Let’s talk about Bandai’s HG Standard.

HG 1/144s. (L-R) Spiegel, Geara Zulu (Guards Type), AGE-1 Normal, Banshee Norn, Jesta.

The kits above are just some of the 1/144 HGs over the years. Strictly speaking, the 1/144 Spiegel is a HG class 1/144, There is simply no HG 1/144 back then (1994 release). They (the HGs) are mostly reserved for 1/100 scales. But even for 1994 standards till the EW HG 1/144 release. The Spiegel is years ahead in terms of plastic/color separation in its time. Why so? Look at the foot unit, usually they are just mono colored red or whatever the foot color is. Just one color. Spiegel has two colors for its foot unit! (Well Dragon Gundam does too). Anyway, the main objective of this blog entry is to discuss the current HG standard release and how it differs then and how it is done today. Of course there are some kit/designers are just too stubborn to follow standard. Some deviants did well, some are just okay. So let’s get it on so that you’ll know what I’m blabbering about!

So what makes it a Standard release you ask?

The answer is really simple. It uses a standard set of PC sheet! This means it has a pre-determined level of articulation.

The standard PC set commonly used in HG line regardless of the series.

Remember the Dreissen post earlier? If you’ve noticed I used the work typical by a LOT. This is because of the reason that Bandai uses a template regarding articulations of a model kit. In this case, High Grade 1/144s.

It’s good for one thing. They’re uniform in articulation details. probably, a more cost-efficient implementation of the HG line. BUT there are times that a certain kit will use the same PC sheet or has some added PC parts thus gives that extra articulation that makes it oh so wonderful. To date, I have identified some of the said kits:

  • HG AGE-1 Normal/Titus/Spallow
  • HG 00 Raiser
  • HG Jesta/Jesta Cannon
  • Some more kits that I don’t have yet.

So, let’s start breaking it down by part and compare the standard HG to other HG kits that somewhat is cut above the rest.

But let’s talk about the flow. I’ll be pretty much comparing the old Spiegel ’94 to Unicorn Banshee Norn (our HG Standard base model) and then again to the other iterations of the new HGs today

Section 1: Ball-Joint For The Neck

Spiegel: This is the dated ball-joint used in the neck connection. This uses a PC part that only allows rotations and a little of up and down movement.

Well, after all it is a 1994 model, but nothing notable here since the joint is still the standard used for today’s neck but with added articulation. See our HG standard base model, the Unicorn Banshee.

Banshee: Still uses the ball-joint, non-PC based and hast extra articulation underneath to add extra degrees of freedom to nods/look-up or look-down.

This implementation surely adds some degrees of freedom as seen below.

But it is still affected by the suit’s design. Ideally it can give a long range of up/down movement. Looking at the design of Banshee’s head and the fancy collar accents, some of the freedom is lost.

Banshee: Head parallel to the ground.
Banshee: Neck extended upward.

Notice Banshee’s collar on the back-end near the nape. The design effectively reduced the articulation on the neck.

Onto the other kits, they either use the old one (I don’t know why) and some uses the newer two-point articulation.

AGE-1: Old ball-joint.
Jesta: Simple Ball-Joint.
Geara Zulu: Same two-point articulation of Banshee. A Ball-joint and Revolute/Hinge joint connection to the torso.

Section 2: Shoulder Joint

Spiegel: Straight forward Revolute/Hinge joint. Not in Picture: Revolute/Hinge Joint on upper arm unit which allows sideways movement on the whole arm.

This the archaic/dated way of doing the said joints. Some early HG units uses the join namely, the 2003 Zeta. Now, let’s take a look at how it’s done today.

Banshee: Here’s how it is done today with two extra points of articulation allowing the arms to move…
Banshee: …back…
Banshee: …forward…
Banshee: ..and Up.

But this is sometimes a function of design. We’ll take a look at that now.

Banshee: Shoulder at point of origin.
Banshee: Shoulder moved backwards.
Banshee: Shoulder moved forwards.
Banshee: Shoulders moved upwards. Notice the part seperation on the armor which allows the upward movement. This a great example of function by design.

I would really like if Bandai will be consistent on this detail. It has been implemented spottily I might say. Some kits have no upwards movement due to lack of the armor separation (Geara Zulu and Jesta) but has extra degrees of freedom traded for it.

