Review by VF5SS
The Fool was provided by HobbyLink Japan.
Nobunaga The Fool re-imagined the famous historical figure as a passionate young man who swore to unite heaven and earth under his rule even in the face of invasion by giant robots. Nobu leads the charge against his enemies in a Giant War Armor he calls "The Fool." The show was created by popular anime director, Shoji Kawamori, and featured his signature mechanical designs for all the War Armors.
The titular giant robot recently received a plastic model kit from Bandai and I was eager to check it out.
The Fool comes in the usual Bandai model box that is a bit larger than the average HGUC kit.
Here is the contents of the kit. Note the huge sticker sheet as we'll be getting to that in a bit.
There's ten separate sprues in total with four being a pair of duplicates. There's not a lot going on color wise with two shades of gray, some black, and one gold colored tree. All the parts have a slight metallic finish not unlike Kotobukiya's Armored Core kits. Also included is two runners of polycaps.
I found the overall building experience for The Fool to be straightforward and enjoyable with one nagging issue. Note that almost every step involves you applying at least one sticker to any given assembly. Some of these need to be put on during the assembly of small parts because otherwise you wouldn't be able to access these areas once a part is completed.
This is the sticker sheet from hell in all of its glory. While The Fool is not a particularly complex design, it does have a lot of little details and color highlights that would require a much more elaborate kit to achieve the perfect look without painting. Since this is essentially a High Grade style model, Bandai provided a huge array of paper stickers to complete The Fool straight from the box.
I found putting on all these stickers kind of exhausting so for most of this review you will see The Fool with a minimum amount applied. As a longtime casual model builder, I've never really honed my painting skills so I must admit this review may not show the kit at its full potential. That being said, the engineering for this model is quite friendly to novices so it is an easy build. However, putting on all the finishing touches will take a lot more work. Fret not ,though, as I promise you will see the fully stickered up model at the end of this review.
Here's a scan of the paint guide to give you an idea of what The Fool should look like when built by a pro modeler. And now for my less than professional build up.
The unarmored Fool is a straightforward design with all the earmarks of Kawamori's craft. It is about six inches tall and feels pretty solid after assembly. This is how the Giant War Armor looks before Nobunaga summons its additional regalia through powerful sci-fi magic.
The base plastic colors seem darker than how The Fool was depicted in the anime and in the completed model photos.
A closeup of the head reveals a very striking design with vibrant yellow eyes. If you're using the sticker for the eyes you will need to apply it before attaching the forehead piece. Articulation is achieved with a ball-joint at both the top and the bottom of the neck.
The rest of The Fool's articulation is quite good with everything from the arms to the legs having a full range of motion. There's even a waist joint achieved via a ball and socket connection. Its shoulder armor can swivel forward and back with ease.
You can get a bit more arm articulation thanks to movable chest sections on either side of the main core. When you flex the foolish pecs outward, it reveals some cool internal detailing.
One cool bit of extra engineering is moving pistons in both the knees and ankles. The latter will even follow the feet as they tilt in different directions thanks to a small ball-joint. Although the ankle pistons can pop out with extreme motion, they go back in easily enough.
Kneeling is no problem for The Fool.
With the legs spread open we can take a closer look at what's going on with the hip joints. Rather than the usual ball and socket connection, the arrangement is actually a lot more mechanical with a rotating cylinder plugging into a hinged joint in the thigh. The whole assembly can also move around on a ball-joint that plugs into the bottom of the lower waist. It's a surprisingly novel approach for an otherwise straightforward model kit.
The Fool's singular weapon is a huge oversized katana that can be stored in a matching gold scabbard.
You can plug the scabbard into either hip but its nominal position is the left side. Oddly enough the tiny Kawamori hip thingie plugs into the sheath just for symmetry.
Even unarmored (and barely stickered), I really like The Fool's design. It has a simple heroic style coupled with Shoji Kawamori's signature mechanical sleekness.
"Ah my little Fool! How you've grown into a fine young robot!"
"Hey big sis Nirvash... You're kinda cramping my style when you call me little..."
The Fool is certainly a proud member of the Kawamori family.
In addition to the gripping hands, The Fool has a pair of splayed hands for maximum Japanese style theatrics.
"IT WAS INEVITABLE!!"
*Japanese drum sounds.*
The unsheathed katana is nearly as long as The Fool is tall.
It looks great in the figure's hands and completes the robotic samurai look. Be aware that you may want to glue the sword holding hands together though as they can come apart with rough handling.
Please excuse all the shots of the figure's face. For some reason I found The Fool to be so enchantingly photogenic...
You can also pop a small panel off the back of The Fool to reveal a hole for attaching a stand. Almost any kind of stand will fit in here like Bandai's Hobby Action Base 2, a Tamashii Stage, or even a Figma stand.
Now Nobunaga can command his steed to leap into battle.
The Fool's full array of regalia makes for an impressive spread of armor. All of the parts feel quite solid after assembly. Before attaching these parts you have to pop off the outer shoulder ornaments and the gray chest blocks in order to replace them with fully armored versions.
When equipped with its full regalia, The Fool's proportions became a lot more balanced. The armor design blends many of Kawamori's usual touches like ankle flanges and hip thingies with cues from real samurai armor. Dressing The Fool for battle is quite easy and all the parts feel secure with nothing major popping off even when posing.
While the backpack is quite bulky, the figure does not feel top heavy and stands easily.
And I must say the hip thingies are quite exquisite on The Fool. There's actually three layers of hip ornaments on the side with the scabbard the outer panel connects to the smaller normal mode one and then plugs into the sword sheath.
The fully loaded fool has a strong presence as befitting the young warlord.
The armor complements the underlying machine quite well.
