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Wing Gundam EW Colonies Liberation Organisation Mobile Suit XXXG-01W 1:144 Real Grade (RG) Bandai Gundam is a word that has been heard more frequently here in the UK in the last few years, but it has been a household name in Japan since the late 80s when the first cartoons/Animé burst onto TV with youngsters piloting huge robots known as Mecha. Spectacular battles in space or on planets are the watchword, and a familiar theme runs through the stories of a young oik that rebels against authority but has undeniable skill when behind the controls of a Gundam, whilst not always being entirely comfortable with the job. The main character is also usually terrible when it comes to the ladies, tripping over his tongue whenever romantic situations crop up. Gundam Wing, or Mobile Suit Gundam Wing to give it its full title was released in 1995, with 49 episodes of action, spawning games, books and a couple of movies that retell the stories in a more concise manner. It was very popular in the US, and was dubbed for the English speaking market, although it is sometimes a bit "odd" in places, due to either the writers losing the plot (quite literally), or the mouth movements not permitting a more accurate rendition. XXXG-01W is a Doctor J's creation after a partnership breaks down between the designers, so bears a striking resemblance to the original Gundam Zero in form and function. Referred to as Gundam 01 is has an additional Bird Mode for atmospheric flight to aid mobility further. Made of the rather cornily titled Gundaniam alloy it is tough as old boots, and can weather almost any attack, which makes for some rather explosive encounters with the enemy. The Kit If you're not familiar with Bandai's excellent toolings, you have missed out, and will no doubt be quite impressed with the finesse and technical skills applied to these complex models. There are a number of grades and scales to cater for different tastes and skill sets, but all kits can be built without glue or paint if you so wish. The multi-coloured sprues are impressive to behold when coming from the more restrained aircraft modelling world, and there are sometimes up to four or five colours, and even types of plastic on the same sprue. The Real Grade kits are super-detailed and as real as an imaginary giant robot could be, including a fiendishly clever working skeleton at the heart of the model onto which the other assemblies are layered. On one sprue are two types of plastic co-moulded or double-shot (I prefer the former, as the plastic doesn't fuse together) Polystyrene and ABS to create working limbs that make for a poseable model once completed. They really are incredible, and bring a smile to most faces when you realise what you're looking at, especially when you consider the comparatively diminutive size of the 1:144 kits that build up to around 6" or 15cm. As these kits are available primarily for the Japanese and Far East market, the majority of the box text and almost all of the instruction manuals are in Japanese, so will be largely unintelligible to us Westerners. The diagrams are excellent however, and Construction begins with the skeleton, which has a number of scrap diagrams that tell you exactly which parts to cut and where to cut them, because the detail of the skeleton is such that the uninitiated might accidentally cut a key lump off by mistake. There are also little pairs of triangles to draw your attention to the correct orientation of parts, which should again prevent any errors. Finally, there are occasional arrows that indicate the front of the model so that all the limbs end up on the right way. More advanced modellers will probably paint the outer parts before adding them to the skeleton, but keeping a careful note of which parts go where will be necessary until you are suitably experienced. The legs are built up first around the articulated skeleton parts, and they attach to the "skirt" of the lower body while the torso is built up, again around the skeleton assembly that provides shoulder, waist and hip movement, plus a double-ended ball-joint for the neck, which will be familiar if you have built one of their Star Wars kits, which are equivalent to the High Grade (HG) range. The torso is joined to the waist and several side parts are added before the arms are built up one at a time. If you aren't pre-painting the parts, it's a good idea to stick rigidly to the instructions for the first few builds, due to the complexity of the parts and their dovetailing with each other. The head and weapons are next, with a clear green visor for the head unit, and a clear green laser sword in the optional weapons. The backpack with those dramatic wings is also built up at this stage, with the finished article allowing them to pivot to achieve different looks. The weapons include the Buster Rifle, two Energy Cartridge Pods, a shield and the aforementioned laser sword. Different hands are supplied on the sprues to accommodate the various weapons, with additional parts for open or closed fist poses. The Bird-Mode instructions sit right at the end of the booklet, and involves the Rifle, Shield, the re-jigging of the arms, posing of the backpack, and clipping the now streamlined Rifle/Shield combination on the figure's head and shoulders. In this mode it would be an idea to consider one of the inexpensive "Action Stands", which clip to the figure and allow you to pose it in flight at numerous angles due to the stand's joints and pivot points. Markings The markings are mostly stencils, and here's where the 1:144 RG series hits a little bump in the road from this reviewer's point of view. The markings are all supplied as stickers, and although they are very thin and of good quality, it seems a little toy-like and could make it difficult to apply washes both from the point of view of dissolving the adhesive, and the wash drying in the edges, giving a noticeable outline. More on this later when I get to the building stage. There are decals available out there, so have a looksee if you feel like upgrading, although you'll struggle to improve on the metallic stickers on the sheet. Conclusion These kits at this scale are very reasonably priced when you see the detail and engineering technology that goes into them, let down a little only by the stickers in the box. You don't have to know a damn thing about the series to enjoy building the kits, and they do make striking entries in your cabinet once completed. You could build one as a break from your usual genre, or if you are interested in the genre as a whole, they're a great way to bring your favourite Mechas to life in a scale that won't take up half your display area. My Build Review can now be found here. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of