Real Grade Gundam GP01
Review by Rob
The Gundam GP01 is one of my favorite Mobile Suit designs of all time and my first Real Grade Gunpla ever! I started building this back in 2014, sorry to keep you waiting!
The RX-78GP01 Gundam “Zephyranthes” was the first lead Mobile Suit from the 1991 OAV series “Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory,” set during the aftermath of the One Year War of the Universal Century.
It was created by my favorite mechanical designer, Shoji Kawamori who at the time of the series’ development asked that he be credited as the Gundam’s “mechanical stylist” in a show of respect to Kunio Okawara since it was based on his RX-78-2.
Secondly “0083” was my first exposure to “Real Gundam,” a side of the Universal Century that did not involve Newtypes and instead focused on the more human and mechanical aspects of the franchise.
In my opinion, “Gundam 0083” was a perfect example of this sub-genre.
The story was told from the perspective of normal, flawed human beings that spent more time battling amongst themselves in a way that let audiences sympathize to both sides in the conflict… and cope with the disgusting nature of serving carrots with every meal.
Visually, the OAV had great moments showcasing the mechanical engineering of the Mobile Suits drawn with exacting detail, a trait that has translated with mixed results into Gunpla.
On the subject of becoming more ‘real,’ Bandai’s 1:144 scale Real Grade collection has reached a level of model kit engineering surpassing many expectations of being hyper detailed High Grade models or miniature Perfect Grades.
The Real Grade 1:144 scale GP01 was released in 2013 and was produced at the same time as the Gundam’s upgraded form; the GP01FB (short for Full Burnern and often pronounced “Full Vernian”), maintaining the passive trend of like-model Real Grades coming out in pairs.
“It is the year UC 0083…”
Created in the year UC 0083, the GP01 “Zephyranthes” was the first prototype of the Earth Federation’s Gundam Development Project which was slated to produce “Gundam” type Mobile Suits in the wake of the One Year War as countermeasures to any Zeon resurgence.
It was built by Anaheim Electronics alongside the tactical nuclear assault model GP02 “Physalis” and orbital defense platform GP03 “Dendrobium,” while a fourth unit would never be officially produced for the Federation.
The GP01 was the Multipurpose Type, a versatile Mobile Suit able to function in any environment with the proper adjustments and upgrades. To be more like its predecessor the RX-78-2, it was also built with a Core Fighter to expand on its capabilities.
As the Federation would try to downplay the existence of remnant Zeon forces in the years after the War, Zeon spies within Anaheim Electronics who worked on the GDP relayed information to their allies when the GP01 and GP02 were transferred to Torrington Base in Australia for terrestrial trials.
When the GP02 was armed with a nuclear warhead, it was stolen by Anavel “Nightmare of Solomon” Gato, a Zeon solider of the Delaz Fleet in the first phase of their multi-layered assault called “Operation Stardust.”
In order to pursue the stolen Mobile Suit, the GP01 was commandeered by rookie Federation pilot, Kou Uraki.
Kou’s youthful act of determination not only sparked a short lived rivalry against the jaded veteran but led him to question the morality of the Federation’s leadership, uncovering a conspiracy that would change the course of the Universal Century forever!
“Real Grade Gundam Unit 1…”
The 1:144 scale Real Grade GP01 marks the twelfth entry into the model line and my fourth time building the design so far.
Out of the box, the GP01 is comprised of nine runners.
Its outer body is molded in white, light gray, blue, red, and yellow plastic. The model’s inner frame is molded in dark gray ABS plastic while the exposed joints and backpack are molded in a neutral gray plastic.
The white and light gray colored parts are a trademark feature of the Real Grade models, representing where moving panels intersect with fixed plates.
The GP01 has clear parts molded in colorless plastic for the Core Fighter’s canopy, the Gundam’s eyes and rifle scope that are detailed with stunning precision.
True to the Real Grade form, the GP01’s multicolored plastic is incredibly detailed. Because of that, most of the parts are molded with Bandai’s “under-gate” injection technique where the sprues connect on the back sides of each part.
This makes building the model a bit more tedious, especially when some of the sprues are molded within the indented panels such as on the forearms.
Real Grade Gunpla use Bandai’s breakthrough “Advanced MS Joint” created with their multi-gate injection process to produce a partially constructed inner frame that is fully articulated right off the runner.
The concept behind the Advanced MS Joint is not to replicate a Mobile Suit’s detailed inner movable frame in the 1:144 scale, but create a functioning skeleton that is integrated into the moving panels of the outer armor.
While most Real Grade models have received their own unique ‘Joint’ sets, the one used with the GP01 is the same as the previous RX-178 Gundam Mk2 kits. However, it excludes using the torso’s frame parts since the GP01 is built around a Core Fighter.
The Joint assemblies are intricately molded and articulated right off the runner, but each component first needs to be folded into the proper orientation.
Moreover, the Advanced Joint is not a complete assembly and requires additional parts molded in the more rigid plastic to reinforce them.
Some of the more completed parts included in the GP01’s Advanced MS Joint are the ankle pistons and articulated hands featuring jointed knuckles in each finger.
Interestingly, the design of the hand parts reminds me of the first time Bandai tried this style of articulated parts from the Master Grade Zeta Gundam from 1996.
Although ambitious, the hand parts are sadly very delicate and easily broken.
This happened to me when the thumb on my GP01’s left hand broke the first time I tried bending it. I was able to glue it back together and to be on the safe side, I put some glue to the thumb on the right hand as well.
Just in case of emergency though (not really), the model has fixed pose hands for holding its weapons or just standing and looking awesome without them.
