There is a lot going on with the 1/100 MG Full Armor Gundam Ver.Ka (GUNDAM THUNDERBOLT Ver.). You’ve got a stand alone MS and you’ve got its Full Armour and then you’ve the abundance of weapons that make it a Thunderbolt. Because of that I had considered doing the review in two parts, the first for the ‘naked’ MS and the second for the kit with everything on it. I’ve never done a two-part review before and that would mean it might make it difficult to get a full idea of what this kit is about, especially if you came along some time later. Still, I can’t just do a normal review given what this kit represents so I’m going to go through the different review categories like I usually do but I’ll be writing about the naked MS first followed up by the FA version with the final category score at the end of the section rather than the start. It is going to be long. Normally when I write a review post I have four pages of images open to choose from, inserting them as I write. For this review I have 11 pages open. You may want a beverage.
I’ll preface this review by saying that when it was revealed that the MG in July would be the Full Armour Gundam Ver. Ka Thunderbolt Version I was a little disappointed. At the 2015 Shizuoka Hobby Show they revealed that the big August release as the RG Gundam Astray Red Frame and along with that the Amazing Red Warrior (to be fair that kit turned out pretty good) This year it’s the RG Sinanju (YES!) and the FA Ver Ka Thunderbolt. My first inclination at the announcement was that we would again see the RX-78-2 2.0 frame with new armour parts on it. That’s what they did with the Amazing Red Warrior. And why waste a Ver. Ka release on a version of the RX-78-2? They couldn’t have chosen a more deserving MS? I’ve often been vocal about Bandai’s choice of MS for their kit grades and releases but to be fair they hit a lot more than they miss. When I went to Shizuoka in May and saw this kit on display there, it was difficult to tell how this kit was designed so my opinion stayed as it was.
Why such a long explanation before I even get into reviewing this kit? I want everyone to have an idea of how I felt leading up to putting this latest Ver. Ka MG together.
Let’s begin this journey that will be the 1/100 MG Full Armor Gundam Ver.Ka (GUNDAM THUNDERBOLT Ver.) review.
Without Full Armour.
This kit may look like the RX-78 in shape and form but there are so many details that differentiate it from any other RX that we need to discuss them in detail. Perhaps the biggest difference is the Frame Covers which go over the normally exposed joints. This kit is an all new frame but you may not know it because the parts of the frame that are usually viewable are here covered by a vinyl joint cover. This plastic sheath covers the joint in order to protect it and is held in place usually by the armour parts though there are other frame parts involved. I’ll talk about this in more detail in the Build Design section of this review. For now, without the Full Armour parts on, its easy to view this concept Bandai has brought from anime to plastic form. The joints that are covered are, well, all of them.
The elbows and shoulders.
The hips but they are really difficult to see because of that perfect fitting side skirt.
That side skirts, or its position rather, looks beautiful to me.
When the joints are in a normal relaxed position you may not see much of the cover but once you bend the joint you really see it in there. How they look is up to how you feel about these things and how what you did when putting this kit together. These covers will be talked about a lot in this review so at this time I’ll direct your attention to other areas of the kit that stand out.
The asymmetrical backpack is a change of pace and seems a perfect pairing for this MS.
Those small square thrusters have some pivot to them as well.
The hands, oh the hands, have so much detail!
I do wish now that I took more shots of the hands. Let’s just say they are really good.
Overall the proportions are excellent even with those legs and shoulders so full of thrusters. You never think it looks fat in those areas.
The head looks great with the little antennae on the side but I want to warn people that that little thing can come off.
And while I’m here I’ll mention the Emergency Pod looks awesome too.
With Full Armour
Yes, it can stand up! Without needing the Twin Beam Rifle to touch the ground for support.
Stand or not, this thing is badass!
Everything I wrote about the naked MS still applies here though the vinyl covers may be slightly more hidden with the extra armour on but for the most part it’s easily visible.
If anything this kit looks better with the Full Armour on bringing out the proportions that Katoki Hajime drew up.
The HG version of the kit never did much for me but this Katoki MG version is something else altogether. It has the same powerful presence that the Hi Nu Gundam Ver. Ka has. It is something special to look at and something even more special to get to assemble.
