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[GUNPLA] 1/144 GAT-X1022 Blu Duel

May 24, 2011

“My teacher once said: ‘The only good Coordinator… is a dead Coordinator.'”

Muldie Holcroft, Gundam SEED C.E. 73: Stargazer

The Blu Duel is a design that has always intrigued me. While yes, it is a Duel Gundam derivative from the Gundam SEED series, the original Duel and Duel Assault Shroud always seemed like Strike Gundam contenders; powerful in their own right, but never unique. The Blu Duel, on the other hand, struck me more as a special operations “elite” unit, the kind that pops out of the dark, dispatches a key target like a recon unit before retreating back into the darkness, than the jack-of-all-trades the Duel Gundam resembled.

And before anyone says anything, the Strike Gundam was multi-role, but the Striker Packs brought new meaning to that phrase since each Striker pack it mounted gave it a specialization at any single time, unlike the Duel and most of its related units who are able to do everything but excel at nothing. All the time.

blu duel,gundam seed astray,gundam seed,gundam seed,shield,mobile suit,gundam,beam saber,beam sabre,beam rifle

Hello, welcome to Holcroft Heavy Industries, we're testing out our new special-operations weaponry under the guise of standard-issue land warfare weapons...

Armaments:

– 12.5 mm CIWS, head-mounted x2

– Mk. 315 “Stiletto” rocket-propelled anti-armor penetrators x3

– M7G2 arm-mounted beam gun x2

– ES05A beam sabre x2

– M443 “Scorpion” shoulder-mounted railgun x1

– Shield Unit x1

Summary: A variant of the GAT-X102 Duel, the GAT-X1022 Blu Duel is a Duel model upgraded by Actaeon Industries, based of the Duel Dagger and Long Dagger mobile suits. Like them, the Blu Duel features additional armor and weaponry upon a basic frame; however, unlike the Fortrestra Armor of the Duel/Long Dagger or the Duel’s Assault Shroud, the Blu Duel’s armor is integrated into its frame, making it more of a new unit than a simple upgrade. A large number of verniers compensate for the increased weight and gives the Blu Duel superior acceleration, but under gravity conditions its advantages are lessened. The Blue Duel has an armament load more suited for special operations then the frontline nature of the Duel/Duel Dagger/Long Dagger; moving its railgun and shield to a shoulder mount allows it to dual-wield beam weapons, and the Fortrestra’s 8-tube missile pod is swapped out for three armor penetrator knife slots. While its loadout is impressive, its battle record, whether due to inappropriate deployment conditions or the piloting skills of Muldie Holcroft, is much less satisfactory.

mobile suit,gundam seed stargazer,mecha,mecha,gundam seed,gundam seed,gun,blu duel,gundam

DUAL-WIELDING!!!!1111oneoneone

The Blu Duel is, at first glance, quite impressive if you’re a fan of the Duel lineage or “commando”-type units; twin beam pistols, throwing knives that explode, a railgun for when thicker walls are encountered, and the shield placed in a seemingly unobtrusive position. This is one of my primary reasons for buying this kit and my general likes for the Blu Duel design; a rampaging monster in one-on-one combat.

Of course, all that is true to a certain extent, but on close inspection of the kit it’s not quite what it’s portrayed as in the Stargazer series.

blu duel,gundam seed,gundam seed stargazer,mobile suit,pistol,pose,stand,model kit,gundam

Yarr! Get off me planet, Coordinator scum! My pistol and sword will send you back into space!

The Blu Duel model kit is, as one can expect when taking into account Bandai’s marketing tendencies, a Duel kit with parts to fit over it. As a result it’s a bit bulkier than the Blu Duel depicted in the lineart/ Stargazer ONA. Not really in the way of the Blu Duel’s flexibility and such, but it’s quite a noticeable difference if you compare pictures closely.

In terms of its movable parts, the Blu Duel is from an era of “late SEED-HG” kits; particularly this one, which is just a Duel Gundam hidden underneath the blue armor. It’s flexible, but like all the kits of its group it’s just short of being decently flexible, and in this case the thick armor cuts down on shoulder movement somewhat. That, and the two blue pieces that act as shoulder guards on the original Duel are still here on the Blue Duel, and you will rue having them as part of the kit since it basically cancels off 1/3 of the kit’s arm flexibility.

gundam seed stargazer,gundam seed,railgun,blu duel,gundam,mobile suit

I also do long-range!

The railgun is an essential part of any Duel derivative and the Blu Duel mounts it on a linked joint to its shoulder armor. Of course, the bulking shoulder armor parts get in the way, and the proper firing position has the Blu Duel lifting its entire arm; apparently, according to canon the railgun can only turn to an angle (not that you are limited to such with the kit) and the Blu Duel will lift its entire arm and reposition its shoulder if it needs to fire the railgun. Of course, since it’s never even used in the anime itself, one can only guess as to how it works.

