Series: High Grade 00 (HG00) 1/144
Title: GN-001 Gundam Exia
Release Date: 10/2007
Suggested Price: ¥ 1200
No. of Parts: 126
Plastic colors: white, blue, dark gray, red, yellow, clear, light blue (rubber)
Date: September 29, 2009
Ah, the Exia. Where the Freedom emphasized ranged combat, the Exia is all about melee yes, by all means another RX-78-2 clone. Or is it? The Exia's original lineart is far from impressive. I daresay, on paper the Exia looks pretty dull. Watching the 00 anime, however, it's slick. It's badass. It's amazing. The difference between the animated Exia and the static Exia is enormous€”and the difference between the animated Exia and it's three-dimensional gunpla counterpart is nearly as great. I am immensely impressed with the design and themes of the Exia, and find that it is already one of my favorite high-grade models. Though there are a few things I don't care for in the model's design, it is (for the most part) the most "human" gundam models I've ever seen. It may be small, but it's impressive.
The head is simply, generally the same two skull-halves, faceplate, chin and V-Fin we're all so familiar with. There are a few differences, however. What I like best is the new cut of the eye-stickers. Traditionally, the foil stickers with the eyes were a single band that was almost impossible to place. Now, however, there is a large triangular part to the sticker that unerringly guides the eyes into place. In addition, the red "chin" of the model is the same chunk of plastic the eyes are on, allowing for a nice red outline along the bottom of the eyes, giving the illusion that the model is far more detailed than it actually is. There are a pair of ears on the rear of the head (that I will talk about toward the end) and two clear plastic domes that go on either side of the head. Now, because the "black" is actually a foil sticker, someone could easily replace the color before putting on the clear plastic cover. I'm not sure what to call it (as we've yet to see a label in-series at the time of this review) but it is not only possible to make the clear parts glow, it's easy! The head can move up and down a good forty degrees, but it's horizontal mobility is hampered by the gold V-fins on the shoulders. Yes, you can fold those fins down and out of the way, but doing so makes the Exia look, well, odd. Overall, the head looks great, and evokes the sense of a bird-of-prey. Honestly, I haven't seen a Gundam head (in animation) as distinct as this since the Zeta.
The torso is weird, and a bit hard to explain. Part of that stems from the fact that I have to use words like "breasts" to describe what's going on, and it feels like I'm being a tad immature (even though I'm not). Essentially, there is a single gray cylinder in the "core." A large blue plate fits on the back, on top of which is a large white cone, the GN drive. Unfortunately, the GN cone is pretty nondescript. You really don't have any option but to add panel lines, and even then it seems a bit too mundane. Now, a white circle fits around the front of the torso with little notches for the gold V-fins, which pop into place. The gold V-fins can also be folded down, so that you can hardly see them. There is an indentation for the clear circle in the front, which is essentially the same as the parts in the head.
Now it's time to talk about boobies. Er, the Exia's breast parts. I was actually kind of disappointed, as the breasts of the crummy NG models seemed to be a lot firmer. Basically, there's a single piece of blue plastic that fits onto the arm joints and curls around the front of the Exia's torso, partially covering the central sphere. Each breast has a single yellow vent that easily pops into place. Unfortunately, the breast armor mounts onto a square fitting with a rectangular opening, which makes the armor slide up and down. When you're posing the arms, expect to constantly adjust the positioning of the breasts to keep the Exia from looking ill.
At the bottom of the torso is the familiar red stomach, essentially unchanged from any other Gundam. Ever. Nothing to see there, folks. Move along, move along.
The Exia's arms are pretty damn cool. Sure, you've got the boring-old two panel giant rectangular shoulders (the worst possible design motif to survive G Gundam, I would say) but make up for them with double-jointed elbows, cool hardpoints on the top of the forearm (which is cool because they're usually on the bottom) and spiffy little rubber cables running from the shoulders to the arms. Very spiffy. Easy to construct, and they look pretty good. They're also pretty simple, so there is little else to say. The hands, again, are simply two pieces of plastic, either a gripped fist with an armor cover, or outstretched fingers with an armor cover. The arms also have little clear-plastic circles (w/ black foil stickers underneath), as well as several areas for panel lining... but if you attach the large GN Sword and/or Shield, neither the clear plastic nor the panel lining will be visible.
