Hyper Hybrid Rick-Dom
Review by animelover24
A cold gray Sunday morning- My wife was at the temple, and I was on-line looking at the Pre-Order Menu for the Big Bad Toy Store. This was risky ground. Like in the old cartoons where the guy has a little devil whispering in one ear and better judgment whispering in the other. I was in grave danger of making an impulse buy that I probably couldn't afford. I kept thinking about that Dancouga combining robot set, but I was also tempted by (what I thought would be) a chogokin 1/60 Rick-Dom. I like the Rick-Dom. It's the big fat bad as hell armored hulk combat mecha for the Zeon space force. A menacing, almost medieval looking one-eyed brute. I went for it. Later I would learn that the Dom was not to be a die-cast metal issue, but some sort of "Glorious Grade" model kit. Oh. (Rule#1 when buying on-line: do your homework!) OK, well, I wanted to start another project anyway. A few weeks later the UPS truck stopped at my house. What the man delivered here is the:
"HY2M Hyper Hybrid Model Glorious Series 1/60 scale MS09R Rick-Dom."
The box is big- almost 30 inches long by 15 wide- slightly larger than the boxes for The Perfect Grade models, but it's corrugated cardboard without the fancy graphics. Three inner boxes hold the kit. The assembly manual is thick, but the model itself does not look terribly complicated. There are 23 racks of big parts, and a lot of nuts and bolts.
But the main event here is lights- twenty one lights to be exact. Twenty one LED's to trim, and plug in, and connect to resistors, and wire up to boxes, and switches, and batteries. Four separate circuits, each with its own separate switch. Twenty two bags full of hardware, and almost all of it electrical. Lights and wiring have been the weakest features of the models I've built so far. At first glance, the instruction manual looked almost indecipherable. I felt a little ill.
I had to remind myself how intimidating the first big Bandai model had been when I first opened it up. I started out feeling overwhelmed. I ended up having a lot of fun. So I started The Dom by carefully reading the instruction manual start to finish. Far from being indecipherable, it is a superb piece of technical writing. Even if you don't read Japanese, the instructions are clear, simple, and easy to follow. It didn't take long before I was re-assured that this project was not beyond the skill of an average mortal- just a long sequence of simple steps. That manual (and the stuff that came with it) would turn out to be one of the most fascinating books that I ever picked up.
I couldn't quite make out what the very first row of panels on page 8 of the manual were about- something to do with cutting the parts from the runners. After I started assembling I discovered what it was. The engineers at Bandai took the time to solve one of the minor problems with finish on their kits- the scar left on the separated piece when it is cut from the runner. The molding here is done so that no sprue touches the outer surface of the parts. But you do have to trim a little tab away from the mating surfaces. The illustration shows the tab separating cleanly from the part with just a little twist of your cutter. It works most of the time. The down side of it is that it's easy to overlook one of the little tabs, and the pieces don't mate cleanly until the last vestige of the tabs is cut away.
It took a couple of hours to finish the head. Like all Bandai products, everything fit together just like it was supposed to. The crimp connectors are tough to handle. You thread the pre-cut wire and the LED terminal through a tiny brass bead, and then smash the bead with a pair of pliers to hold it all together. The trick is to get a tight fitting without squeezing too hard and breaking the wire or terminal. It's just as hard as it sounds. Other than that, the assembly went easily. The camera eye is moveable; the whole mechanism is well thought out, simply executed, and held together with nuts and bolts. Luckily I had allen wrenches that fit the hardware. Best of all- when I tested the finished assembly it lit up just fine! My opinion of the Dom has risen. I'm having fun already, and most of my doubts have been eased. I can't wait to get on with the next steps.
