Sunday, April 21, 2013

[Completed] HGUC 1/144 Ex-S Gundam

Ex-S . . . pronounced ‘excess’—as in ‘too much’?  Not at all, but as an older kit and one of my oldest it was a good template for practicing my modeling skills.

EDIT (2016.12): OMG Metal Robot Spirits (KA Signature) Ex-S released!  It just makes me want to throw this one into the trash . . .
EDIT (2013.12): fixed some broken image links; added few WIPs

     This kit is significant to me in a few ways.  The first of which is that it’s not actually a MG level kit—it’s a HGUC 1/144 scale *gasps*.  The Ex-S is one of my earliest forays into the HGUC line—before I’ve built a few non-grades from Gundam Wing.  This is also my first attempt at using an airbrush over your typical spraycans of paint.  How did I do?  

     Oh right, this is also my first kit I’ve ever entered in any sort of build-off contest.  Will have to excuse the general ‘messy-ness’ of my kits . . . my area generally contains many particles in the air.  I especially dislike springtime when pollen concentrates, but ‘they say’ spring time is the best time build model kits.  I’ve been blessed with much rain the past two months so I’m glad there was a good time before contest deadline.

More after the jump . . .

Build Impressions—a very dated kit

            It’s quite straightforward, the difference between a HG and MG in terms of parts is astounding.  Now being an early kit in Bandai’s HGUC line it suffers from a few things such as fitting/seamlines and a few design choices leaning toward being fragile.  Please refer to Dalong's straight-build for what it looks like without seamline treatment, as I've done with mine.

I think I broke just about all these pegs . . .

notable seamlines to be fixed:
-Arms: down the middle after the elbow
-Legs: down the middle for the ENTIRE leg
-Backpack: the two halves of the boosters
-Shoulder: two halves of the wing binders

One indication of how old this kit is—the plastic quality.  The pegs connecting the hip guns, the elbows, and backpack are quite fragile.  I had to cement 3 out of the 6 after breaking them . . .  

Articulation—piss poor, but all inherent to its design

-The head can only swivel left/right about 20-degrees either direction; the chin and neck-armor block all other movement.
-The shoulders can swivel forward and back a small amount
-the elbows are a single-joint so arms cannot bend more than 90-degrees
-the knees are double-jointed, but movement is limited to <45-degrees p="">

I chose to omit the leg armor because I prefer the more slender proportions.   

What do you mean “it’s a brick” when it comes to poseability?   Just takes a bit of camera-magic . . . 

Gimmicks/Weaponry—quite some

 The Ex-S has many features to match its extreme bulk, unfortunately I don't have pictures to match =< 
display base not included!  the screwdriver just happens to be there at the wrong time


      Have 5 hands total--one for gripping the gun, two for beam saber, and two for the purpose of doing its 'infamous' pose.

I should note that the hands are TERRIBLE at holding either beam sabers and the gun--very loose.  I'm tempted to invest in those Bandai System Builder Parts (MS Hand 1/144) made specifically to address these shortcomings.


            8, that’s right count ‘em EIGHT vulcans.  4 on the head, 4 on the tail stabilizer (which I painted yellow).  Considering how many Zakus Amuro shot down with just his 2 head vulcans during the OYW I'm pretty sure one can get some good mileage with 8 vulcans =)

Beam Cannons

There are 4 mounted on the thrusters, and two on the hips; the latter via fragile pegs.  That's SIX more beam guns other than rifle!

    Similar to the ZZ Gundam*--I wonder if those could also be detached and used as enlarged beam sabers? =D

*Gundam Sentinel runs parallel to the ZZ Gundam Timeline, explaining some design similarities.  Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

I Field generator

     That chest piece there generates a barrier to deflect incoming beam attacks . . . I like how it’s off-centered. I guess now new kits would come with clear effect parts to show off the gimmick but this is before Bandai thought of it.

Beam Saber (not pictured in this review)

     It’s a single piece of plastic molded in white . . . I actually never got around to painting it.  The hands have trouble holding it. They are also stored in the knees, but those are molded in place and not removable.  Painting REQUIRED


     The red bit on the head is supposed to pop out via wire and shoot beams . . . but this HG does not show off this feature (nor does the MG?).  The red bits on the knees are remote weapons which reflect beams toward their intended target(s).  It’s a shame there’s no mechanic to show these off.

so many beams!

Beam Smart Gun

   A scope and a radome . . . does this thing ever miss the intended target?  The gun can be attached two ways: 1) a module which takes the place of one of the hip cannons and 2) an arm coming from above the crotch area (which I lost . . .).  The reason the Smart Gun is so "Smart" is due to the reflector bits (red parts on knees) which are supposed to deploy a la remote weapons and 'bounce' beam shots toward the intended target.  Need to shoot around a corner?  no problem.