The Exia's legs are pretty cool, if only for the double-jointed knees AND ankles. That's right. These legs have a LOT of joints, meaning you can do a lot of different poses. Balancing is a different issue... but you'll be happy to note that the Exia is bottom heavy, so if you can balance it in a good pose it will stay that way. The legs, again, have the clear-plastic circles on the outside of the knees, and are built around a dark-gray piece of plastic (resembling, somewhat, a MG model's internal frame) making them look very detailed. Foil stickers do need to be attached into the two small grooves running down the legs, but because that area is indented into the plastic the foil stickers pretty much stay there, and you don't ever have to worry about them peeling off. Since I live in a rather humid area, I am very thankful for that.
The back of the skirt armor has two little pegs that slide open for the GN sabers (read: beam sabers) to attach, which is pretty cool in theory... but the pegs that the sabers slide into are too small, so you'll have to glue the sabers on if you expect them to stick.
The surprising part about the Exia is the pelvic area. Yeah, finally... Bandai's done something new! And it's a great change. Rather than attach the legs to a static pelvis, we actually have an axel running along the center of the pelvic armor allowing for "hip" movement! You can have the right leg further forward or backward than the left, and the left leg higher or lower than the right. It may not sound like much, but it makes the Exia a LOT more poseable, a LOT more human-looking, and a lot more realistic to boot.
Interestingly enough, the Exia's weapons are both one of the best aspects of the model, and one of the worst. The best: the GN Sword. It's awesome, there's no other way to put it. You've got the small shield attached to the Exia's forearm via the hardpoint, which is then attached at the other end to the "muzzle" of the Exia's GN Pistol (or the "hilt" of the GN Sword). The end of the gun/hilt is a rotating handle which allows you to move the GN Sword up and down and still look pretty cool. There's a large blue-plastic guard attached to the bottom of the gun/hilt, which is how the blade itself attaches to the whole thing. The large blade is a single slab of dark gray chocolate, but it's well-detailed and looks downright menacing combined with everything else. It's spectacular, and something you really have to see and touch for yourself to understand how cool it is.
The shield is nothing special, though it is a tad more detailed than most 1/144 models go. Basically, there's a gray slab under a blue slab with a white foil sticker on top. Personally, I think they could have easily molded the shield with a single blue part and a single white part and ended up with something looking a lot better. Too bad.
Then there's the atrocious part. Seven swords... seven swords, and six of them are crap. I've already mentioned my issues with the GN sabers, mainly that the lower two simply will not stay in place on the skirt armor. The upper sabers stay in place, and look kind of cool, but that's about it. There's only a single GN saber with a blade, and it's molded in solid white plastic. Yawn.
The GN blades themselves are pretty dull too. Each one is a single chunk of white plastic with a tiny blue clip on one of the sides. The problem is that the blue part doesn't attach very well to the white blade, and will often fall off. Now, the cylindrical locks for the GN blades are pretty cool looking (way better than any old hardpoint) but when you actually have the blades mounted, you find that your model's mobility is severely hampered. With the GN blades mounted, you cannot swivel the hips too much without the blades popping out of place. The only alternative is to angle the GN blades completely vertical so that they're obscured by the leg itself. Not a wise design choice.
The Exia has some problems. The accessories/weapons and torso all leave you wishing for more. It's a shame, really, since the rest of the model is far superior to any previous HG offering. The rotating hips are amazing. I can't believe no one thought of it earlier. The shoulders look damn cool with the torso, head and pelvis, and the whole design meshes together in an unbelievable way. The Exia is still identifiable as based-off the original gundam, but it also has it's own (rather distinct) charm. The best way to say it is... the Exia is spiky. It's very triangular, and a lot of that doesn't come across in the animation. Essentially, the Exia has lots of triangular components that all point in the same direction at a similar angle. The V-fins (both on the shoulders and on the head), the ears, the shoulders, the breasts, the hip armor, the shield, everything is at just the right angle to create a beautifully designed mobile suit. A harmony of angles. I'm confident that a master-grade Exia would be even better, but for the price you cannot beat this high-grade model. It may not be the best model out there, but in terms of aesthetic design it's at the top - just build it for yourself. I'm certain you'll agree.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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