Superior Defender Gundam (part 5)

Gundam Wing figures

Welcome to yet another review of the Superior Defender Gundam line. This time it's the Gundam Wing figures up for review: Wing Gundam, Wing Zero, Deathscythe and Gundam Epyon. For many Americans, Gundam Wing was our first exposure to the Gundam franchise. And now fans can reenact at least some of those scenes, in super deformed form. Unfortunately the cast is a bit short. Gundams Heavyarms, Sandrock and Shenlong Gundams didn't make it into the SD Gundam line.

Packaging - 6/10

All four figures use the same packaging design as the rest of the line. The bubbles give an excellent view of the figure and accessories. The insert at the bottom provides the figure information as well as the directions. A second insert in the top left corner is suppose to advertise the action feature. but since only one of the four actually says what that is, they are pretty silly. Like the other deluxe figures in the line, the Epyon and Wing Gundam have an additional insert for the logo at the top. Oddly enough, the Wing Zero did not! But again, the insert serves no real purpose since to the casual eye it looks just like the basic figures. Bandai really should learn to start distinguishing their basic and deluxe lines beyond a minor difference in the logo. The back of the card is the biggest let down here. Once again, the card backs are recycled and give no information about each particular figure or even the wave that in which they came.

Sculpting - Wing Zero 6/10, others 8/10

Deathscythe is another strong sculpt for this line. Unfortunately it is mostly lost due to the paint applications. Still, Bandai managed to squeeze all of the significant features of the full size figure into the SD figure. The Wing Gundam and Epyon both have the same high level of sculpting as well, even with the transforming feature. But the best part of the sculpts is the improvement in the screw holes. They are still there. But for a variety of reasons such as the ankle guards and backpacks they are far less noticeable than they have been on any of the other SD Gundam figures I've seen. Unfortunately, the Wing Zero didn't make out as well. The head, arms and backpack are all well done. The torso is close, but just a little off in the waist. Where the other figures maintained the tapered waists of the original designs, the Wing Zero's waist is almost as wide as the shoulders. But what really throws the sculpt off is the feet. Gundams generally have fairly large feet to begin with, and the super deformed versions usually exaggerate this with even larger feet. But in order to accommodate the transformation to neo bird mode, the feet were made tiny. The are so small in fact that they tend to just disappear into the ankles entirely.

Paint - Wing Zero 5/10, others 7/10

Once again, the Wing Zero is the stinker of the category. Deathscythe, Epyon and Wing Gundam all have enough paint applications to bring out the details in the sculpt. Deathscythe could use a little paint on the legs which are currently entirely white. But the face and eyes more than make up for it. Since he doesn't have a light up feature, the eyes are actually painted in metallic green flake paint. In my opinion, the result is better than the light up eyes which only look geed when lit. And then the light tends to shine through areas where it isn't suppose to. Gundam Epyon gets most of its color from the colors of the plastic, but the few painted areas really stand out. But the lines are a little sloppy. Nothing terrible, but there is at least one spot that can be seen quite easily. Wing Gundam has the best paint of the four. the lines are neat and the paint applications do an excellent job of bringing out the existing details in the sculpt. The Wing Zero is another mixed bag. The paint on the head and arms is very nicely done. The torso is fairly plain though. And from the waist down the figure is overwhelmingly white. There are a few areas which are painted gray; but they are so small that they are barely noticeable.

Articulation - Deathscythe 6/10 others 10/10

I've generally scored the SD Gundam figures highly in the articulation department, and rightfully so. But the Gundam Wing figures have taken it up a notch in order to have the transforming feature. Deathscythe is the one exception since it has no transformation. Still, even it has 20 points of articulation:
  • ankles
  • moveable ankle guards
  • rotating and hinged hips
  • rotating waist
  • rotating neck
  • rotating and hinged shoulders
  • rotating biceps (just above the elbow)
  • hinged elbow
  • rotating wrists
His score is lowered due to restrictions to the articulation. The neck only moves about 5 degrees total. And the waist and right shoulder are incorporated into the action feature. The shoulder can still be moved in a ratcheting action. But the waist can only be moved 45 degrees, and is spring loaded so it snaps right back any way.

