It’s ShockWAVE, not Shockblast.
The Armored Core 012: Main Core Type Crest CR-C06U5 Fascinator from Kotobukiya’s 1/72 Scale Full Action Plastic Kit Armored Core Variable Infinity Series. I have no idea how the naming should go, so let’s just stick with Fascinator. Which is a cool name, the more I say it. It’s my first “advance” kit. I don’t know how it compares to a Master Grade, but presumably it’s at least more involved than a High Grade. For the record, my modeling kit experience had been Roll from the Rockman EXE line, Giroro Robo, a couple SD 3 Kingdoms Gundam, Kururu and Dororo Robo, and some Zoids. Got a whole bunch of Keroro kits I’m not inclined to do right now too. So yeah, I’m a novice. This is the first time I’m doing it with tools too, just a wire cutter, nail clippers, a worn out nail filer and a pair of tweezers. No paint, no experience there.
So with my background out of the way, let’s get to the toy, and this newb’s impression of it.
Assembly (& Durability)
This is a snap on kit, meaning that you simply snap on everything. I heard some people say it’s slightly different than when assembling Gundam, and I guess the FEEL is a little different than when I did the Keroro Gunpla, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. In any case, this is quite an easy kit to build. Essentially, you Katamari the pieces together. Which is quite good for stability. There’s no inner frame to hold everything together, instead once you put two pieces together, you’ll probably put some panelling over the seams to both cover them up and reinforce the piece, then you’ll put some more stuff on to further enforce everything. The result is a relatively solid build that I feel confident won’t fall to pieces on me… except for the little extra extremities like the exposed pistons on the arms and those teensy afterburners on the back of Fascinator’s calves. But everything else is holding together very nicely.
Speaking of holding together nicely, much to my relief, the primary joints are nice and tight. I’ve seen some Master Grade Gundams, and felt they were brittle and on the verge of falling apart (they probably weren’t, but compared to toys like Transformers…). But with the Fascinator, the main joints are snapped on so firmly, I don’t feel right popping its limbs off for the whole parts swapping thing. The good news is that it means it can hold a pose and even support some weight.
Assembly took me around 12 hours, though I didn’t do any painting or significant sanding. But I’m extremely slow. An intermediate or advanced level modeller could probably do it in half the time. So let’s say this kit will take about 6 hours for the average modeller if they don’t do much (or anything at all), and about 10 hours for a beginner who didn’t dally like I did.
Overall, assembly was okay. It wasn’t frustrating though there were a few small parts to contend with, and the instructions are clear and you don’t really have to stick polycaps everywhere.
Note: While it’s common to have some leftover parts in model kits, there seems to be quite a feel additional parts leftover with Fascinator, there’s even enough to build a whole new alternate gun and only a fraction of the polycaps have been used.
This is my main issue with models. Sure, show/game accuracy is important, but from my limited experience, model kits are fragile as heck. And that’s one of the main things keeping me from getting them. I only got Fascinator because it was on clearance. My experience thus far have been on the Keroro Gunpla, which seem durable enough though the balljoints/polycaps seldom fitted snugly enough for my taste, resulting in losse-ish figs. My cousin’s Master Grades, which look nice, but when I handled them, they felt like they were ready to fall apart or explode on contact. And Zoids, which are nicely uber tight and feel mighty durable, which gave me confidence that maybe not all model kits are fragile. So you’ll forgive me when I feel dubious of the high praise given to Bandai’s kits, and when I hear peeps say that Kotobukiya’s Fascinator felt more brittle than Bandai’s stuff, you can imagine my wariness of the kit.
So how does Fascinator stand up to my hopes? Decently. First, the issues. The little antenna on the back of Fascinator’s head kinda snapped when I clipped it off, it’s an extremely thin piece, so I reckon the shockwave from the clipping snapped it. I managed to glue it together but I’m just going to leave it off methinks. Some little bits tend to fall off, this is due to my imperfect assembly, but I’m sure they can be fixed by apploying some modelling glue. The shins feel like they might fall apart a little, but having built it myself and seeing how everything interfits with one another, I feel confident it won’t. The shins feel less solid because they’re relatively hollow compared to the rest of the figure, but I doubt it’ll fall apart.
The ankles are my main issue with this fig though. Fascinator is backheavy, especially once you get the missile launchers on, and his ankles can’t quite stand him up. He’ll inevitably leaning backwards and topple over. At first I thought it was because of how comparatively complex the feet were compared to say, the arms, but I eventually realized it’s simply the ankles don’t have enough friction. This is not the case with the shoulders or even hips mind you, those have almost Zoids level friction, but yeah, the ankles, the foundation, while not loose, are not tight enough to hold Fascinator’s backweight. But I’m applying the clear nail polish method, so hopefully that’ll fix it.
Aside from the ankle issue though, which is the only REAL issue… Fascinator can probably enter into the realm of Action Figures. It holds well together and all the major joints are tight or firm, and I don’t think they’ll loosen too fast. The knees are super tight, and while I don’t think the elbows can support significant weight, they seem to hold up well. My only concern aside from the ankles are the hips, which will likely see the most movement and therefore wear out the quickest.
So all in all, if you can fix the ankles (just use the superglue or nail polish solution), you’ll have a kit that can hang with full fledged action figures.
Of course, Fascinator looks good. Even without any painting or weathering done. While I was building it, I was a little disheartened because I felt it’d look way more awesome if I had the skills to do it properly, but the end result is nonetheless good. In fact, after I got the head done, I thought Fascinator was a ringer for Transformers Shockwave, hence why I did not give him his left hand. I’m torn though, he either reminds me of Shockwave, or an Invid for some reason.
But the real reason for an “Aesthetics” section is this: his upper and lower bodies don’t match. The toy looks good, but you’ll note that the upper body is all blocky and angular, while the lower body looks almost looks like it came out of Michael Bay’s Transformers. The lower body is all craggy and almost organic while the upper body is very much machine. At a glance, this looks fine, and truthfully, isn’t a significant issue, but it does give a bit of a WTF aesthetic.
But putting that aside, Fascinator looks great (painted or not), especially with that Shockwave purple.
Yeah, it’s articulated. A full range of articulation with big feet for good balance (if the ankles are fixed, or aren’t an issue on your build). Fascinator’s only missing individual finger articulation. Yup, this is all I have to say.
For what I paid, I’m satisfied. Certainly I’ve spent more time on this than with a pre-completed toy. Which is the point. I don’t know if it was totally quality time, since I neither especially enjoyed nor disliked the time spent, but it was nice for what it was. Anywho…
Fascinator is a good kit if you can find it for cheap. It’s involved while still being do-able for a novice. And the end result is a figure that not only looks exceptional, but can hang with your action figures. Which is not always the case with model kit figures.