Bandai 1/12 (?) Keroro Robo II

This is the Keroro Robo Mk. II.  While there are more than a few Gundam Mk. II references (the rifle and shield being the most obvious), it is a surprisingly fresh take on a powered suit. Well, a powered suit driven by an alien frog, at least!

This is the Keroro Robo Mk. II. While there are more than a few Gundam Mk. II references (the rifle and shield being the most obvious), it is a surprisingly fresh take on a powered suit. Well, a powered suit driven by an alien frog, at least!

Keroro Gunso, known in English as Sgt. Frog, is the story of an alien invasion of earth. In the opening scenes of the invasion, we see Earth’s defence forces completely overwhelmed by the Keronian aliens’ technological superiority. Helpless, all we can do is stand by and watch… as they leave. We don’t beat them back with grim determination, “love” doesn’t save the day and there’s no miraculous mad inventor with his enemy-crushing giant robot. They just leave.

Well, most of them. One platoon of invading Keronians, under the command of the hapless and somewhat unambitious Keroro, get left behind. Stranded on a new world, they quickly go into hiding, biding their time until they can conquer the world. Of course, that time is likely far off, since Keroro is nearly immediately discovered in the Hinata household, where he is comically put to work as a housekeeper.

If this all sounds rather bizarre, it is. Keroro Gunso is one of the weirdest animes I’ve seen. It’s similar to Goldfish Warning, but without the flying pink goldfish. Instead, it has little multi-coloured, frog-like aliens. It’s actually impossible to describe it in the space I have here; you really do have to see it to believe it. However, it is a children’s show, and it is most definitely a comedy. It’s also made by Bandai, and the references to the original Gundam (as well as Cobra, Ideon and numerous other old animes) are thick and fast. Why? Because the parents of the kids watching Keroro Gunso would have grown up with those shows! Yes, it makes me feel old, but watching Keroro and the gang stumble from one predicament to another is really something anyone of any age can enjoy!

So, what does this have to do with models? Plenty! Keroro himself is a HUGE Gunpla (a Japanese portmanteau for “Gundam Plastic model”) fan, and so it only makes sense that Bandai would make kits of the characters and machines from the show. Modelling is in no small part a component of the show, so it only makes sense. The Keronians have at their disposal many advanced weapons, including powered suits. There are several variants of these; each of the main characters has his own robot set up to match his particular specialty. Not surprisingly, Bandai took the opportunity to make kits of every one of the robots.

From the side, the Gundam influence on the shield and general proportioning are apparent as well. Still, this suit transforms into a fighter plane, something the Mk.II could never do!

From the side, the Gundam influence on the shield and general proportioning are apparent as well. Still, this suit transforms into a fighter plane, something the Mk.II could never do! You can see a lot of the detail in this kit from here, too.

One thing that’s really cool though is that while you can buy the individual Keroro Robo kits separately, you can also get them in a gift set! You know me, I love gift sets, and so I was thrilled when I was able to get my hands on the Godkeron gift set. The Godkeron is the combined form of all the Mk.II robos. Yes, we have Frogs, model kits, Gestalts (combining robots) and model kits all coming together in a shameless typhoon of self- and cross-promotion.  Bandai really are geniuses!

Keroro Robo Mk. II

The Keroro Robo Mk. II is more general-purpose than the other platoon members’ robots. This is because Keroro is the leader, and can’t just be focused on one thing, at least theoretically. Actually, getting Keroro to focus on anything but model kits is actually very difficult!

It’s important to remember that this kit is designed for kids. Keroro Gunso is a kids’ show, so Bandai didn’t want to overwhelm the tykes with anything on the level of HGUC or Master Grade kits. Also, because Keronians are small, their mecha tend to be small as well. Given that is the case, it comes as no surprise that the Keroro Robo Mk. II is a simple kit. However, it is a Bandai, and that means that most of the trademarks of Gundam kits can be found here as well.

Made for kids? Sure, it might be, but the KRR2 has excellent detail, as seen on the bottoms of the feet and in the complex rocket nozzles.

Made for kids? Sure, it might be, but the KRR2 has excellent detail, as seen on the bottoms of the feet and in the complex rocket nozzles.

The part count of the Keroro Robo Mk. II (henceforth abbreviated KRR2) isn’t very high. There are only a couple of small sprues of parts, and most of these are halves. The biggest parts go to make the very SD (super deformed – an anime style in which characters have huge heads and tiny bodies/arms/legs) head, which really isn’t a head. The “head” on the KRR2 is actually the chest of the mech; the Keronian (in this case Keroro) drives the mech from an open cockpit on the top of the chest. The rest of the parts make up the arms and legs and there are a few pieces for weaponry.

The detail on the crotch piece is very high, too. This is where the KRR2 bolts onto the 'legs' of the Godkeron. However, since I'll never combine them, I painted the mount points  like rocket engines.

