Designed by Oz commander Treize Khushrenada during his house arrest, the Gundam Epyon was built to epitomise his belief in the purity of one-on-one combat by being a purely melee-based mobile suit. Incorporating a variant of the Zero System (known as the “Epyon System”), the Epyon’s only true equal was the Wing Zero Gundam. The battles between Heero Yuey and Zechs Marquise at the controls of the two suits would become legendary…
The 38th and most recent release in Bandai’s Real Grade line of kits, I must admit to approaching Epyon with now small amount of trepidation as my experiences with prior kits in the range have not always been the most relaxing builds. Happily though I can report that this is a quite wonderful kit, the only issues in the build being of my own making (I did have to dig out the trusty spudger a couple of times to pry bits apart that I’d put together the wrong way around) or the ridonculously small stickers supplied (spoilers - I used precisely two out of the many, many labels the kit came with).
So, the basics: The kit is supplied on 11 sprues, a mixture of multi-coloured, red, dark red, dark blue and grey, plus a single sheet of decals and the instruction booklet. As is the standard nowadays, both the instructions and the text around the edges of the box are presented in kanji and in English. Overall it’s a nicely presented, premium-feeling package.
Now, what about the Epyon? Well I was pretty blown away during construction by two things, firstly how sturdy each element was once built and second how there was no colour correcting stickers required. Everything you see in the pictures is as the figure was built - no paint, no panel lining, not even a topcoat. All the colour separation comes from the plastics being used. And it’s a bit tasty isn’t it? Visually the deep reds & dark blues are a gorgeous representation of Epyon’s distinctive colouration, offset by minimal use of yellow, light grey and green. Epyon has some real heft for a figure of this scale, unsurprising given how much plastic it’s built from, whilst also being very sturdy. The Real Grade line's move away from a prebuilt skeleton continues to be proven a wise choice as despite the weight put on them the joints remain nice and tight, able to hold some very dynamic posing.
Transformation into Epyon’s unique double-headed dragon mobile armour form is, if not intuitive, then at least a very pleasing process. Not perhaps one you’d want to repeat too many times, as is a common refrain when it comes to gunpla kits, but it’s solid. Notable features of this process include: the back hipskirt splitting in two vertically; the hips folding out on a double joint and the legs folding over the back of the suit; the feet having opening mouths and translucent eyes to represent the dragons heads; the wings folding out and additional vanes sliding out from inside the wings. Add the shield & heat whip for the tail and you finish off with a pretty dang cool-looking bit of kit, especially in those deep, dark reds & blues.
Beam Sword & cable - a simple one-piece handle for the Epyon’s unique beam sword, along with a rubber coated wire for the power cable (important note - don’t make like your humble reviewer and miss that you need 2 tiny adaptors for each end of the cable, so have to go rifling through sprues you’d binned >_< ). The hilt can be stored in the right hand hip skirt in both modes for storage, and fits snugly in the left hand with plenty of give in the cable that connects back into the hip armour.
Sword energy effect - yeah, this is just a wonderfully daft energy effect piece with lots of detail in a lovely translucent green. Fits snugly to the beam sword, and is just so distinctly Epyon.
Heat Whip & Shield - now this is just magic, as the heat whip assembly comes cast on a single runner, in red & blue/black, already assembled and fully articulated. I can’t stress how bonkers this is. Looks fantastic, and the tip can be removed & attached to the shield if you want to have the whip retracted.
Hands - 2 closed fists, 2 holding fists, and a single open hand for the left arm. More than enough for most needs.
Base Adaptors - 2 included, 1 each for mobile suit & mobile armour modes for all your display requirements.
So, a final verdict. I mean as my final build of the year, this has kinda blown me away as 2023 has been an embarrassment of riches for the Gundam hobbyist, with the 1/144 scale in particular being blessed with some of the most stunningly well-made kits in the franchise and yet Real Grade Epyon has just mirked all of the competition as my pick for kit of the year. If you have any fondness for Gundam Wing, it should be an instant buy.