Turn A Gundam Master Grade
Review by Gunpla Rob
Despite a wide number of ‘collectors’ edition kits, Bandai’s Master Grade collection has finally reached its Centennial and there was much speculation as to what Gundam would win the 100th model kit title. The speculation started with the proposal for additional “Char’s” Variants, kits that were simple retools of earlier kits. This made some fans nervous, unsettled with the idea of a retool for the big 1 0 0. After months of shadows and the MG number approaching its mark, Bandai revealed the 100th Master Grade kit: Turn A Gundam!
Do Gundams Dream of Electric Sheep?
The Turn A Gundam comes from its self titled series and celebrates Gundam’s legacy from start to (then) finish and marks the 20th Anniversary project of Gundam by its creator Yoshiyuki Tomino. While commonly these events are carried out by a ‘traditional’ group such as Tomino and his longtime partner Kunio Ohkawara, Tomino chose to change things up a bit; taking the Gundam design duties to the American artist Syd Mead, whose credits include the Cyberpunk Masterpiece Blade Runner. The end result is one of the most striking designs ever for a mobile suit. It lacked the traditional ‘V-crest’ on the forehead instead sporting a mustache that curved upwards, gaining it the nickname ‘White Mustache’ which was written into the Turn A series. The body itself followed a ventilated pattern along a curving linear form making the Turn A more of an artistic piece than a mechanical one. This stunning contrast compared to Gundam’s origin struck a cord with fans and newcomers, some bitter, others enthusiastic, none the less, the Turn A Gundam is a much celebrated design.
The phrase “Turn A” stands for the Universal Quantifier, or the sum of all by some translations. This means that Turn A Gundam stands for all of the Gundam Universe(s) and brings each Gundam time line into a singular historical point of time. This is reflected mostly through the mobile suits shown in the series, many of which had been seen before in past Gundam series. While I cannot say that I have seen All of Turn A, I know that in the final episodes there is a reference to nearly all of the past Gundam series, shown as clips of the “Dark History.”
This Amish Earth
Turn A Gundam takes place in the ‘Correct Century’ calendar, CC 2345, a time when Earth’s technology was destroyed after the cataclysmic events of the “Dark History.” During this era of space travel and interplanetary war, all of Earth’s great advancements had been lost and all technology was destroyed. With no physical specimen to rebuild from, those living on Earth have slowly redeveloped their technology in a Re-Industrialization Revolution, recreating vacuum tubes, prop planes, and Model-T style internal combustion engines to name a few. In the meantime, the People living on the Moon (dubbed the Moonrace) have lived with much of the lost science and capacity for space travel and Mobile Suit technology. Growing to believe its superiority over the Earth, the Moonrace begins planning to reclaim the Earth, either by peaceful relocation and force. In preparation, the Moonrace’s leader Diana sends three young observers to the Earth. Loran Cehack one of the observers, holds high hopes for the relocation after establishing himself as a driver and caretaker for the Heim family, a wealthy industrial family of the Earth.
After growing to enjoy life on Earth amongst the normal Earth dwellers, Loran is equally caught off guard when the Military faction of the Moonrace begins its assault, quickly dispatching Earth’s fledgling militia with their overpowering Mobile Suits. Unbeknownst to the general public, Earth retained some of its Mobile Suit and space-faring technology, much of which was buried underground where it was protected from history. Some technology however was encased in stonework, such as the “White Doll,” a statue used by Earth dwellers in a Coming of Age ceremony. During the initial attack, Loran witnessed the Doll crumble away to reveal the statue is really a Mobile Suit, the Turn A Gundam. Learning how to use it through field experience, Loran comes to terms with the reality that the Earth is worth protecting, even from his own homeland. Little did he realize that the Turn A Gundam had more significance to the Dark History than being a mere relic of that time period.
Turn A Turn
The Turn A Gundam’s incarnation of models came with the standard roll out, a 1/144 scale version and a 1/100 scale high grade constructed in the most basic fashion typical to both scales. For the Master Grade Turn A, the design team chose to forgo the internal mechanical aspect and make the Turn A in its external Aesthetic glory. The model lacks much of the internal detail and mechanical components famous for the line and instead focuses on the final product and there is much internal construction which compliments this theory.
