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By Thomas Wheeler

Well, new Gundams are slowly coming out, but they're coming out through the proverbial eyedropper. I reviewed the boxed AILE STRIKE GUNDAM last time around. Since that time, only two other new Gundams, both deluxe carded versions, have popped up since then, the LAUNCHER STRIKE GUNDAM, which is really just the same Strike Gundam with a different set of accessories, and the new BUSTER GUNDAM, which I will review here.

One does wonder about the limited release of so few characters, though. Looking back on the release of G-Gundam, Bandai turned loose six figures all at once -- the five core Gundams -- Shining, Maxter, Rose, Bolt, and Dragon, plus the Neros, which was in the first episode of the series. The only theory could be that between various reissues from other Gundam concepts, as well as the ridiculous SD and Battle-Scarred lines, none of which were factors a couple of years ago, Bandai's spread themselves a little too thin in the Gundam world. That's not good news. Anyway, back to the Buster.

According to information received from one of my Gundam experts, the background on the Buster Gundam unit in the show is as follows: The GAT-X103 Buster Gundam is one of the five Gundams developed by the Earth Alliance to counter the ZAFT Ginn mobile suits. As part of their Gundam series, this suit was developed as a long range artillery support mobile suit. It was armed with a variety of heavy weapons, including a gun launcher, a high enery rifle, and an arrary of missile launchers. Like the other Gundam suits, it was armed with Phase Shift armor, giving it superior armor protection. As fate would have it, the Buster Gundam was captured during a ZAFT attack, and would be assigned to ZAFT pilot Dearka Elsman, who would end up using it against the Strike Gundam.

As for the toy, as one has certainly come to expect from Bandai's Gundam products (SD and Battle Scarred notwithstanding), this action figure is excellent. Plenty of articulation, detail, and accessories.

Appearance-wise, it's slightly taller than the Strike Gundam, and apparently this is in keeping with the relative size of the Gundam units within the show. Perhaps the Buster Gundam's most notable feature are the two extra-long V-antennae coming out of its head. This thing could easily be given the nickname "rabbit-ears". However, the rest of it doesn't look especially cuddly or fluffy, so one might not want to use that nickname to its face.

Its colors are somewhat muted. The bulk of the Buster Gundam is a pale greyish-tan, with very dark green segments, and brick-red trim. This tends to make its bright green eyes stand out that much more, even though they are recessed under a very prominent "brow".

On the toy, two hatches on the shoulder units open up, to reveal some sort of weapons ports, gune or small missile launchers, I assume. There is also an odd hinged construct around the waist which merges with a backpack. It's a fairly complex apparatus that works with the weapons the Buster Gundam comes with, when those accessories are in use.

Although not the meanest-looking Gundam ever created, there is a certain almost malevolent "all-business" look about the Buster Gundam. This is a Gundam that has come to fight on a battlefield, and expects to win, and probably has a very good chance of doing so. Its color scheme enhances this overall look, and sets it apart from the usual "primary color" Gundams.

I certainly recommend adding the BUSTER GUNDAM to your Gundam collection! Let's hope that there will be many more from Gundam SEED to follow, and soon!