PERFECT GRADE RX-178 GUNDAM Mk.II.

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BanDai's Perfect Grade RX-178 Gundam Mk.II

By Briareos Kerensky - images & text © 2002

Scale: 1/60. About 13¾"/ 35 cm when standing
Parts:
  • 28 plastic runners (dark grey, light grey, black, yellow, red, orange, clear and silvery)
  • 3 soft-plastic runners (black and dark grey)
  • 3 springs (2 big, 1 little)
  • 10 golden chains (6 long, 4 short)
  • 7 contacts
  • 12 2x4 screws
  • 17 2x8 screws
  • 6 2x8 screws
  • 2 green leds with relative clables
Total: over 800 pieces. 739 of them plastic.
Instructions: 2 manuals. One for assembly and one for history of the MS. One bonus DVD (Gundam Evolve II) for the first 10,000 pieces. Could be better only if there were color photos (useful when assembling leds). The rest explains perfectly every part of the model. The second booklet is pretty good, though incomprensible for people not knowing Japanese.
Decals: One sheet of detailed stickers. The film is not too thick, but is too glossy.
Paints/Supplies: 1 screwdriver and two LR43 batteries; no real need to paint; glue might be useful.
References: The manuals tell you everything. Plus there is a DVD that can be helpful. However, the RX-178 Mk.II appears in Z Gundam, ZZ Gundam and Char's Counterattack.
Molding Quality: 10 - it's perfect. Really.
Detail: 10 - nothing to say there.
Accuracy: 10 - simply wonderful.
Fit: 9 - screws are a little hard to be fully put in place.
Ease: 8 - it requires screws, and there are lots of little (mobile) pieces to be placed everywhere. Not exactly the best kit to start out with.
MSRP: About $ 227 USD (~ 253 EUR) available from specialty retailers around the world
Overall Rating: 9.5. Why not ten? Well, first because of the decals, then some joints could have benn done better (not about mobility, but about stability...arms could have been fixed better).

[Click to enlarge]

^ Armed with its Beam Rifle and one Beam Sword, the RX-178 Gundam Mk.II is capable of destroying almost every other Mobile Suit of its era. The Beam Rifle is showed with the sight and handle in combat position. Note that the Hyper Bazooka on the back of the model has its handle folded.

OVERVIEW

This model is the latest (for now) of Bandai's Perfect Grade Kits dedicated to the Gundam Universe. What is a Perfect Grade (PG from now on)? Well, first you must know that Bandai manufactures three kinds of models:
  • High Grade (HG): 1/144 scale; not rich in details and not fully posable. Inexpensive.
  • Master Grade (MG): 1/100 scale; the cost ranges from inexpensive (the GMs) from expensive (Sazabi, RX-93), but all have an internal skeleton where armors and weapons are mounted on. Some models have fully posable hands.
  • Perfect Grade (PG): 1/60 scale; top of the world. Internal skeleton, very rich in details and weapons; only few models ever reached this grade (namely the RX-78, the Zaku II, the Z Gundam, the Gundam Wing Zero Custom, the Eva 01 and this Mk.II). Very expensive.

[Skeleton]

^ The internal skeleton. The thruster on the left leg shows its internal details.

Image: The internal skeleton again, this time showing the rear. Its color ranges from dark grey to black, with few trimmins of light grey and yellow, which are armor pieces that have to be assembled.

[Click to enlarge]

^ This picture shows how the skeleton can move. Even with the whole armor on, the model can still achieve amazing positions, though ankles haven't the same degree of freedom

[Click to enlarge]

^ The model with full armor. Thanks to the external plates the model almost doubles its width on legs and arms. The jetpack is pictured without the Beam Sabers.

Image: Full armor, rear. The black holes on the arms are used to attach the shield. Though ankles are relatively without armor, they have less mobility, mostly due to the H5 piece.

[Click to enlarge]

^ Full armor, with all inspection panels and cockpit fully opened. In this pose the model is impressive.

Image: Full weaponry. The Beam Sabers are stored in the jetpack, the Beam Rifle (with one clip) is stored on the waist armor, the Hyper Bazooka on the rear; the shield contains two extra clips (called E-Caps) for the Beam Rifle, and can be folded. The head has one Vulcan Pod, composed by one ammo clip (left side) and twin vulcans (right side)

[]

^ Full weaponry, rear.


^ The RX-178 Gundam Mk.II with its Hyper Bazooka armed and ready to fire.
So, the PG is everything a modeler desires for its favourite Mobile Suit.

