Gunpla,  High Grade

HGUC Gundam F91


I was equal parts excited and intimidated by the HGUC F91 when I picked it up for my HG All Gundam Project. It’s a fairly modern HG, so I can trust it to be relatively builder-friendly with all the articulation and accessory goodies that modern HGs offer, but at the same time it’s also known that the F91 is supposed to be much smaller than conventional mobile suits. This translates to a smaller model overall, where standard 1/144-sized suits were already palm-sized. I knew this meant I was probably heading into a very meticulous and detail-oriented build, but knowing that it would take some legwork to make this kit look nice out of the box is part of the reason I enjoy building these suits.

Even the box feels small, for a suit that has way more gimmicks and accessories than your standard lead Gundam.

Oh…no. My worst fears have been realized: it’s not the giant blue strips that are supposed to make up the body of the VSBRs, it’s the tiny yellow triangles. The fact that they’re stickers here means that Bandai (not surprisingly) didn’t bother with any fancy colored parts molding for those details, given how small they are. This means I’ll be painting them all in by hand (or rather, by toothpick) instead.

Don’t let the tiny blue and yellow runners fool you – the actual suit has more of those colors, they just aren’t given to you in plastic.

I always really liked green beam effects – the beam shield here is particularly glow-y when it catches the light.

This is part of the hardship that comes with 1/144 kits that are smaller than the standard RX-78-2 size – their parts are absolutely microscopic, and Bandai decided to counter any risks of breaking these tiny v-fin pieces by molding gigantic safety flags onto them. They feel larger than normal because the fins they’re attached to are smaller than usual.

I’m at least relieved that the F91 is actually molded into the shoulders, even if they’re not filled in with proper red plastic the way the old 1/100 F91 did it. This makes it easier for me to paint them in.

Kind of surprised the shoulders have such a basic half-and-half construction – this means a big ugly seam that runs right down the middle.

I wish the rifle “armor” was a single slip-on piece, but I can see why the halves construction was necessary, since the whole thing wraps around the body of the gun. Surprisingly, it looks like the secondary handle at the bottom of the rifle was never designed to be movable.

This is where the Hell starts. All of these pieces (and more) need some tiny detail-painting to bring things out.

Triangles! Triangles for everyone! Did you know the F91 was powered by a Rotary? Do you want to know how they work?!

The split in some trim being yellow and some being orange is actually accurate to the manual colors – I never noticed it before, but I guess this is how it was always meant to be.

I’m actually pretty impressed by how Bandai decided to handle the F91’s heat-vent face. Of course they were too stingy to include a whole extra head, but they did come up with a nice system where we’re given two faces and they’re swapped by taking the “helmet” part of the head off the top and slotting it onto the desired face.

The v-fins are also unorthodox in that they’re not just one piece that sticks onto the forehead with the red jewel going over it like most Gundams – instead they’re two separate pieces that slot next to the red forehead piece.

The F91’s infamous VSBRs took the most work – they have an “inner frame” with all the mechanical detail of the guns molded in, while the white bodies of the weapons themselves clamp over in halves just like the beam rifle.

This means I had to work around painting the gunmetal gray inner frame pieces when I painted the white for the exterior armor after their seams were filled, though I eventually gave up trying to mask those complex shapes and just painted the gunmetal in with acrylic hand paints later. Once that was all said and done, I still needed to mask the weapons again to get the blue sections in.

Trying to stay true to the boxart samples, including subtle details like the white on the heat vent fins.

The multi-layer thruster design on the F91’s backpack is a really cool design feature, but a chore to paint when it’s all given in just gray. Every unit had to be primed with white acrylic before the orange was laid in, followed by black.

Nice try, Bandai. Get outta here with those stickers.

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but the F91’s design still strikes me as super ahead of its time. The sleekness and detail isn’t something I’d associate with early 90’s design language.

Double joints just about everywhere means the suit has no problem bending around and looking dynamic. It only gets somewhat annoying when the Bazooka is getting in the way of the torso moving side to side thanks to the VSBR’s constantly hitting it.

Speaking of which, the VSBR’s – fancy acronyms for fancy beam rifles – Variable Speed Beam Rifles.

The hand caps have to be removed in order to get the hands around the handles. Of course range of movement is limited here – there are only so many ways you can pose with guns attached to your backpack, unless you’re more versatile like the Buster.

Solid shields were so overrated by the F91’s time.

The shield effect itself is really nice – crisp mold and brilliant neon-green plastic, so it just about glows under any light.

If I remember correctly, in-series, the beam shield would deactivate around areas where it would potentially contact the suit. As in, if the F91 brought the beam too close to its shoulder, a portion of the shield would deactivate so it didn’t burn through the armor. Obviously, we get no such high-tech wizardry here, so the F91’s left arm articulation is severely restricted with that big thing on.

Canonically, the F91 is supposed to store both beam saber hilts in its left(?) skirt armor, which, just by looking at this kit, seems physically impossible. Bandai didn’t even try to make it happen here, but they did do it on the MG model.

Still, it’s likely because of that function that the beam saber hilts themselves are so much smaller and shorter than standard Gundam saber hilts.


Not really. F91’s special “super mode” is really just a byproduct (in universe) of the suit’s performance being so high that it overheats so it deploys cooling fins from its shoulders and its face opens to “vent.”

The armor apparently also becomes so hot that it sheds layers of it off as it moves hyper-fast, creating afterimages. Read: Trans-Am before it was cool. Bad photoshop is also bad, but I wanted to try it for the giggles.

I mentioned it earlier during the build log, but this is a better look at how exactly the F91 does the face-swapping. I wish more kits did this, if only because it makes sealing the helmet seam lines so much easier, since I don’t have to mask the face off inside when I do it.

Beam launcher equipped! Hashin!

The launcher (beam bazooka) was basically a two-halves construction with tips and ends. The little power line/hose near the rear end had to be painted in by hand.

Finally, with the standard for mobile suit size: the RX-78-2. The F91 actually doesn’t look significantly smaller thanks to the bazooka mounted on its skirt making it look wider, but it becomes very apparent when you note where each of their heads end. The difference in chest size is especially significant.

As a modern HG the build, playability, and construction are great – but it’s going to take quite a bit more legwork to get the details down on this kit. With all the triangles and bits filled in though, I think it stands out thanks to its futuristic design, despite its diminutive size standing next to its UC brethren.

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