Wednesday, February 29, 2012

AG 1/144 Gundam AGE-1 Normal Part 1

A Gunpla design with combo of many elements

Going back to a little bit of Gunpla-ing after the review on Nendoroid Chiaki Minami. ^^ The kit I'll be working on this time is this one:

AG (Advanced Grade) 1/144 scale Gundam AGE-1 Normal.

Not a particularly new kit as it came out in October last year, coupled with the fact that the story arc featuring this Gundam is already over in its anime series, but it's definitely the latest kit in my collection so far to be rolled out for review. ^^; The more recent 1/100 Gundam Avalanche Exia and HG 1/144 Cherudim Gundam are much older releases in comparison with this kit. ^^;

I bought this kit for the genuine interest in the kit itself. Even though it's simple in almost every aspects (design, details, part separation, color articulation and price), it's from a brand new Gunpla series developed for the new Gundam anime series nonetheless. ^^ It probably didn't get much attention from folks who are into High Grade, Master Grade or 1/100 scale series when it was still around when "Gundam Double O" Season 2 was on, but I was very excited about it when it was first announced. If not for some unforeseen delay, I think I would have done building and reviewing it last year. ^^;

So what's special about this series? It's said to be the next generation of collection-type Gunpla (次世代コレクションプラモデル) when it was announced (from Happinet Online), and by collection-type Gunpla I think it's referencing the 1/144 scale collection series in "Gundam SEED" and "Gundam SEED Destiny", where the design is focused on simplicity in assembly and low price by reducing color, part separation and articulation. Having that in mind, I wasn't expecting it to be as articulated as the short-lived revitalized First Grade series from "Gundam Double O" Season 1, for example Gundam Exia that I built years ago, even though that series itself is pretty lacking in articulation already. ^^;

Still, it won't be called Advanced Grade if it's reusing similar Gunpla design concepts from "Gundam SEED" and "Gundam SEED Destiny". ^^; The unique feature of this series is the "Gage-ing Link" gimmick, displayed on the box cover shown above. For each AG kit, a small "Gage-ing" chip part is included, which can be used with AGE device or Gage-ing Haro to display some information about the Gundam or MS of that kit.

Here's a demonstration of the "Gage-ing Link" gimmick - not so much on the Gunpla series though, but more about linking the completed figure-type Gage-ing Builder series with Gage-ing Battle Base.

Demonstration of the "Gage-ing Link" gimmick at Tokyo Toy Show 2011 held at Tokyo Big Sight from June 16th to the 19th last year.
Video clip is from Youtube. Follow this link to the website if you can't see anything.

Apparently, the Gage-ing Battle Base is compatible with this AG Gunpla line. Even though there's only one chip included for each model kit, you can "scan" three completed kits in one shot for a team play using the Battle Base (from the demo shown on the official site).

Images are from the official site.

Not as advanced as those Haro scanners for Gunpla Battle from "Gunpla Builders Beginning G" where you can scan the entire Gunpla with any sort of modified part and color scheme, but hey, it's a start. XD

I can see how the series is trying to get younger kids to get into Gunpla-ing. Folks who are into this hobby can of course appreciate the genuine fun of putting parts together, but for kids who have never assembled any model kits, that "conventional" attraction might not be enough to attract them. ^^; Therefore, a special electronic part that allows the completed kit to "interact" with a computer would definitely add some fun factor to the model kit to encourage kids to start Gunpla-ing. ^^ As mentioned before, the series is very simple in assembly and low in price, which are two important factors to introduce the hobby to young newcomers in my opinion. ^^

The "Gage-ing Link" gimmick can be found in the "Gage-ing Builder" series featuring completed figures/body components of the various Gundams and MSs from the show, so it seems to be a pretty big merchandising gimmick for this new Gundam series. However, it's not guaranteed that such gimmick will be used in the next Gundam series, so it seems more like a contemporary move to me. Gunpla on the other hand, has been around for a very long time and will always be so. When "Gage-ing Link" is off, those kids who have been collecting the AG series might move into HGUC, other 1/144 scale series or even MG, and that's how the hobby grows.

