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Bandai's Master Grade Griffon from Patlabor

By Dominic Handl - images & text © 2003

Scale: 1/35 - About 11"/ 27.9 cm tall when completed.
Parts: 156 injection-molded styrene plus 5 rubber sleeves.
Instructions: 19 page instruction booklet
Decals: 1 sheet of transfers
Molding Quality: 10
Detail: 10 - very sharp
Accuracy: 9+- As close to the original as possible
Fit: 10
Ease: Took 1 month to assemble.
MSRP: ¥ 3500 JPY (~$29.63 USD/ $41.54 CAN/ € 26.67 EUR) available from HobbyLink Japan
Overall Rating: Its a good kit, well made to the last detail. I would highly recommend this kit.

The Patlabor series first aired on TV in the 90's, produced by Sunrise. Bandai released a line of models from the show in 1/60 scale. Among them was the Griffon Labor, but only as a "flight type". These were pretty much the same size as the 1/144 scale Gundam and other models Bandai produces.

[Click to enlarge]

[Click to enlarge]

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^ Rear view

Now Bandai has released this model again as a MasterGrade (MG) model in 1/35 scale. This model is the second type of the Griffon to be released -the aqua type with an aqua propulsion unit, instead of wings, on its back.

The Kit

I took one look inside the box and it blew my mind to see how much detail is provided. The kit is comprised of 156 pieces on nine sprues, all plastic, plus one sprue of poly-caps and five rubber sleeves for the joints. there are also one transfer decal sheet, a 19 page instruction booklet and two bags of screws. The amount of detail this kit had presented me with a challenge.

Pre-Painting and Detailing

I noticed some yellow pieces with the model that I know weren't right, not for a model of this type. So, I took my steel-colored paint marker and touched up the boosters and the intakes a bit. It looked much better. Even if the model was molded in its base color, I put on a touch of grey color, also with a grey paint marker.


Models of this type are usually made in sub-assemblies first. Then everything is put together. To do this, I took each piece off the sprues using a pair of sprue cutters. Then I used a hobby knife to scrape off the remaining flash from the pieces. I then put them into plastic bags which I labeled according to each sub-assembly.

Building the Beast

This is a beast, no doubt about it. The way this model was designed, the inner skeleton had to be done first. Then, the outer shell can be put on. I started at the bottom and worked my way up.

The Legs- These have 14 pieces for the inner skeleton alone. The feet are one big piece which house the ankle joint. The heels are connected to this part. The shins are then screwed into place, with the lower knee joint. Rubber sleeves go over the knee joints and the thighs are joined to the assembly. The outer shell of the legs and thighs can then be put on. The rubber sleeves for the hip joints are added last. I thought this “boot like” appearance on the legs looked pretty neat.

The Lower Body- This assembly connects to the hip joints. Its more like a "pelvis" section. The ball joints are housed within the mechanism. I screwed those together and placed them in the pelvis armor. ThenI put the rear skirt armor on.

The Arms- There are 13 pieces to the skeleton on this assembly. Only two screws are used for the elbow joints. On one side, the wrist joints are connected. Before the shoulders can be connected, a rubber sleeves go over the elbows. After that is done, I connected the biceps to the shoulders. I put the outer shell on. Finally, two pieces facing inward are put on and the larger piece is placed on top.

The Main Body- This assembly has about 23 pieces to it. The cockpit module is housed within this part. I did that first. I put the shoulder joints on and then put the shoulders in place. I then put on the hatch pivoting arms. The neck joint rests on top of this part - I put that together and put it aside for later. I next put the outer shell onto the torso and the last rubber sleeve onto the lower back. Then I put the lower back piece on. The belly armor had two separate pieces, an upper and lower half. I put these two together and closed the belly of the beast.

The Backpack- This is the aqua unit. It has 13 pieces to it. The pivoting mechanism for the propulsion system had to be done first. This is housed in the center unit. The sub-thrusters were assembled and the and outer plate screwed on. I put the outer covering in place after that. Next I built the main thrusters. First the top and bottom halves have to be joined together. Then the boosters go on the bottom. The intakes go on the top. Next, the inboard covers are put on. On the sides are vents. Then the outboard covers are fitted. After that, I joined the completed propulsion units to the center unit.

The Head- This is the last part. It has 8 pieces. The assembly is very straightforward. I put the whole thing aside after it was assembled.

Final Assembly

It was time to unleash the beast. I put everything together. I connected the hips to the pelvis joints, the shoulders to the main body, the neck joint to the hatch piece and then put the rubber collar on. This is the first time I seen a model of this type with a collar that housed the whole neck joint. I put the backpack on to its back. Then I put the head and the hands on. The feet are designed to extend outward, so I tried doing that - then I moved them back in. I did a variety of poses with the model just to see what it can do. It can even do a “thumbs up” signal. I thought that was pretty neat.


This was the best Patlabor model I've ever done, not at all like the one I did back in the 90's. The articulation is better and it's one slick piece of engineering. This is not the last Patlabor model I will do!

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the reviewer.
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This page copyright © 2003 Starship Modeler™. Last updated on 21 August 2003.