Given the size of this kit, and stability with the binders, I decided to do a bit of experimentation on the stand for display. I’ve taken three standard 1/100 display bases together (see later where I go with only two arms on the three bases), one into the transparent base attachment (later I give up on the base attachment), and one either side under the arms. This works well enough that I’ll now spend some time taking this experiment and making it sturdier and more permanent.So here’s the completed body. Leg articulation is good, but I think I’m going to need a bit more height on my tripod stand to allow the feet to be better displayed in a flying pose. The arms lack the best of articulation due to the shoulder sections that hold the binders in place. That said, the binders are the key feature of this kit… From the rear, there are thrusters, thrusters and more thrusters, and the large rear skirt section that neatly holds the rechargeable battery for the LED lighting system. There are more batteries in the legs, and in one way, it’s a shame that they cannot all power off the one battery and switch, but given the difficulty getting the wiring working, perhaps it’s for the best.There are more details on this kit than any other I’ve built, and because of all the thrusters and vents, most of them seem to be on the rear! Although the arms done exactly do much, they’re well designed and have great details with the power pipes and sleeves details. The sleeves come pre-moulded in black and white, so no painting is needed to complete them, unlike Sinanju! If there’s one “best” feature on this kit, that’s probably it! There are a good number of visible hydraulics on the kit. I really enjoyed the hydraulics on the PG Zaku II, and here they work well and are more visible, so the effort into painting them up doesn’t feel wasted. The skeleton frame itself is not as detailed as the PG Zaku II though, and the black + light gun metal effect seems more than adequate for how much of it will ever be seen. The armour is really the star of this kit. I hadn’t realized how much detail was on the knees of this mech until I re-watched episode 1 of Gundam Unicorn. I’d somehow thought the knee design had been invented for this kit, but no, that’s pretty much how it’s like.And of course, as you by now know, I’m always keen on good foot design. The articulation is adequate and sturdy enough to support the weight of the kit standing, although it’s not really stable enough when the binders are in place. The feet were moulded in a dark blue colour, but I went for the brighter metallic blue to actually stand out against the intense green of the rest of the armour, and to go with the blue LEDs.The soles of the feet are fully detailed, and well designed.The rear details work well, and we see some contrast between the darker and brighter greens on the paint job. Although I picked essentially the same colours as I did for Geara Doga, the end result appears completely different, mostly due to the satin top coat on the Geara Doga and the Future Finish gloss coat on Kastrysha that really brings out the metallic pearl paint. The Mega Particle Cannons light up really well. The magenta eye LED is quite powerful, but also obscured by the helmet details.The waist section has LED lighting also, and the orange of the LEDs fits in great with the predominantly green colour scheme. Now it’s time for the binders. They’re not tricky to attach, just sliding into place from the top, but their weight unbalances the model which has to be held in place with one hand while the remaining binders are inserted. The power connection works reasonably well, the front right spot being a little fussy, but I think that will firm up once I get the stand more sturdy and I’m able to fine tune the assembly. The binder detail is fantastic. I’m very pleased with the detail and panel lines on the binders. The small metal rivets are tricky to glue in place, but they add so much, as do the metal stickers. The funnels had to be glued in place or else they’d be falling out. The details on the insides of the binders were perhaps the most fun part of this kit to paint the details. There’s lots of good “material” to work with, and not tricky assemblies. Fully open, or as fully as I can get until I sturdy up the base, we start to get feel for the scale of this kit. I managed to improve the stand arrangement and am now using just two action base arms (attached to an array of three action base bases), with the arm attachments that usually go into the groin of a mech now supporting the under-arms of the K. This is a pretty firm arrangement, and supports the mech well enough that I can now pose the legs to give better view of the feet. I did have one of the binder arms electrics die on me, but a quick disassembly and a blob of solder fixed it. One binder arm is a little loose and doesn’t want to pose well, so I’ll either have to re-assemble it better, or perhaps put it at the back. With the room lights off, and just a bit of fill, the colours and LED lights really shine! And of course the details remain stunning, and I don’t think these pictures really do justice to how good it’s looking in my darkened room at the moment. The water slides came out pretty good, but quite frankly I don’t notice the binder ones much, but I do like the smaller ones on the body. Ah, those feet!And the hydraulics in the knees. It’s when you start to get in close that you really notice all the detail on this kit.And the arms on the binders are great, and pose well. It’s a bit tricky to pose the kit to really see the underside of the binders. Perhaps I’ll give that a go if I can strengthen up the binder arms. From below you can barely see the head, and are blinded by the light of the Mega Particle Cannons. There’s a fair bit of detail on the arms that’s worth painting up. I really like this bit! We have the feet and their thrusters and the large yellow vents, and the leg thrusters just poking out.
