Gundam Calibarn was the final ride for the Witch of Mercury, a beastly machine with none of Aerial's ability to suppress the damage from Permet usage. Abandoned at the testing stages, the mecha is used by Suletta in a desperate bid to foil the plans of her mother Elnora and sister Ericht - if the enemy doesn't kill Suletta, Calibarn just might!
It's no secret that much of Witch from Mercury's inspiration is taken from Shaekspeare's The Tempest, with Caliban being a beast that's controlled by the sorcerer Prospero (which of course is the basis of Elnora Samaya's "Prospera" pseudonym). Subsequently the beastly power of WfM's Calibarn is appropriate, the lack of colouration throughout the design further enhancing the no frills nature of the suit. The Variable Rod Rifle resembles a hi-tech broomstick, making Calibarn the most suitable ride for the Witch from Mercury.
Room on the Broom - Calibarn battle-red highlights give the figure a menacing tone
The Robot Spirits Calibarn is a cute little beast - it shares a lot of parts with the Gundam Aerial Rebuild, with all the Gund-bits being basically identical but without the blue colouration. Everything else is similar in shape, but newly molded.
The figure comes with a ton of accessories too - oustide the Gund-bits and Variable Rod Rifle, we have a booster backpack, chunky rear thrusters, beam sabers (plus effects parts), 2 additional permet effects parts that can replace the clear plastic areas in both red and rainbow colour variants, and finally a number of attachments to allow for a stand (sold separately) and lots of rods and connectors for showing off the Gund-bits in flight, though honestly this unwieldly and unstable, so have patience if you're going for this display. All in, there's a lot in the box to play with for £60.
Rainbow Warrior - Calibarn comes with 3 sets of effects pieces - from rage monster red to rainbow crest and multicolour highlights
While I liked the original Aerial, I was really impressed with the new colours and more heroic proportions of the Rebuild, but honestly I'd have to say that Calibarn tops them both. While the lack of colours makes the unit feel like the Gundam Unicorn, the iconic broomstick-rifle, ability to add Gund-bits and the overall proportions make this one of my favourite Gundam designs of all time. It's a lot of fun to mess with and pose, and for me the lack of colours throughout make it look a little more premium than the Robot Spirits Rebuild, as the blue plastic has the unfortunate tendency to look a bit cheap. For that reason alone I'd snap up a Chogokin, Metal Build or Metal Robot Spirits especially (as it's my preferred scale) version in a heartbeat.
It's a bit unfortunate that Bandai chose to take the second cheapest route to bring these figures to market, with only the Gundam Universe range being lower cost.
Another baffling decision is the omission of the shield connector part that came with the Rebuild. This means that despite having identical GUND-Bits in the box, you can't connect them to make the shield configuration - granted Calibarn didn't use this, but it is an ability listed in the machine specs and since the piece was already moulded, leaving it out of the box is just baffling. Yes, you can use the Rebuild piece, but the colouration is wrong for Calibarn, so it just looks wrong anyway. I happen to like the minimalist look of Calibarn, so while it looks beefy with the bits attached, I'd have much preferred to have a shield option that matched the unit.
For now, the only way to pick up either Rebuild or Calibarn is in this form, and they'll do fine for now. These are not premium releases, so adjust your expectations accordingly in terms of paint and heft. Of the two I'd say Calibarn is arguably the better looking and more feature-packed release, with the cost being justified given everything that's in the box, even if the shield part omission pointlessly reduces the play value more than it should.