The purge of my backlogged MSIA figures continues. This time it is some of the main mobile suits from both the Gundam SEED and Gundam SEED Destiny series: the Freedom, Strike Freedom, Infinite Justice and Destiny Gundams. While there were a lot of different mobile suits through out the two anime series, these represent some of the most powerful weapons in the Gundam SEED universe and no collection could really be considered complete without them.
Packaging - 9/10I really like the packaging design for the MSIA line, especially the Gundam SEED and SEED Destiny figures. The window boxes show off the figures and accessories well. They are bright and attractive without being too garish. One of the touches which I really like which is unique to the SEED and SEED Destiny lines is the inclusion of head shots of the pilot of each mobile suit on the front and sides of the boxes. The back panel shows the features of the toy along with a computer generated image of the mobile suit in action. While I am not generally a MIB collector, it is worth noting that the packaging is collector friendly, allowing you to open the figures and remove the accessories and still return them to the packaging when you are done. But it should be noted that the boxes are not very thick and will warp over time.
Sculpting - Freedom 8/10, others 9/10The sculpting for these figures is excellent as usual for the Mobile Suit in Action line. Going by the artwork in the mechanical files that were included with the DVD's, the Freedom captures the appearance of animated design well but not quite perfectly. The proportions for the front skirt armor and waist section seem to be just a bit off, though it isn't too noticeable. The bigger short coming are the wing panels on the back. They are formed from three sections plus the cannon. But there is nothing to keep the different sections properly aligned. The cannons tend to slip down due to its weight so that it is hard to keep them hidden when not in use. The other figures avoid the issues with the wing sections either because of their design or by simply not having wings in the case of the Infinite Justice Gundam. Like the Freedom Gundam, the sculpts capture the designs well with only minor details here and there that could use some refinement such as the face on Destiny Gundam needing a bit more depth. But overall they are very good.
Paint - Strike Freedom 8/10, Infinite Justice 6/10, others 7/10Of the four figures, the Strike Freedom is my favorite in terms of the paint work. The combination of multiple colors used provides more visual interest than most of the MSIA figures. They also provide enough contrast that the lack of painted panel lines is less of an issue than it can be on other figures. Unfortunately the Strike Freedom is also one of the few MSIA figures I have gotten that had quality control issues. The paint on the chest vents is a bit messy. It isn't that bad, but it does fall short of the level of quality I usually expect from a MSIA figure. The Freedom and Destiny Gundams have better quality. But they could really benefit from inked panel lines to bring out the details of the sculpts. The Infinite Justice is about on par with the Freedom and Destiny Gundams in terms of the paint work. But the red colored plastic used for much of the figure doesn't have the richness of color that it should which makes the figure look faded.
Articulation - 8/10Mobile Suit in Action figures generally have an impressive level of articulation and these four figures are no different. With double jointed shoulders, knees and elbows, and ball joints for most of the other joints, they offer a great range of motion and generally have little to no problem holding most poses. I say they generally don't have a problem because with the massive parts and accessories that come with these figures can be enough to weigh them down.
Accessories - Freedom & Strike Freedom 8/10, Destiny 9/10, Infinite Justice 10/10The Freedom and Strike Freedom Gundams share a similar set of accessories. Each comes with a shield, beam rifle or rifles, two beam sabers with removable blades, two extra sets of hands and a file card. The hands are the usual sets of grasping hands and hands for holding a gun to replace the standard fists. The Freedom Gundam adds an additional, double bladed saber hilt instead of designing the individual hilts to combine. The Strike Freedom comes with two beam rifles which can also be combined to formed a larger cannon. While both can store their weapons when not in use, the Strike Freedom is somewhat unique in that the rifles don't just plug into a slot on the back. The rail guns which are mounted on its hips can be detached and moved to the back of the waist so that the beam rifles can take their places. Its shield is different from the standard Gundam's shield like the one that comes with the Freedom. There are small red spots on either wrist which are removed and replaced by the beam shield. The red spot is then plugged back into the shield to make it look like it is emitting the shield. Both have a nice assortment of weapons which should allow them to make quick work of any rival mobile suits.
