Review: GFF Metal Composite Banshee Gundam

I’ve touched upon Gundam Unicorn once before in my review of the Robot Damashii Sinanju, and while it isn’t my favorite Gundam anime, it is the one that got me into the franchise, so it holds a soft spot in my heart. The Unicorn Gundam itself, though, I was never terribly impressed by. Even though I own several model kits of it (the engineering in the MGs is fascinating), I was never really blown away by its appearance. When I first heard of the Banshee, my initial thought was, “Oh great, so it’s just Unicorn, but black.” Then I saw it in the OVA with its black finish on glowing orange psycoframe, plus its giant claw hand and railgun-arm, and…. well, I kind of fell in love. After exhausting my options for this suit in the realm of Gunpla, I turned to a more high-end offering in the form of the Gundam Fix Figuration Metal Composite RX-0 Unicorn Gundam 02 “Banshee” and that’s a hell of a title.

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Appearance 

As I already said, I love the look of the Banshee, but I should specify that I’m talking about it in Destroy Mode. As far as Unicorn Mode goes, it’s… eh. While my preferred mode for the regular Unicorn Gundam is its closed-up form, the inert Banshee really doesn’t do much for me. The VN claw just kind of looks like a big punching glove, which can be cool and all, but it also nullifies the left hand and is kind of clunky. The BS gun (har har) fares a bit better, but it’s still just blatantly hanging off the Gundam’s arm.

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I know that both of these weapons can be utilized when not in Destroy Mode, but I kind of wish they had been better integrated… somehow. At the very least, I would’ve liked to be able to disassemble the weapons and leave the Banshee with two normal forearms. Given the inclusion of the Unicorn’s regular rifle and shield, I had expected this to be the case, but the weapons are sadly molded into the arms.

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But hey, enough about that; let’s talk about how beautiful this thing is. The Gunpla kits for the Banshee always underwhelmed me by being molded in a dull navy-blue plastic, especially since the Gundam looks much closer to black in the show (which is how I painted my MG). The GFF version retains the appropriate navy colors, but the shade is just dark enough to wonderfully contrast the psycoframe and just blue enough for the Titans throwback. It’s also gorgeously shiny metallic, and the chrome gold on the collar and V-fin (W\|/W-fin?) give this figure a marvelously premium appearance. Pictures really don’t do this paint justice, and he looks even better in Destroy Mode.

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Another issue with the Banshee model kits is that the psycoframe never looks right. It should be a sparkly orange-gold, which Bandai has tried to replicate with both sparkly gold and translucent orange plastics, but neither properly get the effect across. The red/green-on-white of the Unicorn naturally stands out, but the clear orange gets lost in the darker suit. To solve this, the GFF Banshee has its psycoframe bits painted shiny silver underneath, much like the psycoframe of the MG Nu Gundam ver Ka (which was achieved with stickers). It works fantastically, and helps that the orange plastic itself attracts light with ease. This is the best-looking version of the Banshee’s Destroy Mode I’ve ever seen, even beating out some of the better custom-painted kits. I’m also usually not a fan of the weird technical marks that get slapped on Gundams for no reason, but the Banshee’s look great in gold.

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One thing I wasn’t so sure about after I purchased this guy was how big he was going to be. I expected Master Grade size (1/100 scale), but then I got the box and it was HUGE. Turns out, he is right around the size of the Master Grade Banshee; the two are pretty much proportionally identical. Considering there is about a $120 difference in price between the two Banshees, this may come across as a point of contention for some. You have to keep in mind that the MG is a plastic kit you have to build and paint yourself, while the GFF is pre-built with solid plastic and metal components, and extremely well-painted. Plus it comes with accessories, which I’ll get to in a minute.

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To briefly touch on the transformation to Destroy mode, all I can really say is that if you have the Master Grade, it’s basically the exact same. There are a few differences, primarily in how the legs extend, but the engineering is more or less the same, only with a bit more solidity. The only problem areas are the torso (it only weakly locks in its extended position, and can rarely hold the weight of the upper body), the hips (the locking mechanism is a mix of metal and plastic, and isn’t terribly secure), and the head (nothing ever locks in solidly, especially in Unicorn Mode). As this is a pre-built toy and not a model kit, the transformation is much less fiddly than the Master Grade, but it probably takes around the same amount of time.

