9.19.2015

Review [Part I]: HGRC Gundam G-Self Assault Pack


Preamble
Going through the series, Gundam G no Reconguista, no suit design really caught my attention. I am not sure if it is because Akira Yasuda and Kimitoshi Yamane created uninspiring suits, if the show itself was uninspiring, or if it was a combination of the two. The only suit I was even remotely interested in was the G-Self Reflector Pack, however the suit was not available (and ended up being a P-Bandai kit - seriously, Bandai?). Nevertheless, I withheld from purchasing any kits from the series.
After the series' conclusion, Bandai had announced the Assault Pack before any news of the Reflector Pack's release and I started looking into the kit a little more. During the show's run, I liked the G-Self with the Assault Pack leg armor, but the actual Assault Pack was not too appealing. With a MSRP of 3800 JPY (and a US price point of near 50 USD), I was definitely going to steer clear of the kit.
Fast forward a couple months, I learn from a few friends that the price of the G-Self Assault Pack has been dropping rapidly on Amazon. Now was my chance to grab this massive kit. I could not let it pass. Even though the price dropped further after my purchase, I was happy with the price.

On a side note, this will be my first experience with a kit from the HG G no Reconguista line. Since my brother built the Grimoire, I was able to play around with a kit from the series, but I have not built one for myself until now. We shall see how it compares to the HGUC kits I tend to gravitate towards.

Background
Without getting into too much into the technology of the Regild Century, the G-Self is a prototype mobile suit that is piloted by protagonist Bellri Zanam. The Assault Pack is introduced in episode 12 as an Amerian built attachment for mobile suits built under the Universal Code, however it seems the G-Self is the only suit that can use the pack.


Like other packs, not counting Atmospheric and space use, the Assault pack is seen very few times in the series - the second and last time in episode 15.

Unboxing
This box is massive! Before even opening the box I am in awe of how large the box is. I was expecting the size of the box to be similar to the size of the Full Armor Unicorn or a smaller Master Grade, but I never expected the face of the box to be as large as it is. With such a large box, it is nice to be able to appreciate the box art in all its glory.

Size Comparison: MG Musha Gundam Mk-II box
Instructions come in a booklet as opposed to the typical single folded sheet that other High Grades have. One noticeable difference in the instructions compared to the HGUC style instructions is the sub-section labels. Instead of just writing "right arm" Bandai shows us an image of what the object being built and where it will be on the suit, highlighted. Though I see this typically on a Real Grade or Master Grade, I do not typically see section labels this large. To me it just seems like a waste of space and printer ink.

The size of the box is not just for show, there are quite a few runners in this box. Not only do we have the returning runners from the first G-Self kit, we have runners 'K' through 'S2' to make up the parts for the Assault pack.

It has been awhile since I have built a kit with this many runners!

For the runners involved with the G-Self, all the bright blue is changed to red and a shade of maroon, and with all the red from the Assault pack, the runners seem to lack variation at first glance. However, with a few runners of yellow and clear blue, there is still hope the suit is not a full monochrome monstrosity.
One last runner that caught my eye is the black runner labled 'BA2' The last time I saw this was the Master Grade Wing Gundam Proto Zero. As you will see later in the review, we will not be using the long arm that is included with the runner: the Assault Pack would stand a little too tall at that height.

Parts: G-Self
Normally I skip the head since it is usually the most delicate part of the kit. This way, I can warm up with other parts and be at peak performance when I get to the head. For some reason, the instructions started with the head instead of the chest, so I decided to work on the head first.
The head is a relatively standard build, however the reliance on stickers for color separation was quite disappointing. I had read a few experiences on Reddit and the major complaint about this kit is the stickers.


I did not think it would have been such a big problem until I put the head together. For those who paint kits, this may not be a problem since all kits would get the detail through paint. However, for any straight build enthusiasts out there, the G-Self's head is the worst I have seen in years. The fact that the forehead requires a tri-color sticker baffles me in every way.
A total of seven stickers are used to create that color separation. Though some of the camera slots are not a big deal, the yellow vents on the side of the head and the forehead sticker are quite off putting. The head alone could very well be a deal breaker for me. Good thing I got quite a bargain for it.

