Thursday, February 15, 2007

[Review] Big Red, Part III

Ok, so I've put this off for long enough. The review tonight, for the final entry in Sazabi week, is Bandai's HCM-Pro SP001 Sazabi (special-coating edition). I was originally planning to review both of the HCM-Pro Jagd Dogas along with this one, but time being short as it is, I figured I should wrap it up.

And this will be going out on a high note- the Special-coating Sazabi was probably my favorite figure of the past week, and my pick of the bunch for complete Sazabi-ness. Read on to find out why!

HCM-Pro, which stands for High Complete Model (dash) Pro, is a new spin on an old concept. In the mid-80s, Bandai released a series of high-quality action figures called High Complete Models. These were pre-MSiA days, folks, so the concept of a primarily plastic Gundam toy that was not a plamodel was pretty revolutionary- hence the name, as the HCMs were pre-built models in spirit. HCMs were done in 1/144 scale and spanned various mech series from Gundam, to L-Gaim, to Vifam. Speeding ahead to present day, Bandai has revamped the 'built-model' concept with HCM-Pro. This time around, only Gundams have been touched on (to date!) by the line and are now featured in the smaller, Japanese-apartment-friendly 1/220 scale. With respect to the Char's Counterattack MS, it took them about 30-40 HCM-Pro releases to get to these, but they ended up being some of the best releases of the series.

If you're wondering why this release is numbered SP001, and not by the typical XX-00 numeration. It's because I had to be a fancy bastard and buy the Special-Coating edition of the Sazabi. The Sazabi was released, I believe, in the early fall of 2006. Right about at the time of the initial release, Bandai also announced that they were putting out a special edition of the Sazabi in November with metallic coating and pre-set markings- for just $25 more. Unsurprisingly, there are several of these special editions planned for the future, including the Hyaku-shiki and Char's Rick Dom.

So how is the SpC Sazabi? Yes, yes, oh God, yes. This Sazabi is comparable with the EMSiA in sculpt, being of the new-generation, stylized Sazabi form. Detail is, again, simply incredible, with detailing on the boosters and mechanical components. The visor opens up, so that the mono-eye can be manipulated with a specially provided piece on the set. I'm not sure how I feel about this feature, because Bandai chose to make the visor of clear plastic, rather than leaving it open to display the empty space. Accessories are comparable with the EMSiA, including several forms of beam weaponry, deployed funnels, and the trademark shield and beam shotgun.

There are two points where the Sazabi clearly exceeds any of its other incarnations. First, the articulation is remarkably good with double-jointed knees and elbows- quite honestly, the only limitation on its articulation is its big chunky armor. But even better- the lightweight ABS plastic allows the Sazabi to hold its poses without parts dropping off or the legs drooping under the weight of the PVC armor. The ABS is similar in texture and consistency to the pieces used in plamodel kits. Good stuff.

Second, the metallic coating and preset markings. Oh man. These just make the Sazabi pop in the pictures. I'm also a big fan of huge stylized Katoki-esque markings, so the inset designs kill for me. There's nothing wrong with the traditional matte color and weathering used in the EMSiA or FWUO series, but metallic coloring used tastefully just looks great. Inwardly, however, I wonder how long it will last without a serious scratch from an errant fingernail.

Anyway, so that's about it for the SpC Sazabi. Excellent poseability; rockin' metallic coating and markings. The thing that has always stopped me from buying the HCM-Pros in the past has been their scale- 1/220 is a wee bit, well, wee, for something that retails for above the price point of an EMSiA. This is actually in the favor of the CCA MS in that they are much larger than the average MS; the 1/220 scale actually helps them, because they avoid the bloated chunkiness that the original MSiA releases fell victim to. But, alas, the price. The SP001 will set you back about $50 when all is said and done. Maybe that's a bit high, but such is the price for one of the best Sazabi figures available today.

Thanks for following along as we did our first 'theme week' on Robot Loves Monster! Hopefully now you can make an informed Sazabi-purchasing decisions without, as I did, purchasing them all. <_<>

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