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Review: MG Shenlong Gundam (Endless Waltz ver.)

Long before Hobby Hovel, before my Flickr account, and probably before I could speak English properly, the 13-year-old Chag made his first website – a Gundam Wing fansite. Hosted on Geocities, there was nothing on the site other than reposted official art, screencaps and animated .gif files, but of course, my silly younger self didn’t think anything of it and worked eagerly on it through his dial-up internet connection. A part of me wishes that Geocities hadn’t gone down the path of the dinosaurs, but another part of me is thankful that my little clusterfuck of .gif files will never see the light of day again.

Of the few things I still remember of my Gundam Wing fansite was this picture, which I used for my title page image. No prizes for guessing who my favourite character was.

New Mobile Report Gundam Wing is a child of the 90s Gundam boom along with G Gundam, Gundam X, Victory Gundam, and 0083, F91 & 08th MS Team if you’re counting the movies and OVAs. There was a fuckload of V-finned giant robots during this decade, and naturally the staff at Sunrise wanted to experiment with the Gundam formula. Whereas Wing’s predecessor G Gundam did this by injecting a heavy dose of the super robot genre into Gundam’s real robot conventions, the people behind Wing tried to venture into territory that is absolutely foreign to the franchise: the female demographic – and what better way to rein in the fangirls with some BL undertones?

THIS was my childhood? No wonder I turned out the way I am!

As I barely remember anything with regards to the story of Gundam Wing, I was probably too young /illiterate/stupid to wrap my head around the plot, let alone THE GAY. Now that I look back at some of these official illustrations, all I can do is shake my head. I wonder how much they actually reflect content of the show itself. I should really give it a re-watch one of these days.

My favourite of the 5 gundam pilots was Chang Wufei. This is probably only because he and I both share a Chinese background. I have completely forgotten what his character is about, but in all of his crossover video game appearances (SD Gundam G Generation, Super Robot Wars, Another Century’s Episode), he comes off as a guy with a lot of misdirected frustrations – the type of guy who would come home every night to beat his wife. His mobile suit, the Shenlong (which means “divine dragon”) also carries some Chinese favour in its design, which made it a favourite in my book. I remember getting action figure of the Shenlong for my birthday and playing with it until the arm joints were completely lose, then taping up the joints to give them more traction, then wearing them out again.

However, this particular model I’m about to review isn’t the Shenlong that I knew and loved – rather, it’s based on the redesign by Hajime Katoki, the man responsible for the design of the OZ suits and all the mechs in the Endless Waltz OVA. The redesigns of the 5 original gundams have been floating about for a long time, but recently they’ve been dredged up to be used in the manga New Mobile Report Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz: Glory of the Defeated (CHRIST that’s a long name). Do I like Katoki’s redesign? Sure I do – the lens on my nostalgia goggles aren’t think enough make me blind to a good design. Do I like the model based on the redesign? Well, hit the jump the find out!

 

First impressions

The first thing I noticed about the MG Shenlong Gundam was its legs. Like any other Katoki gundam design, they are long, particular below the knee. The legs and feet are also disproportionally large; even though the MG Shenlong is small (measuring only 16.5 cm tall), its legs and feet are just as bulky (if not more so) than the rest of MG gundams I’ve built. In addition, when the Shenlong’s small shoulder armour and basic backpack unit is taken into account, the suit looks pretty bottom-heavy. I don’t particularly mind this distinctive appearance, because the compact profile and the beefy legs do give the Shenlong a sturdy look.

As I just mentioned, the MG Shenlong is small. This is because all of the Wing MS designs are smaller than standard early UC sizes. While I would never fault the model’s engineers for staying faithful to the specifications of the original design, the price of the kit does leave something to be desired. At 3800 yen, the MG Shenlong costs the same as the MG Gouf and MG Exia, both of which are a head taller. The size is not the only thing lacking for the pricetag, as I will elaborate later on.

 

Closer Look

As far as details go, the MG shenlong doesn’t have too much going on for it, partly because of all the flat white surfaces on it. This is not to say it doesn’t have any detail, though. I really like way the cheek vents and head vulcans are a part of the gray interior pieces, hence they look accurate right out of the box.

Sadly, the same can’t be said for every detail, as the back skirt armour, ankle guards, and the flaps on the side of the Dragon Fang all require paint to look accurate. If this were an older and/or cheaper kit, I wouldn’t really mind these minor touch-ups, but when the MG Exia has freaking laser-etched markings on its clear parts for exactly the same price, I couldn’t help but to feel a little short-changed as I struggled to paint within the lines. Did I mention that my hands are as steady as a jackhammer? Yeah, not fun.

