MSiA MSA-005 Methuss and Mega Bazooka LauncherHeight: 11cm to top of head, 14cm to top of backpack; 14cm long (MA mode)
Articulation: 28 points total: Ball jointed neck; 6 points each arm - double jointed shoulder, triple jointed elbow, ball joint wrist; Ball joint waist; 7 points each leg - Ball joint hips, triple jointed knee, double jointed ankle, mid-foot hinge. Plus additional joints for transformation.
Colors: Molded yellow, grey, blue, green, clear yellow; Painted blue, black, green, grey, red, yellow.
Accessories: Mega Bazooka Launcher; Power cables x2; Landing struts, 1x forward, 2x rear; Extra hands x4; Power cable connector; beam sabres x2 with removable blades.
Release Data: Released in Japan on November 23rd, 2006 at a price of ¥2200. This item is still available as of this review.
Gallery: 27 images.
Zeta Gundam sure has some weird stuff in it. Much of which got released in 2005. But it's probably safe to say that 2006 saw the two or three really oddball designs finally brought to MSiA form. In this case, we have the Methuss. To look at it in either mode, it seems clear that it's something that shouldn't operate under any substantial gravity. Or possibly even exist in gravity. Fortunately TV shows are not necessarily bound by pesky things like the laws of physics, or good sense. The Methuss has always been described as Anaheim's first practical application of a transformation system, though use of the word "practical" might be a bit of a stretch. But in relative terms, it was seemingly inexpensive and simple to repair, so this poor thing that probably never should have been put in the field could be easily patched back up (or maybe even outright replaced a couple times) whenever it got predictably trounced.
The first problem to be found is that the hair-like band if cabling on the back of the head combined with the false-connectors rising behind the neck conspire to neutralize almost any poseability for the head. Straight side-to-side is ruled out almost entirely, requiring the head to point down so the bottom of the wires can scrape over the connectors, but this makes for a pretty silly looking head-turn. A less obvious, but just as baffling problem is the invisible monoeye. See, there is a green monoeye painted in there. But it is almost 100% hidden from any angle by the upright monoeye track piece. You can only just catch sight of the eye if you look from the side at just the right angle. Otherwise, the head actually looks quite nice. It's very well sculpted and captures the appearance of the Methuss nicely with sharp details and good proportions. It just has little practical movement and the monoeye might as well have not been painted on to start with. Um, oops?
At least on a numerical level, the Methuss has really good arm articulation. A good number of joints in basically all the right places. But little or none of the jointing is standard or traditional. Maybe that's to accomodate the transformation, or maybe just to keep visual consistancy with the lineart. You still get double jointed shoulders, just not the same double jointed shoulders as in other figures, or you have an upper arm swivel, but not the same way. The part that really gets on me is that the elbow joint is a single hinge. Now, it's a round joint, so you still get considerable range, but it's not the same as you'd get with a proper double hinge elbow. Even so, the unique semi-frame structure at the shoulder joints expands the range they can move somewhat, and you can make the Methuss reach almost all the way across its torso if you turn certain joints just right. I can appreciate a non-standard arrangement so long as some benefit does arise from it. I'm just not sure on the whole how much benefit there is. The beam guns are attached to the forearms, but their use requires the forearm be turned upside down, killing the elbow joint entirely. This is a problem caused by the design calling for the stowed beam guns to be along the underside of the arm, but that arrangement also prevents the guns deploying to the other side of the arm. This actually could have been avoided on the figure by making the piece the guns attach to be articulated itself. Giving it a swivel joint so the beam guns could circle around the hands and come into use while keeping the elbow joint available.
This torso is it's own whole thing. One of the defining characteristics of the Methuss is what effectively amounts to a spinal column: A single supporting cylinder that joins upper and lower body. It's probably the single overwhelming element that made anybody doubt the Methuss could ever be executed as an MSiA. But with the modern trend of using rigid plastics the inherent issues with such construction are eliminated. In and of itself, the support column has no significant impact on the stability of the figure. The ball jointed waist is stiff enough that it seems to make no difference that there's no supporting structure around the joint to keep it stable. In fact, the only thing that's really a problem is the insane codpiece and the backpack, which are linked together around a swivel joint that could really stand to be much tighter. technically it should stabilize itself if you have the backpack positioned just right, but that's hardly something to count on either, I think. There's also a certain element of instability with the upper torso where it hinges for transformation, but again that should in theory be stabilized to some extent by correct positioning of the backpack and codpiece. This is an element you really have to play around with in order to get the feel of how to do it right, but the result is far, far better when you figure out how it all works together. This is perhaps the most elegant bit of engineering on the figure, but in a way it also just reinforces what's wrong with the engineering since in my mind a figure should lock into its stable configuration, rather than relying on the user to have to feel his or her way into it. It's cool that it ends up working out, but it kinda shouldn't have to in the first place.
Legs and Feet
This is probably where things are the most generally stable. Not to mention basically normal - hip joints not restricted by any skirt armor, triple jointed knees, and double jointed ankles. On top of that, the feet are overly large and square, providing a good, stable base for many poses. Unfortunately, some poses are made more difficult by the hinged pieces along the backs of the legs smacking into the thighs and limiting the range of motion. But it is possible to move them slightly aside and gain extra distance, but it can look funky.
Special features of the legs include beam sabre storage racks, complete with dummy sabre grips molded alongside, to represent the six beam sabres the Methuss is credited with having. Might have been nice to have them all removable, but it's at least proof people are paying attention. The Methuss also has opening panels near the ankles, revealing an extra thruster cone on each side, as well as molded-in fuel lines, and what may be an additional thruster above. Hard to say, since it's unpainted and relatively undifferentiated as far as detailing. The rocket is hinged, though, and the panels stay open rather well. I'm not sure I like the look of the figure with the hatches open, though.
