Master Grade Hi-Nu Gundam-18

Suprise — a Gundam review! Bet you weren’t expect that, huh?  It’s a little depressing to realize that it’s been a year and a half since I’ve done one of these. But unlike the hiatus I took in figure collecting, there’s a bit more to why the plamo section of Hobby Hovel has been neglected for so long.

In short, I’m a little burnt out on Gundam. From its conception, the Gundam franchise has been somewhat of a glorified toy commercial. Director Tomino Yoshiyuki broke the conventions of the late 1970s with the original Mobile Suit Gundam, but after 30 years, Gundam has become a convention if of itself, along a long list of tropes that are continually recycled to this day.

For me, the straw that broke the camel’s back was episode 5 of Gundam Unicorn, which continues to sideline quality storytelling in favour of echoing as many tropes as possible. There’s even a Lalah clone, right down to her physical appearance. The OVA has started to feel like a snotty little rich kid living big on his grandfather’s fortune — everything about it seems to be a thin slice of something great long ago. Once again, I find my expectations butting heads with reality.

I like Gundam, and the adventures of the White Base and its crew will stay with me forever (not to mention the exploits of Bernie, Shiro, and hell, even Domon). Yet for the sake of the franchise, there is a desperate need for innovation and risk-taking. I’d much rather have oddballs like Turn-A Gundam and G Gundam as opposed to the same story of about the space colony boy stumbling into the cockpit of cutting-edge military hardware.

By now you’re probably asking “if you’re so worn out on Gundam, why’d you buy another kit?” Well, I didn’t — this bad boy is actually a freebie from HobbyLink Japan for a little article I wrote for them (which will be up on hobbylink.tv in a few days). Whatever feelings I may have towards the Gundam franchise, building models is as fun as it has always been, especially when it’s one of the big daddies of early universal century mobile suits.

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The RX-93-ν2 Hi-Nu Gundam never appeared in any anime — rather, it is the alternate interpretation of the Nu Gundam in the novel Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack – Beltorchika’s Children. Nevertheless, the Hi-Nu, along with the its rival the MSN-04II Nightingale, are very well-known amongst the Gundam fandom.

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The original design of the Hi-Nu Gundam is bulky — really bulky. Its thick legs, large shoulders and forearms give it a rather tough and intimidating appearance. But for reasons unknown, the suit was re-designed for this kit and would go on to become the “official” look. Its proportions have been changed to more or less match that of the of original Nu Gundam.

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As someone who first saw the Hi-Nu Gundam in its revised form, I like the new look, but after seeing the original design, I can’t help but to feel that the kit missed out on a great opportunity. The original Hi-Nu’s bulkiness set itself apart from its predecessor and most other Gundam designs out there, whereas I can easily see a Gundam newbie mistaking the new Hi-Nu with something like the Strike Freedom.

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But alas, we’re not really here to debate whether or not Bandai made call in the design department. Instead, let’s take a look at the actual model itself. Being at the apex of the Universal Century era before mobile suits were miniaturized, the MG Hi-Nu stands at an impressive 22cm(9.6 inches) tall. Bandai also used the large size to flex its injection technology muscles, most noticeably on the raised writing at the middle of its v-fin.

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The Hi-Nu also takes the greatest aspect of Char’s Counterattack mechanical designs and improves upon them. Small vernier boosters are scattered across the surfaces of the suit, and the addition of two propellant tanks on its back further pushes the realism of the design. The plated metal finish at the ends of the tanks are a very nice touch, and the tiny nozzles at the tips says volumes about the attention paid to detail in this kit.

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If you own virtually any kit from Gundam Seed Destiny, you probably have already guessed that this kit would have a rather hard time standing on its own two feet with the funnels attached — and you’d be right. While it’s not impossible to do, having the Hi-Nu stand upright feels like guiding a drunk across a tightrope. Thankfully, the included display base does a great job at propping up the model in three angles.

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Hi-Nu’s right forearm has an integrated machine gun and detachable magazine — another nice touch of realism on a giant robot made for Japanese space Jedis. The machine gun barrel can tilt up and down, and though tiny as it might be, it’s got a bit of a mean stubby look to it.

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If you recall, the main beam saber of the original Nu Gundam has a beam spike at the end of its pummel. Not to be outdone, the Hi-Nu’s beam sabers just have a second smaller blade sticking out the other end. There are two of these larger beam sabers, which are stored inside the compartments on the wings.

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Also like the original Nu, the Hi-Nu has a miniature beam saber. Opening the hatch on the left forearm conveniently extends out the hilt of the weapon. Interestingly, it only accepts the larger set of the beam saber blades.

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The Hi-Nu’s hyper bazooka is, for the lack of a better word, standard. As it does not mount to the back of suit , it has lost its place amongst the Hi-Nu’s mainstay arsenal. I’d like to point out that the square brackets around the barrel are not separately moulded pieces, thus the entire front end of the weapon is white. I think this is a bit of a wasted opportunity to insert some contrast to front end of the bazooka, much like the original Nu Gundam’s black brackets.

