I have steered away from a number of the Japanese 1/12 scale Star Wars products that have been landing over the last 6-months. In the main these have been two expensive to justify importing to the UK and in many cases I have not been a fan of the stylised look a number of these have been given.
Bandai have been the exception here, offering their 1/12 figures in kit form and at a price that means you can have them brought over to the UK for less than you would pay for a Black Series 6" figure.
My first order placed, via the brilliant Hobby Link Japan, was a pre-order for the 2-pack of R2-D2 / R5-D4. I then went back and dropped in an order for their Stormtrooper which landed last week.
Price wise, you will never be 100% what you are paying via HLJ. The Yen conversion of their Stormtrooper pack is around the £10.50 mark - but shipping is calculated just before dispatch on the weight and size of the item. My shipping for this came in at £6, so the whole thing cost £16.50 delivered and as it was under £15 on the goods was exempt from any custom costs.
On arrival (about 10 days from dispatch to receipt) the item was as packed as well as it needed to be, having been shrink-wrapped to a stiff board to prevent movement. Once unwrapped the box is a bit flimsy, and reminiscent of those old Airfix kits any kid of the 80's will remember.
Once the lid comes off you are a bit overawed. I knew this was a kit, but didn't appreciate how many pieces and processes their would be to build this. It comes across 4 plastic sprue's. The first is a black dull plastic containing the black (obviously) pieces of the armour. The second sprue is very gloss white plastic containing the armour. The third is a rubbery plastic that makes up the joints. And the fourth is another black sprue holding the base for the figure.
The instructions fold out, and there are about 15 processes in building the kit. The instructions are all in Japanese, but are pretty well illustrated and numbered and I found them easy enough to follow.
When I first started posting my build on Facebook the main question asked was do you need glue? The answer is no, the whole kit is clip together. However, I do urge you to have a pair of clippers, a sharp craft knife and a well lit work area before you start.
The parts need to be clipped off the sprue (hence clipper) and in some cases cleaned up if you leave a bit of flash behind (craft knife). However this kit is very well engineered, and I did not find a single part through the whole build that didn't fit precisely.
You will need time for this build. I started mine, believe it or not, in a hotel while I was away with work for a couple of days. I then finished it off at home, and all in it took about 3hrs in total. You also have to think ahead towards the end to decide what side you want the gun holster and then what hands you want to use (they are interchangeable after completion). The decals come either as stickers or water transfers. I chickened out of the transfers and used the stickers which all went on really well, I recommend using a cotton bud to aid smoothing. The one criticism I had was that on some of the really small stickers they were really hard to get off the backing paper.
Once built the model can go on the included stand, or will stand pretty well on its own. It lines up very well in terms of scale with the Black Series Stormtrooper and can achieve a number of poses.
So is it worth it?
For me I still prefer the Hasbro version for overall looks. The Bandai version may have shinier armour, but the head/neck area still looks a bit too short so he has a hunched appearance. The Bandai version is also quite light, so if you use without a base expect a stiff breeze to rattle him on any shelf. The Bandai version also doesn't come with anything significantly different to the Hasbro one, so there is no real point of difference.
The benefit of the Bandai one is the interactive build. For the same price as Hasbro I got a full 3hrs of "fun" building the thing, so there is a degree of satisfaction over breaking open a box and sticking a figure on display.
Bandai are also well placed here to use these kits going forward with more customisable options. Imagine if you will a basic Clone Trooper kit that contains both Mk1 and Mk2 heads and varying options like weapons, pauldrons, kama's etc.
It's tough to score this as a figure as it is so much more. But in terms of overall build, the finished article and value for money it is a 4 out of 5. Checkout the images below to see what this kits entails, or via the YouTube video HERE
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