No doubt I'm not the only one who's wondered about the differences between the several versions of the RX-78-2 Gundam available in Master Grade. Thanks to Alberto, we've got a clear comparison between the ver. 1.5 and the ver. 2.0.
The comments and images here are Alberto's.
It's easy to think Gunpla design has improved year after year, but a comparison between two different kits of the same mobile suit can show properly how much progress model technology has made up to now. Let's compare the MG RX-78-2 ver. 1.5 (2000) and ver. 2.0 (2008) to check all the changes and improvements made to the Gundam during these eight years.
The old version of the core fighter is quite different from what we see on television. It has no Amuro inside and no rotating cockpit, and the wings are fixed along the edge of the fuselage, making the mechanism quite strong. No missile launchers available. Landing gear wheels must be removed before transforming. The white strips on the side of the blue cockpit are simply painted over the blue pieces.
The ver. 2.0 core fighter has longer wings that can partially retract into the fuselage before folding over it. This is more spectacular, but the hinges of these wings are extremely weak, and it is quite difficult to keep them in position. I didn't dare to ink them either because of this delicacy. The white parts are all molded in the right color. The cockpit contains an Amuro Ray figure and the seat can rotate 90 degrees when the nose folds into the fuselage. The missile launchers are moveable. No landing gear available, but the plane has its own display base.
The ver. 1.5 core fighter hasn't a proper frame inside, and the black details around the booster nozzles are painted on a red piece.
The ver. 2.0 core fighter, on the other hand, has a small frame: actually the nozzles are molded on two grey parts of the inside frame.
The fin and wheels of the ver. 1.5 core fighter must be removed before transforming it into the coreblock. Removing the fin unlocks the nose, which folds into the red fuselage. The risk of scratching the paint is considerable.
In the ver. 2.0 core fighter, the fin folds inside the fuselage when the blue nose rotates, as there's a connecting mechanism inside. The cockpit seat rotates automatically when the nose folds in. The mechanism, as I said, is wonderful, but the price to pay is the weakness of all the hinges.
Instead of the transformed core fighter, the ver. 1.5 kit lets you insert a fixed core block, with an Amuro Ray figure, so you can display the plane separately near the Gundam.
The ver. 2.0 kit has no dummy core block, so you must insert the folded core fighter. The connection base inside Gundam's waist is considerably stronger than in the ver. 1.5.
There're no internal workings in the head of the ver. 1.5 Gundam. The vulcans are molded into the armor plates, and the vent openings on the sides of the head are all false and must be inked. The V-fin is a single piece, and the central boss needs painting (or covering with the proper sticker).
The ver. 2.0 Gundam's head is quite internally detailed. The vulcans are molded as a single white piece that can be easily painted before putting the head together. The side armor plates have proper holes showing the inside frame of the vents. The V-fin and red boss are two different pieces each molded in the right color. The two pistons on the front of the neck are really showy, but they vastly reduce the rotation of the head, which is quite shorter than in the ver. 1.5 kit, which uses a common polycap and ball joint.
[Martin's note: I recall initially having the same trouble with the ver. 2.0 Gundam's limited range of rotation in the neck, but I discovered later it actually turns as far as one might want. The mechanism just tends to be stiff.]
The chest of the ver. 1.5 Gundam is very much restyled compared to the TV show. I've never understood why all Gundam models from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s didn't reproduce what we saw on the screen. Where did those yellow rims around the chest vents come from?
The chest is actually one single piece that can't move in any direction. The blue hatch in the middle can be lifted and shows the core block inside.
The ver. 2.0 chest can move slightly to the sides and a very small bit forward, but all this is actually lost when the core block is inside. The hatch, as you'll see in the next pictures, can be opened along the upper hinge shown here, but its lower panel can also slide up inside the upper part of the same hatch. This kit also can't rotate much along the waist.
[Martin's note: Much as with the neck above, I believe the waist rotation of the ver. 2.0 is pretty good, just stiffer than one would expect.]
The armor on the ver. 1.5 Gundam's forearms can open to reveal the mechanical details inside. However, it's a simple piece pinned in, and the arms have no actual frame inside.
The ver. 2.0 kit has a proper frame inside the whole arm, but there's no way to show it besides removing the armor. The arms also look a bit rounder and chubbier than in the previous version.
Even the ver. 1.5 Gundam's legs can be opened to show the inside frame, and this time it is a true and strong real frame. The legs are built around a pre-molded skeleton with all the necessary main joints to the limbs. It also contains some pre-molded perfectly operating pistons. These leg skeletons are at least considered infamous, but I don't find them bad at all. They work properly and they're not so impossible to be prepared for building. [Martin's note: The ver. 1.5's special leg internals were re-used in the later ver. OYW and Shin Musha kits. You can get a look at them in
Shin Musha Gundam's gallery.]
The ver. 2.0 legs are instead built piece by piece, but the result is as strong as in the ver. 1.5. This time there's again no way to show the frame inside when the legs are completed besides removing the external armor plates.
Even the ver. 1.5 backpack was heavily restyled. The rear boosters are very nicely hinged and can be moved easily up and down.
The ver. 2.0 backpack, instead, is a perfect copy of the TV show's. Accordingly, the boosters can't be moved. When you remove the beam sabers, the recharge racks on the sides of the backpack can fold inside the central casing.
The waist of the older kit has no proper frame, and it uses the old ball and socket to connect the legs to the waist. The posability of this part (and therefore of all the model) is quite limited, but the mechanism is quite strong.
