Alright, let me get this out of the way. The marketing surrounding this kit is pure bullshit. Take everything you’ve heard about this being the ‘next evolution of Perfect Grade kits’ and toss it out the window. What it really is a nice PG RX-78-2 2.0 release. It’s will built, well designed, and very accessible for folks who haven’t built a Perfect Grade kit yet.
I’m also going to get a bit of a tl;dr at the top of this article which I’ll detail out in a bit…
- Good looking take on the classic design
- Phased construction (really 3 phases, not 5) make for an approachable and fun to build kit
- Good overlapping frame design
- Strong amount of detail both on the inner frame and the outer armor
- Photo etched metal details with a pre-applied adhesive backing
- Coated silver and chrome elements of the frame look great
- Snap-off runners
- ‘Bout time we got some magnetic hard points up in this bitch
- The marketing department
- The LEDs suck
- Core fighter gimmick means weak torso connection
- No poseable hands?
- No decals?
- The gold coating is meh
- Why not silver coat all the truss layers?
- The metal verniers and vulcans add nothing of value
- Pistons are back baby, but so hidden away you might never see them again
Before I get too deep into this review I need to take a second to chat with Bandai’s marketing team. If you’re not a part of that group please cover your ears and look away for a minute…
Okay, now that we’re alone, what the hell are you doing? It’s bad enough that you came up with Master Grade Extreme, the lowest common denominator of pointless adjectives, but now you bring out Unleashed? What does that even mean? Am I going to wake up one night, find my model kit has slipped its lead and is trying to kill me?? I don’t understand why you didn’t just call this a 2.0 release. Then everyone would have proper expectations. ‘Cause as a RX-78-2 2.0 this nails every beat just fine. Unleashed, combine with too shoehorned phases, just sets completely unrealistic exceptions.
Ahem, anyway, back to the review. Sorry, this is just my general frustration with IRL marketing nuts bleeding over.
There are a couple key signatures that set the Unleashed apart from the rest of the Perfect Grade line. The first is a phased approach where you build the frame of the kit and work your way out. It’s still the familiar limbs, torso, head, etc deal, but you complete all the core components of the frame first. Then you go back and add some detail pieces, then you go back and add the outer armor. The only downside is that placing small armor elements on a completed PG can be a pain in the ass. Thankfully it’s possible to break the kit into the top and bottom to ease handling.
This is also the first PG to feature a pre-formed core joint structure ala the Real Grade line. Quite a few folks have asked me about the durability as the RG frames have a dubious reputation. So far, so good. Arms move just fine, hold the shield and rifle just fine. The legs however are very stiff. I need to hold them firmly to move either the upper or lower sections at a time. Thus I feel like most of my poses so far have been very stiff looking. When I tried to bend the leg at the knee when it was just the pre-molded part I felt like something was going to break. It’s only after the first bits of inner frame support were added did I feel comfortable. But even then, as the truss details bind left/right pieces together, I could feel the legs starting to pull a part on me.
I don’t have much to say about the design. It’s good, better than the new 1/1 statue which I’m surprised this didn’t follow. There’s a ton of detail both on the armor and the inner frame, plus a lot of parts where the frame is visible underneath. That’s before the copious, and dare I say, over the top opening mechanism. As I sit here, taking in this kit, all I can think about how great this will look painted. It looks good out of the box, sure, but a proper paint job will make this thing shine. And not just the same ol’ colours. G3, Char’s (maybe add more gold to the frame to replace the chrome), pastel/faded blues/red, oh I can’t wait to be jealous of what folks put together. Sorry Unleashed, I just have too large of a backlog as is.
The Unleashed comes with four sheets of very different stickers. The first two are your typical clear detail markings, and then the foil backed ones you see for eyes and the main sensors. Next you have what Bandai is calling 3D stickers or some such nonsense. It’s basically a metallic backed sticker with a thin clear vernier. This results in a smoother, some would say depthful, look. These are only red and green, outside of the main sensors they’re just detail markings for the outer armor.
The last kind of sticker is actually a sheet of photo etched metal details. If you’ve built a kit with photo etched before you know that A) they look awesome B) they’re a pain in the ass to glue onto a kit. Bandai has made life so much easier by having one side be adhesive. Just peel off, stick on, and Bob’s your uncle. For the most part they fit stick well, but some parts have more surface area for adhesion than others. Sorry, no decals.
As much as I think the “Phases” of this kit are marketing bullshit, I like the approach. There are really 3 phases instead of the 5 that Bandai claims. Phase 1: You build the frame. Phase 2: You add silver details to the frame. Phase 3: You add the outer armor. Short, sweet, and to the point. Each gives you a natural stopping point to step back and admire the kit. It also helps break up the build into manageable chunks. Between this, my next comment, and the highly depthful instruction manual make this the most accessible Perfect Grade kit ever.
One of the best things about this kit is how Bandai broke most of the runners into sections. On many kits you often see parts for a single section grouped into a specific portion of a runner. The Unleashed runners take that a step further and have sections that break off when complete. Instead of XXX runner, you have XXX 1, XXX2, XXX3. They’re all a part of a single runner at the start, but have individually named sections. Once you use all the parts from a section the guide lets you know you can toss that portion of the runner. As you go through the process of building the kit more and more the runners in front of you slowly dwindle in size. It’s a very small change to the building dynamic that has a noticeable benefit during construction. Not only does it reduce the assortment of runners you need to manage but gives a sense of accomplishment as your work area keeps getting smaller and smaller.
