Sunday, July 3, 2011

My Pick on MG the Best Part 1

No rule is the rule to follow

July issue of Dengeki Hobby magazine (published in May) had a special coverage on a list of 20 Master Grade Gunpla kits voted by readers of that Japanese hobby magazine as the best in the whole product series, which started 16 years ago, featuring over 100 releases as of now. The result from this 2011 poll:

Image is Muso's Photo Gallery.

[No. 1] Strike Freedom Gundam
[No. 2] Gundam RX-78-2 Ver. 1.0
[No. 3] 00 Qan[T]
[No. 4] Gundam RX-78-2 Ver. 2.0
[No. 5] Zeta Gundam
[No. 6] Mass Productive Zaku II MS-06J Ver. 2.0
[No. 7] Sinanju Ver. Ka
[No. 8] Victory Gundam Ver. Ka
[No. 9] Unicorn Gundam Ver. Ka
[No. 10] Wing Gundam Zero Custom
[No. 11] Strike Freedom Gundam Full Burst Mode
[No. 12] Mass Productive Type Zaku II MS-06F/J Ver. 1.0
[No. 13] Qubeley
[No. 14] Aile Strike Gundam
[No. 15] God Gundam
[No. 16] Gundam Exia
[No. 17] High Mobility Type Zaku II A Baoa Qu Defense Squadron Color Ver.
[No. 18] Gouf Ver. 2.0
[No. 19] GM Custom
[No. 20] Wing Gundam

The criteria for a kit to be considered as "the best" to go into poll is not mentioned, so participants can vote on whichever kit they think is the best (for themselves) I believe. That "no-criteria" criteria is not a bad idea in my opinion, because which criteria to be considered to judge a kit to be good or bad is really ambiguous. Some may think that design is important, some may be rooting for articulation, some are more interested in special gimmicks, and so on. Other criteria such as price, worthiness of the purchase, element of surprise, even extra goodies can become deciding factors, even if others are not bothered about these points at all.

Even prior experience in Gunpla-ing can decide whether a person would like a particular kit or not I think. Personally, because I've been building model kits for quite a while, I've seen the "details-up" evolution of the MG series. I was completely blown away by the detachable leg armors of Gundam Mk. II (Ver. 1.0) when I assembled it back in 2000, which happened to be my first Master Grade kit. ^^ Today however, such gimmick is no longer a big selling point, since almost all MGs can have their armors removed, some up to the point of full cast-off, and still have flexible articulation. However, that doesn't mean I have to "go back" and be disappointed with Gundam Mk. II Ver. 1.0. Just because newer releases are better doesn't render the "blown away" part in my enjoyment of the kit invalid, so to speak. ^^

Therefore, I can appreciate simplicity in look just as much as complexity in details. Articulation is a must, but usually not the deciding factor for me to judge a kit. I don't treat my model kits like I do with Transformers action figures. However, I can understand that maybe younger modelers would like more flashy designs and details with great articulation. Their choices for this list would definitely be very different from mine.

Back to that Dengeki Hobby poll - it's a voluntary poll, so it's very difficult to impose a set of standards that can be agreed upon by everyone. There's no right or wrong answers anyway, so for one to set the rules for the poll to work would be like telling the fans to like (or dislike) the kits that they might or might not own by following some rules set by other people, which doesn't make sense to me at all. I've seen people ridiculed the poll results with great hatred and insults, which in a twisted way, is all very expected to me. ^^; Many so-called Gundam and Gunpla fans do not appreciate others' preferences and the right to like or dislike something, and always believe that what they think should apply to all. Sad people they are.

On a separate note, there was a separate ranking for the best of MG box art designs, which seemed to be a completely separate poll.

Back to this Master Grade poll topic, including this one, I've seen altogether three major ones (that I can remember of) run by Japanese hobby magazines in the past. Apart from this latest one from Dengeki Hobby, there was one called "MG the Best", which was conducted as a collaboration between Bandai Hobby Division, Hobby Japan and Dengeki Hobby in celebration of Gunpla 30th Anniversary last year. The final result, which consisted of just 10 kits was out in May 2010:

Images are from this previous posting.

[No. 1] Gundam RX-78-2 Ver. 2.0
[No. 2] Zeta Gundam Ver. 2.0
[No. 3] Char's Zaku II Ver. 2.0
[No. 4] Mass Productive Zaku II MS-06J Ver. 2.0
[No. 5] Gundam Exia
[No. 6] Strike Freedom Gundam
[No. 7] Gundam F91
[No. 8] God Gundam
[No. 9] Acguy
[No. 10] Gundam GP01

There was another one (that I know of), a super vintage one ran by Hobby Japan in early 2002, where readers of that magazine voted on their favorite Master Grade releases up till that period. The result was shown in the March issue of that year. There was another section featured as the second part of that related coverage, which was on mecha fans wanted to be made into MG kits, which I mentioned in May last year when MG The O was announced.

