My right hand is lot better, but I still can't work on gunpla. Meanwhile, a great tasty candy appeared in my mail! Elyn Hobby version of Kshatriya in 1/100 scale arrived just this Friday. It took Elyn Hobby a long time to release this one and there has been a lot of hype and gossips about it on the way. Those included a threat of legal action by Bandai — as a result this kit is available outside of China only via resellers. I got mine at Hobbymate.
Kshatriya is a rather unusual design in Gundam world; while the main body looks like overgrown Zaku it's the four gigantic trouts... err... wings (or binders, as they call them in-universe) that make this kit unique. Despite its bulk it's moving with grace through the space, and it's absolutely deadly to anyone who's foolish enough to stand in its way. I liked this design even before I saw it in action — and after seeing it in Gundam Unicorn I fell in love. Bandai made only HG 1/144 version of this kit, stating that making a MG 1/100 version would be problematic due to weight and high price of the completed kit. This of course didn't stop a number of companies from China to make a bootleg kits of varied quality. This guy is Elyn's first kit ever — so in a sense, it's a kit which will position their company on the market of unofficial kits.
I wasn't really silly enough to do proper unboxing photoshoot, as there are other sites who did that quite well. I just wanted to add some information and my opinion of the kit — hopefully it'll help you answer a question whether you want to buy it or not.
The packaging is extremely well done. Detailed up to the point of absurd, shiny and elegant. Good art and consistent design — for example the icons in the manual mimicking Bandai's. Pop-out lettering, color inset in the box, full color manual, all of it adds up to a lot of initial bling.
All of the parts arrive in trays, already cut from the sprues. Truth be told, it's more of a gimmick than anything else. Initially I thought that this kind of packaging means that they've used some extra post-processing to get rid of the pesky nub marks. In reality, there's no magic — it is injection molding, and someone cut out the parts from sprues for you. As a result you still need to deal with nub marks, and yes, you should expect spending significant amount of time on cleanup. Furthermore, the tray packaging is... fancy, but annoying. Screwing translucent covers in is one thing, but some of the parts are very small and light — and will happily fly off their trays if you tilt the tray or take of the cover too fast. As a result you have to be really careful when handling those trays. This will be a PITA during the assembly... don't have any idea yet how to handle those parts without trays taking up entire working space. If you decide to get the kit, be very careful with handing those plates. Keep them straight and flat and don't apply too much force when taking off the cover, or you'll be picking your parts from all over the floor.
And on a separate note: seeing those uneven cut marks,and remembering how long does it take to remove the parts on your own... It makes you painfully aware that a worker on low wage slaved to package it up for you :|
Now, a lot of people were wondering about quality of the kit. It's a curious thing; there's definitely a bit of step down once you're through this impressive packaging. I've mentioned nub marks; as you can see below, some of the surfaces have some production marks too. In my opinion, they're not something that should put you off; just keep in mind that you'll need to spend some time cleaning them up. Most of the surfaces are OK, and there didn't seem to be any brittleness to the plastic. If you plan to paint it, you don't need to worry at all, as primer + paint will smooth things out. If you don't plan to paint it... well, it depends on how easily annoyed are you.
Right now, my opinion about the quality is "acceptable". You can clearly tell it's not Bandai-quality, but it's not that much worse. Of course there might be design problems that will become annoying during the assembly... but I can't tell any of that yet.
Hobbymate did a quality check before sending the kit to me. I've done my own sweep through the tray and found exactly one misplaced part. Instead of getting 4 left and 4 right H18 parts, I got 5 left and 3 right. I thought that I'm missing more parts, but upon closer inspection it turned out that they simply moved around into other slots on the tray, or popped completely out of the tray during unboxing. Which drives the point I've made earlier home again: you need to be careful around those trays.
The manual is shiny, of course. Some art, a rundown of parts, and assembly, everything in color. They don't seem to rotate the assembled pieces in any way in the instruction, which immediately prompts me to wonder how much problems this will cause. Oh well.
So, tl;dr? Looks impressive, promises a lot of fun work. Might be unsuitable for people with short temper.