Out of the box the Turn A is molded in its final colors, red, white, blue, yellow, and gray, with two additional parts molded in clear yellow for the Turn A’s eyes and cockpit making paintwork a purely optional affair. In a statement given last year, Bandai announced that they will be engineering models with fewer (if not without) polycaps (the rubber like parts used in joints). Although one of many economic decisions this declaration has been used in giving them more room for recreating complex joint assemblies and intricate components. This change has been implemented a few times already when it was fully introduced with the Master Grade Gundam F-91 and again more recently with the RX-0 Unicorn Gundam. Following the trend, there are no polycaps included in the Turn A kit. There are a series of parts runners molded in thicker ABS with higher durability that are used for building joint components.
Preliminary examination shows that the Turn A model can be done with minimal paint work. In fact most of the work I did on this was detailing with a rapidoliner, with touch ups with a tooth pick in some areas such as the symbol on the Turn A’s forehead and Loran figure in the pilot’s seat. Detailing is where much of the Turn A’s style stands out, with its panel markings exposed and raised areas that stand out with a little ink. There were some areas where paneling was not fully pressed. However when compared to the whole kit, these small points are negligible.
The Turn A’s head is constructed from the inside out starting with a sub-layer that makes up the bulk of the head, mainly the eyes and chin constructed on a spheroid block that then connects with a two disk assembly that makes up the Gundam’s neck. This half sphere shaped piece is molded in the clear yellow plastic with two protruding wedges to make the Gundam’s eyes. Instead of having to paint this area, the Turn A has a ‘mask’ which fits over the eyes and completely encases the first layer. The armor of the Turn A’s head consists of two shell halves (cut front and back) that are locked together by an additional strip on the top of the Turn A’s head. The Turn A’s famous mustache is then slid up into place at its chin and locks into place in a groove. For the must part, the Turn A’s head is impressively constructed, well thought out, and very pleasing to its design.
The Torso of the Turn A is where much of the Gundam’s internal and external mechanisms are showcased. The front of the chest itself is made of individual doors that open like vents. These panels connect to large plates which then lock into the main bay blocks. These two blocks can be removed and shown for their detail, or exposed by opening the plates on the front of the chest. The missiles are adjoined parts, where there are three long missile tubes injected vertically and joined by a flat strip with groove points that run along the inside of the pod. The missile bays as well are solid cast injected parts where both pods are singular pieces. There is some drawbacks to this detail because of their recessed design, making use of the Turn A’s peg mount for the Action Base as a turn key to push the pods out from the back. Speaking of the Action Base, this additional stem arm connects to a small port on the center of the Turn A’s back (by removing the plug installed over the port). One last piece of business involving the front of the Turn A, or more over like two optional pieces. The center rib that divides the chest regions was included in two colors, blue and white. Both parts are exactly the same, and why they were included is beyond me, but the addition is just one piece of extra thought included into the Turn A Gundam’s model.
The range of flexibility in the Turn A Gundam’s torso is incredibly balanced. Through an arrangement of rolling stem hinges, the Turn A’s torso has an excellent range of rotary motion in its abdomen similar to the effect of a ball joint. The shoulders however lack that, as they are only mounted on a peg with limited horizontal rotation, and no vertical motion. This is compounded by the way the shoulder armor locks into place on the shoulder region of the body.
The Turn A’s torso is also the main focus of the Turn A’s cursed ability. Known as the “Moonlight Butterfly” the Turn A’s back opens to reveal exhaust ports which then generate and exhume energy combined with nano-machines that destroy any mechanical or technological items they come into contact with. The ability (or attack) casts a shadow over the Turn A in the shape of a butterfly’s wings, and was the cause of the Earth’s desolation of technology. In model kit form, Bandai has recreated the opening ports very thoroughly, with individually cut panels that rotate at a given axis to reveal the ports in the back of the armor. Unfortunately, this is where I wish Bandai took some extra initiative and added some “Effects” parts like the wings that were included in the special edition of the Destiny Gundam from earlier in the year. The fact that the Turn A is missing both a key element to its character and some Celebratory feature for being the 100th MG it is disappointing that it was never even considered let alone included in some way.
