Kit Review: Bandai – 1/60 Full Metal Panic! – Arbalest ver I.V

“This is serial number C-002. Code name: ARX-7 Arbalest”
The Arm Slave that brought forth miracles. Armed with an advanced AI and the mysterious Lambda Drive, the Arbalest join Sousuke on the battlefield so he could protect his loved ones.

Fans have waited 13 years for the continuation of the Full Metal Panic! anime. After The Second Raid aired in 2005, Invisible Victory finally continued Chidori and Sousuke’s story in 2018. But this time there’s a dramatic change: Xebec has ramped up the CG and animated all AS action with 3DCG as well as giving the mechs upgraded looks. And, of course, with Bandai buying the studio, they held nothing back in terms of making new model kits after the new designs. And the first one to be released is of course: the Arx-7 Arbalest.
+ Build quality: Even though the Arbalest isn’t under a specific line, it is scaled at 1/60 similar to subsequent releases of the FMP IV kits and they also have similar build mechanics, so in essence, it is a HG FMP. The Arbalest is quite nice compared to other HG kits as it used a different engineering style compared to gunplas and the Infinitisms. Even so, the experience is quite fresh and nice. The parts fit snuggly and the engineering has some really smart decisions, such as on the shoulders and hips. There are also some undergated parts that really help. Well, it’s Bandai’s 2018-2019 quality after all, there’s not much to complain about. If anything, the parts seperation was incredible.

+ Design & Proportions: The I.V version of the Arm Slave is a bit sleeker and thinner compared to previous version. The arms and legs are more boxy and the torso is slimmer. Guess Arm Slave also went to the gym. The Arbalest also get some extra mechanical details compared to the “smoother” look in previous instalments. The IV design really emphasizes the “Ebikawa-ness” of FMP mechs. If there’s anything to nitpick, that would be the sorta empty space where the abdomen and the hips meet each other as well as the thighs, those places look a bit…empty.

+ Articulation: Bandai’s recent HGs have been very revolutionary and the FMP line is no exception. With the new engineering in the shoulders, butterfly joints now reach a whole new height where the arms can cross in front of the chest without any problem. The Arm Slaves also have little to no front and back skirts, so the legs can be moved about freely with great range. Furthermore, the hips contain an extension gimmicks where you can “drag” the whole hip section down to extend the range of front kicks by quite a bit. Overall, the Arbalest does feel like a brand new line that Bandai really invested in.

+ Accessories: Well, Sousuke and his trusty pal Al comes with his signature shotgun and the molecular cutter. In addition, it also carries a bullpup machine gun as well as the mouth dagger. Unfortunately, the mouth dagger is stuck with the mouth rack so putting it in his hand looks pretty awkward. So effectively, he has 2 guns and 1 melee weapon. That’s pretty much what he carry in the show anyway, so the weapon aspect is pretty good. And of course, we can’t forget the most iconic feature of the Arbalest: the Lambda Driver.

+ Gimmicks: Of course, the iconic “Black Tech” that can pull off some crazy Super Robot stuff: the Lambda Driver. The kit came with replacement arts for the shoulders and back to replicate the sequence. The armor-switching process is quite easy and the parts are pretty stable. Would be even cooler if they include a punching effect like the Robot Damashii but the figure-rise effects are quite easy to come by so it’s not a big deal.

Overall, the Bandai’s 1/60 FMP – Arbalest ver IV is a really great breath of fresh air for Bandai’s model kit in general. The redesigned Arbalest looks great with extra mechanical details and Bandai’s incredible part-separation gimmicks and joint engineering. The accessories is quite nice with the Lambda Dive parts as well. If you want a very detailed and smaller Arbalest then this kit is very good. Since Arm Slaves are like half the size of normal Gundams, you might want this kit to combine with some MG/PG Gundam for them to be somewhat in-scale.