Real Grade GP01Fb Review

Intro

When it comes down to the Gundam Zephyranthes, Bandai has always released two different kits, with the sole exception of the Perfect Grade. You either get the standard GP01 for ground use, or the upgraded GP01Fb Full Burnern for space use. This is so with the Real Grade line-up with the standard GP01 being kit 12 and the GP01Fb being kit 13.

I haven’t built a GP kit before despite my many years of Gunpla building. The Master Grade is well, old and fiddly and the HGUC never really got my attention and again, it’s kind of old now.

Yet, this was a RG I haven’t built yet, so I had a choice. I went with the space type GP01Fb.

It retails for 2500 yen which is close to $25, the standard for RG. In the box you get nine runners with a set of sticker type decals and manual. It uses Advanced MS Joint 5 which debuted with the Gundam Mk-II RG. All completed you’ll end with up a few leftover parts from the frame, mainly the torso and a couple bits from the feet.

 

Detail

The colors of the plastic given are blue, white, an off-white, red, gray, a darker grey, clear and clear pink saber blades. The blue itself is a nice shade, not too bold nor too dull. With the white parts, Bandai continues in the RG style with two shades of white that is subtle.

Once assembled, this kit has a stunning level of detail for it’s scale and even looks more more detailed than the PG. You get the full transformable Core Fighter II that forms the torso and even the adjustable verniers of the chest and the shoulder armor. These things are super tiny and you’ll need to take care with assembling and working these.

There are a couple things I did notice right off the bat with this kit however.

Many might notice that the proportions and scale of the legs and feet are a bit too slim for what is supposed to be the standard  GP01 with upgraded attachments. The feet themselves, while still on the larger side are not quite in the correct scale, especially when placed next to the normal GP01. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing this was adjusted for aesthetics as the GP01Fb’s feet were always laughably big. However if you’re going for complete accuracy, this is something you will have to keep in mind.

Second, which may not even a big deal, is that whatever reason the RG omits the red coloring inside of the thrusters. It looks the way in the revised artwork for the RG, but if you want to keep it closer to the appearance of the original artwork, you’ll have to do some painting here. For mine, I choose to paint in the thrusters to give it a bit more color overall.

Additionally, some clear parts will need some paint if you want if them to look better, namely the lens for the beam rifle and the core fighter canopy.

The given decals lean toward the heavy in my opinion. For the most part, they’re fine but I think there a few too many chrome accents here. I think the kit would’ve looked fine with none of the accents on the legs or shoulders as they stand out a bit too much and actually cover up the detail of those recessed areas.

Once though and built though, this is a great looking Real Grade and some of these design faults can be forgiven. Statically, this is a great looking kit.

9 out of 10

 

Articulation

So what happens to the articulation and stability of this 1/144 kit when nearly a third of it is a transformable core fighter? Well, as history has shown with such kits (The old MG GP01s, and even the recent MG Victory Gundams), the results are usually not good.

But before that, lets go over the basics. The head has excellent range of motion can even go all the way around if need be. It has some limited range of looking up and down and even the smaller antennae will move back and forth(Tiny, fragile part warning!).

Moving down the the shoulders is where we start to see the first problems. They actually have a pretty good range of motion by themselves. The issue is more of the clavicle joint; on it is a cover part with the extra camera sensors. This part gets misaligned every time you move the arms so you will be constantly straightening it back out. Now I have read that many people have issues with this part becoming loose. It really only held in by the arm/shoulder socket and however tight that is, is how well the part stays. Anytime you move the arm, it will move this as well. It’s just the way it’s designed and there isn’t much you can do about it.

Before I move on, I’ll talk about those shoulder verniers. They are recreated here with very tiny, movable parts. They basically slide in and out of the shoulder with a pair of smaller thruster bells expanding up and down. There are slide tabs on both the top and bottom of the shoulder. In my experience, you will need to use both of them to get the verniers fully extended. Only once they are fully extended can you adjust the smaller thruster bells. If they’re not moving, you don’t have it out all the way. Again, do I need to mention that these are very tiny parts. Take care when handling them.