The Arms of the Turn A are relatively simple, with a basic joint built underneath the armor which fits over the assembly in sleeves. The elbow itself is comprised of two portions which snap together from the front making a complete sphere shape when both components are joined. The upper portion is then covered by a sleeve for the bicep armor and then locked down by a sphere shaped shoulder where it then joins the torso. The forearm actually two combined parts; the body and the wrist. The main portion of the forearm is again, a sleeve which fits down from the elbow and locks into place on a railing. The forearm armor is then reinforced by two additional layers of armor on the side of the arm. The wrist is its own sub assembly of the inner section which is a cupped stem with a ball joint to connect with the hand. It is then covered with a cylindrical sleeve for the armor.
In an interesting fashion the Turn A’s shoulder armor literally floats on itself. Constructed out of a series of underbelly plates and a seating ring (that floats over the shoulder stem) the shoulder armor then connects to the back armor plate. Through an arrangement of interconnected hinges built between the upper and lower plates, the shoulder armor is articulated on its own. In some instances the shoulder armor impedes the arms from flexing beyond a given point, but otherwise they have no influence on the arms and the arms have no impact on how tight the shoulder armor fits. This comes as a nice change of pace where shoulder armor is either built onto the bicep or rests against the arm through a plate that slides onto the shoulder stem. Additionally, the shoulder armor has a series of grooves cut into the rear section so to mount docking brackets for storing the Turn A’s arsenal.
Expanding on the ‘Version 2’ hand parts, the Turn A’s hands are assembled with much better articulated fingers compared to the classic hinged fingers of older MG kits. Unlike earlier kits, the Turn A’s fingers are individually cut digits for the middle finger, ring finger, and pinky. Articulation for the hands is however typical of the Version 2 method, the thumb and index finger are molded with ball joints while the additional fingers fit together as a three piece hinge. Although the Turn A is remarkably taller than most Gundams like the RX-78-2, its hands are quite petite which makes constructing the hands ridiculously tedious as they are sandwiched between the back hand and the palm. So a word of “slipping” caution for those with big hands who endeavor to construct the Turn A. When completed, the hands fit onto the spheres at the end of the wrist joints. There were two additional hands included with the kit, as two splayed open palms. For sake of saying, I did not bother to construct them because I wanted minimize excess parts floating around.
The legs of the Turn A are what make the model stand up so high as well as stand out. Visually the Turn A’s leg design looks like it is made out of exposed radiator fins, so the engineering team behind the model experimented with how the plates articulate as the legs move. Construction begins with a series of interconnecting plates sandwiched together in layers. Put shortly, the blades are not single strips, instead are tiered sections: the outer most plates are combined as one piece which is then covered by a middle set of plates and finally topped off with a central blade. Articulation in the upper leg comes from a track guided mechanism built into the front of the knee that collides with the rear plates which are mounted on floating hinge. The ‘striker’ mechanism then guides the plates into a shifting motion. The lower leg follows something of a reversed design, with the plates connected between the interior leg and sub-ankle assembly on a set of ‘snap points.’ The main body of the plates holds tightly against the inside of the leg while the inner most parts shift as the sub-ankle rotates forward or backwards. The whole lower leg is then locked down by a set of heavy armor blocks before the Turn A’s outer armor shell.
The difference between what I call the ‘sub-ankle’ and the main ankle is their location. The sub-ankle is an extension of the lower leg, and works to articulate the body of the Turn A’s lower leg in relation to the main ankle. The main ankle is a full assembly designed to rotate and flex at an extended range from the leg and connects to the feet. The feet are constructed in three piece assemblies for the front and back with the outer armor covering an underside piece with hinge points to connect to the ankle. Above it all are the hip joints, which follow the same construction theory as the shoulder joint. The hips are canister shaped assemblies that connect to the waist with a rotating block that connects to the legs.
The outer armor of the Turn A’s legs are a series of half-wrap around sleeves for both the upper and lower sections. Naturally because of the radiator-leg design, they do not cover the rear and instead fit on from the front. Like the forearm, the upper thigh armor has two layers of armor that cover the sides of the hips with a short ‘wrap-around’ section where the legs meet the hips. The lower leg is comprised of ventilated strips of armor which fit onto the sides of the legs and two front sections that encases most of the body. The knee armor is then attached and constructed of two sections for the front (outer armor, and underlying plate) and locks into a bracket in the rear.
