For some fans of gundam models (myself included), a series’ story and characters can make and break the appeal of its associated products. But for non-Japanese speaking fans that are unable read the novels written by Harutoshi Fukui, story and characters are non-issues, as Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn has acquired notable attention largely by virtue of Hajime Katoki’s mechanical designs alone. The marketers over and Bandai seem to know of this strong interest in the designs as they have launched the Gundam Unicorn line of merchandise long before the commencement of the OVA series due for release on March 12, 2010.
The Master Grade kit of Unicorn Gundam released one year ago attracted a lot of attention with its level of detail and its unconventional transformation gimmick. Of course, this translated to successful sales of the kit, despite its severely limited level of articulation that came as the result of the kit’s complete accommodation of the complex transformation. Since then fans have seen the release of Master Grade Sinanju, a “Titanium Coating” version of the Master Grade Unicorn, a humongous HGUC Kshatriya, the Neo Zeon grunt unit Geera Zulu, as well as separate HGUC versions of Unicorn Gundam in its unicorn mode and destroy mode – the subjects of the review.
Clearly, Bandai is flooring the pedal of its promotional bandwagon, and before I knew it, I found myself crushed underneath its smooth, Katoki-designed wheels. I was hesitant towards the transformation gimmick of the MG Unicorn Gundam, due to the fear that its moving components would soon lose their holding strength after a few transformations. My lack of resources and steady hands also prevented me from buying the extremely impressive MG Sinanju, as I simply did not possess the means to paint the striking yellowing lining of its chest, collar, knees, shield, and sleeves.
When news of the HGUC Unicorns arrived at my ears, I was pretty excited, though dubious of its execution at the same time. Can the detailed design of Unicorn Gundam really make a smooth transition to a small-scale format? What will be lost in terms of details? As I have found out after the completion of the kit, the answer is “surprisingly little”. Despite their smaller sizes and prices, the HGUC Unicorn Gundams retained almost all of the aesthetic details of its Master Grade predecessor – an impressive feat, especially for the structurally nuanced destroy mode.