Master Grade EX-S Gundam
|Character Design||Hajime Katoki|
Review by Gunpla Rob
A long time waited, a long time worked. I've had this kit sitting in my face since a month after its release back in 2003. The only problem is I've had a few thousand things to do between then and now.
The Extended Superior Gundam or "EX-S" (pronounced like excess) comes from the Gundam Sentinel novel/multimedia project also known as the "Battle of Real Gundam." According to the sites I researched, this stems from it being of the first Gundam series to avoid the existence of the Newtypes, much like the animated Gundam 0083 and The 08th MS Team OAV series. On a side note, those of the 'SEED' Generation can think of the Newtype as a Coordinator with psychic abilities.
The EX-S stars as the main mecha of the series, mostly in its less armored form: the Superior. Further information I found showed that it had one pilot, Ryu Roots and an assistant AI named Alice. There is however an additional draft of the story where it had three pilots, Roots and Alice included. Also, since Sentinel was a 'Side-Story' to the Zeta era, the EX-S was also a mobile suit built with the ability to transform.
Back when I first built the MSA-0011 'S-Gundam' a long while ago, I noticed that there were certain areas of the kit that looked like there was more work to do. The truth is the S-Gundam kit was really made to become this version here. The EXT components are the only additional parts with their own part trees. As such this review will only cover the additions and modifications.
When talking about modifications most builders think of modified, preexisting parts. For the 'SEED' builders it is like looking at the shield of the HG Strike compared to the shield of the Duel Gundam. In the case of the EX-S, modifications do not include the older parts. Instead the modification is in the assembly thanks to the EXT parts. Areas that include the modifications are the torso, waist, back unit, and legs. While these areas fill up over 70% of the kit, it really is not that much compared to the work to build the S-Gundam's body (which remains intact for the whole of this build).
The torso's modifications for the EXT form are the first phase of assembly. In the original S-Gundam there were two core block assemblies. The first one was the basic Core Fighter with two add on parts which were divided between the torso's G-Attacker and the legs' G-Bomber modes. Since this made for additional toyetics, there was the secondary "Solid block" assembly. That could be used to build the model in a stand alone MS mode. This consisted of two shell type pieces which fit three pilot figures and made the central portion of the Core components.
While building this version for the S-Gundam was optional, doing it for the EX-S is almost mandatory so to balance the mass in the kit for its Cruiser mode. For its 'core fighter' portions, there are typically two stabilizer wings in front of the main wings. However as the heart of the body and cruiser mode, the wings are replaced with two 'L' tabs that fit in to place of the arm pits and lock the parts in place. Since the Solid-Core goes down into the waist, it provides even stronger support for the torso and waist acting as the real backbone inside the kit.
The torso also receives some additional armor with its new "I-Field" generator. This is the white block that goes over the torso, which is made of roughly eleven parts. This armor plating fits over the existing cockpit cover like a sock and then folds over the contours of the Superior's chest. While it fits snug enough, the top plate has some reinforcing tabs that fit into pre-existing inserts in the Superior's upper torso. Also the main nose for the Cruiser (or G-Attacker), which acts as a stabilizer for the MS mode, has an additional 'bulb' like piece which adds some more bulk.
The waist also sees some more work with the front block assembly. Originally the front of the waist had two asymmetrical plates that fit onto the right front and left front of the waist block. In there place is instead one larger block which builds a much thicker layer of armor. This assembly consists of three major parts; the plating, orange cover and the internal mass. The mass is the backbone of the whole assembly and makes up the stability connection to the EX-S's display base and connector for the EX-S weapon. The drawback to this assembly is that for transforming between MS and cruiser mode, it has to be removed so to articulate the leg/hip connectors out from under the plating. Also because of how tight it fits, there's a healthy bit of fighting to get it off of the display base along with the MS in one piece.
A friend of mine asked me how much was different between the EX-S and the Superior. Pretty much the only real areas that changed in the legs are the calves and hip mounts.
The hip mounts on the legs of the Superior consisted of the main arm for the beam smart gun (right hip) and an additional stabilizer support block (left hip). Since the gun now mounts on the front of the waist block, the EX-S's hips are now built with two laser modules. These blocks are articulated by a series of smaller arms that fit into the legs that allow the cannons to rotate in any direction and fold into place for Cruiser mode. The added advantage is that with the gun mounts on the front of the waist, the legs have an extended range of mobility.
The lower leg assembly isn't so much redone as much as it is re-armored. There are additional plates for the sides and rear of each leg as well as the addition of a new 'knee block' assembly. My friend's real technical question was if the knee armor could be reversed (changed into S-mode). The answer is no. This is because the entire knee assembly has been redone to fit the new, much larger parts. Also since the knee is a subassembly for the lower leg its something I recommend to avoid trying.
The new armor on the knee is at least three times to size of the original Superior's. It still houses the beam sabers, but it also houses the EX-S's additional INCOM units.
