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REVIEW: NEW GUNDAMS FROM JAPAN
By Thomas Wheeler

Given the lack of Gundams in the United States as of this writing, although based on Toy Fair information from Bandai they're gearing up to inundate us with toys from the forthcoming GUNDAM SEED concept, it is nonetheless fortunate that Japan has not been similarly deprived. One new Gundam and two new Zakus have turned up, and thanks to three online auctions out of Hong Kong with very reasonable "Buy It Now" prices, I've been able to acquire them:

GUNDAM "G-05" RX-78-5

The G-05 is an improved version of the original RX-78 Gundam, with improved performance. The suit was assigned to the Thoroughbred, where it was piloted by Lt. Ford Romfellow. Aboard the Thoroughbred, the G-05 would take part in numerous actions, often against superior enemy forces. The G-05 would eventually be upgraded with high performance thrusters, giving it the edge against advanced Zeon mobile suits. The adventures of Ford Romfellow and the G-05 appear in the recent Encounters in Space video game.

The toy is a truly superb but somewhat different-looking Gundam in my opinion. Most "major player" Gundams have tended to use primary colors. Generally a white body with red, yellow, and/or blue trim. The original Gundam, Wing Gundam, Wing Gundam Zero, Burning Gundam, Shining Gundam, Zeta Gundam, all follow this pattern. Not this Gundam. Although the body is primarily white, the torso is dark grey and the trim is dark orange and yellow. The effect is surprisingly striking, presenting a Gundam that looks like a major player but still manages to be quite different, and it is certainly more complex a design than the original Gundam (whose storyline universe it shares) by a vast, considerable margin. In short, this is one cool new Gundam!

The toy comes with an abundance of accessories, including two beam sabers, a huge shield, several spare hands, and a large rifle, complete with an ammo belt. I'd hate to think what calibre the bullets must be, given that the average Gundam, if it existed in real life, would be roughly the height of a five-story building.

The Gundam figure has the excellent detail and amazing articulation of all of Bandai's fine Gundam products, and has a 2003 copyright date on the back of its leg. I don't see any sign of reused parts here, so this is really an all-new Gundam.

MS-06F ZAKU II [Dozzle Zabi's Custom]

The personal mobile suit of Dozzle Zabi, commander of the Zeon Space Assault Force. The suit was modified for his use, notably, a larger cockpit for his large frame, and the use of a customized heat-hawk. Dozzle used this suit when inspecting his forces. The suit first appeared in the MSV (Mobile Suit Variations) line, and has since made several video game appearances including the recent Encounters in Space.

This is a truly regal-looking Zaku. Cast in a color that's somewhere between forest green and turquoise, the Zaku has metallic gold trim lines on the shoulder pads, torso, and lower legs, along with several rather ornate symbols also done in metallic gold. The figure has more sophisticated articulation than some Gundam action figures, in that the elbows and knees are double-jointed, allowing for a greater range of motion.

This Zaku comes with an extremely ornate axe, which decidedly befits the rest of its appearance, as well as four spare hands, an immense rifle, and a small custom Dopp Fighter craft with a tiny little pilot in the cockpit. Seeing this gives you an idea of the scale of these things if they existed in real life.

MS-06FS ZAKU II [Garma Zabi's Custom]

Like his brother Dozzle, Garma had his personal mobile suit customized for his personal use. The mobile suit had the modification of four 40mm vulcan guns mounted in the head. Garma only rarely used the suit when he was on Earth. The suit first appeared in the MSV line, and has also made several video game appearances, including Journey to Jaburo.

This Zaku is molded in an orangeish-tan, with an olive green torso and arm "cuffs". It also has a resculpted head, which is significant because the tiny little "bumps" on top with the black points on them are actually the vulcan cannons, a feature unique to this Zaku. Like the other new Zaku, this one has the double-jointed elbows and knees.

It comes with a more standard-looking axe, as well as a large rifle, four spare hands, some other equipment, and also a small custom Dopp Fighter with pilot in the cockpit.

Both of the new Zakus have 2003 copyright dates on their legs. Interestingly, their packages have 2004 copyright dates, so they're obviously brand-new products.

With the present-but-hopefully-soon-to-be-alleviated dearth of new Gundam products in the United States, these three new Gundam figures are a definite treat. If you have any opportunity to acquire any or, better still, all of them, especially since there are no known plans to release any of them in the United States, then I most highly recommend them. They were all be excellent additions to your Gundam collection!

Special thanks to Dave Goellnitz for providing the character backgrounds for these three Gundam toys, derived from the Mecha Domain Web Site.