It's hard to believe that it has been almost four months since my last Gundam review. Well with the release of Gundam Seed
Destiny, the sequel to the Gundam Seed series, on DVD, it's high time I check out some more of the Mobile Suit in Action
figures from the series. So tonight I check out the bad guys, the ZGMF-X31S Abyss, the ZGMF-X88S Gaia and ZGMF-X24S Chaos
Gundams. Since we never got a set of the Forbidden, Raider and Calamity Gundams from Gundam Seed, it is nice to get figures
of what is essentially their counterparts in the new series. There are a couple versions of these figures available
already. I'll be covering the regular versions of the Chaos and Abyss Gundams, the red repaint of the Gaia Gundam and the
three pack of all three in their deactive modes.
Packaging - 9/10The window boxes used for the MSIA figures strike a wonderful balance of simplicity, functionality and visual appeal. The individual figures come in a box measuring about 6.25 inches by 7 inches. A large window on the front gives a clear view of the figure and accessories against a simple blue striped background. The bright silver and red used for the name has a nice metallic look which is balanced by the head shot of the suits pilot above it. The back of each box has a large CG image of the suit in action as well as a few smaller photos the actual toy. The three pack is quite similar. The box is obviously wider to fit all three figures. Rather than cram all three pilots' head shots on the front, the space has the symbol for the O.M.N.I. forces. The back of the box still has the photos of the toys but the CG image is replaced by an image of the three pilots in front of their respective suits. In addition to looking good, the MSIA boxes are extremely collector friendly. The boxes can be opened and the toy removed just by cutting a few bits of tape. And they can be packed back up just as easily.
Sculpting - Gaia 8/10, others 9/10All three of these are brand new of course and turned out well, particularly for figures which transform. The Chaos Gundam is my favorite of the three. It has the bulkier body design from the anime complete with the huge weapon pods on the back. The armor on the sides of the waist and the spike on the toes could stand to be a bit smaller though I don't know that they are particularly inaccurate. It's transformation is the simplest of the three. The nose cone that hangs on the back flips forward to rest behind the head. The legs form a pair of claws with the toes forming one half and the other half swinging out from the shins. It's not terribly impressive, but it works.
The Abyss has a nice body. I also like the way the knee armor covers the knee joints. The elbow joints could stand to be improved. As with so many of the recent MSIA figures, you can see straight through the joints. The round design of the arms which suddenly change to the thinner, boxy elbow joints tend to draw attention to the area. I was concerned with how they were going to pull off the weapon pod/shield things on his shoulders and still leave room to transform. The solution, a small panel inside each one which can flip outward when needed and fold inward for extra space, isn't perfect. But it is a nice compromise. The transformation to mobile armor mode is just slightly more involved than that of the Chaos Gundam. The two shoulder mounted shells come together just above the head. Two square pegs under the cockpit on the back plug into the shells to keep them in place. The toes can be pointed and the large laser cannons rotated to face forward. The lance can be attached to the figure in mobile armor mode as well, but it requires an additional piece. The lance slides through a hole in the mounting block which then plugs into the front of the hips. The need for an additional piece is unfortunate, but largely unavoidable. The mounting block can always just be left on the lance without have too adverse an affect on the appearance.
The Gaia is the most intricate of the three sculpts. The limbs are much slimmer than on the other two, particularly the legs. There are more gaps in the limbs to accommodate the extra articulation needed for the transformation and to increase the range of motion of some of the joints. But the extra articulation doesn't adversely affect the overall look of the figure much. The transformation to mobile armor mode is more involved than either of the other two figures, but still fairly intuitive. The arms become the front legs by removing the hands and flipping the mobile armor feet forward. The head turns around and animal form head flips forward to cover it. The legs bend forward and the ankles fold backward to form the hind legs. The two wings on the back can fold forward and spread out to the sides. I wish they had devised a means of accomplishing the transformation without removing the hands since it increases the chances of them being lost. But the Gaia Gundam does at least have means of storing the other accessories in its mobile armor mode without any additional parts needed.
Paint - Abyss & Gaia 9/10, others 8/10The paint work for the Mobile Suit in Action figures is generally very well done. These are no different. I did notice a few minor problems on the deactive mode figures. The color scheme for the Abyss is my favorite of the six. The dark blue of the body contrasts well with the light blue and grays of the limbs and weapon pods. The Chaos Gundam has a green on green paint scheme that is probably more appropriate for a military weapon. But the particular shades combined with the satin finish gives the figure a slightly dull appearance. The Gaia Gundam figure I bought is actually the later "Andrew Waldfeld" red repaint. There is also the original black version available, but it is getting hard to find at a reasonable price. The deactive mode figures are all painted in shades of gray. It gives them a sort of statuesque appearance fitting for an inactive suit. But they look a little too dull in action poses.