This arrangement is what essentially costs Muldie Holcroft her life; her last-ditch attempt to defend herself against a backstabber misses and costs her unit its right arm, depriving it of most of its offensive and defensive options.

blu duel,gundam seed astray,gundam seed,thrusters,mobile suit,gundam 00

Preparing to take ooooooooooooooooooooooff~!

The Blu Duel’s back is what contributes to a great amount of its mass. Its back mounts several new thruster systems in addition to the original Duel’s; acceleration on this thing must have been brutal if that were all fired at once. Of course once again it’s implied and not seen and in the Stargazer anime, the Blu Duel is simply a death ticket to piss off Muldie’s teammates.

On another note, I’m mildly surprised by the lack of a back skirt. Nothing big here, but I was just wondering that if they bothered to armor the entire unit from top to bottom, why leave the back with a glaring weakness?

gundam seed stargazer,blu duel,gundam seed,throwing knife,mobile suit,gundam

Witness my mad ninja skillz!

Probably the highlight of the kit is that one pose where Muldie flings exploding kunai at the ZAFT troops in the second episode of the Stargazer ONA (they can call it an “armor penetrator” or a “miniaturized unguided anti-armor thrown munition”, but it’s still, at the core of things, a bunch of exploding kunai). You get one extra hand part to replicate that pose, and the left shoulder cover can be placed in the “open” position. You’ll have to remove the cover from the shoulder armor piece itself to do so; there’s no hinge joint here. As par for a HG, the color accuracy is… acceptable.

gundam seed stargazer,gundam seed,blu duel,gundam,mobile suit,armor

When I take over the world, I shall get the recognition I deserve!!!

The flexibility of the kit is quite okay, as evidenced by this kneeling pose. Bar MG or PG units, any kit that can at least kneel down properly (without listing too much) is a pretty flexible kit in my books; even though for the Duel and Blu Duel, its skirt armor gets in the way, so no turning at the waist… but there’s enough here to satify me.

I used to think that beam sabres on those knee racks were pretty cool, but the way the racks are molded it just makes them a hassle when you’re trying to pose the kit and keep knocking the sabres about and out of the kit by accident. They’re not really tight.

duel,gundam,gundam seed,mobile suit,back view

My clothes weigh more than your wife!

Part of the fun about the Blu Duel is how you’re entirely capable of constructing a normal Duel out of the entire kit. It makes up for the slight disappointment that is the Blu Duel.

duel gundam,beam sabers,gundam,gundam seed,mobile suit

Mister Scarface-With-Genetically-Altered-Old-Man's-Hair made dual-wielding cool again!

The kit gets a little more flexible with the armor gone. There’s one good thing about the snap-on armor; if you get tired of looking at the Blu Duel, you could try taking off the armor to oggle at the Duel instead.

Of course, this isn’t perfect. The Blu Duel’s front skirt has its own armor piece that’s incompatible with the Duel’s; if you’re not in the mood for tugging and pulling, it’s best to construct the kit into one form and leave it at that. As well, you’ll notice that the Duel in the picture lacks the orange chest vents; there are pieces for those, but put them in and you’ll never be able to fit the Blu Duel’s chestplate on again. At least, not until you take a clipper to the chestplate’s interior.

gundam seed,gundam,duel,shield,kick,pose,mobile suit

Char Kick! Or something like that.

Not taking into account the minor incompatibility issues, the unarmored Duel is an otherwise solid kit of its own. There really isn’t much difference between the Duel and the Blu Duel; they are almost equally flexible, equally stable, and equally boring in some parts. The head is a good example; it can’t bend up and down, and the Blu Duel armor accentuates that effect.

duel gundam,gundam seed,gundam,mobile suit,shield,beam rifle

They call me... Duel!

There’s just one small difference; the shield doesn’t have a separate handle piece. But then again, logically anyone getting this would be going for the Blu Duel instead, so that one doesn’t matter.

The Verdict:

The Blu Duel is one of the three redesigns in the Stargazer ONA; I like the way the Verde Buster looks, but there’s something about the Blu Duel that seals the deal for me. Balanced weaponry? Check. Close-quarters specialization? Check. Commando-style design? Check. And overall the kit is a solid work, with okay stability, decent flexibility and a good number of different poses with different weapons and different styles. It’s not the best thing, but its good enough that fans shouldn’t hesitate about buying it as well as being decent even for casual model kit builders. Not the best thing by far, but I’m fine with it if it’s in the middle of the quality scale.

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