Final Overall Look Score: 10/10
Without Full Armour
I think we can all agree that the normal Gundam RX red, white, blue, and yellow scheme wouldn’t work with the image this kit is trying to present. This mean fighting machine gets darker versions when it comes to color with the blue becoming a very dark blue and the red being replaced by a maroon color. These two colors work very well together. Without any armour the white is the dominant color, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. It’s interesting to note that the only yellow found on the kit is on the V fin emblems on the center skirt.
With Full Armour
All the colors are still here but they have been reversed. The white now takes a back seat to the dark blue and the maroon makes more appearances than before. Like with its unarmored form the yellow V on the skirt is the only case of yellow on the FA form.
We also get some orange on the shields and the missiles, when viewable.
And what I consider a big plus on this kit, the orange on the Twin Beam Rifle barrels is done with plastic parts.
Stickers here would have been horrible.
There are a couple areas where stickers are required such as the front ankle armour.
The inside of the thrusters are also meant to take a black sticker but the frame part is already dark enough that I don’t consider those stickers a necessity.
I’ll also mention that when building the head you’re given a choice of using a yellow part or a clear green part. You are provided stickers for the eyes that can go over whichever part you choose however the inclusion of that clear green part makes me think Bandai was thinking some modelers may be interested in using an LED in the head similar to what we found in RX-78-2 3.0 and provided them the piece they would need to make that happen. For this review I used the clear green piece just because I liked the change of pace it represented when I was assembling it.
One other final thing I want to mention about the colours of this kit, the clear green part that goes atop the center of the head becoming the front and rear sensors. Usually you are meant to place a sticker on that part so the sticker is providing the colour and you can do that here however Bandai has also designed this so you have the option of placing that sticker behind the clear green which provides a much nicer effect in my opinion.
Final Colors Score: 10/10
Without Full Armour
This thing has a lot of weapons but they are mostly meant to be carried by the Full Armour version of the kit and a couple of them are actually built into that Full Armour backpack. When not all decked out in his armour the Gundam has a single beam saber handle tucked away underneath his backpack. It can’t be stored up top like on the other RX-78s because the backpack needs to be able to go on but Bandai has included a neat little gimmick there to allow Mr. Gundam to access that handle much easier. It drops down and then swings outwards.
He’s got this.
With Full Armour
I want to point out that there is more when it comes to firepower on the FA Gundam than what is shown in this picture. Four shields, a Twin Beam Rifle, and a handheld Rocket Launcher are sure nothing to sneeze at though.
The Twin Beam Rifle features a neat handle design that locks it into a good position on the arm.
It’s quite large so you can’t expect the FA Gundam to be able to hold it up with the one arm it is attached to.
The Rocket Launcher secures itself around the armoured up forearm and stays on quite well despite not being locked down in any way.
Onto both of these hand held weapons you can mount a shield.
It is not just a peg/hole connection that makes it happen, either. Each shield has a tiny claw on the underside that can grip the handle found on the back of the Twin Beam Rifle and Rocket Launder
I will warn people here that when it comes time to take those shields off you may take an extra part or two with you.
This isn’t much of a problem as I see it and I would prefer to have a strong connection that may take some effort to release rather than one that releases easily making the connection rather weak.
There are two more shields to account for but I’ll mention that in the Build Section as the gimmicks involved there need to be brought to everyone’s attention.
On the backpack you have two mounted weapons, the Giant Beam Cannon and Missile Launcher.
The Missile Launcher doors close!
There is more to be mentioned about the design of these as well. All in good time.
Aside from, um, everything, you get two beam sabers as well. The handles are mounted on the sides of the backpack.
The holder of this handle tilts out to make releasing it easier.
Most importantly, pretty much everything can be mounted all at once.
Final Weapons Score: 10/10
Without Full Armour
This is the cool shot. The shot where he looks like he’s doing something cool but this is the articulation section of the review so I need a good picture that shows just what he can do when it comes to joint movement.
That’s a pretty good one.
This kit’s articulation is amazing and it’s not all to do with the joint covers. By that I mean because Bandai wanted a big draw of this kit to be those covers they needed to engineer the joints to allow the covers to be seen the maximum possible. They accomplished that completely. The knee can bend completely and when it does you see the joint cover in all its glory.