The waist section is built from a series disk shaped parts, two making the lower sides where the hip joints connect, which are then encased in armor from the front and back. The upper section of the waist is made of a flat disk with two protruding ball-stems and an encasing ring that locks down on top of the main plate. The ball stems coming from the central locking plate are the mounts for the Turn A’s side-skirt armor. This whole assembly then adjoins the Turn A’s torso and legs together, naturally.
The final piece of the Turn A’s body will make some snicker and giggle in the peanut gallery, and might make me lose what little credibility I have if I started making jokes. The Turn A’s Corefighter/Cockpit is attached to the front of the Turn A’s crotch. Yes, that is right: the cockpit is in the crotch, but unlike the similar concept of the Orbital Frames from Zone of the Enders, the Turn A’s does not make it look like a robot on Enzyte. Okay maybe that one joke, but that’s it. Moving on!
The design is a dome-topped canister with the two triangular wings that make the front skirt armor for the mobile suit. The skirts are articulated via a swing arm that rotates around on the body of the corefighter, and again where it attaches to the skirts. The Cockpit itself is a spheroid structure made up of two parts, the outer dome, and lower hemisphere. The lower piece is molded with Loran sitting in the deeply receded control seat which can then be painted before encasing him in the dome. With the dome molded in the clear yellow plastic, a painted Loran really stands out against the surrounding armor. However the minute size of both pieces makes it difficult to hold the cockpit together without glue because the outer dome rests on two miniscule tips on the seat portion.
There is no such thing as a Gundam without weapons, and the Turn A comes with a raw assortment comparable to the original RX-78-2. This weapon assortment includes the Turn A’s shield, beam rifle, beam sabers, and its own incarnation of the ball and chain “Gundam Hammer.” The beam sabers are simple single pieces with no assembly required. The only assembly required is for their docks, which are long ‘u’ shaped pieces that attach to a docking port which fit into grooves on the back of the Turn A’s shoulder armor. The beams themselves are different from the traditional ‘bulb ended’ beams included beam parts, instead they are pin point tubes. While no building is required, the beam sabers themselves are exquisitely detailed, and can really shine with some added touch up work.
The Turn A’s beam rifle is different from the typical idea of Gundam weaponry, and looks like something out of Star Trek. The rifle is constructed in two halves for the main body, with two red triangular parts encased at the end. Additionally built on the inside are the gun’s grip and main trigger, which is made from a rotating disk with a retractable grip. This is then enclosed within the stock of the rifle which slides back and forth like a sock on a track. There is another sliding door on the underside of the rifle which closes over the gun’s regular grip for when the side grip is exposed. This makes the Turn A’s rifle aesthetically streamline like the rest of the mobile suit.
The Turn A’s shield is an interesting design based on the Turn A’s curved look. The oblong shape is almost reminiscent of the shields from the Gelgoog mobile suit of the UC generation. The Shield is built from the back to the front, with the docking assembly where it mounts to the Turn A’s arm connecting to a track which it then can slide across. This comes as a nice change from most MG shields that are simple mounts on a given point with a peg port. The track assembly then connects to an underbelly frame, which then fits onto the main body that is made of three separate pieces. The shield suffers from a problem that can also be applied to the rifle; posing. Due to the overall size of the shield and rifle, it is difficult to pose the Turn A when both items are attached to the arms because they often collide with the shoulder armor. If set properly, the arm does have some range of motion with the shield attached.
The Gundam Hammer, as said is the Turn A’s version of the mace weapon used by the original RX-78-2. Unlike the previous version which was released with the MG RX-78-2 Version 1.5 and again with the Version OYW, the Hammer for the Turn A is a brand new version. While almost identical, the difference is in the gripping anchor which has a groove cut to lock in the peg molded into the Turn A’s palms. Construction of the Hammer is simple with two half spheres making the body and an arrangement of individually added spikes. The anchoring link is then fitted with a snap ring and connects it with a length of chain that connects to another snap ring attached to the grip end.
Despite its skill class and celebratory status, the Turn A Gundam might seem like an over-glorified High Grade rather than a Master Grade. None the less, the Turn A is composed of a level of engineering that sets it above the High Grade level. While its design has set it apart from many Gundam enthusiasts, the execution in this model form is a real delight for the design and pays its respect with being the one of the best incarnations of the Turn A done yet. For MG #100, it has earned its number!
|Posted 25 June, 2008 - 15:27 by Gunpla Rob|