Great Intro Kit
This was my first gunpla in over fifteen years and the first one I attempted to build using any special tools or techniques. It was certainly quite a bit more complicated than the kits I made as a teenager, but it was still easy enough to build, trim, and line the Exia Repair II. I chose this model as my return to gunpla precisely because I hadn't seen Gundam 00 at the timie. Without particular attachment to the source material I felt freer to make mistakes or choose to deviate, though ultimately I remained more or less true to the original.
That meant that I was choosing purely based on style and the Exia has it in spades. With The GN Drive anchoring the torso and clear pieces scattered throughout the model, it has an appropriately futuristic feel and the mix of rounded joints and sharp angles keeps it interesting, even when decked out in the traditional Gundam color scheme. In fact, I think that the Exia is probably the strongest reinterpretation of the RX-78-2 that Gundam has received.
There are a few lacking elements. The upper arms are copied over directly from the original Exia, sans the cables, and could look better. Despite including an alternate back piece of an active GN Drive, you'll have to modify it yourself if you want to see the Exia glowing green. And there's neither a sticker nor a molded piece to replicate the yellow vents on the face, which feels like once of the strangest places to skimp on detail. It still looks lovely and seems sensible for the exceedingly generous price of the kit, but I'm considering investing in some paint to remedy the latter complaints.
There are numerous weapons included as accessories, as well as the aforementioned GN Drive and a dynamic left hand. The GN Sword looks great and has some cool functionality, though my copy needed some tightening. The biggest hassle with the kit are the beam sabers stored on the hips. Partly due to the significant articulation of the hip joint and largely just based on the design, these often fall off. If you're worried about losing them, Bandai was kind and included extras, but, were it not for the fact that it would look odd to hold the active beam saber and still have two at the waist, I probably would have glued them down already.
The articulation is good, able to assume more or less any pose as long as the leg can bend high enough. Its small moving parts were a bit of a challenge at first but I imagine that most gunpla enthusiasts will welcome the chance to pose it's chest armor and fins.
If you're looking to pick up one of Setsuna's High Grades, I feel that the strongest designs are definitely this or the original Exia. The differences are very limited and the first model might actually have some minutely stronger design choices, but that green GN Blade makes this a strong contender for the most impressive looking design of 00.
The Exia Repair II was just what I was looking for: a great looking model with solid articulation that offered a chance to really enjoy the process of building it without becoming too overwhelming. There are a couple of small color and tightness issues, but the stickers are actually very nice and the design offers something sleek without departing from the classic Gundam aesthetic. It's a little fiddly in places and missing a couple of paint applications that would hacve been nice, but the Exia Repair II proved both a welcome return to the hobby and a fine model, even ten years after its release.
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