Really Appreciate the Engineering: SMP [Shokugan Modeling Project] Granbird & Draias

When it comes to Brave Series kits, I’ve mentioned multiple times how I really prefer Kotobukiya’s approach of sticking to aesthetics: focusing more on the proportion and articulation, and less on any combining features and gimmicks. That said, Bandai Candy is really doing great with their own Brave Series kits, especially when it can pull off anime-accurate transformations and combinations while still having great articulation. And the same is true with the latest SMP [Shokugan Modeling Project] kits from The Brave Fighter of the Sun Fighbird.

Granbird / Jet Combined Granbird

The second SMP box set from Fighbird will contain parts to build Fire Shuttle/Granbird and Breaster Jet, its auxiliary support unit. To those unfamiliar, Granbird is the traditional secondary robot in the series, which are also parts added to the titular robots to form the mid-season final combination. As with other SMP sets, the is one is also split into three boxes.

The first box would contain parts to build the front and wing sections of Fire Shuttle (or the legs and wings of Granbird), while the second box would contain parts for the rest of Granbird, and the last one will allow you to build the Breaster Jet along with Granbird’s weapons/accessories. You will notice for the third box, it contains two head units. One is attached to Breaster Jet and is the “perfect transformation” part while there’s also a separate head unit which often has better proportions when compared to its “perfect transformation” counterpart.

When combined, Granbird actually looks good in its old school boxy aesthetic. One thing they highlighted is how they managed to get streamlined lower legs after the transformation. This is because the front nosecone of Fire Shuttle actually splits in half, each folding onto the side of the lower leg. Instead, they made a good portion of the nosecone removable so that only a little portion will be left after transformation. Outside of this the transformation is pretty standard, allowing for a good looking and articulated robot. But let’s not forget how this guy splits into parts when combining with Fighbird, more on that later.

When Granbird itself isn’t enough, it summons the Breaster Jet and combines with it to form Jet Combined Granbird, which is same as how Fighbird combines with the Flame Breaster to form Armed Combined Fighbird. As mentioned earlier, you can recreate how the new helmet goes over Granbird’s head unit as seen in the anime. But they also include a better proportioned head if that’s your preference. Likewise, the shoulder-mounted missile pods can be tilted upward for more display options.

The set also comes with the Gran Cannon, the Great Flame Sword for Great Fighbird, and replacement thigh sections, also for the Great Fighbird combination — which we’ll take a look now.

This is why I prefer what Kotobukiya is doing over fully transforming kits like this as you really sacrifice stability when you integrate everything. But, I really appreciate the engineering behind this kit, and how it can manage to do poses like this, especially that signature “Sunrise Pose.” Speaking of that pose, you get two versions of the Great Flame Sword, one being the normal-sized one while the other has proportions that let you recreate this pose.

SMP [Shokugan Modeling Project] The Brave Fighter of the Sun Fighbird 2
October 2021 / ¥5,850
Order via HobbyLink Japan

Draias

Similar to Kotobukiya, Bandai Candy has also started introducing villains in their Brave Series line up, starting with Fighbird’s main villan Draias. But his transformation is much more complex than Fighbird’s that even the folks who engineered its design admits to it.

First of all, Draiyas is actually a combination of three separate machines: Death Eagle, Death Tiger, and Death Dragon. The main challenge is keeping the proportion and articulation of these three great while still having the transformation and combination feature to form Draiyas. Oh and they don’t just simply combine to Draiyas.

Because Draias also has a flight mode, the Draias Jet. So just imagine the complexity needed to achieve multiple combination forms while still being poseable and looking proportional as both separate machines and as Draias. Again, you won’t have these challenges if you took the same approach a Kotobukiya, buy hey, that’s a feature the line has been known for, especially for their Super Sentai kits.

In any case, just for the engineering alone, I can say Draias is worth the purchase. Though it is a Premium Bandai exclusive so get your middleman contacts ready if you want to get this set.

SMP [Shokugan Modeling Project] The Brave Fighter of the Sun Fighbird: Draias
February 2022 / ¥6,300

Lastly, this is how the three robots would look side by side:

Draias would be standing around 175mm tall, and it looks like Great Fighbird will be evenly matching Draias in terms of height. Armed Combined Firebird is expectedly smaller but it is a basic combination as far as Brave Series goes. Either way, I will look forward as to when Kotobukiya releases their Fighbird kits. Until then, I’ll just save my hard-earned cash for other stuff, looking at you RIOBOT SRX.

Thoughts?

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