Bandai 1/100 Master Grade RGM-89 R++ Jegan (Custom Build)

With a Beam Shield and other custom improvements, this MG Jegan is quite a ways removed from the original MS! This is not your daddy’s Jegan!

Bandai knows how to make the most out of things. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. However, once in a while they seem to miss out on something obvious. A perfect example is the RGM-89 Jegan. The Jegan was the “grunt” Mobile Suit (MS) in the 1988 Gundam Movie “Char’s Counterattack”. As such, it was a “futuristic” take on the “old faithful” GM-series of mass produced Federation suits. However, whereas a lot of the GM designs look like cannon-fodder, the Jegan had a much cooler, more powerful look. It was really slick, and was quite a popular design.

There was a kit of it, in the Char’s Counterattack line. It had a terrible design that, while capturing the basic look of the suit, didn’t allow for much in the way of poseability. Its arms were all wrong, and the elbows could only flex in and out, a condition I call, to this day, “Jegan Arm”. (Note: It’s a very insulting term.)  Despite this, and since there’s always a lot of people who prefer the mass produced suits for customizing purposes, the love for Jegan kits has remained strong. Mind you, there was a wish for something better…

As Bandai’s Master Grade line rolled along, and there was renewed interest in making MG kits of the Char’s Counterattack suits, a lot of people got excited about finally getting a new Jegan, and finally in the long-hoped for MG format. But…NOPE! For whatever reason, Bandai, the guys who almost never miss a trick, just ignored the Jegan. Sure, we got a Nu, a Sazabi and the ReGZ, not to mention the Geara Doga. When Geara Doga hit in 2013, everyone figured the Jegan MUST be next. Nope. Nuttin’. Jegan fans were perplexed, but Bandai sometimes makes fans wait. Jegan fans waited and still… nothing. Clearly, there was a need for a new Jegan kit. Of course, we did get one, and then several variants, when Gundam Unicorn was the hot property. With this sudden resurgence of “Jegan love”, everyone was expecting a Master Grade Jegan. Nope.

So, the Unicorn boom came and went with a few excellent HGUC Jegan flavours, but still no big one. A lot of fans despaired of ever seeing one. It seemed that despite a good number of people vocally asking for/demanding a 1/100 Jegan, Bandai saw no value in it. Then, there was a teaser that one was under consideration for inclusion in the then-new “Reborn 1/100” series. Yet again, despite fans pleading, the folks at Bandai did not deliver a 1/100 Jegan. It was only in 2018 that the MG Jegan was finally revealed! Fans of cannon-fodder/grunt/general-purpose/insert-non-Gundam-term-here suits were finally going to get what they’d been waiting for!

The Kit:

The MG Jegan is an excellent kit. It’s so good I didn’t even bother to do an out of box (OOB) review on it. If you’re thinking “Wait, what?” then let me explain: The MG Jegan was so anticipated that as soon as it came out, lots of Gundam kit builders were quick to get one. Thus, there are reviews all over the place for this thing. There’s no need for me to waste my time or yours retreading ground that’s been so recently and thoroughly covered.

Suffice to say, the MG Jegan is everything a new MG should be. It’s got an inner frame, if that’s your thing (I can do without, but I’m a Gundam Grinch like that…), but it’s fairly simple. There’s no sliding armour, or fancy joint-in-joint action going on. It’s got moderate detail for what it is, but it is largely one of the simpler inner frames I’ve seen. It has excellent range of motion, and the armour for it is broken up exactly where you’d expect it to be.

Colour separation is spot on, but the Jegan’s not a very colourful suit, so that’s not as big a deal as it sounds! Sadly, accessories are as you’d expect; meaning not much. The Jegan has its normal skirt-mounted grenades (which ARE NOT individually moulded, and therefore cannot be deployed), rocket-firing shield (darn, that thing is big), a beam sabre and its (to my eyes) oversized machine gun-looking beam rifle. That’s it.

