Guest Post: LOZ iRobot Gundam White

BrickDragon's dad here. For a recent anniversary, BrickDragon's mom gave me a building kit as a present. I'd pointed the set out when I saw it in a toy store, and she remembered. She's good like that. Also, she's fueled my Mobile Suit Gundam interest before.

Anyway, it was the LOZ iRobot Gundam White set. I'd never had a LOZ set before and had no idea what I was getting into. But I will say this, I was impressed by the box.

The box is stronger cardboard than the paperboard that LEGO uses. Not only that, it's the tab-and-slot variety that can be open and closed repeatedly. You could actually use this box for storage, easily.

Once I opened the box, the difference from LEGO sets was evident. First, the pieces are SMALL. The picture below (apologies for the blur) shows the size of a 1x2 LEGO brick with a 1x2 piece from the LOZ set.

The next thing I noticed is that the instructions are a little confusing, compared to LEGO instructions. Sometimes, I had difficulty figuring out exactly what I was supposed to do. It's like they took screen shots of their CAD design, but didn't think about real-world assembly.

Also, although there were several separate bags of pieces, they weren't organized in order like LEGO sets are currently. So, all the bags had to be opened before starting the build, as pieces needed were in different bags.

The build process itself was challenging. First, the pieces are small. Second, they lack clutch power and often fall out. Third, some of the steps in the instructions showed pieces in places where there was nothing to hold them. The order of their assembly doesn't actually work, and I ended up improvising.

The completed assembly actually does a pretty good job of resembling a Gundam, complete with rifle and shield. They've even included a transparent blue piece to represent the window in Amuro Ray's Gundam shield.

The backside of the model includes the reactor area and exhaust pipes.

The rifle, shown above, doesn't fit in the hand of the model. It attaches by removing the hand and inserting the rifle into the ball-and-socket joint. You can see the image below, how the rifle has a ball to go in the socket on the arm of the model. 

The model has ball-and-socket joints in 12 locations - the ankles, the knees, the hips, the wrists, the elbows and the shoulders. And, while the ball-and-socket joins clip together well, many of the other pieces don't fit easily and lack clutch power.

In the pictures below, you can see the gaps in a two specific joints in the arms of the model. First, this makes it a challenge to get the arms to stay together. Second, it weakens the entire arm structure so that any attempt to reposition the arm is likely to disconnect the upper arm from the shoulder structure.

The arm isn't the only place where this lack of fit shows up. The "horns" over the eyes of the model also reflect a design choice that requires twisting squared ends to make angled pieces. The torque created at the corner of the two angled "horns" makes them very easy to dislodge. But that's not the worst problem with the head.

The worst problem with the head is that it doesn't really attach to the model. You can see in the image below that the the head simply sits on a post. But the post doesn't have anything to hold it in position. There are no tubes to hold the stud in place. So the head slides around and typically falls off.

After completing this model, I don't know that I'll point out another LOZ model to my wife. Let me summarize the reasons.
  • The pieces are small and hard to maneuver, but that's nothing compared to the lack of clutch power where pieces don't even stay together.
  • The assembled model falls apart too easily to do anything with. I can't even pose it heroically, because it's hard to be heroic when your arms and head keep falling off.
  • The designers took shortcuts that actually work against the physics of the pieces and promote spontaneous disassembly of the model.
I really like the ball-and-socket joints. They provide a lot of flexibility to the model. It's just that the flexibility is overcome by the inability to stay together. I've told Brick Dragon that I might reassemble the model at some point in the future... after I've purchased a fresh bottle of super glue.