The arms themselves have the typical great range of motion as per Real Grade. You nearly get a full 180 degree bend at the elbow with some nice part separation. Arm rotates at the upper joint with some decent wrist range. The RG type hands look good as standard on this kit and they can handle all of the weapons with ease(Although do you get a fixed trigger finger hand for the rifle if you want)

Down in the torso we have some decent flexibility despite there being a core fighter inside there. You get a little bit of an bend at the waist and about a quarter turn of rotation left or right. The cockpit opens up nicely with two pieces and you can even open the core fighter if you wish, although it’s best to this with the top half off first and then hook it around the open fighter. If you want those front verniers revealed, you’ll need to do much the same. With those, you’ll need to pull them out carefully from the core fighter and remove the tiny(And very easy to loose) yellow vent covers. In my case the vent covers tend to fall off my kit easily and I nearly lost one when I was taking photos. My suggestion is to keep it displayed with the vents open and keep them with the other parts in a plastic baggy.

CSC_9448

So before I head further down, let’s talk about just stable all of that aforementioned mobility is. I’ll just cut to the chase here. Anytime you move anything in the upper body, the top half of this kit will disconnect itself from the core fighter. The problem is the pegs on the top half don’t fit snugly into the holes on the core fighter. In fact, they are quite loose. I have read and seen that is a very common problem with this kit and it surprises me that this sort of thing got past Bandai’s Q.A. All it really needs a tighter peg connection. If you’re looking to fix this, the suggested approach is to apply some layers of thin cement to “build” up the peg or thicken the hole. I tried adding a few layers of paint on mine and it didn’t help. You may have to be more robust than that.

On the waist you get front and rear armor skirts on semi-ball joints with the side skirts on a joint that move back and forth. They can easily move out of the way allowing the leg to lift a full 90 degrees upward. The kit can almost a straight split, but the side skirts will limit this. Inside the frame you get an adjustable hip to either have it higher up or lower down for your preference.

The legs have an upper rotation joint with full range. The knee will bend to something approaching 120 degrees, surprising considering the extra armor on the legs. On the back of the leg you get a thruster with cover that can move and a front ankle cover with some limited movement.

Inside the ankle you have the original ankle armor however it is shrunk down and distorted to accommodate the slimmer leg design. It barely has any range of movement.

The feet themselves have just average range of motion. They can bend further inwards than outwards due to armor restrictions. They don’t bend forward that much but bend back a decent ways. The front half can fold down quite well but the “toe” is practically fixed despite being a separate part.

All in all, the bottom half of the kit is quite well made and can handle posing and standing of the overall kit quite well. Having slightly than average feet certainly helps counter the top heavy nature of this suit.  While it won’t do anything radical on the ground as this is clearly a space use suit, it can pull off plenty of decent poses on the ground. However if you really want to pull off some scenes from the OVA, you’ll need an action and get this guy off the ground.

Now on to the backpack. The massive rocket/thruster bells on the back are on a double rotating joint so they can pivot and turn in several directions. There are two pints of rotation on them, one at the backpack, and another at the thruster bell. In between them is the bending joint and all this can slide into the thruster bell when transforming into the core fighter. It works quite well and I’ve seen no drooping of the thrusters as it’s stood on my shelf. The individual thruster bells on the backpack are all on ball joints so they can be adjusted accordingly. Last thing here is the beam saber holders as they are a small double jointed arm so they can move around quite freely.

The core fighter itself is slightly more complicated than the RX-78 core fighter, but it’s not as hard to work with as some might imagine. As said, the top half of the Gundam comes off rather easily. The core fighter itself is secured rather snugly onto two pegs on the lower half and can be pulled off easily.

To transform it you simply flip up the cockpit area and straighten the nose. Then flip down the beam sabers to fold them up under the body. Next, close the cover for the upper body peg holes and flip the underside white cover up to protect the bottom. Then you take backpack and carefull straighten it out while pushing the attachment joint down to sit flush with the front half. It should slide down and stay put snugly. Then all you need to is straighten out the thruster bells and slide their joint into them. Adjust the thruster bells as necessary and you have yourself a Core Fighter II Fb. You are provided a set of landing gears that just peg in if you want it on the ground or you can use the action base adapter that wedges onto the white part on the underside and have it displayed in flight.

Overall, the Advanced Joint frame used here works enough. The only real issues with the kit are the torso area in the shoulders and the upper body/core fighter connection. It’s a glaring problem definitely and one you should be aware of when considering this kit. It’s not impossible to deal with though and the rest of it works great with no other parts falling off(just keep an eye on those vent covers if you choose to use them).

