Superior Defender Gundam (part 7)

Welcome back to another installment of SD Gundam reviews. This time it's the final six carded figures from the line: Pawn Leo, Grappler Gouf, Destroyer Dom, Gundiver, Guneagle and Captain System Activated Captain Gundam.

Packaging - Grappler Gouf & Gundiver 6/10, others /10

Well it's a new day, a new review but the same old packaging. The figures come packaged in a fairly standard blister card with the figures prominently displayed in the center and the accessories displayed around it. The blisters have some texture on the lower right hand side. An insert in the bottom of the blister provides character information. In an interesting change to the packaging for the later releases is the addition of an image of the character from the show attached to the bottom insert and a second insert on the left side of the blister showing the character and character's name. Unfortunately they didn't bother to improve on the generic triangular inserts on the upper left corner of the blister. For all but Grappler Gouf, they advertise the action feature, but don't mention what it is. The cardbacks are a real disappointment. The Grappler Gouf and Gundiver are the only figures that show up on their own cards. Guneagle not only isn't on the card, but they left the try me feature access graphic on the back of the card even though there is no feature there to try. A little extra effort on Bandai's part would have been appreciated.

Sculpting - Pawn Leo and Gundiver 4/10, Grappler Gouf 6/10, others 8/10

Guneagle, Destroyer Dom and Captain Gundam all have wonderful sculpts. Guneagle is nicely proportioned. And the head sculpt is excellent. Between the elaborate antenna on his head and the effect of the painted eyes behind the translucent blue visor, This is one of the best head sculpts in the line. Captain Gundam is the same sculpt as the original Captain Gundam figure. Once again, the sculpt is very well executed. Though I do wish they had found a way to better incorporate the wheels in the heels when not in use. Destroyer Dom is another winner. The proportions are right. It is nicely detailed. Some people may be put off by the peg holes all over the figure. Grappler Gouf isn't my favorite sculpt but is pretty faithful to the cartoon. The head is a hair large which is probably to accommodate the light up feature. Gundiver is another cool figure. Unfortunately it has the abomination that Bandai calls a submarine on its back. The figure does a great job of converting the design of the GM mobile suits from Mobile Suit Gundam 0083. But the Submarine section is more of a conglomeration of submarine parts that pass for the backpack. Pawn Leo is a fairly accurate sculpt, but a fairly plain one. Bandai seems to have tried something different with the shoulders. Instead of sculpting the ball on the shoulder as a separate piece that moves over the rest of the arm, it is the shoulder. As a result, in order to allow the arm some lateral movement, there is a large slit in the top of both shoulders. It also seems to be poorly proportioned. The arms and legs seem to be in scale with other figures like Captain Gundam but the body and head are too large.

Paint - Grappler Gouf 6/10, others 7/10

The paint applications on all of the figures are clean and neat. Destroyer Dom and Guneagle both have elaborate paint applications that come off without a hitch. Captain Gundam's color scheme consists primarily of three colors: metallic gold, a metal flake and gray. Despite the limited palette, the use of those colors real makes the figure look great. There are a few additional paint applications for the green sensors on Captain's head and his eyes. Pawn Leo has another very simple paint job, but it works very well for the simple sculpt. Gundiver does a wonderful job of balancing the large areas of toothpaste green color. This is one area where the yellow submarine parts that are tacked onto the back of the figure actually help the figure. Also of note is the painted on unit numbers. Gundiver is available with either unit 01 or unit 02 markings on the shoulder and submarine side panels. I guess you will have to paint the other five yourself. Grappler Gouf has a well executed paint scheme. But the final result just seems a little off. While accurate to the show, the light blue gives the figure a cheap appearance.

Articulation - Grappler Gouf 8/10, Pawn Leo 9/10, others 10/10

All right, I admit it. I am an articulation junky. I love it when a figure is able to move and be positioned like the subject on which it is based. I've been enticed into collecting lines based on their articulation. The SD Gundam line is one such case. A basic SD Gundam figure has twenty points of articulation:
  • double jointed ankles
  • rotating and hinged hips
  • rotating waist
  • rotating neck
  • rotating and hinged shoulders
  • rotating biceps (just above the elbow)
  • hinged elbow
  • rotating wrists
Grappler Gouf has twenty points of articulation but is both a step back from that and slightly better depending on the accessories you use. Grappler Gouf's waist articulation is greatly hampered by the hoses that run from his backpack to the front of his waist. Both shoulder pads can be rotated on the shoulder. But he loses two important joints. The left arm is not a complete arm. As part of the action feature, the left arm terminates just below the elbow with a missile tip. This of course, means that there is no wrist articulation, but they also left out the rotating joint above the elbow. This would be all right if they had not sculpted the elbow to bend forward instead of bending toward the body. As I said, the articulation is made up for in the accessories which I will cover later.

Pawn Leo has nineteen points of articulation. The Leo includes all of the basic articulation except for a neck joint. The face plate does rotate as part of the action feature which could be considered another point of articulation, but it is only useful as part of the action feature. So for the purpose of this review, it doesn't count.