Great knee articulation wouldn’t mean much if you didn’t get a chance to bend the leg due a hip skirt that blocks movement but the hip joint here, while swinging only upwards, does so enough that the joint is free.
There is also a section of the skirt frame that can pivot drop slightly allowing the legs more movement underneath the skirts.
The elbow also bends completely allowing you a great view of that joint cover underneath.
The ankle joint will bend nicely as well when you need it to.
The ankle armour is rather stiff but that’s a good thing as it will allow you to put that armour where you want it to be so that you can see the joint cover behind it.
Another very impressive joint design is found in the shoulder connection housed in the sides of the torso. The configuration of the joint there allows for a very large amount of movement in directions you wouldn’t expect.
If you’re too over-excited about the joint range in the shoulder you may end up with this issue.
Normally I would consider this a design fault however when it comes to trying to assemble this kit, connecting the arms to the torso, I was glad that I had the ability to pull the joint apart like this. It made the assembly much easier.
And I want to point out while the fingers on this kit are the molded, swappable kind, the thumb is jointed. It really helps to grip the weapon and also have the normal clenched-fist look.
With Full Armour
Of course, applying another layer of armour to a limb or body section will decrease articulation but I am happy to report that the kit doesn’t lose all that much articulation with the armour on. Likely the only place you may miss that extra movement would be in the shoulders but this guy has that large backpack towering out and above the kit that you can’t really move the arms into that space anyways.
Final Articulation Score: 10/10
Without Full Armour
Bandai engineered this kit from scratch with two things (at least) in mind, to use the Frame Covers in the build without them being a detriment to the kit overall and to be able to have the Full Armour parts go on and come back off easily. They succeeded in both cases.
I’ll talk about the Frame Covers first. If you’ve been following the WIP posts you have seen how one Frame Cover is used in the assembly of the arm, while three are used in the legs. I refer you to those posts if you want to see the details. What I’ll write here is how well designed this kit is when it comes to incorporating those into the build. The way the frame is molded provides little areas where you can see you are meant to tuck the Frame Covers into place, securing them with a ring and/or frame parts and then cutting the excess away. When I was doing this part of the build I was reminded of the Perfect Grade Unicorn where you are laying LED wiring into parts that are molded to take it. Just like with that kit, the FA Gundam isn’t a case where they are adding Frame Covers to an already existing design but have completely designed the kit for the purpose of using these Frame Covers. It isn’t an easy build in some places but it is an impressive one.
I’ll point out that I did find that the small thrusters on the front of the knee came off quite easily when I was handling the kit.
While annoying it is only a minor weakness for the naked MS and simple enough to deal with. While I’m talking about the thrusters on the legs I’ll mention that the thruster sticking out from the outside of both knees can move.
Another part that may come off from time to time is the small blue piece at the center of the V-fin.
Fortunately, the connection for the V fin itself is rock solid.
I’ve already mentioned the naked MS’ Beam Saber storage gimmick, the amazing swappable hands, the fantastic joint design, and several other things so I’ll take a moment here to talk about another fantastic design found in this kit, the Emergency Pod.
Just like the Core Fighters that came with the RX-78-2 2.0 kits and again on the 3.0 kit the Emergency Pod can transform and fit inside your FA Gundam. In its opened state it looks kind of like the Pod Racer Sebulba drove in Episode I.
So how do you get that into your Gundam? Allow me to show you.
That is pretty sweet and the cockpit canopy does indeed open but there’s also another feature here that is pretty cool. When he’s flying the Emergency Pod your pilot sits facing the nose.
On the bottom of the Pod is a small square piece that can turn. Rotate that and you can change your pilot’s sitting position.
He now sits facing upwards toward the top of the canopy. He is ready to go inside and pilot your FA Gundam.
To do that you insert it upright into the frame piece that makes up the bottom of the torso.
You can see those rear landing gears sticking out towards the back of the Gundam. Those are very important and very well designed. Here’s a different look at them.
Looking into the upper body from the bottom of the torso we can see grooves in the frame that fit those landing gears perfectly.
Open up the cockpit of your FA Gundam and drop it over top of the Emergency Pod onto the waist.
The pilot is looking right at you!
This design results in a rock solid connection which never feels unstable in any way. As a plus, if you really love your Emergency Pod and don’t wish to hide it inside the body of your FA Gundam you can leave it out and the Gundam will still assemble as it should.