     The module replacing the hip cannon can slide forward/back on a peg; the grip can be concealed.

So yeah, that’s a lot of weaponry showcased.  If I had to be picky, Bandai could have included the fuel tanks seen in its waverider form.

I would have also liked:
-a lefty trigger finger
-better snug hands to hold rifle and saber
-closed fist hands
 . . .. then again you can buy those Gundam System Builder 1/144 EFSF Hands

Closing Thoughts—back to basics

I really enjoyed this, mad props to GoodGuyDan for hosting his OOBBO contest—forcing . . . inspiring me to build a HG kit which requires more work to look good out of the box.  There’s no way I could afford the MG 1/100 Ex-S so this 1/144 definitely satisfies my Gundam Sentinel craving. 

What I liked:

-highlighted many of the features I loved about the Ex-S design in model form . . . a powerful MS
-demands work and creativity from builder to look great (default blue so generic)

What I didn’t like:

-seamlines everywhere, but very fixable with putty/filler
-plastic quality is low, articulation points are especially weak (hey, it’s a model kit not a toy!)
-hands don’t hold beam saber/gun well

Lessons learned:
-cutting the lines for masking while already applied to surface will damage the layer underneath
-Testor's enamels require considerable amount of time to cure, may not adhere to surface well
-brushes will be ruined over time if using weathering pigments, use the cheap ones
-panel line wash is super fun compared to using a fine marker

Verdict—a waste to just straight-build this

            Now I’m all about saving my wallet so first and foremost I like to judge based on pricing:  This HG 1/144 Ex-S currently goes for roughly $20-30 USD depending on location/retailer—the MG 1/100 Ex-S costs more than double @ $70-ish.  For fans of the Ex-S does it make sense to go MG over HG?  Yes, if you have the money—the MG is a far more recent rendition so it doesn’t carry some of the flaws this HG has.  Personally, I’m not a huge fan of excess—I presume the MG is even harder to pose due to much more plastic and inherently bulky design—but I’m quite happy with this 1/144 HG.

Is this kit worth buying? YES, but not for beginners

            To the point, if you don’t 100% like the design why purchase this?  This is a significant kit for me since it much reflects how I perceived ‘cool’ in my adolescence.  Though I have to say $30 isn’t as reasonable a price to pay for such an old kit anymore, you get far better gimmicks and articulation in the latest HGs that cost the same or less.  Now I like this kit, I just wouldn’t recommend it to beginners.  Huge fan of Sentinel designs?  Sorry to disappoint, not many good options in terms of kits out there; they all take some work to look well. Expect to spend a good chunk on modeling supplies.

But that seems to be more common to me now--I generally spend just as much, if not more, on modeling supplies than I do the bare-bones kits!

Like this design but not building model kits?  There’s the Gundam FIX Figuration line of pseudo-action figures, though quite expensive.  I actually based my decaling scheme on the FIX Figuration Ex-S. 
looks great on the desk!

I purchased this kit when it first released OVER 10 years ago; the MG version released a year after that.  Now if I had to do this over again, I would still buy this HG over the bigger MG because it’s a great template to polish building techniques.  You may end up spending just as much on supplies.  The MG does look better out of the box though . . . There's a good reason Bandai is still producing this 10+ yr old kit.  

TL;DR -- not going to put any work into your model kit?  This isn't for you.  
     Have enough money for the MG version?  More work for you =P
      . . . ok, well at least it's not as bad as the original 1/144 Ex-S kit

Other Review


-Mr. Surfacer 500, 1000
-Tamiya Extra Thin Cement
-Cheap sanding sticks from the nail care section

Paint used:
-Vallejo Acrylic gray primer
-Testors* Enamel White, Purple, Blue
-Tamiya Acrylic TS-4 German Gray (I ran out just as I started T.T), Flat Yellow
-Model Masters Acrylic Engine Gray (a bit lighter than Tamiya’s German Gray)
-Mr. Color Lacquer German Gray (it’s darker than Tamiya German Gray!), Copper, Fluorescent Green

*I believe Testors Enamels are a poor value due to how much $$$ per ounce you pay; I also find that they have a longer cure time/more prone to 'peeling' than Tamiya Acrylics and Mr. Color Lacquers.  Going to look into a different brand for enamels . . .

-Krylon Acrylic Gloss, Matte
-Easy-Model waterslide decals (see Ebay)
-Vallejo Pigments (slight weathering/texture)

Until next time, I think I’m going to build more HGs from now on!