Didn't exactly see this coming. While at first I didn't figure this was my thing, by the time its release rolled around, it became evident that, molded already in the right colors and definitely a change of pace from the seemingly endless Zaku construction, this would be a fun and more relaxing project. (I can only hope the gods refrain from striking me down on account of disregarding my own policy of always painting models regardless of their molding.)

Fancy and refreshingly unusual box art. The powerful, spirited calligraphic style is of the sort I aspire to have.

First day's work (after fetching the gold paint I neglected to get along with the kit yesterday). The torso unit, whose internals are borrowed from the RX-78-2 ver. One Year War (which in turn uses parts from the ver. 1.5), while not as thoroughly detailed and articulated as a ver. 2.0 Zaku nor the Hi-Nu Gundam, has good shoulder joints and bends where it needs to.

The neck is a separate piece with ball-and-socket joints at either end, the bottom fitting into the socket at the top of the torso, while the upper ball, of course, is for the head. Something of a holdover from the old, simple ball joint necks, but definitely preferable.

The lower half of the waist is very simply comprised of two pieces: the red armor section, and the internal part visible in the above picture, which is just a flat piece with ball joints on both sides which snaps into the waist armor part. The upper ball joint connects to another socket inside the upper torso, and thus the torso unit has it's slight back-and-forth flexibility.

The external parts, all newly designed for this kit (so far as I know, at least) fit together excellently, and tend to do a fine job of covering most of the clip points. Sadly, this model doesn't have an accessible cockpit; but that may be the nature of this unusual mobile suit to begin with.

Back of the torso unit. This suit has a nice array of booster rocket nozzles, which have a good range of motion, and aren't quite so finicky as some other models'. The nozzles themselves are also more nicely detailed than some, a point I particularly appreciate. Otherwise, however, the backpack is fairly unremarkable, as it serves primarily as a carrying rack for Shin Musha's numerous weapons.

Finished torso and waist. I believe this is the most complicated waist unit I've encountered to date, mostly because the front skirts are constructed as actual lamellar armor, affording a slight flexibility. Seems like an awful lot of trouble for minimal result (especially given that the rear skirts are just molded as single pieces), but a nice detail nonetheless.

Leg internals. Each leg's innermost part actually comes molded in two different plastics on the same sprue, resulting in multiple parts already interlocked and fitted together. This peculiar leg core is one of this kit's holdovers from the MG Gundam ver. 1.5, which in turn was used in the ver. OYW.

The curious inner leg produces an excellent knee, with as much range as any brand new MG model. Unfortunately the ankle is the same old outdated ball n' polycap routine, as is the hip joint. Aside from being an impressive feat of acrobatic injection molding, the inner leg is also an interesting artifact of the beginning of the contemporary golden age of MG engineering, which we now enjoy in full swing.

Legs, finished. These limbs have quite an eclectic feel about them, largely on account of the mix of old and new parts used in their construction. The external parts, more or less newly designed, all fit together pretty well, but there's a bit of cludginess to them. Those big (complicated) booster things on the sides of the shins, for instance, just sort of stick onto the armor beneath, which one suspects is directly adapted from one of the older MG Gundams' parts.

Additionally, as expected, while the fascinating inner leg frame provides outstanding flexibility in the knees, the ankles and hips don't afford much poseability on account of their old-style joints. The bulky ankle armor doesn't help in that regard.

Arm internals. Overall a pretty good inner frame, inherited from the Gundam ver. OYW. The fairly simple double-jointed elbow doesn't flex quite as far as newer kits, but as it turns out, the armor wouldn't let it bend much farther anyhow. The shoulder joint is also not quite as fancy as Hi-Nu's, but gets the job done.

The hands, on the other… well… hand, are identical to Hi-Nu's: While the fingers aren't individually jointed, they are all hinged at the knuckles with individual ball joints; the index finger, as always, comes on its own, while the other three fingers are molded together. However, they can be easily sliced apart so all four fingers move on their own. Additionally, the wrist ball is a separate piece connected via hinge joint to the hand itself, allowing for an excellent range of bend at the wrist. Perhaps most importantly, these hands feature the now-standard palm tabs for getting a grip on weapons.

Arms and shoulders, complete. The funky arrays sticking out from the shoulder armor are, of course, mounts for Shin Musha's big shoulder shields. Similarly, the little axles on the forearms will mount additional armored gauntlets.

This Gundam manages a pretty good kneel, thanks to its very flexible knees. Fortunately the stiffer ankles and hips don't impede this pose. I'll see if he can sit seiza next.

Front view. He ends up one pretty bulky Gundam.

Rear view. The slight awkwardness of the boosters on the legs is perhaps a bit more evident from this angle.

Classic Gundam head, with a twist. I usually paint the eyes, but I didn't have any of the right green on hand, so went with the decal in this case. Seems to have turned out alright.

