Monday, 16 March 2015

Assault Kingdom vol. 8

Assault Kingdom have come a long way. In just two years time we have already received some 40 different figures (a few of these are minor variations but still). The line has stayed true to the formula of dropping sets of four distinct figures, For some reason AK has never had to deal with secret figures or hidden colour variations or the like. Proving this point more than ever, Assault Kingdom 8 is an explosion of colour and style, from sleek melee fighters to bulky space dwellers with giant bazookas. Even the boxes themselves have become more expressive and colourful over the years, giving a very distinct impression when compared to the rather dry style of the early sets.

In AK8 we get four figures with very different backgrounds. Apart from one classic One Year War design we get a second figure from the G Gundam alternate universe, as well as the first two figures from the Gundam Build Fighters storyline. This marks the first time Build Fighters are represented in any of the Bandai Shokugan figure sets covered on this blog, it will be interesting to see if the line continues to expand.

As you can see from the combination photo above, volume 8 follows the classic Assault Kingdom set up, gum and all. But let's waste no more time here and head on over to the figures themselves.

29 : Premiere! The very first Build Fighters mobile suit for AK. This is the GAT-X105B/ST Star Build Strike Gundam used by the series' main character, Sei Iori, dedicated GUNPLA builder. The idea behind the Build Fighters show is that modelers take existing frames and modify them to their heart's content, and then send them into arenas to duke it out with other customized figures in gladiatorial fights. The Star Build Strike has its origin in the SEED GAT-X105 Strike Gundam design.

The Star Build Strike comes loaded with a good selection of equipment. The figure comes with two weapons and its signature shield. Apart from a simple toothpick style beam saber (oh, how i wish it was translucent or at least a different colour) there is also the Star Beam Rifle with its extendable barrel, which can be snapped in place to extend the weapon, transforming it to the high power Discharge Rifle in the process.

On the back sits the UB-01 Universe Booster fighter which also doubles as a power generator when not separated. Truly a good selection of gear.

"Star Buil-du Ste-rike, ikimasu!"
All figures in Assault Kingdom 8 once again feature the same type of transparent bases that we saw in AK7. After the many somewhat lackluster and gimmicky stands included with early sets of AK, Bandai seem to have settled for these highly versatile and functional bases which give a lot of posing options. Just like the GAT-X105 Gundam it is modeled upon, the Star Build Strike figure also features excellent articulation, thanks to its many sleek limbs. You'll have a lot of fun coming up with various poses for this guy.

(Saber and shield borrowed from the Star Build Strike figure).
30 : Following closely behind comes the second figure from Gundam Build Fighters, the BG-011B Build Burning Gundam. This is actually the successor of Sei Iori's Star Build Strike, and its heritage can easily be seen in the design, a little bit cheeky by Bandai (why didn't they feature one of the Star Build Strike's many opponents for example) but the figure actually has more going for it than I had first anticipated.

A very different feel from the Star Build Strike box, the accessories are very easily counted here... Still, the Burning Gundam is built for melee combat and as such actually doesn't feature much in the range of weaponry, so I can't really moan about it that much.

International Karate +.  The Build Burning Gundam has something to teach the RX-78 (AK vol. 7, released November 2014) and the Astray Red Frame (AK3, November 2013).
What the Build Burning Gundam has going for it is of course excellent articulation. The sleek design lends itself very well to this and the engineers have given it a very generous ability to kick high and low in ways that most Assault Kingdom figures can only dream about. I suspect a lot of Assault Kingdom veterans will probably think back to the Gundam Astray Red Frame from Volume 3 (pictured in the fight above) which was also a superb melee figure. These figures were designed with full contact in mind, and with the great action bases we have now the figures will be able to pull off a lot of great stunts. Extremely high entertainment factor on this guy!

