Review by Rob
“Unlike the Mobile Suit Gundam story, we’re not in a state of war and we don’t have to put our lives on the line… For that reason, people can be enthralled by Gunpla and Gunpla Battle.
Because it’s a game, they can take it seriously!”
“Gundam Build Fighters” takes place in a world living in the time of the “Great Gunpla Boom,” celebrating and battling model kits in virtual combat arenas. In reality, the show has been a genuine tour of love for the many generations of the franchise.
From the very beginning, ’Gundam’ fans have been treated with glimpses of their favorite Mobile Suits (even some that never had model kits or animated appearances) battling against other machines from different universes.
Meanwhile, there have been subtle cameo appearances by characters from across the entire ‘Gundam’ universe hidden in the backgrounds. While most of the cameos remain obscured among the crowds, some are deliberately in clear view of the audience.
…and even get a speaking role to some characters’ chagrin.
Fans have called the series “Valhalla of Gundam,” where characters that have been tragically lost get to live in the paradise world celebrating their stories. Even so, one of these lost souls has been given a prominent supporting role befitting his character.
Who is this you may ask?
Why, a certain robust man with a mustache and a commanding presence.
He has many names:
“The Blue Giant”
…but everybody knows and loves him as… Mr. Ral!
It’s no secret that Mr. Ral is indeed based on Ramba Ral, the Zeon Lieutenant from “Mobile Suit Gundam” known for being the friendly antagonist; a character role common in the Sunrise production where someone placed in the side of the ‘villains’ was more than morally black and white that the audience, and the protagonists could empathize with.
In “Build Fighters,” Mr. (Ramba) Ral was played by his original voice actor Masashi Hirose, whom sadly could not continue the role for the series’ sequel “Gundam Build Fighters Try” due to an illness and was replaced by Katsuhisa Hoki.
However Mr. Hirose was able to deliver some of his greatest, yet humorously modified lines from the original series.
As the personified Gundam aficionado, Mr. Ral is a jovial character acting as the audience’s visual aide to the world and mentor to the series’ younger main cast with his experience in Gunpla Battle and knowledge of the multifaceted levels of model building.
He even loves talking about his ‘old guerilla tactics.’
In the first opening credits of ‘Build Fighters,’ it hinted that Mr. Ral would have his own customized machine. By the final episode he unveiled his own Gunpla, the Gouf R35!
“It stands for Ral, 35 years old!”
The MS-07R-35 “Gouf R35” is Mr. Ral’s custom Gunpla based on the Zeon Mobile Suit from the original “Mobile Suit Gundam” series.
The Gouf R35 is Mr. Ral’s idea for a Mobile Suit Variation of the Gouf as a High Mobility Type and pays homage to the other models of its kind like Johnny Ridden’s custom MS-06R Zaku II.
It stays true to the look of the original Blue Giant while its weapon designs reflect the Mobile Suit’s multigenerational descendents, the Gouf Custom from “Gundam the 08th MS Team” and Gouf Ignited from “Gundam SEED Destiny.”
The 1:144 scale Gouf R35 is the 15th model of the High Grade Build Fighters collection and is one of the few designs made with an entirely new mold instead of relying on parts from the previous High Grade Universal Century MS-07 model kit, from 15 years ago.
In fact I would be willing to guess that this kit is the precursor for an inevitable remake of the classic Gouf as part of the “High Grade Revive” series Bandai is now producing.
The proof is in the runners; which are labeled simply “HG 1:144 Gouf” with gate extensions for the parts that are exclusive to the R35.
Out of the box, the R35 is comprised of nine parts runners and Bandai’s ‘universal’ polycap set.
Its body is molded in two shades of blue plastic that are almost indistinguishable with black plastic for its chest and feet and gray plastic for its joints and backpack.
The model features clear orange plastic for its cockpit windows and the blades for its heat sabers.
The Gouf uses soft, flexible plastic for the power cables for the head and midsection as well as for its signature Heat Rod.
The model comes with a short sheet of decals for its mono-eye and the hard points on its forearm gauntlets that I opted to paint over instead.
At a glance, the Gouf requires a modest amount of paint to look just right.