The present model is a RX-178 Gundam Mk.II, an evolution of the original RX-78 Gundam. It first appears in Z Gundam, and then is present in almost every Gundam series. Its performance is more than doubled when compared to the original Gundam, and everything above else during Z Gundam, except the transformable Z Gundam and the Qubeley, which is one of the first Mobile Suits for newtypes (people with a kind of ESP power). It also one of the first models to use a "bubble" cockpit, which gives the pilot 360 of view in all directions. The standard armament of the Mk.II are two beam sabers, located on the jetpack, one Beam Rifle (with three clips, two stored in the shield), one Hyper Bazooka (with 5 shots) and one Vulcan Pod (munitions and twin 30 mm vulcans). Every weapon listed has its own place on the model, as it would be in the series.

One of the manuals describes the history of the Gundam project, as well the details of the Mk.II, but it's in japanese; however, the Mk.II was originally designed by the Titans (Eart Federation's suppressive force, created to destroy all remainings of the Zion army, though they were no longer willing to fight), but one of the prototypes was stolen and used by the AEUG to stop the Titans, and gave to Kamiru Bidan, before he was wounded. After this event the Mk.II went to Amuro Rei (the hero of the first series), who was waiting for the new transformable MS, the Z Gundam.

The bonus DVD has few CGI movies about the first tests on the Mk.II against other Mobile Suits, plus a small image gallery and advertisings about other Bandai models. It is done pretty well, however there are neither subtitles nor other languages, and the disc is region 2, recorded in stereo mode (2:0), with standard proportions (4:3, a normal TV). The complete playback time is about 15 minutes. It's not very long, but it comes only with the first 10,000 models.

Speaking of the model, a quick look to the runners reveal that Bandai produced a real masterpiece: they included several runners of different colors, which virtually precludes any need to paint the model, including a fantastic silvery runner for the internal part of the cockpit and the various actuators; the golden chains provided are used to enhace the detail of the model; most will be placed in the legs (knees and feet), and the others in the jetpack; there also two green LEDs and all contacts needed to lit up the eyes and the cockpit of the Gundam; batteries are not included: you'll need two LR43s.

The armor parts are done in a very intelligent way: to limit stress and damage to these very important parts, they have to be cut off in two way: first vertically, to remove them from the runner, then orizontally, so that the usual imperfections of plastic kits will be on the hidden side of the model.

BUILDING THE SKELETON

This phase will take looooooooong time. About two afternoons of work. Really, no jokes. Only one leg contains as many parts as an internal skeleton of a Master Grade kit, probably even more. And the leg only is taller than most Master Grades. However, the assembly is not too difficult: no glue is required, and all pieces snap into place perfectly, with no putty need to fill gaps; before snapping anything, be sure to watch the figure on the manual very carefully: most pieces need to be assembled in a certain order and/or you have to search between different runners to complete a step, and they all need to be mounted with the right side facing out, and which is the right face is not always clear. Also, as with all Bandai snap-kits, removing one piece is a difficult trick and it will probably damage the part, even if in a slight way, so before snapping everything into place, double-check the instructions.

Also, before beginning to add screws, look closely to the manual, and recognize the different types: misplacing a screw could mean that some joints wont be hard enough to withstand the most extreme poses (and believe me, this model can assume almost any pose you want); additional screws are provided, but it's better to always place the right screw in the right place; screws are needed for almost any joint in the model: just think that the first leg step needs 3 screws and a spring (a long one). Fortunately, the manual has 1:1 representations of the screw, which will help in selecting the right one.

Assembling the skeleton isn't that hard, especially when speaking about the legs; the trickest passage is to place the actuators and the chains into place, but those are nothing compared about the head and the torso...the head needs the first led (the one with contents), which must be placed perfectly, and the cable must run trhough very small passages, first throught he head itself, then through the neck.

The torso requires special care: the cockpit is composed of three layers: also, if you are going to paint the seat (colors are: brown for the paddings, dark grey for the seat itself, cloches back with red button and few small details, all equal to airplane seat) and the pilot (standard Federation suit: white with black trimmings), do it now, there will be no chance to put them in place after the torso is finished. Assembled seat, pilot and first layer (which needs the second led. Try to have the black cable above the red one), you'll have to place the first door, then assemble the second layer. Third layer needs even more work: before adding it to the cockpit, you'll need to add four actuators and close them with a piece; then, you'll have to add a final piece to lock the whole structure (the door will be still able to open, though people with large fingers will find it hard) and two more actuators.

