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Master Grade Gundam Balls

By Clyde 'Ent'il Zog' Jones - images & text © 2006

Scale: 1/100
Parts: Polystyrene, ABS, PVC, and.... Something squishy - TPE?
Instructions: Multi-page booklet featuring Japanese text and exploded assembly diagrams
Decals: 2 sheets of rub-on (dry transfer) with lots of stencil markings
Molding Quality: 10 - including one or two sprues molded in 4 colors
Detail: 10 - lots, and well executed
Accuracy: Right on! (Although I've never seen them 'live')
MSRP: $20.00 USD ($24.00 USD for Rb-79K) (~$22.77 CAN/ € 16.47 EUR) available from Starship Modeler
Overall Rating: 10 - see review

[Box covers]

What we have here, courtesy of the SSM store and my collapsing wallet, is a set of the most engineernngly-sound combat units from the great Gundam series.

[Please click to enlarge]

^ Inner frame sprues, common to both kits

Image: Arm sprue

Image: Outer coverings

Image: Base

Image: Rb-79K's additional weaponry sprue

Image: Instructions - easy to follow, for assembly at least

Image: Paint and decal placement guide

Image: Oh, the possibilities .....

[Please click to enlarge]

^ Inner 'skeleton' built up

Image: Inner 'skeleton' from behind

These are “Support Units”, rather than main fighting mechs. They are (obviously) meant for zero G use only since they have neither legs nor landing gear. But they are what every fighting machine must be - SIMPLE. No excess parts like legs, no transforming ability - just a simple space pod. With a BIG gun or two. And claws.

The manipulator arms are simple (relatively) heavy industrial units. The arms have clamps, not fingers. The arms - and the entire Ball - seem to be patterned after the Pods from 2001. There is one small clamp on one set of forearms, and another ‘claw tip’ on another forearm which can be used with the matching forearm/clamp as a giant grasping manipulator. The small clamp is good for grasping small objects, the large one is useful for grabbing onto a larger object like a wayward or damaged Gundam.

The Kits

I bought both the RB-79K (which cost $24 US) and the cheaper RB-79Ka (which cost $20) from the SSM store because I liked the designs, but wondered what the differences were. I already had a couple of 1/144th scale RB-79Ka models and liked them. But I’d seen pictures of these Master Grade Gundam kits and they made the kits look fantastic! The early smaller models were relatively simple (and cheap). These large units are NOT simple and have a tremendous amount of detail. You definitely get what you pay for.

Shell Game

Each kit can be built with the outer shell ON or OFF. If you leave off the outer hull bits, you can see an entire inner hull and separate layer of reinforcing framework, not to mention the engines and detailed inner bits. One of these RB’s should wind up in a maintenance diorama with the shell off and crew working on the inner structure.

Each kit comes with one pilot and two lounging workers, in space suits. To get workers actually tweaking the giblets of the RB you will have to find some 1/100th mechanics, or do a lot of modifying of these 3 figures.

Each model comes with a beautifully printed manual of construction. Much of each booklet is in full color with some wonderful illustrations from the various series. If you are fluent in written Japanese, the instructions should be complete with lots of information you happily don’t need to build either model - because if you don’t read Japanese, the English text is quite scarce.

This gets particularly "interesting" when you get to the paint instructions since all the info is in Japanese. Even the STENCIL callouts are in Japanese.... The assembly illustrations are thankfully explicit and complete.

Happily, both kits are definitely “Molded in Color” as the old car kits liked to advertise. Just building them carefully, and then hitting them with matte spray to kill the plastic shine should be enough for most porpoises.


What do you get for your additional 4 bucks? The cheaper RB-79Ka is the basic street model. No bucket seats or Corinthian leather - and only one main gun. A BIG main gun - listed as a 180 mm Canon. (That puppy had better be a “recoilless rifle” type or the recoil will send that pod spinning like a bowling ball!)

The sprues are:

  • The inner hull & framework - black ABS
  • The outer hull - 4 colors of polystyrene
  • The single 180 mm canon in polystyrene
  • A framework base like Finemolds uses for it’s TIE fighters in polystyrene
  • A sprue of squiggly bits in TPE
  • A small baggie with some wire for hydraulic hoses, and two short pieces of metal for part of the arms.
  • (I have no idea where the PVC comes in....)

The more expensive RB-79K adds the Twin Canon assembly sprue - in 4 more colors of polystyrene. In addition to the cannons, you get more hull bits, a “roll bar” with lights (talk about “off roading....”), and a winch assembly with various attachments - bare cable, cable with ‘grapple’, retracted grapple, stowed grapple.

Oh, The Possibilities...

There are pictures on the web of modified RB’s - all KINDS of modified RB’s. Some have legs. (Pod meets Tachikoma?) Some have treads. Some have even BIGGER guns. Some have.... Things. So the RB-79K series has a lot of potential for scratch/bashing. A crash/rescue unit with treads? A deep sea explorer? An unarmed Space Pod redefined to a larger scale? ( with scratchbuilt interior for a larger pilot & controls.)

These kits are highly recommended, even for those who admit that they don’t “get” Gundams.

Zog would like to thank Stu Pidasso for the use of his giant rubber squid, and SSM would like to thank Zog's wallet for providing the review samples. Manufacturers and retailers, interested in getting your wares reviewed and publicized on a site averaging 3500+ readers a day? Contact us!

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the reviewer.
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This page copyright © 2006 Starship Modeler™. First posted on 31 January 2006.