For those less familiar with Gundam modeling, Bandai primarily produces kits in five main grades. The Perfect Grade is the largest in their main line-up at 1/60 scale and the PG Unleashed is a new offshoot in the line that utilizes a more detailed and layered building process as well as some other nice surprises that I noticed during the build.
Now, if you’re completely new to the hobby, I’d recommend you check out our beginners guide to Gunpla before jumping in. There are a few things that are helpful to be aware of, like what grades are best to get started with, the tools you’ll need throughout the process as well as the best places to purchase gunpla.
Regardless of whether they are successful or not, I’m always excited when Bandai attempts to innovate any aspect of the build process. A few years ago, the Master Grade Extreme (MGEX) Unicorn was released and it received a ton of praise for pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in the Master Grade scale. Recently, another in the line was announced with the MGEX Strike Freedom.
When the Perfect Grade Unleashed based on the RX-78-2 Gundam from Mobile Suit Gundam was initially revealed by Bandai I wasn’t sure what to expect. I loved the idea of a phased building process, the detailed open hatch gimmick, and the included LEDs, but, like many, I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about the Real Grade-like inner frame and fixed position hands.
Fast forward to the present and I finally got around to building the kit after over a year of sitting in my backlog. It’s an impressive kit on paper, but does it live up to the hype?
Upon opening the box and flipping through the manual, I was really happy to see that the runners for this kit are broken up in a way that you can easily dispose of the runners throughout the build process. This is one part of the building experience that I really hope Bandai incorporates into other kits in the future. They even include a little trash symbol next to the step where you use the last piece from the runner, so you don’t have to feverishly check every runner you throw away for stray pieces you might have missed.
One thing I’ll never understand, though, is the fact that they charge a premium price for a kit, but include stickers instead of waterslide decals in the box. The first thing I do when I purchase any new kit is pick up third party waterslides, because the stickers have a tendency to cheapen a kit, especially one of this caliber. It makes the end result look so much better and they aren’t that expensive either.
Color and Design
Design-wise, Bandai nailed it. The proportions look incredible, the nubs were well-placed for the most part, and the color separation makes the RX-78-2 really stand out on the shelf. The way in which the kit was layered really allows a lot of details to show through in the final build, especially when you make use of the open hatch gimmick.
There’s also a lot to appreciate about the kit when looking at the finished build. Everything from the various gold, silver and chrome plating to the 3D stickers used for the sensors—While I’m not a fan of the sticker set they included, these were still a nice touch—to the glowing effects on the RX-78-2, add so much. All in all, the way everything comes together in the end is really impressive.
Even though this kit has a lot of individual pieces, it’s not too difficult to build. The one aspect of the kit I found myself needing to put a little more effort into were the decals. Some of the decals are pretty small. For me, this meant I had to look through the manual to double-check multiple references to ensure that I was placing the decals in the correct spot and orientation. Not a huge deal but something to keep in mind as you get to that stage of the build.
One aspect of the PG RX-78-2 that I didn’t have experience with when I started building was the addition of photo etch parts. Having never used them on previous builds, I didn’t know what to expect, but I didn’t have any issues when applying them on this kit. Basically, they are just metal pieces with an adhesive on one side that allows you to stick them to the kit. I was a little worried about how those would hold up over time when I was assembling, but all of the metal pieces are held on and reinforced by surrounding pieces, so my concerns were alleviated and I really like how they look on the kit.
I generally don’t display my kits in poses that require a ton of articulation, but since the PG Unleashed has similar inner frame mechanics of a Real Grade, the poseability of this kit is definitely a strong point. The RX-78-2 also isn’t an overly bulky mobile suit, so I didn’t have any issues getting this kit into many of its iconic poses and it has a lot of versatility in terms of display.
I’m not sure why I wasn’t immediately sold on the insert-molded frame, but I had no issues with weak joints, and honestly, I enjoyed the building process more since I didn’t have to build the full inner frame myself.
I love that the LED modules were included in this kit. For all of the other PG kits, the lighting modules were sold separately or together with a big upcharge, so this was nice to see. One innovation Bandai made with this kit is the addition of an LED beam saber. I was surprised how much I liked this feature. I didn’t think it was going to light the full saber up but the LED is decently powerful and lights it all the way to the tip.
That being said, the LED module that lights everything else leaves a bit to be desired in terms of brightness. Not a huge deal since I don’t leave the lighting on when displaying, but it left me longing for more and searching for 3rd party or custom solutions. With the open hatch gimmick and all of the vent details this kit has, the lighting is still a good-looking addition and I can’t wait to see how Bandai tweaks this in future kits to come.
Open Hatch Gimmick
The original Perfect Grade RX-78-2 released in 1998, so as you can imagine, it was a really outdated kit in terms of the build process. Having never built the original kit, I was sold on this updated and reimagined version immediately. Given the amount of internal detailing and varying metallic plated pieces this kit has, I love that you have the option to open all of the hatches on the kit and show off its details.
The open hatch feature gives the kit a “maintenance mode” look, which you would see if it was in a hangar bay being worked on. Out of the box, the inner frame details look great showing through, but if you fully painted this kit it would take it to the next level.
The only negative of the open hatch gimmick is that not all of the hinges that prop open the various hatches are strong enough to completely hold open the hatch. Some hinges might need some work to be able to completely stay open (or closed). On the other end of the spectrum, some hatches are much more difficult to open after the kit is fully assembled, like the lower leg pieces.
The Perfect Grade Unleashed RX-78-2 has a decent amount of extras. It comes with metal parts, metallic 3D stickers, photo etch stickers, plenty of weapons and a Core Fighter that can be displayed next to the kit or housed within the waist of the MS. Pilot figures of both Amuro Ray (both a seated and standing version) and Sayla Mass (standing version only) are also included.
All of the different materials on this kit come together beautifully and the end result is truly impressive. The photo etch stickers do a great job of adding vent details throughout the kit and the metallic 3D stickers really make it look like it has glowing sensors all over it. It was also nice to see that metal parts were used for the Vulcan Cannons and the backpack verniers. The PG Unleashed looks like a much more premium kit, because of the attention to detail that Bandai put into it.
When I first started this kit, I had ideas of fully painting it and customizing certain aspects, but after building it straight out of the box and seeing the finished product, I have no desire to customize it. Bandai nailed this kit and I really hope they give this treatment to more mobile suits in the future.
Even though I absolutely loved building this kit, it has a few minor faults. I really wish they would have included an action base with the kit. Even though they aren’t expensive to buy seperately, I wish it came with a custom action base to complete that premium look. I will also never understand why the Perfect Grade line doesn’t come with waterslide decals. I opted to buy 3rd party metallic waterslide decals for mine and was really happy with how those turned out, but having a set of normal waterslide decals in the box would have been nice to have, especially for the price tag.
Minor gripes aside, I still highly recommend this kit. It’s a super enjoyable build all-around and it looks incredible straight out of the box. I really feel like they pushed the envelope with the PG Unleashed and I can’t wait to see how this new line of Perfect Grades continues to evolve from here!