RX-78-2 Gundam -Version 3.0
Review by Rob
The RX-78-2 was the first machine to own the name “Gundam,” created for Yoshiyuki Tomino’s 1979 grand space opera titled “Mobile Suit Gundam.”
Designed by artist Kunio Okawara, it has long since become a cultural icon in the world of giant mecha alongside the likes of Mazinger Z and Optimus Prime.
At the same time, it has become a commercially endowed character rivalling Mickey Mouse with a vast number of endorsement deals ranging from Seven Eleven, Canon printers, to even Cup Noodle.
During the One Year War of Universal Century 0079, the terrestrial forces of the Earth Federation were overwhelmed by the technological feats of the space dwelling Principality of Zeon and their humanoid mechanized weaponry known as Mobile Suits.
The RX-78 “Gundam” was the Federation’s first generation close-quarter combat Mobile Suit developed alongside the artillery assault units RX-75 Guntank and RX-77 Guncannon, which were constructed in secret as part of “Operation V” (short for ‘Victory’).
In September of UC 0079, the second prototype unit, the RX-78-2 was completed at the space colony Side 7 before a reconnaissance team of Zeon soldiers led by Char Aznable investigated, and ultimately attacked the colony in an effort to crush the Federation’s fledgling project.
Amid the chaos, the RX-78-2 was commandeered by Amuro Ray, son of the Mobile Suit’s creator Tem Ray in a shocking display of technical aptitude and skill without ever having piloted a Mobile Suit before.
Amuro proved to not only be a naturally gifted pilot but a Newtype, an emerging stage in human evolution caused from living in space. With faster reflexes and supernatural levels of heightened spatial awareness and empathic abilities, Amuro grew from an impetuous youth into one of the most seasoned veterans of the Universal Century.
While Zeon over stretched their resources in developing newer model Mobile Suits designed to exploit the abilities of their Newtype pilots, Amuro made mechanical improvements to the Gundam in order to compensate for his evolution that would be the key to the white Mobile Suit’s amazing abilities.
The Gundam would see many performance enhancing upgrades during the One Year War, such as the Magnetic Coating in its joints.
The RX-78-2 has been the subject of many revisions and artist interpretations that have been rendered across the spectrum of merchandizing produced by Bandai.
In model kit form, the Gundam has reached a saturation point in their premiere 1:100 scale ‘Master Grade’ line.
Since the first Master Grade model from 1995, there have been SIX unique molds of the RX-78 Gundam that have been reproduced into several special (chrome) coating, clear part, and convention exclusive models in addition to its canon variations such as the RX-78-3 G3.
Following the success of their 1:144 scale “Real Grade” line, Bandai produced the first ‘Version 3.0’generation Master Grade models beginning with the RX-78-2.
“So much for my Version 2.0 GP-01”
Although it marks the seventh Master Grade RX-78-2, the Version 3.0 model sets the third benchmark phase for Bandai’s popular model kit line.
The Version 3.0 Gundam marks Bandai’s 172nd Master Grade model kit and comes in a gloriously illustrated box depicting a picturesque moment in time leading to the climax of the One Year War at the Battle of A Baua Qu.
The RX-78-2 is shown flying ahead of the Pegasus class carrier “White Base” followed closely by a pair of RX-77-2 Guncannons and a lonely RGM-79 “GM” drifting in the background.
The Master Grade Version 3.0 RX-78-2 is a reflection of the development of the Gundam from the mechanical design to the cultural icon it has become over the franchise’s 34 year history, representing the Gundam as a living machine rather than an animated figure.
The design of Version 3.0 model is inspired by the “Real G” 1:1 scale statue, built in Odaiba Japan that stands in front of the ‘Gundam Front Tokyo’ attraction of Diver City. Its body constructed is with multicolored panels of plate armor, where virtually no connecting color is alike.
Out of the box, the Version 3.0 Gundam is comprised of 16 PS plastic runners with one PC-202 polycap set for its joints and the standard SB-1 runner for the Gundam’s beam saber blades.
The Gundam also comes with the MP-1 manipulator set first introduced in the Master Grade RX-93 Nu Gundam “Version Ka” model that is now being used for all of the newer Universal Century model kits.
The Gundam is recognized for its striking ‘heroic’ colors of white, red, and blue armor which has become the golden standard for all other designs that followed it.
Matching the “plate armor” style of the Real G statue, the Version 3.0 Gundam’s traditional color scheme has been broken into a wide spectrum.
The Gundam’s traditional white armor is molded in two shades of light gray and white plastic that are patterned according to their point of articulation against the inner frame that change colors where each panel intersects.
The two shades of red and blue plastic contribute to the theme by representing opening hatches had this been an actual robot and the model features dark gray plastic for its neck, backpack and backhands that add more contrast and separation from the inner frame which is molded in dull gray plastic.
The model features some exceptionally well designed parts, such as the hollowed out Mohawk piece.