Even with all the armor attached, the Fool maintains its articulation thanks to a smart parts layout. Pretty much anything that needs to move out of the way can do so easily like the large shoulder guards. I honestly found the tightness of some joints to be more of an annoyance in posing than any of the bulky armor bits.
The huge sword matches the bulked up Fool quite well.
Head articulation likewise remains unhindered. However, the gold ornaments on the sides of the head may pop off when grabbed. There is a reason for this though.
You can also prop The Fool up on a stand even when armored up.
"I swear upon my own life that one day..."
"The heavens above and the earth below..."
"Will be united under my rule!"
But before The Fool goes off to conquer, he'll pose for a photo with the family. Reunions are inevitable...
The Fool's regalia has a few gimmicks of its own. You can "transform" the large outer shoulder pauldrons into a pair of elemental weapons. Simply pop off the hubcap shaped mount along with the rectangular piece and flip their position 180 degrees.
To complete this configuration you get an alternate mount for the antenna that flares the gold parts out like lighting rods. They're actually supposed to be rotated 90 degrees so just pretend this is an "in transition" shot.
Together with an alternate part for the antenna, you can have The Fool do its powerful lightning attacks. My only problem with this mode is that the pegs for the shoulder pauldrons did get loose after doing this once. Of course if the figure is painted there should be no problem with joint tightness.
The Fool is also equipped with a pair of wind generators that have moving petal-like flanges. To move this into position you have to swap out one set of gold forks for an extended version.
Now The Fool is ready with fire, wind, and electricity.
For the regalia's final gimmick, you need to remove it from the figure and put a few pieces aside. Everything here will be combined with another set of parts for "Haneuma" or Iron Horse mode.
These are the extra parts needed to complete the Iron Horse. Essentially these are all "transformed" versions of the existing parts as in many places this kit is too small to have conversion mechanisms. The two largest parts are for hooking the boots to the shin guards so they can plug into the main sides of the hover bike.
All in all the Iron Horse is a good looking boss hog that The Fool can ride around on.
Mounting The Fool on the Iron Horse can be a little tricky when you have to thread his hands around the small handlebars while fighting his tight joints. Once he's on there you can try to finagle his fanny into a small cradle for proper support or have him ride it wild style.
"I, Oda Nobunaga, have come forth!"
There's a slot underneath for attaching the Iron Horse to an Action Base. Lacking one of these I opted to use my Tamashii Stage Act 5 as a substitute.
You can even pop the wind generators up on his shoulders for an extra boost.
And now for the full straight out of the box experience with The Fool. Applying all of these stickers took a fair bit of time and the reason I held off doing this until the end is because I question the durability of these simple paper seals.
You'll notice a lot of the stickers go over molded detail like the head crest without actually filling it in. Super tiny accents like the red dots above the eyes are done with really thin decals that are hard to apply and easily lost.
Each "ear" gets a pair of stickers which consist of a large circular decal and minuscule red vent work.
On the flip side, the larger red dot stickers that go into a small dimple in The Fool's body are easier to apply and tend to stay neatly in place.
Some of the basic striping and gold accents (like around the wrist cuffs) are also fairly doable with just the stickers.
The family seal on The Fool's chest is done with a special clear plastic sticker that you get two of in case you shame the emperor and mess up.
Huge red stickers are used to complete the scabbard in a rather brazen manner. I have to wonder if this kit was so locked into a price point that Bandai eschewed adding one more plastic color and tried to compensate with paper decals. Honestly, one sprue of red parts would do a lot for this figure.
Also another confusing choice is how sizable sections of gold have to be added in with stickers even though it's one of the plastic colors. These stickers for the hip thingies were a pain to do because they have to be flattened along small sloped surfaces.
And now I present to you a figure you do not want to touch lest you start undoing all your sticker work. While I do like how The Fool looks now, the sheer number of long, thin stickers that must be carefully applied along edges adds so much frustration to this kit.
Again there are some stickers that are pretty straightforward like the gold and red highlights on the chest armor.
The ones on the shin guards are especially tricky as they go all the way down the front and then curl up under the ankle guards.
The bigger hip thingies have several layers of stickers just to replicate colors that again, the kit already has available. Trying to wrap multiple seals around cylinders and curved surfaces makes for a miserable experience.
Another hassle is doing the trim around the shoulders' armor plates. This is literally one big sticker that has to be guided around the edge in a loop.
The inner mechanisms also feature a big sticker that goes on alright. Don't make the mistake I did an use the red center left behind from the big spoked wheel as the middle. There was another red dot right next to it on the sticker sheet I didn't notice...
I'll be the first to admit that all of my griping could be solved by painting on all these details. However, I feel like some Bandai kits create this weird dichotomy in where following the instructions and using the stickers provided just feels like I'm doing it wrong. It's truly a special kind of product when you feel bad for using it as intended.
Overall I find Bandai's model kit of The Fool to be a mixed bag. While the building experience is quite enjoyable and produces a really solid figure, the extra finishing that's required by either paint or stickers is intimidating. It makes me wish this was a slightly more elaborate kit closer to a Master Grade so more of these details could be color molded and with fewer parts being left behind between armor modes. At the very least the kit could have used just one more plastic color or another gold sprue to better handle all the trim and detail parts.
For those looking for a toy of The Fool, Max Factory has teased a figma but has not confirmed when (or if) it will be released. I think this design would have been really well suited to a Robot Damashii or even a Soul Spec where the armor gimmick could be fully realized. If you want The Fool and are okay with what you see with the kit, it appears to be plentiful and available at less than its 2,500 yen retail price.
Thanks again to HobbyLink Japan for providing this model kit.
|Posted 30 September, 2014 - 06:22 by VF5SS|