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Master Asia is by no means a humble man. Not only does he call himself “Undefeated of the East”, he names his martial art style after that moniker as well. Claiming to be “Master” of an entire continent is a bold claim, but if you ever see him in action, you’d know that he’s not joking around about his title.

I have heard of Master Asia’s exploits long before I ever watched Mobile Fighter G Gundam. Asides from having invented quite possibly the most awesome secret handshake conceived by man, the grizzled martial arts master from Neo Hong Kong is also known for his deadly proficiency with a piece of cloth – yes, a piece of cloth, I kid you not. The man can take down a giant robot and fly with a piece of cloth, and if you ever make the mistake of handing him your pink bath towel, you would soon learn of your fatal mistake as the gentle pink tint of your towel gives away to the sanguine red of your blood. If that isn’t badass, I don’t know what is.

But enough about Master Asia, because we’re here not for the man, but rather his machine – or more precisely, the Master Grade rendition of his machine. The MG Master Gundam was originally released in 2002, making it a pretty old kit. Thankfully, it was one of the first gunpla kits to feature a full inner frame. Is this enough to help it survive the ravages of time? Let’s find out.

First Impressions

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Mobile Fighter G Gundam is infamous for the shameless offenses of cultural stereotyping in its mechanical designs. Every Gundam featured some sort of visual motif from their respective nations, whether it’s Gundam Rose’s Napoleonic hat or Lumber Gundam’s twin hatchets. Master Gundam, on the other hand, is an exception to this rule, unless there is a connection between the people of Hong Kong and bats that I am ignorant of. It’s got a dark colour scheme, a pair of bat-like ears, a back component looks suspiciously like wings, and a pair of fang-like markings on its cheeks – hell, if I didn’t know any better, I would’ve thought this was one of Batman’s high-tech toys.

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The proportions on the MG Master Gundam are noticeably different from other gundam-type suits. Its arms and legs feel significantly thicker, especially when compared with the Katoki gundam designs/re-designs. The torso, on the other hand, is proportionally smaller. The conflict is further compounded when the large head and big shoulder pauldrons are taken into consideration. As a result, the MG Master Gundam suffers from a somewhat clown-like set of proportions that will take some getting used to.

Closer Look

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As this is an older MG kit, there is no linked movement in Master Gundam’s knees. This means that when you bend them, the blocky knee joint component is completely exposed, which is kind of ugly. There aren’t a whole lot of intricate details to be found on the kit, which kind of makes sense, as G Gundam was never all that sci-fi oriented to begin with. Howeever, this doesn’t change the fact that the MG Master Gundam looks pretty plain, almost like an upscale of a modern HG kit.

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The yellow stripes on the “wings” are not moulded in moulded as a separate part, hence they are red and will require either stickers or paint to achieve accuracy. The wings are not really secured onto Master Gundam’s back all that well either. There are two pegs to be inserted into the holes in Master Gundam’s back, which are cushioned by polycaps. These two holes do not have a good grip on the wings by any stretch of the imagination, and the entire wing unit will fall off when you fiddle with the model if you’re not careful. This is also caused by the considerable weight of the wings, which also makes posing the kit a little tricky, as you’ll have to lean the body forward in order to compensate for the weight of the wings. Thankfully, like many other points on the inner frame, Master Gundam’s waist joint is secured by a nut and screw, which gives the joint the firmness that is otherwise impossible with a simple polycap joint.

Accessories

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Like the MG God Gundam that came before it, Master Gundam opts for swappable hands rather than articulated fingers. While the task of hand-swapping may be slightly tedious, it ensures that each individual hand gets its precise set of details that is otherwise impossible. Sadly, because the hands are made from a rubber material, mould marks and flash marks significantly blemish the look of the hands up close. A pair of relaxed hands is included, along with a pair striking hands (i.e. fingers pressed together like a karate chop).

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Another pair of arm-crossing hands is also included. In addition to their primary purpose, these hands can also be adapted into different poses. The right hand can double as an open palm strike, while the left can pass off has some sort of fancy kung-fu pose. Curiously, the kit does not come with any fists, which is a strange omission, as Master Asia is known to use his fists from time to time.

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And then there is the strange “Master Cloth” hand in which a piece of beam cloth made of hard plastic is held. You would not want to bump into Master Gundam in the gym lockers – a snap from that would produce some pretty gruesome consequences.

