Monday, October 31, 2011

HCM-Pro Arios Archer Set Part 1

Gunpla and completed figure combo

Starting the review series of another HCM-Pro figure, also from "Gundam Double O" after Cherudim Gundam in mid August. Technically, it's a "set" because there are two units included in the package instead of the usual single figure type. ^^

HCM-Pro Arios Archer set.

This HCM-Pro set is a very "strange" release in my opinion. ^^; I suppose you can call its release complete, yet incomplete at the same time. XD While it does feature Arios Gundam and GN Archer, the important transformation gimmick of the latter is disappointingly not available.

The omission of the transformation gimmick was kind of a shock when I saw the initial review on this item. The feeling was really amplified considering another version of GN Archer that came out around the same time this HCM-Pro version was released - the HG 1/144 scale version has the transformation gimmick installed. ^^; Two months after this HCM-Pro set was released, the Robot Damashii [Side MS] version (set/individual item) came out and it could transform as well.

As it turned out, the HCM-Pro version is the only one that isn't transformable. ^^; That's not exactly what you can call a "selling point" eh? XD

For me, I could only speculate on why GN Archer was designed to be non-transformable for this HCM-Pro release. Maybe the decision to include it as a bundled item with Arios Gundam was rushed? That would explain why Arios Gundam is a nice completed figure in this set, but GN Archer came as painted parts on runners that you need to assemble yourself. It could probably be for reducing the final price of the bundled set as well. At 4,000 Yen (excluding tax), Arios Gundam with a fixed GN Archer is of the same price as Seravee Gundam with Seraphim Gundam. A transformable GN Archer might have sent the price up to 5,000 Yen, which isn't a favorable price tag considering neither of the two are the protagonist units in the anime. ^^;

The stage of demise the HCM-Pro series was in when this bundled set was released could be a factor as well. It was the third last release in the series before the focus shifted (somewhat briefly) to the SHCM-Pro sub-series. Maybe Bandai had already decided at that stage that the focus would be more on Robot Damashii [Side MS], which at that point was still a relatively new product line. I talked about the "competition" between Bandai Hobby Division and Tamashii Nation (the Collectors' Division) quite a bit in this previous posting, so I'll just refer you to that for more of my opinion on the rise and fall of the two Gundam action figure series.

On the other hand, maybe the focus of this bundled set was always going to be Arios Gundam, while GN Archer was supposedly just an "add-on". ^^; From how I see it, HCM-Pro Arios Gundam is a superb design, it's perhaps one of the best merchandise realization of that Gundam. ^^ The trade-off between articulation and transformation is very little. So, while GN Archer is quite disappointing in this HCM-Pro set, Arios Gundam stands out as a really awesome design. ^^

Closer look at the illustrations in front of the box.

Only Arios Gundam is visible through the front window. ^^;

Design on the various sides of the box.

Top (left) and bottom views of the package.

Introduction of the figure, its accessories and gimmicks on the back of the box.

The box is pretty big since it's a bundled set. As shown above, it's roughly the same size and dimension as the box of HG 1/144 00 Gundam.

Box open.

Paper cutouts of Soma and Allelujah on the flaps at the bottom of the box.

Package content.

With the top cover of the tray removed.

Arios Gundam on the right hand side of the plastic tray.

The runners for GN Archer and parts for the display base on the left hand side of the box.
When GN Archer is assembled, the huge leftover space becomes its perfect storage area. ^^

The runner package for GN Archer.

Parts for the display base.

Manual and a few extra runners for Arios Gundam's accessories and option parts.

The instruction on assembling GN Archer and transforming Arios Gundam is pretty similar to most other Gunplas.

A leaflet showing the special gimmick of combining GN Archer with 00 Gundam, plus an extension introduction on Arios Gundam's articulation design.

Three extra runners for Arios Gundam's accessories and option parts.

(Left) Nicely painted replacement head piece made of ABS hard plastic,
(Right) The spread palms are made of soft plastic.

As usual, a bit of painting is required to cover up the nub marks. Gundam Marker White is sufficient for the task. ^^

Straight out of box HCM-Pro Arios Gundam.

The beam saber handles are attached to the back of the front skirt armors before a completed display.

More images of the figure and an introduction of its articulation design coming up in the next posting. ^^