On a positive note, I really like the fang motif in the Shenlong’s design.  You can see a pair of little fangs under the face vents and on the sides and back of the legs. I miss the unique v-fin from the original design, but I’m glad to see that the red chest armour is mostly unchanged. As per the norm, the cockpit hatch opens to reveal the pilot sitting inside.

 

Accessories

The most notable alteration from the original design is the Dragon Fang. Kunio Okawara’s Shenlong Gundam has a collapsible right arm, and when deployed, the arm extends and the forearm-mounted weapon system folds into position, granting the Shenlong a fierce dragon-like appendage that is not only capable of piercing/crushing hapless OZ grunts with its bladed teeth, but also capable of roasting them with its integrated flamethrower. It sounds cool on paper, but now that I look back, I find it to be an extremely silly design, even by Wing’s standards. The long, thin extendable arm looks very fragile, and it seem like it has neither the weight nor the force to do any real damage.

By contrast, the Katoki’s Dragon Fang is a big, heavy-looking motherfucker. When deployed, it only extends slightly at the base. The thin claws of the original are replaced by a set of rugged and jagged teeth. Make no mistake, it’s still a ridiculous design – it’s a dragon’s head mounted to the arm of a giant robot, for crying out loud – but the sheer bulk of Katoki’s Dragon Fang makes it seem like it can do a lot of damage. Katoki’s Shenlong is definitely a top contender for the “most powerful pimp-slap” award along with the Zeong’s might beam-shooting wire-linked arms and the God Gundam’s God Finger.

Shenlong’s other weapon is the beam trident, which is also pretty silly. Personally, I prefer the simpler beam glaive of the original design over the exaggerated three-pronged head of the beam trident because I’ve never had a taste for melee beam weapons that bend. I can usually tolerate slight curvatures (like Deathscythe’s scythe), but the side blades on the bream trident actually bends twice – inward at the base and outward at the time. I suppose the curves on the trident may make sense in the context of Wing’s universe, where style is always valued over practicality, but to a UC fan like me, the beam trident has all the awkwardness of a contrived design with none of the bad-ass factor.

Of course, this is all a matter of personal taste. The actual beam part looks really detailed and clips onto the shaft securely. When not deployed, the shaft can be stored on the Shenlong’s back via a small swappable part that fits into the backpack.

The real problem related to the beam trident is not the weapon itself, but rather the hands that hold it. The only articulated fingers on the MG Shenlong are the thumbs, the rest of the finger come in the form of 4 pairs of swappable parts: closed fist, splayed fingers, and 2 pairs of trident-grippers – one with tabs inside and one without. Here’s where my well-documented frustrations at gunpla hands come in: the trident is a thrusting weapon, yet without the properly angled hands, a trusting pose is impossible to pull off.  The wrists on the MG Shenlong are slightly more flexible than the average MG, but not nearly good enough to compensate for the lack of a forward-pointing grip.

Furthermore, because the fingers on the Shenlong are fixed, they rely on the tab on the palm to hold the weapon. The problem is that the 2 slots on the shaft of the beam trident are both on the same side, so that means you can’t rotate the shaft to the angle of your liking if you want a secure grip. All this makes coming up with the trident poses for this review a real challenge.

On a bright side, I really like the shield on Katoki’s Shenlong. The array of yellow parts arranged around the shield gives it a really technical look. The design also seems like some sort of impact-absorbing mechanism. The only downside to the shield is that its large size conflicts with the shoulder armour when I bend the elbow too far, thus inhibiting articulation. But I can’t complain too much when it looks so nifty.

 

Articulation

There’s not much to say about the articulation on the MG Shenlong, as everything is pretty standard. I’ll let the picture to the talking, but here are a couple of quick highlights:

  • The waist can rotate left and right without much obstruction. The rear armour gets in the way after around 40 degrees, but that that should be enough for most purposes.
  • The blue parts on the side skirt armour have a nasty habit of popping off when I try to pose the model.
  • Surprisingly, the arms can only bend around 110 degrees up. This is plenty of movement to work with, but I find it a little strange, since the hands of most modern MG models are able to touch the shoulders.
  • Speaking of the shoulders, they can swing forward really far – very nice to use in conjunction with the Dragon Fang
  • The two upper teeth of the Dragon Fang each have 3 points of articulation – two in the middle and one in the base. They fold together very nicely.

 

Final Say

The MG Shenlong Gundam (Endless Waltz ver.) isn’t a spectacular model. It doesn’t feature any design innovations that would blow the pants off of anyone who’s been following gunpla for a while. But not being spectacular is okay, because if ever model is “spectacular”, the label would be meaningless. But though I am easy to forgive the Shenlong for not making me jump out the window while singings its praises, I am not as willing to overlook its 3800 yen price tag.

