The State of the Gunpla Union – 022811

So nearly four weeks since the last post, has it been that long?  I was reading Z’s blog the other day and he mentioned that when he gets away from blogging, it gets harder to come back.  Talk about being in the same boat there.  Anyways, any way you put it, another month has gone by, so let’s catch up.

First off, the obvious four week gap in posts probably equates to two or three things.  First up, the inevitable life.  Work is ramping up into full gear and I’m heading (or juggling you could say) a few big projects that is taking up quite a bit of my time.  Add in that I spent nearly a week out of town at various locations in Japan means that there is less time to Gunpla.  The good point is I did get to meet up with GaiGun for our usual get together in Akihabara (which is pretty much still month despite the fact I live half the country over?), and catch up on all things life and Gunpla.  But yeah, work has kept me busy to a point that when I come home, the last thing I want to do is look at the computer, which of course keeps me from actually writing blog posts.

Something we saw in Akiba – A red Hi~nu

The other big factor in lack of posts is that it took honestly longer than I expected it would to get everything needed for the PGSF wing joint fix.  While I was able to get the pipe, glue, and putty no problem, the actual 3 or 4 dollar pipe cutter needed to make nice uniform rings, was out of stock literally everywhere in Osaka.  I was a bit dumbfounded because I didn’t think that many people needed to cut pipes at the same time to warrant it being sold out everywhere!   However, I managed to locate the needed cutter while on my business trip in Yokohama (a lot of them too, go figure) so everything is finally ready to go.  But now that I have the goods, I’m finally getting back to the PGSF, and that should be my next WiP before finishing up the initial build of the kit.  You should see the wing fix in action first on Gunpla TV as I’ve provided GaiGun with a few to give the wing fix a try on video.  Fingers crossed that it’ll work out good.

The goods for the fix

For those following my facebook page though, you’ll notice that while the PG SF was on pause, I did go ahead and start cleaning out some of the back log, and knocked out four HG kits over the last couple of weeks.  The Qubeley Mk-II, the Qubeley (Pearl Coating Version), the Gundam Mk-II (Ecopla version), and the Extreme Gundam.  In fact, I actually started and did most of the Extreme Gundam at the hotel while on my trip.  Gaigun and I joked a bit about this, but now I think I may have to start carrying nippers in my bag when I travel in case I get the Gunpla bug.  HG’s really are great kits for those quick and simple builds that don’t take up weeks of your time.  The downside is you need to do a little extra work to get the truly awesome full effect.   Still, the important thing is I’m still knocking out stuff, I just need to blog about it more…

Knocking out those HG kits

But anyways, another month has passed, and that brings with it some more gunpla news.  First up on the MG side, we have upcoming releases for a retooled Wing Gundam, Gundam Epyon, and 00 Raiser.  First off, the 00 Raiser was simply a matter of time, and is a pass on my part.  I wasn’t impressed with the kit overall in PG size, which means I’m not going to be impressed with it in MG size.  Especially considering you need a full five led sets to get the full effect.  I guess we should be grateful that Bandai is being generous and giving us at least on with the kit, considering they didn’t do that for the Quan[T].  The retooled Wing Gundam does look fairly appealing, but it’s still likely a pass for me at this time, since I already made a Wing Gundam I’m happy with.  This leaves Epyon on my list of a big yes.  Simply because it feels like we’re finally moving towards some of the kits people have been want to seeing in MG form in a long time.  Fingers crossed still for an MG Kapool someday though…

On the HG, SD, and RG side, there is a bit of excitement as the next RG is the Aile Strike.  While I’m somewhat not surprised that they went this way, and had actually hoped for something a little more… different than the usual pattern, I am looking forward to seeing how well the RG quality and what not translates to the Aile Strike.  On the other hand, the upcoming SD Sinanju is definitely on my list. HG’s that have me interested are the upcoming ECOAS Jegen and Dreissen, but I still want to see finalized pictures for them before I make any other decisions.