AGE-1: Traditional ball-joint on the neck. Extra wiggle room for the forward and back movements.
AGE-1: This allows extra degrees of freedom to do certain poses.
AGE-1: A little more forwards than Banshee.
Geara Zulu: No upward movement due to no parts separation but allows extra degrees of freedom to move the arms forward.
Geara Zulu: Well that didn’t end well too. As per the design, the function is reduced due to the shoulder armor getting in the way of the movement.
Jesta: This one’s a little more natural. A ball-joint with a Revolute/Hinge hinge joint that allows 360-degrees of freedom at the ball and a little forward motion. This is the most human-like joint.

It would still be nice if they could incorporate armor separation so that it can move upwards. That’ll bring the shoulder articulation similar to the Master Grade line.

Jesta: It still gives a little upward movement, thanks to the ball-joint.
Jesta: Not by much but it still gives something.

Section 3: Hip & Waist Joints

Before, you’re lucky if the 1/144 kit you can twist on the waist. Spiegel has mono torso-waist. No other articulation.

Spiegel: This part is a little special. Full ball-joints for the articulation. It pops out a lot but gives that realistic movement to the skirt armor. This varies a lot in the 90s kits and was full deprecated in the late HG standards.

Currently, the HG standards has four points of interest. Here’s the first three.

Pt.A, Ball joint is now docked to the front crotch armor compared to the dated PC parts mounted on a non-twisting waist.
Pt.B, Revolute/Hinge joint for the side skirt armor. Doesn’t pop out anymore and gives the same amount of articulation thanks to the dual Revolute/Hinge joints.
Pt.C, Standard ball joint that offers a full range of motion, but then again subjective to the design of the units. Some units are not designed to move forward/back. Just side to side.
Banshee: The leg joint uses a standard ball joint (A) since time and again. But the connection to the waist unit is the point of interest. They added a Revolute/Hinge joint that adds a little twist/degree of freedom on the legs.
Banshee: Demo on the waist articulation.
Banshee: The Revolute/Hinge join on the crotch. Also hole for the Action Base-1 or 2 mount.

Compared to the older design

Spiegel: Straight out ball-joint.

Now, let’s look on how they could do it better. Some HG kits has that extra articulation on the leg, a part separation that allows twisting on the thighs that results in more dynamic action poses. AGE-1 Normal is a great example of this implementation.

AGE-1: Notice the gray armor separation between the leg and the skirt. That nifty mechanism allows AGE-1 to have that extra degrees of freedom.
AGE-1: Here’s a better view of it. It doesn’t use a ball-joit. but two-pegs (Revolute/Hinge joints) that together brings that wonderful extra articulation points.
AGE-1: Maxed the movement to the sides.
AGE-1: With the leg attached. Now, we’ll do a little more showboating…
AGE-1: Twist it 90 degrees.
AGE-1: Deets on the joint.
AGE-1: Now 180 from normal position. It can do full 360, thanks to the Revolute/Hinge join!
Jesta: Has the same implementation too.
Jesta: Pivot at the legs
Geara Zulu: Has armor separation for detail.
Geara Zulu: Well that was disappointing!

Now let’s get on the ball-joint connection to the torso. This joint as mentioned before should allow a full range of motion but mostly limited by the way the upper body is designed.

Both in ball-joints.
Both in normal positions.
Both tilted upward. Notice the gap on AGE-1.

As you can see. Some kits doesn’t allow tilting. Unicorn has some movements but it is negligible. In the case of AGE-1, you can tilt it but it would disconnect and the body will pop out.

Section 4: Knee Joint

The older knee-joints are made with one PC part that should allow being double-jointed but as Bandai’s tradition. They are limited by the design of the mobile suit.

Spiegel: The dated knee-joint. Technically has a double joint feature but the leg design isn’t as forgiving. I had a Dragon Gundam before and the kneed does full range and full use of the double joint.
Spiegel: View from the back.
Banshee: In the current High Grades, further details were given to the joints. This rooted from the design overhaul of the Gundams itself and not the kits. Still a standard double-jointed design minus the whole PC part gimmick.

In the Banshee, you can see that it is implemented via a peg and Revolute/Hinge joint on the lower leg, the rotation is centered on the lower leg. It is possible to have another joint on the upper leg but by the design (again) it is not permitted.

Banshee: Point A indicates the part that hinders further movement on the upper leg. You’ll get the picture better when we go to the AGE-1.

Regardless, the joints allows an acceptable standard of 90 degrees of movement.

