Bandai Master Grade N3K-0 'Cat' - A Quick Review

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MG Cat 8Flickr

 

After my MG Deep Striker got put together I wanted to mix things up and go for something that could be played with just a tadddd more. Where the Striker is a static kit, very little movement, zero poses, the MG Cat is a world apart. I’ll get into it a bit more in a second but wow, is this kit an absolute joy to play with.

For those who are unfamiliar, the N3K-0 Cat, specifically the first numbered varient, was originally designed by Kunio Okawara as a late-season upgrade for Char in the original Mobile Suit Gundam. Unfortunately Sunrise insisted that the use of Char’s iconic red colouring did not work with the design, feeling that it would negatively affect merchandize sales. Together with Tomino, Okawara developed a purplish colour as an alternative. Again Sunrise rejected the colour scheme. Rather than work in another colour, Okawara substituted a yet unfinished design, the MSN-02 Zeong. Due to the rushed production Okawara would not add legs to the Zeong until after production and the Cat would be lost in obscurity until its release as a MSV design. Since then it’s become wildly popular and the subject of many memes and running jokes, especially in Japan. Hell, it just recently got a lot of attention by franchise fans petitioning for it to replace the Zeong in the upcoming Origin reboot of the original series. But I digress...

 

MG Cat 7Flickr

 

Articulation

So, the kit. Might as well start with one of the main features, specifically the articulation. At first look it doesn’t look like there’s a lot here. Most of promotional material features the Cat in several common poses, often standing, laying down, or bundled in a curled position. As I was building this kit it quickly became apparent that the inner frame, while not specifically detailed like older MGs, has a lot of articulation points. Each of these articulation points, on their own, aren’t that special. The usual 45 to 90 degree turns which are highly susceptible to damage if you force them past their design limits. However, when you pose using the sum of all the joints it turns out the cat is Cat is surprisingly agile. There are a number of different poses you can put the kit in, from walking, laying, curled in a ball, jumping, attacking, scratching, etc. Any each of these poses has numerous variants that go way beyond what I can capture in this quick review.

 

MG Cat 4Flickr

MG Cat 3Flickr
An example of one of the many points on this kit.

MG Cat 11Flickr
Look at that reach.

MG Cat 1Flickr
I'd like to see you do that, Mr Deep Striker.

 

Details & Decals

For the most part the Cat is a pretty simple looking design. It’s outer armor is a number of small little bristles, thankfully easy to build despite the mind numbing repetition, which vary in colour depending on the release you picked up. You can also rearrange them into various patterns and shapes. Most of the detail is around the head, with a textured tongue, nose, and very life like eyes. The eyes take a piece out of the PG Exia playbook and use a sticker behind a curved clear plastic lens to provide a great sense of depth. There are a few sticker backings to choose, from narrow or wide pupils depending on the look you’re trying to get. From what I've read the colour of the included stickers appears to be random. Bandai really wants you to buy more than one.

Outside of the head and general armor structure there’s not a lot of detail. No real panel lines, vents, thrusters, etc. At the very least Bandai graced us with a small selection of water slide decals to spiffy things up.

MG Cat 5Flickr
Could probably benefit from some decal solvant.

 

Weapons

The Cat, being a melay combat unit, comes with an impressive arrangement of sharp stabby bits, most of which are arrayed on at the ends of the arms and legs. There’s a nifty spring loaded gimmick that can extend and retract them quickly, often without warning. The mouth also has a nice set of teeth but it’s a feature generally hidden behind the rest of the face armor. There's not a whole lot else, out of the box at least. Since gaining popularity many of the illusrated varients have picked up weapons and armor common to the rest of the franchise. Of course, this being the age of P-Bandai first, all of these optional armorments are sold seperately, and yes, retail exclusivly in Japan. Thanks, Bandai.

MG Cat 10Flickr
Defensive shield from one of several weapon sets, of course, sold seperately.

WeaponSetFlickr
P-Bandai Exclusive Fin Funnels.

MG Cat 2Flickr
Scratch built action base.

 

Seam Lines & Nub Marks

For the most part this kit is pretty free of visible seam lines, and the under gating really keeps down on the nub marks. Unfortunately Bandai didn’t think that folks would be looking at the back end of the kit very much and left one hell of a nub mark location just under the tail.

MG Cat 9Flickr
Nub mark worse than Mega Size Unicorn's crotch.

 

Colour Scheme(s)

The Cat I picked up is white with a few black spots for contrast. Unique to this release you can pick up the kit in various colours right off the bad. Orange, gray, and an interesting variety of gray and black in a swirl pattern that’s unique to every pressing.

While nearly everyone I’ve spoken to is a fan of this long anticipated release, the collectors like me and fans of various forms will have to deal with the numerous P-Bandai and expo special event releases. At the very least three have been formally announced and several have been hinted at from the usual inside sources.

LongcatVerKaFlickr
Hajime Katoki take on the design is getting the Gunpla treatment later this year.

 

ExpoLimitedFlickr
Limited version exclusive to this year's Osaka expo.

 

"Once the Main Coone goes into mass production, we'll crush the Federation!"