The State of the Gunpla Union – 101211

Whoa, an actual State of the Gunpla Union address?  Yeah, it’s been that long.  As you may have already noticed, updates have been (un)surprisingly lacking in the previous couple of months.  Bluntly put, I literally have no life now thanks to my beautiful son.  But I’m sure my fellow parents out there know how that is.  So by no means am I unhappy about it, but the reality has set in that the time that I now have is extremely limited.  So that means things just aren’t happening, like gunpla and gaming.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t stop thinking about it and talking about it.  So let’s talk about Gundam stuff.

First up, Gunpla stuff.  As Gaigun already posted, there was another 7-11 Gundam campaign similar to the one done about 2 years ago.  This time around not just an updated Gundam figure, but a 7-11 Zaku II and Beargguy as well!  Suffice to say these things sold out pretty much the day they were lined up in 7-11 stores around the country.  It doesn’t help that each store only got like 2 of each kit.  But somehow I managed to snag a full set at Akihabara on a business trip thanks to a cool 7-11 manager.  There was some other nifty stuff like another lucky draw for Gundam stuff, as well as a tie up with Nissin Cup Noodle too, so I snagged things here and there.  I actually have another set of the cup noodle gundams, which would be cool to use for a contest….   I am trying to build my 7-11 Gundam but I’m literally going at a pace of one part per night, so I’m still an arm, leg and head away from completion.

For other gunpla news, I have to say that the MG Sandrock is looking better and better, aside from the ridiculous amount of decals (Thanks Katoki!).  To be honest, Sandrock and Shenlong Gundams were never my favorite and I found them quite bland next to Heavy Arms, Deathscythe and Wing, but I’m liking the look of this design.  After Heavy Arms, all that is left is TallGeese (and honestly, I never liked TallGeese, I don’t understand all the love it gets) and Bandai will have milked a majority of the GW mobile suits.  There are still the EW versions though… Leave to Bandai to take all your money!

MG Sandrock

In other MG news, this year’s big December release is the MG FA Unicorn.  Honestly, I’m kind of up in the air on this.  I’ve already built two MG Unicorns, and two HG Unicorns, and I still have another one sitting around.  Toss in the… inflated… price for all the extra weaponry and I have a hmmm, going to have to pass on this one feeling.  The green psychoframe is cool, though, but not worth the price of admission.  I keep looking at it and thinking, why is this call (F)ull (A)rmor Unicorn?  It gets just another shield and really no more armor, shouldn’t this be the (F)ull (W)eaponry Unicorn?

MG FA Unicorn

The next RG Freedom looks good as well, but since I have only built 1 of the 3 RG I already have, I’m in no rush to pick it up.  With RG’s coming out at a rate of 1 every 3 or 4 months, I figure the next one will probably be around February or March.  While early to speculate, I wonder if we won’t see something from Gundam OO next?  There is always Gundam Age, but they will probably release the MG long before moving to the RG line.

RG Freedom

But as you all know this year’s hobby show is from October 13th, so we should get quite a bit of info for the next six months or so of Gunpla releases.  I’m sure it will be dominated by Gundam Age materials, with a section given to the GW MG line up.  But perhaps we may just see the next PG in store?

Speaking of the hobby show, applicants to the Gunpla World Cup Japan Round who pass the first round of picture submissions will have their pictures displayed at the hobby show for the second round of judging.  As you all know, I submitted my GP01.  While not going all out, I did a paint job, panel lining, and water slides followed by a flat coat.  Sad to say I did not pass the first round.  I had hopes that Bandai wouldn’t take all bling bling kits, but would take some more.. solidly done kits to even it out.  Probably they did take some average kits to make it look fair, just mine wasn’t one of them.  So here are the pictures that I submitted.  Will need to do a full photo session soon because I am quite pleased with how the kit turned out.

So I guess the next couple of days should have some exciting news if we are lucky.

Moving onto other thing Gundam, what’s hot in the blogosphere is Gundam Age.  Having watched it real time on Sunday, I must say I’m not sure what to think.  The general reaction seems to be positive, but that it’s definitely aimed at the younger generation.  I think that’s quite true as a lot of the jumps in logic simply don’t allow for deeper… interaction so to say as other series have.  As an aside I have read that some people think that all Gundam series are aimed at kids, but I think that is not so true with some recent series (especially regarding UC timeline series.)

