Master Grade RX-75 Guntank
Review by Optimal III
Without a doubt, I'm pro-toy and anti-model kit. Nothing wrong with kits at all, but I prefer to get something out of the box that's ready to go. Even so, I have to admit that there are times where a kit can be better. So far, I've yet to find one. But for the sake of completeness and telling a story, I'm willing to give it another go.
I'm absolutely happy with my MSIA Guntank, but it's missing some features, and all of them can be found here in the Master Grade RX-75 kit. This is, in theory, the most high-end Guntank available today. I built a few of the old 1:100 High Grades when I was in high school in the late 90's, but didn't put any real effort into them. So now seemed like as good a time as any to take a serious crack at this. Fair warning: though I have excellent tools, this is no masterpiece. Also, I took these pictures for a previous review on my Facebook page, so my thoughts are a mix of how I feel about the end result now and how I felt back in 2012.
Though light in weight, this box is impressive thanks to the awesome art on the front. I would happily have this on a wall somewhere if I could find it. The sides indicate the actual contents and give you some idea of what you're getting into.
Besides the stack of part sprues, the inner contents also include some decals and a small booklet. It contains assembly instructions, a paint guide that I'll never use, some history and explanations on the logic that went into building the Guntank, and data on the weapons and special features. I can't read any of the text, but I still appreciate the effort that went into it. Little things like that suggest that the makers of this product (Bandai) are really trying to give customers the best they can. The cover is a smaller version of the glorious box art, but the back is a photo of what you can achieve if you're willing to put in the work.
So if you go by the manual, the first thing you'll assemble is the Core Fighter. This feature and functionality is what really made me go for the MG, even though I've already got the MSIA. Since each of the three mobile suits from Project V were essentially one-of-a-kind prototypes, all the info that could be collected from them was considered extremely important. The Core Fighter is the cockpit of the mobile suit and contains a learning computer, which records all combat and pilot data. This would be used to improve the prototypes and build future mobile suits. But by itself, the fighter isn't really that remarkable. While armed, it doesn't have the staying power or destructive capacity to make major contributions in combat. The goal is to keep enemies away and get to safety ASAP. Up front in the nose are four double-barrel 25mm Vulcan guns. Set in the body by the tail fin are four missile launchers.
Even at this scale, it still requires removable landing gear. Using transparent plastic adds a little shine, and it is easy to remove, so that's good. I suppose you could paint the piece too if you wanted. The canopy opens, so it's no problem swapping one figurine for another or just leaving the cockpit empty.
The core block, part of the core block system. This is the Core Fighter transformed into the mobile suit cockpit. Part of the logic is that this system would allow pilots to be switched between different machines quickly, without having to get in and out of a cockpit already loaded with their data and settings. In fighter mode, it feels light but not flimsy. It's solid in core block mode, and transformation is smooth and easy. The wings fold onto the body, the nose retracts into itself, and when the nose is folded down below, the tail fin lowers into the body. Assembly was pretty quick and satisfying, which is good for keeping one motivated. Because the mobile suit itself took me several days of on-&-off sessions.
And thus we have the two halves of the Guntank. The top half can actually function as a stationary gun emplacement. And though it was never done in the anime, the concept allowed for the mixing of upper and lower bodies for all three prototypes and the rear half of the G-Fighter.
Here is a comparisons with the MSIA. At a glance, we can already see the difference in detail. The MG has a much darker, less faded series of color tones and its proportions look a bit better.
Something I've always enjoyed about Gundam kits is that the process seems like what actually building the real thing would be like. What we're seeing is the external armor, but there's a complete skeleton under there. The lower body is solid. Very dense in feel and construction. And the treads are pretty thought out (in appearance, at least). The wheels spin and are attached to spring hinges that pivot. This allows the kit to roll, and for the actual Guntank to maintain balance while rolling over all kinds of terrain. The panels on the side are a feature I'll return to later. The red area is the mid-section, and it actually has a lot of room to move. Kind of like being stuck in a wheelchair. It can lean side to side, and forward or backward. The MSIA actually rotates a bit, but I can see how that'd be difficult to pull off with the Core Fighter inside.
This the upper body. I'm not sure why, but something prevents the left chest vent from closing all the way. They open up all the way, helping with heat dissipation. The lower hatch for the driver's cockpit, the core block system, can also be opened.
No way to really show it other than a recording, but besides the rocket launchers rotating in either direction, the barrels actually wriggle a bit and pop in and out, simulating fire and recoil.
Here is the arm and shoulder assembly. A bit more in scale than the MSIA, these are big and bulky. But they can still be aimed perfectly.
Back thrusters. Some very sturdy parts here.
The canopy does open, allowing you to insert either pilot figurine (Hayato or Ryu).
Here is a look at the 180mm cannons, which can be arced up fairly high. They also have internal springs that allow for some recoil action, and can rotate from side to side a bit.
And now a look at the other features not covered by the MSIA. Those panels on the chest? They can lift up for bracing the cannons when stationery or steady fire is the order of the day.
To that end, the back plate can be folded out and lowered as a ramp, to get the spent ammo out of the way more quickly and keep the reload going non-stop with a proper support team.
On the front is another plate. It can descend with these two prongs to either brace itself in the terrain or raise its profile to increase the arc for line of fire.
And lastly, back to these side panels. They can slide down to reveal a lever, and there's one on each side. When pulled to the rear, they actually shift the front wheel down forward and flat, which also raises the Guntank's profile and lets it speed up a bit. But I'm not taking a picture of that for a good reason. These treads are unwieldy like you wouldn't believe. They are hand-linked and have to be connected just so, or they come apart. You actually have to add two extra pieces if you want to lower the front wheels. I spent so much time trying to get them on without separating, it was beyond infuriating. We're talking Angry Video Game Nerd-levels of rage here. I so wish they could have done a set of rubber treads just elastic and just big enough to fit over the wheels. Or heck, just make the tread pieces harder to separate once they're connected.
This is overall a pretty good kit. I like most everything about it, but I can't stand how difficult it is to get the treads on. They're so delicate that you can barely roll the tank without a link disconnecting. Kind of a big deal since this is a tank, but then again, I don't know if that's just mine or normal. There's also an electronic component that uses two small batteries to light up the head lights and control panel in the cockpit. I installed everything correctly, but it doesn't work, so I either bought one or two bad batteries or the part is faulty.
And you can get the MSIA for half the price of this $65 kit, unless you can get this directly from a source in Japan. Better looking, more details and features, but horrible treads. Also the panel lines are not highlighted by default, so I did mine with a Gundam marker that came with this order. I'm happy with my experience and glad to have this, but primarily because of those confounded treads, I'm going to reach for the MSIA first almost every time I think "Guntank".
|Posted 19 April, 2015 - 12:56 by Optimal III|