For the novice; Incoms are wire guided laser weapons. The Superior comes with a disk in the forehead which is for additional support fire. The EX-S's leg mounted Incoms are made for more elaborate use. They do not fire beams of their own but are capable of reflecting shots from either the smart gun or primary Incom in alternate directions. I think this is for more defensive purposes seeing how the EX-S's mass limits its mobility.
Back on the model, the Incom blocks are hinged and snap open and closed. The one thing that the knee block for the EX-S has an advantage over the Superior is the assembly quality. The original knee block was the base piece, folding portion and the saber mounts with the white armor just fitting over them. This new assembly has the whole of the armor integrated into the main construction so there is no risk of the armor falling off.
The new armor on the legs does not take the place of any portion of the Superior, instead fits over it. The new armor has a small series of assembly of their own and fit into place through preexisting ports on the inside of the Superior's legs. These ports originally housed the legs' thruster binders and cover plate.
Aside from the add-on armor components from the legs and torso there are a whole line of new parts made for EXT mode. This can be summed up as the new vernier thruster units on the back, the propellant tanks and the additional accessory components.
The vernier blocks are built on a series of extension arms for transformation purposes, but they fit into the area where the Superior's smaller units mounted originally. The new units are somewhat shell type construction; the armor housing a block which hold the main thruster nozzles at the base and in the upper area there are an additional set of blocks which connect to the extension arms. These pieces are molded in the form of internal fuel tanks and are detailed as such.
On the outside of each vernier block are pairs of binders for the rear nozzles which are articulated by polycaps. Originally on the Superior there was only one cannon on either thruster pack, for the EX-S that has been doubled. The cannon barrels are a three part assembly, two halves for the body and a cap piece for the end of the barrel.
Builders beware! No kit has perfect fitting parts. In the EX-S the cap pieces for the cannon barrels was where my problem started. I checked my orientation during assembly but not matter what I did right I had to fight to get them on. In fact this was the first time I ever used a rubber mallet on a model. So if anybody wants to build the EX-S after this kit, be ready to really sand and grind down the connecting areas.
Moving on the next phase of the EXT assembly are the new propellant tanks. These tanks are shell based construction with a series of opening doors and a peg panel inside. The peg panel is what connects the tanks to the body in MS mode and an internal 'hook' block inside the tanks are what hold them in place for Cruiser mode. For those if you disappointed by the lack of arm modifications, think again. The Propellant tanks are mounted on the arms via the shielding plates that come down from the shoulders. These parts were ready since the Superior, with a polycap built inside like a sliding lock bolt. That way the peg panel can lock down without risk of dropping the tank.
The weapons from the Superior are back and upgraded for the occasion. The beam sabers and the head mounted Incom are the only parts without modifications. As mentioned before, the legs now sport a pair of Incom units of their own. Unlike the head mounted unit, these are canisters. Construction is a 'half/half' but the seam line runs through the center and doesn't split the barrel tips in half.
The Beam Smart Gun has been reequipped with a new targeting array which is built on a folding assembly so to lock it in place for in-use and carrying mode. In terms of construction, the array is molded in the body's dark gray plastic and needs a healthy dose of white paint. As for the main disk, the white piece is a subassembly and the main eyes seriously need to be painted. The gun retains its original mounting assembly but now that it connects on the front of the body, the stabilizer assembly from the Superior is left out of the kit all together.
The final accessory to the entire package is the display base. It comes molded in smoked clear plastic, it adds some dynamic degree if lit from below. The base isn't an optional bit of work; it is needed since the EX-S is almost incapable of withstanding its own weight. With the base the EX-S rests well over 14 inches in height. The display base is also set to be adjusted at different display angles; having the body face down almost parallel to the base surface. There is one smaller additional arm that mounts on the sides for the core fighter to go.
As if this review couldn't get any longer, but not as long as the Cruiser mode. From toe to nosecone the EX-S is a whopping 17 and one half inches in length and has a wingspan of nine inches. The Cruiser is the combined mass of the Superior's three components: the G-Attacker (torso), G-Bomber (legs), Core fighter, and of course the EXT parts.
At first glance of the mass of this kit I was almost afraid to transform it into cruiser mode. Transforming is after all very fragile, but thanks to precisely positioned inserts, mounting points and the quality of the parts, it is not impossible. In Cruiser mode the wings from the rear skirts (G-Bomber) are extended, however the wings from the shoulders (G-Attacker) are not extended.
The one thing that bothers me is how open some things are in Cruiser mode. For starters all the inner assemblies from the torso are almost exposed entirely and there is no cover to them. Moreover where the cockpit canopy would be for the G-Attacker there is just exposed plastic and polycaps. While this is just a minor aesthetic bug, the rest of the Cruiser has no problems.
To say the least I fell in love with this kit at the Superior. The addition of the EXT components was something rare that Bandai does, seeing how most add on components like this are left for the B-Club resin department. I suppose they made the call to go ABS when they felt how heavy this kit is. About the kit though, I'm very much impressed. The quality of the construction is, for a lack of better terms, Superior on all counts. While he does sit stiff, EX-S is really much more of a display model. It stands out as a trophy and sits like one too!
|Posted 22 July, 2005 - 13:32 by Gunpla Rob|