Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Test Review: HGGS 1/144 Murasame

Hello all! I'm still a bit busy with work, so I'm just testing how reviews play out in the blog. 

Model Kit: 1/144 HGGS MVF-M11C Murasame (#39) Series: Gundam Seed: Destiny Mecha type: Transformable Mobile Suit (Atmospheric Fighter-type, second mode)

The Murasame is the frontline mass-production mobile suit of the Orb Union, one of the major factions in the Seed Destiny series. It's design is based on the older M1 Astray / M1 Astray Shrike, but it is notable in that it transforms into a jet fighter mode, serving as both a mobile suit and fighter aircraft. This makes it perfect for patrol, interceptor and heavy combat duties.

The head identifies the Murasame as an Astray descendent, with the basic large V-fin and rounded intakes at the sides of the head. Assembly-wise, the head is constructed in a standard fashion, with front and back head pieces, a red eye/chin piece, and a smaller white part that is the facemask. Head clearance from the shoulder is excellent, allowing the head to be posed extensively. Additionally, the neck tilts forward and back.

The torso is designed to unfold such that the front area becomes part of the nose cone of the fighter mode ? and it puts the MS cockpit into perfect fighter cockpit position. Unfortunately, the design makes the Murasame barrel-chested when looked at from the side, a fact that is not helped by the lowered chest vents and the narrow waist. The backpack has a tailfin that is connected via polycap, for movability. The wings are folded, too, in line with the sides of the backpack. The thickness of the torso and the backpack make for a somewhat ungainly balance.

On the better side, the shoulder double-hinges that facilitate transformation are well-constructed, even if they look flimsy. Internal construction for the torso and backpack pieces are relatively simple, with large parts, except for the chest vents.

The arms are rather unusual in construction, with the shoulder armor plates made in one piece and made to fit over the actual shoulders via pegs that are held in place by U- shaped flanges. The elbow joints are unusual as well, as they are made of ABS material ? from the rotational joint to the actual elbow joint itself. The polycap shield mounts are not hidden at all, and thus the polycap parts are in plain sight.

The wrists and hands are standard design for Gundam Seed kits.

Photo: Undercarriage shot

Waist/Hip: The hip area does not have the side skirt plates mounted on it via polycap ? the waist plates are mounted on the thigh itself (more on that later). The front skirt plates are molded as one piece, with both plates connected by a rod ? but the construction allows the rod to be cut, thus making the movement of both plates independent from each other. The hip/waist area is simple in construction.

The thighs have the connectors for the side skirt plates, connected to it by a fragile-looking ABS part. The weapon mounts on the skirts can be rotated, for better positioning. The double-jointed kneed design is excellent; all polycaps are hidden. Due to transformation mechanics, the knee armor plate is connected to the upper thigh, not to the lower leg, and this looks unusual. The knee armor also houses a connection system for the landing gear parts.

The feet are similar in construction to the feet of the Impulse and the Abyss, such that the toes fold down to compress the feet in aircraft mode.

Photos: Overhead shot, comparison with HGUC Zeta's Wave Rider mode.

The Murasame comes with a rather long beam rifle (as long as one of the Murasame?s legs), and a beam saber, both of which can be mounted on the side skirt plugs. The saber comes with the actual saber beam itself.

The shield, which also acts as the nose cone and undercarriage of the Murasame in flight mode, is rather large, and tends to look like an oversized shovel. The nose area of the shield also has two swing-out fins that act as the Murasame?s nose canards in flight mode.

The Murasame kit comes with a variable-position stand, and the Murasame has attachment points for mounting.

Finally, the Murasame comes with four large missiles, which can be mounted two to a wing.

The Murasame actually looks good over all, but does not look good in certain angles. The chest and backpack areas, in particular, are rather thick, and look ungainly. The transformation mechanics are excellent, though to transform it, a part has to be attached to the hips, and the arms have to be removed. There are no major problem areas, though the forward-swept wings feel particularly vulnerable at the swing-point.

However, the Murasame looks good in a dynamic pose, and the fighter plane form is excellent.
Assembly is very easy, and the seamlines are mostly hidden, or can be used as part of the "natural lines" of the kit.

Photo: Murasame and HGUC Zeta comparison, MS forms.

The Murasame is a kit worth buying, for the fact of its transformation and because it still manages to have that Astray Mystique. But compared to its UC predecessor, the Zeta (though I believe that it is more the ReGZ), the Murasame is not that good a design. But its basic look is still pleasing to the eye, and construction-wise, it is easier -- it has less parts-swapping for the two forms, making it more stable.

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