The detail on the crotch piece is very high, too. This is where the KRR2 bolts onto the ‘legs’ of the Godkeron. However, since I’ll never combine them, I painted the mount points like rocket engines.

Despite its small size, the KRR does come moulded in several colours, including bright green, yellow, red, white and dark grey. There are polycaps, just like on a Gundam, and all the parts are crisply detailed and free of flash. The thing that got me the most about the KRR2 was that the detail on it was REALLY good. Just like any MS kit, there were vents, verniers, mechanical panels and a good amount of panel line detailing. Other than the subject matter and the size of the kit, there’s really no difference in the amount of care put into this kit as there is into any of the Gundam releases. I think that says a lot about Bandai, actually!

Here's a good example of the level of detail on the KRR2. The leg-mounted booster is nicely detailed, and even the "bare" plate behind it has detail on it! Well done, Bandai!

Here’s a good example of the level of detail on the KRR2. The leg-mounted booster is nicely detailed, despite being “hollow” from behind. Even the “bare” plate behind it has detail on it! The use of metallic colours and washes helps to make this comical, toy-like model far more legitimate looking.

Building the KRR2:

There wasn’t too much that was difficult in building the KRR2. The pieces all fit together well and there weren’t too many instances of build around. This is amazing, since this kit is ALSO able to transform into something attempting to be a fighter craft. It’s not that convincing, but you gotta give’m credit for trying! Normally, variable kits are very difficult to work with. However, the simple transformation scheme and innate ‘beginner’ nature of the kit precluded that in this case.

The only workaround I needed was on the upper arms. For some reason, the white part is designed to be built into the large, green shoulder assembly. Getting the shoulders done right would be interesting enough without this component in there, so I figured out a quick way to make things simpler. I just cut most of the posts on the white parts off, and then glued the green parts together. I then was able to “pop” the white parts into place when all was finished. Far simpler and easier!

Before and after. At the top is the original upper arm, with the offending posts. Below is the modified one, sans posts.The central spike gives enough location, and the white parts can be simply glued in afterwards.

Before and after. At the top is the original upper arm, with the offending posts. Below is the modified one, sans posts.The central spike gives enough location, and the white parts can be simply glued in afterwards.

Painting the KRR2 was a fun exercise. I mentioned before that there is a lot of detail on this considering it’s really a kit/toy hybrid! Just like any Gundam, there were rocket nozzles and vents, and I picked these out in Model Master Acrylic (MMA) Steel and Aluminum. The main vent on the back of the mech was done in two colours; the out rim in Steel, and the vents themselves in Jet Exhaust. The feet were also done in mostly metallic shades, to add to the “realism”.  My goal was to make the KRR2 as realistic and believable as possible; no easy feat!

This closeup of the back shows the main "two colour' vent, as well as some smaller vents and the "structure" of the giant headwings. The detail is right on par with HGUC kits.

This closeup of the back shows the main “two colour’ vent, as well as some smaller vents and the “structure” of the giant head wings. The detail is right on par with HGUC kits.

On that one, I did modify the mech’s machine cannon slightly. So that kids don’t hurt themselves (I’m assuming), the “sharp” end of the rifle (the barrel) has been made into a ball. This is the way all Keronian rifles are shown in the anime, too, so it doesn’t seem like a cop out on the kit. However, I really think that looks dumb. So, I didn’t put the ball on the end of the rifle; I drilled out the barrel instead! It looks far better and more aggressive this way.  I washed the rifle and all metallic and dark grey mechanical bits with Baddab Black from Citadel, and I used a lightish grey/purple pastel mix to make a water/alcohol wash for the back of the shield.  I used Devlan Mud, also from Citadel, for the wash in the KRR’s cockpit.

In this view you can just make out the drilled out barrel on the rifle. This is a simple but major step in "legitimizing" the KRR2 as a 'real' mech, at least in my mind!

In this view you can just make out the drilled out barrel on the rifle. This is a simple but major step in “legitimizing” the KRR2 as a ‘real’ mech, at least in my mind! Note too the vents in the upper legs and the verniers on the lower leg bulges. By picking them out in metallic shades, they stand out and look more realistic.

Because the KRR2 is the head of the Godkeron gestalt, it has a large, Gundam-like pair of headwings. These were painted in MMA Blue Angels Yellow, and the star in the middle was painted Guards Red. The odd, hard-boiled-egg-yolk yellow and the bright green were all custom-mixed using various MMA paints, and the entire mech was painted by hand. Only the final flat coat was airbrushed on. For this, I used my trusty Delta Ceramcoat Matte Interior/Exterior varnish. It gave a nice satin finish (due to the Future I added) and it’s tough as nails. It’s also nice and smooth, since the Future helps with self-levelling!

