To complete strangers, the Gundam franchise must be a very confounding beast. There have been so many entries to the lineup over the last 32 years that it’s pretty hard to know what’s what. I’ve had people tell me that they aren’t watching Gundam 00 because they haven’t watched the old school series, not knowing that there’s no story continuity between 00 and, say, the original Mobile Suit Gundam. To be honest, I can’t blame them, because as far as the designs for the main Gundams go, they’re pretty similar. More often than not, they all have little yellow and/or white pointy things on their heads, a red chin, blue torso, white legs, red feet and waist, and to someone who isn’t familiar with Gundam, those similarities are often enough to obscure whatever distinction that remain.
Needless to say, with a franchise as long-running as Gundam, it’s hard to stand out. However, this isn’t to say that it’s impossible. Asides from the original RX-78-2 (which has become a culture icon of sorts), there are a few others that has earned special mentions. The RX-93 Nu Gundam constitutes as one of those.
The Nu Gundam represents the culmination of early Universal Century MS technology before miniaturization trend started later on in the timeline. As the result, the Nu Gundam is one of the largest Gundam (not counting Psycho Gundam series, of course) in the Gundam franchise. However, the Nu Gundam’s mighty size is not its main distinguishing point; rather, much of its fame derives from its pilot Amuro Ray, the protagonist of the original series, as well as the film Char’s Counterattack in which the Nu Gundam appears. The film marked the end of the long-standing rivalry between Amuro and the fan-favourite antagonist Char Aznable. It also had remarkable production value, and thus it boasts animation quality that is still revered by fans to this day, 23 years after the film’s release.
Numerous models and toys of the Nu Gundam exist, and the HGUC version was released in 2008. Back then I had been eyeing the MG Nu Gundam for quite some time, and news of a newer and cheaper model of the iconic suit very much pleased me. The HGUC Nu Gundam certainly had a lot to live up to, and given the constraints of the HGUC kits in general, it’s a pretty good offering.
One of my favourite things about the Nu Gundam is its colour scheme, which departs from the parade colours that are virtually the universal standard for main gundams in the franchise. While its predominantly white & black colour scheme is hardly low-key, it’s certainly a more sensible choice than a mishmash of red, white and blue.
The Nu Gudam has a lot of details on its design, and as such, not all of them could be reproduced by the way of colour-separated parts. Thankfully, the details are all present in the mould of the individual parts, so it’s pretty easy to make up for that with a little know-how. With that said, my hands are as steady as a jackhammer, so it you’re like me, you might have a bit of trouble with the leg vents, the inner black portions of which do require a bit of prevision to look perfect.
Another thing that will notice immediately about the Nu Gundam is its size. At 15 cm tall, it already towers over most other kits of the same scale, but with the funnels attached, the HGUC Nu gundam measures in at a whopping 22 cm – taller than most 1/100 scale models!
As per the norm, the Nu Gundam sports a beam rifle. It has a nice long, slender design, and it looks exactly as it should.
The hyper bazooka, on the other hand, it a lot more interesting. Not only are the individual rounds visible at the back end of the weapon, but it is actually stored on a jointed clip located on the back of the suit’s torso. The folding grip gives considerable flexibility when it comes to putting the weapon in the Nu Gundam’s hands. The weapon does require some tricky painting on the square-ish things on at the tip and middle of the weapon for accuracy, which took me ages to get right.
The shield features a long and narrow shape. Not content with being just a tool of defense, the underside of the shield is armed with a beam cannon and 4 small missiles. It is attached to either the side or the back of the forearm via a clip.
The Nu Gundam comes with two different beam sabers. One is stored behind his right shoulder, and it features a folding hand guard and a beam pommel. Similar to the case of the HGUC Sazabi, the beam blade part is given a slightly jagged edge – a considerably more realistic look than usual.
The backup beam saber is stored in the Nu Gundam’s left forearm, which slides and pops out when needed. The actual hilt is tiny, and the beam blade part is the usual size and shape for 1/144 kits (8cm long as opposed to the main beam saber, which is 10cm long).
