Last year I finally got around to watching Gundam Build Divers Re:Rise, and … wow. It quickly became one of my favorite Gundam shows ever. It’s extremely well written, emotionally honest and raw, and just a damn good show.
It also features a very cool gimmick - the Core Gundam and the Planets system:
This post is a primer on how these two systems work.
This post contains spoilers for Build Divers Re:Rise. You may want to skip it if you haven’t watched the show.
The Core Gundam and the Planet System armors are designed, built, owned, and piloted by Hiroto Kuga, the main protagonist of Re:Rise.
During the events of Re:Rise, we learn that they were inspired by a past Gunpla battle, in which Hiroto successfully defeated someone’s massive Perfect Grade Strike Gundam using nothing more than a Speed Grade model kit.
He wins this David and Goliath battle by taking advantage of weapons and accessories that are still lying around the battlefield from the day’s previous fights. He flies around on rockets and Core Fighters to make himself harder to hit, and uses a variety of different weapons to systematically take down the Strike Gundam’s weapons, cameras, and finally its head.
The experience inspires Hiroto to explore the possibilities of a small, speedy, adaptable Gunpla.
What's a Speed Grade?I haven't talked about Speed Grade model kits before, largely because I don't think they've ever shown up here in the West (and if they did, they sure as heck aren't sold today). According to the Gundam Wiki, they are (were?) cheap, tiny 1/200 scale kits designed to be built quickly (all the markings were pre-painted onto the body).
Also, they were made in China, which is a bit surprising considering all other Gunpla lines are still made in Japan.
Lastly, they didn't make many of them either, as the entire line only lasted from 2007-2008.
About the Core Gundam
Inspired by the Speed Grade Gundam, the Core Gundam is small, smaller than even a standard High Grade. It still comes with a full set of accessories, including beam sabers, a shield, and a Beam Spray Gun. It’s all just … small.
In the hands of another user, the Core Gundam might not impress, but Hiroto is such a good pilot - and the quality of the build is so high - that the Core Gundam is capable of going toe to toe with much larger opponents.
However, Hiroto is nothing but prepared. He knows there are times where he’ll either need more firepower, or specialty tools. This is where the Planet System comes into play.
About the Planets System
The Planets System is a set of eight armors for the Core Gundam. When not in use, each one takes the shape of a small, Core Fighter-esque craft that acts as both fire support and transportation:
At any time however, the craft can split apart into component armor parts, which then connect to the Core Gundam Iron Man-style.
(I tried to make an image showing off the transformation, but for some reason it didn’t work)
When wearing one of its armors, the Core Gundam becomes High Grade sized, and has access to whatever specialty weapons, tools, and abilities the armor is equipped with.
Additionally, the Planet System supports mixing and matching. Hiroto can attach only parts of the armor, or combine parts from two or more armor sets.
Why is There a Planetary Motif?The Planet armors are called as such because each one if named after one of the planets in our solar system. I can't go into detail about _why_ without getting super spoilery. Suffice to say that the names were inspired by someone very special to Hiroto, who wanted him to use his Gunpla to explore the world and test the limits of his imagination. It's all very sweet and sentimental once you know the origin.
Let’s take a quick tour of all the armors.
First we have the Mercuone armor, which is the underwater specialist:
Next is the Veetwo, which is the heavy weapons armor:
Next we have the Earthree, which is the basic all-rounder type, and is the closest thing there is to a “primary” armor:
The Marsfour armor specializes in close combat:
The Jupitive is the space-type armor:
The Saturnix armor is specially designed to destroy Gundam Frames from Iron Blooded Orphans, using its heavy drill and clamp:
The Uraven armor is the sniper unit:
Finally, there is the Nepteight armor. This one is special, as it has no weapons. Instead, it features a version of the the Voiture Lumiere propulsion system featured on the Stargazer Gundam, and is intended solely for the purposes of space travel.
Is there a Pluto Armor?Re:Rise does not feature a Pluto armor, but we did finally get one last year. Hiroto and the rest of Build series protagonists show up for cameos in Gundam Build Metaverse. Each hero appears with a brand new Gunpla, and for Hiroto, that would be the Plutine Armor:
I don't think it has a specialty purpose, as Metaverse is non-canonical. It's main gimmick - if you want to call it that - is that it's made out of recycled plastic as part of Bandai's Ecopla initiative.
About the Core Gundam II
As is tradition, The Core Gundam gets a midseason upgrade. It’s main new gimmick is that it can transform into a flying mode:
I love the Core Gundam and all of its armors.
One a very basic level, I love them because the different armor colors, the transformation sequences, etc give off some strong (but not too strong) Super Robot vibes.