Nicely done, Bandai.
So now let’s talk about the second major feature of this kit, the Full Armour and to do that I first have to show you how it goes on. You’ll need to prepare some sections as I showed in WIP post #3. Once you’ve got those ready you can proceed to armour him up.
You’ll notice all over the naked Gundam areas that have a recess or a slot or some space that is meant for a connection. One easily identifiable example is found on the torso.
It is onto these areas that you attach sections of your armour. Let’s start at the top and work our way down. Onto the top of the torso around the neck you drop this assembly.
Once that is in place you slide the left and right chest assemblies underneath it.
There is some movement of the bottom sections here but you’ll need to center them in order to have the cockpit hatch assembly lock into its proper place.
I want to mention here how great this design is when it comes to keeping the cockpit hatch closed and the lower armour in place. On the underside of that cockpit hatch armour part are four little openings, two to a side.
These slot onto tabs found on the inside of the lower torso parts.
When it’s in place it isn’t going anywhere.
Those vents on the chest.
Bandai provides small pieces that can cover those if you prefer it that way.
Armouring the shoulders is only a matter of sandwiching on two parts.
These aren’t actually held into place until the white piece with all those thrusters is slid into its place around those two blue armour parts. Once that white piece is in is position the shoulders are good to go.
The arms each take only three parts.
The armour part for the center front block has its yellow emblem built into it and to get the front, rear, and side skirt armour assemblies on all you need to do is slide the armour assemblies into the grooves found on those areas.
When it comes to the armour part for the center of the back of the skirt Bandai has you slide on a stand adaptor before putting the armour on.
This does give him a bit of a tail but you will most likely be keeping this guy on the stand when his Full Armour is all on.
For the legs the first FA section going on is the large knee covers.
I am happy to report that putting this in place does away with the problem of those small thrusters popping off.
Like the shoulders the lower legs are armoured by having two parts sandwich around the leg.
Once those are on a circular white piece goes on either side and you’ll also place a small blue part on the back of the knee.
Interestingly, that small blue part on the back of the knee can also be found on the white runners.
The manual has these crossed out so you’re not meant to use them but it’s nice to have that little option.
The feet might be the trickiest part of the armouring process.
You need to have the top armour part slide into its place before you can put the bottom part on but to do that you need to have the ankle armour and foot quite separate to give it the space it needs to fit n there.
Once they are together a small red part fit underneath at the toes. The armour for the heel is the opposite as it is incredibly easy. Just slide it on.
A neat gimmick can be found on the underside of the feet. Six little pieces of red plastic are there, three under the ball of the foot and three under the heel. These can swing out and act like claws.
He’s like a giant bird of prey coming in for a landing.
Once the armour is on you can adjust it to show off all the missiles this guy is carrying.
The missiles you see on the skirts are small orange parts that fit onto little tabs that you find on the underside of a little piece at the center of each skirt.
It’s worth noting that you can keep that orange part on the front and rear skirts and still rotate the middle piece around.
However, the same can’t be said for the side skirts.
Once your Gundam is all armoured up you can install the backpack.
Rather than plugging it straight into the back of the Gundam like we do with pretty much every other model kit the backpack connection on the FA Gundam slots in from above.
This is quite different but makes perfect sense. If they did it the usual way when you had your Gundam unarmoured you would see the connection pegs. With this design you can have the backpack off and it looks like it was meant to be that way all along.
To make this connection and get the backpack on you need to pull down on one white part to expand the opening which will fit around the naked backpack.
Then put that around the naked backpack and slide it down the slots.
The white piece you pulled down to expand it stays in one position as the backpack drops closing the entire assembly around the smaller naked backpack.
Here he is.
I had to lean him forward a little as those big tanks on the backpack compromised his balance but only slightly.
I can now write in more detail about the two weapons mounted on his backpack. Both mount to the backpack through the same type of joint assembly which is worthy of mention for the fact that not only does it pivot forward and side to side but it can be locked into an upright position.
If you move the joint with the least amount of pressure possible you will get to this point. From there, just a little bit more pressure is needed to move it into a fully vertical position, popping it into a slot made to hold it there.
This gives you stability when you need it but also a great amount of positioning possibility when it comes time to play with it.
