Apparently I have developed chronic kleptomania in the past couple years. I have once again stolen a kit my brother originally purchased and have built it for myself. The loot from this week's heist: my first Real Grade kit! Yes, after almost six years since Real Grade was first released I finally have my hands on one to try for myself.
I have been holding off on purchasing a Real Grade kit for two main reasons: hope and trauma. Hope that there will be a release that I completely lose all self control over and splurge on, and trauma of seeing the issues some Real Grades have. After trying to do some photography for my brother's review, I refused to touch Real Grades, even kits that generally are considered solid builds (ie Gundam Mk-II).
There is one kit I have been looking at for some time now, but have been holding off due to some complaints I have heard from other builders. Let this Real Grade Wing Gundam Zero Custom be the testing grounds for Real Grades to come. Please do not disappoint.
Wing Gundam Zero is the mid-season upgrade to the the lead protagonist suit, Wing Gundam. The special feature in this upgrade is the ZERO System, a computer/interface that connects with the pilot's mind for higher performance.
|Image taken from Wikia|
|Image taken from Wikia|
Thoughts: Inner Frame
Before building this Real Grade, I had heard many tales of woe from past builders about stiff joints, loose joints, and even broken joints and everything in between. I was quite cautious with these pieces, making sure I did not cut the wrong part and exercised each joint before moving on.
Luckily Wing Gundam Zero's frame is not too complex, providing me a great Real Grade to start with. Had it been something with much more complex moving parts, I may have broken the inner frame before starting the armor pieces.
For those who have yet to experience a Real Grade kit, the pieces for the inner frame are made of multiple materials molded and printed on top of each other, providing an almost pre-built piece right off the runner. Pieces are cut out and folded into place and with a small amount of assembly, the inner frame is completed. Adam Savage, in a recent podcast, calls this method "co-molding."
Like its simple inner frame the Wing Gundam Zero's body is a relatively simple build. Because of this simplicity, the suit on its own, stands sturdy.
Small armor plates and components, like the faces of the shoulder vulcans, emulate that Real Grade hyper detail, but overall the surface panels remain relatively simple with minimal panel line options. An out-of-box look without the signature sticker detailing, make for a very beautiful build.
Attaching the wings to this relatively sturdy kit, as one may expect, causes this After Colony mobile suit to fall on its back. Not only will this kit look great on a stand, it seems to be required if the suit is to stand in a proper pose.
One iconic feature the Real Grade has over many other kit lines is the massive amount of sticker use. Rather than using dry or wet application decals, Bandai decided to continue usage of stickers to add the extra details in their Real Grade kits. Being that I am not a big fan of stickers, I keep sticker usage to a minimum. But since this is my first Real Grade, I decided to take a shot at applying these adhesive decals to get the "full" Real Grade experience.
These adhesive decals do a decent job adding detail to the build without feeling cheap, however, some stickers are not cut small enough to fit around certain shapes on the kit. In certain parts, I had to cut the sticker in order to fit the piece.
One of the biggest issues I had with the stickers is the reflective stickers for the lenses. The reflective material on these stickers were printed on the surface of the provided sticker decals. This means any mishaps while attempting to apply the stickers on the kit could result in damaging the reflective surface (ie scratched off, creased, etc). I wish Bandai treated reflective stickers the same they have been with HG kits.
Overall these stickers were more frustrating than I expected. The extra detail is welcome, but the process was more frustrating than wet application decals and, in some cases, more fragile. Will the kit suffer without the added detail? I personally do not think so, but it does give the kit that very distinct hyper-detailed look Real Grades tend to have.
The Real Grade version of the Wing Gundam Zero Custom is a beautiful build with some nice features typical of a kit in the Real Grade line. The suit itself is not prone to fall apart, though with the wings, this suit is prone to fall backwards. Disregarding my frustration with its stickers, this is an all around great kit without the issues other Real Grades may face with transformations, core fighters, and overall flimsy builds. If you are a fan of the Wing series, definitely consider getting this for your shelf!