Keroro Gunso:

All the Mk. II robos come with a pilot figure and a small hoverbike/command seat that I call a Keroplider. I don’t know the real name for it, so I think I just made that one up because it sounded “anime-like”. Each of the pilot figures is about 2” tall, and all have the innate “SD-ness” of the robots. This is how Keronians are always drawn, so you can say that the figures are accurate, as far as proportioning goes! Yes, I know that’s bizarre, but there’s little about these kits that isn’t!

The figure of Keroro himself is actually quite a little miracle. The entire figure, save the head, comes moulded on a single sprue; however, it is FULLY JOINTED. The legs have ball joints at the waist, the arms have ball joints at the shoulders, and the elbows bend! ALL ON ONE SPRUE!!! (Maybe you didn’t get that part the first time…) This is an amazing bit of moulding and proves Bandai takes even little toy kits seriously.

The problem is that the figure is supposed to be of an organic being. Keronians don’t appear to wear clothes (Do you know a frog, save Kermit, who does?), so what you see is what you get. However, you wouldn’t see the joints on the real creature. Yes, I know I’m taking this too seriously, but I mean, this is a hardcore modelling exercise, right? (Don’t dissuade me by telling me it’s a kid’s toy/kit. I won’t hear of it!) So, to make it right, I decided to putty all of Keroro’s joints once I had him in the pose I wanted him to hold.

From the side you can see a lot. The custom coloring of Keroro's Keroplider is evident. Note too the smooth body of Keroro himself. all that puttying of joints really paid off!

From the side you can see a lot. The custom coloring of Keroro’s Keroplider is evident. Note too the smooth body of Keroro himself. All that puttying of joints really paid off!

I positioned Keroro on his Keroplider, to get the legs right. Then I glued them in place with some CA. I then determined that I needed him to be doing something “command-like” with his arms. I put one hand on the Keroplider’s handle bars (well, as close as they come, at least) and positioned the other one out in an “authoritative pointing” gesture, as if he is motioning his troops on to victory. More likely, he’s motioning them on to help him buy more Gundam kits, but that’s not for me to say.

Tally Ho! Keroro confidently commands his minions to advance their invasion. Seconds from now a new Gundam kit will catch his eye and all warmaking will be forgotten...

Tally Ho! Keroro confidently commands his minions to advance their invasion. Seconds from now a new Gundam kit will catch his eye and all warmaking will be forgotten…

With the joints glued in place, I used Tamiya Grey Putty to fill the joints and blend them into the body, making the whole figure seem like one fluid piece. I then painted Keroro the same green, yellow and white as his mech and satin coated him the same way. Oh, one other I had to do; there’s a hole in the figure’s back, so if you want to stand him on his little stand, you can. If you don’t use the stand, though, it looks dumb to have a hole back there, so I cut off the mount post from the stand and fared it in. This made the figure whole and cleaned up the display stand, too.

For the Keroplider, I wanted to do something customized. Since Keroro is the leader, the most flamboyant and least militaristic of the platoon, I decided to make his Keroplider more like a civilian race bike. I did the front cowling and fin in the same colours as his mech. I picked out the vents in Steel and the “exhaust pipes” in Jet Exhaust. I did the rest of the Keroplider in Gunship Grey and washed the vents and body with Baddab Black. Since the Keroplider is a ‘hoverbike’, it doesn’t have landing gear. To make it look like it’s hovering, it fits onto a post on the stand. I painted the stand black and applied the sticker that says Keroro Gunso in Japanese to the name plate.

Conclusions:

The KRR2 and Keroro himself were a lot of fun to build. For a child, the kit is easy and fun to put together, and is built toughly enough to survive being handled and played with. However, for a more serious modeller, you might think this makes the kit a bit of a drag.

The truth is, the kit is a BLAST! It is one of those kits that really allows you to make what you will of it; it has lots of opportunities for detail painting and even aging, should you desire to do so. There are lots of different details and panels on the kit and these lend themselves to being the focus of more “adult” efforts. If you put the same time and care into this kit as you would any other more “grown up” mech kit, you’ll get a very nice result.

That’s what makes this model so fun. You can do whatever you feel like to it, and it will give you back exactly what you put into it. It’s great for a child or junior modeller since it’s tough and colourful, but its’ just as nice and subtle as any other mech if you look at it closely. It’s a lot like the show that spawned it; great fun for adults and kids alike, but for different reasons.

You want to build something different? Got AMS ? (Advanced Modeller’s Syndrome – a condition where too much attention to detail and expensive aftermarket accessories have taken all the fun and ambition out of a project.) Want to work on something with your son/daughter? Well, thankfully, Bandai and your friendly neighbourhood Keronian invaders have just the answer! Grab one and find out why you started modelling in the first place!

Not just another pretty face! The KRR2 kit exemplifies a multi-tiered approach to kit making. Whether you're a serious builder or out for a bit of fun, this kit will deliver the goods!

Not just another pretty face! The KRR2 kit exemplifies a multi-tiered approach to kit making. Whether you’re a serious builder or out for a bit of fun, this kit will deliver the goods!

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