It has all the usual tricks, with nice instructions, as well as full colour shots to help with detail. The instructions are “Bandai-good”, meaning they are the best in the business, hands down. There is a sheet of dry transfers, a few chrome stickers and a sheet of godawful PLASTIC stickers. GACK!!. This is NOT an ‘80s GI Joe toy, Bandai… That’s one thing Bandai always does wrong. Or, does it? After all, if you want waterslide markings, now you have to buy an aftermarket decal set! I see what you did there… I just don’t like it.

So, overall, it’s a great kit of a stringy green mech that looks cool, but anonymous at the same time. It all fits together great, the build order is intuitive and there’s almost nothing not to like (besides the plastic stickers). I would recommend it to everyone, even complete novices. It’s that good and forgiving a kit.

Why Wait?

That being said, I waited over a year to get one, and then only bought one on a lark. Why? I like the Jegan, but I already have one. In green. With the standard weapons loadout. I like it a lot, and it takes up less space (both built and unbuilt) than the MG. Still, it was cheap for a new MG and I eventually caved and got one. The only issue was… I had no idea what to do with it. It’s rare I buy a kit before knowing how I want to build it; not unheard of (especially if there are beam shields or shoulder cannons involved), but rare.

So, I just let this guy sit in the stash while I worked on other stuff. Then the Re:100 GunEZ came out. This is the League Militaire’s general purpose suit from Victory Gundam. It’s a beautiful “next generation” of grunt suit, and is a smaller (by far) mech than the Jegan. I have the old 1/100 GunBlastor, built as such, so I was keen to get a GunEZ. What I noticed was that the V-type bazooka it came with seemed way too big. I compared it to the one from my F-90Y, and found it was definitely more massive. That seemed dumb.

But, it got the ball rolling. I started to think “Maybe I could give the bazooka to the Jegan…”. It needed something new and interesting, but why would a Jegan have such a thing? It’s a UC153-era weapon. At that point, the Jegan would be about 64 years old. However, an idea started to come together. Planes last a long time. They get modified and re-built, rearmed and repainted. They have constant electronic and engine mods, if they’re worthwhile airframes to start. A good example is the nearly immortal F-4 Phantom, with the MiG-21 and, of course, the B-52, tagging along to prove the point. Since Jegans were in F-91 (UC123), it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility they could be stretched further.

Thus, I decided to make an “ultimate” Jegan. I wanted one to represent the final evolution of the suit in the early UC150s. It would basically be like how F-106s survived until the late 80s; maybe not a frontline type, but one that could be used for Reserves, National Guard etc. To this end I decided to not only steal the bazooka, but the rare-for-a-modern-kit beam shield, from the GunEz.

No, you’re not wrong. That shield and bazooka are NOT from the MG Jegan. They come from the Re:100 GunEz, but look darned good on the RGM-89!

Building the Ultimate Jegan:

The first thing to decide on was colour scheme, but this was easy. The Federation grunt MS at the time of Victory is the Jamesgun. This is a much-miniaturized suit that pays some homage to the Jegan in design by virtue of it having to fit stylistically with what came before. The Jamesgun has only ever appeared (so far) as a 1/144 model in the simple V Gundam line in the early ‘90s. It’s a great kit, and I’d love a handful of them, but that’s a separate story. The normal Jamesgun is all Light Ghost Grey save for its midsection, which is red, and its chest vents, which are either yellow or gold, depending on  your preference.

Being monochromatic suited the Jegan, and the change to a coloured midriff with a monochrome cockpit door sounded cool, so that’s what I was working towards.

The bottom half of the Jegan is totally stock. It’s built exactly to the instructions, just painted Light Ghost Grey. It was a joy to work with and I only encountered a couple problems on the painting end. The kit was flawless.  This kit does have a few firsts, though. It is the first time I’ve decanted paint for use in my airbrush. I decanted both the Rustoleum Dark Grey for the frame, and the Rustoleum Grey Primer for the armour. This gives much better control, uses less paint and creates far less mess. It also seems to dry faster, likely because it’s on thinner.

This is not a Jegan’s natural colour scheme, but it is the one for the Jamesgun! Check those custom breather vents, too!