7 out of 10

 

Extras

Provided accessories are the GP01’s standard beam rifle with the beam “jitte” effect part, four beam sabers(one normal pair, one pegged pair), a pair of 1/144 pink beam saber blades, landing gears for the core fighter, four e-pacs (although you can only have one on the rifle and two on the shield so you’ll have an extra) and the shield.

For hands you get the RG hands, a pair of closed fists, a right hand only trigger hand, and for what is an unusual choice, a fixed shield holding fist that molded right into the shield handle. The shield itself comes with a normal handle that can be swapped to different positions.

The beam rifle itself is nice and the Jitte effect part fits nicely into it. The targeting sensor can swivel back and forth as can the second grip. The e-pac is removable. As mentioned earlier, the sensor comes clear so you’ll want to paint this as this is the only required bit of painting on this kit.

The beam sabers work well. The pegged versions have no issues fitting into the RG hands. I usually keep them separate with the blades in them in my parts baggy. One thing of note though is the sticker decals that wrap around them. These do tend to start peeling off over time so stay aware.

The shield itself can compact down like the Gundam Mk II’s and store two extra e-pacs. It attaches to the fore arm via the standard shield connector from the frame tray. It has a standard handle that can be fixed in either folded out or folded in position. With the special “fused” hand and handle piece the Gundam can hold it’s shield out right in front of it for action poses. I’ve found the Gundam can hold it quite well like this despite the weight of the shield.

Lastly you have a 1/144 Kou Uraki figure and the action base adapter which both serves for the Gundam itself and the core fighter.

The provided decals are the sticker type and as mentioned before do lean towards the heavy and the several of the chrome accents do in fact cover up and hide many detailed indentations. The smaller ones of little notice however there are a few larger stickers that tend be more noticeable, namely the ones covering the shoulders and the ones on the front waist armor. The one on the front of the shield isn’t all that great. The shoulder stickers I really feel like could had been split up into smaller pieces. The red strips on the knees do look nice but I would recommend applying these to the part inside first before the armor part on.

It’s a decent, standard set of extras. It could only had been enhanced if Bandai included the machine gun the GP01 uses early or the experimental beam rifle that saw one use with this suit. But what you have here is pretty good in terms of quality.

As a side note, there is an unofficial attack method of the GP01Fb in which it uses the beam sabers as makeshift beam guns over the shoulders. The kit can can sort of pull this off. This is something  purely from Super Robot Wars so it isn’t canon in the least.

8 out of 10

 

 

Value

This kit retails for 2500 yen which is about $25 US. Compared to the HGUC which is 1500 yen. The Master Grade is 3000 yen. Finally the Perfect Grade is a whopping 20,000 yen, but am I really going to compare it to that? In some ways, yes.

You might say this RG hits the spot between the HGUC and MG, but you’d be wrong. For starters, both of those kits are quite old. The HGUC is from late 2000 and the MG is even older from late 1997! The PG is even gaining on years as it was a 2003 kit.

The HGUC as an older kit will require lost of detail painting to look good. While it may be more stable since the core fighter is a separate build it lacks much of the articulation of the RG. And no beam effect parts.

The MG is practically ancient by today’s standards. While it contains several of the same gimmicks as the RG, including the transformable core fighter it only has an inner frame for the legs and the articulation is still limited compared to the RG. While I don’t know for certain how stable it is with the core fighter gimmick, knowing how terrible the older transformable MGs were, I can’t imagine this kit will have anything on the RG in terms of stability.

Now as for the PG. I will whole heartily admit the PG beats the RG in terms of inner frame and extras. The kit practically gives you both versions of the GP01 in one kit. It’s articulation looks to be on par with the RG. It’s exterior detail is not quite up to par with he RG despite it’s size advantage. However it is 20,000 yen (~$200).

So for the $25 of this RG, is worth it’s asking price? I would definitively say yes.

For only $10 more over the HGUC, you get much better detail, better articulation, beam effect parts, almost no parts to paint and something that just looks a lot better overall if you don’t intend to do a lot of posing. As for the MG, well let’s hope for a version 2.0 of that someday. For the extra $10, it just isn’t worth it these days.

However if you have the cash and time to burn, then by all means go for the PG.

9 out of 10

Conclusion

All in this a great kit in the RG line despite some issues. The major issue with this kit can be fixed with some work, but what you get a very nicely detailed rendition of the GP01Fb that will look great on any gunpla builders shelf.

The Real Grade GP01Fb gets a final score of 33/40. This is a superb kit and recommended if you’re a fan of the suit

-DZMaven

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