If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times: the world of Gundam is vast. Well, technically, it’s “worlds”, but even if you only consider the Universal Century, the number of mecha in the Gundam universe easily exceeds 200. Given that a great many of these have been released as HGUC (High Grade Universal Century) kits, it never ceases to amaze me how many more mecha Bandai keeps finding to pop out in plastic form.
As I write this, one of the biggest sources of mech kits is the newest Gundam UC OVA: Gundam Unicorn. This series consists of a number of new mecha, as well as some old favourites either retasked, spiffed up or warmed over. For a while, it seemed as if there was a whole number of UC mecha that would not get produced in HGUC form; primarly mecha from Gundam ZZ were being ignored. To counter this, and give both Unicorn and old-school fans what they wanted, the folks at Sunrise (Bandai’s anime-production arm) decided to use a lot of tweaked ZZ mecha in Unicorn, thereby giving them a reason to be kitted.
One such mech is the AMX-14 Dovenwolf (also written as Dobenwolf or Do(v/b)en Wo(o)lf). The Dovenwolf is a heavy, high-mobility suit that can be tasked with both anti-shipping and anti-MS combat tasks. It makes a surprisingly brief appearance near the end of ZZ Gundam, as part of the Neo-Zeon civil war. However, that’s about all it does. What’s really weird is that the kit Bandai chose to give us is of an MSV (Mobile Suit Variation) Dovenwolf coloured for Sleeves use. The fact that the kit is an MSV means that it is not likely to show up in the anime at all!
So, we have a long-overdue and sought-after kit of a somewhat obscure mech offered in a colour and moulding that doesn’t reflect it’s only animated appearance. Makes sense. Of course, now Bandai has shown that they intend to release a “normal” ZZ Gundam-type Dovenwolf as well, in an “unsleeved” format, to cater to the few people who want to collect mecha from ZZ (like myself!).
The Sleeves Dovenwolf is a blue-grey, dark blue-grey and black-brown machine with the usual black sleeves and white piping characteristic of Full Frontal’s Neo Zeon forces. The box is the typical UC affair with the Dovenwolf pictured drawn “in action”. The artwork is awesome, as usual, and the Dovenwolf looks suitably fearsome in both pose and colouring. The sides of the box show different aspects of the kit, such as the detatchable forearms and the stands for them, weapons options and even the stub-arms that would be “under” the main arms.
The Dovenwolf is a big mech (as are so many in ZZ Gundam) and since HGUCs tend towards the higher piece count, this one is in a biggish box. It’s not as big as the box on the Sinanju, but it’s definitely the size of a small Master Grade box.
Inside the box is exactly what you would expect from a new Bandai Gundam; lots of parts, good colour separation, good part separation and nice crisp moulding. If you have built the old Dovenwolf from 1986 (which I have) then the contents of this box are going to seem a big strange. Firstly, there’s the colour. The Sleeves Dovenwolf is much more sedate in colouration than the ZZ version, and the first impression of the plastic is that this kit will look quite muted. The old kit (and likely the new ZZ version) was much louder, with a number of very bright green racks. Secondly, the parts breakdown is nothing like the original, which was the epitome of the old “everything in halves” approach to model casting. The new Dovenwolf has many components cast in one piece that would have been halves before, including the front of the foot, the whole front of the lower leg and the upper body components.
More important that breakdown, though, is the number of “extras” in this kit. The INCOM racks slide out with actual INCOM units on them, and the large anti-ship missiles that can mount on the backpack antennae are also included. There are separable forearms, and they can be built in two ways; either as the completely remote “arm bits” as seen on a commander’s unit, or as the wire-controlled remote units used by other suits. There is a length of thin wire to connect the wired arms to the suit. If you choose to use the “arm bits” then there are rudimentary stub arms to attach in place of the full lower arms.
It’s also nice how the two large “towers” on the back (which are beam cannons) can be flipped forward on this kit, and that the little missile doors actually open on the new HGUC model. This changes the look of the mech completely, and any mech with an over-the-shoulder-cannon is alright by me!
There are two clear yellow beam sabres, and these are the loudest coloured parts in the kit. One thing I don’t like is that the “mechanical” bits are cast in the weird dark brown colour. Normally, they’re grey, and all you have to do is give them a light wash and you’re done. However, the brownish colour is ugly, so these parts will have to be painted first. That’s a shame.
The instructions are typical Bandai HGUC; they are clear and easy to follow, and there’s almost nothing to guess at. There are the usual notes in Japanese, but these never really seem to matter, so don’t worry about them. There are many nice full-colour views of a completed kit, so there shouldn’t be any question as to what colour is where. Of course, that doesn’t prevent you from customizing it and adding your own touches.
A small sheet of self-adhesive foil stickers is also included. They aren’t very extensive, but there are stickers for the white piping on the sleeves of the mech, and for the decorative scrolling on the chest. I can’t see that these will work very well in the long run, since the scrolling is very curvy and three-dimensional. If you’re going to do the Sleeves paint, you’re going to want to actually paint these pieces. Of course, you really SHOULD paint the ENTIRE mech anyway, but if you don’t like to, you’ll still get a fairly good representation of this mech.
The HGUC Dovenwolf is miles in advance of it’s much older, previous incarnation. From looking at the pieces, I get a feeling that the finished product will be quite different as well in terms of proportioning and even maybe in terms of overall size. I guess there could be a debate as to which is more “real” and “accurate”, but for a giant robot from an anime, such arguments are really quite pointless. The fact of the matter is that the new kit annihilates the old one in detail, and assuredly in fit and form too. If you have an old unbuilt Dovenwolf, toss it: it is no longer required.
This model is awesome looking, and finally does the Dovenwolf justice. If you like the Sleeves one, then you can always build the normal ZZ-Gundam version too, as it’s due out in early 2014. Heck, if you like it three times-much, the Silver Bullet, which uses almost all the same parts, is also due out. Not a surprise that Bandai would crank the crud out of a nice new mould like this.
Bottom line: This kit, like almost all other HGUCs, is a great one, and shows just how good Bandai is getting at engineering mech kits. There’s a reason they have a near monopoly on this segment of the market; they really are that good. The Dovenwolf kit is a great addition to any Gundam collection, and will provide a lot of fun for both beginners and hardcore modellers alike.
Just go get one, or three (your call) already. You’ll be glad you did.