I washed the frame with a homemade mix of water, future and Testors Model Master Acrylic (MMA) Aircraft Interior Black (AIB). This flows over the glossy paint on the frame and helps to give it a worn look. This is also the first mech I airbrushed. There’s just so much surface area of one colour it seemed dumb not to. Not only that, but MMA Light Ghost is very persnickety when hand brushed, and shows brush lines as noticeable colour variations, even when sanded smooth. Not cool for this (but good for aging a plane, maybe?), that’s for sure. Of course, any mistakes made in detail painting or outlining could be easily touched up with the same paint; MMAs are great that way.

NOTE: I had a jar of Light Ghost thinned down for hand painting. Normally, this doesn’t affect colour. However, it does on Light Ghost, and the “hand” paint was a bit bluer and darker. I used the ‘straight’ paint for touch up, and it was a perfect match for the airbrushed paint. Go figure…

I glossed all the armour with a light coat of Future before flatting with a mixture of Delta Ceramcoat Indoor/Outdoor Satin Urethane Varnish, Future and Water. I must have had my ratios slightly wrong, because I got quite a bit of “salting”. This is a silvery patch that can highly adversely affect the final look. It usually happens if the coat is a bit thick, or is on too thick.  Thankfully, when I applied the final satin coats, (just the Flat Coat cut with more Future) it went away.

The top half, of the Jegan, though, was quite heavily modified. Here’s how:

  • Backpack: Normally, the tallest things on the Jegan are it’s “maneuver arms”, the long poles on its backpack with verniers at the end. The Jamesgun has only a blocky, dark grey “box” with three thrusters in it. To more closely adhere to this, I left off the top third of the backpack and the arms. This left a gaping hole, which I simply covered with sheet styrene and faired in. The result was exactly what I wanted.

Here’s the backpack with the new top plate on. It’s a simple mod, but changes the looks of things completely!

 

Here’s the finished backpack on the Jegan. See, I told you getting rid of the arms changed the look, didn’t I?

  • Shield: the Jegan’s normal shield is nice, but in 1/100 it’s too massive. I wanted the beam shield to fit onto the hard shield’s mount. It was no problem; I just drilled out the rectangular mounting point on the back of the shield projector, and “Ta da!”, it fit right on. Gotta love that.

Here you can see how the GunEz shield projector fit nicely onto the Jegan’s original mount.

  • Head: I won’t lie, the more I see it, the less I like the Jegan’s forehead. It’s so giant and lumpy. That big head lump thing is a feature of non-Gundams from Char’s Counterattack (see the ReGZ for details), but I hate it. So, I killed it. I assembled the head dry, cut off the “tumor” and then used Aves Apoxie Sculp to make a new head comb extension and smaller, more aerodynamic forehead. The result is a much ‘racier’ looking head; much smaller and more aggressive when viewed head on, but still unmistakeably a Jegan. I also painted the Vulcan pack on the head to match the rest of the noggin, thereby visually integrating it better. I painted the antenna in Radome Tan, because I like to use that on aerials and it looks different.

It’s not a tumor! Well, maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. It is an unsightly lump, though. Time for it to go!!

Well, that’s a start. You can see the hole I was left with. The “under face” is done in Molotow chrome, so it shows up.

Here’s the forehead with the new head comb on it and sanded into shape. the white is MMA Flat white to seal any cracks.

This shows the final shape of the head. It’s much sleeker, more aggressive and less like an elephant seal’s nose.

  • Chest: I HATE the Jegan’s weenie, wheezy-looking, embarrassingly small chest vents. Every other grunt gets big, Gundam-style breathers, but no, not the Jegan. Sod that… I used sheet styrene to block off the back of the recess where the kit parts go, and then used a half (well, a bit less) of a square styrene rod to make a splitter plate. I did this instead of a vent, just for fun. This bisected the intake into two parts, and makes the Jegan look far more powerful in my eyes.

On the left is the new vent, on the right, the original piece with the much smaller vent.

