I think a lot of us recognize and understand that it's not about having a "toy robot" on the shelf, it's about looking at it and saying 'I did that, I put that together'.
In essence gunpla isn't as much about the end result as it is an experience and Bandai seems to have recognized this and made it the focus of this kit and more recently, the MGEX Strike Freedom, the build being a layered model where you see the inner frame, the structural supports and then the armor plating and details.
You can of course go further, paint, topcoat, add decals do weathering and modifications, but for most the experience stops before then.
The 'Unleashed' part of PGU means that it is a design not constrained by animation limits but also that Bandai's technology has come to a point where they can make a large standing model with a lot of working parts without it falling over or coming apart.
That means this model has a different aesthetic and details than other RX-78-2 models, but it is similar to the RG/MG 3.0, with a shallow chest and a protruding cockpit hatch. In many ways it feels like a different Real Grade design (meaning realism) based on the anime accurate proportions.
In short, there's a little bit of everything in here, but most notably there's a ton of RG style decals and the first model to feature etching stickers and 'jewel' stickers (foil stickers with a hard plastic front).
Only regular stickers, no waterslides, which is disappointing considering the cost.
It is a near flawless experience, it's easy, the instructions are clear, you won't struggle to understand what goes where or how and I had no frustrations during the process, except one, which is that one of the pre-mold skirt parts just snapped immediately as soon as I put the slightest bit of pressure on it, which it is objectively supposed to handle, since it's meant to move.
This is the first time out of nearly a hundred kits where user error was not involved, it was simply a brittle and defective part. A rare occurence, I hope.
This is my second Perfect Grade and I have to admit that I actually enjoyed the 2002 Mk-II more. I chalk this up to the PGU being a little too effortless to build, whereas with the Mk-II I struggled a little, which ironically made for a more satisfying result. It's no secret that a part of being a human is that we flourish in adversity.
Bandai writes that they made an effort to have the core block not be an obstruction to the articulation and.... it's not really true.
While they downsized the block/fighter and added extensions that serve as a pseudo ab-crunch and a lifting chest, this thing doesn't bend or tilt in any convincing way. Neither do most PG's, but MG's are much further along in articulation.
The limbs and shoulders are good, there's a waist gimmick that I don't really understand the purpose of, but the main feature of this model kit isn't its good range of movement, it's the fact that it's well balanced and very sturdy. Until you lift it by the chest and the bottom half falls off. I don't understand why it doesn't have a locking feature.
Arms and legs are pre-molded, so I have no idea how well they'll hold up. Right now it's better than my screwed together Mk-II but in the future it might become a sloppy mess.
The LED feature is awkward and the presets are unnecessarily varied with different colors. Whatever happened to an on/off switch??
Gun, 2 swords and a board (with magnetic attachment!).
No bazooka, but you get a 3rd beam saber with an LED, which looks nice but is unstable and flickers. The gimmick where you put it in the backpack to light up the verniers is weak however, a great idea but not enough power.
You get both a core block and fighter. You get 4 pairs of fixed hands all with a wrist hinge, no articulated fingers which is a departure from the PG articulated fingers. It's sturdier and looks better, but it's obviously a limitation.
Bandai themselves state that this is the culmination of 40 years of design and it's a great product, but it has its unwelcome annoyances, if you care about the price. As an experience though, you'll enjoy this immensely.
As a working model, I can't complain. It's fun to open hatches and it stands just fine. I think they did a good job on the details, but I prefer it without all the stickers, both decals and shiny jewel ones, I think they detract and make it look busy. I may change my mind at some point and add some.