Nowadays, the mobile suits of the Gundam universe are generally taken pretty seriously. The level of advancement that has been made in terms of design philosophy over the last 35 years is impressive. It’s often easy to forget that the original Gundam show, as well as the MSs in it, were only one or two steps away from the “giant robots” like Tetsujin 28 (Gigantor) and Mazinger Z. Perhaps nowhere is this more obvious that in the designs of the Zeon mobile armours, which served as “monsters of the week” for a stretch of the original anime.
However, it’s not just Zeon designs that were guilty of being on the impractically ridiculous side. One of the Federation’s “V Project” suits was just as silly; this was the RX-75 Guntank. Unlike the Gundam and Guncannon, the Guntank wasn’t even a real MS. It was a large MS-like torso on a tracked chassis. It had arms, but guns for hands, and was designed for long-range support. It also had a core fighter in it, which makes little sense, since it was slow and heavy, and docking was not as easy as with the Gundam. Strangely, it was the only 2-pilot Fed MS, although it was altered to be useable with one pilot later in the show.
The Guntank is a hard piece of machinery to take seriously. It is cartoony in the extreme, and its innate impracticality is quite laughable. It can’t undertake hand-to-hand combat, is slow and cumbersome on the ground, can’t fly and is a large target for other MSs as well as aircraft. It’s not a surprise then, that other than a few, much smaller iterations like the D-50 Loto, the Guntank concept has been largely forgotten.
It also is not a mech that has been kitted much. There’s an HGUC of it, but even this, while a nice kit, doesn’t serve to improve the believability of the design at all. For a while, it looked like Bandai would just leave well enough alone and skip giving the Guntank the MG treatment. That’s why it was quite a surprise when the MG Guntank appeared, and more of a surprise when it turned out to be a pretty impressive kit!
MG boxes are awesome. The early ones are somewhat interesting, if not a bit static, but the new ones are amazing pieces of art in and of themselves. The Guntank’s box is no exception to this, being a full illustration of the Guntank in hard fighting. With the White Base above it, and its Operation V stablemates behind (Guncannon) and descending from above it (Gundam), the box makes it clear that the Guntank is a serious fighting machine involved in a serious conflict.
There’s a sense of dynamicism and excitement to the art that is all out of proportion with the subject matter. The drawing is gritty and realistic, which is at odds with its cartoony subject matter. You can almost hear and feel the Guntank’s cannons whumping away while its arm guns/missiles chatter out defensive fire. This might be the one depiction that makes the Guntank look tougher than a standard MS! Adding to the effect is the fact that the box is HUGE. It’s one of the “big MG boxes”: those that are flat and square, like on the Full Armour Gundam, Zaku R-1 and others. Thus, you get a big faceful of Guntank love. You can’t help but be attracted to the kit based on the art alone!
The sides of the box show various details of the kits, including the light up “head” cockpit lights and displays. You can also see some of the internal detail and there’s a picture of the finished, but unembellished kit sitting beside a pile of racks. That’s always a neat picture, because it shows you just how many pieces the thing really contains!
Inside the box, there are a lot of parts, and some of them are bloody large. The Guntank is not a small weapon, unlike the RXR-44 from F-91 or the D-50C Loto from Unicorn. The Guntank is actually larger and beefier than either the Gundam or the Guncannon, and the pieces show it. There are a lot of different colours in this box too; red, blue, white, grey, clear, dark grey and yellow; almost the full “Federation Spectrum” is represented.
What makes this kit different is that, for those of us unaccustomed to armour, there are some parts that aren’t usually seen in an MS kit. One example is bogey wheels. If you build tanks, you’re used to seeing these; those accustomed to seeing leg pieces will find the racks of road wheels to be both odd and potentially disconcerting! The weirdness continues when you come to the tracks. Just like any fine armour kit, the tracks are all individual links! There are a lot of features on this kit that are similar to many high end armour models, including suspension and weapons detail.
As expected, the part and colour separation are excellent, and this is definitely one of those kits that if you don’t want to paint it, you can get away without it. Now that’s not to say you SHOULD do that; anyone who’s into weathering, damaging or other armour-related techniques is going to love doing it to the Guntank. The good news is that if you want to paint replacement panels a different colour or something like that, the Guntank lends itself well to such abuses.
The moulding is excellent, and there is no flash to be seen. The gun barrels are cast as single tubes, although in ring-wise sections, so other than a bit of seam clean up, there shouldn’t be a problem with them. There’s some nice internal detailing on the kit too, as expected from an MG release.
Normally, “play value” is not something one associates with a Gundam kit. I mean, you’re not supposed to play with it like a toy, right? Well, the Guntank disagrees. It has rolling wheels and tracks, theoretically. It also has adjustable suspension, not only up and down, but the track units can pivot out and back at the “waist”. This allows the Guntank to negotiate complex terrain, run over fallen foes and generally look cool in dioramas.
One thing that’s unusual is the amount of gimmickry on the Guntank. For one thing, the main guns are actually “sprung”. There are plastic recoil springs in the barrels. I don’t know what the point of this is, because I can’t read Japanese, but it looks like you can you can squeeze the barrels and they’ll recoil. Neat, but kind of pointless. More impressive and potentially entertaining, is the fact that you can twist the “hand” gun unit, and the “missiles” inside will rise and fall on cams, to give a firing effect. Again, this is neat for a toy, but once painted, I’m not sure that this gimmick will even be useable.
While all this stuff is neat and makes for an impressive set of advertising points, it may make the build more complicated than need be. On top of all this, there is a transformable core fighter that fits into the middle of the unit, and there’s a light up gimmick, too. The cockpit instrumentation and “head lights” all light up using the same kind of LED unit that is in the 1/100 00 Gundam. It’s a neat extra feature, and it looks fun, but those lighting units don’t seem to last long or they eat batteries, because the ones on my 00 Blade Custom don’t work anymore, and I hardly ever used them! Thus, I don’t know if it’s even worth putting the battery in the Guntank when I finish it.
The MG Guntank is a very nice kit overall, and it’s a beautifully and realistically rendered version of a now-obscure and often-wanted-to-be-forgotten MS. For people who take their Gundam seriously, the Guntank will allow you to go all out and make the most realistic representation possible of this comically bizarre vehicle. The MG Guntank makes the Guntank a legitimate member of the Gundam universe, and that itself is quite a feat!
If you want to have some fun with your Guntank, you can do that too. With the odd “play features” and light up gimmicks, this particular MG offers a lot of fun, even for beginning builders. Sure, there are a lot of parts, but since the tank is 1/100, and it’s a big MS to start, the parts aren’t that fiddly. If you want to get a younger modeller into Gundam models, this could be a big, fun way to do it. After all, when you’re done, you get a robot tank that can really roll and an airplane (core fighter) to boot!
Even for non-Gundam fans, there are a lot of possibilities offered by this kit. It’s big, well detailed, and has lots of places to put stuff. Heck, you can paint it up like WWII in the desert and cheese off all the armour purists! For that alone, the Guntank is a great buy!