Saturday is the premier of a new Mobile Suit Gundam show on Cartoon Network which can only
mean one thing, new MSIA figures. The first figures are hitting the shelves now and among
them is the Buster Gundam. Since I haven't seen the show yet so I know nothing of the story
behind the figure. But from the looks of it, Buster Gundam appears to be the Gundam Seed's
answer to Gundam Wing's Heavy Arms. That is to say, the figure has no melee weapons, opting
instead for some serious firepower.
Packaging - 6/10The Gundam Seed figures get the same packaging as the other figures. The card is fairly basic but the figure and parts are nicely displayed in the large bubble. The figure isn't particularly cleverly displayed, it is just placed in a neutral standing pose in the center of the card with all of the parts spread out around it. A sticker with the logo for the series is applied to the front of the bubble at the top while the insert at the bottom gives the name of the Mobile Suit. The card has a bright red spot, like a light source centered behind the figure which illuminates various technology based images before fading to black around the edges of the card. The back of the card has images of the first basic and deluxe waves of Gundam Seed figures, a promotional image of the Aile Strike Gundam with two of the characters from the series and a brief introduction to the series. The back is functional though not very informative and the fact that for some reason they used the image of the Earth with the Gundam Fight ring around it from Mobile Fighter G Gundam behind the story write-up suggests that they didn't put a whole lot of effort into the packaging.
Sculpting - 7/10These aren't the type of figures that amaze people with their lifelike details, they are based on a cartoon after all. But Bandai really does put a lot of effort into each of these figures. Buster is a brand new sculpt and like most of the MSIA sculpts, strikes a nice balance between providing enough detail to avoid looking plain when viewed closely but still appearing fairly clean and simple when viewed from further away. It also does a decent job of incorporating the articulation, but that is easier to on a mechanical figure than an organic one. I can't say how the sculpt compares to the show's artwork but the proportions match up nicely to the Strike Gundam.
Paint - 7/10The Paint work of the figure itself is very well done but they seem to have skimped on the weapons. Even the smallest of painted details are cleanly done such as the thrusters on the bottoms of the feet or the two colors of paint used on the vents on the back of the legs. Even the eyes, which are extremely small and set back into the head turned out great. They even painted the individual missiles in the shoulders. Which makes the fact that the only paint applied to either gun was a somewhat poorly applied bit of green to the sight of the beam rifle all the more disappointing, doubly so since the guns seem to be so important to the figure.
Articulation - 8/10Buster Gundam is articulated as follows:
Accessories - 4/10Buster Gundam comes with a large beam rifle, a bazooka, two projectiles to fire from the bazooka, and three sets of hands. The three sets of hands are closed fists, grasping hands and a set with separate trigger fingers. Both the beam rifle and bazooka are comprised of a main barrel with a green stock that can slide up and down along the length of the barrel and a folding handle. The two projectiles can be loaded into the bazooka and fired using a button on the bottom of the barrel. The feature doesn't work well. Actually, it doesn't work at all. On mine the projectile doesn't even make it out of the barrel. You can also combine the two weapons into either a really big bazooka or a really long rifle. The bazooka looks pretty good on its own and when used as the barrel of the combined weapon. The lack of a traditional grip, with only two grips on the sides instead, on the rifle means that it doesn't make a very convincing rifle either on its own or when combined to the bazooka. It only looks right when attached to the stabilizer.
Value - 7/10The deluxe Gundam figures usually run between $9 and $10 at most discount retailers like Kmart or Target. For that price you are getting a great figure. But you are also paying about $3 more than a basic MSIA figure due largely to the missile firing action that doesn't work. I actually got both the Buster and Launcher Strike Gundams for about a dollar less since Target hadn't entered the price into their computer system yet. But this isn't a figure that is worth paying a premium for online unless you just have to have it now.
Happy Hunting:I found the Launcher Strike and Buster Gundams at Target on the east side of Madison, WI. Gundam Seed figures are also starting to show up at Kmart stores. If you want an online option, Big Bad Toy Store has the deluxe figures for $10 each and flat rate shipping of $4.99. If you buy several items to combine shipping, their prices become fairly competitive even with the discount chains and their service is excellent.