Superior Defender Gundam (part 2):

Action Defender Combination Sets

After a long delay, I'm finally getting to the second of my Superior Defender Gundam Force figure reviews. This time its the RX-78 and G Fighter set and the Guncannon and Guntank sets. I have been looking forward to these sets more than just about any figure I have purchased recently. Not only do they represent the core "cast" of the original Mobile Suit Gundam show; they are also the first figures that I've seen that have a working core block system. [The core block system from the first Gundam cartoon was a system where the mobile suit was controlled from a jet that folded up and became part of the torso.] Thankfully, the sets do not disappoint.

Packaging - 8/10

The packaging for the box sets take the designs from the carded figures and step them up a notch. The same circular lightning pattern from the cards is repeated on the front and sides while the other panels use the same pallet without a real pattern. The large window in the front gives a excellent view of the figures and parts and is nicely accented by the SD logo and images of the completed figures and the figure names. one side panel is devoted to the figures in that set while the other shows the possible combinations using both sets. But it is the rear and top panels that really sell the packaging. Unlike the generic backers of the carded figures, both box sets include multiple images of the interchangeability of the various parts as well as original artwork. Both additions improve the boxes quite a bit over the individual cards.

Sculpting - Gundam & G-Fighter 5/10, Guntank & Guncannon 7/10

The sculpting on these figures is very well done. They managed to include all of the major details of each character and shrink them into the super deformed style. The biggest weakness they have is the holes for the screws to assemble the figures. The Guntank turned out the best of the four since there are only three screws visible on the back and four on the bottom. But to be honest, it is rather hard to tell a super deformed version of the Guntank from the normal version since it doesn't have any legs or normal arms. The Guncannon sculpt also turned out well but has over twenty screws visible throughout the figure. Most of those are on the back of the figure which I can accept. But for some reason the feet, which are symmetrical any ways, are assembled and painted so that the holes for the screws all face outward. I have mixed feelings on the G-Fighter. The execution is actually on par or better than the Guntank but the effect that works for the figures does not for the G-Fighter. The overall effect of the deformed G-Fighter simply reminds me of a pointy brick. The Gundam's sculpt is my least favorite. The sculpt is actually well done but once again is done in by the preponderance of holes in it for the fasteners. There are actually fewer visible screws here than on the Guncannon but the fact that majority of the figure is plain white seems to amplify the effect. (And once again, screws that could have been on the insides of the feet are left on the outsides where they are more visible.)

Paint - 6/10

There isn't a lot of painting done on these figures, but they are all done near to perfection. The G-Fighter and Guntank both come out looking great. Both benefit from retaining a good balance of contrasting colors. The Guncannon also looks good if you aren't put off by the fact that the original design was mostly red to begin with. The Gundam figure looks good from the front, but about three quarters of the rear of the figure is plain white and the rest is the gray of the backpack. The color that should be there is obscured by the backpack. Gundam also has the only significant paint defect of the four. Although it is only a small defect, the yellow for the back of the left eye slopped onto the black area. Still, it is only a very small imperfection which is barely noticeable. The Gundam and Guncannon figures also include painted on markings. The Gundam has "EFSF" on its right shoulder and the Guncannon has "108" on the left side of its chest, left shin and right foot. Unfortunately the markings on the shin are broken up by the panel seam so that is looks more like 1118 than 108.

Articulation - 9/10

For such squat figures, these have a remarkable amount of articulation. The Gundam figure has seventeen points of articulation:
  • ball jointed ankles
  • rotating and hinged hips
  • rotating neck
  • rotating and hinged shoulders
  • rotating biceps
  • hinged elbow
  • and rotating wrists
The Guncannon adds four points with the moveable shoulder weapons and moveable thrusters in its backpack. The Guntank has the same arm articulation as the other three as well as moving shoulder cannon barrels and rotating neck. The head can only move a tiny bit though due to the shoulder cannons. The G-Fighter's cannons rotate up and down independently and the pair can be turned around to the rear to form the G-Bull. But the impressive part is that the treads on both the G-Fighter and Guntank work! The treads are made of soft rubber and roll freely across the independently mounted wheels; six for the G-Fighter and fourteen on the Guntank.