On the downside, some of these parts can be fragile and prone to breaking, like the said Mohawk piece
(Thank you Xavier Lim and the people at Blue Fin Distributions for making replacement parts services available at domestic US retailers).
The parts are molded with such abundant details that really shine with a Gundammarker or Rapidoliner pen, and there are many areas which can be greatly improved with some paint.
Based on the ‘Real G’ statue, there are metallic plates in the main servo joints on the Gundam’s frame.
For the model, Bandai made these plates using the existing plastic colors and rather than a vacuum molded coating or metal flake injection, the kit includes a set of copper colored decals to cover them.
Since Bandai only printed decals for the noticeable areas in the Gundam’s elbows and knees, I decided it was worth painting these parts, as well as other hard points, with silver and copper enamel to improve on the mechanical look of the Gundam.
Drawing more inspiration from the ‘Real G’ statue, I also painted other details such as the running lights on the Gundam’s shoulder armor.
For these, I started with a touch of silver enamel followed by a colored clear coat.
The model comes with colorless clear parts for the Gundam’s eyes and Bandai also included clear parts for inside the vernier nozzles of the Gundam’s backpack.
These too, can really spring to life with the right paints as well.
“Something new, but some things borrowed”
Keeping with the tradition of RX-78 models borrowing parts from earlier versions of the same design, the Version 3.0 RX-78 recycles some parts from its direct predecessor, the Version 2.0 Gundam, for its Core Fighter and weapons.
The Core Fighter is molded onto an entirely new runner, but its construction remains unchanged from its original kit.
The finished Core Fighter retains the same features it has from the Version 2.0 model such as the rotating pilot’s seat and the chain linked “fold up” action in the tail fin when transforming it into the cockpit of the Gundam.
Instead of coming with the small display stand like the Version 2.0, the model comes with detachable landing gear molded in clear plastic for the Core Fighter to rest on.
The weapons are virtually the same as they were in the Version 2.0 model but the Version 3.0 model replaces their grips with new parts designed with folding tabs that interlock with the MP-1 hand parts.
Continuing another recent trend of Master Grade gimmicks, the Version 3.0 features a cavity in the Gundam’s collar designed to house the universal Gunpla LED Unit.
Although Bandai has only released them in limited colors such as green and red, they released an expansion kit for the Version 3.0 as an Online exclusive called the ”Custom Set” which has an LED Unit with a yellow diode.
With an LED unit installed, the light is transmitted through the clear stem in the Gundam’s neck into the head to make the eyes and forehead sensor glow.
Thanks to the fine detail molding, the light can shine through the vents in the Gundam’s face mask as well.
“Not a 1:100 scale Real Grade”
While it only looks like a 1:100 scale version of the 1:144 scale Real Grade model, the Version 3.0 stands up to the quality expected of a late generation Master Grade.
Moreover, the Version 3.0 model succeeds at not looking like any of the previous RX-78 model kits while at the same time remaining true to the nature of the original design.
At 7 inches tall from heel to V-crest, the Version 3.0 RX-78-2 features some very narrow edges and sharp curves to its form, and the surfaces of each part are amazingly detailed with bolt marks and subtle panel lines that make it look and feel like a real machine.
Fully living up to the Master Grade standard, the model features a complete inner-moveable frame that needs to be assembled entirely, thus further separating it from being a scaled up Real Grade which uses a partially completed multi-gate injection-molded skeletal frame.
Even though it lacks the Master Grade scale’s traditional mechanical details such as sliding hydraulic pistons, it does feature a well-developed skeletal structure with functioning mechanical components of its own.
The frame is exceptionally articulated, and the fluidity of its movement transitions perfectly into the completed kit.
The arms and legs share a similar double jointed design, and there are additional swiveling hinge joints in the Gundam’s midsection.
The shoulder is built with a polycap ball and socket joint giving the Gundam more rotary movement in the arms.
Smaller details such as the chest vents are linked together to keep them lined up when controlling their limited opening and closing action.
While the inner frame seems lacking in its details, the key focus of the assembly is its integration to the Gundam’s outer armor.
With the armor broken down into smaller, ultrafine detailed parts, cleaning the runner material from the outer frame of the Gundam becomes the most time consuming moments of the building process.
Attaching the armor plates is one of the more tedious but ultimately rewarding parts of building this Gundam.
Like the “Version Ka” RX-93, the Version 3.0 Gundam is a Master Grade which has a proper sequence to attaching its panels.
The Gundam’s plate armor moves in the direction guided by the joint movement, shifting panels out of the way with each major point of articulation.
There are even more subtle movements to the armor such as a flapping motion of the shoulder armor and leg armor that greatly improve the Gundam’s mobility.
The backpack armor is hinged as well to give the vernier nozzles more movement and show off a secondary set of
The Gundam’s plate armor design is one of the burdens of this kit’s execution when sections of armor will tend to lose their grip and float loosely against the body.
