When it comes to a Gundam series, you can’t say that Bandai ever “phones it in” when making kits. Even if the show might not be as popular with everyone as they would have liked or hoped, when Bandai decides that they’re going to kit a new show, they really go at it. It seems that the days of only producing a handful of kits from a given show (G and X Gundam, anyone?) are gone, which is nice from a modeller’s standpoint. That means, if you see a fairly major mech, or even a somewhat important secondary one, you’re likely to see it as a kit.
Gundam AGE was Bandai’s first non-UC story since the popular Seed franchise. For many reasons, it didn’t seem to win over fans right away. It was criticized as being too rushed, with insufficient time for character development. People on one side said it was too “kiddie”, and that the animation was too simplified, while others said that there was too much going on and the show seemed unfocused. Personally, I liked it a lot; I thought the multi-generational aspect was something really new and interesting for Gundam, and I thought it worked well. As for being too juvenile, I disagree; the main character’s mom dies, crushed under a burning building and in front of his eyes, in the first few minutes of Episode 1. Hmm… yeah, that sounds pretty “kiddie” to me.
Of course, when talking about models, none of this really matters, or does it? Some of us buy kits because the mech is cool and we may not have even seen it in action on the anime in question. However, sometimes we’re inspired to buy a kit specifically because we HAVE seen it in action, and like the way it works, fights or like the pilot’s personality. For me, it can go both ways, and it has. A good anime presence can overcome a “so-so” mech design, and a cool design can overcome a “meh” role in a show.
This is particularly important for mecha from the AGE franchise. Why? Well, to be honest, I bought most of my AGE kits because of how they looked; I hadn’t seen the show at the time. I found there were AGE designs I loved right away, and others that I thought were just kind of odd or dumb-looking. In AGE, there are a lot of different design philosophies, though, so finding something you like should be doable. For me, the Legilis was a rare case where I saw it in the anime first, loved its design and its use, and then I sought out the kit and was pleased to see how well it translated into “real life”. Let’s see what I’ve picked up this time, eh?
The Legilis’ box, like the others from the AGE series, gives the impression of being white, even though the box top is, in fact, almost completely coloured. The artwork shows a full body shot of the Legilis in action, its eyes flashing menacingly, while surrounded by a lot of weird CG effects. Honestly, I find the art is a bit too busy, for my liking, and I have a hard time figuring out exactly what the Legilis looks like from the box top. I think the innate coolness of the mech is discernable, but I don’t think Bandai’s art department really did it justice.
Once you’ve seen the show, you’ll understand why it is that the Legilis seems to be surrounded by flying, glowing gummy worms, but if you haven’t seen the show, then it is confusing and a bit unsettling. The suit itself looks nice, but I think the CG effects guys should have laid off the coffee and Red Bulls. There’s no mistaking what MS it is, though, since the box clearly spells out that this kit is from AGE and it is indeed the Legilis! The large font on the left side of the box is clear to read, and since the name is in English, even those of us on this side of the Pacific will have no trouble identifying the mech on crowded hobby shop shelves. You can see from the box that this is kit number 29 from the AGE series; that’s what I meant about Bandai really cranking up the model production. There have been many series that didn’t even approach half that number of kits.
On the side of the box are some good pictures of what this thing actually looks like. The one side shows a simple “Standing” anime shot and a picture of it on a stand. This model is set up to be adaptable to the Bandai Action Base system, if you’re wondering. The other side of the box shows more detailed shots as well as a full front and back view of the model. Against the white background, you wouldn’t think that a Gundam would show up so well, but it does. I quite like the “no borders” take on the full front and rear views. I think it’s less amateurish looking than some HGUC boxes.
The copy on the box makes the same claim as all AGE kits; that these are supposed to be “fun to build Gunpla”. (Gunpla is a portmanteau of “GUNdam” and “PLAstic model”, and I really, really hate it.) I don’t know if that’s true or not, since I’ve yet to build one, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to be too complicated a kit. Let’s take a look!
