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By Thomas Wheeler

Ever leave a toy behind in a store, that you just felt you weren't all
that interested in at the time, or couldn't justify the cost of, and then
really kicked yourself over it later?

I did that last year, during the G.I.Joe Convention. I saw this Gundam
toy at the Mitsukoshi Department Store in the Japan section of World
Showcase, which is part of Walt Disney World's Epcot Center. I figured I
could get it later if I wanted it.

Then Gundam sort of slowly disappeared from the stores, and I never did
see it. And I sort of regretted not picking it up.

So recently, when a good friend of mine told me that he was headed for a
short vacation to Walt Disney World, and asked me if there was anything
he could get there for me, I started the reply with, "There's this Gundam
toy at the Mitsukoshi Department Store in the Japan section of World
Showcase..." At least I hoped there would still be a supply there. It
was, after all, getting close to a year since that trip.

They still had some, and now I have one. Why didn't I pick up this toy to
begin with? Apart from depleted finances, which remains a problem, I
never really steadily collected the 7.5" Gundams. I tend to prefer the
4.5" scale Gundams. They're less expensive, take up less room to display
individually, and there's more of them. Also, the 7.5" line got its start
in the United States with G-Gundam, not Gundam Seed.

Don't get me wrong. I liked G-Gundam. It's pretty much my favorite Gundam
series, even if it isn't most people's. But the 7.5" figures from that
toy line were actually derived from an earlier G-Gundam toy line that was
developed before any of the 4.5" lines, and not only looked a little
bulky in comparison to their animated forms, but most of them had asinine
spring-action features that tended to have unfortunate hindrances on the
articulation. So I didn't buy too many of those. It just wasn't worth the
time or money to spend on toys that I wasn't that impressed with, when
there was a much better and more affordable version available.

But Gundam Seed wasn't even released in Japan until 2003. It was the
newest Gundam series of all, at least until its sequel, Gundam Seed
Destiny, came along. I figured that any 7.5" versions of figures from
this line might be a little more impressive. But at the time, on the
heels of a rather expensive trip, I just couldn't justify the cost.

This is not the only 7.5" Strike Gundam, however. A while back, when K*B
Toys acquired a generous supply of Gundam Seed toys to clearance, a 7.5"
Strike Gundam turned up in the "Arch-Enemy" packaging (see separate
review). This was a short-lived line of Gundam toys that also represented
Gundam Wing and the original Mobile Suit Gundam. Designed to be fairly
"high end", they tended to retail for around $25.00 (I got the Strike for
$7.00), had a certain amount of airbrushed detail on them, nothing
intolerable, and came with an abundance of accessories.

The Strike Gundam that was packed in the Arch-Enemy packaging was listed
as the Aile Strike. The "Aile" refers to its weapons package, just as
"Launcher" refers to the weapons package that the standard 7.5" Gundam I
received came with. But I wondered, once I got the one that I'd seen in
Walt Disney World -- how similar were the two toys? They would have had
different price points had they been released in stores at full price.
And yet they were still basically the same Gundam at the same price. Were
there similarities?

Um, yep, I'd say so. They're pretty much the same set of molds. What's
interesting is the differences. The "Arch-Enemy" Strike Gundam's main
color is a sort of pale grey. The standard 7.5" Strike Gundam's primary
color is a very stark white. The other colors on the figures, the red,
the blue, and the yellow, are identical for both figures.

The "Arch-Enemy" Strike has some very slight airbrushed detailing on it.
The standard Strike does not. Both figures have quite a few small screws
as part of their assembly, but the "Arch-Enemy" version has a number of
small plastic plugs over a number of the intended screw-holes.

And, of course, the two figures come with completely different
accessories (although they both have those tiny little "Armor Schneider"
pocket knives that are just asking to be vacuum cleaner bait).

The Launcher Strike Gundam, which is the main focus of this review, comes
with a Combo Weapons Pod that clips to the right shoulder of the Mobile
Suit, and features an Anti-Ship Vulcan Cannon and a Gun Launcher. It also
comes with an "Agni" Hyper Impulse Cannon, a massive thing that's taller
than the figure. If you keep in mind that a Gundam, if it existed in real
life, would be at least the height of a five-story building -- that makes
for a biiiiig gun. It's spring-loaded, and has a missile-firing action.

The basic origin/explanation of the Strike Gundam, as stated on the
package, is as follows: The Strike Gundam is one of the five Gundams
secretly developed by the Earth Alliance forces, and the only Gundam that
was not captured by ZAFT. It has three different armor configurations
(Launcher, Aile, and Sword) giving it an advantage in various battle
situations. The PS (Phase Shift) Armor protects it from almost all beam
attacks, but it consumes a great deal of energy. When a Phase Shift Down
occurs, the armor ceases to move and all functions stop.

The articulation on the toy is as excellent as the detail, which is
highly impressive. The figure is articulated at the head, arms, swivel
arm, double-jointed elbows, wrists, waist, legs, swivel leg, double-
jointed knees, and ankles.

Do I recommend this toy? Absolutely. But unless you live close enough to
Walt Disney World where dropping by the store in World Showcase isn't a
hassle for you, or you find one on eBay, or some of these did make it to
some stores and I don't know about it, I honestly don't know where you'd
get one. Even its "Arch-Enemy" Series counterpart didn't last long on
clearance at K*B when it turned up.

But if you CAN find one, then I most certainly recommend the GUNDAM SEED