Articulation - Gaia Gundam 10/10, others 9/10The Chaos and Abyss Gundams have the standard MSIA articulation:
The Chaos Gundam has the cockpit which flips forward on a set of double hinges. It also has a small section which slides into the rest of the cockpit section to reveal a laser cannon. And then there are the leg claws. The spikes on the toes are hinged to form one half of the talons. The other half is formed by a section of the shins which are hinged at the bottom near the ankle as well as having another hinged spike at the top.
The Gaia Gundam is packed with extra articulation. It has all the usual articulation with several of the joints such as the knees having a significantly increased range of motion. It is also the only one of the three which has the extra hinge joint in the torso at each shoulder that has become fairly common on newer MSIA figures. The feet are a very unique design. The ankles are hinged to allow them to flip up behind the calves. The front halves of the feet are hinged where they connect to the ankles and again at the toes. There is an additional hinge joint in each upper leg just below the hips. The forearms are quite unique as well. The interior of the forearms is hinged near the elbow. For the transformation, the entire interior is pulled out. After the hands are removed the center section rotates one hundred and eighty degrees so that the paw/foot is pointed toward the wrist. Once transformed, the front feet still have a hinge joint at the ankle. They even include a second, hinge joint for the large shoulder armor so that it doesn't hinder the arm movement. The head/cockpit for the mobile armor mode is hinged to flip forward. The wings are double jointed allowing them to rotate into an upright position and hinged to fold out to the sides. Even the tail and rear skirt armor are articulated to allow some movement. With all that articulation packed into such a small figure, loose joints could be a nightmare. But neither of the Gaia figures I have suffer from that problem. The joints aren't extremely tight, but they seem to be able to support the weight of the figure without a problem. But with a figure like this, it makes me wonder what Bandai is going to do to top themselves next, opening cockpits? In scale articulated pilots?
Accessories - Abyss 5/10, Chaos & Gaia 9/10The Gaia has a large rifle, shield, two beam sabers with removable blades, two beam blades for the wings and three sets of hands. The rifle is too large as is often the case with the MSIA figures. But it looks sharp and it can be stored on either shoulder in mobile armor mode. The shield is a far more reasonable size. But unlike most MSIA shields, it can't be attached to the figure's arm. It has to be held in its hand. The handle gives you some options for poses, but on one of my figures (the red Andrew Waldfeld version) the handle is prone to popping off. Like the rifle, the shield can be stored when in mobile armor mode. The beam sabers are nothing special. But they did include a spot to store the handles on the side skirt armor. The beams along the leading edge of the wings come already attached to the wings, but they can be removed. The hands are the usual assortment: closed fists, grasping and a pair to hold guns. The Gaia doesn't have the arsenal that some MSIA figures have, but I can't think of anything from the anime that it is missing.
The Chaos Gundam has another large rifle, a shield, two beam sabers, two weapon pods and three sets of hands. The rifle is huge. It's actually a hair longer than even the Gaia's rifle. It looks impressive, if a bit unruly. But unfortunately there is no place to store it or the shield. (Of course, since the hands are useable in both mobile suit and mobile armor modes, storage isn't really necessary.) The shield is oversized as well, but still a manageable size. It has a handle to hold onto it, or it can attach to the figure's forearms. The beam sabers' blades can be removed and the hilts stored on the waist armor just like the Gaia. But the Chaos Gundam's main weapons are the two large weapon pods. They attach to the body off of two struts coming off the figure's back. The can also be removed and operated remotely. Each weapon pod has both a retractable laser and a missile hatch that can be opened. The thruster on the back is even mounted on a ball joint so that it can be positioned. Finally there are the usual three sets of hands: fists, grasping and ones to hold the rifle.
The Abyss has the least accessories of the three, mainly because most of its weapons are built-in. It's only weapon is its lance/axe. It consists of four pieces: the staff, the axe head, a decorative tip and the beam blade tip. Then there is the mounting block which is used to connect the staff to the Abyss in mobile armor mode. Finally there are the two sets of hands. The Abyss only includes fists and grasping hands. Sine it has no gun, there is no need for a set of hands to hold one. A single weapon and just two sets of hands seems a bit light for a Mobile Suit in Action figure. While there really aren't any other weapons that I would have wanted, the third set of hands would have been nice. Or better yet, they could have included a clear base to support the figure in mobile armor mode.
Value - 7/10The retail price on the Gaia, Chaos and Abyss is about 1,500 Yen, or around $13 US. I'm surprised that the price wasn't higher given that the figures all transform. Of course, since we don't live in Japan you can expect to pay closer to $18 to $20 each. That's still not a bad deal. But it sure makes ordering more than a few figures at a time rather pricey. Unfortunately the box set of the three deactive mode repaints isn't any cheaper.
Happy Hunting:I ordered most of these figures from Japan Toys.com late last year. (Yes, they've been sitting around that long.) The red repaint of the Gaia Gundam was a later release which I ordered from Big Bad Toy Store. Unfortunately they are getting to be harder to track down. And now with Gundam Seed being released on DVD here in the US, demand is likely to be even higher.