There are a few metal pieces on the kit (more on that later) but the most important are steel disks in the lower arms. These serve as a mount point for a magnet in the shield’s armature. A very cool, albeit pointless gimmick. Thus far I haven’t had any issues with the arm or magnet holding the weight of the shield. I’ll be long dead and my massive collection entrusted to my ungrateful cat before the magnet wears out.
On a small note, the Core Fighter has integrated landing gear which can be raised/lowered without adding or taking any parts off. The missiles are also separate pieces molded in a different colour. Very cool as I was not expecting any updates to the Fighter at all.
The marketing page for Unleashed, and the guide, spends a lot of time talking about the multiple “phases” of this kit. Phase 1 is just the core frame at its simplest, just the pre-molded bits for the limbs. Phase 2 fills in the frame, phase 3 adds truss detailing on top of the frame. Phase 4 is the outer armor while phase 5 is just the open hatch gimmickry.
Thing is, phase 1 and 2 are only really defined in the marketing. The guide groups them together into a single “Phase 1 > Phase 2” section and lacks any separation between the two. When building the kit you go right to the end of Phase 2 by default. To accomplish the look of Phase 1 as pictured you have to carefully figure out where to stop at each portion of the kit. Why you’d ever display this as just the pre-molded limbs is beyond me.
Bottom of the LED unit
One light points up toward the head, the other toward the chest vents
The LED unit is completely rubbish in my opinion. It starts with the on/off mechanism, which is a little button on the bottom that is pushed by articulating the top of the cockpit cover (which is rather cloodgy in itself - you’re more likely to actually pull off a piece of armor than turn on the LEDs), pushing a little peg up to hit the button. If the peg doesn’t come down enough, and release the button, then the LEDs just turn off. I had to shave a bit off the top of my button in order to get proper LED activation.
After that, well, the LEDs just aren’t bright and noticeable enough. Nothing like the CGI images Bandai uses for promotional material. Two little LR41 batteries give barely enough power for the LEDs to look good up close, let alone when fed through clear pieces, and in the case of the chest vents, through multiple layers of abstracting detail. The sensors at the top of the head, front and back, light up as well but I felt it best to just put on the stickers instead as they’ll look better on display.
The backpack LEDs are similar, powered by the LED that’s used to light up the beam saber. By the time the light makes it to the thrusters you can barely tell while in a light room.
As with many a RX-78-2, the top and bottom of the kit separate at the bottom of the torso so you can add/remove the core fighter. On one hand I get why Bandai does this, but on the other I think it’s a complete waste. Who’s going to take the little core fighter that comes with the kit and stick it in the torso instead of using the dummy that’s also included? All this gimmick does is make a weak point where the top and bottom half of the kits are connected. As Bandai extols the numerous points of articulation in the torso, every time I go to use them I feel like I’m going to pop the kit in half. At the very least it makes it easier to attach the frame trusses and outer armor by only having to handle half the kit at time.
It seems like an odd choice for Bandai not to include a set of poseable, pre-molded hands. Granted, I would have just tossed them, but they’ve been a staple of the PG line since its inception. The chrome inner bits look great on the fixed hands, and I could see not wanting to throw another set of hands in the box that don’t look as great, but for all that’s said about the kit’s poseability this lack of option is a step backward.
The aluminum vulcans, and anodized verniers, looks good. Just good, not great. They don’t really add much that a proper factory coating or paint job couldn’t do with plastic. The blue of the verniers, while nice, seems out of place to me. If I were going to paint this kit I’d absolutely paint them, which completely wastes the effort.
Speaking of paint, the coated gold pieces look meh. They’re a muted gold that might as well be silver like everything else. Also roughly 50% of the silver truss details are silver coated. The rest of just that molded silver plastic that no one likes. For the cost of the kit, and the focus on displaying the inner frame, why not keep it consistent? Looking forward to seeing someone give the frame a full metallic paint job.
Lastly, for a kit this expensive, detailed, and loaded with options, why are there no bloody decals? If Bandai is going to promote the Perfect Grade line of kits as being the top model kits in the industry they could come with decals by default. Full stop.
The Perfect Grade RX-78-2 Unleashed is a damned fine 2.0 update to the PG only .2% of people wanted. If you haven’t built a PG kit, this isn’t a great place to start. The guide is super detailed and easy to follow (especially if you compare it to the OG PG RX), the build is simple and rewarding, and the end result looks great out of the box. However I will stop short of calling it the best Perfect Grade kit. I still feel the Strike/Astray (for poseability) and Exia Lighting (for gimmick) are the best two available.
But wait, I have more photos!
Lots more photos!
Arm flexibility is good, but in part with most other kits.
The shoulder poseability is great. The shoulders come out from the torso and allow them to swing forward and back a great deal.
OG PG vs PG 2.0
I like the gold on the rifle, but it doesn't go with this design at all