The Gunpla Chef – Little Plastic Rascals: Animagear Vol. 5 Kit Review
Xin Chao everybody! It’s ya boi the Gunpla Chef with my first blog post of 2021. This time, I will be covering a series of plastic models not many of you may have ever heard about: Animagear! They are a brand of candy toy model kits by Bandai Spirit, which you can buy separately for only 3 euros a piece. Or a pack of 10 of them for 28 euros like I did.
There have been multiple volumes of Animagear boxes that have come out before the one that I’m reviewing today, Volume 5. Their collectable nature is designed in the principle of Gashapon, which means that one is guaranteed to get 5 different kits in one big box and 5 completely random ones. Lady luck was surprisingly nice to me, as I was able to get at least 2 copies of each model with only one exception. You could say that it is similar to that of a blind loot box, a trend that has become niche and irrelevant after 2017 worldwide except for Japan. Because of that niche nature and the lack of promotion compared to other plamo lines from Bandai, it is no wonder why the majority of people have never heard of them in the first place outside of Japan.
I already made a video about them recently, which you can find here, but if you fancy a more analytical and in-depth review with that extra kick of MSG and spice to the side, then stick around and enjoy this blog post.
Reading time: Between 8:30-9:20min
Disclosure: There are funny and wholesome hyperlinks in this blog post which are Amazon Affiliate Links. When you click on them and buy something (at no extra cost), I will be getting a little bit of commission money. It might not be much, but it is definitely going toward funding my seaside mansion I’ve always dreamed of. So, if you’d like to support me, dear readers, this is one way to do it.
I will be covering:
THE CONTENTS OF THE BOXES
Animagears boxes are similar to regular model kits, but much simpler in terms of design and presentation. There are two types of runners: Some of them are for construction of the AMAZING INNER FRAME and the others contain all the armor pieces that can be attached to the former. The boxes also contain one huge sticker sheet and sometimes parts that are already pre-painted. All of that, though, depends on the kit you will receive. Also, because they are part of candy toy lines, they obviously contain one piece of candy, which is just basic bubblegum. The taste is quite decent….almost soap like.
Anyway, despite their collectable nature, the boxes do have one major problem that really grinds my gears: The cooking manual itself. It is not a separate sheet of paper and instead, it is printed INSIDES of the box itself, which means that you have no choice but to rip it open completely in order to read the instructions.
I understand that these are essentially equivalent to McDonalds toys where the less they cost to produce, the cheaper they are to sell, but it is still a disservice for a collection enthusiast such as myself. After all, they do have nice looking artwork on them.
But enough about boxes, let’s talk about what I alluded to earlier:
THE AMAZING INNER FRAME
Take an SDCS frame and give it the same freedom and customization options of a 30 Minute Mission kit and you will get yourself the Animagear inner frame. These frames are built using a series of ball joints with tons of pegs and holes for attaching armor pieces. While all of these model kits share the same frame, they are designed with different configurations among them by swapping joints around to fit their armor pieces’ basic design. It reminds me a lot of Lego Bionicle back in the day.
The articulation of these frames is rather limited but they do serve the purposes for model kits at this price range.The level of potential for customization is really high, but at the same time, it feels very beginner friendly, which is due to the target audience they are designed for. It’s not hard to imagine some people (especially young ones) using these to gain basic training for assembling model kits and to serve as an inspiration for starting a collection. I cannot state enough how much I love these frames. If only Animagears were more well known here in the Western world, they would be a good gateway for new hobbyists!
So now that we’re familiar with the frame, I think it is time that we put on the armors and start covering each Animagear one by one.
SUPER BEETLES BROS
Introducing our first two Animagear, Dualize Kabuto and Dualize Stagger. As you can probably figure out from their similar names, they are in fact twin beetle brothers. One is a swordsman and the other is a marksman. Some with a keen eye (and is of culture) can spot that there are similarities in design to Medabot. Pat yourself in the back if you noticed that too.
Anyway, as for the details themselves, they are just fine. I was expecting there not being enough area to panel line for a kit this small, but thankfully there is just enough space to add the details to one’s heart’s desire. I have the same sentiment towards color separation, though I do have to point out that a majority of the colored details on these kits is achieved through the use of stickers. While I am not a huge fan of stickers in general most of the time, they are low quality in comparison to what you could achieve by yourself. But in the case of these kits, I ended up using most of them.
Kabuto is the more detailed of the two, and it also has the most gimmicks out of all the Vol. 5 Animagears, which is not that surprising, considering he is the central poster child of the big black box. He has a total of 4 swords. This is not just because you can choose which sword works best, but also because they can be combined together to make 2 big ones. This allows a lot of variation of poses to be created, which is always a huge plus in my book. There’s also a Berserker and normal mode, which reminds me a lot of Sgt. Frog figure (also by Bandai Spirit) that I’ve previously worked on (though that one has 3 different modes). Don’t get blown away by this revelation, but the only difference between these modes is what stickers you end up using on them.
Kabuto’s brother Stagger, on the other hand, comes with 2 guns in hand (no pun intended), but he also has other cool gimmicks which make him stand out. While he has no extra weapons to combine like his brother, he does have peg holes on his legs where his guns can also be attached to. I can only imagine his kicking is quite explosive. He is not a pure ranger though, as he also has a pincer (like a real insect), which can also be removed and attached to be used as a melee weapon.