Mobile Armor Mode
This is the thing that really gets me. Well, okay, not exactly. This is the end product of the thing that really gets me, with "thing that really gets me" being the transformation. For what always appeared to me as one of the simpler transformations in Zeta (certainly only the Hambrabi and maybe Baund Doc should look to be any more simple), the process with the figure is one of hair-pulling frustration, where very little actually locks together, and even less actually fits like it obviously was intended to. While the changes of position of parts may be simple in concept, the actual practice of shifting these bits from this to that could not be a worse exercise of poor engineering. The worst example of this, as well as the only example of parts really locking together, is the connection between the arms and legs, which suffers from connector pieces inadequately jointed and just plain too short to deliver the parts they're moving to where they really need to wind up. The lengthiest ordeal in trying to transform the Methuss is simply wrestling these parts together and then once connected trying to wiggle everything else into position around them so that your result is something that resembles a properly formed Mobile Armor mode Methuss. I will at this point add the following: It is physically impossible to simultaneously have all parts connected together properly, have them in a straight line, and have them facing straight ahead. There is literally no way to be able to meet all of those conditions at the same time, which is just plain ridiculous when to be a good representation of the design, the toy should be built to do all three of those things at once, easily and solidly. In that respect if no other, the Methuss becomes a shining lesson of How Not To Make A Transformer.
Okay, moving along past the objections in method, we'll talk more about the result. Once you actually get there, and accept that some bits are just not going to work right, it ceases being quite such a horror. While general opinion seems to be that the figure's Mobile Armor mode is shorter and perhaps a bit squished relative to the animated form, I don't think that's really an issue with the figure so much as just the design itself, and something that can't really be compensated for. Once again, darn those laws of physics! In lieu of a support stand, the Methuss comes with a set of landing struts to hold it up when transformed, the installation of each requires removing panels from the body of the figure. I'm not sure what to suggest being more careful with, the small yellow rectangles that come off the legs, or the chest piece. But all of them become easily lost little pieces once removed, so watch it. When it comes down to it, the Methuss isn't all that bad about keeping together in Mobile Armor mode once you actually hit that point. There's fair enough joint tension that it won't flop apart under its own weight, and you can pick it up without causing any damage. But since very little actually connects together, you still have to be careful how you grab it to avoid displacing chunks of the body. And personally I find those opening panels on the legs to be better functional here than in Mobile Suit mode, but maybe that's just personal preference.
-Mega Bazooka Launcher
Largely unchanged from the one that came with 2004's Hyaku Shiki, or so it would seem. Compared carefully, it becomes apparent that essentially the entire piece is new, with slightly adjusted proportions of surface detailing, but is all functionally identical to the first one. With a noteable exception or two. For one thing, in its firing mode, it's over half an inch longer than its predecessor, and the bits seem to "snap" open much better than my original, who you had a hard time determining whether the parts were all the way out. Otherwise, the big change here is the external power connector on the lauincher's left side, and all that amounts to is a hinged cover over two pegholes. But hey, they retained the extending movement of the shoulder brace on that side, so underwhelming as the new function is, I can't complain at all. I personally find this to be a much more attractive rendering of the MBL than what we had the first time around.
Fairly standard stuff. The grips are a little different shape from usual, so it's nice to get variety every now and then. Sadly the grips are either slightly small for the hands, or the hands are slightly large for the grips, since they won't hold terribly snug as they would appear meant to. The storage in the legs works great, and that is indeed secure. I'm well pleased with that aspect, since they're easy to remove, but not likely to dislodge during normal course of being thrown at the wall in frustration. However, your mileage may vary, and It Figures! takes no responsibility for lost beam sabres as a result of hurling the figure at a wall without removing the grips first.
Lumping together the pair of cables and the chest connector piece. Straightened, the cables measure approximately 27 cm, and are a flexible green plastic. The ends have different length pegs. The shorter side is meant to plug into the MBL, while the longer end plugs into the Methuss. While the cables are flexible, they're still just soft plastic and so are still limited. Basically, when plugged into the MBL, the methuss has a very small range of relative positions it can occupy without upsetting everything.
The connector chest piece is just a simple replacement part, taking the place of the normal cockpit hatch piece. Fortunately it holds in place snugly enough that the combination of the cables and MBL's weight doesn't rip it out of the torso. Yay!
Only two extra sets, consisting of a pair of trigger finger hands, and gripping hands. The trigger hands have a slight problem in that they're not exactly formed right to fit the beam gun grips very well. The result ends up that you nearly pull out the grip everytime you use it. It's a careful balancing act between looking right and not tearing the gun handles from their hinges. Either set of hands swaps out easily, and holds on the wrist well enough. A good thing, too, since the odd jointing of the arm as well as the beam gun mountings would make a stiffer wrist joint a major problem to wrangle.
Part of me wonders if some of the oddities in the jointing are not just to help depict the seemingly limited mechanical abilities of the Methuss. It's hard to really be one way or the other about the Methuss. Some stuff it does ends up pretty good, and almost clever in its way. Other things are so horribly frustrating that you feel driven to commit horrible acts of violence against whomever you can determine responsible for such a monstrosity. I'm forced to weigh these two conditions against each other, as well as the overall cost. Now true, you get a shiny new Mega Bazooka Launcher in the deal, but having had one of those anyway I find the level of benefit to be quite limited. For ¥1500 I probably would have looked better on this, but paying ¥2200 just paints it a poor color. I'm giving the Methuss a rating of Could Have Been Better.
-ExVee, January 12, 2007.
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