Monday 1 July 2019

Toybox REVIEW: Moderoid Gurren Lagann

Release Date: May 2019
RRP: 3981 yen

Why exactly it's taken Good Smile Company to properly jump on the Gurren Lagann bandwagon is uncertain, but for fans of Gainax's love letter to all things super robot now is a pretty good time when it comes to merchandising. GSC have reignited the franchise with new statues and Nendoroid figures, but on the strictly robot side of things have also churned out a surprise entry in their Moderoid line. This still relatively new line is GSC throwing their hat into the world of mecha model kits, with other entries currently including Mazinkaiser, Godmars, Strelizia from Darling in the Franxx and various E-series trains from Shinkansen Henkei Robo Shinkalion. Though model kits isn't strictly a new market for Good Smile Company it isn't one they're especially known for these days

When it comes to visual presentation this release gets off to a great start before you even start building, because the packaging is simply gorgeous. The box features some beautiful artwork of a super deformed Gurren Lagann in the iconic "Giga Drill Break" pose, standing proudly in front of other bits of similarly styled art in the distinct "Spiral Energy green" colour. There's even a guest appearance from Nendoroid Simon, whose compatibility with this kit I will go into in a separate forthcoming review on that particular figure. The back features a number of images of the completed model kit in a variety of different poses (as well as showing off the compatibility with Simon), but one of the most refreshing things about these images is that there's been no sort of painting or touch ups – the model you see here is exactly the one you'll get inside. Open it up and there are a number of red, yellow, cream and black runners, along with the two sunglasses pieces done in translucent black. Be VERY careful when cutting these from the runner, as unfortunately it's extremely easy to crack the finish just from the pressure required to cut them free. Also included is a fold out instruction booklet, featuring the same art as printed on the front of the box.

Moderoid is still a relatively new line in the grand scheme of things, but even so it's interesting that it doesn't seem to be devoting itself to a specific style of model kit. Some releases have been singular robots so feel more comparable to Gundam kits, while others have been combining robots that place them more as a competitor to something like the Super Mini-Pla line. Gurren Lagann is a particularly strange one though, as Good Smile have cast aside the robot's usual proportions in favour of a squat super-deformed version. Calling it the mecha equivalent of a Nendoroid wouldn't be too far from the truth, but it's pretty close to the aesthetic the Super Robot Wars games sometimes take. Either way it’s a far more unique take then just making yet another Gurren Lagann figure. It also means that it's a fairly straightforward build, and should take too long for even newbie model builders to get to grips with. There's a good number of different colour plastics used to provide an accurate looking model, and the only stickers included are for the blue under the eyes, the red stripe down the nose and the two Team Gurren logos on either shoulder pad. The only obvious detail missing from the finished model are the blue lines and mouth detailing on the torso/Gurren. Since both of these are already moulded into the plastic, it's no trouble painting these details in yourself should you choose to. It's simply a clean, no hassle kit that's very good for what it is but will inevitably only appeal to those behind the SD style.

As you can expect from a figure with these kind of proportions the articulation points are fairly minimal, but what Gurren Lagann does have its absolutely able to make the most of. The head, shoulders, shoulder pads, hands, torso, waist, hips and feet are all attached via polycap ball joints, whilst the arms also have a bicep swivel and hinged elbows. There isn't a whole lot you can get out of the elbows at all, but even a 90 degree bend makes a big different. It's a shame there's no knees, but again given the size and proportions it isn't all that surprising. The best part here is the torso, as the ball joint also gives some expressiveness to the Gurren face as well as providing articulation. Pieces will pop off quite easily if moved too much which can be a little frustrating, but the ball joint system ensures nothing gets outright broken. Compared to what you'd get with something like a Nendoroid or similarly super-deformed figure, the articulation here isn't half bad at all.

Along with the model itself you also get three pairs of hands (open hands, weapon holding and the obligatory "pierce the heavens" pointing hands), a larger and straightened pair of sunglasses for the "Gurren Boomerang" attack and of course a drill which can be switched out in place of a hand. The drill is moulded in black plastic, so will require some paint if you want it to be show-accurate. The hands and drill all connect via simple ball joints that allow for a full range of motion, and the glasses fit comfortably into the designated weapon holding hands. You can even fit the smaller pair in one of the hands for some dual-wielding action.

However on top of all that you also have some especially cool extras that really push up the desirability of this model – alternate pieces to transform the head back into Lagann. Doing so requires removing all of the "helmet" sections from the head (all of which unclip surprisingly easily) and then replacing them with Lagann's stubby little arms and legs as well as it's forehead section. Sadly the brain dome hasn't been included, but despite extremely minimal cockpit detailing the inside doesn't look too bad for a model of its size. Lagann's limbs are moveable only via the ball joints at the shoulders and hips, which have a full range of movement however given how tiny the (non-existent) feet are getting it to stand out up without support is nearly impossible. There are also no alternate parts to turn the rest of the kit back into a show accurate Gurren, but the proportions already help make it a pretty close fit anyway. Given both the lack of transformable Gurren Laganns and Lagann toys in general this is a brilliant feature for the model to have, adding to both its playability and display potential.

From what I've been able to piece together from various other reviews the Moderoid line has been a fairly mixed bag so far, but at the very least Moderoid Gurren Lagann is a fantastic little model kit. The size and proportions aren't going to be for everyone, but with the amount of other Gurren Lagann figures there are on the market Good Smile did the right thing by doing something a little different. It's small and cute, but more importantly a fun and extremely straightforward build perfect for modellers of any experience level. So whether you're looking for a small project or pass the time or just want to shake up a Gurren Lagann display with something a little different, this kit is definitely worth your time and investment.

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