I’ve always been somewhat interested in the Kotobukiya Armoured core line of Mecha kits (after all, I am a big mecha fan) but they never grabbed me as a “must buy” item. But, as luck would have it, Orbital manga had a few in stock and I managed to find one I kinda liked so I went and got one!

This is the Crest CR-C75U2 Close combat version. A bit of a misnomer since, as every armoured core player can tell you, the weapons on this kit means it’s nowhere near kitted out for close combat! Who the heck would outfit their unit with a long range cannon and lots of missiles on a close combat unit?

*ahem*

In any case, More pics and a review of the kit after the jump. Click on the pics for larger versions!

The Armoured core models are all part of Kotobukiya’s “variable Infinity” line. In short, they tried to reproduce the customization options found in the armoured core games. Although you can buy complete kits like the one shown in this post, the legs, arms, body, head and weapons can all be replaced by other parts from other kits in the variable infinity line.  You can even buy separate bits from the kotobukiya website to further customize your kits (but only if you live in Japan). In theory, you can recreate a large number of combination parts from the game, but not all since it is limited to the available parts from Kotobukiya. Presently, there are no float legs, Tank legs or chicken legs (does anybody use those anyway???) and various other arm and weapon parts are not available but the number is still impressive.

So, the first question on my mind was can kotobukiya, relative newbies in the injection kit business challenge the dominance of Bandai and their extensive range of gundam kits? In short, no. They do give a damn good try but there are some really annoying things about this kit which stops it from being great.

The Good 

  • The level of detail in this kit is amazing. It’s size is roughly the same as the 1/144 gundam kits but it’s so much more detailed than bandai’s offering. You could say that it would be due to the source material since armoured core units are generally more detailed than the gundams you would see on TV but even after that, These kits leave the offerings from bandai in the shade!!!
  • Surprisingly, this kit looked very good, out of the box. Of course, it would look better with some metallic paint (which i plan to do sometime. I’ll post more pics if i get around to doing it) but it still looks mighty impressive without having anything done to it.
  • Customizing!!! As stated above, the variable infinity line allows parts trading between kits. I don’t have any other kits to try it out but the idea of being able to change parts to make your own unit is pretty damn cool!!!

The Bad

  • The kit has a ridiculous number of parts, almost rivaling some MG gundam kits. To make matters worse, alot of parts are not used and left as spare. They don’t serve any purpose and don’t look like they are parts of the kit in general which begs the question, why were they put in there in the first place? At least with bandai kits, you can tell that some parts are not used simply because they used the mold of another kit and added some more for an extra part. (e.g. Astray red and Blue frame 2nd L. The  2nd L kit has the parts for the original setup of blue frame since it used the mold for red frame). In short, This ain’t no beginner kit and the abundance of extra parts will probably annoy veterans too!!!
  • Parts size is also an issue. Many of the parts are very small and, thus, very VERY easy to drop and lose. I’m no noob at this stuff, but even I managed to drop and lose half a dozen parts in the process of building this kit (don’t worry, I found them in the end)
  • Posability. Despite a good number of articulation point, the kit never manages to reach the level of posability which higher end gundam kits supply. Parts get in the way (esp the shoulder) and one major gripe comes into the foreground…


What you are looking at is a picture of the knee joint for the kit. The part simply slides into the lower leg. There are no parts to catch or hold it in place and, as such, the leg can feel very weak and stability can be an issue. The leg also falls off easily if you lift the kit up.

This problem can be fixed with a little glue, but this is supposed to be an injection plastic kit!!! If all the other parts are snap-together, why did Kotobukiya decide to not bother with just the knees?

In any case, the kit does falter at this point as the lack of a good knee joint prevents the kit from doing any really dynamic posing. It’s not too much of an issue for myself but some will be very disappointed by that news.

Overall

While the armoured core kits are rather impressive to look at, faults and niggles like the ones mentioned above prevent me from recommending it as a must buy! If you are an armoured core fan, then it will be worth a try but make sure you have some experience with snap together kits first or else you may find yourself overwhelmed.

Engineering and construction moans aside, it still is a very nice kit but I would still say gundams hold the top spot still.