Gaijin Gunpla

I first saw the HGAW Gundam Airmaster tucked into a lineup of Gunpla Build Fighter kits at the last Shizuoka Hobby Show and while it didn’t catch my eye over other kits on display at that event I was intrigued by its ability to transform (cuz we all know that’s cool).

Overall Look: 7/10

I think I like the look of the Airmaster as a mobile suit but as an HG kit it seems kind of lacking. Compared to what we’ve seen recently in the High Grade line this kit looks rather bland like a step backwards. I guess the wings hanging over the shoulders like a cloak is kind of cool (they just attach via a peg),

and I like the look of the head but nothing is reaching out and grabbing me. No wonder it was almost lost amongst the GBF kits at Shiuzoka.

Colours: 8/10

I’ve heard people say that the kit looks rather bland and maybe that comes down to lack of panel lines or details but I actually like the colours used here. If only the kit looked better overall the colours would stand out even more.

Weapons: 5/10

Look two Beam Rifles. And that’s it. No wait, I forgot the missiles that sit on the shoulders.

No shield, no beam sabers. Just the guns. And they are only two pieces of plastic stuck together…

Articulation: 9/10

I thought that a transforming kit like this with those wings on the back would suffer from balance issues but that isn’t the case. The Air Master stands well in various positions and gets a good range of motion in both the arms and legs. In this category it actually impresses. However, you only get to pose it with its rifles so you’re only going to do so much with it.

Build Design: 8/10

This kit is all about the transformation. It’s here where we determine if the design succeeds or fails. I’ll start by saying that unlike the Delta Plus and other ‘transforming’ HG Kits, the Airmaster doesn’t have any parts swapping. Let’s break down the transformation.

Step 1: Remove the head and chest piece.

Ichabod Crane.

Step 2: Flip up the flaps on the shoulders.

Step 3: Swing the wings around from the back to the sides.

Step 4: Bring the wings up.

Step 5: Flip the torso up so the Wings now face upwards.

This will cause the arms to jut straight out so you’ll need to position them downwards again.

For some reason I got a sense of Starscream deja vu at this point.

Step 6: Lay it down and bring that cockpit forwards.

Step 7: Rotate the waist 180 degrees so the legs face the opposite way.

Step 8: Do that thing that we always do with the feet and knees.

Step 9: Add the rifles and put that torso armour part you took off into its new home.

That head never goes back on, though. Poor guy.

And it’s done.

I’ll note here that you can clip the rifles onto the side skirts if you don’t want Airmaster carrying them.

But he really should be carrying them. What else is he going to do with his two hands? (I’ll get back to this.)

Fun Factor: 5/10

I think I enjoyed building this. Actually I was enjoying watching television with a person I enjoy spending time with so it’s likely a good part of my enjoyment around that time came from sources other than the Airmaster. The build is quick, painless, and for the most part forgettable. It took me less than an hour and I can only say I don’t really remember it. That’s probably not a good thing.

Extras: 2/10
(blank space)
For extras, well, there are none. Not even marking stickers. The only stickers you get are for the head and the tiny bit of black trim on the wings. The biggest disappointment? You don’t even get extra hands which I thought were standard on HG kits. Not even one with the hand open like we see in basically every kit released in the last 3 to 4 years and even before then. You get the Airmaster… and that’s it.

18 Responses so far.

  1. R_Zhef says:

    Hm.. this is where I seem to have issues with the categories. Regarding the weapons, as it is on the show, the Airmaster only has the two rifles and two rockets on the shoulders as well as vulcans on the head. That’s about it, no sabers and no shield. So giving it a 5.0 is like reviewing the Gundam more than the Gunpla. I have to admit I would’ve preferred the weapons category to be a bit towards how faithful it is to the source material and maybe if it has a supporting (but not out of place) gimmick like say an MG Jesta’s extendable leg for improved articulation.

    That kinda apply to the overall look as well, it’s geared towards how the Gundam look and not the Gunpla. I do agree with the extras portion, lack of extra hands and stickers to fill some of the supposed to be black parts say like on the leg seem to be lazy on Bandai’s part.