So, now that this rather controversial kit is complete, how do I feel about it? Well, controversial is certainly one word for it, but contradictory is another – it’s a kit that has some really strong aspects to it, and some hair pulling (or grey hair making) downsides that make it hard to recommend purchase of it, especially as the price with postage is very high.
Let’s start with the down-sides…. The runner-less system doesn’t work well. I read that Elyn were promised nub-less moulding and that fell through as it just doesn’t work on small parts, but removing nubs from pieces and from sprues is what we do. It’s not a real chore. The majority of pieces needed nub removal, and some larger pieces like the binder needed a good deal of sanding to remove mould lines. That said, I did like the trays for keeping the parts in after painting and before assembly. Some pieces had either ejector pin marks, or actual ejector pin sections still attached and they had to be removed.
The instructions are nicely printed, but lack some real close ups to tell you where some parts are to go or how they’re to lock into place, and they miss critical steps like how to adjust the internal frame to attack the front and rear skirt sections. I did get some addendum instructions from Hobbymate, but they don’t address all the issues.
I was lucky in that there were only two wrong pieces in the kit, and none missing. I was happy that Hobbymate had checked the kit before sending it to me, but even so, spotting a mirror image part out of thousands is an impossible task. I was able to remove the pins off the pieces, sand, and glue backwards in both cases so as to complete the kit. The pieces are hidden inside and it’d probably take me a good deal of time and energy to actually find where they are! I think one was inside one of the shoulder sections and the other on a binder arm. Obviously quality control is the issue here, coupled with the sprue-less approach.
The type of plastic used on this kit is not your typical ABS or polystyrene. It’s softer and bendier, more like a vinyl, and tricky to glue. I found polystyrene cement was enough to hold a piece in place for assembly if there was not going to be stress on it, but otherwise super-glue (crazy glue) was needed. MEK solvent also worked similarly well as the polystyrene cement.
Although the parts have a good degree of “give” in them, their fit was often poor and either needed force, or some “adjustments” with the craft knife to get them together. I often had to shave pins on chromed pieces to get them to fit.
The electrics of this kit are a key feature, but they’re poorly implemented with impossibly thin solid core wiring that breaks if you even just look at it the wrong way. Although there’s recognition by the designers that you can’t have one hard-wired circuit for the whole kit and it must be made in sections that join together, this concept wasn’t extended far enough to say allow for either side of the leg to be done totally separately then joined, or for the front Mega Particle Canons to be separate from the rear thrusters. The wiring for the left and right chest section was completely painful. Not only was the fit of the plastic atrocious, there was really no where for the wiring to be properly routed and you ended up hacking away the plastic until it worked. This was perhaps the most frustrating part of the build.
The polycap material is not nice and soft as the normal material we’re used to, but quite hard and often very tricky to insert into place. Why very slightly different sizes of polycaps were used, to get confused (or the wrong parts – hard to tell) rather than one consistent size is beyond me. It strikes of sloppy design. Indeed, an approach that avoids polycaps (like Sinanju) might have been better still. I don’t mind the nuts and bolts too much, but again, tricky to ensure you always got the right size piece and the hex-head on the bolts was soft. Perhaps the best approach to screws and things is that which Tamiya used on the Caterham 7 kit. It was tricky, but they provided a nice magnetized screwdriver and packaged them well for sorting and finding the right ones.
The inner frame felt loose, and didn’t feel like the most stable base to build such a structurally tricky kit upon. That they sections were pre-assembled meant dis-assembly without instructions to get the hydraulics off for painting.
