Unicorn Gundam Banshee Destroy Mode
Review by ArshadAA
If there’s one thing Gundam Unicorn will be remembered for, it’ll be the fetishistically detailed mobile suits provided by famed mechornographer Hajime “Long Legs & Warning Labels” Katoki. The Robot Spirits line gives us the latest of his heavily clad deathbots in the form of the Unicorn Banshee in its non-transformable Destroy mode. The Banshee is the latest in a long tradition of dark-colored villain Gundams, but having not seen the OVA yet, a cursory google search fails to reveal an in-universe explanation for why a recolored version of the titular Gundam exists other than “Why the hell not?”. After handling this figure though, I’m certainly not complaining.
Banshee comes in the standard windowed RS box. A single plastic tray neatly contains the figure and all of its accessories. I’m assuming for obviousness’ sake that the Banshee’s mold is based on the refined Full Action release of the original RS Unicorn Destroy, and God help me if I’m wrong because I never found any info highlighting the difference between the two releases other than the recolored accessories and extra beam saber handles.
The base figure stands about 15 cm to the tip of its horn. Aside from the black and gold color scheme and a slightly extended collar, the primary difference between the Banshee and the original Unicorn is the former’s very elaborate v-fin. I like multi-pronged v-fins as much as the next guy, but this thing is ridiculous. It’s basically the Gundam equivalent of deer antlers, and comes in the requisite soft and hard flavors.
Articulation-wise, this thing is a beautiful engineering marvel. 70 degrees of sideways leg movement, full bending knees and elbows, non-obstructive skirt armor, a moving bending torso, and double joints in all the right places.
Pee-eww I need a shower.
The feet can bend downwards but not upwards for some reason, while the inner heel armor can rotate out of the way to allow the feet to move sideways. The armor panel at the back of the lower leg can be lifted up to reveal a thruster.
Something you might notice about the Unicorn’s design is that the arm-mounted beam saber racks add a bit of bloat to the forearms that looks somewhat awkward during some poses. You’re probably not supposed to do this, but it’s possible with some straining to rotate the forearm at the elbow so that the racks are facing backwards. Unfortunately, a plastic tab on the underside (or is it upper side? Damn you confusing perspective!) stops the elbows from fully bending at this position.
The figure comes with four sets of hands: closed fists, open palms, handle holders, and trigger holders. Apart from the having the index finger slightly inched forward on the trigger set, the latter two sets are pretty much interchangeable. All hands mount on standard ball joints and are pretty easy to switch out.
The model kit versions of the Banshee only came with its unique weapons, though modelers could still assemble a rifle and shield because Bandai never took their parts off of the modified Unicorn runners. The RS figure however, comes with pretty much all of the original Unicorn’s accessories. The beam gatling gun is missing but, hey, you can’t win’em all.
First up is the beam rif-sorry I mean beam magnum. It’s a sweet looking gun. The trigger handle swings out to allow insertion into the hand, while a moving side handle is available to be held by the left hand. A nice little feature not commonly seen outside the Zeta line of mobile suits is the ability to mount the magnum on the side of the forearm.
As always, behind every great rifle is a shield. Unlike other mobile suit shields from the era though, this one ditches any built in weapons in favor of housing an I-Field generator for pure defense. The effect is achieved by rotating a set of petal-like objects out from behind the shield, then detaching the lower part and reattaching it further down. The shield attaches to the side or back of the forearm through the usual clip part.
Next up is another staple of UC weaponry: The hyper bazooka. It has the same moving handles as the magnum. I’ve always been a fan of the two-tone bazookas carried by the Nu Gundam and the Gundam Mk.II, so this one strikes me as looking a bit bland. You can shorten the barrel by removing the cylindrical part in the middle so you can store it on the figure’s backpack through a fold out peg. Similar pegs exist on the magnum and the shield as well.
You also get spare ammo clips for the magnum and bazooka that can be stored on the rear skirt armor.
What main Gundam would be complete without the iconic beam sabers? In addition to the classic back-mounted handles, you can also attach handles to swiveling racks on the forearms. Unfortunately, while the figure comes with four handles, you only get two beam blades, further continuing the Bandai tradition of teasing us with the inability to have the Unicorn quad wield beam sabers from a single package.
Now we come to the main attraction. The Unicorn OVA gave the Banshee two unique new weapons to further distinguish it from its white brother. Based on a quick glance at some OVA footage of the Banshee, my first instinct was to call the right weapon a beam ribbon launcher, but cooler heads prevailed and decided to look up the official name: Armed Armor BS, with the BS standing for beam smart gun apparently. Ok maybe that wasn’t such a hot idea. Anyway, the weapon attaches to the forearm and the barrel slides over the fist then extends, making this the only perfectly transforming part of the figure.
The second unique weapon is The Claw! Or Armed Armor VN, and damned if I know what VN stands for. The claw also attaches to the forearm and comes as a single solid piece and a folded out version. The open claw has four moving fingers, and the connecting plates on each side can rotate up and down slightly as well. A long clip is available to attach the shield to the claw.
Fully loaded, the Banshee gives off a nice walking arsenal look.
As per the norm with new RS releases, a special adapter is included to allow the figure to be attached to a Tamashii Stage Act stand so you can let those long legs run wild and free.
If you don’t mind the lack of transformation, this is the most complete version of the Banshee you can buy. A great looking figure with lots of posability and swag.
Comments4 comments posted
The difference between Full Action version and the original RS Unicorn Destroy mode is obvious. The Full Action has all the crazy articulation you praised here on this very thread, while the original is not so much. Not bad, just not as crazy as this one. The FA is slightly bigger than the original, I think.
On another note, that "antler" is meant to evoke the image of a mane of a lion. Banshee has lion motif, hence the mane and the claw.
"Lion" was not the first word that came to mind when I saw this. Certainly a mythical banshee had nothing to do with lions either, so I don't get the connection there, other than that it's called that just to counter the "unicorn"-part of its predecessor.
Indeed, the name doesn't make any sense and more of rule of cool. It should be named "Leo" or something instead. Anyway, it's clear that they tried to emphasis the lion theme when Banshee was redesigned for OVA release, with new claw-like weapon and that jagged yellow plate at the base of the neck. The original novel version doesn't have those.
I believe it's a reference to some historic French painting that one of the characters has hanging on his wall. The symbolism is eye-rollingly silly as per the norm but I couldn't find an angle from which to make fun of the "lion motif" so I didn't bother bringing that up. Thanks for the clarification on the original Unicorn release though!