I might be a bit late to the party with Premium Bandai's latest Metal Build offering - it showed up earlier this year in Japan, but Curibo didn't deliver until this month - no sleight on them, it's a rare beast at a fair price, so if you want to guarantee a delivery to the UK, I can recommend them. That said, lets dive in and take a look at this monstrous Gundam!
What's in the Box?
The main event is the Nu Gundam itself, using the colour scheme from the 1998 Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack - Beltorchika's Children novel. This version of the mobile suit is based on the work of Yutaka Izubuchi, and has an unusual pastel colour scheme. It comes with a backpack that can be used to attached 6 fin funnels, 2 booster rockets and the bazooka, all of which provide a very distinctive and aggressive silhouette.
There's also a beam rifle (with removable strap) two long beam sabers which store in the backpack, one short beam saber which stores in the forearm, four pairs of optional hands and a display stand, which has additional attachments to show the funnels separated and floating next to the Nu Gundam.
So quite a bit to get our teeth into.
All the extra kibble on the back makes the whole thing look insanely "hench" and I love it
The main figure is a weighty beast, standing at least a head taller than its RX-78 Chogokin forebear and SEED Strike spiritual descendant. There have been reports of QC issues, but mine is basically flawless. Every panel, joint and mechanism seems to be sturdy and paint, where applied, is perfect. Lots of warning tampos grace the suit, enhancing the feeling of scale and adding a level of realism that I always welcome on mecha with pilots.
The joints are all metal, with the knees also showing off some gorgeous working pistons and two-tone brass/iron details, even under the hip-skirts where they'll mostly go unseen. The range of movement is superb - even the shoulders have butterfly joints hidden under the panels. This level of detail is why anything from the Metal Build range is so highly regarded, it really is the one to beat when it comes to design.
To add to the "fully loaded" feel of the figure, the forearms have a couple of surprises. On the right arm you have a hidden gatling gun, fully di-cast, you simply fold the armour back and extend the barrel. This is on permanent display and is probably my favourite detail, not least becasue it reminds me of the Alex, possibly my favourite design ever and Metal Build I wish they'd get around to. The left arm contains housing for the shorter beam saber hilt, which can be removed and outfitted with a beam effect - you have several options for length in the box.
As if to perform a victory lap, it doesn't stop there. The figure has an "engage" mode, where various panels can slide and split to reveal further mechanical detail under the armour. These panels grace the shoulders, front hip skirts, calves, torso and forearms. For those of us that like to see such intricate detail, it's an absolute dream.
Stunning levels of detail even on hidden weaponry. Note the mechanical detail under the armour there too.
What's more of a nightmare is the way in which the fin funnels attach to the backpack and give it the "spread eagle" look. Once you attach the backpack (with a very simple connector common to the series - just push it in), the pauldrons have 3 connectors on each side where the funnels can be attached with a clip at the top of the funnel. At least that's the theory, but just try and get the little bastards to actually clip on and you're in for at least a half hour of complete frustration and second guessing to actually get them on there. How on Earth Bandai have managed to make a sodding clip so mind-bendingly difficult is beyond me, especially when the rest of the kit in the box is so beautifully executed. Was it the designer's day off? Ugh.
Once attached and you've cleaned up your now bleeding fingers, (and assuming nothing got broken) you now have the Hi Nu Gundam in its most iconic form - essentially with the "wings" attached. This puts me in mind of SEED's Freedom Gundam (though it should be the other way around, I saw SEED before the original Gundam, so it's all backwards for me!) as they both look similar when rested, though really the design philosophy of detachable attack modules is more in line functionally with the Strike Freedom. In any case, it looks great.
It is here that the Hi Nu starts to look a bit trendy, with the funnel paint apps looking very much "sprayed on", all fuzzy edges and uneven lines. I'm not sure I like it, but it's subtle enough to not be offensive. The same cannot be said of the shield, which with its "spot camo" design looks very unsightly, which is a real shame as the technical detail underneath, with rockets and an extending cannon, is beautifully done. Despite that, I can't forgive those stupid spots, so it's staying in the box.
An official picture of the funnels on their individual stands - because if you think I'm detatching them after all that, think again!
Despite the marmite properties embodied by some of the aesthetic choices, and the frustrations caused by the over-complication of the funnel connections, this is a stellar toy. It's the sort of hi-tech action figure/display piece you'd want from Japan, it just embodies everything you think of when you imagine "hi-tech". It's stunningly detailed, incredibly sturdy and has a premium finish, with lots of little touches that just make you feel warm and fuzzy because they took the time to add them in. It feels like art, a sculpture that represents a futuristic intent and something to strive for.
An overall score for a figure like this feels clumsy; there are really only two identifiable flaws, but even with them it's a superior design. I can't give it a 10 because for me it isn't perfect, but know only this: it's as wonderful a display piece as I've ever seen, and I'm getting buried with it.