Friday, July 07, 2006

PLAMO Review 10: MG GP03S

The last Gundam we see in UC0083 Stardust Memory is GP03S Stamen. Stamen itself is a pretty standard MS, most of us would remember the Gundam better of being the “pilot” of a giant MA called Dendrobium. GP03S was developed together with the previous two prototypes, GP01 and GP02A. However, it was still under development when the earlier two were sent to Australia for testing, and then we get is the opening of Stardust Memory.

While GP01 and GP02A were the idea of Nina Purpleton, an engineer from Anaheim Electronics, GP03S was conceived by another engineer, Lucette. Both of them being equally strong willed, and cute as well ^^; therefore GP03S is nothing like the earlier two units. GP03S is specialized for space combat, as we can see from the huge tail binders, and powerful rocket thrusters attached. The Core Fighter/Core Block system is absent in this unit, replaced by a panoramic/linear seat type, a concept originally from RX-78 NT-1 Gundam NT-1. The new cockpit system features 360 degrees monitor, allowing the pilot to have unlimited view of the combat environment. This new system would later become a standard for all MSs.

Front and rear view of GP03S Stamen

However, the most notable feature of GP03S is its ability to dock with a huge mobile weapon unit called “Orchis” to form GP03D Dendrobium. The tail binder mentioned earlier on is the docking mechanism used to combine with Orchis. When docked, GP03S would seemingly be the “pilot” of the MA, since it would be sitting in the middle, and uses its retractable arm to grab the weapons from the compartments of the MA. Some of these weapons are hand held, while some are launch-able missile pods. The main arnament is the mega beam cannon mounted on the right hand side of Dendrobium, with power output equals to the main battery of a battle cruiser.

Of topic again! ^o^ Anyway, talking about the weapon system just now, apart from the beam rifle which is the same as GP01 and GP01fb’s, there are new arms for this guy, including a shield and a bazooka which both can be folded. The ability to fold the weapons is to allow them to be stored in the MA, and launched when they are needed. The beam sabers are standard type, but this time, they can be stored in the recharge racks in GP03S’s backpack.

Unfortunately for GP03S and the developer Lucette, the project was shut down right after it was completed by the Federation. The MS was then under the supervision of General Nakato, who would not allow the new weapons to be used even when Gato and the Delaz Fleet were threatening Earth with a colony drop. Lucette helped Kou Uraki to board the unit at the cost of her life. The crew of Albion seized General Nakato’s troop and brought GP03S and Orchis along to try to stop Gato at the very last minute.

In terms of the model, GP03S came out some four or five years after GP01’s release, which seems to be a long wait for its fans. I wasn’t particularly interested in it at the beginning, but the retractable claws in the arms, as well as the folding arnaments changed my mind. Since the models are developed with a much better technology as compared to the earlier MG series, the model allows greater flexibility and posability, while maintaining the same standard of sophisticated details of the legs’ inner frame, and some parts that isn’t visible at first glance. For example, there are details of the mechanism behind the armor pieces of the arm, which will never be seen unless you take out the armor. I guess that must be the main attraction of the MG series, apart from the size and flexibilities, the amount of details available is just astonishing. You can magnify the model for a couple of times, and there are still layers of details to be seen.

Same with GP01 and GP01fb, there are two methods to open the cockpit htach

The original Core Block and the Conceptual Core Fighter, both can dock prefectly with the model's body

Details of the leg unit

One of the special things about the model is the transformable Core Fighter included. Hey, didn’t you say this guy doesn’t have one? True, the new Core Fighter is designed based on fans’ request! The transformable Core Fighter GP01 and GP01fb received quite a lot of positive feedback, triggering the idea of including such design for GP03S as well. Bandai experimented with the idea in the HGUC version, and many people opted to see the transformation process in the MG version. That’s how the new Core Fighter comes about. In the anime, it was explicitly mentioned that there is no Core Fighter system for this Gundam.

Weapons and action poses for GP03S

The folding arnaments are extremely cool. I like the bazooka the most, solid and looks very practical for combat use. The folding/unfolding function is extremely simple, unlike the assembly process of the bazooka used for MG Gundam Ez8. The folding shield is a little bit disappointing, and the joints were a bit weak, so the shield would keep on “folding” even when it’s mounted on the arm. I wish that Bandai would develop the locking mechanism used in the folding bazooka for the shield as well, but too bad they didn’t think about the flaw in the first place. The beam rifle, although same design with the previous model, features new assembly method, which is pretty cool as well.

The mechanical arm of GP03S, built for the purpose of operating the weapon compartments of Dendrobium

With the review on GP03S done, I’ve finish all the parts on the Gundams appear in Stardust Memory, as well as all the MG models for the series. There are many more MG kits, such as GM Custom, GM Kai (Ground Type), GM Kai (Space Type), Zaku 2 F2 (Zeon color), Zaku 2 F2 (EFSF color), and GM Quel. Some kits are pretty old now, while some are released just about a year or so ago.

Another two kit I’m going to introduce soon are HGUC Gelgoog Marine (or Gelgoog F) and Domtropen. But I guess I won’t be doing that until the end of the World Cup season :-)

By the way, some of you might come across GP04G, which looks quite similar to all the four Gundams mentioned before. There are some resin kits released based on GP04G as well, and you might be wondering where this guy comes from. Officially, there is no such design mentioned in the anime, the backstage story tells us that GP04G is a conceptual design which is the conclusion of all the Gundams before him in the Gundam Development Project. When the project was shut down in the end, GP04G is still on the drawing board. When the Zeon offers to buy some new MS developed by Anaheim Electronics, the company which always aims to make a profit out of any chance they can, modify the design of GP04G into Gerbera Tetra, the customized MS for Cima Garahau. We can still see the same huge thruster design, identical leg design, and the backpack binder, but gone were the Gundam head, and white-blue-red Earth Federation color scheme. Personally, I like Gerbera Tetra very much; the flaming red color scheme suits the pilot, Cima very well. I do hope that this MS will one day be given the MG treatment, although the possibility is quite low, given the hype over Stardust Memory is pretty much over.