Review: HG Gundam Exia

A close-combat specialist with a formidable assortment of melee weapons, the Gundam Exia is the powerhouse mecha of Celestial Being. But does its High Grade kit live up to its impressive anime appearance? Gunpla 101 contributor Andrew puts it to the test:

First Impressions

Gundam Exia is the star of the Gundam 00 series, so any model based on protagonist Setsuna F. Seiei’s mecha has a lot to live up to. Although Exia Repair II may look more polished, the original Exia with its classic design still has much to offer, starting even before you open the kit. The box art looked fantastic, similar to some MG kits but in the 00 Gundam style. (insert pic #2)

Why choose the original over the repair? It comes down to simplicity and ease of building. It comes with three big runners, and one made of rubber for the power connector pieces on the shoulders and polycaps. The plastic is a different type than other HG, but it’s still good quality; you can especially tell in the grey plastic. It’s a bit shinier and smoother than the standard grey.

Color and Design

The HG Exia recreates its design in the show design with only a few discrepancies in its accuracy. The only places I noticed, and they were perhaps just to reduce pieces, were the vents on the side of the head that don’t have a piece or sticker to make them yellow, and the grey parts on the GN sword that were left white. I am assuming the head is positioned downward in the stock photos to hide those things. (This is just one example of how poseable the head is: it is composed of eight pieces and can express a lot of emotion, with a standard neck double ball joint.)

That said, this kit has a surprising amount of stickers for a cheap HG. You can apply them all, or try your hand at detail painting with Gunpla markers. The green decals for the pieces on the arms, legs, and head do not show up very well under the clear plastic, so I would recommend dyeing or painting the clear pieces green if you’re a perfectionist. The grey stickers for the GN Vulcans are far more of a success, surprising me with how well they emulated the suit’s anime look.

Difficulty

For me, the most difficult part of this kit was the large sticker on the GN shield. Make sure to take your time with it and place it carefully. It may help to wash the piece first with soap and water, to avoid any oil from your fingers, and to use tweezers to apply the sticker with more precision. 

Another tricky part was assembling the GN Condenser, the impressive circular gimmick on the front of the chest that stores GN particles in the anime. I found that you need to take care of the order in which you assemble the parts layered over the clear globe. The vents covering the GN Condenser on the front tend to get loose and pop off. Work slowly so you can attach them tightly the first time you try. If you have to undo and try repeated efforts, it could soften the plastic and make them looser. 

Articulation

The arms only have a 90-degree bend, which limits some of the posing. That said, the shoulders can rotate in a full circle. The hips are on an axel which works okay except for when you equip the GN Blades on the legs, which can sometimes pop off in a couple of poses. The legs have great articulation in the knees and keep their balance well in standing poses, even with the weapons on. Partially due to the ball joint used and the thick leg material, the legs don’t spread far apart and won’t, for example, fall into the splits. 

I like how the beam saber handles on the back can flip up for poses in which the Exia appears to be in the process of grabbing one, but these handles can come off if you don’t click them in completely. The shoulder pylons and the fins by the head move up and down. The head is composed of eight pieces and can express a lot of emotion, with a standard neck double ball joint. The waist has a nice 360-degree rotation but can’t bend forward or backward like more modern HG kits. The HG Gundam Exia was released in 2007, and its age is most apparent in some of its parts’ restricted movements. Combined with the sharp, coltish angles of the frame, this explains some of its articulation difficulties.

Extras (weapons, hands, effect parts)

The GN Sword and GN Blades.

Like I said before, the HG Gundam Exia gets points for simplicity, and nowhere does that come out more strongly than in its limited amount of extras. It includes six total hands—two closed pairs and one open hand pair. Among the weapons, this kit does not come with beams for any of the handles and the GN Beam Saber isn’t painted. It’s a little deceptive because the box art shows the Exia with a glowing pink beam saber extended—just keep in mind that you get a long skinny grey stick instead. To me, that’s the big disappointment of this kit: getting a toothpick instead of a beam saber. And to make matters worse, it is too long and weak to be used as one! 

Instead, this kit looks best posed as if the sabers have been put away while not in use. The empty saber handles can be mounted on the back skirt armor (two on the back) and the back of the shoulders (one on each). 

The GN Shield and its huge sticker.

The accessories have a lot of mix-and-match functionality. I especially enjoyed how you can choose to take the caps off of the upper legs and have the GN Blade holders on or leave them off. It looks good either way! The GN Shield looks great when its humongous sticker is applied correctly. It gives a kind of cel-shaded look that works phenomenally. Of course, I would rather it be a separate piece but at the price point, the sticker is acceptable. Unfortunately, I underestimated the sticker size and got some creases that I ended up having to disguise as weathering. (Sad GN particle noises.)

The GN Sword is the main weapon of the kit as it is in the anime, with a transformation from gun to sword. The conversion is very simple, just flip the sword forward. It’s that easy, without looking cheap. The blue handguard tends to fall off, but that is easily fixed with some adhesive. The pistol can also be detached from the main body of the weapon for more customization. You can even fold up the handle so the mecha can use it as a small shield.

Final Verdict 

At around $20, the HG Exia is an affordable model and an easy build. On the other hand, it has problems with articulation and doesn’t include a real beam saber. For those reasons, this model gives me mixed feelings. In the end, I still love it! Despite the poor articulation in the elbows, the lack of beam parts, and the abundance of stickers, it is a solid, fairly beginner-friendly kit. It balances well and has an abundance of weapons. Whether you want a cheap kit for a custom build or need to complete your 00 Gundam cast, this HG has you covered.


Andrew French is a full-time student who spends his spare time, listening to music, reading, and of course, building Gunpla! He plans to begin posting photos of his models once he gets some more followers. You can find him at @chancellorfrench on Instagram.

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