Superior Defender Gundam (part 3):

Mobile Fighter G Gundam figures

SD Gundam review number three... this time it is the the Mobile Fighter G Gundam characters. There are three G Gundam characters in the SD Gundam line: Shining Gundam, Burning Gundam and Master Gundam. The Burning and Master Gundams are also both available in their gold Hyper- modes in a two pack. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like any of the other characters are going to get the SD treatment since characters like the rest of the Shuffle Alliance or the various enemy suits would have made fairly interesting figures. Still, what is more important is what we do have. And what we did get is actually pretty good.

Packaging - carded 6/10, box set 4/10

Different figures, same packaging. The three carded figures all came on the same card as the first series of figures. The card is reasonably well done though fairly dark since the brightest colors are located directly behind the figure and therefore almost completely obscured. The card design does at least make more sense in one aspect, the image of Burning Gundam in the lower right corner makes more sense for characters that originated in that series. But that is more of a case of the blind squirrel finding a nut eventually than a planned improvement. The back of the card is still the same as well which means it has no information or even a picture of these figures. The bubble does have some texture to it as well as two inserts. But the inserts are not terribly impressive. The name insert is small and the insert at the top indicates that there is an action feature, but doesn't really say what it is. (The Burning and Master Gundams don't even mention that they light up!)

The box set is especially dissappointing. The packaging is actually quite a step up from the carded figures. The graphics are generally brighter since it doesn't have the dark area that is on the top of all of the cards. The reuse of the Burning Gundam image works well since he is part of the set. And rather than the generic backs that the cards have, the box set has actually pictures of the figures and their action features. So why the low score? The packaging does nothing to sell the figures. The window on the front doesn't even come close to allowing enough light in to show off the figures properly. The picture I took looks dark but that is just the way the figures look in the box. Personally, I have walked past this set of figures time and time again and never gave them a second look because the figures just didn't stand out. I was shocked when I opened them up and found out how much better they looked. Judging by the stacks of these sets clogging the shelves, it seems safe to say that others have been unimpressed as well.

Sculpting - Shining 4/10, Burning & Master 8/10

Shining Gundam is a case of a decent sculpt that comes up short in a few key areas. The body is excellent as are the legs and for the most part the arms as well. I'm a little put off by the size of the arm guards. I would have preferred that they stayed in proportion to the arms. But they seem to be too big. But the big problem is the head sculpt. In normal mode, the larg white areas along both sides of the face gives it a very plain look while the split in the mask makes it look like a bootleg quality figure. The hyper mode is a bit of an improvement but the red of the face is still pretty plain.

The Master Gundam sculpt is the best of the three, maintaining excellent proportions and details. But it does have one weakness, the wings and backpack. The wings are plain. In fact, I really have no idea what they are suppose to be, wings, thrusters, a poorly designed snow plow??? Your guess is as good as mine. The back pack also looks like it was phoned in by the sculpters. There is no detail to it at all and sticks out too far. As a result, when the wing things are extended there is almost no way for the figure to stand and maintain its balance.

The Burning Gundam is most balanced of the three sculpts in so far as it has no real weak points. The proportions are excellent. The arm guards are quite large like with the Shining Gundam, but they work better here due to the shorter and stockier overall body. The only problem I have with it is a minor quality control issue with the figure I bought. They assemebled it with two front halves for the right upper arm. As a result the two halves don't match up properly. But even that is a minor issue since the upper arm is almost completely obscured by the shoulder pads and arm guards.

