“Yay, we’re gah-damm hippies flailing our arms at the moon pretending it’s the Beatles while we get drunk and vibrate the hell out of your mobile suit until it blows up!”

This is a review of the non-grade, 1/144-scaled model of the FLAT-L06D FLAT from the anime “Turn A Gundam”.  One of eight overall in the Turn A Gundam Gunpla line-up back in the day.  It may be an odd design (by Syd Mead and Atsushi Shigeta), but it’s a likable design, and it (quite likely) is the best of the 1/144 lineup for it’s articulation.  Oh, and it can transform, too!

 

Obligatory box cover snapshots.  The “Mobile [Fill-in-the-MS-Name]” titles of these models in the TAG lineup are inaccurate and redundant; they’re all mobile suits as indicated in the much-smaller subtitle just above the big title.  Something like that type of addition is better reserved for different versions of an MS design (like the Endless Waltz Gundams with “Custom” or “[ver.] EW”), but none of that applies to the 1/144 lineup, outside of one (because it’s an ace custom by at least color scheme, if not also by mechanics).

I would also cover the unpainted runners out of the packages, but I screwed up by accidentally deleting the photos of them.  I wish I already had a second FLAT (like I do backups of two models from this lineup) so I can show you just how much painting/marker-applying and panel-lining needed to be done, but I can’t.  Just be prepared for exetensive touch-ups, such as adding details the “inside”/backside of the arms, legs, and back of the FLAT to even be remotely accurate to the lineart.

 

The Manual

 

FLAT-L06D FLAT (Flexible Ladder Actuator Technology), a.k.a. “High Heel

Front/back view.  You can barely see it, but you’ll better be able to see the deepest of navy/midnight-blue in photos that use a little sunlight or a flash.

The navy blue (and the older ink-used panel-lining from when I built this in January) better shows up in these photos where sunlight is a bigger factor. Yes, I did forget about a nub or two and didn’t realize it until I snapped later photos.  I probably put a bit too much force on a couple of areas (such as the forward-side of the torso and the shoulder armor)… Either that, or it just looked that way from the get-go.  Is that what people mean by “weaker plastic” with these NG 1/144s from the ’90s?

Note the detail on the legs and arms beyond the outer armor.  There’s enough panel-lining for the outside armor, but if you’re not a big fan, the inside can be a nightmare of a chore, and that will be true for pretty much any Mead/Shigeta design within the TAG Gunpla lineup (which is all of ’em, except the Kapool).  That’s not to mention the constant painting or marker-using to give the model a more accurate look (compared to the lineart or any appearance within the anime).

 

Accessories

The accessories for this model come at the most basic; a right trigger hand and a beam rifle.  I believe the rifle could fold up in the anime, but given the scale and quality of the model, it naturally couldn’t here.

The default FLAT in the anime could use a folding multi-rocket launcher.  Another had used an older-style bolt-action rifle, improvised “grenades” (missiles/bombs tied together or in wooden boxes/containers and thrown), and one had used a crescent-shaped blade as a fashion statement for the FLAT before using it as a melee weapon.  But they’re not present here.  You’d get more accessories with a 1/144-scaled Wing Zero (either version), or from the RD figure counterpart of WZ that’s coming up.

But the only two accessories for this model can still work well when put into action.  (I know Z wouldn’t like the fact that there aren’t any melee weapons… Even if the MS is a gigantic vibrating melee weapon in and of itself.)  Note the pose of the FLAT in the last photo, bringing us to the most important aspect of this model…

 

Articulation

The arrows in the above image indicate what the FLAT can pull off in articulation.

  • The basics of the shoulder/arm/elbow/hand movement comes natural within NG 1/144s.  You can also say a full 360° waist rotation is basic, but that’s if you want to partially pull out the torso to remove any obstruction.  There isn’t any restriction on the FLAT to do that, and it has incredible leg and head articulation.
  • Because it’s a polycap/peg joint and not a standard polycap ball joint/head insertion, you can have the head look all the way up as well as twist it around.
  • You may be unable to breakdance with it, but the free movement of the legs enables the FLAT to do kneeling poses that makes the rest of my 1/144 (built and likely unbuilt) model/figure collection cry in envy.
  • The double-joint knee is unique and can enable some twisting of the shins/lower-leg parts, as indicated in an above image showing off the accessories.
  • The feet can bend down, and there is some very limited twisting ability of the feet, even if I wouldn’t try it (thus I didn’t mark ’em with clear arrows).

Regarding the hands: you’ll need to try disconnecting the “inside” arm part from the outside armor of the forearm in order to best remove it.  I’ve ocassionally done so in part (only lifting one side of the “inside forearm” part, but I could’ve risked breaking the model.  Probably better if you take it completely off first.
Also, I had to try and tighten the grip of the connection to the hands so they wouldn’t be loose; I had that problem with the right hand earlier in June (a bit less with the left hand).  (Go past the next image if you don’t want to read excessive and digressive blabber.)