The skeleton for the arm unit is simple and elegant. Composed of eight parts, it features six points of articulation, and can mimic most of the range of a human arm. All the fingers are fully jointed on the hand, too. All working connections are fastened by nut and bolt, and can be individually adjusted for tightness. Be careful of step 6. Parts K3&K4. It's not enough to have the smaller end point forward. If the assembly is in upside down the armor won't fit. (Guess how I found that out.) Likewise, remember the sprue leaves a little tab right on the mating surfaces of some of the armor. Trim carefully! The whole process for both arms took about three hours.
My opinion of this piece has risen greatly. That famous Bandai attention to detail has been invested here in functional efficiency. Everything is fixable; everything is adjustable; everything works . Like a haiku- perfect function in exactly as many pieces as needed to do the job. But next come the legs, and with them the first of the major lighting projects.
The legs, too display the same functional elegance as the arm units: few parts, much articulation, all adjustable. But I knew this would happen sometime during this project- go to turn the lights on and some of them won't light. The soles of the boots each feature three LED's. The installation is not difficult, but you must pay very close attention to the illustrations in the manual. (I'll mention this again) It's not nearly as scary a job as I thought. But you do need to work carefully, and pay close attention to the details in the drawing (see?). When I went to test one of the feet, only two of the three lights lit. Not to worry. The parts disassemble as easily as they go together, and after you've built the wiring, you'll know how to trouble-shoot it. Make sure the LED terminals are snug in the "Y"-shaped ground plate, and that the center screw is also snug on the terminals. It was a quick fix, and now it works fine.
Stringing the wires through the knee joint is tricky, as is the assembly. Your dexterity will get a workout. This was pretty much an all day project. I started in the morning, and wound it up just in time for dinner. I even missed Dragon Ball Z, and I didn't care.
Pay attention to detail; pay attention to little details in the picture; pay attention to every tiny detail of the picture, and double check twice before fastening anything. If something doesn't seem to fit then you have it wrong. Look at the picture again. There is no room for error in this construction. And no spare parts. IF YOU LOSE ONE SCREW YOU ARE SCREWED. Don't let me scare you off, I have no more than average mechanical dexterity- I get about a "C" for all around handiness. I'm doing fine with the building process. (Did I mention paying close attention to the pictures?) It's easy to work yourself into exhaustion and make mistakes- you won't want to stop to eat while you're doing this. I totally forgot to take pictures. Step by step it's getting closer. I have the double- jointed torso bolted up. The circuit box is in place. And there's no way the wires for the legs, and backpacks will reach. Oh, no. And of course I had no wire around the house that would work. I was wondering what I might find inside the computer, but... no. Trip to the store time. Radio Shack had no wire that would work. I was desperate. I ended up buying some cheap circuit tester just to cut it up for the wires. But I got the wires extended, and connected. Now to mount the arms, and get to the final hook-ups.
..."If you can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those two imposters just the same," ( Rudyard Kipling)
I'm giddy from spending an entire week looking through magnifying lenses, finding and manipulating skinny wires, little bitty screws, and impossibly tiny parts that pop out of place when you try to secure them. A week of nuts and bolts and joints and pivots and tabs and slots and armor and lights. A week with the product of some magnificent engineers and artists.
The Rick Dom stands completed on the table. The two "N"-type batteries are installed. It's time to throw the switches. This moment is like facing the results of a big league college entrance exam. I feel like Doctor Frankenstein: Switch on the right: Go! and the yellow search lamp on the front lights up. Switch in the middle: Go! Nothing. I feel sick. Try again. Nothing. I feel sicker. Switch on the left: Go! Nothing. I feel worse. How could it not work? Don't panic. Think. I take a pair of tweezers, and bridge the gap between the metal tab and the ground strip. Everything lights fine. It has to be the switch. Now I'm elated. I remove the middle switch to remount it, and one of the #22 screws leaps from my fingertips, and vanishes with a faint tinkling sound. There is no spare. Hands and knees time. (odd what we consider fun) No #22 tiny black precious as gold screw anywhere, but... on the floor, behind the desk, covered in dust I find a green plastic bag with one tiny screw- a spare that Bandai was so kind to include with one of the Perfect Grade models that I built a while back. Some kind spirit favored me greatly. It fit. (I found the other one in a pencil box a couple days later.) Slowly tighten each screw evenly- Eureka! Light! Tighten it just until it's secure- Got it! The next one is also an easy fix. Three out of three. I'm so relieved I could cry. I'm too tired to do the gun. It's late in the afternoon, and my wife will be home... right now.