Paint - Shining 4/10, Burning & HM Master 6/10, Master & HM Burning 8/10

The Shinging Gundam falls just a little short here. The paint work is well done without any problem areas. But there are just too many large, plain, white areas. The detail in areas like the torso that are left in just a solid color is almost completely lost unless viewed under close scrutiny. The Burning Gundam avoids this problem because most of the areas of the figure have at least two or three colors. That layering of colors keeps it from seeming dull. Unfortunately that improvement doesn't extend to the back of the figure. The Master Gundam Blows them both away. The combination of the black and the dark blue/purple gives the entire body a much better sense of depth and contrast between parts. But once again they slacked off on the backpack. The backpack and struts to the wings are all unpainted grey with a big red button in the center. The Hypermode figures don't have a lot of paint. The figures are finished in three tones: gold plate, a matte bronze and metallic gold flake. The choices of finish on Master Gundam could have used some work to create a better balance. His feet are plated. The legs are bronze. The waist is gold. the torso and shoulders are gold plated. The arms and head are bronze and the wings are plated. (For some reason the still left the backpack and struts plain grey. The individual parts look great. But the overall effect seems too layered, like a horizontal stripe full body suit. The Hypermode Burning Gundam pulls off the look much better. Like the regular Master Gundam, the colors are layered to create a better overall effect. There are gold arm guards on bronze arms, bronze parts over a gold plate torso, and gold skirt armor over the bronze legs. The use retention of the black paint for accent lines on the shoulders, skirt and ankle armor also creates a lot more contrast. And when opened, the red of the hypermode system in the chest stands out very well.

Articulation - 8/10

All three of the figures have eighteen points of articulation for the basic figure with a few extras thrown in as part of the action feature. The basic package includes:
  • rotating neck
  • rotating and hinged shoulders
  • rotating biceps
  • hinged elbows
  • ball jointed wrists
  • rotating waist
  • rotating and hinged hips
  • and ball jointed ankles
Master Gundam has the simplest action feature. When the red section of the backpack is pressed in, the wings pop out at an angle along the struts. The Burning Gundam has a button on the backpack as well which opens the panel on the chest and causes the six wings to pop up. For the Shining Gundam, the fins on the top and both sides of its head, the mask over its face, the white sections of the shoulder pads, the arm guards and the thruster covers on the calves all pop up or open.

Accessories - Shining 7/10 Master & Burning 5/10

The Shining Gundam comes with two swords, on long and one short, an extra right hand made of translucent green plastic and a removable core lander. All of the accessories look great and work well. Both versions of the Master Gundam comes with an extra set of hands. One set of open palm hands and one pair of clutching hands cast in translucent purple plastic. The Hypermode come package with the clutching hands on while the carded version comes packed with the open hands on. The Burning Gundam has an extra set of hands, grasping and burning finger pose cast in translucent orange plastic, and two swords. Like the Master Gundam, the only difference between the two version of the Burning Gundam is which set of hands the figure has attached in the package. Unfortunately, the grasping hands don't hold the swords very well. They are too tight and only the very end of the handle will squeeze into the hand.

Action Feature - Master 4/10 Burning and Shining 8/10
(subtract 1 point for the Hypermode versions)

The Master Gundam has the weakest action feature. You press the button on the backpack and the wings pop up straight back along the struts and the eyes light up. Aside from the simplistic nature of this action feature, when the wings are extended the figure can't stand unless it is hunched forward significantly. Then for some reason, the box set version does away with the light. Burning Gundam has a simple action feature but it works well. When you press down on the tab on the backpack, the wings pop up into position, the chest compartment pops open and the jewel thing in the chest lights up. But once again the box set version dropped the light up function. Still, the action feature is simple, easy to activate and doesn't detract from the rest of the figure. The Shining Gundam has the most complex action feature, but it has a few minor bugs. The white portion of the shoulder pads, the mask and the fins on the sides of the head are all connected to a mechanism that is triggered by pulling the top fin on the head up. The arm guards are also spring loaded to pop out but must be triggered seperately. And of course the panels on the legs for the thrusters can be opened. The arm guards are a nice addition, but the amount of movement is barely noticable and the spring loaded feature is a waste because by the time you push them enough to release them, they are already fully extended. The rest of the action feature is nice, but the parts don't all stay in place very well. On my figure, the fins on the left side of the head tend to pop open.

Value - Shining 5/10, others 7/10

All three figures are basic figures which means you should be able to pick them up for $7 or $8 depending on the store. The Shining Gundam is a little weaker due to the weaker sculpt and paint. The Master Gundam is very strong asethicly but has a weak action feature. The Burning Gundam has a better action feature but is slightly weaker visually. The box set manages to improve on the Burning Gundam but not the Master Gundam but you still get both for about a dollar off the individual price

Happy Hunting:

Unfortunately it looks like the SD Gundam line is winding down. Stores like Target and Walamart seem to be dropping the line from their newer layouts. Still most of these figures are still fairly easy to find, especially the box set. Toys R Us stores still seem to have the figures in realitive abundance. The Burning & Master Gundams box set is also available at Big Bad Toy Store












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