Gundiver has a total of 44 points of articulation. The basic articulation is there of course. Each shoulder has an additional three joints to allow for the transformation. The entire arm is on a hinge to flip forward. The shoulder is then connected to that joint with a sliding hinge assembly. Unlike a typical hinge that rotates around a single peg, the peg rides in a slot that allows it the move back and forth an extra 1/4 of an inch. The shoulder pads rotate on the shoulder and then have a flap that rotate. There are two snorkels on Gundiver's head that can be extended or retracted. The rest of the articulation is in the submarine backpack.

Captain Gundam adds two rolling wheels for the heel of each foot for a total of 22 points of articulation.

Guneagle has 24 points of articulation. In addition to the basics, the shoulder pads rotate on each shoulder. Guneagle also has a very unique neck joint. It is actually 3 joints. In addition to the standard rotating neck joint, the neck can be pulled out from the body to extend the neck. Once extended, the neck is hinged to move back. This combination of joints allows the Guneagle's head to look forward while in a superman style flying pose.

Destroyer Dom has a total of 30 points of articulation. The chest panels open on a double joint. Each panel not only opens on a hinge, but the hinge extends out of the body to allow enough clearance to clear some of the other sculpted details. The other addition is the wheels in the feet. Originally, there was a Gallop armory/trailer planned to go along with this figure. When connected to the Gallop, the figure was to have wheels come out of each foot to allow it to roll. The Gallop seems to have been scrapped, but the wheels remain. Each foot consists of a toe section on the front and a wheel which lies flat on its side for the back of the foot. The strut that attaches the wheel rotates to move the wheel from its side to an upright position. And of course the wheel itself rolls. Unfortunately they don't roll too freely. The design of the ankle armor has a slot in the back of each ankle skirt that the wheel fits into. This keeps the wheels in an upright position but keeps them from rolling. Finally, there are two small thrusters that cover those slots for the wheels when they are set on their sides as feet. When the wheels are used, the thrusters rotate up to allow the wheels to sit in the slots.

Accessories - Gundiver 4/10, Destroyer Dom 5/10, Grappler Gouf 9/10, others 7/10

Guneagle comes with two accessories, a gun and a removable backpack. The gun is a combination of a traditional beam rifle and a fin funnel from the Nu Gundam design. It is an interesting design and nicely painted. The plastic is pretty soft though, which allows for some warping problems. The backpack is nicely designed as well. The center section contains a speaker to make the sound of a jet flying by when a button is pressed. The two side panels that form the wings are comprised of five fin funnels each. The wing sections are made of four separate sections which can slide up or down, allowing the wings to be positioned so they either sweep up from the center or down. But the wings have the same problem that has plagued the entire line, visible screws. There are twelve screws in the front of each wing panel. There is really no reason why these couldn't have been assembled without all of that hardware or at least have disguised it better. Each wing also has five missiles, two on the front and three more on the back. The are not removable and unpainted but they do add to the military feel of the wings.

Gundiver is a bit of a disappointment. There are two accessories included, two beam tridents. The blades are cast in the familiar translucent green plastic and are removable. But there is nothing to do with the tridents when the blades are removed. They do not store anywhere on the figure. For safety reasons, the handles of the tridents were cast in a flexible plastic which makes them extremely prone to warping.

Pawn Leo comes with five unique accessories. There is a broadsword, shield, crossbow, replacement arm band and a mohawk style head crest. The shield and sword look great. The cross bow is a little too large. It is spring loaded to fire a projectile when a button behind the targeting rectical is pressed. The head crest plugs into a hole in the top of the head. The replacement arm band is the same as the ones that come on the figure in the package, but cast in a dark red plastic. For some reason there is only one though. I haven't seen much of the Pawn Leos in the show so that may be correct though.

Grappler Gouf has three forearms to attach to the left arm, a sword and a shield. The shield attaches to the left shoulder pad. It not only looks great, but has moveable claws. The one drawback is that there is no way to position it. It fits onto a peg on the shoulder pad and the horn on the pad keeps it from being repositioned. The sword is big, well painted and looks great. It can be held securely in the Gouf's hand or stored on the back of the shield. The three forearms include a regular hand, a claw hand and an forearm cannon. The regular arm matches the right arm and includes a grasping hand. It also provides a rotating wrist. The claw hand is larger, so large in fact that it generally hits the ground when the arm is down. When attached, you can still use the elbow joint plus the three fingers are each articulated. The thumb isn't. The cannon arm fits over the missile tip and upper arm. It still includes a hand and the wrist armor, but it is popped up, out of the way of the cannon. The hand is sculpted with the fingers and thumb sticking straight out and a small targeting recticle on the end of the thumb. It fits snugly but is difficult to position due to space limitations.

Captain Gundam is well equipped with a shield, beam rifle, beam sword and extra hilt. First of all is the beam rifle. It has the same gold flake paint job as much of the figure. The shield looks nicely on model and can be held easily. Finally there is the beam saber and extra beam saber hilt. The hilt can be attached to the backpack or the saber blade. It is a nice touch to include two saber hilts but unnecessary since the character is only supposed to have one.

