After receiving a slew of excellent Master Grade models, I decided to look for rarer Gunpla kits, especially those from less-popular anime series. In the Philippines, kits from the Gundam X line have become very rare indeed. With me having a penchant for transforming MS, I decided to pick up the Gundam Airmaster Burst.
Curiously, perhaps in a bid to save on production costs, many parts are shared with the older Gundam Airmaster (as seen on the runners). Let’s see how it does.
Like the Airmaster, the Burst’s is a typical HG construction: two halves of the helmet plus the face mask pieces. The antenna is one of the four pieces that is gold-plated, and anyone who’s worked with plated parts before knows that chipping some of it is inevitable as you remove it from the runner. The head looks rather sad and formless as it is; it’ll need some paint and detailing to look better. The whole thing is mounted on a neck piece that slides back and forth for the transformation. Articulation isn’t so good either, with a decent swiveling range but not much for tilt.
This is key to the Burst’s transformation, like its older Airmaster brother. A standard box with elongated shoulder posts is the core torso. The external armor components, such as the white plates and gold-plated intakes, thread themselves over the posts so they tilt upward for the transformation. The center piece folds out into a “tongue” to hide the head in Fighter mode. The sliding Fighter nosecone acts as a backpack.
Unlike the Airmaster, the Burst’s wing assembly is fitted directly over the shoulders so that it is parallel to the ground in MS mode. This is where some headaches come in. Because of the sheer weight of the wing assembly (which includes large “booster beam cannons” hidden in the wing pods), the Burst’s torso tends to tilt upward when you don’t want it to. Granted, there’s a notch in the center torso to stop this from happening, but it still does. The weight distribution is also biased to the rear, so poseability is frustratingly limited.
With all the weight literally on the Burst’s shoulders, it’s a struggle making this tail-sitting model stand up. The older Airmaster seems to have better balance because the main wing assembly is on its back, set vertically and close to the body, Zeta Gundam-style.
The waist unit sports split front skirts, side skirts with holes to hang the Buster Rifles, and a fixed rear skirt. Like the TV-version Wing Gundam and Airmaster brother, the whole thing rotates 180 degrees for the transformation.
I was aghast at seeing how I built the arms on this thing. They are simple enough items, but my main worry is the whole elbow construction. The elbow is nothing more than two polycaps (one post and one hole) put together, without even so much as a polystyrene joint part to hide it. Theoretically it makes for better posing as it’s double-jointed, but I am in serious doubt about the elbow’s longevity as the polycap elbow is where the arm rotates and bends. A traditional polystyrene post connecting to a hole-shaped polycap would be a lot better.
The hands are a surprise. They’re a pseudo-MG construction, with hinged gun-grip fingers and a static thumb. Granted, they’re as formless as the head, but they work very well. A last gripe is how the whole arm just sags to the body when carrying the Burst’s weapons...and they’re not even that heavy. These things need some reinforcement.
If I had a lot to say about the arms, I have even more to complain about the legs. Considering the weight the shoulders have to contend with, it’s surprising how weak these things are. Construction-wise it’s the same deal: typical HG complexity means it’s not that hard to put together, and lots of panel lines will work well for detail freaks. However the knees are just so frustratingly floppy. When trying to pose in a simple static standing-up position they can bend and double over, resulting in a Burst that’s on its back. When trying for an action pose, they simply conspire against it and force the whole model to fall. Range of motion isn’t that hot either: the floppiness in the knees should really have gone to thigh motion at the groin area. Maybe tightening all the slots for the polycaps should help...
The feet are typical transforming Gunpla items that go tiptoe for transformation. They have a very small surface area and aren’t articulated enough to help stability in standing poses.
Buster rifles- Not to be confused with the long-barreled items from Gundam Wing, these look like big pistols glorified with machine-gun-style perforated barrels. The grips retract into the gun body, and the butt plates have connectors to mesh with either the side skirt armors or the arms.
Missile rifle- In place of the Airmaster’s shoulder-mounted missiles, those things make their way here. The missile rifle is double-barreled and looks like a short-barreled shotgun without the stock. It’s not really my cup of tea.
Fighter mode- The booster beam cannons pop out of their neat wing pod compartments and are useful here. The nosecone also sports an oval-muzzled beam cannon. Compared to the Airmaster, the Burst looks much less like a fighter plane and more like a...I don’t really know what, actually; I guess it looks rather unique. The wings are a lot shorter due to the booster beam cannons and don’t look like they can generate that much lift. Fighter mode has no locking mechanisms so if you were to play with it, you’d be continually readjusting the nosecone, legs and torso so it looks the way it’s supposed to. The manual makes mention of how to connect the 1/100 G-Falcon to the Burst as a power-up unit, but I didn’t get to test this.
You can trace the design of a few Gundam SEED DESTINY mecha to the Burst; I’d say it’s the design daddy to the Chaos and Saviour Gundams.
As a transforming mecha the Burst has the uniqueness card going for it, if not the desirability factor: it looks like nothing else. Many of the devils of this kit however are sadly inherent in its design. Having all that weight over its shoulders and requiring legs versatile enough to transform into Fighter mode kill its chances as a poseable model. Remember also that this kit is of 1996 vintage, back when Bandai was just sorting out its Master Grade series whose early kits all had problems of their own.
I suppose this was one of those kits where the whole point was just to come out with something to sell to fans of Gundam X, not for the depth of engineering we can see not just from MG kits, but also from HGs and 1/100s from the SEED and DESTINY lines. With roughly the same parts count, a SEED kit of the same scale is way more rigid in its legs. Present-day Gunpla modelers and collectors should consider themselves very lucky souls indeed, as there is less work that is needed to make a model behave like we want it to.
So what’s my verdict? If you want a transforming MS from Gundam X, get the plain red Airmaster. It may share some of the same faults and have a weaker arsenal, but at least it looks better.