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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Test shots

Just testing out my new toy from Akiba…

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The State of the Gunpla Union – 073009

This week’s notes, along with a photo dump of various pictures over the last few months.

 First off, the Exia snap-build is done.  This is a kit that would benefit from panel lining, so that’s something to do between Sinanju sessions over the next few weeks. 

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 Quick impressions :

  • Smaller than I thought, but that’s to be expected of anything other than Sinanju.
  • Hologram strip parts are neat, but really don’t stand out from a distance. 
  • The led GN drive is cool. 
  • Don’t really like the feet, while having toe, sole, heel for articulation, they kind of suck. 
  • The bling bling swords really come off nice. 
  • The only problem though is again, Bandai puts the sprue cutting points on the blade, so you get a nice chunk of the finish cut off no matter what you do.  
  •  Also the regular swords (hell if I can remember if it’s GN 1, 2, or whatever) tend to fall off the hands pretty easy.  
  • Lastly, it’s not easy, or even recommended to switch between regular Exia and Repair version, so for those who want both, you’ll have to pick up one standard kit and one ignition kit.  For those who then want both kits to light up, you’ll need two ignition kits.

 Now, I haven’t had a chance to sit down and pose with it just yet though, just finished, so these are just initial impressions.  Still, at the cost for the gimmicks, and weapons alone is well worth it.   Overall, was worth waiting past all the HGUC kits and 1/100 kits for this.   Makes you wonder what’s nexts in the Gundam 00 MG line up, hopefully they do the other Gundam’s before jumping to 00, although I would be interested in an O Gundam.

 Next up, the HGUC Kshatriya has been announced for an October release, but I finally stopped to check out the price.  At around a whopping 4200 yen, this is ringing in as a high baller.  Unfortunately, while the price of the MG line is gradually going up, a majority of the kits have managed to stay in the 3000 to 5000 yen range.  HG kits, as we see here, tend to run the gambit though, which some being available for as low as 300 yen, to 4000 yen plus.  I for one would like to see a little more stability in their lower end model line.  I’d buy the Kshatriya at that price if it was an MG kit, but HG is going to make me pause.

Moving on, the buyer for the remaining HGUC Green Tokyo Project Gundam 30th kit has fallen through from lack of response.  If interested, it’s asking price is $40 US dollars (or 4,000 yen) shipped anywhere in the world.  Please post or mail if interested.

Now for the Sinanju summer project, for the time being, I’m stuck waiting for good weather.  Unfortunately the color I picked is fairly sensitive to humidity, going so far as to have a warning to not spray on humid days.  So the project is going to go fairly slow for a while. 

Lastly, I’d like to do a little photo dump of random pictures taken over the last couple of weeks.  I had thought about making it a separate little trend, but figured I’d tack them on the my State of the Gundam Union posts whenever the pictures have piled up.

Here’s the Gunpla parts shop that Danny Choo mentioned before.  It’s the Yellow Submarine shop in the Radio Kaikan, 4th floor.  Quite a load of parts, so could be good if you wanted to stock up on a variety of weapons, etc.  The prices varied from 200~300 yen to 3000 yen(!).   Planning on hitting it up again this weekend so will try and take more pictures.

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Yellow Submarine also carries pro shop releases.  They had quite a few of the Mechanical Clear Gundam 2.0 available.  I’m debating picking up one the next time I go.  The only problem is that Pro Shop releases can’t be discounted, even by places like Bic Camera, so it’s the full 4,410 yen…

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While checking out the 4th floor of the Radio Kaikan, I saw quite an awesome life sized helmet and figure for Gabranth from FFXI.  Unfortunately, the helmet is over $1,00 dollars, and the figure, while bad-ass, is also around $450 dollars.

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Akihabara Station’s Electric City Exit is under construction.  Wonder how they “new” Station will look

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Debating on making a jump to my first DSLR.  While apparently the Olympus Pen is not technically a “true” DSLR, it’s got style, and takes damn good pictures by the samples I’ve seen.  Now just to use my upcoming 30th birthday as an excuse to get around the price…

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Last, saw my first rainbow in a very long time, while out in Kohoku New Town for dinner. 

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MG Exia

As you all know MG Exia was released today. I stopped by Bic on the way home to check it out. By far the Ignition model seems to be outselling the regular version, as it should be considering the value. What suprised me was the difference in box sizes.

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Of course I picked up my own while I was at it, along with the latest Katamari Damacy.  Looks like I’ll be building this along with my Sinanju!exia02