Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Gundam STANDart volume 9

We're stepping back into our time machine again, as it is time to take a look at the ninth incarnation of the STANDart figure line. These figures originally appeared three years ago, in March 2011. This translates to the time of the ancients as far as STANDart is concerned, and you'll have to dig deep to find the mobile suits making up this set. Apart from the four standard figures there is also a "limited edition - overseas only" variation of the Unicorn Gundam which we will treat as a part of the set, though it most probably was released separately later in the same year (the box states 2011).

One reason this set is now hard to obtain is of course the fact that it is made up of high profile mobile suits only. As you can see there are no "minor" figures in this set, but two well known Gundams and two versions of the iconic Z'Gok amphibious mobile suit. It took me considerable luck and effort to find all the figures, the two missing pieces turning up in two separate second hand shops in Tokyo.

Lately I've been seeing the limited edition Unicorn popping up a lot online which again suggests that the "limited overseas" figures might not be that limited at all, or at least they are proving easier to find on the international market.

The figures come in the smaller boxes similar to the current output (as of STANDart volume 19 that is), so I guess Bandai made the switch either with this or the previous volume, as the figures in volume seven still came in the larger boxes with separate compartments for all accessories. Some minor assembly is required, mainly to attach claws to the Z'Gok hands, which is just as frustratingly boring as with the Converge Z'Goks. Overall though, once the claws are set in place, they remain and do not fall out easily.

032 : The set starts off with a well known face; the RX-0 Unicorn Gundam here in its Unicorn Mode. The mobile suit is equipped with a single Beam Gatling Gun and a shield which is snapped in place on the lefthand wrist. The model has some very fine sculpting, especially on its legs, and there are many small details in metal grey colour. The RX-0 features standard STANDart articulation which translates to a head that can be moved to each side as well as arms that rotate at the shoulders. It is an excellent depiction of the Unicorn Gundam and a neat entry into any STANDart collection.

033 : Although volume nine consists of some very nice looking mobile suits, the FA-010S Full Armor ZZ Gundam is bound to grab hold of your attention, owing to its massive chunky appearance. Fielded by the A.E.U.G., the ZZ Gundam is a devastatingly powerful assault mobile suit armed with a large dual beam rifle on its righthand wrist and two beam sabers extending from its flight backpack. The ZZ Gundam figure is awesomely detailed with many fine details and a rich pastel of colours. This is one of those models where you keep seeing new details the more you stare at it.

Because of its outrageously large shoulder pads the articulation of the arms, though present at the shoulder, is prohibited by the large backpack. The head can be made to look in different directions but that is pretty much it. Due to the heavy backpack a plastic support is provided which can be inserted underneath the backpack to prevent the Gundam from toppling backwards, but as evident in the photos this piece is not really necessary unless you are placing the figure on a sloping plane (or maybe in the event that a leg might be slightly bent or so). This is a true killer model which will dominate its surroundings and drag viewers in. If you can find it, you'll most likely want to grab it.

034 : The highlights in this set just keep on coming. After two Gundams the next contender is no less familiar or iconic, it is the MSM-07S Z'Gok amphibious mobile suit of Zeon fame, here in its red Char's Custom livery. Whenever a new line of Gundam figures is born, you can be sure that the Z'Gok is not far off, a true survivor. Perhaps mainly due to its exotic appearance as well as the fact that its features give the modellers an easy break from all the intricately detailed Gundams. This is not to say that the Z'Gok is a bad design, and as a STANDart model it truly shines. Bandai and Volks added so many nice features to this figure, the least obvious being the super-detailed soles of its feet.

As for articulation the figure has arms rotating at the shoulder, and since the head is firmly in place on the torso the entire torso can be made to twist to the sides instead. You insert the claws into slots in the hands and due to their configuration they can only be inserted so that they point straight ahead. Where both Assault Kingdom and Ultimate Operation figures featured extra hands with open claws the STANDart figure does not. I have only ever seen this particular figure on one single occasion, and promptly grabbed it. I would advice you to do the same.

035 : The final figure in the set is the standard blue colour variation of the Zeon MSM-07 Z'Gok. Save for the colour scheme its features are completely identical to the red version. Blue Z'Goks can also be found in several other figure lines but I would argue this is one of its better appearances. Just look at all those nice details in the shots above. As with Char's Z'Gok, I only ever managed to find a single of these available for sale, luckily I grabbed it. I would seriously recommend STANDart collectors to be truly vigilant in the case of sourcing Z'Goks for your collections.

032 special : The last figure covered in this review will be the limited edition RX-0 Unicorn Gundam (Unicorn Mode), which comes in a black version of the box with a blotch stating "for overseas only". As usual it is not exactly clear what is meant by "overseas", but the figure has found its way to sellers in Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea, which means you'll stand a good chance to find a nice deal on this particular Gundam.

Anyway, the overseas only edition of the RX-0 does differs from the standard version in two ways. The most obvious is the fact that the mobile suit now features a nice and shiny metallic coating, as can hopefully be seen in the comparison shots above. This is a rather common feature for the limited versions of figures in the STANDart and Converge lines. The second change is the revised weaponry. Much like the original RX-0 in the anime, the RX-0 has been upgraded from one to two Beam Gatling guns. The limited version also attaches these two Gatling Guns directly to the shield, changing the mount from righthanded to lefthanded. This is a nice and simple way of tweaking a limited version to make people go the extra mile and grab it I suppose. If you only want one Unicorn in your collection either will do, both are exceptionally good looking figures.

Size comparison: The Unicorn Gundam stands about 9 cm tall (including the horn). The ZZ Gundam comes in at around 9,5 cm (tip of the beam sabres) and the Z'Gok is about 7,5 cm tall.
All in all, there is a lot to like about STANDart volume 9. In fact the only major letdown is the now relative scarcity of these figures, so interested readers would do well to keep both eyes and ears open.

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