The ver. 2.0 includes frame all along the waist skirt and each piece is perfectly movable. The legs are connected with the new pivoting hinges seen in all ver. 2.0 kits. They provide excellent posability, but I can't escape the feeling they could become weak in a very short time. I hope I'm totally wrong. The armor plates along the skirt tend to swing away too easily, unfortunately.
[Martin's note: I have had a little trouble with the newer ball joints coming loose in the
MG Hi-Nu Gundam, particularly in the shoulders, but otherwise they've held up splendidly.]
The maximum range of motion of the ver. 1.5 arms is not bad given when the kit was released. The back of the waist is open, showing the rack where the bazooka (but only the bazooka) can be stored.
The ver. 2.0 kit's arms do much better! This is really a sensible improvement, nothing to say.
The picture shows the worst part of the ver. 1.5 kit: the shoulder. I can't believe in 2000 there was no way to make the shoulders move forward and back, and my complaint becomes bigger when I think that in 2001 the 1/144 HGUC Gundam was released featuring a fully movable shoulder.
The shoulder works perfectly in the ver. 2.0 kit, and it has a wide range of motion. Very well done, and I'm quite pleased with it. You can also see the small hole on the back of the skirt where the bazooka or beam rifle can be stored.
The maximum leg motion range in the 1.5 kit: the pre-moulded skeleton did its job well, and in its time this was really a good accomplishment. The feet don't enjoy any kind of articulation, though.
The ver. 2.0 legs do much better. They can be bent almost 180 degrees and the posability of the model is therefore greater. I don't think any better could be done, but I really can't understand what that white piece on the knee is, as it was not shown in the TV series. I'll probably paint it grey in the future. The feet are smaller (maybe too small) than in the ver. 1.5, but they sport two points of articulation each.
Besides the standard posable hands used in kits of the early 2000s, the ver. 1.5 Gundam included a full set of fixed or half-fixed alternate hands. As the posable hands can do anything you like, I never used the others, but I admit they don't provide a perfect grip.
The ver. 2.0 Gundam instead uses the new standard MG hands, whose fingers are articulated in the middle. They also feature the palm tab which provides a perfect grip on all weapons. These hands are much bigger than the older ones.
The ver. 1.5 beam saber is quite shorter than the ver. 2.0 one, and its shape is very different. I don't know why the ver. 2.0 beam blades are so much thicker at the base. I do prefer the more linear one. Even the handles are different: in this case the ver. 2.0 one (more similar to the cartoon) is my favorite.
The beam part of the two javelins is the same, and molded with transparent plastic in both kits. The shaft is molded in a single piece in the ver. 1.5, whereas the ver 2.0 shaft must be mounted on the handle of a beam saber, thus becoming longer than the older one.
All the ver. 2.0 Gundam's weapons look bigger than their ver. 1.5 counterparts, including the Gundam hammer, but the two weapons are largely the same. The ver. 2.0 hammer obviously features the slot on the handle to pin it in the hands.
Externally the ver. 1.5 shield has a wider white rim, and many more panel lines. In the view slot there's a transparent piece. In the ver. 2.0 shield, the slot can be closed with a hidden piece lifted or lowered with an inside pin.
The insides of the two shields look quite different. The handle of the ver. 1.5 shield must be pinned in one of three hinges in the lower part, whereas the central longer pivot is used when you want to put the shield on Gundam's back. The shield is held by the robot with its hand only, as there's no slot along the arm to fix it in position. The ver. 2.0 shield has a movable handle, and a peg that must be inserted in a forearm slot to secure the shield in place. By folding the peg, the shield can be stored on Gundam's back. The black pegs at the side of the view slot can be used to store the beam rifle inside the shield.
The ver. 1.5 bazooka is no more than two halves joined together, whereas the barrel of the ver. 2.0 is molded in two pipe-like pieces without any seam lines. The ver. 2.0 bazooka also has a slightly movable handle, so it can be perfectly fitted between the hand and the shoulder of the Gundam. The ver. 1.5 kit's version is the black type of the weapon, whereas the ver. 2.0 kit provides the white and grey one. In the ver. 1.5 kit, the small handle at the rear of the bazooka can rotate a bit, while in the ver. 2.0 kit the part is totally fixed.
The shapes of the beam rifles are totally different in the two kits. Here too the ver. 1.5 rifle is made of two halves joined together, whereas the ver. 2.0 rifle is composed of several pieces which do not create any seam line. The scope in the ver. 1.5 can only rotate leftwards, while the ver. 2.0 scope can rotate in both directions as you like. No super napalm was included in the ver. 1.5 kit.
In the end, the ver. 2.0 kit does surpass its older counterpart in flexiblity, posability, and articulation. It is also an almost perfect reproduction of what I saw on television, but I wonder why the older kits were so different from the shows. The rotation of the head is the very weak point of the 2.0 model, as the two fake pistons in front of the neck do limit the head movement too much. [Martin's note: See my note above regarding the neck's flexibility.]
Let me say again: I do hope my feelings the kit could get loose too easily are completely wrong, but I must admit the ver. 1.5 kit does look stronger in some joints than its successor.
The ver. 2.0 Gundam also shows significant progress in terms of avoiding seam lines, which are totally eliminated, and hiding clip marks. Only a few are visible, but they're far from the panel lines and can therefore be eliminated with ease. I hope the undergate technology will soon be used even in non-metallic kits, which would be the greatest improvement Bandai could make to its models.