More stickers show up on the chest. I thought this was quite dumb, though I recall similar sticker usage on the HG SEED Red Frame (Flight Unit). At lest the two tones of red with yellow accent allow me to withhold stickers.


One major problem with the chest (as you might be able to see in the image above) are the shoulder blades / beam saber holsters. These pieces rest on each side of G-Self's shoulder, but are loosely connected to two slits. While trying to pose the arms, these shoulder pieces kept falling off.

Arms seem to be just as disappointing. I was initially happy to see the arms of the G-Self have a pseudo inner frame.


However, with the armor plates the arm barely moves 90 degrees. It feels as though I am building a kit from the early 2000s. There is also a problem with the ball joint connecting to the torso. The arms stay on okay, but trying to articulate the arm into certain poses, the arms like to pop off quite easily. I do not recall a kit I have built with shoulder joint problems like this.

above: This arm is fully flexed.
The color separation and detail of the waist is great. The clear blue on the crotch, the yellow skirt armor on both sides, and the little surface detail on the pieces make for great looking skirt armor leading to even better looking legs.
For me, the altered legs of the G-Self Assault pack was one of the biggest selling points of this kit. Though the regular legs are okay, the Assault Pack armored legs remind me of suits from the 80s like the Jegan or Re-GZ.


Color separation is downgraded as the clear blue parts of the knee are covered up by the red armor parts and the maroon of the side packs take away from the clear blue accents. In addition to the covered accents, the vents near the bottom of the legs can barely be seen. At least the opposite side has a really nice white accent, almost as if this suit had white wall tires.
A fun little side note about this kit. If you, for whatever reason, wanted the original legs instead of the Assault Pack legs, this kit includes all the pieces to do so. Yes, this kit includes every runner from the original HG G-Self (without the Atmospheric Pack), no pieces left behind, even the stickers that back the clear blue parts.


All Together: G-Self
This kit looks good! I am not the biggest fan of the G-Self, but the modifications to the legs paired up with the alternative color makes for a great looking suit. Despite its good looks, the suit also comes with its own problems.


Looking back at other Alternative Universe kits, there is a clear progression in technology in each series. However, comparing kits from the previous alternative universe (not counting Build Fighters), Gundam AGE, to the latest, G no Reconguista, it seems as though the G-Self takes a few steps back. The heavy sticker usage and the under-par articulation is quite disappointing.

Size comparison: Adele Spallow
On the contrary, the panel details, color separation (not counting the head), and overall structural integrity are definitely on par with many modern kits. Even though I point out the flaws of the shoulder blades and shoulder joints, the problems are quite minor, especially compared to Destroy Mode Unicorn Gundam.

Size Comparison: Unicorn Mode Unicorn Gundam
It might take a bit of work to get this kit looking good without stickers, however the base build definitely holds a lot of potential and I look forward to eventually getting some paint on this kit.

BONUS: G-Self Head Display
Earlier in the year, my brother was able to pick up a G-Self upon my request. Looking at the pieces on the runner, I noticed that there was a massive lack of surface detail on the kit. Though it bothered me, I paid little attention to it and started painting.
The result of this Head Display is a mess of paint and brush strokes. major work is required to clean up the white on the head: the whole thing is covered in smeared grays and blues. I hope to be able to remedy this in the future.
The reason why I mention the Head Display is because I came to a realization while building the HG G-Self: The Head Display is literally a blown up version of the HG G-Self head. No wonder why the panel detail is lacking: Bandai took a 1/144 scale piece, blew it up to 1/48 scale and did nothing to modify it!


Despite the seemingly lazy way of creating a head display, the simple build makes for an easier paint job than the finicky Unicorn Head Display. I just wish the V-fin was a little sharper (major scraping and sanding had to be done to get it the way I have it now).

I painted the head display in Assault Pack colors soon after Bandai announced the kit. I was hoping to display the  Assault Pack alongside the Head Display, however, I was foolish to think I could just put the massive Assault Pack on the head display. We'll see if there's a good way to display both together. For now I have a place for my G-Self as I work on the rest of the kit another day.

Thanks for checking out Part I of the G-Self Assault Pack review. Please come back for Part II where we focus on the Assault Pack build. I cannot wait to get this not-as-massive-as-the-Dendrobium kit put together! I hope to see you then.

For Part II, click here!