The Destiny Gundam steps it up another notch when it comes to its accessories by all of the usual weapons and then super-sized versions of them. It has the usual beam rifle, beam sabers and shield. But instead of the usual, small beam sabers, it has two triangular shaped hilts which are stored under the shoulder armor. Each one then has both a short blade and a longer blade. But then to top even that, it has a gigantic beam sword which can fold up to store on the Destiny's back pack. It also has a large folding beam cannon that stores on the backpack to compliment its beam rifle as well. And when the regular shield isn't enough, the Destiny also has a beam shield which connects to a special pair of hands. Even its assortment of spare hands has been increased to five extra pairs of hands. There's the prerequisite grasping hands, hands to hold a gun and regular fists of course. Then they added a set of hands with exposed lasers in the palms. Each of those sets of hands is designed to have a set of guards/shield generators attached to them. The final set of hands has the shield generators molded onto them with a hole to which the beam shield is attached. For the sheer number of accessories that the Destiny Gundam comes with it almost gets a perfect score. It doesn't though because quality is an issue for the accessories. The shield generators don't stay on the hands well which makes them easy to lose. The regular shield is one that expands by removing the lower half and reattaching it in the extended position. But in either position it falls off easily. The shield itself doesn't connect to the figure as snuggly as most of them do. Packing a figure with a ton of accessories is nice. But substituting quantity for quality can only go so far.
The Infinite Justice Gundam sets a new high bar for accessories for me. Sure it has a couple of pairs of extra hands and a file card. Of course it has a shield, beam rifle and beam swords. But then it adds a beam shield on top of the regular shield. And then you find out the regular shield has a third beam sword hidden in it that can also serve as a boomerang. Then, just in case all of that was not enough, there are also two beams that attach between the knees and toes so that the Infinite Justice can slice enemies in half just by kicking them. That's an impressive set of accessories and I haven't even touched on the Infinite Justice Gundam's biggest accessory, a drone plane/backpack. The drone can be used on its own and is armed with two small cannons. When the Infinite Justice needs a lift, there is a pair of handles on the bottom that it can grab onto. But when the mobile suit needs its arms free to use other weapons, the drone can be attached to it as a backpack and will fold down for storage or clip onto the shoulders. Having something that large hanging off of the figure's shoulders makes the figure almost impossible to stand on its own. So they also included a stand that can support either the drone on its own or with the figure attached. How good are all of these accessories? The Infinite Justice Gundam was the last of the four that I opened. And by the time that I went through everything that it comes with, I was ready to give all four figures perfect tens for their accessories. I eventually got over my sense of awe to look at the accessories in a more critical light. But there aren't really any serious issues with any of the Infinite Justice Gundam's accessories. In fact the only complaint I have is that snapping the drone onto the IJ's shoulders is more difficult than it should be because the plastic used for the drone is harder than the usual plastic used for MSIA figures. But that is also a good thing since it allows the connection to support the full weight of the figure while the drone is on the display stand.
Value - Infinite Justice 10/10, Destiny & Strike Freedom 9/10 Freedom 8/10The Infinite Justice sold for around $20 in Japan while the others were a bit cheaper, around $16. Even after you figure in the cost of shipping from overseas or the markup you generally have to pay from importers, all four of these figures provide a remarkable value. Both the Freedom and Strike Freedom solid offerings with a lot of play or display options. But with the Destiny and Infinite Justice which are loaded with so many accessories, they start to pale in comparison. The only thing keeping the Destiny Gundam from a perfect score are the minor quality issues with its accessories.
Happy Hunting:I ordered these figures several years ago so finding them these days is considerably more difficult. If you are interested in ordering some imported Mobile Suit in Action figures, the two places I generally look are Hobby Link Japan or Japan Toys.com. Both have the Strike Freedom, Destiny and Infinite Justice available or due in soon. It may also be worth checking you favorite on line shop as many carry the MSIA line or did at one time.