"Well here it is." I show her the prize I won for doing all this work.
"I don't like this one." she said. "He's menacing and dangerous. There's nothing charming about him." She shudders. "He's just ugly." (My wife is great at appropriate reactions)
"Let me show you what he does." I carefully removed the head and threw switch one- yellow light on. I threw switch two- all eighteen amber lights on. (Triumph!) The switch for the eye camera crumbled to pieces when I clicked it. It broke. It just plain broke. After all that work. The very first time I show it to anyone, it breaks. I flunked out. My monster died...
"That's too bad," she says. "What are we going to do for dinner?"
How can she think of food? I spent the remainder of the evening thinking about wires and switches and lights. I had dreams about wires and switches and lights. And the next morning I took the crumbled remains of the switch , and drove to Radio Shack again, but they didn't have a switch that matched. So I tried the hobby shop, and the guy there didn't have a switch that matched, but he knew where I could probably get one just a few miles away, out near the airport in the next town. Again, some kind spirit favored me, because I drove to the next town out near the airport, and found the store and they had the exact switch I needed and it only cost a dollar. And I got it home and put it in and it fit and it worked fine. I felt like jumping up and down.
The only thing that remained was the gun. This has the most improbable gizmo yet. The switch for the gun sight operates when it gets near a magnetic field. That's why you mounted that powerful little magnet in the palm of the left hand. When the hand gets near the sight, the magnet causes the light to light. Get this- IT WORKS! (and my wife totally hates it!)
So the trophy is on the mantle, and all the lights work. (you still have to tap the foot a little) But other than that It is one impressive figure. This guy makes every other mobile suit in the room look weak. The matte finish plastic gives this imposing mecha the appearance that requires painting or clear coating to achieve on other models. It has the look of a miniature made for stop-motion use in a high budget Hollywood film. It has the articulation for it as well. It has, by far the best pose ability of any figure that I have. It can reach behind its back. Every joint on the finished piece can be individually adjusted if it's too loose, or too tight, and if you need to disassemble it (and you probably will) you can easily do so.
Overall I would give this kit an eight out of ten. Some problems I encountered: The pre-cut wires are mostly too short to reach all the way to the circuit box. I would like to have seen a double wire to thread through the legs. Another gripe: No spare hardware. If you break one wire; If you lose one nut, one screw, one bolt, you're out of luck. The broken switch was also a great disappointment. And why couldn't Bandai throw in a couple of allen wrenches?
Despite the shortcomings, the HY2M Hyper Hybrid Model Glorious Series 1/60 scale MS09R Rick Dom is an awesome piece. The finished figure on your shelf will make you feel like you've won an Oscar. But as cool as the Rick Dom is, what you really get for your hundred and eighty some bucks is the project. Building the Hyper Hybrid Rick Dom is as challenging as a tough class at school, and as compelling as a murder mystery. The guide book is first rate. It's like participating in a great science fiction epic. It's an event that will pull you in and hold you captive. It is greatly rewarding- every finished chapter feels like an accomplishment to be proud of. It is hard work, but not beyond the range of anyone who really wants to do it. This is the sort of experience that you'll want to savor over a long and leisurely period of time- an hour or so a day for several weeks- or only when the weather is bad, and you're stuck inside. Yeah, right. Like you can eat one pistachio. Call in sick. Brew some coffee. Tell your loved ones you'll be in seclusion for about a week.
|Posted 27 June, 2003 - 22:51 by animelover24|