The result from that 2002 poll:

Click on images to enlarge.

[No. 1] God Gundam
[No. 2] Sazabi
[No. 3] Gundam RX-78-2 Ver. 1.5
[No. 4] Nu Gundam
[No. 5] Gouf Custom
[No. 6] Qubeley
[No. 7] Ground Type Gundam
[No. 8] Mass Productive Type Zaku II MS-06F/J (Ver. 1.0 obviously)
[No. 9] Dom
[No. 10] Zeta Gundam Ver. 1.0
[No. 11] Zeta Plus A1
[No. 12] Kampfer
[No. 13] Patlabor Ingram Unit 1
[No. 14] Gundam Mk. II
[No. 15] Double Zeta Gundam
[No. 16] Gundam GP03S
[No. 17] Hyaku Shiki
[No. 18] Gouf
[No. 19] ReGZ
[No. 20] Gundam GP01

Back in 2002 when the Master Grade series was still in its developmental stage, before it became more Gundam-centric a few years later, non-Gundam mecha were also considered, which is why Patlabor Ingram Unit 1 was in. You can also find quite a few non-Gundam mecha in the top 20 MG wishlist items, including L-Gaim, Xabungle and Dragonar 1, as shown in the said previous posting. By today's standard, I'm sure a new MG wish list would not be including any of them anymore. ^^;

Anyway, apart from the obvious change in kits that made it into the list in those three different polls, or those that dropped out when the entire MG series has been enriched with more and more releases after all these years, what fascinates me greater is how God Gundam from the rather short-lived "Fighting Action" sub-series managed to made it into all three polls: No. 1 in 2002, No. 8 in 2010 and No. 15 in 2011. It's also very interesting to see how Zeta Gundam Ver. 1.0, Qubeley and Mass Productive Type Zaku II MS-06F/J Ver. 1.0 managed to capture (or should it be "recapture" instead? ^^) fans' votes to "return" from the 2002 poll to the one done this year. ^^

Having built 16 out of the 20 "best" MGs listed in the 2002 poll result (17 if Rick Dom, the variation of Dom is also counted), I can personally relate to the sensation and fun factors of the different kits that made fans cast their votes for them in that old poll. For example, God Gundam is easily the most articulated MG at its time (2001), Sazabi's sheer size and intimidation, Nu Gundam's unique die-cast parts, fully functional Funnel System and size, Zaku II's mono-eye rotation ability and so on. Each of them has its own charm and good design points.

On the other hand, by today's standards, not many of the features of those kits mentioned above can be considered as really special anymore. Almost all newer kits are better in terms of articulation as compared to God Gundam (and they use no screw and nut to achieve that too), Sazabi is no longer the largest kit after the release of Perfect Zeong, Nu Gundam's uniqueness is coupled with its poor articulation as a weakness, and Zaku II's mono-eye movement is like nothing at all anymore, when smaller High Grade kits can do just as well.

As technologies advance to a level unimaginable by any of us years ago, the standards we use to judge on a particular item become much higher no doubt. However, I do not believe the good feeling associated with building an old kit years ago needs to diminish just because there are newer and better ones that came out and are coming out now. When I built my Zaku II Ver. 1.0, the mono-eye movement really amazed me and I can still recall that awesome feeling now; When I assembled my Zaku II Ver. 2.0, the mono-eye camera that moves together with the neck joints gave me pretty much the same amazement, but I don't treat the two as the same unit, and that because one is better, the "loser" needs to go away or be laughed at. XD It's true that Ver. 2.0 is a total upgrade as compared to Ver. 1.0, and all the flaws of the latter became so naked because of that. ^^; However, being critical of all the poor features of that kit doesn't take away my enjoyment of assembling that old kit years ago. I still remember it as a really fun build experience, and I will still treasure it.

The fun feeling doesn't need to become obsolete like the old features that are being corrected and improved upon by newer kits.

Coming from this realization, I can certainly understand why certain grand daddy kits can go up the poll table. XD Gundam RX-78-2 Ver. 1.0 - the very first MG release is probably like black-and-white TV versus HDTV by today's standard when compared to the newer releases, XD but it ranked No. 2 as compared to its ultimate upgrade of Ver. 2.0 at No. 4. If one uses a single set of judging criteria, say articulation, or details, or number of gimmicks incorporated, then surely the poll was a mistake. ^^; However, the value of model kits is not dependent on any of those factors, but appreciation for a whole range of qualities, some which may even sound unreasonable to others, but when there's no right or wrong in considering what to like or buy, being reasonable is highly overrated. ^^

I know a friend of mine who likes Acguy and wanted to get the MG version of it after watching Beargguy from "Gunpla Builder Beginning G". Good for her. XD I don't see any problem with that, do you see any problem with that?

