Review by Rob
“It’s all about the models.”
“Gundam Build Fighters,” the latest chapter of the long running mecha franchise, takes a break from its traditional Space Opera story and deviates to a light hearted, fourth-wall bending world living in the time of the great “Gunpla Boom” where “Mobile Suit Gundam” and Bandai’s Gunpla, short for Gundam plastic model, is celebrated worldwide.
“Build Fighters” shares its roots with Sunrise and Bandai’s last attempt at celebrating Gundam; the “Gunpla Builder Beginning G” OVA series and model kit collection from 2010 and the upcoming “Gundam: Breaker” video game, combining custom Gundam model building with arcade battle simulations. The show owes much to its fan base with plenty of inside jokes and references that only diehard Gundam fans will understand and there is plenty of fan service of seeing popular Mobile Suits from every generation battling one another. There’s even a mentor character named Mr. Ral.
“Gundam Build Fighters” is now airing on Youtube courtesy of Gundam.Info with English Subtitles for US fans to enjoy!
Even though it is clearly designed to sell models, “Build Fighters” has its own Sci-Fi elements and story that make it a true “Gundam” series. In “Build Fighters,” modelers not only get to show off their custom Gunpla but they can fight against each other in “Gunpla Battle” tournaments. In virtual arenas powered by “Plavsky” (a play on the words GunPLA and MinoVSKY) particles, plastic models turn into real combat machines and one’s craftsmanship can truly mean victory! However, not every great builder can be a good pilot. Sei Iori is an exceptional builder having grown up in his family’s hobby shop, but his few battles have only ended with the destruction of his models. One day, he meets a mysterious youth named Reiji, who showed a remarkable talent for the arcade battles. Determined to win against Sei’s rival builders, the two team up to fight in the Gunpla Battle World Tournament using Sei’s custom Gunpla, the GAT-X105B Build Strike Gundam.
The Build Strike Gundam is Sei’s custom model based on the GAT-X105 Strike Gundam from the popular “Gundam SEED” series, using original weapons created by Sei himself.
The model is built around mobility, specializing in quick attacks which blend well with Reiji’s incredible combat skills.
Like the original Strike Gundam, it can combine with an auxiliary weapon system called the “Build Booster,” another custom unit created by Sei based on the “SEED” universe’s ORB-01 Akatsuki’s “Oowashi” pack that boosts his Gunpla’s performance incredibly.
Together with the Build Strike Gundam, it creates the “Build Strike -Full Package.”
For Bandai, the “Build Fighter” series represents the first phase in a new 1:144 scale model line called the “All Gundam Project.” This new line expands from the High Grade Universal Century line and into the Gundam franchise’s alternate universes with models that share a more uniform construction scheme.
The model features a universal linkage system designed to make it interchangeable with other models at the polycap connections. Combining more than one kit into a single unique model is one of more creative aspect of Gunpla building, and the Build Strike is a great way to introduce the practice to a wider, younger audience.
The 1:144 scale High Grade Build Strike Gundam –Full Package- is the first original kit released for Bandai’s real-world Gunpla models based on the custom models made from other models. …and yes that sentence makes perfect sense. The Strike Gundam is a solid, entry level design on par with the RX-78-2 without any overbearing features compared to other Gundam type Mobile Suits. As the Strike is more recognizable among Gundam’s more recent generation of fans, it was easily reformatted to appeal to this series.
While it shares the mechanical design of the GAT-X105 Strike Gundam, the Build Strike model kit is made from an entirely new mold instead of recycling the decade old 1:144 scale High Grade from the original “SEED” line. Although it is the first model under the “Build Fighters” brand, the Build Strike is still a part of the “All Gundam Project.” As such, its parts runners have mold injection marks which show that this kit can, and will, be retooled to make the original version of the source design.
Out of the box, the Build Strike model is comprised of seven runners molded in multicolored PS plastic and comes with an SB-13 beam saber set and the newly molded PC-002 polycap runner for its articulation and key attachment points. The Build Strike Gundam comes molded in its primary colors of red, blue, white, gray, and yellow plastic and uses decals to fill in some of the missing details.
The Build Booster on the other hand is molded entirely in blue plastic and is dependent upon its decals to fill in the missing colors. These decals only cover its wings and nose, leaving the rest of the Build Booster in monochromatic plastic.