Gundam Age

Anyways, back to the subject at hand, GA Ep 1 was your standard enemy attacks colony, hero gets in Gundam, and fights off first enemy stories.  The style of design quite reminds me of old Super Robot anime series which definitely is not quite Gundam, but still good.  Stereotypical design?  Yeah, but vibrant in the colors and music is decent.  But we still come back to the fact that GA is aimed at a much younger crowd, as we again see how things are glossed over, such as the actual horrors of what the attacks do.  Aside from Frit’s mother dying in the opening scene, I get the feeling that this will be a much lighter death free Gundam.  As for design, the Gundam Age itself is decent, but not feeling everything else.  I’m pretty sure when we get to the part swapping power ranger/super robot style episodes things may get pretty lame.  I can see it already, with the heavy mech style Frits going to move in to close range and punch the crap out of his enemy… hmm…

Anyways, first episode is decent, but the series will require a certain turning off of expectations that previous series have for seriousness and more adult themes.  The good thing is that Bandai is at least giving the older crowd some UC love based off the plans to take the Origin and animate it.

So what are the thoughts on upcoming gunpla, the hobby show possibilities, and lastly Gundam Age?

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HGUC Unicorn (ANA Color Version)

Well, they say that pictures speak a thousand words, and I’ll let the below do exactly that.  But if I had to sum it up “Beautiful in Blue” would probably be how I’d do it.  To best honest with you, I’m going to have a hard time going back to the regular red/pink color…  While a costly kit, it’s very well worth it if you are a fan of either the Unicorn, gentei kits, or the color blue.  Or all three, whatever works right.  The downside is this kit will be hard to get….

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….

The State of the Gunpla Union – 030110

New month, new state of the Gunpla union.  Yep, It’s March already, January and February just flew by for me.

First up, Gundam  talk.  It’s my turn to talk about the upcoming releases that have my fellow Gunplars (and I as well, admittedly) in a furor.  So what’s on this humble Gunplar’s watch/rant list?  

MG Musha Gundam Mk-II

Um, yes, I’ll take one please.  The bad boy of Gundam Musou makes his appearance.  I can see this kit being very suited to my twilight color scheme as well.  No need for a special overprice glorious set like the original Musha Gundam either, I’ll take it just as it is.  It will also be interested to see how the Gundam V2.0 frame is used, considering this looks to be a much builker mobile suit than the Gundam.  Pricing is tentatively set at 6,300 yen, or around 4,400 yen at most retailers in Japan, and scheduled for a May release.

 MG Wing Gundam

Buster at Plamo Addiction said it best, but this is the Gundam that started it for a lot of Americans.  Suprisingly enough, it’s taken them this long to bring out a kit of the original anime version.  No endless waltz versions, or version Ka’s or PG’s here.  Simple MG TV series goodness.  I’ve got friends who’ve said if they’d ever build a kit, this is what they want to build.  Well here it is, at a nice price of 4,200 yen (2,900ish yen! in Japan) scheduled for an April release.  I’m in the same boat as Buster on picking this one up based on principle, Wing Gundam wasn’t even my favorite Gundam from Gundam Wing (that would be Deathscythe, of course, along with the Epyon), but it is still nostalgic to me as it’s literally America’s First Gundam.  

MG Unicorn HD Color Ver. + Cage

Box art is bad ass.  It looks like I might double dip on this one, a March 11th release @ 7,785 yen (again, 5,500 or so for those in Japan).  Unicorn is really a sexy beast, I can rationalize by saying I’ll keep my original Unicorn in Unicorn mode, and build this one in Destroy mode.  Yeah, that’s it…hehe.