The Jegan only comes with one trigger finger for its rifle, but I wasn’t using that. I wanted it to hold the bazooka in the left hand, with the sabre drawn in the right. However, there’s no good way to do this, or so it seemed. However, apparently the Jegan uses MG AGE I hands (I’ll take the other reviewer’s word for it). Thus, this kit also has the spare AGE components, which include a different trigger finger for each hand! It fit the bazooka perfectly! Fate? You decide…

I painted the upper half the same way as the lower half, with the bazooka and backpack being done in MMA Gunship Grey. I used Molotow Chrome for the detail behind the clear visor, and Tamiya Clear Blue and Clear Green over foil for the various sights and sensor windows. I used my custom MMA Gold for the chest vent splitter, and Guards Red for the midriff. Everything went like clockwork, until I flatted. Again, I got salting, but it was REALLY bad. It took multiple gentle coats of low satin (a less-glossy satin used on the joints and bazooka) and high satin (a glossier semi-gloss for the armour) to make it go away. I was lucky it did, in most places. Sadly, it still shows up a bit in the engine bells’ panel lines, but that’s just how it goes. Oh, I did all engines in MMA Jet Exhaust with International Orange insides, both washed with Citadel Nuln Oil for some aging/wear. The big panel under the main backpack engine is MMA Steel, washed the same way.

When I put it all together, I was amazed. The Jegan looked EXACTLY how I wanted it to. It looked like a weird transition from the “green giant” to the Jamesgun, which is exactly my intention. The bazooka and shield really draw your attention, and the big vents and changed head will make even the most seasoned MS aficionado do a double take. I also like that the head is now the tallest part of the suit, something not normally associated with the Jegan.

From here you can tell it’s a Jegan, but there’s something a little different about it. Just what I was going for!

Conclusions:

The MG Jegan is a great, if not simple, kit. It’s a wonderful MG in that it doesn’t get loaded down with unnecessary gimmickry, but it keeps what MG builders like, which is the heft and detail of the inner frame. Of course, Bandai’s tolerances are tight, so once the frame and armour are painted, getting everything to fit requires a bit of scraping, boring and forcing. As a result, my particular Jegan is not very mobile or possible. A straight assembly is, but my joints are too tight from paint. The good thing is mine won’t sag… not ever!

If you love the Jegan, get this kit. If you like any grunt MS, or customizing, or just have a thing for Char’s Counter Attack, get this kit. Even if you’re not sure what you want to do with it, get this kit.  I recommend it to everyone, of every level of experience. It wasn’t that expensive when I got mine (it could have gone up now) and it was worth every penny. Anyone can enjoy it as it comes, and it’s a great canvas for modellers with a good imagination and either a love of scratch building or a well-stocked spares box!

I had a blast building and customizing it, and you will too! Even if you’ve never built a Gundam, you’ll have no issue with this kit, and you might find yourself interested in a new facet of modelling you’ve not explored before. That’s got to be worth something, right?

Overall, this is a great kit, even if it seems a bit simplified. For me, that’s a strength, not a weakness. The MG Jegan puts the FUN in fundamentals, and it’s a forgiving and entertaining kit. It’s also tall, but thin, so it doesn’t eat up a lot of shelf space, and it looks darned cool.  What else can you ask of a dude that exists just to get blown up?

The size difference between a Jegan and an F-90Y is considerable, as shown in this comparison shot!

The RGM-89 R++ Jegan:

Customizing a suit is only as much fun as the backstory you can make up for it. Here, then, is my “history” of the ultimate Jegan model, the “R++”. NOTE: This is not Gundam canon, I make no claim that it is, and if you are all angry that I made stuff up, then don’t read any further. You’ve been warned…

By the time of the Crossbone Vanguard incursion in UC 123, the Earth Federation Space Forces (EFSF, or more usually just “Federation”) had begun to realize that its older Jegan suits were not only getting a bit long in the tooth, but were likely to be obsolete in less than a decade. This point was driven home during the battle in Frontier IV, wherein the Jegan was more or less totally outclassed by the smaller, more powerful enemy suits. This debacle lead to calls from Federation brass for the Jegan to be replaced immediately. However, two things prevented this from immediately happening. The first was that there were a lot of them in service, and with no immediate replacement, wholesale retirement of the force was seen as non-viable. The second was that the direct successor to the Jegan, the RGM-109 Hardygun, hadn’t fared much better than the Jegan had.

