Ah, here it is, the final installment of my Superior Defender Gundam reviews. (Or at least
it will be the final installment until Bandai starts releasing new figures.) This time it's
the Toys R Us exclusive Gunbike set and the Nu Gundam box set. If you are wondering what these
two items have in common, stop. Other than the fact that they are both from the SD Gundam
line, they have nothing in common. They were just the last two items from the line to be reviewed.
Packaging - 9/10The box sets in this line have had the best scores of the entire line, and these two are no different. Both come in boxes with large windows in the front allowing an excellent view of the toys. But it is on the side and back panels that these really score well. This is a line that has continued to use horrendously generic backer cards, often to the point of not even giving any indication that the very figure you are buying even exists. But the box sets are different. There have been so few boxed figures that Bandai has had to actually put some individual effort into the packaging. The Nu Gundam set has images of the figures various modes on one end and information on the previous two sets (reviewed earlier) on the other end. The back has larger images of the various combinations of the parts in the set as well as a couple of CG images of the character and a small write up of the figure. In short, it has everything the regular cards lack. The Gunbike follows basically the same pattern. One end of the box has images of the two figures included with the set while the other end shows some of the other figures of characters from the show. The back of the box shows the Gunbike from various angles and in different configurations as well as a CG image of the characters and information about the characters. I'm slightly less impressed with this box. Even though it follows the same basic design, the back of the box seems slightly dull. The box is significantly larger but the figure lacks the diverse configurations of the Nu Gundam. As a result, the images on the back of the Gunbike box seem a bit repetitive. Still it is much better than the individual figure cards.
Sculpting - 9/10These box sets are turning out to be some of the best figures in the line. I was a bit harsh on the first two box sets due to the multitude of screws that were visible on the figures. That is still a problem for both the Nu Gundam and Gunbike but to a far lesser extent. The Nu Gundam has a near flawless sculpt. It includes all of the details of the regular Nu Gundam. The sculpt manages to preserve the taller, slimmer proportions of the Mobile Suits from Char's Counterattack even though the figure is only a hair taller than Captain Gundam. The Gunbike is another great sculpt. The Gunbike itself is nicely rendered in 3D form. Bandai found a good middle ground in adding enough detail to keep the vehicle from looking dull when viewed in detail but still retaining the simple look of the show when viewed from farther away. Both figures included are superbly done as well. Shute is a fairly simple sculpt and is of course completely new. The civilian mode Captain Gundam figure uses the same torso as the regular Captain Gundam figure, but has brand new arms, leg and a new head. All of the new parts are quite accurate to the show.
Paint - Nu Gundam 7/10, Gunbike 3/10The Nu Gundam set is certainly not the most colorful set, but is still has quite a few paint applications, especially on the booster bed. There are a few problems. The yellow in particular seems to be a bit sloppy. It ran in a few places like the toes and there is even a glob on yellow paint on the backpack, nowhere near where it belongs. There are also a few areas that could have used paint to really make the sculpt stand out but were skipped. Again, it is nothing major, but there is room for improvement.
The Gunbike set is more or less the same story but to a much greater degree. The bike itself is well painted and very much on model with the show. In fact, the only change I would like to see would be to make the missiles white as they are in the prototype pictures and on the show. But the figures are a different story. I dismissed this set for quite some time based mostly on my impression of the figures which seemed very sub par. It was only after the completist in me forced me to purchase the set any way and I opened it up that I found that both figures were sculpted well, but are painted so poorly that they almost appear to be fast food toys. Civilian Captain Gundam's head in particular lacks the black for the mouth section or the black shadowing for the nose that the show usually has.
