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[Gunpla] PG 1/60 Unicorn Gundam (Final Battle) + LED Unit
Posted On: 16 Jul 2023

I've built a lot of Gunpla (Gundam plastic models) over the years, but this is the first time I've sat down and built an almighty Perfect Grade kit. In typical "me" fashion, I almost always try new things by jumping right into the hard stuff. The Unicorn Gundam is a beast of a kit (pun intended), and overall not a bad bang for your expensive buck.

The (Not So) Obvious

The Unicorn Gundam itself is one of the biggest kits you can feasibly own. It's about 13-14 inches (33-35 cm) tall between Unicorn and Destroy modes, and gains another inch or two by just being on the display base. It will dwarf nigh everything in a collection outside of the 1/48 Mega Size kits, HG Neo Zeong, and the full HG Dendrobium. This is not a kit for people with space constraints.

Furthermore, this version comes with three Gatling Shields and the parts needed to arrange them in triple shield formation. If you're interested in displaying the shields that way, then you effectively need to allocate twice as much space. I repeat: this is not a kit for people with space constraints.

Though, to be fair, it's a Premium Bandai kit so it's probably barely a kit available for people just due to how Premium Bandai operates. I bought this kit three years ago when P-Bandai officially opened in the US and did a run of this kit. Who can say when they'll do another run --though they seem to love reprinting the PG Phenex and PG Perfectibility so perhaps it's only a matter of time. The regular PG Unicorn has received standard merchandising rereleases, however.

The Good

While the leap in complexity and detail from HG 1/144 to MG 1/100 is fairly significant, the leap from MG 1/100 to PG 1/60 is far shorter. The PG Unicorn certainly has more to it than the MG Unicorn, but it is, for all intents and purposes, just a particularly tall Master Grade. Personally, I think this is a good thing, because there comes a point where you don't really add anything by increasing complexity, and I think the Unicorn is one of those kits where that limit is rather strict. Its gimmick is that it transforms and expands to reveal glowing psychoframe. Any further details you could add to the inner frame would just be second fiddle to that gimmick. Any further details you could add to the outer armor would just make the design even busier when Unicorn is already, by nature, a fairly busy design.

However, that's not to say you don't get anything new with the PG version. The kit includes an extra gimmick called "Destroy Mode Unchained", where the armor can open and expand in further ways (as compared to canon) to reveal even more psychoframe --e.g., the upper arms, the sides of the lower legs, and the top of head. It's a little extra touch that helps fill in some of the "gaps" in the Unicorn's transformation, making it a little more uniform across the mobile suit's body.

The LED Unit has an "eyes only" mode so, yes, you can have it in Unicorn mode with lit up eye visor and no psychoframe glowing underneath the inert armor. The LEDs fade on and off rather than change state instantly, and even seem to pulse a little bit, which all adds a bit of extra flair to your display when poking at it.

The base that comes with the kit includes slots for mounting the weapons and shields, which is always a nice touch for keeping the parts together even when you don't want to pose the robot with its gear.

The instruction booklet for the kit has some really lovely full-color informational pages about the Unicorn Gundam, and the booklet as a whole feels like nice quality paper.

The Bad

While the PG Unicorn isn't an overall difficult build, there are a couple of aspects that really add a great deal of frustration to the assembly process. The Gundam's head was a ridiculous struggle to construct. Attaching the crown of the head armor to the inner frame of the head proved difficult, as the bits of Unchained psychoframe did not like to play nice and the attachment points between armor and frame were rather awkward due to the frame pushing up from below and the camera "mohawk" pushing down from above. Also, LED wiring liked to get in the way.

Speaking of LED wiring, incorporating the LED Unit into the building process takes the lion's share of blame for all the frustration. The LED unit is a series of small enclosed LED boards connected together with loose "ribbons" of 2-3 wires. The head, torso, waist, arm, and leg sections each have their own separate LED units. These units are pushed into designated slots and the wires are routed through and around the inner frame. You then connect the wires of each section together as you connect the sections together, and connect the whole assembly to the wiring in the display base. What makes this process frustrating is that the wires do not always cooperate and fit neatly where and how they ought. Hiding the wire connections between segments seems to be a matter of pure wizardry as I always seem to have far more wire and far less space than the instructions seem to think.

The process of transforming PG Unicorn into Destroy Mode is replete with fiddliness, stubborn parts, and a constantly looming fear of breaking things. If you, like me, had problems with the MG Unicorn, then you can expect exactly the same from PG Unicorn. The three major pain points for me were the head, the chest, and the ankles. I could not get the Unicorn "face plate" to neatly fold up inside the head and instead opted to remove most of it. It was a struggle to expand the chest horizontally as the right side of the Unicorn seemed stuck in place (funnily, I have this issue with the left side of the MG Unicorn). The ankles are hard to descend without accidentally pulling the cuffs off.

Though the PG Unicorn offers the Destroy Mode Unchained gimmick, it's not compatible with the LED Unit. That is to say, some of the extra bits of revealed psychoframe --the upper arms and the sides of the lower legs-- don't glow when the LEDs are turned on. To be fair, it's a legitimate technical limitation, but... it's still a major bummer.

The Weird

Since the LED Unit is sold separately, you would logically assume that the instructions for putting the LED Unit into the PG Unicorn are thus only included with the LED Unit. Nope. They're part of the vanilla building instructions that come with the PG Unicorn itself. Bold move telling people how to perform steps involving parts they may not have. Bizarrely, Dalong says the LED Unit doesn't even come with a copy of those instructions, but mine did. Perhaps Bandai added that spare copy between initial release and reprints.

The LED Unit requires four (4) AA batteries. That seems excessive for LEDs but perhaps reasonable for longevity purposes. Yet the LEDs automatically shut off after about 5 minutes. So... why? (LEDs are rated to last about 50,000 hours or so, but I guess better safe than sorry because replacing a burnt LED in this thing is just not something you're going to do.)

The front skirt Psychoframe parts require foil backing stickers. The instructions suggest putting foil stickers on the LED houses in the forearms but the kit looks fine without them.

It took my wife half as long to build the PG Unleashed RX-78-2 as it took me to build this kit. About two building sessions versus my five building sessions. In fact, she built the PG-U, the MG Sazabi ver.KA, and an HG kit in the time it took me to build this Unicorn. How the hell?

Overall Rating: 9.6/10 (Unicorn), 5/10 (LED Unit)
Recommended: Yes (Unicorn), Maybe (LED Unit)

Great kit. Great display piece. Great fun. The LED kit is an oddity and a frustrating piece of electronics to incorporate. You're probably going to one-and-done the pose and never play with it, but it's a great centerpiece for any fan of Mobile Suit Gundam and Gunpla.