Oh man, I probably would’ve gotten this done weeks ago (well, days ago, anyway) if I hadn’t been knocked out by whatever it was that made me sick. In my time of illness, though, this kit definitely put a smile on my face. I never watched any of Gundam Wing, so I never really had any affinity for this mobile suit, but I found plenty of pleasant surprises in here that changed my mind. I have surprise for you, too, so be sure to read to the end! Now, let’s see what this kit is all about. (Video review is right here.)
I’m not sure what I was expecting, but the build of this kit turned out to be very tight and compact. That shouldn’t really come as a surprise, though, I suppose, because the Tallgeese is a rather small mobile suit. I was very pleased to see this kit incorporate some very interesting design choices. To give you an idea of how dense the finished model is, some of the articulated mechanisms are actually built into the inside of the armour: the track for the sliding elbow piece (!) is actually cut into the elbow guards, for example, and the sliding knee requires the front shin armour to stay in place properly. That’s not to say this kit doesn’t have a complete frame—it most certainly does—but it definitely makes very intelligent use of what little space it has to work with.
The lengths gone to for the sake of proper colour separation is pretty extreme. All of the yellow trim is achieved with yellow parts embedded beneath the white armour. Some of these parts are surprisingly large, but this design choice prevents fragility in the trim parts. The yellow shoulder trim, for example, runs through the entire shoulder piece. The same goes for the shield, but the frame part on the back cleverly covers up all the extra yellow. The legs go so far as to have completely yellow shins in the frame, just so a small yellow vent will show through the front.
Unfortunately, despite these fantastic efforts, this kit needs the use of stickers to put all the proper colours in their right places. All of the small red circles, some of the grey circles, and the leading edge trim on the wings—which I left off—come from stickers. From what we’ve seen from Real Grade offerings, it’s certainly possible to produce these details with plastic, but I think Bandai made the right choice. Using parts would’ve added a unnecessary level of complexity and fragility to this kit. (And then, I’m sure, people will start complaining about small pieces falling off all the time.) For the wings, especially, adding a second piece for the yellow trim would probably make them way too fragile, given how heavy the booster mechanisms are.
Speaking of the booster mechanism, be very careful with how you handle it, because the functional bits on the inside are very small. Be firm, but gentle. I recommend gripping the booster at the top, and pulling down at the bottom; help the opening panels along if they don’t pop out right away. To my surprise, the little struts that attach the boosters to the back of the model are actually very good at holding up all the weight. They do drag down the abdominal joint, unfortunately, so trying to pull off any curling poses may be a bit frustrating.
Because of the design and proportions of the kit, this kit does lose a little mobility here and there, but, for the most part, it’s still pretty good. The limbs do as much as you’d expect from any decently articulated Master Grade: both the knees and elbows can bend quite well. Interestingly, because of the elbow gimmick, the arms can’t straighten out; I don’t mind this too much, though, because it leaves the arm in a very natural curl. To my surprise, the hips can move around quite well, even though the side skirts are attached straight to them. They can’t rotate very much, though, because the thighs are just too bulky.
My favourite part this time, again, are the ankles, which, despite their design, afford a lot of movement sideways. This, combined with how well the skirt armour moves with the legs, means Tallgeese can get into some really low, wide stances. The waist can also really move around quite well—when it’s not getting pulled back by the boosters. The hips can roll forward to compensate for the lean-back, though. That aside, the shoulders tend to fight for space with the boosters just a bit, but everything can move out of the way with some shuffling.
The standard stuff here is, well, quite standard. As with most modern kits of this size and price point, the hands utilize interchangeable finger parts. A pair of beam sabres (with bent effect blade effects) and an Action Base 1 adapter are also included. The rest of the stuff is where things get interesting. Before I get to the gun and shield themselves, both accessories can hang from the shoulders with small arm attachments. Unfortunately, neither of them are really useful, because they just can’t move around enough. The shield arm isn’t too bad, but the gun arm doesn’t really cooperate with anything—trying to pose with it is a real pain.
Fortunately, the shield and gun themselves are brilliantly engineered, and they pose quite well. The shield doesn’t have a particularly complex design, but it looks fantastic inside and out. Its frame can accommodate the beam sabres, and a handle folds out for the hands to grip, which is quite firm and secure.
My favourite piece has to be the gun. I’ll be upfront: posing with this is just hard, with or without the shoulder attachment, because the rear end of the gun is really long, so it runs into the boosters a lot. The bending grip doesn’t really work either, which means over-the-shoulder poses are pretty much out of the question too. That said, the gun is very well-designed. It has a pretty massive parts count, and it packs an awesome spring-loaded gimmick that simulates recoil and reloading. This is a really toy-like feature that I never would’ve expected to see in a Master Grade, but it’s a surprisingly effective combination: play-oriented and highly realistic.
To sum up this kit in one word, “weird” would be that word. The engineering of this kit is incredibly eccentric, but the design mostly accomplishes what it needs to. This might sound weird, but, in this kit, I think the armour and frame reached a new level of intimacy to achieve the level of mechanical detail and dynamic capacity that we’ve come to expect from modern Master Grade kits. And some of the engineering is innovative in its own right! How this kit managed to incorporate sliding elbows in such a compact design is very impressive, and it’s an incredibly rare feature to see on kits in this price point. (The last time I’ve seen it would’ve been the MG GM Ver. 2.0 and MG White Ogre from 2009, both priced at ¥3500).
Insofar as flaws, the only thing I can really fault this kit for is posing. Because of the close proximity of the shoulders and boosters, they all just tend to crash into each other a lot, and the size of the gun really doesn’t help the situation. This is just an unfortunate characteristic of the original mechanical design, though, because all of the joints are there to move things around. The kit did its best to address the issue without compromising looks. I suppose a swivel joints in the waist would’ve much improved the boosters’ weight issues, but thickening up the ball joint with a bit of super glue or nail varnish could do just as well.
And so we arrive at the final question: is the price any good? At ¥3800 on the box, to be absolutely, brutally honest, this kit isn’t the best value. The simple fact of the matter is you can spend less and get more from other MG kits: the new GM and every basic Zaku model offer a 2.0 body and accessories to match for ¥300 less. Those without any particular interest in the Tallgeese design can probably pass this by—as interesting the engineering is, I’m not really sure if it’s worth the premium to experience first-hand. That said, many fans have waited a very, very long time for Bandai to make this kit, and they certainly won’t be disappointed. This is, all around, a fantastic interpretation of a classic mobile suit in the grand pantheon of Gundam mechanics. I hope Bandai makes good use of this frame in the kits to come, because I’d love to see other Gundam Wing baddies receive the Master Grade treatment.
Thanks for reading, as always, and thanks to Model Grade for providing this sample! To show my appreciation for you all, I’ve got a present: until the end of the month, you can use coupon code TALLGEESE5 during check-out to receive $5 off on this model! I hope you enjoyed this review, and likewise the kit, if you decide to pick it up. MG Sinanju Stein Ver. Ka just arrived for me this weekend, so look out for that soon!