The Kit and Instructions:
Opening the box, you see exactly what you’d expect to see from any 1/144 HG kit from the last couple of years. The Legilis could easily be an HGUC kit, and that’s a good thing. There are two white racks as well as one each of red, blue, yellow, near-black and clear yellow for the beam sabres. The polycaps are black, though, not he usual Gunship Grey. The reason for this seems to be that the Legilis’ “mechanical bits” such as the hands, upper legs, etc. are all done in the near-black colour. It thus makes sense to have the polycaps match this, so things don’t look out of place when everything’s put together.
The colour separation on the kit is extremely good. This may be what they mean by “fun to build Gunpla”, since even with no paint, you can really get a good replica of the mech. There is a sheet of foil stickers too, which modellers will likely eschew, but which are good for those who prefer to assemble without painting. The one exception to this might be the green “jewel” in the Legilis’ chest; I think the sticker here, if it works, could be a real godsend. About the only thing that doesn’t look right is the gun. There should be, according to the anime shots, some white on the gun. This is provided neither as parts nor decals, so if you want a whited gun, you’re on your own. Personally, I don’t like it, and I won’t likely paint it that way even though I do paint everything.
Looking at the instructions, the build order looks pretty darn well-thought out. There are, however, a few cases of build around. One is in the upper legs, where the near-black pieces need to go into the White pieces. This should be easy enough to paint around, so I don’t consider it a problem. The shoulders, though, are a problem. The yellow “vents” and “stripes” in the shoulder assembly have to be installed as the shoulder halves are joined. This will make painting a real pain in the backside. I think it might be possible to cut the stripes off the vents, and sand them down to fit in individually afterwards, once the shoulders are sanded and painted, but I can’t be sure. Time will tell! At least the shoulders do NOT have to have the upper arm built into them; that’s a typical HGUC failure, and they’ve avoided it nicely!
As for the instructions, they are typical AGE instructions; like all their ilk, they use the 3D CAD model of the kit to highlight the completed assemblies. This is one thing I don’t like, and I’m glad that the HGUCs I have don’t do it. It’s a bit muddy in black and white, and doesn’t really add anything. Other than that, the instructions are typically easy to follow, and anyone can handle building this thing, even if you don’t know your Kanji from your Katakana! The centrefold of the instructions is full colour, showing different aspects of the mech. It’s at this point that, if you haven’t been paying attention, you will find a bit of a startle in store for you. Why? Well, it’s just this: The Legilis has a tail!
Yes, you read it right. While some of the Seed mecha were quadrupedal, they didn’t have tails, so “Why does this otherwise mostly conventional design have one?”, you might ask. The answer is surprisingly simple: nearly ALL of the MS used by Vagan in the AGE series have tails! The Vagan suits are very animalistic, some even turning into dragon-like shapes. The Legilis is the last in a long line of Vagan suits, thus inheriting the tail. However, it combines the tail with the design aesthetic of an Earth Federation Gundam to create a rather uniquely generic looking Gundam. It’s cool that the tail can wrap around the Legilis’ waist to become a cannon, though; that’s something different!
The Legilis is, to my eyes, a very aggressive looking mech. The small back-mounted wings and the aforementioned tail will help to set it apart from other Gundams on your shelf, and the large amount of yellow on it serves to give it a large visual impact as well. The core fighter is detachable, which is odd for 1/144. However, this unit is weird, and consists of the head, wings and tail of the Legilis. I don’t think much of it, but it’s a neat gimmick and gives you one extra way to display the finished model.
I am a fan of this design, but, like all those from AGE, it’s a bit on the odd side. As a model, though, it looks like it’s as well-made as any other modern Gundam. Time will tell if it’s “fun to build” or not, but I don’t see it posing any problems for anyone of any experience. If you want to go all hardcore on it, you’re free to, but it should look good even when handled by a novice. It’s likely a good model for slightly older children, and the final model looks like it should be pretty poseable.
If you like the style, I can definitely recommend the Legilis. I don’t think we’ll see a 1/100 incarnation of it any time soon, so if you want one, this is how you’re going to have to take it. However, that’s not really a big deal; 1/144 is a good scale for this mech, I’d be worried it’ll be too top heavy in a larger scale. All in all, it looks like a great kit of a slightly different take on the Gundam theme. Grab one for yourself and see what you think!