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Articulation

Unicorn Gundams aren’t really known for their articulation if they’re also packed with the engineering for a full transformation (unless you’re talking about the Perfect Grade, which obviously utilizes ancient black magic). Giving the Unicorn exceptional posability while retaining the transformation gimmick is something that has been tried twice on the MG scale with decent results. I’d like to say that the GFF Banshee can pull off Robot Damashii-levels of posing, but… it can’t.

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It’s about as limited as the original Unicorn Master Grade, which means basic 90-degree knees and elbows, a waist swivel, universal shoulders and hips with bicep/thigh swivels, universal neck joint (not ball-jointed), ball-jointed wrists, and negligible ankle tilts. It’s not bad, really, it’s just not impressive. Then again, the GFF Banshee isn’t really meant to be a toy that you play around with and pose in crazy moves like an RD figure. Mostly you just put this guy in a really imposing stance on the stand and admire how awesome he looks.

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The articulation is really no better or worse in Unicorn mode, except that he has even less of an ankle tilt. Thankfully, this guy is heavy enough to stand on his own in either mode (though it will take some balancing) thanks to the large amounts of metal in his legs. I’m honestly not quite sure exactly which parts of the Banshee are die-cast metal (aside from the large fins on his calves and his hip mechanism), but it definitely makes for a solid, hefty toy and is an example of die-cast done right.

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Accessories

In the OVA, the Banshee never had much else other than its Armed Armor BS gun and VN claw, at least until the Norn upgrade in the final episode. Despite this, the GFF Banshee comes with all the normal accessories of the Unicorn Gundam: Beam Magnum (with extra clips), Hyper Bazooka, and the transformable shield, as well as four Beam Saber handles (two for the backpack, one for each arm) with two blades.

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The Magnum and Bazooka can be easily wielded by the Banshee if you fold the rail gun up, and both are held very solidly in the included holding-things hand. The beam sabers have their own sculpted gripping hands as well, though only the right hand can be practically utilized.

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The shield includes two connectors for two possible mounting configurations: one is multi-jointed and allows for the shield to attack onto the Banshee’s left arm via a small peg that slots into a hole on either side of the arm. This connection works well enough, though on mine the peg was initially too large to fit the slot. I shaved the peg down a bit… and now it’s too small and doesn’t fit. Remember kids, you can’t always win. The other connector pegs into the backpack, which lets you mount the shield on the Banshee’s back. It looks kind of silly, honestly.

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The beam sabers mounted in the Banshee’s arms can be flipped out to form “beam tonfas,” which can only be utilized in Destroy Mode. It works fine for both arms, but, while this looks really cool on the standard Unicorn, it looks a little over-the-top on the Banshee, who already has a BFG and enormous claw for arms. Admittedly, though, “over-the-top” is nothing new for Unicorn Gundam.

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Additional accessories include three V-fins (closed, open, and jointed) and assorted hands: fists, saber-holding, gun-holding, calmly-open, and a single left hand in a very dramatic splayed-out pose for clawing action. I really like the inclusion of the clawed hand in particular.

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The final accessory is the stand, which I have mixed feelings towards. The base of it looks great, displaying the full name of the mobile suit, a brief description, its pilot, and the timeframe the suit was in action. It looks really cool, but the actual stand is flimsy and hardly holds onto the Banshee at all. It works as a balancing aid, but don’t think it can support any action poses. It’s good for displaying the Banshee standing still, but not much else.

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Overall

This is a very expensive piece of toy, coming in at just under $200. That said, this is without a doubt the best representation of the Banshee Gundam ever put into plastic. It’s well-detailed, gorgeously painted, boasts decent articulation plus a solid transformation, and just looks spectacular. The rather large accessory count and stand just add to the value, and I can say with confidence that I think it’s worth the money. That said, this is really just for anyone who loves the Banshee enough to drop almost $200 on a plastic-and-metal 1/100 scale toy. If you’re like me and fall into that category, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. This really is a masterpiece of a figure.

(There’s also a GFF Banshee Norn coming next year with a green psycoframe, so if that’s your preferred Banshee flavor, you’re in luck.)

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Ain’t no party like a Banshee party.

Where to Buy

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