Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hand's On: Guren SEITEN Eight Elements

I've been watching the Robot Soul toy line for most of 2009, and when I saw pre-orders popping up for Lancelot Albion (I believe it was in early summer), I knew, just KNEW that eventually the SEITEN would follow. After all, the Guren and Lancelot are rivals, and the both saw the release of their "stage 2" forms, so why shouldn't the Guren SEITEN accompany the Albion?

Guren SEITEN Eight Elements is Guren's stage 3 form, and appears late in Code Geass season 2. The circumstances under which this upgrade is achieved though are a bit unique, though. Kallen is captured by Brittannia not long after receiving her stage 2 upgrade, and remains in passive captivity for several episodes. Lloyd and Cecil, Brittannia's top researchers (and the ones who designed the Lancelot and all its subsequent upgrades) wouldn't let her confiscated mech just stand around, though. Their affinity for tinkering eventually led them to install all sorts of handy new upgrades, just for the fun of it. Cecil even implemented her Energy Wing design (a prototype that had long remained little more than a theory) on the mech. So when Kallen is finally broken out of her cell, her new Guren (which is now for the moment the only 9th generation mech in existence) is quite "pimped", to say the least.

Besides a lot of changes to the body and style, the Guren SEITEN features upgrades across the board. Its fork knife is longer and now features the MVS technology present in Lancelot's swords. The Radiation Wave Surger's output and capacity have been significantly enhanced, allowing the generation of Destructo Discs (not the actual name, that's just what they remind me of). The claw is gold and now doubles as a Slash Harken (complete with it's own harken boosters for remote flight). The Guren no longer features one chest-imbedded Slash Harken, but instead two much larger shoulder mounted Booster Harkens. Perhaps the only minus thus far is the removal of the gauntlet grenade launcher previously present in the Guren's knife wielding arm.

The flight pack has also been upgraded by leaps and bounds. It no longer utilizes fixed wings and boosters, but Cecil's Energy Feather system. So Guren essentially zips around on wings of energy. These wings feature four feathers over Lancelot Albion's three, and thus are larger and much more foreboding. Guren can even wrap them around (the model can't though) itself like a cloak. Still present in the flight pack is a missile compartment, though this time they're they're just regular missiles, instead of Gefjon Disturber pods (as that technology was made obsolete almost immediately after being introduced). Needless to say, Guren's original inventor is furious to see these upgrades, even though Kallen is quite impressed.

Overall, Guren Seiten looks much than its predecessor, which still looked very much like a robot, despite some ornamental touches. The design is far less angular, with more curves and "natural" design elements. This is perhaps most prevalent in the legs and chest.

Now, for the model itself. First of all, though not actually taller than other Robot Damashii figures such as 00 Gundam, Guren's large claw, cockpit and attached wing pack give it quite a bit of size. I'll start with the bare model. The head is very articulate, significantly moreso than the Flight-Type's. The two shoulder-mounted slash harkens are sandwiched between the main body frame and each arm. They can swivel in a full 360 degree arc, but sometimes the backpack or wings can get in the way of this. The regular ones can be swapped out for ones that are already launched, which can make for some cool poses. To take them out, you have to first remove the arm. Not a big deal since the arms are attached to the body via a ball joint. Incidentally, Guren's arm ball joints are bigger than those of its predecessor, so you can't take the Flight-Types claw arm and attach it to Guren Seiten.

Despite looking different, both of Guren's arms' articulation doesn't differ very much at all from its predecessor. The right arm (non-claw arm) is rigid from the shoulder to the forearm, but the forearm can be rotated to swivel in various direction. The hand is attached at somewhat of an angle though, and is pretty loose in my opinion. The Claw arm works pretty much exactly the same as it did with the Guren Flight-Type. Each claw finger is attached on a ball joint, the hand itself is easily removable and rotatable and moves on a hinge. The arm still has the triple hinge "elbow" that allows it to extend. Oh, and like with the Flight-Type you can swap out the claw wrist for one with the poles extended. Though this time they're apparently not for dispersing nuclear energy into a wide range, if the show is anything to go by; just another melee tool. Kallen only ever uses this once, during her final battle with Suzaku: she uses the wrist poles in a desperation move, mutilating Lancelot's leg. Finally, there's also an add-on you can attach to the claw to simulate the "destructo disc" energy attack Kallen uses a grand total of once. For some reason its green, though, instead of Guren's trademark red-tinged magenta.

In terms of articulation, the legs probably represent the biggest improvement over Guren Seiten's predecessor. Without the sash armor, the hips move more freely, allowing for more poses. The feet are also quite flexible, much more than they were with on the Guren Flight-Type.

The back is also pretty familiar. In fact, I'm pretty sure the cockpit is literally identical to that of the Guren Flight-Type. The big change here is the addition of a wing pack to replace the Float Pack. On each side of the wing pack you can mount two small little diamond shapes, which are the wings folded up. Considering how large and imposing Guren's wings are, I guess it is kind of magical that they can be so easily compacted. Speaking of Guren's wings, let's talk about those. They're mounted in place of the diamond shapes, with the actual energy feathers being represented by a clear plastic. The wings are surprisingly articulate, though unfortunately I was unable to emulate Guren wrapping them around itself like a cloak.

I suppose the only other thing left to talk about is the fork knife. Well, it's much longer than the other one (maybe 30-50% bigger). It's also much more dangerous looking, making the previous one resemble a butter knife in comparison. It also has that reddish-hue going on; whether that was done to represent its new MVS capabilities (like Lancelot's swords), or to match the Guren's color palette, I'm not sure.

Overall, this figure's greatest strength is how imposing it is, compared to my other figures. Compared to my 00 Gundam, Arbalest, or even Lancelot, Guren looks almost demonic, with its pointy edges, giant claw, and full-sized wings. Incidentally, with the wings outstretched this figure looks a lot bigger than it is. 4.5/5

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