When Bandai announced a Real Grade release of the Exia, I was a little surprised. Sure there are lots of Mobile Suits we (by which I mean me) would like to see first as an RG but of course the Exia plays a huge part in 00 Gundam. I was a quite surprised, however, at the response that announcement got. It seemed everyone out there couldn’t wait to get their hands on it. Is this because of the design of the MS itself? Does it have more to do with the quality of the 00 Gundam anime? Or is it a matter of that anime being released around the time digital copy was really taking off? I don’t have the answer to that question but I hope that here I can answer the question, “How good is the RG GN-001 Gundam Exia?”
Overall Look: 9/10
I have always considered the lean, sleek, no excess fat 00 Gundam Mobile Suit designs to be at one end of a spectrum with the other end being the bulkier, blockier Mobile Suits found in the original Gundam animes represented best by the RX-78-2. In the middle of this range is the SEED line, which I think may be my favourite when it comes to MS designs. You can definitely see the RX-78-2 influence on the Exia’s design but the Exia definitely has an extreme look to it. This look is enhanced further by the clear parts found in various areas.
Foil stickers fit underneath these clear parts to add a nice effect.
The Exia also has that transparent blue plastic stripping in key areas.
We’ll talk more about this later in the review.
As a protagonist suit we pretty much have to accept the red, blue, white with yellow that we’ve seen so many times before but remember this is RG and Bandai includes the different shades to make the colours really stand out. The green effect parts and blue strips previously mentioned make it pop even more. If standard colours aren’t your thing, don’t worry, Bandai has announced the Trans Am version (sadly an online exclusive).
While there is no traditional rifle that we are used to seeing with almost all MS and in most Gundam kits regardless of grade, the RG Exia does come with his unique weapons and Bandai has gone ahead and plated them for us. This alone sets the Exia apart from other RG kits unless you count the Dragoons on last year’s RG Strike Freedom. That GN Sword especially looks extra sexy.
The shield is sleek and sexy, just like its handler, though doesn’t open.
You get a total of four beam sabre handles as well but most of the time they are attached to the MS somewhere.
These move too!
We expect a lot from an RG kit when it comes to articulation and this being the Exia I think everyone’s expectations were increased. A kit this sleek should be able to pull off some great poses and the Exia certainly gets there though it does have some issues which were unexpected. The first of which is that it seems to be back heavy despite only having the GN Drive back there and not the huge backpacks we’ve seen on other Real Grade kits.
But the issue in’t the GN Drive or a flaw in design. It’s actually more to do with how we expect kits to stand. Normally, limits to a kit’s articulation prevents lateral movement of the leg at the hip joint at a certain point. The Exia can go completely 90 degrees!
In a way, it’s almost too articulate. We have a humanoid robot doing things that humans can’t really do and so it looks odd, to me at least. When I tried to stand the Exia in a stance more closely resembling how a real human stands the front skirts prevented the upper legs from rotating forwards so instead the upper body tilted back. Long story short, the Exia is super articulate down there including the feet and ankles.
The design of the frame even allows more movement at the ankle though it is quite stiff and I didn’t take the time to loosen it up.
The only area where it seems to lack some range of motion is in the shoulders.
You can get to this point but after that the pressure on the shoulder from the armour on the upper arm actually pops the shoulder off, leaving it dangling by the blue strip.
But he does pass the one-legged test.
Build Design: 9/10
My first thought when I heard about the RG Exia was ‘will it use the same frame?’ Then I saw the first shots in the Hobby magazine and learned it the answer to that question; It would be new. However, I didn’t realise just how different the Exia’s frame would be. Where previous RG kits had the leg frames molded all as one part (let’s not count the Zeta) that concept was changed for the Exia which has the legs made up of two RG frame sections. In a way, the Exia’s frame design is the better of the two.
Not only is it easier/faster to remove the leg from the runner but it’s easier to handle when it comes to loosening it up before you start putting the armour on. I don’t know if Bandai will continue with frames like this past the Exia but it does show that not only is Bandai able to evolve a design, but that the possibility exists for more MS of all kinds being made as RG kits. We live in exciting times.
Other areas of the design I feel need mention;
Despite being 1/144 there are some nice gimmicks built into this kit even if you don’t count the green effect parts and the blue stripping. For example, the GN Drive is removable (though takes some effort) and the parts that hold it in place can open and close.
The vents on the torso along with the hatch also open.
The blue parts on the chest have a tendency to start popping off if you do this so be careful.
Even though Exia has got those big weapons they attach quite securely. Only one part found on the underside of the shield is needed to secure it to Exia’s forearm.
Interestingly, this plugs into the front of the arm rather than the back like we are used to seeing. The GN Sword also has an attachment that plugs into that same place and a tab in the handle holds the HG style hands together nicely.
And it’s no chore to pop the hands off when swapping hand types and/or weapons. The Exia doesn’t feature a very small cuff like other RGs and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has lost that part when trying to swap out weapons. It’s just plug in and go here.
Another cool gimmick has to do with the swords. When not being used by the Exia these are meant to attach to the hips. That is accomplished by a unique design that sees the entire armour part for the hip pull out.
A small peg then flips out.
This peg then fits into the holes on the sword handles.
They are quite secure and it does give you some more options when it comes to playing with your Exia.
While we are on the subject of those swords one minor gripe is that the HG style hands which fit around the sword handles quite easily aren’t tight enough to hold the sword in place.
Instead you find the sword handle sliding back and forth through the hand as you position the kit in different poses.
Oh, and one thing I encountered a couple times on the Exia that I don’t recall seeing on previous RGs… huge gate marks!
That’s just an eyesore.
Probably the key part of the Exia design is the incorporation of the blue stripping. While it is pretty much flawless on the majority of the kit, despite being small and a little difficult to work with in places, the section on the lower leg is kind of confusing. The manual indicates you are to put the strip in place and then push down on it as you put the lower leg armour on from both sides. Pushing down on this had no effect on the outcome once the parts where in place. I did this over four times trying to see if there was something I missed and each time got the same result.
But it really doesn’t take anything away from the kit overall.
Fun Factor: 9/10
It’s an RG! While all Real Grades are great no two are alike. Except the Zakus… and the MkIIs… and the GP01s in a way… Hmm… Anyway, the RG Exia not only comes as something quite different and a new experience but it still retains the excitement found from building an RG followed up by the play time you get once you’re done. Sure some areas such as the head or shoulders can be difficult but that is mostly because of size and not because of a lame duck design.
Compared to other kits you don’t get a huge pile of what could be called ‘extra stuff’ but you do get more than enough hands, an adaptor so you can put super sexy Exia (Sexia?) (on an action base, as well as a very small but detailed pilot figure.
You’ll notice in this picture I have left the now empty runner for the plated parts.
That is because you can use this, therefore it’s kind of an extra. What I do is keep the empty plated runners for future builds. For example, if you are building an MG and want to put some metal looking parts into a foot so to give it a piston look you can cut lengths off this runner and use those in your build. Anything you don’t throw away is an extra!
While the Exia wouldn’t be my first choice for an RG release (or my second.. or my third… probably not even top 10) it doesn’t make you wish for something else instead. Like I’ve already said, I was surprised when it was announced, surprised at the reaction to that announcement, and now I am surprised at just how good it turned out to be.