Saying that I’ve been excited about Gundam UC is a bit of an understatement. The plamo machine that is Bandai has popped out what is now the third version of the Unicorn Gundam in its Master Grade line. This version, now the HD Color edition, comes in with more bonuses and kit improvements in the hopes of squeezing out 7500 yen from your wallet. While many would scoff at buying the same kit again and again, could Bandai have actually found a way to make people do just that?
As I mentioned at the beginning, this is now the third version of the Unicorn Gundam in the Master Grade line. The original kit being the ver. Katoki in 2008, the Titanium Finish in 2009, and now the HD Color in 2010. The first two kits are the same kit, with the only difference between the two being that the Titanium Finish is extremely glossy. The HD Color seeks to correct the main flaw of its predecessors.
The Unicorn Gundam has two modes: Unicorn and Destroy. Its Unicorn Mode is identified by the horn antenna, which in Destroy Mode then folds out to be the trademark V-antenna that most associate Gundams with. I really like the design of the Unicorn Mode itself and was actually disappointed when I initially learned of the Destroy Mode (though I’ve come to love it as well). Its sleek, all-white armor really sticks out to me, as it’s not the typical Gundam design.
For the head, the antenna actually has several parts, depending on your liking. You can choose a set of parts that can fold out for Destroy Mode or fold up for Unicorn. The other two parts are either a horn that is solely in Unicorn Mode or a V-antenna that is solely for Destroy Mode. I’ve chosen to part swap between the two as I don’t like the visible split with the variable part.
Destroy Mode definitely makes Unicorn into the Gundam trademark we know and love. As you can tell, the parts slide open, the shield expands, the head parts twist, beam sabers pop open from the back, and Unicorn becomes taller.
As it’s currently displayed in the room, the kit is in Destroy Mode as it makes that much of an impact over Unicorn mode. The transformation isn’t all too difficult, but it doesn’t limit what you can do with the kit. The parts lock in fairly easily, and can go back and forth between modes without wearing out the joints. The kit doesn’t have any polycap joints, so you won’t have to worry about the arms or feet sagging due to joint wear.
HD vs. Katoki
The main concern with this kit is whether or not it actually improves upon the original Unicorn ver. Katoki kit, and if that improvement is worth the 7500 yen reinvestment. The most notable improvement is that of the knee joint. The previous kit offered very little in the way of movement, as the legs actually got in the way and prevented you from moving it more than 20 degrees. The new leg part trims down the back of the thigh, allowing the leg to have a full 90 degrees of motion. While some kits have more than this, compared to the original Unicorn, this is a great improvement.
The other changes to the kit are just coloring differences. The beam sabers have been changed to a light blue instead of the light pink found on the previous two kits. The beam rifle and bazooka have been given a lighter shade of gray, fitting the lighter colors of the Unicorn itself. The head parts have also been slightly changed to better match how it appears in animation.
My favorite change in this kit though is what gives it the HD name, the change in color. Instead of the flat color scheme or the glossy Titanium Finish, the white is a light gloss with the remaining gray and blue parts given a metallic finish. Don’t confuse this with some of the anniversary release kits, but the finish is more along the lines of Kotobukiya’s Armored Core model kits. I can’t emphasize how beautiful the blue and gray are on this kit. Even without the leg armor change, this alone would make me re-buy this kit. Bandai used the HD Color to resell the quartet of Zeta Gundam kits upon its release on Blu-Ray in Japan. Seeing this on the Unicorn has now made me want to go out and buy those remakes.
Bandai’s last assault on your bank account would be made by the Cage. As featured in the first episode of Gundam UC, the cage holds secure the Unicorn Gundam until it is handed over to the heir of the Vist Foundation, Banagher Links. The arms of the cage swing open, allowing the Unicorn to be set free. The cage can also be paired with the Action Base 1, acting as a stand for the Unicorn in flight.
The cage is not just a set piece, but also has functionality to it. The back of the cage works as a storage area, able to hold multiple rifles, shields, bazookas, Gatling guns, etc. The bottom of the base can store two of the beams for the beam sabers. There is even a box to hold the additional clips of ammo for the beam rifle and packs of missiles for the bazooka.
Even with the transformation gimmick of the Unicorn, assembly is pretty straight-forward. It can feel a bit annoying at times, but nothing that will frustrate you from completing the kit. I wouldn’t recommend the kit for an outright beginner, but it’s a great feeling once its completed.
I can’t say it enough, but I love the colors used on this kit. While some may scoff at the prospect of not painting a kit and going all out, the HD version of the Unicorn looks great built out of the box. The only painting done on this kit was on the V-antenna of the Destroy Mode; otherwise the kit is untouched. I really can’t say all that I want to about how beautiful this kit is.
So has Bandai made a kit that can actually make a modeler buy essentially the same thing twice? All I can say is an over-emphatic yes. Even at its 7500 yen price point, the cage makes it a definite purchase for me. The improvement in the knees not to mention that gorgeous color make it all worthwhile.
You can currently order the MG Unicorn Gundam HD Color + Cage or without the cage from HLJ. Also remember to send in your entries for the Tomopop x HLJ Gunpla Contest!
– Andres Cerrato