For the novice, the decals work well but for a seasoned Gunpla builder, painting the missing details of the Build Strike Gundam can really make a significant difference.
Aiming for show accuracy, the Gundam’s enhanced beam rifle is one of the components of this kit that calls for paint, seeing how it differs greatly from its gray plastic incarnation.
As far as building the Build Strike kit is concerned, the model is well engineered while not being too difficult or simplistic. It finds the perfect balance as an entry level model kit while leaving plenty for a builder to improve on.
Since the Build Strike is a High Grade for all audience skill levels, there are some parts which can be modified with some expertise.
The front skirts are molded together on a bar that can be cut in half with a hobby knife to articulate both plates independently.
Like most other 1/144 High Grade models, the tips of the Gundam’s ‘V-crest’ have nubs of plastic to round them out to make them less fragile for younger builders.
With the proper tools, the crest for the Build Strike can be shaved and sanded down to a sharpened point.
As a High Grade model in the age of the Real Grade, the 1/144 scale Build Strike features a structural inner frame for its arms and legs which can be built without any of the Gundam’s armor.
The Gundam’s outer layers attach in such a way where the parts’ seams are hidden along the panel lines.
The model features some well molded and shaped parts, such as the hollowed ankle armor and the nearly microscopic precision of the Gundam’s face.
Fully built, the Build Strike Gundam stands at precisely 5 inches tall from heel to its wider V-crest. Comparing it against the Strike Gundam, the Build Strike feels like a genuinely original design despite its origin as a custom of the original.
The model is very limber, and without any cluttered features, it has an exceptional range of movement for its scale.
The Build Strike features several articulation points taken from the later High Grade Universal Century series such as a hinged pectoral polycap joint in the arm socket and double jointed elbows, knees, and ankles.
With the use of ball and socket joints, the model has more flexibility as well as flair in its upper body.
The model features a new swiveling hip design to give the legs a more dynamic range of motion and extended clearance from the skirt armor.
This hip piece also has a peg hole for connecting the model with any of Bandai’s display stands such as the 1:144 scale “Action Base 2.”
The Build Booster is a transformable support craft for the Build Strike capable of acting in the same combat capacity as an advanced Core Fighter if the Gundam is disabled.
Combined into the Build Strike Full Package, Build Booster functions mostly as a flight pack, similar to the ‘Aile Striker’ unit.
The Build Booster has a very impressive wing span and the wings are designed to flair upright which gives the Build Strike a silhouette similar to another mobile suit from its source design’s generation, the ZGMF-X10A Freedom Gundam.
One of the highlights of the Build Booster is that it does not weigh down the Build Strike kit by being too back heavy. This comes as a benefit to the limited number of parts in its construction.
The Build Booster’s wings can fold down and the parts are hinged to swing back or forward and avoid colliding with the Gundam’s body.
Its moveable cannons feature folding grips for the Gundam to hold on to while they are in the firing position.
Aside from its hip carried beam sabers and head mounted Vulcans, the Build Strike features three unique firearms created by Sei: the variable output beam rifle, beam handgun, and the heavy enhanced beam rifle.
The Gundam’s firearms are all modeled the same way at the grip and backend, giving them some uniformity as though they were made from the same gun.
Since the model comes without any special hand parts for them, the Gundam is able to hold its weapons using both hands.
As the only weapon with a folding grip, the enhanced beam rifle can be held using both hands with ease.
The Gundam carries a custom “CHOBHAM” shield made from layers of plastic sheets which also has a smaller beam cannon built into it.
The shield connects to the back of the Gundam’s forearm with a bracket molded to bring it out to the side. Thanks to its short length, the shield does not get in the way of the Gundam’s long shoulder armor.
Overall, the Build Strike Gundam is a fun, introductory level model for its series. While this might come off as the harshest thing I can say, the Build Booster is where the model falters because of the need to paint it, especially when comparing it to Bandai’s recent track record of ultrafine details in their 1:144 scale Real Grade line and multicolored assemblies in other High Grade kits. Even so, the Build Strike Gundam –Full Package is still a good starter kit for younger audiences or a break from more serious projects for older builders.
Not Coming soon from Bandai: The GAT-X-RGM-79S-B GM Build Strike Sniper Custom!!!! This model is available now at Amazon
and Big Bad Toy Store