RG Aile Strike

SD Sinanju

But like I said, I’m looking more at working through the backlog, then increasing it, and so my goal is to actually knock out quite a few kits.  Initially I may just just snap builds to get the boxes and plastic out of the way, and then go back once we hit spring to start doing painting or mods to models that I want to do so for.  But in general, the next things to knock off on my HG/RG list is the D-Mode Unicorn, and the RG Zaku-II.  I’m also looking at doing the PG GP01 just because that box takes up a lot of space.  Anyways though, things blog-wise and actual build-wise will continue to be affected by my work load, so we’ll see how March goes.  What’s on peoples upcoming want lists or to build list for March?

Oh, and while I say I don’t want to increase my backlog, I couldn’t help but jumping on ANA yesterday to fly to Tokyo on business, and grabbing a couple of special order cards while I was at it….

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HG 00 Raiser ANA Color Kits

As I mentioned before, I was able to get access to some ANA cards, and will be able to get some of the HG 00 Raiser ANA color kits.   Please note that my coworker is providing these kits, so I will not be able to provide them at cost like last time.  Other than that, shipping is to be covered by the purchaser (~700 yen a kit) and that only paypal (in yen) is accepted.   In regards to to the 1/48 ANA Gundam kit, due to the extreme shipping cost incurred with its size, I don’t plan on ordering any.   If you are interested in the HG kits, please drop me an email at american.salary (at) gmail.com.   I’ll leave this up until the weekend, or I run out of kits, which ever comes first.

Let’s kick the Gundam off with..

Could it be? Yes, it’s time for the first serious Gundam post of the year. Time to get back on that horse. While I should get back on track with the PG 00 Gundam, I’m going to start off with a little something that showed up while I was in the states.

Hmmm?

What could this be?

Yep, something I totally forgot about (I tend to have this happen a lot it seems), the Gundam 30th Anniversary Premium Box, which was only available through Bandai’s Premium Hobby website.

Premium = Limited baby

This Limited Premium set is also numbered, and it looks like I got a fairly low number. Would have been nice to get in within the first 100, but you take what you can get.

#000170

It’s a big box too

Bigger than I thought it would be.

So what exactly does the Premium Box come with? Well, it comes with clear versions of all the main Gundam’s from the television series. Movies, OVAs, and the upcoming Unicorn Gundam aren’t part of it, but all in all you end up with 13 kits. It also comes with a full color booklet which covers each TV series.

Opened up

The kits, in order of TV series

The inner box has a picture of the completed set

The booklet

Another shot

The kits themselves slide out of the cardboard “box” which features the original cover art of the original kit, as well as when the kit was first release. In a way, some of these kits themselves are pretty hard to find now a days, so this is a good way to get them, albeit they are the clear versions.

The original Gundam 1/144 kit, all in one runner!

The more recent 00 Gundam

The Turn A, which I’ve never seen in stores. I’d love to find the 1/144 kapool…

Seeing the original box art is pretty cool too

Overall, this is a really neat set, and the collector value seems to be fairly high. For the time being I’m not planning on building any of the kits, simply because it’ll fall into the if you build one, you gotta build them all. So for the time being I’ll just covet my nice shiny black premium box.

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.

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. 

exia03

 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.

 pd01

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…

pd02

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.

pd03

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

pd04

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…

pd05

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

pd08

WiP: Ecopla HGUC Gouf

Rather than keep you waiting, lets go ahead and jump into the WiP, it’s short and simple.

The box, like the SD Gundam is monochrome as wellegouf01

The runners are all black, with the original manual, plus bonus sealsegouf01

The leg parts, one leg completed at the topegouf01

Followed by the armegouf01

The body and waist are molded as two parts, with backpack at the bottomegouf01

Power cables are snap and fitegouf01

The torso/waist completedegouf01

All the parts ready to be put togetheregouf01

Compared to the HGUC Hi-ν and Geara Doga, the Gouf build is much simpler, especially with the waist and torso molded as two parts to be snapped together, as this is a much older kit.  This leads to some limitations with the leg movement and posing (no splits for him!) but that can’t be helped.  Again, the draw of Ecopla is the pure black, as it looks pretty cool overall.  While you can sort of see the gate mark damage left from snipping off the runners, overall, it doesn’t really stand out.  In fact, this is a pure cut and fit, with no sanding/design knife trimming at all.  Anyways, next post will be the completed shots.