Upcoming kits and a HG/MG/PG rant

A bit of a rant about the current pricing of the gunpla lines.  But first up, courtesy of fellow Gunplar Gundam Guy we get some pictures of upcoming releases, including one I mentioned a passing interest on yesterday. 

First up the Titanium version of the Sinanju.

And the lovely price tag of 12,600 yen.  Seriously, What the F?  You could buy a PG with that kind of money easy, and the color, it looks like all they did was spray Tamiya Metallic Red on it!  I wouldn’t buy this even if I found it for half off, because you could take the current Sinanju and paint it for less than that.  

Next up the Unicorn OVA SP Pack.

Hmm, unfortunately from the picture we can’t really tell what makes it so special.  I would imagine they’d have to include something to sweeten the pot since they’re increasing the price from 5,000 yen to 7,875 yen.  I wonder if it will include the Gatlings as well which was only available in the first edition of volume 4 of the Gundam Unicorn novelization?  

Lastly, the MG Trans-am Exia. 

Price: 6,090 yen. This right here is flat out highway robbery.  It’s a PALLETE SWAP!  There is nothing different than the regular edition of the MG Exia save the color by the looks of it.  If they don’t even give you the parts to make the GN drive light up then you’re getting screwed over.  You can get the standard Exia for 3,800 yen, or cheaper in Japan, around 2,660 in general at 30% off stores.  Yet they want to charge 6,090 (Or 4,263ish in stores most likely) for what looks to be seriously a color swap. That’s a price difference of roughly 1,600 yen to 2,300 yen depending on if you buy at 30% off or retail.  That’s a $18 to $25 dollar difference to importers.  Definite pass here. 

You know what this comes down?  Inflating costs while not inflating the quality or quantity.  Well, I take that back, slightly.  I will agree the quality of an MG kit produced in the last couple of years totally outshines most kits made 5 – 10 years ago, but I don’t feel it’s worth the very odd range of price with MG’s.  You have new kits like the GN-X at 3,600 yen, the Victory Gundam at 3,800 yen, and older kits even at 2,000 yen or less, but then you turn around and have kits like these at abnormal prices.  The MG as a line should hold the same standard of quality along all kits, and while techniques and quality of course improves over the years, and leads to advances that give us version 2.0’s, these version 2.0’s are still being cheaper than some of the other newer version 1.0’s that we get.  

I guess this comes down to me having dabbled in 3 Gunpla lines over the last year, HG, MG, and PG. 

HG comes across as amazing well balance of quality and price.  You can get an with a price range generally from 500 to 2000 yen, you feel like you get what you’re paying for.  Even when there are a couple that are outside that range (Kshatriya, Psycho Gundam) you feel like you get what you paid for.  Kshatriya was an extremely great example of this.  It has size and gimmicks to justify the price.  

The MG line is as I said above, we’re starting to see a poor balance of quality and price and some extreme ranges where the price isn’t justifying the quality.  In fact releasing kits that cost 8,000, 10,000, 12,600 yen starts making the MG line compete directly with Bandai’s premier line, the PG line.

The PG line used to be well, a perfect, example of balance of quality and price.  The RX-78-2 and Zaku II are both 12,000 yen, older kits, but still worth the money.  The Strike itself is only 14,000 yen, and is an excellent kit.  The W-Zero at 15,000 yen and the GP-01 and Zeta at 20,000 yen are both worth it.  Yes, it does have its excess with the limited edition kits that have appeared at conventions before, but that is the nature of the limited edition beast.  The 30,000 yen W-Zero Pearl Edition isn’t worth it, but well, ok, we can have one regular kit at excess.  However, the quality/price balance changed with the Astray, and most definitely was screwed by the 00 Raiser.  18,000 yen for the Astray, which is somewhat of a Strike 1.5 model wise.  We grumbled, but they gave us another sword and we said OK with that.  It could have been done at 15,000 yen, if the Strike was 14,000 yen.   But the 00 Raiser.  No, not at 26,000 yen.  Not at all.  This is a kit that should have been 20,000 max, 15,000 for the 00 Gundam, 5,000, hell 4,000 for the O Raiser.  Especially if the bonus was a stand that is given to you in other kits and clear parts that you have to purchase, and practically break off your old parts to use.

Does it sound like I regret getting the 00 Raiser? In a way yes, I can only justify it because I got it at 16,000 yen from Amazon, but even then I feel like I paid too much.  But the point I get at is, perhaps Bandai is screwing themselves, and us over by messing up their own idea of  that HG is cheap, MG is medium, and PG is premiere, and thusly these lines don’t trip over the other line’s boundaries.  95% of HGUC kits don’t fall into MG price range, but we’re seeing more and more MG kits creep up in price, approaching PG kit price lines.  If MG prices increase, then PG prices must increase too, to keep the “boundary” clear between MG and PG.  That’s a line of rationale I can see being used in the board room, and it’s something we see happening now.  Think about it, 2 PG kits will now be cheaper than the new Titanium Sinanju.  For an additional 1400 yen you can by a PG Strike.  For 2400 yen, PG Gundam Mk-II or W-zero.  It’s mind-boggling.  I’m afraid if something like a PG Unicorn was announced, they’d figure a way to charge 30,000 yen for it by using an excuse that it has LEDs in multiple places…

So, that’s my take on the lines at this point.  I still love the MG line, it’s a great balance of quality for size, but unfortunately quality for price is starting to become another matter.  The PG line, some great kits, but the rationale behind pricing is just becoming inane.  And the HGUC, while I’m sure there are some hits and misses in quality, especially with earlier kits, all the ones I’ve built have been nothing be superb for the price and size.