The backs of the shields especially, are molded in the light blue plastic that I painted with Testors “Gunship Gray.” I also coated the insides of the waist armor, shoulder armor and the exposed thrusters and vents on the Gouf’s body that were molded in blue plastic.
The cables molded onto the waist mounted thrusters needed to be painted blue, which I did with a small mix of Cobalt Blue, Flat White, and French Blue acrylic.
Instead of just painting over the Gouf’s mono-eye, I decided to do something I hadn’t done before.
Using my Pin Vice as a step drill, I cored out the camera lens and widened the aperture rings which I then painted with silver enamel before coating the finished eye with clear pink acrylic.
Personally I’m happy with what I did because it adds an extra level of detail to the High Grade as adding an MS Sight Lens did to a Master Grade.
Fully built, the Gouf R35 stands at 5 and a half inches tall from heel to the tip of its shoulder spikes and captures the look of Mr Ral’s Gunpla perfectly!
The model does an excellent job of masking most of its part seams along the panel lines.
The Gouf R35 is one of the first Zeonic Mobile Suits I have built that use the new “High Grade All Gundam” style of joints and polycaps that allow the parts to be adaptable with any of the similar model kits such as the Build Strike or Build Burning Gundam models.
Thanks to its engineering, the R35 is moderately flexible without sacrificing the Gouf’s imposing appearance.
“That’s the true strength of the Blue Giant!”
Even with all of its equipment mounted, the Gouf R35 isn’t encumbered by its own bulk and the cables that run from its back to the front of its waist don’t obstruct any of its movement.
Like the 1:100 scale Master Grade Version 2.0 Gouf, the R35’s shoulder armor attaches to the outside of the limb on a hinged joint that doesn’t impede the arms’ range of motion.
Its front skirt armor is connected to the hip armor to allow the legs even more freedom to move, which is improved by the swiveling pelvic post.
One of the details I really like is how the mono-eye has a swiveling feature, controlled by a lever protruding under the jaw to let the Gouf glare out the corner of its field of view.
“……… You have good eyes…”
Even if it’s built for speed, the R35 is still a close quarters combat machine and its weapons are all based from the original Gouf that have been duplicated and modified even further.
The Finger Vulcans are mounted as gauntlets on the backs of its forearms rather than replacing the Gouf’s hands.
The shields are mounted over them, giving the R35 its ferocious look!
The gun barrels for the thumb and pinky finger gun barrels are cut at different lengths. The parts are also hinged while the other fingers are moveable slightly on ball and socket connections.
The Heat Sabers are inherent to the Gouf, and it’s no surprise they look fantastic with this kit! The sabers can be stored on the back of the R35’s shields like on the original Gouf, but their primary sheaths are built into the legs.
The grips for the Gouf’s heat sabers are molded with tabs that interconnect with the palms to better secure them for handling the weight of the long sword blades.
The Heat Rod is simple and nicely done.
It is molded with a sharp crease at the back end for it wrap into the Gouf’s hand before being connected to the forearm socket.
The flexible plastic holds its shape in gentle bends and avoids feeling too stiff.
Although it never appeared in ‘Build Fighters,’ the Gouf R35 comes with its own Customized Backpack.
The Customized Backpack is a two part assembly, based on the zero-gravity Vernier flight harness like those worn by Zeon soldiers during the One Year War combined with a Zaku F2’s back mounted solid rocket boosters.
Its inclusion with the R35 seems like Bandai wanted to give this model its own “Build Custom” style add-on kit, and so it has a set of connectors to share it with the other High Grade Build Fighters models.
It’s a nice gesture, and the Backpack adds some more Zeonic flair to Mr. Ral’s style!
... and here I was planning on painting a “Build Booster” in the colors of a Dodai YS.
“I’ve heard enough. Ral shall be the judge of this Gunpla!”
Overall the High Grade Gouf R35 is a refreshing model based on a classic design that is truly worth building. As a fan of the Gouf and someone who really enjoyed the Build Fighters television series, I was very happy to see the Gouf R35 as a model kit for me to build myself.
“Now this is a Best Mecha Collection boys!”
“Wait, where are you going?! I want to tell you about my guerilla building tactics!”
“…In the middle of a review, they forgot about Ral.”
|Posted 30 July, 2015 - 16:49 by Rob|