Banshee: Leg articulation detail.
Geara Zulu: Leg articulation detail.
Jesta: Leg articulation detail.

Let’s take a look on a GREAT way of doing the leg design.

AGE-1: Look at Points A & B. The leg armor has these more forgiving design that allows pivoting on the connections for the thigh and lower legs thus making full use of the double joints.
AGE-1: Tada, that’s what I’m talking about. Because of a simple lee-way on the leg armor on the back, much movement can be done!
AGE-1: You can see that the joints go on much deeper and allows additional movement.
Banshee: As opposed to the standard, which constricts further movement on the thigh connection.

Section 5: Ankle Joint

Here it’s rather simple. A ball-joint should suffice so since time and again that what they went for.

Spiegel: Ball-joint ankle allows for rotation and a little tilt forward/back.

Then again due to restrictions by design, some kits can’t rotate the foot as much as we want it to be or tilt it forward/backward.

Spiegel: Ball-joint on the foot. Recent High Grades now has the socket on the foot.
Spiegel: Titled backwards
Spiegel: Tilted forwards. Not much difference.

Here’s the bog-standard way of doing it nowadays to address the issues on the older kits.

Point A: Ideally this can do full range of motion. From rotations to tilting (forward and back then side to side), but the armor design could hamper the said movement.
Banshee: Ball now on the leg, as opposed to the 1994 Spiegel.

But I wish they’d be more consistent on these things. I mean, look at how great they did it with AGE-1. Same implementation of having a connector for the legs and foot to give a much needed articulation details.

AGE-1: Revolute/Hinge joint for rotation and forward/backward tilting.
AGE-1: The connector which is pretty much the same with the Banshee but the side to side movements were foregone to the ball-joint.
AGE-1: Standard ball-socket for the foot.
AGE-1: Attached to the foot. The square peg is for AGE-1 armor detail.

Now for the movements.

AGE-1: You can call that ankle breaker.
AGE-1: Twisted ankle taken too literally.
AGE-1: A full range of motion.

In contrast with the other kits in High Grade Universal Century.

Jesta: Ball-joint maxed out.

Section 6: Elbow & Arm Joints

Almost missed this part. Almost forgettable. They basically just separated the articulation.

Spiegel: It used to be all the articulations is focused on the PC part. Rotation and bending.
Spiegel: It does 90 degress of motion and 360 degrees of rotation. But limits posability

Here’s how they pretty much done nowadays. Even with AGE-1.

Banshee: Now rotation is now in a separate joint and is much higher. Elbow now is a true elbow joint. More natural.

Then again they’re victims of function by design. The elbow is not double jointed but rather two-connections and one point of articulation. This limits movements to just 90 degrees.

Banshee: Rotated and bent 90 degrees on the elbow.

Now for comparison.

All HGUC lines have the same 90 degree of articulation. AGE-1 on the other hand has the same articulation and implementation as discussed on the legs section.
AGE-1: Further detail on the elbow double joint.



So basically, it boils down to these typical implementation with regards on the articulation of the typical 1/144 High Grade line. This should be the base standards, anything below would be a not-good. Anything better is of course great!

  • Ball joint + Revolute joint on NECK: Allows head rotation and tiling up/down.
  • Ball joint on TORSO: Should allow tilting forward/backward and 360 rotation, but acceptable if limited by armor details. but just not to the point that it is useless.
  • Two-point Revolute joint on SHOULDER: Should allow full rotation of the arm, allows movement for forward/backward and upward.
  • Revolute joint on UPPER ARM: Allows full 360 rotation, unless restricted by armor.
  • Hinge joint on ELBOW: Allows 90 degrees of movement.
  • Ball joint on the LEGS: Allows typical human movements.
  • Ball-joints and/or Cylindrical Joints on the SKIRTS: Just to keep it moving.
  • Hinge joint on the KNEE: That should allow at least 90 degrees of movement
  • Combination of Ball and Cylindrical joint on ANKLES: to allow as much as movement it can considering armor design.

Now, I lost my manuscript for this post, so some ideas might be in disarray. I set this post to ground future post on High Grade classification. Weapon packs are judged separately and should be seen as gimmick unique to each kit.

It should also be noted that the upcoming revision and release of older units will follow this new standard. I’d be happy to see an F91 and Wing Gundam in the new High Grade standard.

As for the MG they are measured more on inner-frame details than just articulations.