One of the things I love the most about gunpla is that the prices feel fair. Sure, the prices of newer models have been slowly increasing over the years, but that seems to be justified by the addition of newer of and better standards of engineering. The MG Shenlong does not have this. There aren’t any spiffy new joints, there aren’t any light-up parts, and there certainly aren’t any of those much needed wrist improvements or alternate hands to be found. Instead, we have a model that’s smaller than the standard but costs just as much (if not more) than its superiors, and that bugs me.

This isn’t to say that I dislike the model – on the contrary, I like it a lot. Not only does the Shenlong Gundam carry a lot of sentimental value from my childhood, but the redesign bodes very well with my matured tastes. I’m just not sure how much appeal this kit would have towards people who aren’t familiar with the series. If a non-gundam fan asked me for a recommendation on a gunpla kit, the MG Shenlong would not be on the list.

So that’s what it boils down to: if you are a Wing fan who digs Hajime Katoki’s redesign, go grab this kit, because its flaws really are mild at most. If you prefer the Nataku (the upgraded version of the Shenlong Gundam), you should wait a little longer, because a MG Nataku is due in the very near future – the layout of the MG Shenlong’s runners is a dead giveaway.  If the words “Chang Wufei” and “Operation Meteor” mean nothing to you, then keep walking – there are better kits to be had.

Pros

  • The new Dragon Fang is cool as hell
  • A very neat and detailed shield

Cons

  • The lack of appropriate hands makes posing with the beam trident difficult
  • Requires paint for colour accuracy
  • Slightly pricey for such a simple and small MG model

29 replies on “Review: MG Shenlong Gundam (Endless Waltz ver.)”

 Ah, I remember making a Geoshities website.  I think I put the Magic decklists I had at the time on it, and some kind of ad, with dreams of making it rich because obviously thousands of people were going to come to what was essentially a text file and the ad will make me hundreds of dollars!  The web design of those days was something special, alright.  Short bus kind of special.

I have to admit I’ll never see Wing in much of a positive light.  Back in college, I thought I’d try to find out what this “Gundam” business that people spoke of on forums was all about, and I ordered the first Wing DVD and the No-Grade Wing Gundam kit.  I didn’t watch another Gundam series for at least five or six years and I’ve only purchased one other Gundam kit since.  I couldn’t understand why a bunch of guys were always raving about a bunch of bishies.

Shenlong looks pretty nice, though.  I especially like that Dragon Fang of his, but then I have a special fondness for fapping hands power fists and claw weapons.  Which, coincidently, made Heartcatch Precure really awesome when they started killing off monsters of the week by doing a Final Fantasy-style huge summon which then pulverized the target by smashing it with a giant armored fist.

I am honored by the callout!

Hah, I bet you aren’t the only one who weren’t crazy about them bishies. Gundam Wing started a long trend of bishie designs — every Gundam TV series after it (with the exception of Turn A) has had a total bishie cast. I guess it has worked to a certain degree, given how successful that piece of crap SEED was, but I’m sure there’s a lot of hatred for Wing from the oldfags.

The new Dragon Fang indeed it is nice! It crushes, it burns, and judging from the straight piece in the middle, it also penetrates! Now the real question is: will it blend?

It’s only natural to SHOUT OUT MY HOMIES! 😉

Oooh, its finally out! Nice clean build on it. I watched Gundam Wing back when it first aired on Toonami and it was my first intro to Gundams. I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. I didn’t even notice the bishies until years later and the politics bored me a bit, what I was really watching it for was some mecha brawling action. That was my first foray into Gundam kits as well so these rereleases hold lots of nostalgia value to me even if I only have 1 atm, lol.
The kit looks decent, although why the Endless Waltz tag? Kinda sad to see the dragon arm being non-extendable although all those moveable teeth look awesome.
I feel sorry for poor Shenlong, fapping has to hurt. Sharp teeth AND flames. Or mebbe he’s into that kinda stuff o.O

Hehe, I’ve recieved a couple of compliments about the “clean” look of the kit, but in reality I just got too lazy to apply the decals. I couldn’t find and waterslides for this kit, the clear stickers that are included with the model sucks terribly, and I don’t have any confidence in my ability to apply all these rub-on decals I had on hand, so I thought I would spare myself the tears and build the kit naked. I’m glad that it worked out!

