More Superior Defender Gundam Force figures? I thought this line died over a year ago. Okay, so it did die at retail a year
ago, but it seems that Bandai had quite a few items coming down the pipeline before the plug was pulled. I finally managed
to track down the final three such figures: Mercurius, Vayeate and Cobramaru. So without further ado, onto the review.
Packaging - Cobramaru 4/10First, I should explain that I didn't give Mercurius or Vayeate a score because I purchased them used. Cobramaru is a return to the rather generic packaging that so many of the SD Gundam figures had. The figure is packaged in a sculpted bubble with the tail and boomerangs to the sides. Due to the size of the figure and the tail, there is very little room to spare inside. The insert at the bottom provides the logo, character's name and several images of the character. The instructions are also printed on the bottom and then folded up. The "unique action feature included" insert is still present in the upper left corner of the bubble despite the fact that there really isn't an action feature. And once again Bandai reused an old card back which doesn't even show any of the later figures. I don't mind generic cards, but it should at least include the figures in that wave.
Sculpting - 9/10Both Mercurius and Vayeate use the same body and cape as the Tallgeese figure with a new head and shoulder pads. As with the Tallgeese, it is a nice translation of the original Tallgeese design from Gundam Wing to a super deformed figure that retains most of the details. The two also share the same head sculpt with different visors and antennae. Add the back pack with two turbines for the Vayeate and an arc of the shield generators for the Mercurius and the figures are complete. Considering how much of these figures are recycled, they turned out quite well and are fairly distinct.
The sculpting on Cobramaru is a real treat. First of course you have the cobra portion, including the head, the hood which covers the figure's back and a long tail. All of the detail from the anime was included and it can be removed as well. Once removed, you have a fully sculpted figure which is equally well sculpted. The only drawback is that like all of the SD Gundam figures, there are quite a few screw holes visible on the back of the figure and the sides of the feet.
Paint - Cobramaru 3/10, others 5/10The paint work on all three figures is well done for what little there is. All three figures have the most important details painted, but many of the small details were left unpainted. For the Mercurius and Vayeate, that means mostly small things such as the circles on the sides of the ankles or the bolts that stick out of the chest armor and the side skirt armor. But for Cobramaru, they took considerable shortcuts. To start with, the blue trim and grey under side of the tail of the cobra are all left in the purple color of the plastic save for the end of the tail. The figure itself has even more areas in need of paint. The arms, fists, legs and feet were left completely untouched save for the forearm guards. That is silly since all those areas are exposed even when the cobra hood is attached. The body and head did receive more attention, but they are mostly covered by the cobra parts. Painting even just the legs and arms would have made a huge difference in the look of the figure.
Articulation - Mercurius and Vayeate 10/10 Cobramaru 7/10Since both Mercurius and Vayeate share the same body as Tallgeese, it should be no surprise that they are just as well articulated.
Accessories - Cobramaru & Vayeate 5/10, Mercurius 6/10Cobramaru comes with four accessories, the two removable swords from the head and the two boomerangs from the sides of the cobra hood. The boomerangs are nice and can store securely. But the swords are a disappointment. In the show, once the swords were removed the handle folded down. The toy doesn't do that. The result is a sword that is pretty unusable and downright silly looking. Improving the swords and including his blow gun would have been nice, but given the complexity of the figure itself, these are minor corners to have cut. Mercurius comes with the shield from the show. When the electrode on the shield is turned, three electric bolts come out of the edge of the shield. Vayeate has the wand that he carries in the show. It is nicely sculpted, but the turbine in it lacks paint. The fact that it is cast in softer plastic means that it is prone to warping.
Value - 8/10 (for retail price) 4/10 (for secondary market prices)All three of these figures are basic SD Gundam figures and would have retailed for $6 to $7. But there isn't much chance of finding them for that price. Much of the SD Gundam line has been showing up at clearance chain stores where the basic figures were just $4 each. All three figures would be an excellent buy at that price. But if you are buying these on the secondary market you can probably expect to pay at least $10 to $15 each.
Happy Hunting:Finding these figures isn't easy. I found both the Mercurius and Vayeate in a loose lot of SD Gundam figures on eBay. While they aren't common there, they can be found. A few of these later figures also made it to Toys R Us shelves as early as last year, but finding them there now is a long shot. As I mentioned in my review of the box sets, Big Lots stores have been getting a lot of the later SD Gundam products for the holiday season as well. So far, I haven't seen or heard of these three showing up there, but there is a strong possibility of them showing up there. But, if like myself you have more money than patience then I did find a web store with some of the later figures in stock. Action Figures by Go Figure.com I purchased Cobramaru from their site and was happy with the service, but since then the price doubled. Their prices look like they can fluctuate quite a bit. (Mercurius and Vayeate are listed as originally selling for $45 and now marked down to $15.) So even if you are willing to wait the prices may drop again.