Review: HGAC Gundam Sandrock

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It’s been 24 years since Gundam Wing first aired in Japan in 1995, but the much-loved franchise is still getting new Gunpla kits. This September saw a revitalization of Quatre’s now-iconic Gundam Sandrock. Does this latest iteration of the desert defender live up to fan nostalgia? Contributor Marc builds and investigates. 


First Impressions

The HGAC Sandrock is a very simple, very wonderful kit. You take one look at the box and you know exactly what you’ve signed up for. Two heat shotels, a shield, and one amazingly poseable Gundam. With great articulation and a design that perfectly renders its appearance in Gundam Wing, the HG Sandrock is perfect for recreating almost any scene in the anime!

I picked up this kit almost immediately when I spotted it on the way to the counter at my local hobby shop, ditching the HG Zaku II Type C I was originally there to get. I had missed it the first time, each Sandrock sold out at all three of my local stores. One thing I’d heard about the kit was that each one came with a code for Gundam Breaker Mobile (Gundam Battle: Gunpla Warfare in non-Japanese countries), including some of the first kits for purchase in the US where I am. Unfortunately, by the time I bought one, the kits available didn’t have the code anymore. Regardless, this kit is worth every penny!

Color and Design

As with most HGs, the Sandrock seeks to recreate the mobile suit’s look from its anime and it succeeds on all fronts. With two tones of grey and the bright yellow, red, and white accents that often find themselves on an ace machine, this is a leading Gundam through and through.

Great color separation ensures the Sandrock is nearly color-accurate, and the only points that aren’t in the correct colors are quite small: the eyes, head/chest/shield sensors, shoulder/chest missiles, and waist verniers. Of these, there are correctly-colored stickers for everything but the chest missiles and the sensor on the back of the head.

As expected from a mobile suit that needed to compete for attention with four other Gundams, the Sandrock has a bold design that is retained in this latest iteration. Eschewing the simpler mobile suits of the Universal Century, the striking whites and dark greys of the Sandrock are only matched in flair by its massive shoulders. Taller than its own head and angled higher than its anime counterpart, the shoulders make this model look even more intimidating or even more goofy, depending on who you ask. Personally, I find the Sandrock really dynamic-looking, and the raised shoulders do nothing but emphasize that effect. 

Difficulty

This Sandrock is a standard HG build, comparable to other modern High Grades by effort required. For me, it took slightly longer to build than the HG Gundam Revive, which I chalk up to the Sandrock’s more complex design. There are no particularly difficult parts to make, as there are almost no pieces that are too small or finicky.

There are only a few stickers to that you need to apply to make a great looking kit! I applied all the sensor stickers (head, chest, and shield) and had some pretty stellar results. 

Green stickers make up the head and chest sensors

The only part I had difficulty with was the ankle armor, which had a somewhat thick nub on the back that I botched removing. The result is that the imperfection is still visible. The rest of the kit, on the other hand, is a breeze, with very few visible seam lines or nubs.

Overall, I’d recommend Sandrock for someone getting into building models with its fairly easy, but satisfying build. As someone’s first kit, you definitely couldn’t go wrong with the HGAC Sandrock, especially if that someone is a fan of Gundam Wing!

Articulation

With a mobile suit as nimble and dynamic as the Sandrock, poor articulation would be a disservice. Thankfully, Bandai went above and beyond with this kit. 

Each double-jointed arm is on a nice tight ball joint, which allows it to take and hold pretty much any pose. 

Without much more than a bend of the arm, the hands can easily reach for the handles.

The legs are also double-jointed, which allow for a wide variety of kicks and stances when paired with the thighs, which have a full range of movement. The pegs that connect the legs to the body themselves can swing forward as well, a common point in many new High Grades.

Extras (Weapons, Hands, Effect Parts)

As mentioned earlier, the Sandrock doesn’t come with many bells and whistles. It comes with heat shotels, extra hands, a shield, and extra “heated blade” effect parts.

The shotels, as the primary weapons of the Sandrock, are simple, but deadly. Similarly, the swords of this kit are simple but perfectly rendered. The handles of the blades are molded in a dark grey, while the blade itself is molded in light grey. Alternatively, if you want your Gundam to look like it could cut through Leos like a hot knife through butter, you can swap out the grey blades for the transparent red ones, which differ ever so slightly from the orange blades of many HGUC kits.

As for the shield, it functions the same as most other shields. It can attach to the outside of either arm with a tab. The shield side of this connection is actually a peg instead, which allows the shield to rotate freely. Along with this, the shield can attach to the backpack, which can also attach to the arm. Add the shotels, and this creates the Cross Crusher, a devastating pincer-like weapon that holds surprisingly well on the Sandrock’s arms. 

When it comes to hands, the Sandrock packs the standard holding hands and open hands, along with some angled hands for more dynamic poses with the shotels.

Final Verdict

Let me reiterate: this Sandrock is an amazing HG and an amazing kit in general. From its design to its ease of construction to its absolutely wonderful articulation, I’d highly recommend the HGAC Sandrock to any builder. Whether you’re a novice or a veteran, this is a simple, yet highly enjoyable build for a nice, sturdy kit that you’ll have plenty of fun getting into all sorts of poses. Just be sure to have an Action Base or some other kind of stand to get it into some nice jumping and flying poses!

The Sandrock and Shining Gundam facing off!

Being a Gundam-type, the end result is fairly similar to other skinny Gunpla, but the ‘90s-esque flair of its design certainly will set it apart from other kits. Hopefully, Bandai will follow suit with the rest of the mobile suits from Operation Meteor. 


Marc first got into Gunpla with the HG Zaku II, which he thought had a really cool looking box. He knew nothing about Gundam back then, but since that kit, he’s gotten very familiar with the series. You can find him entering giveaways and posting pictures of model kits on Twitter @official_marc_r.

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