This joint can move a complete 90 degrees which also means you can move these weapons out of the way when you want to use the extra arms.
Yes, like the HG kit this FA Gundam has two extra arms to hold extra shields or beam sabers however, unlike the HG kit’s one piece of plastic arms that plug into the backpack the MG kit’s arms are jointed and fully assembled and part of the backpack assembly.
When you are assembling the backpack you’ll assemble two jointed arms and fold them up so they fit into the backpack. When not in use they appear to be part of the backpack.
When you want your Gundam fully fully-armoured you pull it out.
Then uncurl that many jointed arm and it’s ready to do whatever you’d like.
You can rotate the arm at the base and also the claw at the end.
Into that claw you can attach a shield and, if I were to guess, a beam saber handle as well. There is a little tab in the center of the claw.
This inserts into the opening on the handle of the shield.
For even more positioning options you can slide that handle assembly on the underside of the shield up along the length of the shield.
From what I can tell the base of the extra arm assembly does not click into a position at the top when you pull the arm out. When I tried to give it an extra pull thinking it would secure itself in there the arm came apart at the base. So, it appears that only way to secure the arms into a position is to turn them sideways so the shield weight is to the outside and not straight up. Either way, things look awesome.
That was a lot to write about and I’ll probably realize after I’ve published this post that I missed something I wanted to mention in this section.
Final Build Design Score: 10/10
Without Full Armour
Leaving all that armour aside for now the biggest draw or point of interest in the kit is the Frame Covers which have already been talked about in detail. They are, of course, a great idea and addition to a Gundam frame but I need to point out that they are not always the easiest things to work with. Bandai’s instruction manual is pretty clear on how they are incorporated into the build but, in a way, you are on your own when it comes to the final finished product. Once you cut away the excess that you think you won’t need you don’t get to go back and do it again. This can be kind of stressful. You may want the Frame Covers to look a certain way only to see that it’s not working for you. In a way, they are quite intimidating, but don’t let this dissuade you. I imagine new modelers may struggle a bit with these at first, but it becomes fun working with them trying to produce a result you can be proud of. Some people may feel a little burned out when they get to the second leg and are on Frame Cover number eight. Hang in there!
With Full Armour
With so many weapons and attachments sticking out every which way you’ll find yourself bumping into one thing when trying to move another. This isn’t really a problem but you’ll find yourself being wary of certain things as you pose and play with this kit. Once you’ve got it the way you want it, the results speak for themselves.
Also, everything holds together so well that it can be difficult to pull something off when you want to. Once you figure out the knack of things it will be no problem.
He does need help with his monster gun, though.
This also highlights that this kit, when Full Armoured may be a bit of a one trick pony. You’ll get some great poses on the stand but you there is a limit to what you can do off of it.
Final Fun Factor Score: 9/10
With and Without Full Armour
You are given plenty of hand parts which you will appreciate because the hands, like the rest of the kit, are highly detailed and look fantastic.
You are also provided with a huge number of water-slide decals.
The HG FA Gundam was pretty sticker heavy for an High Grade kit but this takes it to another level. If I did have one little complaint about these it is that I know some people struggle with water-slide markings and would have preferred stickers.
And you’re given a stand! And not just any stand. It’s a stand that can be used to pose your FA Gundam in either a standing or flying position. The key to that is this piece here.
You actually get two of them and they replace the long arm the stand usually comes with.
Pictured here with two other parts you won’t need in this build.
If you want your kit standing then you only need to plug one of those arm extensions into the base.
If you want it in the air then you add the second arm extension.
It’s quite a simple system but it works great.
I will add one piece of advice. The end of the arm extension where you insert the adapter found on Fa Gundam’s butt has an opening on one of the sides.
Make sure that opening is facing to the back of the stand. If it is facing towards the front or one of the sides the kit will lean in that direction due to its weight.
Did I mention this is a heavy kit?
That stand arm is doing its best.
Final Extras Score: 10/10
After all is said and done this kit has a special place in not only the Ver. Ka lineup, not only the MG lineup, but in the entire range of Gundam models Bandai has produced. That is a small group of special company which includes the PG Unicorn and the MG Sinanju Ver. Ka. Those kits you’ll remember forever and compare to the kits that come after it. It definitely earns its score thanks to a great design, fantastic engineering, and so much stuff.