I've been a tad bit obsessed with Gundam Unicorn. With each release comes a new excitement, even though most of these kits are essentially the same. In the past couple of months, four different versions of the Gundam Unicorn Banshee have been released. There has been the HGUC release of the Banshee in its Unicorn mode, its Destroy mode, and again in its Destroy mode in a special clear-color mold for the release of episode five. There's also the Master Grade, but that's a tale for a different day.
What is for today though, is the trio of HGUC releases. It started with one purchase, then I said I'd get the other and then on a whim, a friend gave me another. It has resulted in this, me owning three versions of Banshee and a grand total of 10 Gundam Unicorn plamo. Join me after the jump for my review of each of these three kits.
Model Name: High Grade Universal Century 1/144 Gundam Unicorn Banshee: Destroy Mode, Unicorn Mode, NT-D Clear Version
Before I even begin, I have to acknowledge my faults. I painted these kits and things looked great to my naked eye. As it turned out, there are spots I missed. If anything, you can see the dark navy blue that was used originally on the kit, though that was never my intention. This is what happens when you get too eager to finish a kit. Anyway, let's talk about the kits themselves!
HGUC Unicorn Banshee (Destroy Mode)
The Banshee in its Destroy mode is easily the most dynamic of the two parts. The accent of the inner Psycoframe helps to stand out from the black. I love this design the most, so I'll focus on it the most.
The head features the familiar v-fin, just a bit more fierce than the original Gundam Unicorn. The reason for this aesthetic is the crest of the Vist Foundation, which features a unicorn and a griffon. The V-fin, and consequently, the area just below the neck, are more angular to simulate the head of a griffon. Realistically, make it look more evil and menacing.
Going with the evil theme, the Banshee has red eyes and is trimmed in a dark blue, almost black (I painted it matte black) and gold. You don't have to know what it does, you just get the impression that this is an enemy. The design makes that point quite clear.
The key attraction, and real difference maker, of the Banshee are its two new weapons, the the Armed Armor VN and BS. The two weapons are just a rail gun and extended claw arm, but they just work with the design. Unfortunately, you can't pose them in their unused form. They are always out, so it looks a tad awkward in some poses.
One of the modifications I made to the gun was to make it look as it were firing. I trimmed one of the pieces from the MG Hi-Nu Gundam and fit it in between the two pieces. It's simple, but it really makes the kit look a lot better. I definitely suggest doing this if you happen to have the piece.
The claw works as an effective weapon, but the pieces are fixed in place. You can't move them to stretch them out and make them look more menacing, you just get that one pose. It works, but I'm sad it's as limiting as it is.
The legs are accentuated as well with the gold psycoframe pieces for the inner frame. Now, it's weird saying this, but they have more range of motion that the Master Grade. That's more due to imperfections in the MG, but it's nice to see the HGUC actually move quite well. I do have some problems with the way that the feet move at times. It can be sometimes difficult to get the feet to pose in a position where the kit will be balanced without looking odd.
On the back, the backpack is exposed to provide more thrusters and the beam sabers move up to a typical position on the Gundam. Now, I have to say this, but the beam sabers are incredibly weak in these pegs. I've had at least one break on each version of the Unicorn Destroy mode I own. The peg is fragile and will break off inside of the saber. Be careful with this part!
As for the gold color, that was a special paint job. Originally, the HGUC's coloring for these parts is a clear orange, something I don't really like. I decided to paint over it with Tamiya Frost Silver, then going over that layer with Tamiya Clear Yellow. I'm really pleased with the effort and like how it gives off a shine without having to be some form of metallic.
Gundam Unicorn Banshee Unicorn Mode
I love just about everything about the Unicorn, so I had to also get the Unicorn mode of the Banshee. There isn't much to say about the kit that I haven't already said about the Destroy mode. It's rather plain, but that's kind of its selling point.
The main differences you'll note between the two forms is the non-appearance of the psycoframe and the head. The side plates, as they work in the series, rotate around and form the face, along with the faceplate. Gone are the traditional Gundam-identifying trademarks. No V-fin. No dual eyes. The head is what's nice about the Unicorn mode while the rest of the suit is kind of boring.
The weapons are not in use during Unicorn and are stored away. The Armed Armor VN and BS are folded up. The claw resembles a giant boxing glove in this mode and is used as such. If you wanted to, you can switch up the parts between the two kits to get the look you want.
Comparing the two, I favor the the Destroy mode much more over the Unicorn mode. Unicorn isn't bad, it's just kind of boring when you compare it with the Destroy. I remember when Unicorn was being first released as a light novel and people started to complain because the Unicorn lost its "not a Gundam" look. Flash forward three years later and everyone loves it more. Oh, internet.
HGUC Gundam Unicorn Banshee Destroy Mode - NT-D Clear Version
This is where I bought something just to be a completionist. This version of the Banshee is the same as the previous Destroy mode, just now the parts are in clear color. The joints and all other gray parts have been colored gold while the psycoframe is now tinted with sparkles. It's a nice looking kit on its own, but I much prefer the original coloring as opposed to any clear version of a kit.
It was originally only available at theaters screening the fifth episode of Gundam Unicorn, but it was brought over by Bluefin Distribution for sale at Anime Expo. If you're trying to get a hold of it, it's going to be up to scalpers on eBay to get one. Best of luck getting one at a non-gouging price.
In closing, there are definitely some flaws to the kit. They've had almost two years to fix them, but they're still present throughout. However, as any modeler knows, it's up to you to make the kit how you want it. I love the Banshee enough to put up with it. It's given me the opportunity to try out some new things and I liked how those techniques came out. If you like the Unicorn design, I would definitely suggest to grab them as they are rather affordable. Only grab the NT-D clear version if you're an absolute completionist though or just like really sparkly things.
Also, Riddhe sucks.
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