This then lead to the instigation of a program to develop a new generation of Federation suits to replace both types, and this would eventually result in the RGM-119 “Jamesgun”. After the deployment of this suit, large numbers of Jegans were withdrawn and put in mothballs. However, by this time, the state of the Federation government and military leadership had grown considerably more feeble and corrupt. This lead to excessive cost overruns on military programs including the Jamesgun, and thus sufficient numbers of the MS were not fielded quickly enough. As costs increased, and the number of available frontline suits continued to shrink, a new solution was sought.

The most obvious idea was to update the Heavygun to keep it viable. However, this lost out to a second proposal which sought to upgrade the mothballed Jegans for extended service. The reason for this was counterintuitive. Yes, MSs had gotten much, much smaller in the intervening years, and the Jamesgun was only a bit smaller than the Heavygun. However, it was much smaller than the Jegan. The other way of seeing this, though, was that the Jegan had far more extra room to install new equipment. In short, being bigger gave the Jegan the chance to cram more new stuff into its airframe. It also helped that there were a lot more Jegans around that could be refurbed, so spares were cheap and plentiful.

The result was the RGM-89 R+ Jegan. The first and most important modification was to completely switch out the Jegan’s power system. The new ultracompact reactors of the UC 110s took up only half the space of the older units, and by UC 130, when the project was underway, power output was found to be able to be increased even further. The new model Jegan was equipped with TWO of these reactors, which provided it with an incredible amount of power, despite its very large size. This extra power allowed for the backpack/thruster unit to be modified, the “arms” being considered superfluous, and new uprated thrusters being fitted in the bottom part of the pack. This new backpack was lighter and with more thrust, it was considered an improvement even without the maneuvering arms.

The extra power required extra cooling, however, and the most visual modification to the “R+” Jegan was the very large “breather” vents in the chest. These replaced the rather small louvered units used on previous models, as the extra cooling requirements were quite beyond those of the traditional Jegan. In addition, there were extra cooling scoops opened up on the backpack, where the arms used to go. The extra power had an additional benefit; it was found that the Jegan could now mount one of the new-tech beam shields, a development that no other earlier suit was able to successfully field. With the removal of the Jegan’s very large and heavy shield, balance and maneuverability was increased significantly.

This view shows all the modifications on the R++. Large, yes, but quite capable for an old airframe, and much lighter without the old shield.

This model of the Jegan was designated as RGM-89R+ despite the fact that it was NOT based on the RGM-89R High Mobility type. The reasons for this are not clear, but it is assumed that because “R” was the highest-letter designation in the Jegan family. The program officers likely wanted this to appear as an upgrade, rather than the extensive rebuild it actually was, to those signing off on the finances. This is not uncommon in military procurement circles, and seems a likely dodge that some resourceful officers would have no trouble in implementing.

About 100 Jegan R+ units were converted from existing stock, the goal being to use them in reserve units where they were less likely to encounter any enemies, thereby freeing up the newer Jamesguns for frontline service. However, in Federation MS competitions, the R+ was routinely found to perform BETTER than the Jamesgun, with its extra power more than making up for its larger size. This caused some considerable consternation and embarrassment for the “frontline” pilots, and rather than move the Jegans to more forward units, they were simply banned from future competitions (from UC146 forward). This “head in the sand” (or other places) thinking was typical of pre-Zanscare-attack Federation higher ups.

The final modification to the Jegan involved fitting new radios, optics and other sensors in a newly recontoured head. The “tumor” on the forehead was removed and replaced with a much more streamlined unit, and the new radios were served by a different antenna, inside a tan dielectric fairing in the same place as the old aerial. These modifications were made to approximately 50 Jegan R+ units, resulting in the R++ subtype. These units survived in service until the war with the Zanscare, but Federation inabilities at the command level prevented them from having any meaningful impact.

The R++ model had significantly recontoured head, as well as the beam shield and other mods of the R+.

A few pilots had the chance to pilot both the R++ Jegan and League Militaire’s GunEz suit, and were impressed at how equal the two machines were in terms of feel and combat capability. It was only in terms of size and weight that the Jegan possessed any deficiencies.

The LM’s GunBlastor was the space version of the GunEz. The Jegan’s disadvantage in size can be seen. However, it packed a lot of power, and was largely a match for the much newer suit.

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