Gundam Barbatos is the stand-out suit from 2015’s Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans. Named after a demon with looks to match, Barbatos is a formidable mecha that remains a fan-favorite five years later. Gunpla 101 contributor Erich took the Master Grade Barbatos—the suit’s most detailed model kit yet—for a test-drive. Here’s what he thought.
Look at that! Another Barbatos!
… I know, we have tons of those already. But looking at this one, I’m wondering if actually, we didn’t have enough. Because let me tell you, not a single previous Barbatos has been quite like this one. I was wondering why Bandai Hobby would bother releasing an MG Barbatos when we already have the equally elaborate Full Mechanics Barbatos Lupus Rex. But I only needed to assemble a few chest joints before I saw the light. Because, ladies and gentlemen, we finally have the Iron-Blooded Orphans Gundam Frame that we deserve in this kit.
Color and Design
Designwise, the MG ASW-G-08 Barbatos is an obvious improvement from the Full Mechanics No Grade Barbatos. You will find some neat details and joints implementations, but it’s the care they put in the hydraulic pistons gimmick and the extra details in the frame pieces that make it feel especially fresh and updated compared to the previous FM model.
Colorwise, the frame is now more separated, allowing for more color variation. For the body, there’s mainly dark brown and some gray, plus a nice silver for the pistons. For the armor, you will find a lot of white and some blue, plus yellow and red highlights typical of any Gundam franchise main mobile suit.
My favorite part about the design is that it does a great job hiding its seams. You will finish the whole mobile suit with practically zero seam lines visible. This was already something I liked about IBO 1/100 kits, but they took it up a level here. To this effect, it is so well designed that you will have to put in an effort to find some seam lines on the frame’s exposed parts.
Ok, we got an MG, so we should know what that means for difficulty. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t build this as your first Gundam kit before you build a High Grade.
Even for experienced MG builders, there are some gimmicks in this kit that required a lot of care. Before tightly snapping two pieces together, you’ll need to check that they’re capable of making the correct movement. Don’t just take my word for it: you will see several “check” warnings in the instruction manual! (It’s so good to get English in the instructions, isn’t it?). The placing of some frame pieces is quite intricate, but after that, placing the armor is the easy part, since you will just cover and sandwich each frame zone between a pair of plates.
This is the spot where this MG Barbatos shines over all other Barbatos previously released in the FM, NG (No Grade), and even the expensive HiRM (High Resolution Model) Barbatos. Whatever I thought looked good in the NG/FM/HirM 1/100 versions, doesn’t just look good here; it functionally works! (HiRM had some nice piston, but not like these!)
Generally speaking, you will get a lot of working pistons. There are double joints at the elbows, head, and knees, and some locking mechanisms to allow further posing. A lot of this is the flexibility we are used to seeing in MG frames from other series. But what especially captures my attention is the detail that Bandai put in the wrist joint, which can rotate at 360°. The wrist doesn’t just swivel up and down but features an impressive extra 90° hinge towards the outside of the wrist. This is so important since I tried to pose my previous models of this mobile suit with its katana before, and it always turned out awkwardly. That is, until now.
The extra swivel in the head will allow you also to lift it for some nice “looking up” poses that were not achievable before. The locking mechanisms I mentioned before are a joy to play with: you get some in the hip, the ankle, and the back of the knees. If I recall another mobile suit that could be as posable as this MG Barbatos it would be the MG The Origin RX-78-02, but that didn’t have the heft to handle a katana like this one.
Even the custom details on this kit can move! In particular, I loved the fact that both AHAB reactors can rotate and simulate the effect of working machinery, just like in the show.
Extras (weapons, hands, effect parts)
The kit has all the weapons from the show and even some new ones just for the MG.
First, let’s talk about the one I care the least about: the “smoothbore rifle.” it’s a big, badass, foldable rifle with some sliding gimmicks. You can pose it several ways: holding it from the backpack with the auxiliary swivel hand/crane thing that came from it, as well as in both hands of the mobile suit. Now for the neat parts. There’s that gorgeous katana. With this baby, you can strike some of the coolest poses. And the mace, you gotta love the mace. It includes a pile bunker as usual, but this time you can remove two of the mace’s thruster blades to get a couple of close-combat knives, leaving the mace with a look similar to a halberd. The kit also comes with six hands, total: holding hands, closed hands, and open-fingered hands that allow you to create dramatic gestures. And while you may not need stickers for colors in this mobile suit, you still get a nice sticker sheet to offer some extra detail to your already great-looking Barbatos.
The MG Barbatos is a really cool-looking suit, but it’s not just about the looks. This kit is also full of mechanical details that lead to fantastic articulation. It looks great even if you just stock assemble; I didn’t put on a single sticker, nor did I panel a single line, and you can see how great it stands and looks. In this kit, we got a great rendition of the famous Gundam frame from Iron-Blooded Orphans. What’s most exciting to me is that, since the Barbatos has several different looks that all share the same frame with minor differences, I think it’ll be just a matter of time until we see more Master Grades from the show. This MG Barbatos is just the tip of the iceberg, and it’s a fantastic portent of things to come.
Erich is a passionate hobbyist with a taste for modifying kits to his own design. He has been working with RC cars and Lego for most of his life and recently discovered Gunpla in 2017. He likes combining his builds with his biggest passion: photography. But most of all, he loves sharing his toys with his two kids. He is located in Chile and you can find his latest Facebook fan page for Gunpla at Erich’s Modelling Corner.