Regarding the lack of polycap usage in the hands (and joints for): I read something from a blatant naysayer (commenting from another blog) stating that the MG Turn A Gundam’s downside happens to be that no polycap usage, and that such means the joints wear out faster.  Now, I’ve read other comments from other places that claim the opposite, but because I like TAG and I want to get the MG, it gives me a bit of a heavy heart to mention that a score for this naysayer comes in the form of my 1/144 FLAT’s loose hands. *sigh* Doesn’t mean I should wish ill on said naysayer (I wonder how that term became catchy to me… I guess people use “hater” too much?), even if my bias in favor of TAG wants it. *shrug*

But for those of you who might have that problem with your FLAT, I wouldn’t touch any kind of glue just yet; despite that it (unfortunately) isn’t the case for an arm or two of my HGUC 1/144 GP02A (MLRS), I still have worries my superglue usage (such as on figures) would actually stiffen the joints until they can’t move (unless I break them).  (Yes, for some figures, I kept the joints moving until the glue set in, and thus didn’t have that problem.)

Because of that, I did a web-search on using glue on Gunpla… I don’t recall exactly where I read it, but I found an alternative (and I give thanks to whomever it was that said he/she used it on their own model):

For those who followed my suggestion of passing on the above blabber, that’s what I used for the joints on the hands, and they work.  Just take some tape out, cut a small square of it out so that it just basically covers the top-half of the hand’s ball joint, and apply it before putting the hand back in.  When I change the hands, the tape stays on there apparently.  Again, thanks to whomever mentioned using tape on Gunpla.

 

Transformation

One thing the FLAT is capable of is transforming into a mobile armor of sorts called “Drop Mode”.  Some fans of Gundam Wing (and Okawara’s Gundam designs for it) might notice an aspect of the end result as being similar to one of a certain Gundam’s.  Here are the steps to transforming:

Raise one arm up…

…Have the other arm raised…

If you have to ask, then you really need more help getting a sense of humor than I do. :P

Ready to move onto the actual transformation, Daniel-san?

 

“Drop Mode” Transformation (…For real, this time!)

First, if the arms and/or shoulder armor are outstretched, fold them down to attention, as the arrows indicate here:

Next, Take the “heel” parts of the feet out.  Have the legs folded and moved so it hangs over the back of the FLAT…

I probably should re-take those transformation photos, regardless of the arrows help or not, but at least the manual makes it clear enough:

And the end result:

(Yes, Z, that is an Action Base 1.  I finally got a practical Gunpla stand.  Works better than that RD one from the other photos, or that CD stand I used as a makeshift stand.  I’m sure you’ll rag on me for it not being a Hasegawa stand or something. :P)

I believe Episodes 1 and 20 of Turn A Gundam are the only times the FLAT has been seen in “Drop Mode”.  Episode 1 proves it’s resistance to the friction of atmospheric entry, while Episode 20 proves it’s agility within Earth’s atmosphere hovering about.  Actually, in a couple of different episodes FLATs have used a different configuration when hovering around:

 

Now, for obligatory action poses!

[INSERT AWESOME “Gonna shoot ya’ down!” DIOLOGUE HERE]

“Ah, screw shooting stuff.  I don’t know what to do aside from looking cool in a natural crouching pose next to my other Gunpla peers.”

“Fly like an eeeeaaglllllee… Into the po-ster-boaaarrrrrd…”

“I can tunnel deeper than Dig Dug, wipe out a hundred surfers with my water-blowing skills, deflect bullets like Superman, and vibrate the hell outta your Mobile Su–wait, is that a Buster Rifle?”

“Hey!  Point that rifle someplace else!”

“Screw it, I’m getting the hell outta here!”

 

My Final Two Cents:

I think whether you would get this model or not would depend on taste.  The ultimate and most-common negative would lie in the fact that it’s an unusual mobile suit design from Turn A Gundam, and most had reared their ugly heads from such a nice anime.  I thought it was strange myself at first (around ten years ago), but when I saw the MSs in TAG in action (in recent years), I turned 180° and fast, and now I’m a fan.
More Gunpla-related criticisms vary from it being a non-grade 1/144-scaled model from the (late) ’90s (many of them happening to share common problems) to having to actually spend some time panel-lining and detailing the model to give it a decent appearance, or that there’s not much accessories to use.

Any model can use more accessories, but they’re not needed.  I too can get occasionally tired of detailing basic or small things I missed, but it isn’t a figure, it’s a model; you’re supposed to work on building it up to something decent, if not great.  Whether you find the process tedious at times, most of the time, or not at all, you gotta admit the end result is fantastic.

And that’s not mentioning articulation; some basics here and there are to be expected, especially for a non-grade, yet compared to a lot of HGs of the same scale today, the FLAT can put them to shame with the unusually-fantastic head/waist/leg articulation.  I’ve barely got my HGUC Zaku I to do kneeling poses, my Zaku II and other Gunpla wish for it, but the FLAT wouldn’t be terribly out of place in the articulation department if you put it next to a Robot Damashii figure, like the RD Turn A Gundam.

In the end, I recommend looking for and acquiring this model if:

  • You like the anime Turn A Gundam.
  • You appreciate the unique designs from TAG, including the FLAT’s design.
  • You like having above-average articulation in a model.
  • You appreciate and enjoy putting effort of some kind into a model beyond the most blatant of straight-building (which there isn’t anything wrong with, by the way).
  • You like to get a cheap model rather than a new HG, RG, or MG. (Though it depends on overall availability and the store you choose.)

…If any of the above combined apply to you, then I recommend at least getting it.  I may have not built all of the 1/144 lineup yet, but so far, this is the most unique and appealing in a few ways.

I do have some extra thoughts that are more along the lines of nitpicking, but I’ll save it for a standard blog entry that I’ll later link to here. *shrug*

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