Tristan has the distinct honor of being the only Knight of Rounds Knightmare Frame (barring series main-mecha Lancelot) to be a regular release in the Robot Damashii line-up, as near everyone else (Mordred, Percival, Galahad) came as Special Edition exclusives.
Whether this was due to the Knightmare’s popularity (doubtful) or ease of production (further doubtful), Tristan unfortunately ended up as almost as much of a shelf-warmer as the Akatsuki frames. Not that many people seemed to collect Knightmares in the first place, but almost everywhere I went I could spot a Tristan sitting idly, waiting to be finally bought.
I really like the Tristan’s design – the extremely angular look and bright metallic colors give it a very super-robot like vibe. I’ve never been a fan of muted real-type colors on my mecha – suit strength directly correlates to color scheme after all, so the brighter and more ostentatious they are, the higher their power levels will be.
Before we explore the biped form, I’ll go into the Knightmare’s Fortress mode first.
I’m pretty sure the only Knightmares actually capable of transforming in the series proper were Tristan and Shinkiro. Both have fairly simple transformations – Tristan’s hands and head are pretty blatant here.
I do really like how flat and streamlined it is in Fortress mode. In fact I usually prefer to display it like this. The landspinners act as technical “landing gear” while there’s also a round black piece under the torso that’s supposed to be the third wheel but doesn’t actually move or spin.
The transformation process is basic and straightforward – no fancy part-swapping or pop-out gimmicks here. I’ll point out now the one accessory that was included solely for the sake of Tristan’s transformation sequence – the transparent option head.
It’s cool and all, and I suppose it’s a defining feature of the frame, but I’d never display the figure with it. The Tristan’s head briefly glows right after transformation for whatever reason to reveal a cool head frame within, which is what this swappable piece is supposed to represent.
The golden “ears” have to be un-pegged from the original head and re-inserted into the other. I suppose it’s nicer that the eyes and details within are a little more clean and crisp since they’re molded under a clear cover, while the original head is mostly just a big silver dome with the eyes a bit off-canter and painted on the surface.
A surprising little gimmick Bandai threw in was a pair of opening missile launchers on the fighter nose/Knightmare chest. I didn’t even realize the Knightmare had these weapons in the anime, but they’re tiny little bits that just barely pop open anyway.
Like most Knightmares, Tristan has pretty wonky proportions. The biceps are ridiculously short compared to the super long forearms, which mount the frame’s Slash Harkens in-show. Perhaps as a result of its unorthodox design, movement range is fairly limited – the transformation gimmick means there’s not even a waist joint.
As I mentioned the frame’s Slash Harkens – basically a weapon prerequisite for Knightmare Frames – are technically there, but not really. The big blue Harkens can certainly detach from the forearms, but we don’t get any wires or stands to properly display this function. I’m not sure how they’re actually meant to combine and fire the big Wave Motion Beam they do in-show either, since there’s no feature like that present on the figure.
I’d say it was nice of Bandai to include some detail underneath the Harken hardpoints and to even make them removable at all, but to only stop there and not even include firing wires screams half-assed development.
Thankfully though, it seems like the Knightmare’s main melee weapons were done pretty well.
The two MVS Polearms are painted a brilliant gloss red at their blades, with surprisingly good quality control. Figures like these usually skimp when it comes to tidying up the accessories and weapons, but I didn’t notice any obvious paint blemishes or nub marks.
The main feature of these weapons, of course, is their ability to link pommels and become one long double-sided axe-like weapon. While Tristan looks best simply standing and earning cool-points for holding the weapon, there are unfortunately no areas on the frame body to store it (come to think of it, I don’t even know where it pulls these things from in-show).
The cockpit block also opens up, as is standard for these RD figures, but unfortunately we don’t get any more detail than that. The seat can’t actually be pulled out, so it’s a mystery as to whether or not the cockpit is actually molded in there (it probably isn’t).
The landspinners are also standard – nothing special with the plastic wheels and simple swivel joints.
Britannian Knightmares seem to follow a Super Robot color code – to the point where other Knightmare weapons can mesh seamlessly and you’d never know the Tristan doesn’t actually wield a long-gun and guarded sword.
As a simple 3D representation of the Knight of 3’s custom Knightmare, I think this figure gets things done well. I don’t think a lot of people were huge fans of the Tristan during its stint in R2 anyway, but as a basic figure, everything is in place here. I would’ve liked a few extra accessories (like extra hands and Slash Harken wires) but it certainly looks shiny and golden just standing around with the polearms planted.