Thursday, December 13, 2007

Master Grade in 2008 Part I

The closer we are to the release date of MG Unicorn, the closer we are to the end of 2007. A brand new year is waiting in less than 20 days. In my opinion, 2007 is a very eventful year when it comes to Gunpla, especially for the MG line. Not only do we get MG 100 this year, but Zaku II received its Ver. 2.0 upgrade after some 12 years of continuous research and improvements by the folks at Bandai, same goes for Char's Gelgoog as well.

Including MG Unicorn, there are less than 10 MGs released this year, mainly because of the wait for MG 100, as well as the commence of Gundam Double O. However, I believe the MG line will go 'full speed ahead' next year ^^, as two mecha: Gundam Ver. 2.0 with G-Armor and Black Tri-star Customized High Mobility Zaku II have being announced for early next year's release, not to mention Strike E + IWSP as well. Gundam Ver. 2.0 may incorporate new frame design and mechanism, as the title suggests, but Zaku II and Strike E are based on Zaku II Ver. 2.0 and Strike Noir respectively, so they are not exactly fresh anymore.

I'm sure all Gunpla enthusiasts have a wish list of mecha to be MG-lized next year. Everybody is hoping to see their favorite mecha being made into fantastic kits to assemble, just like the realization of Destiny and Unicorn this year. However, what if you put yourself in Bandai's shoes, what would be the possible mecha you would want to produce to the market next year? Remember, you can't fulfill every single fan's wishes, else you will find yourself designing a MG Destroy Gundam or Dendrobium, and Bandai will most likely halt the production line of MG because of your decision XD

What are the possible MG releases next year? Here are my speculation:
(Important: my speculation and opinion only, based on my feeling and experience. May not be correct, and may not include your favorite MS. Do give comment if you have any to append, or any you want to delete, or just simply: what you think :)

LM312V04 V Gundam
Next year is the 15th Anniversary of Victory Gundam. I'm sure Bandai has some plan to commemorate that milestone. The attention of most Gundam fans concentrated on the original series and Zeta Gundam, but Victory Gundam is a great anime nonetheless, abandoning the more light-hearted mood set in Gundam ZZ, and back to the darker and more serious plot of Zeta Gundam. I bet Victory Gundam is going to get all the credit it deserved after all these years in 2008, and no, not just some fancy reformatting and repacking of the anime into DVD releases. I think Victory Gundam may get its MG treatment next year.

On the other hand, Victory Gundam is possibly the hardest MS around to be made into a model kit ^^; Not only is it small (or maybe I should say compact ^^ - 15.2 meter, same height as F91. Comparison: Wing Gundam: 16.3m, RX-78-2: 18.5 m), it requires three fighter jets, namely Core, Top and Bottom Fighter to dock to form the Gundam. The Top and Bottom Fighter can also combine with the Core Fighter, much like ZZ Gundam, excluding the formation of a "G-Fortress".

I love transformable MS, and V Gundam is a sure-buy for me if it comes out ^^

The part separation is a huge issue for realizing MG Victory, as the design of all the three components are a bit awkward. The waist is designed along with the rear skirt armor on Top Fighter, along with its arms; and the Bottom Fighter features the legs and the groin joint. So Bandai sure is going to have some 'lovely' time figuring out how to design the waist so that not only it can transform, its articulation is not sacrificed as well, also, consideration has to be made for the shoulders and arms as well. How to keep them in place in the Top Fighter form? and how to design the articulation of the shoulders when part of it has to dock with the Core Fighter?

In terms of its commercial value, there are several other variations which can be released after V Gundam, including V Dash, V Gundam Hexa (even though a mere change of the head as a separate release is extremely evil ^^;), Victory 2, which can make use of the similarity of the legs, and its other enhancements like the Buster and Assault Module. In other words, V Gundam is quite commercially feasible :)

V Gundam's designed is perhaps the most streamline and smooth in the whole Gundam family. On the left is V Hexa, one of V's variations.

V2 Gundam + Buster and Assault Module. Looks awesome, but can all the extra equipments be realized on such a small model is another problem.

Possibility of release: Likely
Possible price: 4,000 - 5,000 Yen

FA-78-1 FA Gundam
The most famous MSV around? I'm quite sure of it. Countless models are figures were produced, even though it didn't make any appearance in any anime or manga! The most recent release of this Gundam is for the GFF line, where the Gundam used is Ver. Ka instead.

This is the conversion kit for Gundam Ver. 1.5.