The Destroyer Dom comes with six weapons: chain saw, beam bazooka, heat hawk, a sturmfaust and two rocket launcher. This is an decent arsenal. But it is a bit lackluster considering what was left out of the US release. The Japanese release included all of these weapons plus a Dom bazooka, rifle, battle hammer, four grenades, missile pod, and a gattling gun. The chain saw is large and impressive. But the handle is made of soft plastic and warps under the weight of its own blade. It also lacks a peg to attach it to the figure when not in use. The bazooka looks a little plain in all black with just the one spot of red for the sensor. It too suffers from warping issues. And for such a trigger happy character as Destroyer Dom, it is woefully small; a poor substitute for the large Dom bazooka included in the Japanese release. The heat hawk is pretty plain as well and once again, the handle warps very easily. The rocket launchers and sturmfaust look good. But they can't be held in any way by the figure. So they really just plug into the holes on the figure and sit there. What we received is nice, but I still feel like we lost out on more than we got. With any luck, we may still see a future release of Destroyer Dom with the Gallop and his full arsenal.

Action Feature - Captain Gundam & Gundiver 4/10,
Dom & Gouf 6/10, Guneagle & Pawn Leo 7/10

Captain Gundam has a simple action feature. When the back pack is turned, the right arm raises and lowers. It doesn't add much to the figure since you could accomplish the same thing by just turning the arm instead. But it also doesn't hurt the figure like some of the action features Bandai has included.

Gundiver can convert to submarine mode. The transformation isn't very complex nor is the end result very impressive. The arms are rotated in front of the chest with the shoulder armor and forearm armor becoming platforms for the sub to rest upon. The snorkels/antenna on the head are retracted. The feet are rotated so that the toes form dive planes. (the side fins) The backpack then becomes the rest of the sub. The center section flips up to become the sub's conning tower and the periscope extends. The two section on either side of the tower slide down by the figure's back. The side panels are then extended and then flip down along each side of the figure.

Gouf has two features. The first is the interchangeable arms that were already discussed in the accessories section. The other feature is the standard light up mono-eye. When the button on the back of the head is pressed the eye lights up.

Destroyer Dom has two features as well. The two chest panels can be opened to reveal the chest laser. The other feature was supposed to be used in conjunction with the Gallop that was planned: the wheels in the feet. As I described in the articulation section, each foot becomes a wheel for the figure. Had the Gallop been produced, the figure could have been connected to the Gallop and balanced on the two wheels. Without the Gallop, the only way for the figure to be positioned on the wheels is to have it leaning way forward which make it prone to tipping over.

Guneagle's action features are both contained in the backpack. First is the ability to change the wings from their standard mode to flight mode. The second feature is the jet sounds that are activated when the button on the backpack is pressed. Unfortunately it only makes the one sound, a jet flying past. A little variety or even clips from the show would have been nice.

Pawn Leo has the best action features, and the most too. The main feature is the rotating face plate. When the cape is pressed the face plate flips from a plain orange face plate to confused (a spiral) to unconscious (an X). It works nicely but requires the head to be oversized. The second feature is that when the waist is turned, the right arm rotates around. But unlike most of the figures that have features like this, the articulation isn't restricted by the feature. The waist can still be rotated without restriction, the arm just keeps rotating with it. There are also two action features as well. When the purple pentagon on the figure's head is pressed, the crest on its head pops off. And as I already mentioned, the crossbow has a spring loaded projectile. The spring for the crest is a little weak compared to the weight of the crest, but the crossbow's spring is quite strong.

Value - Gundiver 5/10, Pawn Leo & Captain Gundam 8/10, others 6/10

Pawn Leo, Captain Gundam and Gundiver are all basic figures and should retail for between $6.99 and $8.99. The others are deluxe figures, usually retailing for $10.99 to $11.99. At these prices, both Captain Gundam and Pawn Leo are good deals. Gundiver is a decent figure, but the submarine mode and accessories are rather lackluster. Grappler Gouf is another strong figure, but lacks anything to really set it apart. The same is true of both Destroyer Dom and Guneagle. As a basic figure, even without the electronic sounds, Guneagle would have scored an near perfect ten. Destroyer Dom just needs a better arsenal. I could live with the limited number of weapons if Bandai had given us the more impressive weapons like the Dom bazooka and gatling gun.

Happy Hunting:

Finding these figures will likely be a challenge. Pawn Leo, Gundiver and Captain Gundam still seem to be fairly accessible locally in the Madison, WI area. Finding a store that still carries the line may be your biggest challenge. Locally, Toys R Us seems to be the only place still stocking the figures. KB still has them as well, if they are still in business in your area. (They gone here.) Grappler Gouf is likely going to require an Ebay search or some other secondhand resource. Guneagle and Destroyer Dom are actually the current wave of deluxe figure and should be easier to find.

Captain Gouf

gundiver PawnLeo

Guneagle DestroyerDom









flightmode normalwings

GundiverBack Gundivershoulder







Gouf Dom DomWheels DomArsenal Domchest BadGuys