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The Ten: Updated Wednesdays-Fridays-Sundays

Friday, January 2, 2015

Review: Real Grade RX-178 Gundam Mk-II TITANS

It sure has been a while since I've done one of these, hasn't it? That's entirely my fault. I thought I was without a camera for about... two years, but then I was PROVEN COMPLETELY WRONG! So, since I've been in Japan and since Gunpla are dirt-cheap here, I decided to give this guy a whirl. I've always been a fan of the blue versions of specific Gundam, such as the F-91 Harrison, so when I saw TITANS I had to pick him up. However, I'm strongly considering picking up the normal version as well.

Because this kit is damn good.

Click the images for a slideshow!
To start things off, let me apologize for some of my obvious nubs. I am no expert when it comes to Gunpla, but I am also a bit embarrassed by the two hanging off of those vents. In any case. those are actually removable parts, so I can always take them off to shave them down.

The first thing I noted upon completing the 178 is that it has a lot of heft. More than the RX-78, and much more than the Zaku. I'd say the only Real Grade that might be beefier than this guy is the Z'Gok, maybe the Zephyranthes. This kit feels solid, and it looks like it, too. There's a good deal of bulk in the lower legs and feet, as well as in the torso area. 

 The build quality of the 178 is quite nice. For Real Grade owners, there shouldn't be many surprises here, other than the piping, which has a nice measurement system in the instructions. A sharp, clean pair of scissors is what you'll need for those, as the fabric for the piping tends to fray. Otherwise, though, the build is very familiar and feels a bit more standardized than the RX-78 or Aile Strike. There's few "gimmicks" or complex functions to be taken care of, so it ends up feeling quite straightforward, though even a simplistic Real Grade build is a very satisfying one. There seems to be a bit more armor shifting going on in this kit, though that has a bit to do with the piping.

When it's all said and done, the 178 looks fabulous, even without decals. I've leaned more towards using the reflective stickers with my Real Grades to make the eyes pop a bit more, and the overall effect is very nice. The 178 comes with several alternate pieces, made to change the shoulders and exhaust vents on the chest and calves. It's a nice touch and it gives the builder a few options depending on whether or not they want to be faithful to the original design or mix and match.

Showing off the range of motion (and fabulous balance), the 178 has the usual armor shifts- the standard thigh, knee, and elbow shifts, and an ankle shift on the front and rear of the leg. The ab crunch is especially nice, as are the beam saber storage swivels and pivots on the backpack. The thrusters on the backpack are also moveable, and the hands are as flexible as ever. Another note- I'm not sure when Bandai started modifying the side skirts to pivot, but it's a great touch and it adds to the pose-ability. If only the Zaku had this feature...

Showing off additional articulation. I was especially impressed with the shoulders, which have dimension and flexibility. They can also shrug inwards towards the chest, a feature common in most Real Grade kits. The waist joints are also featured here, which have quite a bit of twist and flex to them. The issues I used to have with the waists of the first three Real Grade kits seem nonexistent here- both legs seem snug in their joints and have never popped off. The head's articulation is decent, but a bit limited.

Showing off the cockpit, which is simple and effective. The plug for the shield is present on both arms and works as well as one would expect- the connection is very solid. The TITANS sports two shades of blue and gray and one shade of yellow, black, green, and red. Though not as diverse as other Kits, the overall look is still effective and ends up looking fantastic, especially for a kit that favors dark colors.
 
 The 178 comes with a number of accessories, some of which are pictured here- a rifle, headset, two beam sabers and their beams, a rocket launcher, ammo for both the rifle and bazooka and a shield (of course, a mini pilot as well). It's much more than I was expecting from the kit, especially in comparison with earlier Real Grades. Also interesting to note- and again, I am unsure of when this trend began- but there's now several hand options- the highly articulated Real Grade hands, a pair of fists, "holding" hands, and "grasping" hands with splayed fingers. More on this in a bit. I was surprised that the 178 only came with two beam sabers, but given the storage method (the hand tab also slots into the holsters on the backpack), I suppose it's understandable.

Holding a beam saber. You can see the "holding" version of the right hand present. I personally feel the Real Grade hand does not seem to hold the beam saber as well as my RX-78 and Aile Strike did, but that might just be faulty memory and something I will update this review with in the future. The "holding" hands also feature a slot for the tabs on the rifle, saber, and beam sabers, so the grip is especially nice on those. It feels like a nice compromise.

I'm always astonished by how well these bazookas manage to slot into the hands as well as the shoulder, but there you have it. The bazooka design is really nice and has a good color balance. The shield has a sliding mechanic that allows it to expand or contract, which is extremely satisfying- the only strange thing is that the plastic is so thin to accommodate this feature that you can see where the rivets are on the outside of the shield as well- a minor issue.

It wouldn't be a Real Grade if it couldn't store all its weaponry on its body, right? The clip for the bazooka holds the weapon very snugly, and as shown here, two of the three additional rifle ammo clips can be stored at the top of the shield. The additional bazooka clip can be stored on either side skirt, and the beam sabers rest in their places on the backpack. It's aesthetically very smooth, and the Gundam looks as if it carries them all with ease.

All in all, would I recommend the RX-178? Absolutely. I think it features some of the best design choices present in the Real Grade line, in additional to being a solid kit with a good amount of weight and accessories. The piping is one of the more precise and difficult construction gimmicks in the line, but it's made significantly easier thanks to the very direct instructions. The end result is worth it, though- a mobile suit that looks hefty in comparison with other Real Grade releases, and has plenty of articulation. It is very aesthetically pleasing and probably one of the more unoffensive designs in the Real Grade series, which makes it a good purchase for a Universal Century fan, or someone curious about building Real Grade kits. I think it is a good build that doesn't become overcomplicated at any point, which is why it gets a total thumbs up from me.

I hope you enjoyed the review, and I will indeed by returning soon with two more Real Grade purchases. If you have any questions or requests for more pictures, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below!

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