With the announcement of Gundam Ver. 2.0, it seems to me that Bandai isn't holding back on designs based on RX-78-2 anymore. Just look at last year, and you will see that two MG RX-78-2 Ver. OYW were released: Real TV Color Ver. and the Movie Trilogy Memorial Box Set. Seems like the original Gundam is generating profit non-stop for Bandai, so don't be surprise if this famous mecha, FA Gundam is going to be added to the list of MG release as well. Furthermore, FA Gundam has a completely different color scheme than the usual red-blue-yellow-white RX-78-2, which can be another selling point of this possible MG.

The MSIA version.

Possibility of release: Very likely
Possible price: 5,000 - 6,000 Yen

MSN-03 Jadg Doga
The HGUC line of Char's Counterattack was launched not long ago, with Gyunei's Jadg Doga, followed closely by Quess Paraya's version. These two mecha were also released in HCM-Pro format (See also Quess's version) in the past. These merchandises sure helps to increase the popularity of this mecha, and I'm sure many became interested in it because of these previous items.

As with all the other Zeon mecha, Jadg Doga's design is distinctively unique than all the usual Gundam-type MS, and would be great addition to the MG line.

The big questions is, will Jadg Doga gets its MG realization? I think it's quite possible, although it isn't as high as the two mecha mentioned earlier on. There are a few areas the HGUC model can do better, mainly the Funnel system, which requires part-swapping for posing. The possible MG will probably adapt the previous Funnel system developed for Sazabi on Jadg Doga, since they are of the same design. Also, the leg joints of the HGUC version can be further improved as well, since the rather awkward design of its armors requires some re-designing for the articulation, and to stay loyal to the design at the same time.

Overall, the HGUC version of Jadg Doga is quite a nice offering. In other words, Bandai may not be tempted to release an MG Jadg Doga to divert the sales of the HGUC model. The hope for this mecha to be on the list is more of a request for higher details and articulation, as well as a slim hope for it to board the CCA Gunpla line before the attention is shifted to another series.

Possibility of release: Low possibility
Possible price: 4,000 - 5,000 Yen

RGM-89 Jegan or AMS-119 Geara Doga

Jegan is also the weak Earth Federation's primary MS in F91, and about the last MS in the Universal Century to be still using a conventional shield.

Maybe Jegan will be released with a Base Jabber as well?
Image from Rix Robots.

Normally I don't believe grunt units has the chance to be released as MG, considering that their popularity isn't as high as the lead Gundam (usually), which in turn determines their sales as well. However, with the example of Nemo being released during the hot period of Zeta Gundam: A New Translation, Jegan or Geara Doga might board the CCA Gunpla line as well. Also, they are not the ordinary cannon-fodder MS, as they played some significant roles in the outcome of the anime. While Jegan are all the same, Geara Doga features Rezin Schnyder's customized version, a color variation of the original design. So, the parts developed can be reused to maximize the profitability of this mecha. Moreover, these are not complex fancy transformable MS which requires difficult and costly development. This allows these two models to be released at a relatively lower price, which in turn can be the selling point.

I just love the horn and spike design of Geara Doga's left shoulder armor ^^

However, I really doubt that any of these two mecha will be MG-lized. I'm pretty certain that they will get their HGUC release though, and judging from the details designed so far in that product line, I think the HGUC format might be the 'ultimate' form of Jegan and Geara Doga.

Possibility of release: Low possibility
Possible price: 3,500 - 4,500 Yen

GSX-401FW Stargazer
I believe Stargazer must be one of those Gundams which fans are screaming for an MG release. Some of my friends put Stargazer as their bet for MG 100 once. Although I'm a big fan of this Gundam, I believe there are a lot of room for Bandai to show off their technology for this release. For example, the beam rings, the armor hatches on its body that can be opened as shown in one of the episodes if you recall, and the two seated plot cockpit. But most importantly, what about the shiny stripes all over its body when it's activated? The HG version uses two sets of stickers, which is really troublesome. The MG version may feature part-swapping of different colors to indicate between the two modes.

Maybe Bandai can design glow-in-the-dark parts for the shiny stripes? Wow, now that is going to be super-awesome for your Gundam collection isn't? ^^

Also, following the 'tradition' of a special edition being released along with the normal version for SEED Destiny kit, namely Strike Freedom and Destiny, Stargazer can be designed in such a way as well. The normal mode may include just the different color parts for the two modes; but the special edition may be bundled with extra shiny parts for the activation mode, chrome inner frame and the beam rings as well (and then fans like me which be cursing non-stop for such evil money-earning scheme XD)

At the moment, there's no 1/100 Stargazer yet, so it's highly possible that it might get a direct MG release. Highly possible ^^

Possibility of release: Likely
Possible price: 4,800 - 6,000 Yen

End of Part I. Tomorrow's discussion will include Zaku I, Exia, Hazel Custom, Gelgoog Mass Productive Type and any others I can think of tonight ^^