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The ubiquitous beam rifle comes in a sleek package. There’s no oversized targeting radar on it, which is partly why it’s one of my favourite beam rifle designs. Nothing to write home about, though — a beam rifle is a beam rifle.

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The top side of the shield is comprised of colour-separated parts, giving it a unique striped pattern. I was surprised that the main decal for the shield is actually a clear sticker, which I’m never a fan of. Thankfully, there is a smaller version of the decal on the dry-transfer decal sheet.

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This is one of the few shields that look just as great underneath, thanks to its fully detailed underside. This is important due to the fact it can only be mounted one way to Hi-Nu’s left forearm, limiting its display option — not the most practical part of Hi-Nu’s design, to be sure.

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Thankfully, the Hi-Nu scores back some big practicality points with its funnels. While it looked cool, the giant sail of funnels on the original Nu Gundam’s back can be real clunky and often got in the way of the shield and left arm. By contrast, the Hi-Nu’s funnels are stored on wing-like back units that can be adjusted and repositioned. It’s a great mix of hard sci-fi and flair — they look like angel wings without undermining the overall aesthetic of the suit.

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The funnels can be detached and displayed via bendable clear tubes mounted onto display base. It’s a great idea in theory, but in practice, these tubes are unstable and frustrating to adjust. Let’s just say there’s a reason why the new Katoki version MG Nu Gundam opted for solid jointed arms instead of these floppy tubes.

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On the bright side, the effects part on the Hi-Nu look absolutely amazing. The crackling electricity effect is reflective and very convincing, and there is even a little effect part that connects the funnel to the tube. Unfortunately, the Hi-Nu’s funnels cannot be used with the Ver. Ka MG Nu Gundam’s stand, so you’ll have to either get used to the tubes or ignore the feature like me.

Articulation

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Compared to other post-stone-age Master Grade kits, MG Hi-Nu’s articulation is standard (i.e. pretty damn good), so I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking.

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There are a couple of points that need to be raised, however. The Hi-Nu’s chin is ridiculously large — so much so that it actually inhibits its ability to turn its head.

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The hip pegs utilize a swinging design, which allows the legs to be raised higher, making kneeling poses like the above possible. The central portion of the chest opens to reveal the cockpit within.

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The shoulder and hip joints have a nasty habit of coming apart after some fiddling. This can easily be remedied by manually pushing them back together, but needless to say, it’s still a bit of a drag.

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Though the Hi-Nu’s back unit is heavy, a simple contraption on the suit’s back prevents the waist joint from being tilted backwards by that weight. Simply flip down the tab to keep the waist an upright position, and flip it up if you want the waist to bend further back.

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Finally, as an added bonus, the hooks on the underside of the feet are actually deployable.

Final Say

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The Hi-Nu doesn’t have too many fancy tricks going for it, and that’s mostly because it was released back in 2007. That is actually impressive in of itself, as this 6-year-old kit is no slouch when compared to newer kits. Granted, It doesn’t have anything like the crazy articulation of the MG AGE-1 or the laser-etched clear orbs on the MG Exia, but it’s enough detail and articulation to trump some kits that came long after (I’m lookin’ at you, MG Shenlong!).

The only concern I have about this kit is the value factor. The MG Hi-Nu retails for ¥7,000, which just so happens to be the price of the new MG Nu Gundam (ver. Ka). Leaving aside the questions of taste or preference, the new Nu kit is objectively more detailed than its older brother, not to mention the fact that it has a much better system of displaying its funnels in action.

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So as much as I like this kit, the MG Hi-Nu is not a straightforward recommendation. This is a solid kit even if a couple of its gimmicks are slightly lacking. The big prices corresponds to the kit’s big size, so if you have a thing for the redesigned Hi-Nu, the minor issues shouldn’t be enough to dissuade you.

However,  if you’re on the fence between the Nu Gundam and the Hi-Nu Gundam, and you aren’t screaming bloody murder at what Katoki’s done to the design, then I definitely recommend the newer kit. You gotta love how the Gunpla hobby has been able to keep consistent with its prices across the years — if only figure makers had a similar policy.

What’s good

  • Details right down to the writing on the v-fin
  • Great articulation
  • Convincing funnel SFX parts

What’s bad

  • Displaying the funnels using the supplied tubes is frustrating
  • Shoulder and hip joints come apart easily

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And that is that — for someone who’s supposedly burnt out on Gundam, I sure do get easily carried away with the tl;dr, don’t I? Shucks, I’m sure I’ll snap out it once Sunrise makes a real winner of a TV series one of these days. Many thanks to Hobbylink Japan for giving me this bad boy — it’s one hell of a way to snap out of a long hiatus, I’ll tell you that! For those of you interested, you can pick up the kit here.