So all, what are your thoughts on the lines and current trends in pricing?

Man, I feel like I’m starting off 2010 with nothing but bitching and ranting.  Guess I was hoping for more “things to look forward to in 2010” or something like that.

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The State of the Gunpla Union – 010610

Welcome all to the first State of the Gunpla Union of 2010.  While a lot of folks focused on the last year models, stats and what not in their year end/start posts, I’ll save all that for the one year anniversary, which conveniently happens to be at the end of this month.  To a certain extent though, this is mainly because it just doesn’t feel like a new year to me yet.  Call it a hum-drum time with the in-laws (yes free beer is nice, but what else is there to do?) but the whole “2009 is over, 2010 is here and it’s going to be great” feeling just hasn’t hit me.  Again, this is the somewhat jaded in Japan cynical Salaryman talking here, so don’t mind me too much.  Still, it’s been somewhat of a lackluster year end and start I feel, and due to being busy with work and having to spend time at the in-laws my Gunpla progress has grinded to a halt currently.

But, 2010 right? One thing I was looking forward to was the start of Bandai’s Club MG.  Finally, I thought, we can put those gunpla numbers packed in most MG boxes to use!  It’s double points as well for January!  So I went though and rounded up all my numbers, got registered, and excitedly put in my first number.  Only to have it pop up “Please input your number correctly”  So, I go back and look, and it seems that the only numbers it will let you input in is the ones included in the MG clear parts campaign.  Honestly Bandai, that’s a shitty move.  You promote the MG club, but then don’t let us use the numbers we have?  What’s funnier is they rank it at 20, 40, and 60 points to hit the gold level.  Even if you buy each model and input the number during the double points campaign, you can only get 44 points.  So they want you to buy 30 kits at least to hit the gold level.  Honestly, I find that a shitty way to treat people who’ve been collecting the points as they’ve faithfully bought the kits already over the years. 

Speaking of the clear parts kits, to be honest, a vast majority of them just don’t look good in my opinion, the only one I find good looking is the Nu Gundam.  This is because it gives you both a leg and arm so that makes it look much better then say the Zaku which gives you a thigh or something like that.  Seriously, WTF.   Now the problem comes is that I’ve already got a Nu in my backlog, so obviously I don’t want to double-dip, but if I do, I could make the Double Fin Funnel Nu Gundam…..  But enough ranting about the clear parts/club mg campaign.

Now that the Gundam 30th Anniversary is over, Bandai has found a good way to milk it with the Gunpla 30th Anniversary for this year.  This shall be interesting to see, but seeing as how last year was already a huge year in terms of Gunpla release with both 2 PG’s, the 00 and Unicorn franchises ramping up, and more, my wallet is already running for the hills.  To be honest though, this year will be a year of more selective choices as unfortunately the economy still isn’t getting better, and my salary isn’t increasing.  The only series I’m truly interested though right now is the Unicorn franchise and the ongoing UC timeline.  While I built the Exia and the PG 00 Gundam Raiser, I think I’ll be staying away from that franchise as well as others.  Again, time, space, and most importantly money. 

So my current hopes for this year?  More releases from the Unicorn Gundam, preferably MG, and still holding out for a PG Unicorn.  It seems that we will not be getting a new MG in March, but the titanium version of the Sinanju instead.  I already have a kick ass version of a Sinanju so building another is out of the picture for the time being.  I will admit I’m looking to see how Titanium Red will look, as the Titanium Unicorn looked just like the regular white model got dirty to me.    Also looking on finishing out my backlog, and figuring out exactly where to put all the models.  On learning techniques and painting, all around I’m planning on holding off on painting and even considering something like an airbrush for at least six months as both paint and the airbrush cost more money than I think I can afford to spend.  On the other hand though, I do want to improve my photography technique, as my admittedly weak point is pictures.

So in other words, my goals this year is to go through my back log in the most cost efficient way that I can, while improving my photography.  This doesn’t mean I won’t be picking up new kits, just that I’m going to be a lot more selective than I was this year.

So, January’s schedule.  I’ll be out of the country (Japan) for about 10 days, but I’m planning to have my 1 year stuff go up during that time (got to start writing!), but I should have the PG 00 Gundam waterslided and done before I leave…

Happy New Year!

A rather belated, but Happy New Year to all.  I had actually planned on putting up some new content before the end of the year, but ran out of time before having to head off to the in-laws for the year-end holidays.  I didn’t get back until the other day so no special New Years post either I’m afraid.  That’ll be the one year anniversary post I guess. 

 The schedule for this month will be fairly light, the Gundam Decal waterslides for the PG 00 Gundam are finally out so I picked up the 00 Gundam ones, and plan on applying those over the next week or two.  I plan on finishing it up by the 22nd as I’ll be on a short vacation to the US for a wedding and there will be no updates until February most likely.

 Anyways, still alive and will crank out a State of the Gunpla union with my 2010 first half goals sometime this week.