On a deeper level, I like how it feels so right for this particular character. Hiroto clearly loves Gundam, and this is reflected in the fact that he has so many different armors. Each one is meant to handle some very specific combat scenario that’s shown up in one Gundam show or another.
He is also very clearly a tactically minded individual. He thinks, he plans, and he gathers as much intel as possible before going into battle. It makes perfect sense that he would come up with a system that allows his mobile suit to change and adapt to any situation.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I can’t imagine any other character coming up with or using such a system. And that feels extremely appropriate for a show in the Build sub-series, which is supposed to all be about customization and personalization. It’s a far cry from Hiroto’s predecessor, who builds variants of the 00 Gundam for no other reason than because it is popular in real life (but otherwise has no personal meaning to him).
Buying (and Selling) the Planet Armors
I know what you’re probably thinking - of course Bandai would come up with something like this. Instead of selling just one or two model kits for the main character’s mobile suit, they can sell eight of them.
But it’s actually not that simple. On one hand, Bandai seems to have anticipated that some armors were going to be more popular than others, so some are simply easier to obtain.
On the other hand, Bandai also loves finding reasons to make people buy additional accessory packs, so some of the armors are split out among multiple kits.
The bottom line is that if you wanted to have a full collection of planet armors, you’re going to have to put in a lot of work. I’m honestly not sure how Bandai came up with the sales approach that they did. It seems at once as if they both wanted to avoid unsold inventory, and make it harder to buy said inventory (to try and whip collectors up into a frenzy).
Here is my best attempt at breaking the situation down.
If you want the Mercuone Armor
- You need to buy the Mercuone armor. This is a kit that comes with just the armor. It has no Core Gundam, and no accessories
- You need to buy the Mercuone accessory kit to get all the weapons
- You need to crib a Core Gundam from some other kit
If you want the Veetwo Armor
- You need to buy the Veetwo kit (which comes with the armor and a Core Gundam)
- You need to buy the Veetwo accessory kit to get all the weapons
If you want the Earthree Armor
- There is a single kit that contains everything. Easy Peasy
If you want the Marsfour Armor
- You need to buy the Marsfour kit (which comes with the armor and a Core Gundam)
- You need to buy the Marsfour accessory kit
If you want the Jupitive Armor
- Once again, there is a single kit that comes with everything
If you want the Saturnix Armor
- You need to buy the Saturnix armor
- You need to buy the Saturnix accessory kit
- You need to crib a Core Gundam II from some other kit, as the Saturnix Armor only works with Core Gundam II
If you want the Uraven Armor
- This is a single kit that comes with everything, including a Core Gundam II
If you want the Nepteight Armor
- You need to buy the Nepteight armor
- You need to buy the Nepteight accessory kit
- You need to crib a Core Gundam II from some other kit
A few additional notes to consider:
- The Veetwo and Marsfour kits come with color variants of the Core Gundam. If you want the Veetwo and Marsfour Gundams to look like they do in the show, you’ll need a Core Gundam in its OG colors (which means either buying the Earthree or the Jupitive).
- The Uraven is the only kit that comes with Core Gundam II in its OG colors. Bandai eventually sold color variants of the Core II as separate model kits, though I can’t say I’ve ever seen them in stock anywhere. I’m not sure how often they get reprinted.
- On a similar note, if you want to display all eight Gundams together, getting eight different Core Gundams is easier said than done
- There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to how Bandai reprints these kits. I’ve seen the Saturnix accessory kit on sale multiple times, but I don’t think I’ve actually seen the Saturnix armor itself. And so the accessory kit lingers on the shelf - who wants to buy it when you can’t get its corresponding armor? This is where Bandai’s sales approach doesn’t make sense. This doesn’t seem like a smart way to avoid unsold inventory.
In short, it’s a mess.
Why Write this Primer?
You knew there had to be a reason for writing this primer. And you’d be right!
It bears repeating - Re:Rise has quickly become one of my favorite Gundam shows. I love Hiroto, I love his character arc, and I’ve come to love his mobile suits.
So of course ever since finishing the show, I’ve been wanting some Core Gundam in my life. The only problem is that I could’nt find any for sale. But as luck would have it, Bandai recently did a few reprints, and I struck while the iron was hot:
Full disclosure - only two of the three were reprinted. I overpaid a bit to buy the Uraven kit from a reseller (in my defense, I had a gift card, so I didn’t feel guilty doing so).
It’s a pretty good start. I now have multiple Core Gundams, and at least one Core Gundam II. Now all I have to do is hope that the other armors get reprinted in the near future.