Nothing like up-close macro mode shots to make your inking look like crap.

Hajime!

Interrupting his practice, a challenger approaches.

The two begin with a respectful bow…

… But the sneaky Zaku pulls a (literally) underhanded draw!

Musha, however, deftly parrys the attack and counters with a stinging tsuka-tsuki.

As Hagar recovers and switches his heat hawk to the other hand, the warrior Gundam seizes the chance to unsheathe his tremendous blade.

The two combatants each heft their mighty weapons high aloft, simultaneously lunging forward into a mutual all-out attack.

Tsubazeriai. A seemingly eternal moment of tension, and then…

With a subtle shift of weight, Musha gives way, allowing the unsuspecting foe's attack to slip astray, leaving him to stumble into a shield-check to the face.

The Gundam delivers a fairly decisive blow.

Musha politely sees his guest off.

Later, Musha is meditating, when an unexpected foe appears before him…

… The warlike Shin Blusha, fully armed!

Our peace-loving protagonist moves to end any conflict before it starts with a quick harquebus shot…

… But the belligerent Blusha jarringly parries the gun aside.

The attacker draws his own firearm, but is quickly countered as Musha takes up his mighty yari.

Blusha blocks the red defender's follow-up strike…

… And steps in to deliver a nasty hook to the face.

KABLAM! That's gonna leave a mark.

As Musha recovers, the azure aggressor readies a leaping strike…

… But Red won't be so easily dispatched!

Wresting Blusha's sword away, Musha follows up with a kick to make the Red Comet proud.

The contenders both wield their naginata and prepare to clash again.

Musha strikes first, but Blue makes good use of his shoulder shield.

Blusha counters with a sweeping slash, but crafty Red dodges and utilizes his polearm's range to strike at his foe's unguarded foot.

While the sanguine soldier succeeds in causing his opponent to lose his glaive, he may have bitten off more than he can chew, for Blusha now equips his most fearsome weapon: the dread hyper mace.

Musha tries to parry his foe's first strike, but the blow carries such force that his grip is broken and his blade goes flying.

Disarmed, Red is subjected to a merciless thumping.

As Blue pauses to gloat, our harangued hero beholds the enemy's fallen sword, and at once conceives a desperate strategy to combat the monstrous mace.

To Blusha's surprise, the crimson mecha attacks with both their swords.

Blue blocks the first cut easily, and moves to counterattack…

… But in so doing has fallen into Musha's trap.

Red catches the mace and hurls it away with the two swords. The fight is over.

Thoughts

As expected, Shin Musha was a fun kit to build. While as always, paint would improve the final product, all the parts are molded in good colors to begin with, and aside from repainting the gold parts, everything was assembled out of box. A little sandy weathering added a hint of depth.

The kit is something of a throwback, however, for as has been noted above, it's frame comes from the by now somewhat antiquated MG Gundam ver. 1.5 and ver. OYW. The biggest issue resulting from this recycling of old parts is, of course, the hip and ankle joints. Being simple old-style ball and polycap socket joints, their range of motion is comparatively limited. The hips don't really have any problem aside from being unable to do sideways splits like new MGs. The ankles, however, are another story. Being pretty limited in range to begin with, the addition of the bulky ankle armor results in virtually unposeable ankles. In addition the feet, while jointed, don't actually flex much, and between these two limitations and the model's topheavy construction, posing can be a little difficult. A stand is probably best for anything dynamic.

On the other hand, aside from the old-style hips and ankles, the rest of the kit's joints are pretty much up to snuff, and given the bulk of Shin Musha's armor, he's actually remarkably poseable. The big shoulder shields are mounted on a swiveling mechanism that allows them to move rather freely, and they're easy to keep out of the way. Despite the large yoroi-style helmet parts, the head has a good range of swivel and nod, though occasionally the shoulders need to be adjusted to get out of the way.

Musha's four classic weapons are all nicely constructed, but not necessarily easy to hold. The harquebus has tab slots to be held in either hand, but the grip is so thick that the fingers barely can wrap around it. Moreover the angle of the slots is such that the rifle can't be aimed straight, but is always held as if the wrist were slightly cocked. The glaive has long grooves on the upper and lower sections of the shaft, so at least one hand tab can always be plugged in for a secure hold. The lance, on the other hand, has no tab slots nor grooves whatsoever. It looks nicer that way, but slides very easily in the hands. Most agitating, however, is that the sword lacks tab slots on either side of the handle. It, too, is thus rather wobbly when held. I understand and even agree that leaving the lance shaft slotless was the best option, but even if it would've looked a little bad, slotting the sword handle would've been preferable nevertheless. The slots on beam saber handles are even more prominent, but have become standard. This sword should've been no different.

On the whole, a good kit, with the only objections arising from its use of old parts, and the unusual design of its weapons.