For the same reason as stated above, I never bothered with plotting a list of so-called "the Best" for whatever things I'm interested in. I did came up with two lists in 2006 and 2007 respectively on my old blog, but they are like list of model kits that I have and like the most as well the ones on top of my to-buy list, not which one is superior than the others. However, looking at how none of the three polls from Bandai Hobby Division, Hobby Japan and Dengeki Hobby didn't bother listing any criteria for selecting the so-called "the Best" Master Grade kits - Top 20 for that matter, I wanted to do one myself, just for the fun of it. ^^ No justification needed for any of the selection anyway, so it shouldn't be too difficult ^^

Following the 2011 poll did by Dengeki Hobby, the selection of my Best 20 would be up till 2010, with 00 Qan[T] as the last one to be considered.

No. 20 to 11 in this first posting. ^^

[No. 20] Master Gundam - Released in March 2002, 2,940 Yen (inclusive of tax).

[No. 19] Nemo - Released in February 2006, 2,940 Yen (inclusive of tax).

[No. 18] Zeta Plus A1 - Released in October 2001, 3,150 Yen (inclusive of tax).

[No. 17] Gundam GP01 - Released in August 1997, 2,625 Yen (inclusive of tax).

[No. 16] Ball Ver. Ka - Released in December 2004, 2,100 Yen (inclusive of tax).

[No. 15] Aile Strike Gundam - Released in October 2003, 3,990 Yen (inclusive of tax).

[No. 14] Char's Gelgoog Ver. 2.0 - Released in July 2007, 4,725 Yen (inclusive of tax).

[No. 13] S Gundam - Released in October 2002, 6,300 Yen (inclusive of tax).

[No. 12] Victory Gundam Ver. Ka - Released in December 2009, 3,990 Yen (inclusive of tax).

[No. 11] Dom - Released in June 1999, 4,200 Yen (inclusive of tax).

I have 7 out of the 10 listed above, which is actually more than the ones coming up in the Top 10 list, meaning that there are more items that I don't have (or more accurately, don't want to have) in my Top 10 list, but they are still really good kits that deserve the top spots in my eyes.

"What? Liking the stuff but not buying it? What kind of moron is he?" "Having them in the Top 10 should mean they are better than all the other junks listed, and he didn't get all of them? What an idiot!"

Rage from people who skipped the wall of text before the ranking maybe. XD Any of that, or worse better ones coming up are very much expected XD

Images of Master Grade kits are from Hobby Search: Master Gundam, Nemo, Z Plus, Gundam GP01, Ball Ver. Ka, Aile Strike Gundam, Char's Gelgoog Ver. 2.0, S Gundam, Victory Gundam Ver. Ka, Dom.


Rick James' Ghost said...

I always figured that the Dengeki Hobby Top 20 list was just an excuse to pander to the armies of Kira fanboys that live in Japan. But that's just scratching the surface of this thing's flaws. The biggest travesty is that the original MG Zeta is on here, while the 2.0 version is not. From all that I've heard, the MG Zeta 1.0 is riddled with design flaws in its transformation systems. Not really bandai's fault, since the technology was so limited when it was made, but still, how could you put a kit that, from all I've heard, apparently barely works and not put the updated version that corrected those flaws?

seven6398 said...

one criteria miss while judging the kit might be the time frame.. like you said.. some kits are great during some certain time because it is the only kit that come with this unique features.. hate or dislike.. i will classified that as certain personal opinion.. but not hating the entire kit base on ridiculous reason but the way the kit design.. "no criteria as the criteria".. i agree with you.. some people need to know how to separate gunpla and gundam too.. some people like the gunpla because of the gundam profile and some like it because of the gunpla or gundam design and features.. i can only hope all gundam fans out there think rationally and more comprehensive..

Joe said...

No rationale, no criteria, no reasoning. If you go with those three rules, I can neither agree now can I disagree with any of the three polls or your list NK. We all have our opinions and it doesn't matter to me what anyone's opinion is as long as they are happy with their opinion, especially when it comes to Gunpla. I like your comment about your friend wanting a Master Grade Acguy simply for watching Bearguy. That speaks volumes in such a small sentence. Who am I to judge peoples opinions in a harsh manner. I praise other's opinions simple because they have them and they are thinking.

Tom said...

I liked this list since it made many people feel so insecure. It's only a magazine's opinion, everybody has a very different top 20 list. And besides, it's not like we know what the readers were thinking anyways.