(Remember that review I promised a month ago? It seems that I have overestimated John’s expediency. Nevertheless, here is his review on the 1/100 Tieren Ground Type, with a few revision by me. I apologize in advance for the dusty photos. I’ll be sure to wash the model beforehand next time. I’ll be working on a review on the figma Aigis in the next few days and will get that up and posted soon.)

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Of all the mecha designs in the gundam franchise, if any were to be made in real life, the Tieren would probably be the likeliest candidate (save for the Ball). At first glance, it appears to be a hulking bipedal tank made mean iron, ready to topple its enemies and anything unfortunate enough to get between them. Unfortunately, those who followed the first season Gundam 00 would know otherwise. The saying “The bigger they are, the harder they fall” applies very neatly to the case of the Tieren Ground type, as these lumbering green giants are regularly blown to bits faster than they can fire a single round. Thankfully, its 1/100 scale model incarnation does not perpetuate the stench of failure from its performance in the anime. It is not quite perfect, but the beauty of the Tieren’s design is captured well in the surprising amount of details present on this well-priced model kit.

First impressions

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The machines in the gundam franchise are known for their relatively slim profiles. The 1/100 Tieren, on the other hand, resembles more of a Battletech/Mechwarrior suit. Though some of its parts are reminiscent of the original Zaku II in the original Gundam, the Tieren makes no pretense of imitating a human physique with its bulky and industrial aesthetics. Rather than the parade colours that often adorn Gundams, the Tieren molded in dark green, black and orange. As a result, despite the absurdity of heavyweight bipedal vehicles in the real world, the Tieren almost looks and feels… dare I say, real? Teetering the on line between realism and fantasy, the Tieren is a fine example of the design philosophy of the grunt units in the first season of Gundam 00, and the model reflects this philosophy quite well at first glance.

Closer Look

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For a non-grade kit, the details on this kit are very impressive. The pieces of heavy armour and the backpack are molded with a rough, granular finish. On the surface of the Tieren you’ll find many details that you won’t find on the 1/144 HG version of the suit: small panels, wires and technical details are abundant on the model. The task of panel lining every one of these small details with a 0.5 mm Sakura Micron pen was certainly very trying on my patience, but the end result was, in my opinion, well-worth it. The kit only contains three small pieces of foil stickers on for the shoulder lights and the mono-eye, and none of them are particularly hard to apply, nor are they very distracting to look at. Otherwise, the kit is molded entirely in the correct colours (save for the inner portion of the carbon blade, which is a minor feature of the kit at best). To snappers such as me, the admirable colour accuracy of the kit is great – nothing ruins a kit more than big patches of peeling foil stickers or glaring inaccuracies.

Accessories

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Of all kits I’ve ever constructed, or seen for that matter, I think this one just about has the largest handheld bazooka ever. (Chag: MG Full Amour Double Zeta would like a word with you.) If I remember correctly, there was an entire runner just for the bazooka. The bazooka is mounted on the forearm and gripped by the hand.

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In addition to being retractable, you can also mount it under the backpack via a fold-out peg, though the sheer size of the bazooka would inhibit the model’s range of movement greatly should you chose to do so.

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The forearm-mounted smoothbore gun, on the other hand, looks rather tame in comparison. Despite its relatively small size, its striking similarity to modern-day tank cannons gives off a different sort of authority.

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The kit also comes with the handheld carbon blade which can be stored on its back tasset. As mentioned before, the inner portion of the carbon blade is not molded white, though this is a pretty inconsequential flaw to most people.

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Last but not least, the Tieren comes with three HRL soldier figures, including one pilot and two infantry soldiers. You can actually open up the hatch directly in front of the Tieren’s head and fit the pilot figure outside, as if he’s popping out for a breath of fresh air – a very neat little bit of detail.

Articulation

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Partially due to its unconventional design, the Tieren is on par with most Master Grade models in terms of articulation. The mono-eye can be shifted by removing the head piece. The torso is able to bend on both axis (front/back, left/right) in addition to being able to swivel.

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The shoulders are secured on to the disk-like upper torso and are able to shift forward by around 45 degrees.

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The arm itself swivels above and below the elbow, thus making the task of posing with the bazooka a breeze.

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The primary issue with the Tieren lies in its hip joints. The assembly features a double-jointed system: a small cylindrical piece attached via a ball joint to the hips. The legs themselves are attached to this piece with a standard 1-axis polycap joint. However, one of my hip cylinders was not molded correctly and I was forced to shave off a bit of polycap to make it fit between the two halves. While this double-jointed hip configuration affords better articulation, the holding strength of the model suffers somewhat. The rim of the thigh armour often causes the legs to slide off from the hip since it tends to get in the way of some of the wider poses.

Balance is also an issue in some poses when the center of gravity lies behind the model. The leg shield is able to move back and forth; it can be swapped onto the left leg or be removed completely if you choose (mine is purposefully on the left leg as I broke a small piece of armor covering the left foot and am now using the leg armor to cover it up).

Final Say

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Here’s a challenge for you: off of the top of your head, name five 1/100 scale grunt units that are not from One Year War. Not so easy, is it? While Wing fans have been begging for a Leo model for ages, Bandai has been too preoccupied with releasing and re-releasing endless Zaku variants. Therefore, the very fact that Bandai decided to release the Tieren in 1/100 scale is commendable. On top of that, the model is detailed, articulate, and fairly priced at 2800 yen on top of that. Keep in mind that the Tieren is much wider than the usual 1/100 scale model, so you’re getting a lot of mean green plastic for that price. Whether you’re in the mood for a “real” military feel or a detailed plastic model kit, or even just have a thing for the underdogs, you’ll find the Tieren – the best Zaku that’s not a Zaku – to be an excellent addition to your collection.

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Pros

  • Very detailed mold, from the granular texture on the armour to the little mechanical details scattered throughout the exterior of the suits
  • High degree of articulation
  • Molded virtually completely in the correct colours

Cons

  • Legs tend to fall off if you aren’t careful with them
  • Slight balance and stability issues