    • syd says:

      I understand your point about the weapons score being based on the source materials, so to speak, but in my opinion (for whatever it is worth) I’m fine with Bandai giving me only two rifles, but at least make them interesting. On the Airmaster you just put two pieces of plastic together and you’re done. If he’s only got 2 rifles give me some more parts and make them interesting to assemble.

  2. Bernard says:

    Thanks for the review as always Syd!
    I always get the impression that HGs in general are usually lacking in various ways compared to other grades. Perhaps one of their only strengths lie in their articulation. Rarely is there a HG kit that gets my attention… Then again, that’s just inherent in the way it’s made and marketed!

  3. AWX says:

    you get the airmaster.
    and that’s enough IMO.

  4. Tony says:

    This just seems like another kit Bandai decided to be really lazy on (Build MkII anyone?). Really disappointed with them/it. Was looking forward to this kit but no way I’m gonna bother after seeing how it looks. Shame on you Bandai! You destroy dreams!

    • Otonashi says:

      What? It literally does everything it’s supposed to. The proportions and accessories are accurate to its presentation in the show. The colors are accurate. What more could you want?

      • syd says:

        I want a fun experience that I will remember. The Airmaster gives you neither of those things. Kinda wonder why bandai even bothered.

      • Otonashi says:

        It serves its purpose as a model kit by representing the source material. Its source material is a secondary Gundam with few accessories and a simple, streamlined design. The kit captures the proportions well. There are many people who just want a decent kit of the airmaster that looks like it.
        It’s an HG that does everything it’s supposed to and does it well. Nothing more, nothing less.
        I don’t really care for the design, so I probably won’t buy it, but to complain that a kit is disappointing when it does everything it needs to just fine is ridiculous.

      • Konrad says:

        The EW Death Scythe Hell and Wing Zero HGS are basically well proportioned, follow the show, and are made decently…but the point is that sometimes these kits are boring to make, don’t have anything unique to them, and aren’t worth the money if you aren’t going to enjoy them.

      • Otonashi says:

        Why would you buy the kit if you don’t like the design? If you want a product to do more than it’s intended to, then that’s your problem, not the company’s.

  5. Mike says:

    I think this is one of those kits you’ll have a hard time appreciating unless you have a strong attachment to the show/character/MS design. I know many people have been pining for a decent modern HG of the Airmaster, and well, Bandai delivered everything that we wanted. And to have a solid, show-accurate plastic model of one of their favorite designs is more than enough for most people. I honestly don’t see the appeal of the design, but even I can understand why Bandai would bother: because the demand is there.

    That’s why I think reviewing HG’s is so different than MG’s and RG’s- they’re not about gimmicks and cool engineering, they’re just basic figures meant to represent a design close to its source material. And this kit does just that.

    • syd says:

      Being someone who isn’t all too familiar with the source material (the anime) I can only really base my review of it how it is as a plastic model I assemble. I compare that to other models in the same grade that I have built. Interestingly, I have experienced how a good model has piqued my interest in the source anime and from there I’ve become a fan of various series. But I can respect how it s the opposite for some people.

      • Konrad says:

        But it shouldn’t be. The experience is in the build itself and the final product. Bringing fandom into play doesn’t make a mediocre build better. The gun assembly killed me. That’s how guns were assembled with the kits released 14 years ago!

  6. Frankon says:

    There is unconfirmed rumour that this kit also have a mold defect. If its true it will be a serious blow for Bandai.

    Back to the kit. A little color would make it less bland. So out of the box colors 8/10 after panelining and few fixes its 9/10

  7. Evan says:

    Reminds me of a Transformer. Could look cool as a MG or RG with the extra colors, but I really have no interest in this one.

  8. Zenstrive says:

    I was hoping the old 1/100 HG transformation mechanism translate to this kit. With the 1/100 HG we don’t need to remove anything, the kit transforms seamlessly from MS to MA.

    Well, can’t wait to get my hands on mine soon. The old 1/144 was one of my first gunplas, so I have fond memories with this one. I have one standing on my office right now 😀

  9. Tri says:

    Syd, try to build HGUC J.Ridden Zaku 2, it is fun to build and a nice looking kit.

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