RX-93 v-GundamBandai's High Complete Model series never really took off... While myriad figures from Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam series and the contemporary Mobile Suit Variations book were included in the first two years of the range, only two more releases followed - the titular machine from ZZ Gundam, and this beastie from the 1988 cinematic feature Char's Counter Attack.

This v-Gundam (more commonly known as the Nu Gundam, presumably to differentiate it from the mechs of the later Victory [or 'V'] Gundam anime, though it says v-Gundam on the HCM box) was in many ways a fitting choice as the 25th and final figure in the High Complete Model series - the type is the final Gundam piloted by Amuro Ray, star of the original Mobile Suit Gundam series, and the last Gundam of the eighties.

The RX-93 has enjoyed iconic status alongside the RX-78 and MSZ-006 as one of the most notable Gundams, despite its' onscreen appearances being limited to just the single film, and has been roped into the usual lines such as Fix Figuration and Mobile Suit in Action. However, a Chogokin version is notable by its' absence, so I went for the HCM version as it seemed the best quality 1/144 'finished goods' version available.

High Complete Model RX-93 v-GundamThe v-Gundam is a very logical development of the basic Gundam design, just a lot flashier and more stylised. However, the design ethos hasn't yet got to the overcomplicated stuff seen in more recent Gundam lines. The colour scheme is also pretty nice - it's meant to be white and black, but age has made this example cream and black, which isn't much of a problem. Standing a head over my other 1/144 Gundams, the RX-93 certainly dominates a display, even without its' distinctive backpack.

High Complete Model RX-93 v-GundamI'm guessing the designers knew this would be it for the HCM line, as they've thrown the kitchen sink at this figure. While all the HCMs had an internal diecast frame, the quantity of metal has been stepped up for this figure, even showing externally at the elbows and knees. The plastic quality is also a step up, with a gloss finish.

High Complete Model RX-93 v-GundamDetailing remains just right - most of the key features are represented without going too far and cluttering the figure with the sort of insane fiddly little bits. The only paint applications are Amuro's trademark 'A' logo (hey, it says it's a trademark on Wikipedia... I dunno, if he runs around with it for the last hour and a half of his life does it make it a trademark?) and the yellow toes. The rest is just different coloured plastic.

High Complete Model RX-93 v-GundamThe figure has a very good range of articulation. Making the skirt at the waist hinged frees up the legs, while the head can turn and the arms have a very, very good range of poses, right down to hinged wrists and moving trigger fingers. The elbows on mine are rather stiff, while the legs tend to fall off if the hip parts are flipped all the way up, but neither is particularly a problem. The metal skeleton also gives the body a surprising amount of weight, greatly helping out with the figure's balance.

High Complete Model RX-93 v-GundamThe v-Gundam was fitted with Fin Funnels on one side, which from what I gather somehow channels Amuro Ray's Newtype abilities into an energy weapon. Whatever. What it actually does is put a big wing on one side of the robot, which looks rather swish. I quite like the asymmetry of the design, though it's a shame the wing is left plain white, with no coloured detail at all. The backpack can also hold whichever gun isn't in current use, and has got an attachment point for a dummy Beam Saber handle (I don't have this part). The RX-93 does have the articulation to reach back to the handle of either weapon, though it doesn't quite have the dexterity to actually draw them in one move.

While the shield still uses the rotating mount as seen on the HCM Gundam Mk. II, at least this time it can rotate through 360° and thus not restrict the poseability of the robot. The shield on the v-Gundam actually has gun-barrels or something mounted underneath it as well - this really is a double-hard bastard of a mobile suit. It's a slight shame the cockpit doesn't open, but then if that's the trade-off for the higher grade materials, I'll live with the disappointment.

The RX-93 comes with a few bits to wave around aggressively, as per usual. Firstly there's the Beam Rifle - once again a different design, but the same end result, a fairly decent weapon. This can be held in either fist, with a moulded trigger guard for the finger, while the barrel can rest on the other. There's also a handle in the top that can be attached to the backpack if the Hyper Bazooka isn't there.

The usual addition of a Beam Saber is present as well. This one is rather different in style to the usual light saber, but once again being moulded in a single opaque piece of plastic means it doesn't look that impressive. It's a big step up from the HCM Gundam Mk. II's black hat-pins, though.

The third and final weapon is the Hyper Bazooka. This is a lot more compact that the example used by the original Gundam, and is more a typical blaster-type thing rather than an oversized piece of antitank artillery. While it doesn't look as sharp, it is a bit more practical than the older take, and can again be slung on the backpack - weapon storage is cool. Add in the shield-mounted armaments (actually a separate piece that snaps in, though you can't have one without the other) and whatever the fin funnels do, and you have one heavily armed Mobile Suit.

In short, this is a very good Gundam figure. It combines the materials of earlier figures with a fair amount of the articulation and accessories of more recent toys, combining the best of both worlds. This is likely to satisfy Gokin fans and all but the most anal Gundam lovers at the same time, and is certainly an adequate stand-in seeing as the RX-93 seems to have been skipped by the Kado Senshi series.