Other March releases of interest include two more Gundam Unicorn HGUC kits, the Re-Zel Commander type and the Loto, this then apparently concludes the current rush of Gundam Unicorn stuff as is apparent from Bandai’s move back to other series for the time being.  As noted elsewhere, they’re most likely going to start lumping most things under one HG line, but this in itself is a maybe.  Currently there are three HG lines, HGUC, HG Seed, and HG 00.  HG Seed hasn’t seen releases for a long time so I guess it’s done, but the amount of kits there alone seem to rival HGUC with it’s current 100+.  HG 00 of course is still going, but for the most part they consist of the same kit, in different colors, or slowly adding weapons to it.  Anyways, It may be that this “Across the Universal Century” idea, which in itself is bad English, will address the older HG kits that weren’t properly scaled, or are quite outdated.  Aside from the Gundam X and God Gundam, could this mean new kits for shows such as Gundam V, W, X, Y, Z?  Oh wait, there was no Y there.  Anyways, only time will tell, but I am interested to see if they will “update” older kits this way then, and bring older HGUC kits into the 2010s.   

Oh as to what the name, “Across the Universal Century” says to me, it comes across as UC kits only, so why non-UC kits?  The Japanese translation, at least according to Dengeki Hobby is 「宇宙世紀を超えて」what our Japanese friends apparently meant “going beyond the Universal Century” but unfortunately, they decided to go with the literal translation of koeru, to end up being “Crossing” or “Across”

Seriously, Bandai, you need an English checker over there in Shizuoka?  I’m willing to move, just give me the job. 

Ahem.  Moving on, the latest March release schedule shows those special edition PG’s set for release on the 18th, I’m still surprised that there aren’t any pictures yet, considering that they are to be released in less than three weeks.  Looking forward to seeing how these kits are going to look.  So basically my March wish list (otherwise known as the if I could afford it and the wife wouldn’t kill me for buying all this Gunpla list) for March consists of the MG Unicorn + Cage and HGUC Loto Twin Set on the 11th, the Re-Zel Commander version and PG Gundam Special Edition on the 18th.  Hmm… yeah, that all isn’t happening…   

I will admit after my January rant of over priced MG/PG goods, it seems like stuff coming out now and in the future are reasonably priced, outside of a few kits (Titanium Sinanju, I’m looking at you.  You too, Trans-am Exia).  Some kits especially are quite nice for the price, the SD Unicorn, and the MG Astray Red Frame are two that come to mind.  Both are selling amazingly well, to the point of being literally sold out, which is something I’ve never seen with Gunpla to this point.  The amount of volume you get with the MG Astray is mind-boggling it seems, and puts the PG to shame.  Not that I’ll be picking it up.  I will say two words about the SD Unicorn:

Highly recommended.

What other Gundam news is there?  Unicorn OVA was good, glad I rented it off of PSN.  Don’t think I could justify the cost of the blu-ray though for only what amounts to about 50 minutes of animation.  Again, quality animation is great, but waiting six months for another episode seems long.  Gundam 00 was done in HD, and they did that weekly.  I know OVA’s are a step up from TV quality, but fifty minutes shouldn’t take that long.  I guess it’s kind of depressing because this probably means it’ll take a total of 3 years (Episode 6 in fall 2012?) to finish at this series…  Speaking of Gundam movies, the 00 trailer is out, still kind of up in the air, don’t know if I’ll see it in the theaters, or just wait.  Depends on what goodies they have for advance ticket sales maybe.

Anyways, what’s on your purchase list for March, and for those who saw the first episode of Gundam Unicorn, thoughts?

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.

AMS-129FF Geara Zulu Gallery

Kind of amazed that I whipped this up myself, but here you go. All parts were painted and I used the following colors:

Light green parts -> Metallic Red
Dark green parts, black parts -> Metallic Black
Inner frame, gray parts -> Gunmetal
Yellow parts -> Dark Yellow
Clear green parts -> Clear Red
White areas -> Plated Silver

I used Tamiya paints for all the colors save the Plated Silver Gundam Marker. It took about 3 hours to snip and paint, and then about 2 hours to build. I also used primer this time as I had a can left over from a long time ago, and I will say that the primer definitely made the paint look very nice with only one coat. Will have to look into priming should I paint again. I keep saying that I’m not going to paint any more and look what I go and do. Anyways, not perfect by any chance, but for jst deciding to do thison a whim it came out fairly nice.