There are just so many small detail parts on the kit, like the rivets that are especially tiny, that they’re really hard to manage, to glue in place and not to loose. Although some spares were provided, I don’t think there were enough, and the small photo-etched parts also had spares, there could have done with a few more just to be safe.
Structurally, the binders are iffy and don’t really hold a pose well. Perhaps I can improve on things with a little time and effort, but this is going to be a tricky kit to pose and display well.
So after all that, is there anything good left to talk about? Well, the over-all look of the kit is excellent, but of course, K is an excellent looking mech to begin with. It’s a large kit, well proportioned, beautifully sculpted and sumptuously detailed. It responds well to painting and there’s more than enough panel lines and sculpted detail to get your fix of hand-painted details should you desire. It’s actually a good job that it responded well to painting as I don’t like the moulded colours.
I really enjoyed the metal parts, and they looked excellent. After dealing with the plastic power pipes on Sinanju and Zaku II, it was such a pleasure to work with the metal pipe parts. In places there’s almost too much detail. The photo etched metal parts also worked well and do add to the look of the model.
I really like how the binders look. They’re the most striking feature of the K mech design, and they’re almost fun to build.
I thought the metal stickers and water-slides worked well. I’m not always that good with stickers, but I didn’t have too much bother and the results are good.
Getting a rechargeable battery for the LEDs is great, and the USB cable (although really, it’s too short) worked to charge them up. It’s a pity the whole of the lighting system didn’t run off the one battery and one switch, but it was hell enough getting the system working as it is, without further complicating it. Batteries are included – please note that Bandai!
Putting the kit into context, I can appreciate why Bandai didn’t want to do a 1/100 Kshatryia. But really, that’s not a good reason why they shouldn’t do one. I think the problems with this kit are solvable, and structurally it could work with perhaps some metal pieces, or just more work on the engineering of the binder arms and should section where they join on. I can almost forgive Elyn for some of the issues with this kit, whereas I’m still frustrated with Bandai over the poor fit, structural integrity and issues with the Macross VF-1, and how the wing connections on my PG Strike Freedom broke as soon as I assembled them and I had to make my own pin and connection structure to get the kit assembled. And of course, the wiring for the eye on the PG Astray Red Frame would work only sometimes, and the wiring on the PG Zaku II was somewhat tricky. No kit is perfect….
I could really enjoy a Real Grade Kshatryia, although we’d have to get Unicorn and Sinanju to go with it! In the meantime, I have the 1/100 versions looking great next to each other.
Build the side chest sections without wiring or painting or detailing to get all the pieces to fit first, then cut away the large pin that blocks where the wiring will go, then test assemble with wire. Now go back a paint this section and assemble fully.
Read ahead for the stickers, especially the ones on the leg battery compartments, the stickers for the chest sides etc.
Check the pins for the chest side sections and how they fit into the body before committing to assembly.
Before using any polycaps go through them all with the ammendment in mind, sort carefully and ensure they’re all going to properly fit where used. Key place is on the binder arms where you need good stiffness in the joint.
Find the pieces you need to swap out on the waist front and rear, and get them in place before you start the build.
Cut the solder lengths for the power pipes long, and have some super-glue handy to set them in place. Drill out the holes they’ll insert into to ensure you get a good connection. In the arms remember they’ll join into the sleeves rather than just hang in mid-air as the manual sort-of shows. Use some polystyrene cement to gently hold the beads on the pipes while you work.
A dab of polystyrene cement is enough to hold the rivets in place, and for the tiny long thin metal details, a dab of MEK on top will hold them nicely and dry quickly.
The white lighted vents on the back of the legs are tricky to place, and doubly so because they cover the LEDs which you may want to retain access to while building. I had to poke the LEDs back out a couple of times to aid with the wiring.
On the wiring, the general advice is to be careful and test. There are some resistors near components that will break easily if bent, so if you think there’s a resistor under the shrink-wrap don’t bend it. Get the battery pack working straight away and use it periodically to test that the various sections are lighting up as you build them. Have a soldering iron handy as you’re going to need it. I found that if I could make my mistakes on one piece, the other side would go together reasonably well, so don’t build the sides completely in parallel.