The most interesting accessory of the Nu Gundam is its Fin Funnels — a set of deployable remote weapons controlled through the newtype pilot’s mind. When stored on its back, it takes a strange shape that vaguely resembles the letter A, supposedly for the purpose of intimidating enemies with the fearsome reputation of pilot. While each of the 6 funnels may look identical, they are actually divided into 3 different types as indicated by small markings on the back. For the funnels to look right on the Nu Gundam’s back, there is actually a very specific order in which the funnels are assembled together. If you look closely, the funnels in some of these shots are actually slightly misassembled because I misread the instructions. Complicated stuff!
When put together, the giant A weights a significant amount. Because of this, for the Nu Gundam to stand upright, you must shift its feet backwards in order to compensate for the skewed center of gravity, and even then the HGUC Nu Gundam is still sort of unsteady. This was less of an issue with the MG Nu Gundam because that kit included diecast ankles to stabilize the kit, but I think it would be unreasonable to expect that kind of stuff for a humble HGUC kit.
The size of the fin funnel array also gets in the way of Nu Gundam’s shield really easily. I wonder what went through the mind of Yutaka Izubuchi when he designed the Nu Gundam. Did he not realized that the large elongated shield would butt heads with the fin funnels? Or did he not care? In any case, this quirk is no fault of the kit itself. Interestingly, an additional fin funnel mount part is included in the box, which means that if you remove the beam saber component behind the right shoulder, you can attach the mount there for some double-funnel action!
Each fin funnel is detachable and can be folded into a U shape, which is the attack configuration for the fin funnels. Thanks to the way the double-jointed hinges are designed, the fin funnels are able to hold the shape pretty well. The only problem is that there are no ways to mount them to anything. An option to mount the funnels to action bases or a solution like the MG Hi-Nu Gundam would’ve been nice, but once again, I suppose that would be asking too much out of a HGUC kit. For these shots I used sticky tack and figma stands to hold up the funnels, which worked marginally well, though without some basic doctoring of the photos, the bright blue wads of sticky tack clumped on the back end of the fin funnels are pretty damn ugly, to say the least.
For hands, The Nu Gundam comes with a pair of closed fists, a sword-holding right hand, a gun/bazooka-holding right hand, and a sprayed left hand. The lack of a sword-holding left hand effectively prevents any dual-wielding possibilities, but since that never happened in the movie, I guess it’s not a big deal.
The range of movement on the HGUC Nu Gundam is pretty standard. As usual I’ll let the pictures do the talking and raise a few highlights:
- Like the HGUC Sazabi, the neck rests on a very generous hinge and ball joint combo.
- Also like the HGUC Sazabi the waist articulation is also noticeably limited.
- The knees can bend around 90 degrees and the thighs can be lifted forward and sideways to a significant degree. However, because of the bulky design of the Nu’s upper thighs, the legs are very limited when it comes to doing both at the same time. This is a pretty frustrating shortcoming, as it interferes with a lot of potential poses.
- The thruster covers on the back of the calves open up.
On paper, the HGUC Nu Gundam has a lot of things going against it: there are a lot of places that require paint touch-up for accuracy, the fin funnels make the suit very back-heavy, the upper thighs needlessly impede articulation, and there’s no easy way to display the funnels in action. Still, one must not undervalue the fact that the HGUC Nu gundam looks fantastic. It’s got a nice and clean feel, yet there’s no shortage of small mechanical details (like the individual bazooka rounds, the underside of the shield and the various small verniers) to be found all over the model. Even if it’s lacking in some areas, at the end of the day the HGUC Nu Gundam’s great looks and immense size simply dominates the shelf – not a bad deal for a 2,500 yen kit, I’d say!
- Well-proportioned and well-detailed
- It’s huge!
- Requires a good deal of tricky painting to achieve colour accuracy
- Very back-heavy when the fin funnel array is attached
- Bulky upper thighs limit leg articulation
- No way to display the funnels in-flight