Gundam Seed: Duel Gundam

Good news Gundamphiles, the new Gundam Seed basic figures are out, sort of. I found a single Duel Gundam figure at Toys R Us about a week ago. I would think that that means the others are out there as well. But in the mean time, here a peak at what's to come.

Packaging - 6/10

The 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. The logo for the series is on the top of the card. The insert at the bottom that gives the name of the Mobile Suit has been changed. Rather than the small insert that Bandai has been using throughout most of the life of the line, there is a larger insert that forms a border around the bubble, similar to the recent battle scared MSIA figures. 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 - 4/10

The sculpting is stronger than the score here might suggest. The normal details for a MSIA figure are all here like the panel lines and thruster details. I may be more inclined to increase the score if I had a better idea what the Duel Gundam was supposed to look like. But there are several weak points. The first is a pair of rather large mold marks on the back of the legs. The articulation is not particularly well camoflaged. The elbow joints in particular stick out. The final thing I find to be rather off putting is the openness of the elbows. you ca see a great deal of daylight through the elbow joint. While the design for the elbows on the Duel Gundam aren't any different than those of other recent figures, the effect here is much greater due to the fairly slender sculpt of the arms. Even more annoying for me is that if you look at the peg holes on the back of the arms where the shield can be attached, you can see right through the arm.

Paint - 5/10

Obviously this is not the most colorful mobile suit design but the real worrisome thing is slipping quality control. The lines for the paint here are sloppy. The paint applications are often very small areas on the Duel Gundam figure which makes the problem seem worse. There is also at least one area on my figure where the paint wasn't fully applied and the underling color is bleeding through. Still, all of these things are small. They are only really noticeable if viewed under close scrutiny.

Articulation - 9/10

This may be one of the best MSIA figures to date in this category. Duel Gundam has 30 points of articulation:
  • double ball jointed ankles
  • double jointed knees
  • ball jointed hips
  • rotating waist
  • hinged joint where the shoulders attact to the torso
  • ball jointed shoulers
  • rotating bicep
  • double jointed hinged elbows
  • ball jointed wrists
  • rotating shoulder armor
  • hinged side panels on the shoulder armor
  • ball jointed neck
  • rotating mounts for the beam saber hilts on the backpack
But beyond just the number of points of articulation, is the usefullness and design of the articulation. The waist joint doesn't offer more than a few degrees of movement, but all of the other joints are almost completely unrestricted. I'm also impressed with the way they designed the knee joints. There is one hinged joint for each knee and then the joint is attached to the lower leg with a ball joint. That gives the lower leg a few degrees of lateral rotation and allows the same movement as a second hinge joint, like the elbows, while being far less noticeable. The new hinged shoulder joint is also nice to allow the shoulder to move the entire arm forward up to about 20 degrees. This makes holding a gun in both hands across the chest a little easier and look more natural.

Accessories - 4/10

This is a basic figure, and this is one category where that fact really shows through. There are four weapons and two extra sets of hands included. For any other line, that would be impressive. For the MSIA line, that is pretty much just the default minimum. The four weapons include two beam sabers with removable blades (the figure is packaged with the hilts stored on the backpack), a recolored version of the shield that comes with the Strike Gundam, and a rifle. The hands are the standard grasping and grasping with trigger fingers. The figure has a set of closed fists. The shield is actually fairly impressive in design but falls a bit short on functionality. It is designed to either be held in the hand or clipped to the back of the forearm. Unfortunately the peg to attach it to the fore arm is too short and the shoulder armor is too large so it constantly pops off and the handle to hold it in the hand is too small so it can't be held securely. Only by using both the handle and the clip was I able to get the shield to stay in place for any sort of pose. The rifle is a new sculpt and does look good, but could use some paint details besides the green targeting sensor to break up the large grey areas. As it stands now, it is a bit of a big grey lump.

Value - 5/10

The basic Gundam MSIA figures usually run between $6 and $8. For $6, this isn't a bad figure. But since we will likly see a version of the Duel Gundam with the assault shroud sometime in the near future, the casual collector or those who are running short on space may be better off waiting. But for the impatient or those with money to burn or holes in their shelves, the Duel Gundam is still a decent figure, just not a stand out.

Happy Hunting:

I stumbled upon this lone figure at Toys R Us in Madison WI about 2 weeks ago. I've yet to see any of the other basic Gundam Seed figures anywhere. They should start showing up everywhere in the near future as the existing stock of figures dwindles. In the meantime, sit back and bid your time until Saturday and the next episode of Gundam Seed on Cartoon Network. Then you can want the new figures even more.