The Endless Waltz tag is from the manga this design is being used in (New Mobile Report Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz: Glory of the Defeated). If confused me a little at first as well, and I think it would’ve been better if they just left it “ver. Ka”. It’s kind of misleading, though I guess it doesn’t conflict with the Nataku because they have different names.

Real men like it rough and jagged. The puny grips of ordinary robots cannot possibly pleasure the mighty! The scarring and charring only makes Shenlong’s calluses (and boner) harder!

No further comment. The thought of Shenlong with a scabby, smoking boner will be enough to make me curl into the fetal position when I try to sleep tonight. Augh, now he’s grinding on Wing’s leg. Nuoooooo!

 Ah god Wing how long has it been…I almost bought the Wing PG model ages ago when I cared about such things. You really do get addicted to the detail in those things after you make just one since everything else feels second rate by comparison.

Ah anyway not a bad looking kit, but my preference is always with Heavy Arms Endless Waltz version who is like the personification of DAKKA!!! :p

It’s a good thing you didn’t get the PG Wing Zero Custom, because from what I hear, that kit sucks balls!

I wish Bandai would make a Heavyarms MG kit, though I suspect that will be slightly tricky, given how you’d need individually-molded missiles for colour accuracy. The Heavyarms is badass as hell, though — I think my first “real” gundam kit was a SD Heavyarms when I was 9 years old. I gave it to my cousin before I came to Canada, and from what I understand, he still has it…but it’s in a somewhat poor condition because he accidentally stepped on it. I think I’ll ask him to dig it up the next time I go back and do a joke review on it, or something!

Fuck yeeeeah, Geocities! I remember using it to upload anime artwork that I liked onto it for some reason or another.. don’t think I ever made an actual website out of it though.

No Gundam series aired here on free-to-air Australian television and I’ve always been a bit sad about that! I do love me some robots of the large kind and I’m pretty sure I would have really enjoyed it. All I’ve seen is a bit of Gundam Wing in my late teens and have been following the recent Gundam UC OVAs.

I love the way your kits look with the matte coat, you have made me want to try it out! Are the rub on decals hard to put on or just annoying to place? I’ve got heaps with a kit I’m building and I wanna use them but yeah.. I don’t really know what I’m doing, lol

You shoot on a black background really well, by the way! My photos looked like arse the several times I’ve tried it.

Man, you Aussies sure have it tough — you seem to be shortchanged on all the good stuff (video games, anime), instead you have a shitload of poisonous animals! Have you watched the original Gundam series, btw? If not, I really recommend the original trilogy movies. They start off a little slow but picks up fast, and even though its visuals are pretty aged, I think the story is as relevant as ever. Most importantly, it gives context to the whole newtype mythos that Gundam UC focuses on so much, and as an added bonus, you’ll be able to pick up on more of those Gundam references that comedy anime likes to throw around!

The rub-on decals aren’t too hard on large, flat surfaces, but on small and/or curved surfaces, it’s pretty hard to position it properly. And because they don’t sell rub-on decals separately, you only get one try, which makes the process pretty brutal on the nerves. I thought about using the rub-on decals, but as I was short on time and didn’t want to break my little heart, so I skipped on it.

Thanks Zai! I must admit that I’m liking the fabric-lined backdrop a lot more. I wasn’t too crazy about them before because the fold lines were easily visible in my earlier shots, but now I’ve been steam-ironing the backdrop before every shot, and I think that’s been making a difference.

The color combination of this kit looks very cool especially the red chest armor.
I like the design of the shoulders and the sturdy looking legs a lot.

I haven’t watched many gundam anime, so it should be no surprise that I don’t know Gundam
Wing. Overall it looks like a nice gundam model, the dragon head fist
looks awesome, the “cannabis” spear is the only *meh* thing for me, I prefer
blasters and beam sabers ^^

Have you topcated the kit? because the texture looks really smooth in your pictures.btw your models look always great in front of the black background, do you have a trick?

Fabienne, you are hilarious. Cannabis spear?! AWESOME. I burst out laughing at that. Forget smoking a puny little joint. Real men stab each other with cannabis spears to get high. xD

Weed spear? LOL, CANNOT UN-SEE!

I have indeed top coated the kit! The can I had left had just enough left inside to finish the model, too. I don’t really have any tricks other than ironing the backdrop beforehand and not pointing the light sources directly at the backdrops. I guess when you do something long enough, it just comes to you naturally!

Hey man

Looking at it from afar the wash you used on the shield doesn’t look as noticeable, maybe due to the Top Coat? Or maybe its just me? It looks great though. The detail/wash line in the middle of the Gundam’s red chest plate does stand out and is the most noticeable. I would have loved to have seen you get that wash on those fingers! 😛 Anyways, did the Simple Green in the jar I gave you do its job effectively?

