Welcome to my review of Bandai's latest Master Grade Gundam model, the RX-78-2 Gundam Version 3.0. The redesigned kit takes after Bandai's new and improved vision of the original Gundam, matching the giant statue in Tokyo and the previous Real Grade release. While it features a more traditional frame than the RG, the MG is, for better or worse, simply a scaled up version of its little brother.
I should point out that I don't have a RG RX-78-2 so I can't compare the two directly. While I could compare the RG and MG based on other RG kits I figure it be best to make most of my comparisons within the same product line. Though I will reiterate that the MG and RG look exactly alike (other than the size and some panel gap issues, more on that later), even down to the included markings. Between the Mega Size, Real Grade, and Master Grade it wouldn't surprise me if Bandai re-released the Perfect Grade in this scheme as well... anyhow, I digress...
RX-78-2 Gundam, Version 3.0, comes with a beam rifle, bazooka, and collapsible core fighter. There's also a dummy core fighter you can use instead so the core fighter can be displayed along with the kit. While the core fighter lacks an action base attachment (for display) it comes with a set of wheels so it's not awkwardly sitting on the ground next to your kit. The key gimmick with the core fighter is that the tail folds down automatically when the cockpit it spun backward for in-Gundam mode. Just like the PG core fighter. The seat is also able to rotate sitting positions to match.
Clear thruster bits do not light up
Left to Right: PG, MG 3.0, MG 1.5
I'm pretty sure this dusty, neglected kit on the left is a MG version 1.5
A weathered GM I picked up on eBay
The V.3 is an interesting shift in MG kits, something I was quite uncertain with. After building the V.3 I really hope this trend does not continue. For starters, it's way more complex than it really needs to be. Due to the redesigned Gundam colour scheme there are two shades of red, two shades of blue, and three shades of white/grey. Bandai has pulled out some impressive engineering so that every piece is comes molded in its appropriate color. In keeping with the majority of MG kits it looks great out of the box.
Unfortunately all this detailed engineering creates a few issues. The first is the reduced inner frame. Thanks to multiple colours an armor section that used to be made of one or two pieces is now made of four. The frame inside has shrunk to match making construction a bit more tedious. For the most part things go together easily but the elbow joints can be a pain in the rear. A few tips on that section here.
The exterior armor is designed to flex with the movement of the frame making for the development of some odd gaps here and there when the V.3 is in a casual pose. One of the most noticeable gaps is on the shoulder armor. The front and rear parts are designed to push outward to create a wider range of movement. It's not exactly a necessity due to small design and the nature of the piece so I don't under the why they would add such a large gap that is unsightly to many. If you hate seam lines you'll hate this kit. Just take a look at any of my photos and you'll see what I mean.
Seam lines are exaserbated during posing
The little flap on the back of the leg hits the heel and causes the front and back lower leg armor bits to separate a bit
The updated inner frame and the small components that make of the armor also give the kit an odd sense of fragility compared to its MG brethren (RG owners will understand). It's also not something I'd really want to take apart for paint. A lot of pieces snap into place or are held on by another. It's easy to see the potential for some snapped pieces during a casual disassembly. Speaking of paint I'm not sure that spray cans would be viable for this kit. When there isn't a random gap there's an incredibly tight clearance that would create problems for thicker sprays. While I haven't put any of the detail stickers on the kit, rumor has it that the elbow's metalic details don't work quite right due to the minimum clearance.
Exhibit A: The weak shoulder joint
Exhibit B: The short peg that causes the legs to pop out a lot
While I've spent the last three paragraphs harping on the V.3 not all is bad. The trade off between the funky engineering is some damned impressive poseability. Perhaps the best poseability in a MG kit ever. The V.3 has an almost unparallelled range of movement and all of the joints are hold really well. In fact, she stands up on one leg with the greatest of ease.
It's important to point out that this poseability doesn't translate to playability. The hip joints are a bit too shallow to the legs can pop off easily. There's also a bit of an issue with the shoulder armor where the armor piece becomes loose in the elbow gap and starts to fop around a bit. The only way to get it back into place is to remove the arm, properly set the shoulder on the arm's elbow joint, then reattach to the torso. The more you pose the kit the more you get a sense for the fragility of the whole thing. Sometimes you hear something pop and you're left wondering whether it was just a piece snapping back into place or something breaking.
For some reason there are extra pieces on the weapons runner, even an extra pollycap. Since, as far as I can tell, all these molds are original to this kit I can't help but speculate why they're there. The runner featuring the shield is more perplexing. It's certainly an odd shape and, while everything else is different, contains the beam saber handles from the OYW version. The great OZKai pointed out that the extra pieces are actually due to reused bits from the old MG version 2.0. The new handles were updated just to add peg functionality with the new MG hands. The odd layout of the shield/booster runner is just the result of them removing parts that were replaced elsewhere on the kit.
I neglected to mention in the first edition of this review that the version 3.0 comes with two types of caps for the joints (the round bits on the side of the knee, elbow, and ankle joints). One is filled in white and the other is open like you see in my photos. According to the guide one set represents regular joints and the other represents magnetically coated ones.
A nice feature on the kit, one definitely worth pointing out, is that there are various hard points for weapon and shield storage. The beam rifle and bazooka can be mounted on the shield, the backpack, or the waist. Extra special is how the hard points on the backpack and waist flip around so you don't need to see them.
The shield itself (generally) does a good job staying attached to the arm and the 360 degree joint holds firm. However the part that moves vertically up and down the shield definitely needs tightening.
Hard points on the shield
Body hard points hidden
Body hard points exposed
Oh, did I mention that this kit comes with the new MG hands? And did you know I hate the MG hands? If you want all the reasons why I hate them read any review of the past few kits to come out with these awful things.
Another staple of the modern MG line is the room for a LED unit in the chest to light up the eyes. LED unit not included. What's really nice is how Bandai included a sticker that blacks out the areas around the eyes but not the eyes themselves. Many have noticed that there are clear pieces in the thruster modules, and unfortunately, no, they do not light up. Though if you wanted to modify them with another LED unit...
How she looks with a LED
A crapload of stickers
Here's the thing. The more I pose this kit the less I want to. It just feels awkward and I feel like every pose I put it in is somehow unnatural. Maybe it's fragility in the kit that's causing this odd feeling, I just can't explain it. Somehow, I believe, it's because this kit isn't fun. It isn't sexy. It isn't bad ass. It's clinical, specific, monotone. It's a perfect testament to Bandai's very impressive engineering and manufacturing skills. I don't look at it and get a sense of, "This is gonna be fun to play around with," like I do the MG Jesta or a sense of, "This is one bad ass mother fucker," that seeps from the MG Nu ver. Ka. It just lacks soul.
So, at the end of the day should you buy this the new RX-78-3 Version 3.0? That depends. First and foremost, you either have to be completely comfortable with building a Master Grade or Real Grade kit due to the added build complexities. Second of all, do you like the design? I mean, if you don't like it, don't waste your money. If you have to have a RX-78-2 in your collection check out one of the older Master Grades first. Personally I'm more a fan of the simpler RX-78-2 designs. I the Ver. Ka looks better and I've got my fingers crossed waiting for a MG Origin version.
- Lots of external detail
- Huge amounts of color variation
- Compled engineering
- Complex engineering leads to all kinds of issues x100
- Damn new MG hands
Left to Right: Meta, MG, PG
P.S. - I sort of rushed through taking the photos for this review. That, in part, explains why it looks so awkward in every shot.