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And finally, there are the glow effect hands – the “Darkness Finger” parts. Unlike the other hands, which are made of a rubbery material, these hands hand made of hard clear plastic – the same material as the Master Cloth. In addition to a pair of these claw-like hands, another pair of interlocking right hands is also included to be used between the Master Gundam and the MG God Gundam to recreate a fight scene in the anime.

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While these hands look decent enough, they are far from accurate – be it from the anime or from video games, Master Gundam’s Darkness Finger attack has always had a purple glow to it, not red. I’m not sure why Bandai choose to veer away from the original colour for this model, but my guess is that they didn’t want to come up with a new injection colour solely for this kit. Another example of this type of colour deviation is the MG Sazabi’s inexplicably green beam parts.

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In addition to the assortment of hands, the MG Master Gundam also comes with a pair of wire parts to reproduce its wired “rocket punch” attack. To do this, simply pull off the elbow joint and replace it with the wire part, which has a connector for both the upper arms and the forearms. The rubber-coated wire itself is made of copper at the core, which is strong enough to bear the weight of the forearms.

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Finally, an unpainted figure of Master Asia is included. If you’ve got a steady hand of a surgeon and the painting skills to match, here’s your chance to have your very own piece of the biggest badass to ever wear purple.

Articulation

To pull off convincing-looking melee fighting poses, good articulation is crucial. And while Master Gundam’s joints aren’t the best you’ll find amongst MG kits, it’s still good enough to suffice, especially considering how old the kit is.

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At a first glance, everything seems fine and dandy, the elbows and knees both bend about as far as you would want them to, the there is even joint in the middle of the foot separating the heel from the rest of the toe. The neck is double-jointed and the ankles are relatively free and unobstructed, what else can you ask for?

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Well, better shoulders, for one. Master Gundam’s shoulders are only really good for one thing: swinging forward and only forward. You cannot tilt them upwards, nor can you have Master Gundam prep a punch, because if arm is perpendicular to the body, there’s no way to bring the elbow backwards. Granted, this is a small flaw, but chances are it will hinder your ability to pose the kit the way you want at some point.

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Master Gundam’s hips are of the simple non-shifting ball-joint design. This means Master Gundam is unable to pull off a side split, which puts a hamper on the flying kick poses. The limits of the frontal skirt armour also means that the thighs can’t be lifted up any higher than around 55 degrees. This prevents it from being able to reproduce the spiffy martial art post on the boxart.

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The spike on Master Gundam’s feet are articulated so as to not interfere with the ankle articulation at all. This is made possible by the simple sliding mechanism at its base.

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As if Master Gundam’s pointy fingers aren’t harsh enough, the forearms are also able to extend for extra “oomph”.

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Like the rest of the MG G Gundam kits, Master Gundam also comes with a chest cave-in feature for the sake of the ironic cross-armed poses. Compared to the MG God Gundam’s bulky forearms, Master Gundam’s rounded forearms have a much easier time wrapping around each other.

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Master Gundam’s “Wing Shield” component cannot defy logic and wrap itself around the body of the suit like it is able to in the anime, but otherwise it’s articulated as you’d expect. The smaller flaps are a little loose, but not enough to pose a problem. Besides, you can fix that yourself with a little know-how anyways.

Final Say

Master Grade Master Gundam

Like Master Asia himself, the MG Master Gundam is very old. While the kit doesn’t really have any fatal flaws, it does not have a whole lot in its favour either. When it boils down to it, besides the love for the character/mech in the anime, the most attractive thing about the kit is its 2800 yen price tag. For the price of a figma, not only do you get to have a lot of fun building the kit, but the in the end you’ll get a 17 cm (~7 inches) tall model with decent articulation to boot. A pretty good bang for your buck, if you ask me.

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Pros

  • Cheap price of 2,800 yen
  • Cave-in chest gimmick
  • Screw-secured inner frame feels durable

Cons

  • Limited shoulder articulation
  • Back unit is heavy and not well-secured
  • Inaccurate colours for the “Darkness Finger” and “Master Cloth” effect parts
  • Not the most detailed MG you’ll find

By the way, there won’t be a “Weekly Highlights” this week due to the shortage of material. Of course this had to happen right after we pledged to be crank them out more regularly. What we have so far will be bundled with next week’s entry.