Wing Gundam has 32 points of articulation. In addition to the articulation listed for Deathscythe, there are toe joints that are used for the transformation. There are moveable thrusters on the back of each leg. The claws in each arm are hinged. The shoulder pads are hinged to fold down in neo bird mode. The wings are hinged at the backpack and flip out from the wing struts when a button on the backpack is pressed.

Wing Zero goes hog wild on articulation with 44 points of articulation. All of the standard articulation is present. The legs have an additional three points of articulation each: an hinged panel on the back of the legs, a second ball joint for each ankle and the heels flip open to reveal a thruster. The shoulder pads have the small panel and thruster on the underside that are hinged. And then you get to the backpack and the pods on the back. The backpack has two moveable thrusters. And then each pod has 7 points of articulation. The strut is hinged at the backpack as well as at the pod. The pod can rotate on the strut. And each half of the pod has a double jointed hinge where it opens.

But the hands down winner is Gundam Eypon. The figure itself has 44 points of articulation but the heat rod adds another 12 points to that total. The wings each have two points of articulation. The claws on each arm are hinged. The rear waist armor is formed in two parts, both of which are both hinged and ball jointed in order to allow the transformation. The waist itself doesn't turn, instead then is a hinge to flip the entire lower half of the figure back for the transformation. And then you get to the legs. Ordinary SD Gundam legs have two joints at the hips and then ankle joints. Epyon has the two joints for each hip, but adds a hinge at mid-thigh and another at the knee. There is a second joint at the bottom of the knee where it attaches to the lower legs. The lower legs then have three additional joint. The lower legs actually extend, then there is a hinge between the extension and the mid section and between the midsection and the lower section. The ankles are double jointed, with both a ball joint and hinge. and then the toes are articulated too. And then, on top of all of that, as I mentioned before, the heat rod has 12 more points of articulation: a ball joint where each of the eleven sections attach to the next one and a hinge where the entire heat rod attaches to the shield.

Accessories - 8/10

Anyone who has the Gundam Wing MSIA figures shouldn't be surprised here. Each figure comes with the same accessories as their MSIA counterpart. The accessories that they do come are very nicely executed.

Deathscythe has a removable backpack, scythe with removable energy blade, shield with opening blades and detachable energy spike. The backpack is hardly an accessory since it is only removable to allow the scythe handle to be stored and that can be done without removing the backpack. The scythe handle is nice, but doesn't collapse for storage and no retracted version was included. Both energy blades are cast in translucent green plastic and fit snugly in place. The shield has a nice paint job, though they did skip painting the thrusters. The silver blades open but unlike other versions, aren't linked together to open in unison.

Wing Gundam comes with two beam sabers, buster rifle and a shield. The beam sabers are a single piece of translucent green plastic with the handle painted white, the handles are not removable. The shield is nicely painted and fits snugly on the arm. The rifle has a moveable handle that retracts into the rifle for attaching to the shield in flight mode. It does have part of the stock on the bottom painted but overall the rifle is still too gray.

Wing Zero comes with all the same accessories as Wing Gundam. The sabers are exactly the same in fact. The shield is slightly smaller than its Wing Gundam counterpart but has a more complex paint scheme. And Bandai went the extra mile to make the mounting peg hinged to retract when attached for flight mode. The buster rifle is what sets the Wing Zero apart from the Wing Gundam. Rather than just one rifle, it comes with two buster rifles that snap together to form the twin buster rifle. I don't care for the buster rifle though. There is far less detail sculpted into Wing Zero's rifles. That, in addition to a glossier finish and the metallic finish to the paint seem to give it a cheap feel.

The Gundam Epyon has the least number of accessories, just two: a beam sword and the shield/heat rod. But they are some of the most complex and best executed accessories of the line. The beam sword has a small pack that attaches to the waist armor. A rubber hose connects the pack to the sword handle. And of course you get the huge blade cast in translucent green plastic. The only downside is that the blade is not removable. But that just means that it can't be lost as easily. The shield and heat rod attach to the left arm. The shield looks great but doesn't fit as tightly as the shields for the other figures. The heat rod lacks the range of movement that the MSIA version has, but still provides a decent range of motion.

