Let's not beat around the bush. The wait for some Gundam Girl figures has been so long, I don't think any company would be able to release a figure which could completely satisfy the lofty expectations of some of the hardcore fans, like myself. Having said that, after putting the line in for my Wonder Festival wish list for two years running, I'm not going to complain when one finally does come along! She's certainly not bad, by any means, but one does get the feeling that she could have been better...
The box is fairly simple with an image on the side of what you expect to be getting, and a few windows to let you see what exactly you are getting.
The back is a little more interesting as it shows that Bandai are really trying to build a full blown series out of this MS Girls project. Heck, they even named the girl who is under all that armour; Yukina Schneelein... I think Wing Gundam Girl is easer to remember (and spell!)
And here she is, out of the box and ready to rock! If you've seen one poseable figure, you've pretty much seen them all. Her overall poseability isn't too different from the figmas, although if you want a direct comparison, the closest you can get is the Exo-suit bunny Haruhi, which shouldn't be too much of a surprise since they are both made by Bandai. The most noticeable difference between Yukina and other poseable figures are two-fold. Firstly, There's a separate "underwear" piece on the hips which covers various areas and actually limits the poseability of the legs by quite a big deal. The second difference would be the large holes which you can see on her shins. There are a couple more at the back as well, but they do serve a function besides standing out. The joints on the knees are also ball jointed as opposed to disk jointed like the figmas so it is possible to rotate the parts around the joints and allowing for more poses, but the limited movement around the hips kind of makes this point rather moot.
A quick back shot shows the other holes on her body. As you'd expect, they are for holding the additional armour pieces onto the main body.
Now, the best I can describe Yukina is functional. It's fairly evident that Bandai doesn't expect you to pose her without the additional parts and it shows on the finish of the figure. There are several parts which are, to put it lightly, shoddy. The most noticeable parts are the white sections just above the elbow. The paintjob is just simply incredibly poorly done and you can even see the brush marks as the paint is incredibly uneven and even slightly off colour. The rest of the body doesn't seem to have this problem so those parts really stand out when she's posed on her own.
There's also a very odd design choice regarding her chest. There's a very large and noticeable plastic hexagon piece which fits between her breasts. You are supposed to remove it when the armour goes on but it serves absolutely no purpose and, in the end, just a piece which will eventually get lost!
Here's the full armoury along with Yukina. Rather than making separate pieces to swap out on the body, the armour parts are designed to be placed on the base body, which makes the holes a vital, if somewhat ugly necessity! It also explains the slightly-higher-than-usual price for the figure itself as you can think of the armour pieces being a large number of accessories since they are completely removable from the base figure.
You can see that the additional armour lines up with the legs to allow for the leg armour parts to fit correctly. Only the feet are completely replaced, so remember where you put those white boots!
The chest piece is somewhat interesting as it's actually designed to wrap around the figure and remain as one complete piece.
The shoulderpads also twist back to cover the shoulders of Yukina.
Now, remember that hexagon shape I mentioned before? Here's what she looks like with it removed. It would have been fine if there was a peg on the chest armour which fit into the resulting hole but there isn't. The armour remains where it is simply by design (with a little help from the wings) so this hole (and the piece which covers it) serves no purpose at all!
The armour simply holds the position on its own! luckily, the gauntlets simply slide onto the forearms without any problems and the hands make sure they stay in place.
The hole just under the chest armour is where the skirt part goes. It does have a tendency to get a little loose, which is a shame since all the other parts stay on so well, but it's not as big a deal as one would think.
*Insert your preferred transformation shout here*
With the armour parts on, it's almost like Yukina is a different figure. All the imperfections and odd design choices are neatly hidden by the armour parts and she looks far more natural in this form than the unarmoured look.
In terms of gimmicks, there's not much to write home about. The wings spread out...
... and some of the leg armour parts open up slightly. They help a little with more dynamic poses, but it's not really anything amazing.
In terms of accessories, Yukina comes with her buster rifle, shield and beam saber as standard. You are also given a small piece which connects to the back in place of the wings and allows you to connect the wings from the robot Damashii Wing zero (Endless Waltz version) if you have it in your collection.
She also comes with the standard assortment of hands but only two head designs, an open mouth smile looking left and a closed mouth smile looking right. That's it! She really could have done with a few more, or at least one which just has her looking ahead but this is all we get. A fairly large omission from Bandai, but it does fit their MO when it comes to their poseable figures thus far.
There's a hook on the back of the buster rifle which hooks onto the armour by the wrist area. The arm joints are also sturdy enough to hold the rifle up without assistance.
So, how does she fare? The first in the AGP MS Girl line certainly gets a passing grade at the very least. Mecha musume fans who have been waiting for a gundam girl figure will be able to scratch that itch now, but she's not without flaws. The shoddy finish of the base figure is quite the blemish on the figure, and it seems to stretch to other figures in the AGP line as well. Cecilia Alcotte also had a few bad touches in the <IS> Infinite Stratos Blue Tears release. Bandai should look into tightening their QC.
The skirt armour can also fall off somewhat easily, but only if you fidget with the kit a lot, and there are some inexplicable and pointless design choices like the extra piece of plastic on her chest...
The biggest issue with the figure is that it's "just" OK. when you have her in your hands, you can't help that she could have been better. Even going by the original art which the figure is based on, some clear shortcuts and omissions were made. The original artwork kept the vulcans on the shoulders for example, and also exposed her belly. In fact, the prototype figure was closer to the artwork than the finished product.
Still, one shouldn't stare a gift horse in the mouth. We've waited a long time for a gundam girl figure and, while the first is not perfect, she does give a pretty solid foundation, and there's plenty of room and time to improve. Assuming Bandai doesn't abandon the line too quickly, there's a great deal of potential here. It's not quite a must buy yet, (unless you're really into gundam girls) but with a few improvements, future releases could get there! Time to see what the GP03 girl has under her sleeve!
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