Today I have a somewhat surprising review, more Superior Defender Gundam Force figures. It's surprising because very few
people, my self included, thought that these figures would ever see the light of day on U.S. shelves. I've heard scattered
reports of the last few SD Gundam figures popping up in Canada and even one or two claims of finding some of the later
carded figures at Toys R Us. But when I walked into a Big Lots store last week and was greeted by a whole section of SD
Gundam figures, I was elated. In addition to some of the later basic and deluxe carded figures, They had three new box sets:
Heavy Weapons Captain Gundam, Bakunetsumaru with Entengo and Tallgeese with the Griffin. I had been very tempted to import
these earlier, but by the time I gave up on them showing up domestically, they were getting hard to find even as imports.
Needless to say, I snapped these up in a heartbeat.
Packaging - 9/10All three of these sets come in boxes similar to the one used for the Nu Gundam set. The large window on the front allows for a clear view of the figures and all the accessories. The two SD Gundam logos and a photo of the figure are included around the window. The sides have photos of some of the other figures that were produced as part of the line. They even went so far as to match the figures pictured with the set. Captain Gundam has Zapper Zaku, Grappler Gouf and Destroyer Dom pictured. Bakunetsumaru has Cobramaru and Ashuramaru. And Tallgeese has Vayeate, Mercurius and Pawn Leo. The other end of each box shows the other box sets, including Zero with the Feather Dragon. (Who knows, perhaps it will find its way out to shelves as well.) The back of each box has photos of each figure in its various configuration, a CG image of the figure and even a small bio. All in all, the packaging is very nice for these.
Sculpting - 9/10The sculpting for the SD Gundam line has been excellent, and these are no different. Bakunetsumaru is largely a reuse of the basic carded figure with slight changes. The obvious change is a new head sculpt with a removable helmet. But there are also new sculpts for the hands and shoulder pads. Of course Entengo is completely new. The proportions for Entengo are a bit off. He is too short and fat, particularly in the shoulders and head which makes it very difficult for a figure to fit on its back. HW Captain Gundam is a completely new sculpt. While the differences are subtle, there are changes to the hands, ankle covers, and a few other areas. Plus the entire figure is slightly taller and bulkier. Tallgeese is of course a new figure. (Unless you happen to be one of the few people who found the Mercurius and Vayeate figures.) The detail work is quite impressive in translating the regular mobile suit into its SD form. But as with the past SD Gundam figures, there are a considerable number of screw holes visible. Even on places such as the feet where the holes could have been hidden on the insides, they are left on the outsides.
Paint - HW Captain Gundam & Tallgeese 7/10, Bakunetsumaru 8/10There is aren't any real changes in the paint work for Captain Gundam. It appears as if the paint may be a bit darker than the carded version. But it could be that mine has faded slightly. Bakunetsumaru has a few changes over the carded version. The colors appear to be darker overall once again. The ankle guards are much darker. The written symbol has been added to the sensor on his chest. And of course, since the helmet is removable, the head is fully painted. Entengo hurts the score slightly since so much of his body is just white. But there is enough color from the guards and saddle to keep it from looking too plain. Like Entengo, Tallgeese and the Griffin both have nicely executed paint jobs, but are largely monochrome. The Griffin in particular only has a handful of paint applications while the vast majority of the body is gold. The Tallgeese is not as bad, but the largely white body can seem plain. But regardless of the design, the execution on all of the figures is all but flawless.
Articulation - 10/10The SD Gundam Force figures pack a surprising amount of articulation into such small and thick bodies. Bakunetsumaru has the following articulation:
Accessories - Tallgeese 9/10, others 8/10As you would expect from a figure call Heavy Weapon, Captain Gundam comes with a lot of weapons. He has a rifle, shield, missile firing packs for both shoulders and a frame with wheels and half-track treads that replace his backpack. The only thing he is missing is a beam saber. But it is more than the sheer quantity of accessories that come with the figure, it is the work that went into them. All of the weapons are new, including the gun for which they could have easily reused the one from the carded figure. Each missile pack fires two missiles independently. Even the little missile launchers on the sides of the shield and half-tracks can be opened. The only thing missing would be working treads. Granted, that may seem like I'm asking too much. But they did have working treads on the Guntank figure. Even if working treads are unrealistic, they should have included some sort of wheels under the treads to allow the figure to roll freely in the vehicle configurations. The accessories allow several possible configurations. All of them can be combined to form the Heavy Weapon Unit Option-G, a small tank. Once attached to the figure, it can transform between Heavy Weapon (robot) mode and Gunvehicle mode.
Bakunetsumaru comes equipped with his two swords, scabbards, his helmet, two war flags and two missile firing cannons. The swords and scabbards are identical to those of the carded figure. The helmet isn't too remarkable, but fits snugly. The war banners are a nice way to distinguish between the two versions of the figure. They can be held by the figure or plugged into the figure's back. The cannons are the most notable addition to the set, and yet are the least interesting of all the accessories. The two cannons can be plugged into Entengo's shoulders or joined together and held by the figure. But doing so requires that the swords and scabbards be removed first.
Tallgeese comes with his shield, sword, a scabbard for the sword, his lance and a removable cape. The sword is very well done. I also like the inclusion of a scabbard for it, but there is no place to store it once it is in its scabbard. It might have been better if they had skipped the scabbard and included the gold feather that he is always carrying in the show. The shield looks nice and can either clip to the figure's wrist or be held in its hand. The lance is huge and looks great. But it does have a drawback. The handle slides through the base and into the shaft of the lance. But the handle pops out too easily when placing it into or removing it from the figure's hand. Then of course there is the Griffin/Griffin armor. There are a dozen pieces of armor that can be removed from the Griffin and attached to the Tallgeese once the shoulder pads are removed. Most of the pieces attach securely. The chest protector and shoulder guards can be prone to falling off, a problem that is likely to worsen with repeated play. The only real problem is that the Griffin looks pretty silly once half of its limbs have been lopped off.
Value - Tallgeese 10/10, HW Captain Gundam & Bakunetsumaru 9/10If these had made it to regular retail outlets, the price probably would have been around the $15 mark. But you are not likely to find them for that price. There are a few specialty retailers that got these in stock and due to their scarcity, marked them up to obscene levels. (I've seen places charging as much as $45 for a single carded figure.) But the good news is that Bandai seems to be selling off the remaining stock to outlet stores. Big Lots, where I found them, was charging just $5.99 each for the box sets. That's getting an entire set for the price of a single carded figure. If you can track them down for that price, all three are a great value, particularly since this is the only way to get Tallgeese or Entengo.
Happy Hunting:Your options for finding these are limited. As I've mentioned several times already, I found them at Big Lots which is a chain of liquidator stores. But even they are hit and miss. I have heard of at least one other person finding them there. But I have also heard from several people who check Big Lots stores in their areas with no luck. (If you want to find out if there is a Big Lots store in your area, their website has a store locator.) There is also the possibility of these showing up in other liquidator chains. So if you may want to look around on your next shopping trip. Of course there is always the option of the secondary market such as eBay. But don't expect them to be cheap.