Previously on Gundariumsmith, we took a look at the packaging and contents of the HGUC GM II Semi-Striker. As my first P-Bandai kit, it was interesting to see the variations between the HGUC GM II and this kit. With what this kit comes with, I came to the conclusion that this kit may actually be worth its money, even after doubling the price here in America.
If you are interested in my thoughts on the unboxing, including the background of the GM II Semi-Striker and how I came across this kit, click here for Part I.
The instructions start off with the torso followed by the head. These are the only parts that remain unmodified from the HGUC GM II. Then again, the GM II shares the same torso as the GM III which was produced first, so technically the only part that truly remains intact from the GM II is the head.
The first modified parts come with the arms. The most obvious changes are in the shoulders, the most iconic part of this jalopy suit. The articulation is not inhibited by the side armor plate: the flap naturally slides out of the way as the arm turns at the shoulder. Though this is a subtle positive aspect, it is something I noticed while playing around with the arms.
On a side note, there are some subtle differences between the original GM Striker shoulder and the Semi-Striker. The Semi-Striker's "armor plates" are a lot more pronounced and the side flap position is farther in.
The other unique part in the arms is the built-on shield. The whole arm is actually thicker than the normal GM II arm. Other than the shape, the construction is essentially the same - two half-shells with two polycaps inside. Going back to the shoulder armor flap, the built-on shield, in some position, can get in the way of the shoulder armor. However, these two pieces do not actually get in each others way too easily. Coincidence or good engineering? I would love to talk to the Bandai engineers about this specific arm.
Legs are generally the same as the original GM II. The only difference is the calf pieces which have an alternate detail. As for the waist armor, other than the rear skirt armor, the rest also remains the same.
The added details in the legs create a rigid/angled look whereas the vanilla GM II has more smooth and sleek lines. It is only a subtle difference, but it changes the motif to match the rigid angles found in the shoulders. With such subtle changes, the articulation of the Semi-Striker is essentially the same (which is a good thing).
The iconic weapon of the GM Striker is the Twin Beam Spear. The one included in this kit is identical to the one found in the 2006 kit. Two other accessories included in this kit is the standard Earth Federation Shield and Beam Rifle. These two are included in the instructions, however this particular GM II would not wield this equipment.
In the final assembly, I am met with slight nostalgia as my first HG kit happened to also be in desert colors. Comparing the Semi-Striker build to my recalled experience with the HGUC Nemo, the GM II seems to have a much simpler design. There is a possibility that, after two years of building HG kits, I have grown accustom to the kits and the GM II just feels simpler, but looking at the Nemo's design and thinking about the color separation and the strangely separated parts in the shoulder, I cannot help but to think the Nemo has many more pieces. Nevertheless, the GM II, like any other grunt suit kit of its time frame, is quite a simple build.
That is not to say the simplicity takes away from the suit. Similar to what I wrote in my quick review of the HGUC REVIVE RX-78-2 (still my favorite kit of 2015), this kit does not have a large amount of detail, yet the subtle differences definitely help it stand out among other suits (unless, of course, I have a collection of desert colored grunts suits from Mobile Suit Gundam: Unicorn).
Furthermore, the GMII does not have any detail that would require painting or stickers, unlike its AEUG cousin, Nemo. For those who have built the Nemo (or saw me attempt to compete back in early 2014), you know that the shoulders and legs have little thruster details that normally have a little color separation. The GM II has a few stickers for the same purpose such as the red for the cockpit hatch (in red), but without the sticker the suit still looks fine.
One sticker I wish the GM II had is a reflective backing for the visor. The Nemo has it and it looks great, but for some reason, the GM II (vanilla, desert, and Semi-Striker) do not include one. The suit still looks fine without the reflective backing due to the suit's light color, but it still looks lackluster compared to the Nemo's visor.
As for the suit itself, the GM II Semi-Striker is a well balanced kit with articulation that is flexible enough to do a few poses while rigid enough to hold those poses. The arm itself is able to hold the weight of the twin beam saber and the manipulator is snug enough with the weapon that the spear will not slip.
One accessory I failed to mention earlier is the beam saber. The actual saber is a standard piece on the GM II, however, the kit does not provide an additional effect parts for it, unlike the HGUC GM Striker which includes two pairs of beam saber runners. Also, the beam saber is quite loose in the hands.
The other accessories included can be used, but with one of the arms fitted with the built-on shield, the only place to put the shield and the beam rifle is the right arm. Sometimes I wonder why Bandai even bothered putting these items in the instructions.
Fortunately, these accessories are not completely useless in this kit. The GM II Semi-Striker includes parts to build the original GM II (in desert colors, of course). With a few part swapped out, another grunt of Torrington Base appears!
Sometimes Bandai likes to remove parts from the runner to prevent these kinds of options. I am happy they gave it us this time, not that I would keep my GM II Semi-Striker in this state.
With the price hike of over double the Japanese MSRP for a simple grunt suit, many people would pass on purchasing this kit. Even I had my doubts in purchasing this expensive GM. However, comparing the cost of a kit bash, evaluating my own skill, and most important of all, my love for this particular mobile suit, I find this kit is not as costly as it may seem on the surface.
The finished product is like any other HGUC grunt from the late 2000s / early 2010s and the modifications do not inhibit the original design (unlike a lot of Build Fighters modifications). It is a simple and solid kit that can definitely hold its own without an action base. Despite its simplicity, details, especially the modified parts, keep this grunt a unique suit over its GM variant counterparts.
No matter how much I praise this kit, I do not believe I can convince anyone to purchase such an expensive GM -- it is not for everyone. However, if you like unique grunt suits, the GM II Semi-Striker may very well be a good purchase, even with the 35 USD price tag.