Like introducing Gundam to newer generation through the anime, this hobby needs to be promoted to them as well. ^^ Bandai's offering to achieve that objective is this Advanced Grade series apparently. ^^

That's all nice and workable in Japan. We who aren't getting the Age device or Gage-ing Haro have no way of trying them out obviously. ^^; Then again, it doesn't mean that this AG series can't be enjoyed as a regular Gunpla series isn't it? ^^ At the very least, it's still snapping plastic parts together to form a completed Gundam model kit. ^^

Thanks, Captain Obvious, thanks for that last statement up there.

Introduction of the kit on the box sides.

The box is of the same size as a regular BB Senshi kit.


All the runners.

Bonus parts included with this kit: a "Gage-ing" chip part (the small black box) and a collection card.

Just like the box of FG 1/144 Gundam Exia, there's no separate sheet of instruction manual included. The assembly is printed directly inside the bottom box.

Other common information that you find on regular Gunplas like the runner list, instruction on how to remove the parts and order form for parts are printed on the inner sides of the box.
Introduction to the AGE device, Gage-ing Haro and Gage-ing Battle Base are shown as well.

Instruction on the model's assembly shown in full color.

A look at the different runners:

Runner A

Just two parts for the helmets.
The mask is molded together with the frontal helmet part. While the details are great, painting and detailing them is going to be quite a challenge. ^^;
You can also see the minimal gate between the parts and runners. The simplicity in snapping off parts from the runner without any tool is a good feature to introduce those who never assembled any model kits before into this hobby. ^^

Like the helmet, the main components of the skirt armor and legs are made up of two parts each as well.

One-piece parts for components of the two arms.

A large part for the shield. The front face is molded with accurate space to fit the blue part, which is very good. The completely blank rear face however, calls for a great deal of paint work to realize its intended color scheme. ^^;

(From left to right) Runners B and C.

Nice part separation for the backpack, but a lot of paint work will be required to realize the thrusters' and waist's colors.

(Left) One-piece parts for the body's and arm's frame.
(Right) Gundam AGE-1's signature "A" crest in the middle of the body frame will require paint work to be revealed.

A not-so-great by-product of the beam rifle being a one-piece molded parts: blank spots on the body. ^^;

Even though the two runners are rather small in size, with very few parts on each of them, runner separation hints can still be found on them, as some of parts are reused for Titus and Spallow forms of Gundam AGE-1.

(From left to right) Runners D, E and F.

(Left) One-piece parts for the feet, with very nice molded details for the sole.
(Right) The red part for the skirt armor is molded with the waist.

One-piece parts for the beam daggers, with red being an accurate color for neither the handles nor beam parts. ^^;

(Left) Only one yellow part on Runner E - the yellow body frame part that has exposing parts for the collars, chest vents and front skirt armors.
(Right) Despite its simplistic appearance, the slits between the vents are nicely molded - you can actually see through them. ^^

The single green part on Runner F is for the eyes, coupled with the slot for the neck joint.

Collection card featuring the box art image of Gundam AGE-1
That Gage-ing ID shown on the back of the card is unique to every kit I assume.

The special "Gage-ing" chip part, with "001" molded on its cover.

The cover can actually be removed very easily to reveal the mini circuit board inside.

All parts are removed from their runners.
Normally, I would group them according to their components, but with so few parts which are easily recognizable for this kit, that "procedure" isn't necessary at all. ^^

I'll snap fit this kit first to see how the part separation works, before dismantling them for painting and panel lining. To avoid overly tight connection between the parts, the major pins and slots behind the parts are chipped off using nippers.

A straight-build AG 1/144 Gundam AGE-1 Normal will be shown in the next posting. ^^