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The Gundam line may be dead in the United States, but fortunately, Gundam as a toy line does continue overseas. And the toys can generally be had through several online stores or eBay auctions at reasonable prices (if you don't mind paying the shipping).

Although Bandai is emphasizing the sequel series Gundam SEED DESTINY these days -- and there's some very impressive Mobile Suits from that show being turned into toys -- they haven't forgotten about GUNDAM SEED, or the fact that there's still plenty of Gundams from this show that need to be turned into toys.

The most recent addition is the BLITZ GUNDAM. For its origin, I turned to Gundam expert Dave Goellnitz, who tracked down an explanation for me:

The GAT-X207 Blitz Gundam was one of the five prototype Gundams developed by the Earth Alliance at Heliopolis. The Blitz Gundam was developed for stealth operations. Like the other four Gundams, it was armed with Phase Shift Armor, but it also had a special feature, known as Mirage Colloid. When in use, the Mirage Colloid can make the suit invisible to the human eye as well as sensors, but can be only used for a limited time, due to the amount of power it uses. The Blitz is armed with a rocket fired Gleipnir Anchor on its arm, and a variety of weapons built into its "Trikeros" shield. The Blitz was stolen by Zaft forces, and would be piloted by Nicol Amalfi.

Thank you, Dave. The Blitz is a fairly different-looking Gundam. That is, it doesn't rely on the "primary" color scheme of white, with blue, red, and yellow trim, that tends to be the color scheme of most major Gundams in any given Gundam series (Strike Gundam and Freedom Gundam from SEED, G-Gundam's Shining and Burning Gundams, Gundam Wing's Wing Gundam, etc.) The Blitz might not necessarily need to turn invisible to be well-hidden in a space battle. It's a very dark-colored Gundam, mostly a dark grey, with lighter bluish-grey highlights and a very limited amount of dark red trim. The only really bright feature on the entire Gundam is its very long yellow "V" antennae.

Overall, it's a rather slender Gundam, whose notable features include very broad, angular shoulders, and what look like massive angled jets emerging from the back.

The toy is, as one would expect from this line, excellent. Superbly detailed and magnificently articulated, the Blitz has double-jointed elbows, as well as the usual high range of articulation that never ceases to amaze me. Without question, these Gundams are Bandai's finest product.

And it's worth noting that it appears they've FINALLY stopped the practice of coloring in the detail lines on these toys. While the Blitz may have them, the whole toy is too dark to tell -- although the detail lines on its yellow "Gleipnir Anchor" are colored in. However, pictures of other Gundam toys that are part of the assortment following the Blitz show no indication of colored-in panel lines. This is very good news in the event that the line does not return to the United States, and we Gundam fans are forced to continue to have to import the product. At least it'll blend in better with what we already have.

As to the future? The FREEDOM GUNDAM looks to be up next for the Gundam Seed line, even as Bandai continues to produce Mobile Suits for Gundam Seed Destiny. What continues to have many collectors mystefied is why Bandai has yet to produce the AEGIS GUNDAM, arguably the second most prominent Gundam in the series apart from the Strike Gundam, as the Aegis was piloted by the Strike Gundam's one-time best friend! Let's hope it happens at some point!

Many collectors feel it is unlikely that Gundam Seed Destiny will be aired in the United States. Apparently the series has some political overtones and comparative commentary on the War on Terrorism that might be a little much even for Cartoon Network's late-night block. And with Bandai not marketing Gundam in the United States to any significant degree at this time (even with the release of Zeta Gundam on DVD, they pulled all the pictures of Gundam toys off of their Web Site, much to the discouragement of many), there's little reason for Cartoon Network to air any Gundam series once Gundam Seed has run its course.

I am fervently hopeful that we have not seen the last of Gundam in the United States. But I suspect it's going to take a substantial overhaul of Bandai's current attitude towards the American market for that to happen. We'll see what goes on after they get through rolling their D.I.C.E. (the name of a M.A.S.K. like product, designed in-house by Bandai, which they seem to be putting an awful lot of stock in for something that, to me, doesn't look especially inspired or even all that distinctive).

Meanwhile, Gundam lives on in the Land of the Rising Sun, and nearby points, and thanks to the wonders of cyberspace (once you cut through the spam), it's entirely possible to acquire the Gundam toys to maintain your collection. And I most heartily and enthusiastically recommend the BLITZ GUNDAM!