Action Feature - Deathscythe 3/10, Wing Zero 5/10,
Wing and Epyon 8/10

Deathscythe has a pretty basic action feature. When you twist the waist, the right arm rotates down. I don't care much for this type of action feature. They managed to basically nullify the waist articulation in order to make one of the arms do something that the articulation already allowed it to do.

The Wing Gundam has several action features. First, when a button on the back of the head is pressed, the eyes light up. The wings are also spring loaded. When the button on the backpack is pressed, the wings flip outward. It also transforms into bird mode. (Don't ask me why they call it bird mode since it is more of a plane.) You pull the neck out and rotate the torso around 180 degrees. The toes are pointed down. The shoulder armor folds down over the upper arms. The claws flip down onto the hands. (The hands are not removable unfortunately.) The rifle then attaches to the front of the shield which then attaches to the backpack of the figure. The final product doesn't look much like a bird, but then again, neither did the Wing Gundam in the show. The bird mode is very stable, which makes it a vast improvement over some of the other figures.

Like the Wing Gundam, the Wing Zero has several features. When a button on the backpack is pressed, the green sensor on its chest lights up. It transforms into its "neo bird" mode as well. As with the Wing Gundam, the waist is turned 180 degrees. The head must then be turned 180 degrees. The covers on the back of the legs are opened and the feet are turned so that the toes are tucked into the legs. The heels are then flipped open to reveal the thrusters. The shoulder armor folds down along the arms. The two halves of each pod on the backpack are opened and snap together. The buster rifle is split into two parts and the handles folded in. The rifles then attach to each side of the shield. The shield then plugs into the backpack of the figure. I've not had much luck keeping the shield attached. It is suppose to plug into the button on the backpack that activates the light. The shield doesn't attach to the button very securely. The pod wings also flop around a lot. The struts have to sit between the shield and buster rifles for the shield to fit, but the pods can still flop back and forth on the end of the strut. It is a shame that they had to compromise the rest of the figure just to accommodate this feature and it doesn't really work well any way.

Gundam Epyon has the same two features as the Wing Zero. A press of the button on the Epyon's back makes the sensor on its chest light up. It also changes into a flight or "mobile armor" mode. The transformation is simpler than the other two. The sword and heat rod are removed. The rear skirt armor is opened and moved to either side. The hips are then flipped 180 degrees. The legs are then bent towards the front with the toes pointed forward. The shield and heat rod are then attached to the back of the figure forming a tail. It would be nice if there was something to do with the sword in this mode or if the hands were removable, but otherwise it is an excellent option.

Value - Wing Zero 6/10, others 8/10

All four of these are nice figures. And at $7.99 for the basic figures (Deathscythe) and $9.99 to $10.99 for the deluxe figures, they aren't a bad value. Deathscythe doesn't score as well as the other figures in certain areas, such as the action feature, but is still a good deal. Wing Gundam and Epyon are both great figures for the price. But Wing Zero just doesn't stack up. They took what could have been a nice figure and compromised it for the sake of a feature that just didn't turn out well either.

Happy Hunting:

Once again, we come to the downside. Finding these things. Since the line seems to have gone the way of the dodo, finding the figures could be a challenge. Wing Zero seems to have stuck around more than the others. And I still see a fair number of Deathscythes. But finding Wing Gundam or Epyon will depend on your luck in finding a store that is still carrying the line. Locally, Toys R Us seems to be the only store still supporting the line. I have heard a few reports of larger volume Target stores (those with an aisle and a half of action figures) still stocking the line but the stores here have dropped it. You may be able to find the figures online, but I've yet to find a web site with more than a handful of the figures in stock.

Oh, and a warning for those who wish to track these down online. has had the Wing Gundam figure listed and pictured on their site. But when I ordered it, they shipped a Wing Zero figure, TWICE!