Accessories - 9/10

Both sets give you everything you would want for accessories. For the Guntank & Guncannon set you get two core fighters, the Guncannon's beam rifle, and a pair of missile pods to replace the Guncannon's shoulder cannons. The Gundam & G-Fighter set comes with two beam swords with removable hilts, two extra beam saber hilts, the beam rifle, bazooka, two gundam shields and clips to attach the shields in G-Armor mode and a single handle to hold a shield in the left hand. The weapons are nicely sculpted with the important parts like the shields and the beam rifle sensors painted. but the real standouts are the core fighters. Each is painted with four colors and they transform from jet to core block form by folding in the wings, retracting the nose and folding the front under. The only things that it doesn't do is retract the tail fin or pop out the missile launchers.

Action Feature - 8/10

Interchangeability is the word of the day here. Each of the three mobile suits can come apart at the waist to separate into top and bottom modules and removable core fighter. The connection is the same for all three so you can mix and match parts between the three too. The G-Fighter components are also fully interchangeable. You can form four of the five modes. The only one it can not form is the G-Sky EZ mode. (attaching a core fighter to the rear section without the use of the Gundam's legs) But since that wasn't an official mode anyway, I guess that is an acceptable compromise. But the G-Fighter components do have a couple of short falls. The first is that the front and back do not connect as securely as I would like. There is a tab on the top of the rear component that the front section connects and then the tread section plugs into the bottom of both to keep them in place. It works all right for now. But I suspect that once the figure gets a bit of play wear, it may tend to fall apart. The connections to the Gundam figure are not much better. The front section has a tab on the bottom that plugs into the top of the backpack of the Gundam. The rear section has a piece inside with a peg that plugs into a hole on the bottom of the front of the Gundam's hips. This connection is fairly secure and is helped by the large feet being stuck inside, but again, there could be problems if the peg gets worn down. One other addition I would have liked to have seen would be to make the parts work with the Guncannon figure. I understand why they couldn't work with the Guntank since the treads and shoulder cannons couldn't fit. But the simple addition of the peg hole in the legs of the Guncannon would have allowed it to combine with the rear portion of the G-Fighter components to form either the G-Sky or Gundam-Sky (or Guncannon-Sky in this case I guess). However, since the top and bottom portions of the three figures are interchangeable, you can use the legs of the Gundam figure to form a Guncannon Sky or even a Guntank Sky mode. But the Gundam's legs can only be connected to the rear of the G-Fighter with the toes facing up. Normally that isn't a problem. But if you want to form the Gundam Sky or G-Sky the core fighter and top section has to be attached to the legs backwards. So if you detach the Gundam from the Gundam Sky, it comes out looking like it need serious chiropractic work. The final minor quibble I have is that the core fighter attaches to the lower section of each figure but there is no mechanism to attach it to the top. As a result, in G-Bull mode, the core fighter simply rattles around and can fall out. Still, the problems are generally minor, and this is still an improvement over the MSIA version of the same mobile suits.

Value - 9/10

These were selling for between $12 and $15. for that price you are getting the equivalent of two excellent basic figures which is just about right. But the mix and match nature of all four figures makes it feel as if you are getting a multitude of figures for that price. Plus, for fans of the first Gundam series it is nice to get the entire White Base fleet in the two sets.

Happy Hunting:

And there's the rub as they say. These are great figures but seem to be quite difficult to find. I picked both sets up from Target here in Madison, WI. But now it seems that the line is being dropped at Target and even Walmart seems to have phased the line out of the layouts for their smaller stores. You may still be able to find them at larger Target stores or on clearance. Otherwise, Toys R Us seems to be the only major retailer still supporting the line.