G-GUNDAM: THE NEW GUNDAM IN TOWN
As with the annual conceptual overhaul of POWER RANGERS, Bandai is once again bringing a new GUNDAM concept over to the United States, although there are still a number of items from the current Mobile Suit Gundam line yet to be released throughout the year.
However, the new emphasis will be on G-GUNDAM, and the toys are finally starting to arrive. G-GUNDAM, like 2000's GUNDAM WING, is one of several Gundam concepts taking place in what is regarded by die-hard Gundam fans to be one of several "alternate" universes apart from the main Gundam universe, sometimes called the "UC" or "Universal Century" Gundam world, from which Mobile Suit Gundam and a large number of sequels emanates.
Unlike the more militaristic concept of Mobile Suit Gundam and its
One can understand why Bandai would choose to bring this particular
Gundam concept over at this time. Following the attacks of September
11, the war-like Mobile Suit Gundam vanished from Cartoon Network's
schedule, and its sequels Gundam 0080 and Gundam 0083 have appeared
only in the late-night timeslot. Although it could also be argued that
since the original Mobile
Additionally, one of the most popular anime-style shows on Cartoon
There are two points to G-Gundam that I think will also help with the
I'm NOT putting down Mobile Suit Gundam. The toys impress me more than anything I've seen since the 3 3/4" G.I.Joes first came on the scene in 1982. But one has to admit that it can get a little complicated if one is not firmly entrenched in the concept, and I know full well that I'm still on a learning curve, and I'm a pretty dedicated toy collector and growing Gundam fan. So what does that say for the poor parent who has to try to make sense of the alphabet soup of the Mobile Suit Gundam world if her kids want the toys?
The other point is that the Gundams in G-Gundam are a good bit more -- for lack of a better term -- flamboyent and ornate than most of the ones from Mobile Suit Gundam. Granted, a search on the Web on a Site called Mecha and Anime Headquarters (www.mahq.com) under G-Gundam will show that there's some pretty strange stuff in this particular Gundam world, but there's also some very COOL stuff, and a lot of it is going to be on the toy shelves this year, and I have a feeling that it will only serve to increase Gundam's popularity across a far broader scale than the existing fan base.
The basic 4 1/2" scale action figrues finally started turning
up in late
Six Gundams comprise the first assortment -- Shining Gundam, Dragon Gundam, Bolt Gundam, Gundam Maxter, Gundam Rose, and Neros Gundam. Individual reviews as follows:
SHINING GUNDAM - representing Neo-Japan. I am assuming, at least based on the package design, that this is the central Gundam of the series. It's an excellent design, using a lot of primary colors as well as white, which is normal for prominent Gundam characters. The toy actually comes with a second head (!) and plenty of accessories, including a translucent green hand which I assume is meant to be some sort of power effect.
GUNDAM MAXTER - representing Neo-America. We'll have to get used to
a little bit of stereotyping in this Gundam series, based on presumed
prominent cultural aspects, and frankly, the Neo-America-based Gundam
Maxter looks a whole lot like a robotic football player. Roundish helmet
like head complete with a front protective bar, and immense rounded
"shoulder pads." Again I am
GUNDAM ROSE - representing Neo-France. Some of the stereotyping can be fairly funny if you'll let yourself have a sense of humor about it, and Gundam Rose certainly qualifies. The head is distinctly Napoleonic, and the overall design borders on artistically elegant, including what I assume to be a sort of multi-sectioned shielding across the left arm that looks for all the world like a carefully draped cape. The end result is a very distinctive Gundam.
BOLT GUNDAM - representing Neo-Russia. A good bit taller and far bulkier
than the other Gundams in this assortment, Bolt Gundam has the look
of coming from a society that is more blatantly "industrial"
and perhaps somewhat less technologically advanced than some. The head
vaguely reminds one of the typical Russian furry hat that is often seen
as part of winter gear among their military (I own an authentic Soviet
military winter hat, by the way, and those fold-down furry flaps are
great ear protection in the winter). It's difficult to say that a robot
of Japanese design looks particularly Russian, but somehow, the Bolt
Gundam manages it. Its color scheme is off-white
DRAGON GUNDAM - representing Neo-China. There's something about this
Gundam that looks just plain mean. Lots of sharp, right angles, especially
on the shoulder pads. Color scheme is mostly green and red. The arms
are interesting, in that they're sectioned with dragon heads at the
wrist. You also get as part of the accessories four additional snap-on
arm sections to extend this Gundam's reach. In its own way, the Dragon
Gundam is as
NEROS GUNDAM - representing Neo-Italy. Likely the most unusual-looking Gundam in this first assortment, this figure has a pale greenish-grey color dominating its appearance, and except for a slight Roman Centurion look to the top of its helmet, there's nothing that especially makes it look Italian. It does look ready to fight, though, with spiked wrist attachments and shoulder pads. Overall it's a very cool figure, that through its unusual color scheme makes it stand out from the other five. Interestingly, the other five are pictured in a concept illustration on the back of the card. I suspect the Neros Gundam was chosen to fill out the assortment at six.
I should also mention that each figure comes with a small "Core Booster". This is a small craft with movable engines and a rotating cockpit that plugs into the back of its Gundam. Without it, you've got a Gundam with a gaping hole in its back. This is obviously how each Gundam pilot accesses his Gunam, and they actually do give a good sense of the scale of these machines, which if they existed in real life would be the size of a five story building or so.
There's going to be plenty more toys throughout the year, including some moderately strange and at least a couple of really oddball items. How well they'll be received is anyone's guess. But the vast majority of the line should be very cool and I am looking forward to it. There's a few Gundams in the concept that I doubt Bandai will dare release as action figures, because of our politically-correct society. I don't think Neo-Mexico's "Tequila Gundam" would be very well-received in certain areas, likewise Neo-Kenya's "Zebra Gundam".
One matter I should address is that a few names have been changed from
earlier English translations. Some of this is entirely understandable.
I doubt that Gundams with names like "God Gundam" and "Devil
Gundam" would be widely welcomed, nor should they be. Some name
changes are a little more
There's a few hard-line "nay-sayers" who don't care for G-Gundam, but many of these are long established fans of the "UC" storyline and are not interested in any other concept. Some don't even care for Gundam Wing, which introduced Gundam to the American market. For myself, I think G-Gundam has a lot of potential to expand the popularity of Gundam in America, and that's got to be a good thing.