With that said now I really want to get my hands on some Top Coat. Cheers!

^ Yes, weed…

I think it’s just you, dude. =P

I really like how the mud wash came out — in fact, the shield is the part that I am most happy with. I was a little short on time for this build (since I needed to take the photos last Friday), but I’ll definitely do the fingers on my next kit. Using the wash will be a helluva lot better than fumbling with the marker!

The Simple Green worked like a charm! I shall forever treasure this jar of mystery fluid you have bestowed upon me.

What a coincidence, my first website was also a Gundam Wing fansite on Geocities, and it included tons of pics, gifs, and midi files. I can’t say that I really got into Gunpla though, it just didn’t feel right to have a Gundam made out of plastic. If they were made out of Gundanium alloy though, that’s a whole other story 🙂 

Oh wow, another former Geocities Gundam Wing fansite creator? Small world, eh? =)

As much as I’d like gundanium alloy kits, I’m not quite ready to pick up a welding torch to build my miniature robots. The it’s one thing to make a slip with a knife, but messing up with a welding torch? I shudder at the consequences. =P

 Great Review but oh Gundam Wing I think I never watch the show as child, probably caught a few episodes here and there but I just kept watching G Gundam. Well then again my only source of anime was Toonami.

Before these EW kits were release they did cause stir due to the EW label and fans saying wait minute this wasn’t in EW (Movie) until they heard about the New OVA. As for the MS I haven’t really notice that for ver. KA kits of the leg being overly sized but now that I have it does look pretty odd but while the redesign is fantastic I think bandai should have sort of find a medium of the old with new. Like combine certain part that gave Shenlong it’s uniqueness in the past and combine it with the new design in a way to satisfy fans of the series. I think the only problem i have with these kits it the hands, don’t why but the hands seem like a total schmup to me and the price tag seems a bit too high since there is really not much going on with this kit as in terms of part and even the rehash of Wing is cheaper, $38.

Also the beam trident looks sexy on that black background :3

Yeah, whoever was responsible for the manga’s naming sure picked a confusing route to go about it, but even though this isn’t Nataku from the OVA, the model for that is inevitable — all it takes is some patience.

Katoki loves his long legs, and I can’t fault him for it. They look strange, yes, but The combination of a slim waist and long legs gives the suit a feminine charm. I imagine not everyone wants a feminine charm in their giant robots, but I like them. I’d kill to see a Katoki version of GN Archer!

The hands are junk, but hey, what else is new? At the very least these hands are able to grip onto the trident securely, limited as they are. I imagine if they included normal hands, putting the Shenlong into a two-handed pose would be a nightmare, what with the fingers falling off constantly.

I’m glad  you like the trident! I don’t display the model with the trident blade, but I do admit that the more I look at these photos, the more I like it.

Now that you mention it those legs do have a charm and probably for the hands you can buy so PG style hands and then the fun begins to do epic poses and stuff.

Nataku and his Twin Dragon, I’d like to see that redesign as well as the Tallgeese.Katoki and GN Archer my god thats Female Gundam Heaven and throw in 5 Nobell dressed as Sailor Moon or made into them, MY GOD!  

Not my type of gundam. Too generic looking IMO. Also, the scythe and trident have always felt out of place on a gundam for me. I have always associated them with supernatural and non-mechanical phenomena. You can probably guess I’m not a big fan of the samurai inspired gundams either.

Gundam Wing definitely did not place its priority on creating an authentic sci-fi world, and it really shows in the gundam designs. I’m guessing you probably aren’t a fan of the sandrock’s heat swords either, hehe. This is another thing that separates UC Gundam series from everyone else — in UC, science fiction takes front seat, while in SEED, 00 and Wing, sci-fi is secondary to the plot. I’m not a UC purist, but I do hope that sunrise will make an AU timeline that shares the sci-fi spirit of UC. 

I follow what you’re saying but I don’t know enough about Gundam so I won’t go comparing the different series.

After a bit of googling, no, I don’t like the heat swords of sandrock. Seriously? In the age of giant fighting robots in space and guns shooting laser beams they decide a hot sword was the best weapon of attack? I can understand Beam sabers….but come on…..the enemy just have to produce a gundam made out of the same material as that sword to withstand its attacks right?

The story with wing is that the gundams are made of some sort of near-indestructible metal that pisses all over everything else, but even when that is taken into account, the heat swords are still silly. In the Endless Waltz OVA they actually BREAK — gee, very reliable!

Epyon was originally created by Kunio Okawara.  The new MG Epyon is a never before seen version by Katoki.

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