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Bandai HG 1/20 scale "Sakura Wars 2" Kobu-Kai (Sakura Shinguji Type) plastic model kit review

This armored suit model kit makes for a challenging, enjoyable, and thoroughly unusual build
Kit:5058877 // Scale:1/20 // Price:$42
Posable; great fits; eye decals for figure
Seams in armor apparent; many fine mold lines to clean up
Injection-molded plastic; 170 parts (pink, gray, gold, silver, red); polycaps; wire and woven nylon cord; not all parts will be used
Bandai Spirits

Bandai has made no bones about producing plastic scale models based on pop-culture properties, from TV to movies to video games. If you aren’t familiar with Sakura Wars, don’t feel bad, because I wasn’t either. It started first as a Sega game release, and now there is an anime series from Funimation. But when the HG (High Grade) 1/20 scale Kobu-Kai armored suit came across my desk for review, I thought its steampunk aesthetic looked cool and was eager to dive in.

Seven plastic parts trees plus a rubbery tree of polycaps are packaged in separate plastic bags. I don’t think I’ve seen that much pink plastic in a model kit, ever. Bandai has perfected the technology to provide parts of different colors on the same parts tree, and they’re all clean and sharply molded with minimal seams. As with many of Bandai’s kits, the Kobu-Kai doesn’t require glue or paint.

If you’ve never built a Gundam or other kind of mecha before, the process can be challenging, especially when trying to figure out how to paint the model. If you use glue, make sure to pay special attention to the instructions, because you don’t want to accidently glue a posable joint.

The instructions have you start building the pilot’s compartment. You’ll want to paint and finish the figure of Sakura Shinji before going too far along. Or you can leave her out if you aren’t intending to open the front of the armor suit to see inside. For many modelers, painting eyes can be a challenge. Bandai removes that obstacle and provides big, appropriately shaped anime eyes as decals for the figure. They fit perfectly and settled on just a little clear gloss.

Wires run from the figure’s flight suit to the rear of the pilot’s compartment. Wait until you’ve painted both the figure and the seat before you run the lines. No need for glue here; they stay put via friction. The kit’s stickers don’t look particularly realistic, but all my research could not turn up many official images of the armor suit’s interior for detail painting. I used the stickers and was surprised at how good they looked in situ.

In Step 7, be sure to attach the tubes (parts A14 and A15) before the assembled steam vent pods. If you don’t, you’ll be pulling off parts to get them to fit.

With so many curves, mold lines are practically inescapable. While numerous, the mold lines are fine and clean up easily. Similarly, the joins for the arm and leg armor are front and center. For a clean look, you’ll need to fill and sand them, which took me a while—and was the second longest part of the project aside from painting the figure. For me, the seam along the vent at the top of the suit need particular attention.

The Kobu-Kai’s complexity presents paint challenges. I painted practically all the parts on the parts trees first with Tamiya Pink, Gray, and Dark Gray. If I had to do it again, I would prepaint only the gray areas, and wait to paint the pink parts after the model was assembled and sanded. I only mildly weathered mine, using the box art as a guide. But you could go much further and give it a battle-weary appearance.

All in all, I had a blast building the Sakura Wars 2 Kobu-Kai armored suit piloted by Sakura Shinji. It’s posable, wields a preposterously huge katana, and is the pinkest model I’ve ever built. (My daughter loves it!) I spent about 35 hours on mine, but you could certainly spend fewer if you just whipped it together and called it a day. Even though it’s press fit, I would recommend it for modelers with a few kits under their belts.

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