Articulation - Nu Gundam 6/10, Gunbike 7/10The Nu Gundam has a total of twenty points of articulation which seems to be the basic standard for the SD Gundam figures. His articulation includes:
The Gunbike set scores a bit better, not due to any of the figures being better articulated, but due to the combined articulation of all three: gunbike, Captain Gundam and Shute. the civilian mode Captain Gundam has the same twenty points of articulation as the Nu Gundam. Shute has only five rotating joints: hips, shoulders and his neck. Gunbike hides an additional 12 points of articulation. The four wheels are free rolling of course. Then the sidecar's mounting brace is able to rotate around, though I do not know what this accomplishes. Gunbike itself has a sliding joint in its center to allow it to expand to accommodate a figure. You could actually count it as two joints since the top portion of the front end actually extends farther. But the extra movement is linked to a lever controlled by the movement of the rest of the front end. As a result, the two parts of the front end can only be moved together. Finally, the two missile racks on the back of Gunbike flip down and can then be slide upwards. Once the missile racks are deployed, the stabilizer wings on each can be folded out.
Accessories - Nu Gundam 9/10, Gunbike 1/10Gunbike comes with eight missiles that can be loaded into the missile racks and fired in pairs using the buttons on the back of each missile launcher. They are extremely basic spring loaded projectiles with a simple rounded head. You could also consider the Captain Gundam and Shute figures as accessories depending on your point of view. (I didn't since Captain at least is a full fledged figure.)
Nu Gundam on the other hand comes with a small arsenal. And one would expect no less from a figure whose full name is Nu Gundam Heavy Weapon System. Nu Gundam comes with the Booster Bed, shield, beam rifle, a large beam cannon, fin funnels, bazooka, beam saber, an additional beam weapon that is similar to a beam saber but also has a small blade on one end of the hilt and armor. The armor consists of ten pieces: a chest plate, covers for the front and rear skirt armor, a missile pod for each shoulder, covers for both leg and a cover for Nu Gundam's shield that includes two large cannons. All of the armor can be attached to the Nu Gundam figure or to the booster bed for storage and transportation. The fin funnels and bazooka can also be stored on the backpack. All of the armor fits tightly in either configuration. The one thing holding the Nu Gundam back from a perfect score is the fin funnels. I was hoping for individual funnels. Or at least one independent funnel like the MSIA version. Instead we received six immobile funnels that are molded together in one piece.
Action Feature - Nu Gundam 0/10, Gunbike 10/10Nu Gundam scores a goose egg here for a good reason, there isn't one. I believe the ability to interchange the accessories is supposed to be the action feature. To me that doesn't count. However, I think I prefer no action feature to adding one in that makes no sense for no other reason than to have an action feature. Gunbike's action feature is limited to the spring firing missiles. But the launchers work well and look even better. Once again, I'm glad Bandai had the sense to not try and tack on additional action features that would have made no sense.
Value - 5/10The Gunbike set is tough to score. The retail price on the set is $19.99. And since it is a Toys R Us exclusive, there is little chance of finding it for any price other than that until TRU decides to put them on sale or clearance. If you are a fan of the show, the set is going to be a must have, given it contains two of the show's main characters as well as a very prominent variation of the show's main character. But judged strictly as a toy, $20 is only a reasonable price for a vehicle, two figures with mediocre paint jobs and no accessories.
The Nu Gundam Heavy Weapon System set is the latest of the boxed sets. They generally retail for between $12.99 and $14.99. The previous sets scored well since there were basically two complete figures in each. The Nu Gundam set only contains one set and a ton of accessories. If you like the Nu Gundam's design, it's a great set. But otherwise there is not a lot to sell this figure.
Happy Hunting:The Nu Gundam set is likely going to be a real challenge to find. Most stores over ordered the first box set with Burning and Master Gundam in their hyper modes to such an extent that they never received any of the later box sets. Locally I saw a handful of the sets at Target. But by the time that I started buying the SD Gundam figures they were nowhere to be found. Several web searches failed to turn up any place with the set still in stock. I ended up purchasing the set from Ebay. Thankfully the Gunbike set is a very different story. It should still be available at most Toys R Us stores. It is also available from TRU online through Amazon.com