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PG GN-001 Gundam Exia Review

PG GN-001 Gundam Exia Review In between all the busy pre-Christmas shipping days, Nick's been seeing what the new PG Exia is all about!

Update: The review is finished!

Since I didn't take detailed pictures of the remainder, give the video a look for an in-depth look at how the finished product turned out!

Alright everyone, a lot of you have asked us to review Perfect Grades in the past, but it's just too big for our typical format--so we're trying a new format! I already started building this thing, so we're cutting out the unboxing completely and focusing on the model itself! Through this post, I'll be reviewing the build process and the finished product alongside pictures, and we'll have a video put together once it's all done as well!

For starters, I'm building the LED Version of this model kit--but I'll be touching on aspects of both.

A lot of people have expressed concern at the fact that Bandai released two separate kits instead of one with a separate LED option like the Unicorn. I'll mention where things are different along the way, but I do want to say I think this was a good choice. I've completed the inner frame, and I really think that it wouldn't be plausible to build the kit first, buy an LED unit, take the kit apart, and build it again. If you want to be in it, you have to be in it from the start--and you probably know where you stand already. Chances are slim you'll buy the standard kit, build it, and then change your mind AFTER the fact.

Where do the two kits differ, aside from the lighting gimmick?

If you're like me, you got a little worried that Bandai would pull a standard MG vs. Ignition Mode and not metallic plate the weapons on the standard version. Good news though! They didn't do that! Short answer, everything is the same.

Slightly longer answer: The build will take you about 2/3 as long if you opt for the standard version. Much of the challenge and time so far has been involved with properly aligning and installing the LED units, and I have to imagine it would have absolutely flown together without the stops and starts presented by that.
On top of that, the manual will occasionally tell you to put metallic stickers on the inside of translucent parts, much like it did for the Nu Gundam Ver.Ka. This is to allow for room lighting to reflect and give the illusion of a lighting gimmick, but you (clearly) won't need to take this extra step if you buy the LED version.

I do want to take a second to address Bandai's marketing prowess at work: they take the time to explain what I just told you on the back of each box, except in much more Bandai terms.

See, you get the choice between "EVOLUTION POINT: LIGHTS EMITTING," or....

...."SILVER STICKERS." Tough choice, huh?

In all seriousness, the name "PG Exia Lighting Model" is the LED version's biggest downfall. It completely fails to convey the neat, special, interesting factor that the LED adds. Maybe it should have been called "PG Exia Special LED Version"? I like that better.

Enough gripes, onto the model!

When starting the build, the first thing I noticed is how incredibly dense and heavy the plastic feels; it's all extremely solid yet easy to work with. Nub marks aren't a problem, despite the fact that the display stand arms were all attached at about 50 different places. While we're on the topic of the display stand, assembling that was extremely tedious, since you have to feed two individual cables of varying lengths through the exact channels in the articulated base arm. If you're not building the LED version though, it will take you about 30 seconds.

In the torso is where you'll have the most difficulty with the LED. While the arms and legs are all worked through channels, the torso has to establish the routes. While building, you should definitely remove all the parts from the sprues and clean the nubs before beginning assembly; many of the steps involve holding LED wiring in place while assembling components, so if you typically cut out as you go, it will leave you with a lot of freely-swinging and extremely easy-to-reverse pieces in limbo. I've built a lot of these things, and I got more than a couple steps backward at first.

The model feels enough like an Exia build, until you get to the parts that are usually recreated using those pain-in-the-ass little transparent ribbon parts. Instead of being superficial, they're made using an extra dense rubber that's actually integrated into the construction of the frame, which is really cool and interesting.

So that's a main point where it varies from other Exias, but there's a pretty big point where it differs from all other PGs as well: It gives you the option of fixed hands, along with the fully articulated PG ones. Those fully articulated ones aren't the traditional plasma-welded hands like every other PG though, cause you have to put them all together yourself. That part, I REALLY hated. I recommend building all the hands at once, along with the stand and accessories, before even starting the build.

Doesn't this look AWFUL??

This kit also follows Bandai's new favorite construction method of "build the inner frame completely first, THEN put on the armor"--I personally think they're just very impressed with themselves and would be sad if we didn't see how detailed the inner frame is. In this case it works though, because it would be really difficult to connect LED elements from the limbs to torso with all the armor on.

Once the frame is together, it's very impressive.

Aside from the vaguely alien head, even the inner frame of this emits a really cool, mechanical look. All of Exia's distinct points are faithfully recreated, even the markings on the transparent green elements on the joints, head jewel, and chest.

Those are all recreated using semi-transparent black stickers that give the appearance that the markings are etched onto the plastic. Sometimes the stickers form air bubbles because they're being placed on a concave surface, but if you run your thumb over them a whole bunch when you initially place them, you'll be fine.

Also particularly impressive and detailed is the GN Drive, which can telescope into itself or expand outward on two levels. This is another thing where you need to pay close attention to the orientation of parts, as there are very minor differences on the top and bottom of both layers.

The GN Drive connects to the central unit on the LED, and the entire model won't light up unless it's connected. I guess that's super anime accurate!

Once the frame build is said and done:

The articulation on this doesn't disappoint; the legs have a full range of motion out, forward, and back, but you'll need to make sure the LED wires were channeled correctly or they can get caught up on more expressive extensions. The torso is particularly impressive, because the shoulders can move all the way forward, which will allow the kit to be posed with the Exia reaching for swords across its body with no problem.

Full disclosure, I forgot to take pictures of the legs because I was taking pictures and video at the same time and lost track of which was which. Don't worry though, you'll see that later!

Lastly, I clearly can't comment on stability yet, since this obviously can't stand on its own without foot and leg armor, so it's been on the base the entire time. That will be included in the final review!

Take a look at some pictures with the LED and see what you think!

Interestingly (and thankfully), there are no LED units beneath the knees; the unit in the knee has one downward-facing light that shines through the rubber-ish parts on the shins, and it's barely noticeable that there's a difference in intensity. Well done there!

So far, I'm very impressed. Clearly I haven't built the armor, but it seems like I'm about half way done with the entire kit. I'll update this once it's all over and put up a video as soon as possible! Thanks for reading! - GP Nick

Update: The review is finished!

Since I didn't take detailed pictures of the remainder, give the video a look for an in-depth look at how the finished product turned out!

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