Iron Blooded Orphan’s beloved lead Gundam comes out as a fairly slim and sparse High Grade – the box was nearly half as thick as a standard HG container. I suppose this can be chalked up to the Barbatos’ more bare-bones styling and general lack of armor panels where more traditional Gundams would have them. By the time I was actually engrossed in this build I found out that was merely half the truth – its parts count is so low because it takes a lot of work to get this kit to where it should be.
Fun fact: I’m writing this post long after the kit in question was actually built – I had actually finished it way back in July and used it with my partner as our primary reference when building our own life-size Gundam Barbatos cosplay armor. When we wore it around Anime Expo 2016, we commonly used, “HG boxart pose” to denote how my partner should pose for photographs.
Lots of stickers. Naturally for a High Grade I expected all the red/pink sigils that adorned the knees, shoulders, and chest of the suit to come as stickers, but it still amuses me that the chest bit was so small that Bandai decided to give a nice meaty white border around the red lines. I can’t imagine that ever looking even remotely presentable.
After debating it for a while I decided that I really didn’t want to attempt to hand-paint in the sigils with a brush since that just sounds like a bad time with the fuzzy borders and whatnot. As such I decided to take the lazy (but pragmatic) way out and happened to realize that the grooves for the sigils were the perfect size to line with a fine-tip Sharpie. I know, using Sharpies on Gunpla is blasphemous, sue me.
This is the first time I’ve actually tried doing this – in the past I’d always only ever bother filling seams that were convenient and could just be painted away as one color right after. In Barbatos’ case though, all of the white forearm armor pieces come in halves that clasp over their respective elbow joints, which allows for the articulation.
As such, to fill the seams on the arms while still maintaining the gunmetal joint color underneath, I had to assemble the entire arm unit, sand away the seams on the white, mask the gunmetal joints, and spray white over the freshly sealed seam. Mind you, masking moveable joints and little areas with the protruding hoses in the forearms is no fun task – in a lot of cases I had to stick the masking tape inside first before assembling the armor, then pull the tape out once all the final paint coats had dried.
This. This is the epitome of what I mentioned earlier about this kit needing a lot of work. The amount work needed to color correct to get the Barbatos accurate to its animated counterpart featured in the series is back-breaking.
I actually had the hardest time figuring out which parts of the suit’s feet were supposed to be red. The manual shows just a hint of red at the heel, so I assumed it was at these inner-frame feet parts, which I painted red at first. I only realized later that it was wasted effort because the red bits were on the white armor, so I had to go back and re-paint these bits gunmetal again.
Color-accurate as she should be.
Thankfully my buddy that I mentioned above as having donned our own hand-made Barbatos armor actually got his own kit too, and did a bare-bones straight build right out of the box. This makes for some useful comparisons – just look at how much armor on the original kit is straight-up white! Especially on the backside, it’s criminal.
The backpack was especially hellish to mask. The one center thruster also tilts around a bit, faithful to the show. Unfortunately finer details such as the slits in the calf thrusters and side skirts are basically all but omitted entirely.
In a radical departure from the usual beam-rifle-shield combo that just about every single lead Gundam has sported up until now, Barbatos enters the fray with…a mace of all things.
Something to note it that its length is always greatly exaggerated in artworks and promotional material – as badass as the boxart looks, it’s actually nearly impossible to achieve that same super stylized look simply because the mace handle isn’t as long as it’s drawn.
The entire thing came as one color – a dull gray. The manual actually shows that it officially has a bit of a two-tone color scheme, with the pile driver in the center of the mace head a different color. As such I tried to stay as faithful to that as I could, using a mixture of Nato Black and gunmetal for the weapon.
True to form it’s a very simple one-piece weapon that Barbatos has no trouble swinging around. I know some fans have taken issue with the revised sword not being included in this kit – it basically just features some extra white armor around the grip and guard that canonically improves Barbatos’ grip on the blade, though personally I really like the all-gunmetal sword just as well.
While both of its included weapons can be stored on its back via those clamps, there’s actually a secondary feature to the backpack where the white pieces are supposed to be removable so you can attach a manipulator arm on the end to allow Barbatos to mount and carry a Smoothbore gun, which you can get through the little add-on HGIBO sets that also include 1/144 Mobile Workers.
I was actually really worried at first that Form 1’s arm would only be subtly different from the Form 4 arm, and that I’d have to swap pieces between the two to make one form or another. Turns out Bandai just straight up included an extra left arm for Form 1 since it’s actually entirely different.
As much as I like the Barbatos as a suit, for a 2016 HG model this kit isn’t quite the cream of the crop, but I can’t complain much when most of these IBO kits are pretty dirt-cheap (I got my Barbatos for $10).
The design, looks, and articulation are fine – the suit never sported much armor anyway so I’d be legitimately concerned if we got movement issues with a kit like this, but the main grievance I have is the large amount of color-correction that’s needed to get the kit to looking anywhere near what it should. Unless you’re willing to put in the work to bring out the details on this kit, I’d probably suggest the 1/100 model instead.