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REVIEW: Mobile Suit Gundam FA-78-1 FULL ARMOR GUNDAM
By Thomas Wheeler

Even though Bandai is rolling out the new GUNDAM SEED toys, that doesn't mean that we're not occasionally hearing from other realms of the Gundam universe here and there. And one of the newest entries is a very impressive item, as well as one that's long overdue.

Originally intended for release some time ago, the FA-78-1 FULL ARMOR GUNDAM has just started turning up in some areas, and as it was, I had to get mine from eBay.

This toy is based, at least in basic form, on the original FX-78-1 GUNDAM from the original MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM series that started the entire phenomenon back in the late 1970's. However, comparing that original Gundam to this Full Armor version is a little like comparing a pick-up truck with a tank. They're both pretty big vehicles, but one's going to do a lot more damage on a battlefield.

A friend of mine, Dave Goellnitz, cobbled together some background information on the FULL ARMOR GUNDAM as explained within the Gundam concept itself: The FA-78-1 Full Armor Gundam was developed as an upgrade for the orignal RX-78 Gundam. The suit was given optional heavy armor and a great deal of additional weapons. The weapons included the standard head vulcuns, a heavy cannon mounted on the backpack, missile launchers in the legs and shoulders, topped off by a double barreled beam cannon and beam sabers. Due to these increases in weapons and armor, the suits mobility was limited, which led to the addition of more thrusters for added mobility. At least one FA-78-1 reported to have been fielded, piloted by Federation Ace pilot Heinz Baer. The FA-78-1 would eventually serve in the developement of other mobile suits. The suit first appeared in the MSV line, and has recently appeared in the Gundam video game, Encounters in Space.

He's not kidding about that "optional heavy armor and a great deal of additional weapons", either. The toy, although a standard Gundam action figure, almost comes across as one of those near-kit-like Gundam FIX figures that a number of online store importers carry. I haven't seen this much additional snap-on armor on a carded Gundam figure since the NT-1 Gundam, and the Full Armor has it beat, I think.

The only major difference between the classic original Gundam and the Full Armor version -- before you get into the full armor, that is -- is the larger armored feet, and the overall color scheme. Instead of the classic traditional primary colors of white with red, blue, and yellow trim, the Full Armor Gundam is predominantly military olive green, with some off-white and yellow. Apart from that, though, it's almost identical to the original Gundam.

Until you start pulling the armor pieces out of the package and putting them on the figure. Most of them snap rather neatly into place. The only ones that are a bit of a pain are the lower arm armor pieces, which require you to remove the figure's hands, slide the armor on, and then put the hands back in place. Leverage is a bit of a problem here, as is the fact that Gundam parts are designed to snap off rather than break, so if you push the hand back in too hard, the whole lower arm is going to go flying. My recommendation? Remove the ENTIRE lower arm at the elbow, then remove the hand, snap the armor piece into place, replace the hand, and then snap the armored lower arm back on the Gundam. Trust me, it's easier and less frustrating.

And for crying out loud, don't give this Gundam toy to a small child that has no experience with toy assembly.

The end result, I should certainly mention, is a very bulked-up and mean-looking Gundam that is clearly ready to dominate any battlefield. This isn't a bright, slender, colorful Gundam. This is a big, mean, military green Gundam that's going to stomp all over the place with its big armored boots, when it's not blasting everything out of the sky with its considerable arsenal.

And, it's worth noting, the additional armor segments do not in any way hinder the toy's articulation, which as we have certainly come to expect from Gundam action figures, is superb.

The emphasis for Gundam may be on GUNDAM SEED right now, and that's as it should be, and these are certainly cool toys worth collecting. But I am sincerely pleased that Bandai is also putting out the occasional new product from the other realms of the Gundam universe, and any Gundam fan will be pleased with the FA-78-1 FULL ARMOR GUNDAM! It may not be that easy to find, but it has my highest recommendation.