When assembling the cockpit with the upper torso structure, be sure to put all actuators in their place; do not force the whole structure, they won't prefectly fit together to ensure mobility. On the MS back there is also the main structure for activating the leds, which can be tricky: the black cables go to the right, the red ones to the left. Do NOT cut the cables coming from the head, but the two coming from the cockpit will need a little work: first, you can cut off about 0.5 cm, then remove the protection (and ONLY the protection), and place the exposed copper (?) wires where you'll have to screw in the contacts. Be sure to place the cables trhough the small gaps to place them into position; now place the back external piece to lock all down.

The lower torso structure is not that complicated, but let me warn you about one thing: to not play too much with the torso joints: they are prone to snap off and the actuators to exit from their guides.

Arms are relatively easy to assemble, but note that fingers have different lenghts, so follow the instructions to avoid finding the the 5th finger is longer than the second. This warning is valid also for the exhaust ports on the chest (they are moveable!) and on the legs (not moveable).

If you are going to leave the skeleton without the armor (thrust me, it is worth the try),pieces that can be left off are:

  • HEAD: step 62
  • TORSO: steps 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83 and 84
  • ARMS: pieces G12, G18, G19, H16; steps 7, 8, 9. 10 and 11
  • LEGS: pieces M25(26), B1, B2, B4, A10, G2, G7, H5, H14, H12, G13, G15, G16, G17, G20 and G21; steps 34, 25
  • OTHER: the whole jetpack (to have the innner details of the jetpack, exclude pieces O11, O20, O13; step 76.

ASSEMBLING THE ARMOR

This step shouldn't take long. Thanks to Bandai's vertical/horizontal cut system, little or no sanding is required. Also, all armor plates can be put into place without removing any piece of the skeleton (except the red foot plates, which require the removal of pieces U4 and U5).

The assembling goes really smooth, with only few (very) small problems; first, skirt armor tends to fall off if you play too hard with it, especially the side plates. Shoulder plates are realtively hard to fit into place because of their poorly designed joints; when assembling the skeleton, be sure to have those pieces (S12, two per shoulder) snapped into place, and to use something to prevent their movement. Arms present one other problem: the forearm moveable armor plate (G8) are hard to place and tend to move out from their joints during movement.

There are two possible solutions to these problems: use few drops of glue to avoid any fall off (you won't be able to remove them anymore, though) or just to be veeeeery careful when moving those parts.

WEAPONS

After the Mk.II has been dressed, it's time to think about the accessories. First of, the jetpack. Its construction is quite simple, though it requires to place the last contacts and golden chains. The four thruster are fully moveable. The jetpack contains also the batteries and the on/off switch. The outer piece (O13) is hard to move once snapped into position, but the jetpack is very simple to remove from the MS and all other pieces are not so hard. Unfortunately Bandai chose to lock down the batteries with a screw; batteries substitution might take a while, as you have first to remove two lateral pieces (R24), the O13 piece (outer armor), the O5 piece (inner detail), the screw and finally the N7 piece.

However seeing the cockpit and the model's eyes lit up by a wonderful green light is worth this process.

The other weapons are very easy to assemble. The Beam Rifle has three moveable parts (sight, handle and clip), while the Hyper Bazooka only two (handle and clip). Beam sword are really easy.

The shield is a bit more complicated, as it can be folded. The mechanics inside the shield aren't so sophisticated to allow an automatic folding, but are neverteless complicated. Special care must be put in the central lock, or the shield won't be able to move. Be sure to place everything as the instructions say, and to fully put into place all screws (4).

Also, the Beam Rifle and the Hyper Bazooka's clip can be hang on side waist armor (the Hyper Bazooka itself can be hang on the rear waist armor). It is better to enlarge the hanging holes a bit, to make the operation easier; also, the K33 pieces can be glued for better stability.

COLORS and DECALS

I added no decals (stickers) to my model nor I have painted it. Decals are too glossy, and would have lowered the model's overall realism. I did not paint the model simply because it doesn't need it: plastic pieces are already colored in the right way (which, of course, doesn't follow the Federal Standard). It is possible to add some details by drybrushing or by using pastels, but the model already looks great.

On a side note, the decal sheet has some additional stickers, with numbers and Titans insignas, to allow one to custumize the model. All Gundam Mk.II prototypes are colored with the off-the-box colors, as are the AUEG models. Titans' Mobile Suits are different: all light grey parts are colored in dark/night blue (the small yellow parts on the shield and the foot plates too) and all orange parts in yellow.

Titans' models replace all AEUG markings with their own, in the same place; they have numbers on the left shoulder and on the right hip.

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This page copyright © 2002 Starship Modeler™. Last updated on 25 April 2002.