“Yes I’ll add some paint, but no carrots please…”
While the Real Grade model comes with its own style of warning decals, I went with the clean look for my GP01 and put more effort into painting the model.
I actually found myself adding more paint than I had originally planned the longer I worked on the kit.
I don't know why, but for some reason, I keep doing this to myself...
At first I wanted to keep with the original look of the GP01 by painting the seams of the armor. This was a mixture of Testors Model Master Acrylic “Flat Black” and “Engine Gray” to match the color of the Advanced MS Joint and make it appear through the outer armor.
I used the mixture on the back of the shield as well as a few other minor details on the regular gray plastic.
Using the Real Grade and Master Grade RX-78-2 Version 3.0 models for inspiration, I added some light blue and light red paint to some of the segmented panels of those colored parts and I added more light gray paint to some of the white plastic parts’ raised panels and outlining borders.
The red sensor stripes on the GP01’s knee armor were originally substituted with decals.
For mine, I painted the area with silver enamel and “Clear Red” acrylic, making minor touch ups with a GM16 (metallic red) Gundammarker that I also used on the Vernier nozzles on the Gundam’s feet and backpack.
I painted the Core Fighter's canopy in "Clear Blue" acrylic before painting the frame around the glass. As always, I painted the Gundam's eyes with “Clear Green” acrylic and used “Clear Red” for the scope of its beam rifle.
While I didn’t use any of the Real Grade’s decals, I did apply the signature “o1” mark onto the Gundam’s left shoulder which I took from Bandai’s Decal Set for the HGUC “0083” Gundams.
The last detail of the Real Grade GP01 I painted was the 1:144 scale figurine of Kou that was molded in the white plastic.
When fully built, the Real Grade GP01 stands at 5 inches tall from heel to V-crest.
Once completed, I’m even more amazed by the level of engineering in the Real Grade’s frame and armor movement.
There are a surprising number of points of articulation to the completed kit such as the swiveling midsection that manages to work around the Core Fighter.
The sliding pistons in the ankles not only link the lower legs together with the feet but also accentuate the movement of the armor and skeletal structure.
The same can be said of the arms with the double jointed elbows and the sliding bicep pistons.
“Hey Keith check it out, this one even has a Core Fighter!”
The Core Fighter is one of the most outstanding features of this kit!
As a direct descendent of the RX-78 Gundam, the GP01 is built with the Core Block System with a transformable aircraft called a Core Fighter as its cockpit.
Unlike its predecessor however, the GP01’s Core Fighter is not universal to any of the other Gundam Project machines.
Where the original Core Fighter was a compact unit that fit into the torso, the GP01’s is fully integrated into the Gundam’s midsection and backpack, increasing its combat and flight capabilities.
The Core Fighter is transformable and the craft is articulated from the nosecone to its tail fins, able to fold down to fit into the body of the Gundam.
The best way to describe the conversion of the Core Fighter is an origami crane in the shape of a fighter jet.
There is some minor, easily forgettable part swapping involved; with its detachable landing gear and the two intake vents on the front. The intakes need to be removed and flipped around from their ‘closed’ position for when it is mounted into the body of the GP01, to the ‘open’ vent form.
Sadly, there is no way to display both the GP01 and the Core Fighter at the same time.
Since “Gundam 0083” would ultimately serve as a prequel to “Gundam Z,” the GP01’s weaponry shares many similarities to the ‘future’ RX-178 Gundam Mk 2.
With exception to the shield, all of the GP01’s weapons have been molded with tabs that lock into grooves on the palms.
The shield has the ability to shift between a fully body size to a more compact mode.
It is built in two halves with a track in its lower section that allows the top of the shield to slide behind it.
The shield mounts to the Gundam with a hinged plate that connects onto the back of the forearm and brings it around to the side of the arm.
It also comes with two different handles. The first is meant for the shield to be held from the side, with pegs at two different places either for the Gundam’s hand to wrap around it or sit flush against the back of the shield.
The second grip features a left hand molded onto it, and is meant to have the arm thrusting the shield forward.
The Gundam’s beam rifle incredibly detailed, and has the ability to be broken down into its raw components.
It features a swiveling sight piece and forward grip for the Gundam to bring it up into a more balanced firing position.
The rifle uses external battery packs called “E-Caps” with one mounted on the rifle’s stock and two spares stored on the backside of the shield.
On the downside, the two spare batteries on the shield kept losing their grip, so I chose to glue them in place.
For an added effect, the rifle comes with a ‘beam jitte’ which fits underneath the gun barrel.
The GP01 comes with two sets of beam sabers, one for displaying on the Gundam’s backpack and the others for their active use.
I had one issue with the beam sabers that struck me as a molding error. At first the two halves were off center, making the finished weapons look crooked.
Naturally, this was a quick fix with a slight sanding to better line the parts up and some glue to set them in place permanently.
Overall, I feel the Real Grade GP01 has secured its place as one of the most meticulous models I have ever built, and I absolutely love it!
It is full of amazing detail, and articulated features that are just out of bounds for their quality.
If Bandai wants to continue with the Real Grade line into “0083,” I wouldn’t mind a new GP03 “Stamen” to go with my Dendrobium!
Comments2 comments posted
"I got a burning heart!" I finished 0083 rather recently, it's a great series. Nice work on the kit! Makes me want to get more RGs to go along with my Exia.
I wish I was a skilled enough customizer to somehow graft parts from the HG GP-03 kit onto the Real Grade... and even then it wouldn't solve the problem of only one arm extending. Perhaps there's hope for an HG Revive entry...