White Tigerzord and Sabertooth Tigerzord- I mean Taiga and Baihu, are basically the same kit with only one obvious difference between them. I will give you a golden star if you can tell what that difference is. Regardless they fit wholesomely on the top of your palm, reminding me a lot of a certain tsundere waifu Taiga Aisaka.
These two tiger boys (I am not sure if they are related to each other) share the same accessories, as well as design and sticker placements. Just like the frames on Kabuto and Stagger, the articulation of the former two is also decent. And just like real life tigers, you can obviously open and close their jaws. The same goes for their tails, as they can move up and down, though unfortunately, no rotation or additional hinges .
When it comes to their accessories, they both have these 2 huge tiger fists on their back, which they weirdly cannot use by themselves. It reminded me of my childhood where toys similar to Transformers could change forms by taking pieces attached to their sides that could be applied on their changed frames. This is partially similar to these two, but their fists can be weaponized by attaching them to Dualize brothers instead. So, you could say that these two tigers are essentially pack mules. If only they were a bit bigger so that the Beetle Bros can ride on them.
BIG BURD OF DEPRESSION
And last but not least, there is the Phoenix. Actually, you know what? No. It IS the least. This Floppy-Necked Chicken leaves a taste so bad in my mouth that it’s hard to even describe it. I am beyond disappointed. I have so far avoided talking about the hollow spaces that other Animagear have. This is mostly due to so few of them being present.. But in the case of Phoenix a.k.a. Red Bellied Sapsucker, you have massive hollow spaces everywhere, especially on these wings.
And that’s not even the worst part! This Guttulated Foliage-Gleaner CANNOT stand on its own. Included with each of the boxes are stands you can plug the Animagear models into for display purposes. While the stands work just fine for the other 4, the one for this Short-Legged Ground-Roller? It cannot handle the weight of this oversized Spangled Drongo at all. Haiiiiiiiyaaah! (Ok, I am done using funny bird names.)
Despite the overall disappointing nature of Phoenix, it does have some good qualities. The wings have very nice articulation. They bend really well, and you can pull off really good aerial poses, though I guess it goes without saying that you have to find a better stand somewhere else.
Its tail can fall off easily when adjusting the different poses. The best part of the bird, however, is how you can turn its tail feathers into a crossbow, which just like tiger fists from Taiga and Baihu, can be attached for Kabuto or Stagger to use. It’s too bad that no amount of reincarnation is gonna save this bird from being a massive let down, but at least it serves its’ purpose to make the other ones look much better in comparison.
But we cannot delve into failure for too long, so let’s move on to something more positive about these Animagears:
THE JOY OF KITBASHING
If you haven’t figured out already what potential for creativity and enjoyment these Animagear model kits can give you based on everything I’ve mentioned so far, I’ll make it crystal clear by shouting THREE WORDS towards the heavens for everyone to hear: KITBASHING AND CUSTOMIZATION.
Thanks to the miracle of the inner frame that these tiny model kits share with each other, they can be modified to any shape and form to your own liking. On top of that, you will also have a ton of optional custom parts, which can be attached almost anywhere. This is all due to peg -> peg and peg -> ball joint connection spots they have on them. So, if your imagination runs wild and crazy ideas tickle your fancy, you could for example make ultimate Kabuto Warrior with the wings of a phoenix and tiger fists as his weapon.
Or perhaps a Stagger with a fancy new hairdo in the form of a ponytail, wielding a gun and sword in his hands.
Try coming up with even crazier combinations than the pictures shown above. The only thing limiting you is your imagination and creativity.
One last thing to note here: Since these Animagears are made by Bandai with completely identical pegs, you can also mess around and try to add them to your Gunpla or 30 Minute Missions kits. But what mad man would dare to go such a distance? I know I would.
FINAL RATING AND CONCLUSION
Overall, I just adore Animagear. While the building process can be tedious and some Animagear quality and enjoyment varies wildly from others, I had a ton of fun messing around with them. Kitbashing is a personal passion of mine in my model kit building hobby, as I am an artist both in heart and occupation. I simply love every minute of how easy it is with these kits to create cool, badass and bizarre looking monstrosities.
It is difficult for me to evaluate what proper score I should give. This is because compared to my other previous model kits I’ve covered, these are like odd cousins of them with no grade to categorize them, and as such they cannot really be compared the same way. But if I were to judge them based solely on enjoyment and fun I had when playing with them, then the answer to that is quite simple. I will give this Big Black Box 8/10.
Despite the small amount of parts, simple design and quality depending on how good your luck is on getting a decent random one, considering the cheap price and the amount of playability they offer, this is probably the most thankful score I have ever given to any kit while overlooking their shortcomings. That is how much I had fun with these little rascals.
These little kits are really underrated and not spoken of much in the English-speaking model kit building community, which saddens me greatly. I think that despite lacking in complexity of hundreds of parts and amount of detail in them, there is a certain beauty to simplicity and fun to be had even if the product itself is nothing more than cheap plastic toys aimed for children. The small things that we often take for granted can sometimes contain bursts of happiness we often tend to ignore. I hope that this blog post has sparked your interest in getting some of these for yourself. If there is one thing that is certain, I hope that one day I will be able to cover the world with my passion towards kitbashing. But until then, I wish you all a nice day, build yourself a model kit, cook yourself a nice meal to pair it up with, and I’ll see you all next time.
Final Score: 8/10