hip uses a unique double jointed system. Instead of just connecting to the torso via a ball socket polycap built into the thigh, the legs use a hinge component with a polycap socket on one end and a hinge pin on the other. This module joins the legs to the torso via a polycap for its primary rotation and uses the hinge to allow the leg some additional range of motion. The effect allows the leg to move forward and avoid coming into conflict with its front armor skirts. This comes to the legs’ benefit considering their large bulbous shape in the upper thigh region.
The Takemikaduchi has more guns than hands to hold them.
As if the endowment of the characters of Muv Luv was not enough, the Takemikaduchi comes packaged with a voluptuous amount of weapons and accessories of its own. The artillery is rounded out by four rifles which look like they were designed after the Fabric National P-90 Personal Defense Rifles, two curvaceous long swords, and two short combat knives which make up the Takemikaduchi’s handheld weapons. There are also three miniature blades designed to be mounted in the model’s forearms, one long extended blade in the front and two short daggers in the butt of the arm units.
In order to allow the Takemikaduchi to carry the complete weapon package (or a limited number thereof), the model sports additional cradles units which mount on the model’s shoulders. These cradles come in two key variations for holding its weapon (either the long swords of rifles) with two sets of closed cradles for when the weapon is in use in the hands.
Adding some flair to the Takemikaduchi are the pair of extended arm mounts which are designed for the rifle cradles. These allow the Takemikaduchi to carry all four of its rifles at once, with the units mounted on its back drawn forward into a firing position. While it looks cool, it can be a little cumbersome when the model is fully armed.
Despite being an enjoyable build, the Takemikaduchi does have its flaws.
The biggest complaint has to be the one thing Kotobukiya is most infamous for: the plastic quality. While not as polished as Bandai has made their ABS over the years, Kotobukiya’s plastic is still very fragile, especially in its weight bearing regions. My other concern was parts having excess plastic skin hanging at the edges. While this skin can be cleaned away with a few clean sweeps of a sanding sheet or x-acto blade, there are some areas that become obscured to the point where parts will not fit together properly.
One of the other issues I had with building the model was the neck. The assembly uses a locked two-point hinge (connecting it to the torso) that needs to fold flat at a proper 90 degree angle but due to excess plastic in the hinge it stopped somewhere halfway. Leaving the piece unaltered would have left the head leaning too forward. As said with dealing with the overall excess plastic issue, I had to shave the area down with my knife in order for the neck to rest properly.
Another impact on its performance is an aftermarket influence. The model really would benefit from having a display stand to rest against, which is noticeably missing from the complete package. The model is designed in its waist to have one of Kotobukiya’s articulated display stands attached to it. Unfortunately there is no base included with this kit, and for those who have never gotten one to begin with will find themselves struggling to keep the model standing on its own.
On the upside, it really was a good model.
Forgetting its technical flaws or the series it is based on, the Takemikaduchi is a well endowed and unique mecha model on its own. While it carries a lot of weight to get the series off the ground in plastic, it stands out as something different from Gundam and makes up for some of Kotobukiya’s other series in model form.
I’m looking at you Break Blade!
Thanks to Kotobukiya for the sample.
|Posted 17 March, 2011 - 18:44 by Gunpla Rob|