However, thanks to the model’s tightly packed construction, it’s hard to notice when parts fall loose.
Like the Version 2.0, the Version 3.0 Gundam features a swiveling waist and also has the ability to be built without using the Core Fighter to hold the upper and lower halves of the body together.
Similar to the “Version Ka” RX-78 model, the Version 3.0 comes with a detailed Core-Block as an alternative to using the more display worthy Core Fighter for the Gundam’s cockpit.
By design, the Block is supposed to be colored like the Core Fighter but it comes molded in the dark gray plastic because of its exposed mechanical details.
Again, this is one of those instances where a little paint goes a long way.
Keeping with the theme of the Gundam’s final upgrades, the model comes with interchangeable parts for its joint covers. This includes a set of open molded ‘normal’ type covers and the closed cover set for its ‘Magnetic
In theory, the Magnetic Coating reduces the friction in the Gundam’s joints in order to keep them from seizing under the stress of Amuro’s heightened reflexes. When charged, the Coating will improve the Mobile Suit’s response time to better match his control speed.
Out of the box, the Version 3.0 RX-78-2 comes with its signature arsenal of the beam rifle, shield, hyper bazooka and the pair of beam sabers.
While this seems limited compared to the other RX-78 models that have come out, the weapons are what have ultimately come to symbolize the Gundam’s strength as a well-rounded combat machine.
With exception to their grips, the weapons are the same as they were for the Version 2.0 model.
The Gundam’s beam rifle is an iconic weapon that is instantly recognized by the series fans.
For the model, it features the ability to be stripped down into its individual components that fit together perfectly.
The rifle features a swiveling sight piece and fore grip to allow the Gundam to steady it with both hands.
The Hyper Bazooka makes up for the Gundam’s heavy artillery despite its limited ammunition capacity.
It is constructed with solid tubes of plastic for the cannon barrel and a swiveling grip for allowing the Gundam to handle it in a variety of stances.
The front of the Gundam’s large shield is built with the same multicolored panels as the Mobile Suit. The back of the shield is recycled from the Version 2.0 mold and features the sliding blast panel that covers the view port and attachment points for holding the Gundam’s weapons.
The shield has a track mounted bracket which connects to the forearm with a clasp that is molded with a peg on the back side that is used to lock the shield on the Gundam’s backpack.
Rather than having an exposed port, the center of the backpack features a rotating block with a socket on the back side. The same action is used on the waist that features a rotating attachment point to store the weapons onto.
The Gundam’s beam sabers are the only weapons for the model that are entirely brand new. With an assembly and level of surface detailing that matches the multicolored plate armor of the Gundam’s body.
To supplement the existing weapons and cash in on the Version 3.0 debut, Bandai released the aforementioned “Custom Set” expansion kit to give the Gundam a second hyper bazooka, the beam javelin, and its chain mace “Gundam Hammer.”
The expansion kit is lifted from the same molds of the Version 2.0 model but comes with the newly designed grip for the bazooka taken from this Version of the design.
Compared to the Version 2.0 model however, the clear parts in the Version 3.0 expansion kit are molded in pink plastic, removing the need to paint the javelin points.
This same runner also contains the parts for the Core Fighter’s display base.
The Gundam Hammer is unchanged from the original mold and doesn’t have an MP-1 compatible tab part. Fortunately, the hands are able to keep a steady grip on the weapon.
Building the hammer for the Version 3.0 model, I chose to paint its spikes with silver enamel to better match with the metallic detailing that I applied to the Gundam.
The RX-78-2 Version 3.0 is an outstanding accomplishment in model kit engineering and is truly one of the most epic Master Grade models I have ever built. Although it has some minor issues with injection sprues and its reliance on decals for its details, it is still an amazing kit worth building. As the first Version 3.0 model kit, it sets the mark for Bandai’s future with Gunpla and makes me even more excited for what is coming in the next few years.
The “Custom Set” expansion kit is available at most online retailers.
Comments5 comments posted
nice build as always sir! love how you painted the inside of the thruster parts.
I have only one question: what are those green rods you're using to hold the small parts?
Thanks for reading!
Those rods are called "Micro Stix," adhesive tips for holding delicate model parts that I got from the local hobby shop. One of the few new additions to my arsenal of hobby tools I've picked up this year. There are two adhesive strengths (blue = heavy hold, green = quick release) and come 16 to a pack. They're disposable but depending on how you stick parts to them they can last up to a couple of uses before they stop bonding.
One thing I learned with this kit is don't stick two parts to them at once, the elasticity made one of the nozzle parts go flying when I pulled it away.
Another great build. I really, really want to see what you can do with a perfect grade. Or I really want to buy a perfect grade after you build it.
I'm actually working on a Perfect Grade right now, nothing built yet but I'll post it when it's ready, but I do have my last Perfect Grade here. 00-Raiser!