(Note: This is an old review of mine from February 4th of 2010 originally posted on DeviantArt in segmented parts. You can view the original review through this blog entry. You can also take note on just how crappy my detailing skills were around then, but at least the model held up better than after my spray paint job that’s slowly killing it long after June of 2010. My additional two cents made beyond the original February 2010 review will be in this gray text.)
This unique mobile suit design has earned quite a few nicknames both in real life and in the anime; the most commonly used one being the “White Doll”, and uncommonly “White Mustache” or “Mustached One”, etc. But it’s official name is Turn A Gundam (or “∀ Gundam”). This is the 1/144-scaled model of the Turn A Gundam from the anime of the same name. (For fun, I decided to put my PSP in that photo as well.)
Pretty much the cover of the box and what you’ll see upon opening it. But what’s all in the box?
Three normal runners and a PC runner (the small runner that feels more like hardened, somewhat-rubbery plastic that usually serves as extra hands and joints). I also included the small foil sticker that fills in some minor details here and there, though I didn’t use them, for a change. When comparing the runners to the front box cover, the manual, or images of other Turn A Gundam models (be it built 1/144-scaled models or other versions), or of the design itself, you’ll notice that many parts that should have a variety of details or colors lack them and are of basically one color and require paint. This is the case with 1/144-scaled Gundam models that came out around the time this one came out (1999), and even before.
Even today, similarly-scaled models lack some detail such as “panel-lining” (filling in small gaps of what represents gaps between armor plates of mobile suits) at the very least, and some more modern models still require some detail to be filled, though not as severe a need as there were in models like this one. Those with more expertise than I can hand-paint well, or use spray cans, or buy “Gundam markers” (essentially paint in marker form), and fill in details that way. I semi-tried that, but mainly used normal sharpie markers (as well as ones with a finer point) and some paint for the feet and hands (albeit it turned out sloppy, given my lack of expertise and perhaps poor choice of paint).
In the outer cover (seen at the top-half of the image), you see the front cover in the center, the back cover on the right (which includes lineart of Turn A’s pilot (and main protagonist of the Turn A Gundam anime), Loran Cehack. The four views of the professionally-assembled model are included on the inside. Unfolded, it’s the outside of the manual.
The bottom-half of the image basically covers the simple instructions on how to assemble the model. Even if you do not know Japanese, the instructions on these models are relatively easy to understand.
SYSTEM ∀-99 (WD-M01) ∀ Gundam (“Turn A Gundam”)
Here is the 1/144-scaled Turn A Gundam model, assembled in all of it’s glory, with some basic details added by me (which unfortunately includes the crappy paint that was applied in a crappy way on the feet).
(This portion of the review was made long before I decided to add in my signature arrows in my modern reviews, and tried to work in the articulation into a photo collage to work with DA’s limitations.)
As evident, it’s only basic articulation. In fact, the articulation is somewhat lacking in the legs that other models released around this time (late-’90s) might not have lacked, such as my 1/144 Altron Gundam, for example. The legs don’t bend much, and they can’t raise too far without some conflict with the skirt armor. I suppose if you don’t care to exactly replicate the look of the Turn A Gundam and want to give it a bit more articulation in the legs, you can always remove the skirt armor; maybe that might add some movement in the legs, though I haven’t tried it, therefore I don’t know by how much. The feet only have basic movement, akin to other 1/144 models from that time.
Arms are also basic articulation; reminding me of my older US version “Mobile Suit in Action!” (MSiA) figures. Interestingly, the front shoulder armor is connected by a ball joint, while the rear is solidly connected to the back and doesn’t move (which probably has to do with the design). Though the image does not show it, the upper-torso has some articulation thanks to a ball joint you connect to the lower-torso with.
Your basic shield, beam rifle, and beam saber. There are also miniature pieces of the beam saber handles that should be attatched to the back, which can be stuck out (as if the beam saber is ready to be drawn). You can also swap out the normal chest piece with one where flaps have opened up to reveal missiles ready to be fired. All of these accessories require some detail (with the exception of the two beam saber handles that should be attatched to the back). (I disagree with myself on the beam saber handles, to some small extent. Maybe I should entirely re-type out this review from the viewpoint of today…?)
This model is pretty cheap when I got it; even cheaper than the newer 1/200-scaled Speed Grade models that have more detail (and I suppose could be assembled in faster time). (I don’t know anymore now that GSaM no longer has it and people selling ’em on a given auction website would usually jack up the price.) Because of that, I’m not willing to be as harsh on the model. That, and I’m a little partial to Turn A Gundam (the anime as a whole, and even the Mobile Suit designs). Still, this model has it’s shortcomings of lack of detail that needs to be applied, and limited articulation (again, both of which are to be expected with models from that time).
If you’re open enough to like the design and you can’t afford to buy much in terms of models and/or figures, or maybe it’s something to kill time for you, I’d recommend getting this model. But from even visually comparing this to the 1/100-scaled Master Grade model or the Robot Damashii figure (both of which I lack) (I’ve since got two versions of the RD figure), it lacks in detail and articulation by a long shot.
Now, as far as the MG goes, it’s to be expected that this old 1/144-scaled model would be inferior in comparison as MG models are typically 1/100-scaled, have more detail, and usually (at least nowadays) have much better articulation and amount of accessories. Yet it similarly can’t hold up to the similarly-sized Robot Damashii figure (which isn’t actually scaled, but from what I know, RD figures are pretty close in size to the 1/144 scale) (but no cigar). And granted, figures already come with applied detail where necessary (unless the details are panel lines; RD Turn A lacks ’em), and are more durable since they usually are made from stronger plastic (akin to the kind used in the aforementioned PC runners). (Possibly an error in judgement in believing PC Runner material being great to make an entire plamo from; are they indeed similar to plastics used in figures?)
So, in spite of my bias, I must say that it isn’t the best model in the world (especially when comparing it to my GW models), but it’s to be expected from a rather cheap model, and it looks nice when built and detailed in the right hands, so I might recommend giving this model a go.