However, the line continues in Japan, as do the animated series. In a somewhat unusual move, a sequel series to Gundam Seed was developed. Usually an entirely new concept would've been created but Gundam Seed was regarded as one of the best-received Gundam series in years. It contained all the right elements, many of them derived to some degree from the original Gundam series, to be a success, and so it was decided to continue the story.
The sequel series was called GUNDAM SEED DESTINY. It has not aired in the United States, although DVD's of the episodes are becoming available. Many of the original cast of characters have returned for these all-new adventures.
And of course, there are toys. The action figures, called "Mobile Suit in Action" in Japan, have been fairly plentiful. I've gradually been able to acquire a number of them through various channels, and have a new one to review now.
One interesting thing about Gundam Seed Destiny. Many of the ZAFT
One of the new figures is called the GOUF IGNITED. Despite the name, it doesn't look like anything particularly incendiary. Indeed, its primary colors are blue. It looks very much like an advanced Zaku, but then, so did the Goufs from the original Gundam series. There's just no denying that rounded head with the single cyclopean eye in the center of it. There's something about that weird one-eyed stare that just looks mean.
Here's some background information on the Gouf Ignited: The ZGMF-2000 GOUF IGNITED was developed by ZAFT as commander unit in their line of next generation mobile suits. While it doesn't use the special mission packs that the ZAKU utilizes, the GOUF is equipped with a flight pack that allows it to fly in the atmosphere as well being an agile unit in space. The GOUF is armed with a number of unique weapons, including a four-barrel beam gun mounted on its arm, and a heavy beam sword. The suit is also armed with a heat rod, which can deliver powerful electrical shocks to enemy units.
It's certainly worth noting that the Gouf Ignited is able to fly both in space and in an atmosphere. Generally speaking, in any given show, a mobile suit can do either-or, but not both. If a Gundam or a Mobile Suit designed for atmospheric flight had to go into space for some reason, it needs to be modified for that capability. The Gouf Ignited apparently knows no such constraints.
The action figure is impressive, although it should be mentioned that the Gundams and Mobile Suits from Gundam Seed Destiny are very slightly smaller in scale than most other Gundams. Prior to the Destiny line, All Gundam action figures, regardless of their background concept, were compatible with each other, even if that meant making much larger figures. Although most of the figures are arguably in the 4-1/2" to 5" range, there are exceptions. For example, all of the figures from the Char's Counter-Attack line represent larger Mobile Suits. Thus the Sazabi, the largest of the lot, comes in at a huge 6-1/2" in height, even though it IS to scale with all of its smaller brethren.
Yet for some reason, when Bandai started making the Gundam Seed Destiny figures, they scaled them down just a little bit. Not that much, but if you look at any Web Site that lists the relative "real world" heights of Gundams, you'll discover that the Mobile Suits in Destiny were supposed to be very slightly LARGER than the ones for Seed. Instead, they're slightly smaller, although all Destiny units are to scale with each other.
It's a minor concern, and was no doubt a cost-saving one. Certainly they're still cool toys. But it is, I believe, reflective of an attitude on Bandai's part that sort of minimizes the "Mobile Suit in Action" line, in an overall series where Bandai would much rather sell the kits instead.
As for the Gouf on its own, it's certainly impressive. One of the hallmarks of these action figures has always been their considerable articulation, and the Gouf Ignited has this in abundance. Arguably the most articulated action figures presently in the American market are Marvel Legends, and Gundam easily equals and probably surpasses them. Of course, it helps if you have articulated equipment. The Gouf Ignited does have the flight pack mentioned in its profile attached to its back, and the wings are independently articulated.
The paint work is generally excellent, although I can't quite escape the notion that a few of the details, mostly the interiors of jets, are hand- painted. And yet I am not sure. When I consider how sloppy some other toy lines that are the victim of hand-painted detailing tend to turn out, I find myself pondering the fact that it should almost be impossible to hand-paint the much smaller detailing on a Gundam action figure without making an ungodly mess. And yet, while some of the detailing doesn't look spray painted, it's generally neater than the other toy lines that suffer from this. So I'm just honestly not sure. About all I can do is hope it doesn't spread.
One recent change in Gundam figures, which I suspect was also a cost- saving move, has been the elimination of coloring in the detail lines on these toys. One of the major differences between the Gundam toys that were sold in America and the ones that were sold in Japan is the fact that the American ones didn't color in the fine detail lines on the figures. And frankly, although some may disagree with me on this one, the American ones looked better for the omission of this particular detail.
Recently, thankfully, the Japanese ones have dropped this needless practice as well. It not only makes the figures look a little better, a little cleaner, but they're better able to stand alongside an American collection and blend in.
By the way, don't be too quick to throw the packaging away. Gundams come packed in very nice boxes, but tucked inside a fold in the interior backing of the box is a bio-card for the figure, and a small product catalog. Granted, they're in Japanese, but the photo work is good.
It's not easy to find Gundam toys these days if you live in the United States. You're not going to find them at any major retailer's toy department. Unless you know someone who lives in Japan or surrounding areas, you're going to have to get them online. Fortunately, there are a number of online collector-oriented toy retailers that do carry Gundam.
As for the Gouf Ignited, it's a very impressive addition to the Gundam Seed Destiny collection. I like the blue coloration, using a couple of shades of blue that are not often found on Gundam toys, no one can argue the detail or articulation, and ultimately, it's a very cool-looking toy from a world that has been described, without exaggeration, as the "Japanese Star Wars" as far as overall popularity is concerned.
The GOUF IGNITED gets my definite recommendation!