31 : Alright, so this is the moment I have been waiting for. No Gundam figure series is even half-complete without the mighty Dom. In this case, we are graced with the presence of the spacefaring MS-09R Rick Dom variety. Out of all the mobile suit designs from the past 30 or so years, the Dom is one of my absolute favourites. And representing the bulky designs, it is always exciting to see how well Bandai have managed to articulate the big and bulky machine.

The Rick Dom comes loaded with its two very iconic weapons, a heat saber and a giant bazooka. The heat saber clips to a holder which is pegged into the back of the figure, making this the only Assault Kingdom figure to be able to actually store its saber weapon when not in use. "A" for effort. And here is the only major complaint I have against AK8, why is the heat saber white and not yellow? Was it really worth skimping on the cost here? It is akin to painting the Zeta's V-fin white. Meh...

Just like the Rick Dias from AK7, the Rick Dom features surprisingly good articulation. Although it is tricky to handle the large bazooka weapon I was able to pull off some various poses with it. Of course it is no dancing Build Burning Gundam but it doesn't have to be. I'm very pleased with how the figure turned out in this regard.

The Assault Kingdom Rick Dom flanked by the STANDart Rick Dom (STANDart volume 11, released October 2011) to the left, and the old FW Ultimate Operation Dom (FWUO volume 5, released April 2004). All three feature the heat saber and the giant bazooka weapons.

I wonder if Bandai will be producing the bright red Rick Dom piloted by Char Aznable. It always seems to pop-up where the standard version goes, sometimes in annoying secret or limited edition varieties. I'll be keeping my eyes peeled. Meanwhile, the vanilla Rick Dom will bring much enjoyment. I can easily see this figure becoming a bit rare as no doubt a lot of people are going to grab three of them to build a Black Tri-Star formation. Don't sleep on this guy!

32 : The fourth and last figure of volume 8 is another high performer; the GF13-001NHII Master Gundam. Again we return to the gladiatorial setting of dueling combatants, only this time the figure hails from the G Gundam universe, where it is piloted by Shuuji Kurosu (also hopelessly named Master Asia).

The Master Gundam is built and optimized for full contact combat, which again explains the absence of any rifle style weaponry. However, he does have a couple of other tricks up his sleeve. The most obvious of these is the Master Cloth, a beam type weapon which can be manipulated as if it were a belt. The part is molded in elastic rubbery plastic and invites you to get creative.

The largest accessory for the figure is the large wing binder assembly which can be attached to the figure's back. The wings are very flexible and can wiggle and turn in many directions to allow for a full spread to the sides, or folded away on the back. In the anime the Master Gundam can also fold the wings to form a turtle-like armored shell, but this level of technology is a bit above the capabilities of the Assault Kingdom figure. You'll need to use the action base to get the best poses out of the Master Gundam, his wings are very back heavy and his tiny feet do not offer much support.

Left: Master of the beam emitter. The Master Gundam's palms can emit beam energy, a handy way of discharging some extra stopping power. Right: Towel snap. The elastic Beam Cloth weapon put to good use against the Shining Gundam (Assault Kingdom 6, released September 2014).
The Master Gundam also comes equipped with no less than four types of distinct hands. It  is currently the only AK figure to feature this many optional hands and it will be interesting to see if any other Gundam will dare challenge it. Needless to say, this really opens up the possibilities for expressive stances and posturing.

The 1/220 scale G Gundam crew continues to expand. Here the Master Gundam joins Shining Gundam (from Assault Kingdom 6 released in September 2014), the two flanked by two versions of the STANDart God Gundam (volume 5, released September 2009).


Assault Kingdom 8 is a monster. It is one of those sets that deliver a little bit of everything, and doing so with a lot of enthusiasm. Apart from some minor nitpick here and there, this should be a safe buy for any AK fan. Overall I am reminded of the greatness of Assault Kingdom Volume 3, which also featured a highly dynamic figure set.

The new hand sculpts introduced with AK8 are really great for some variation (Assault Kingdom figures usually always come with the same two variations) in the poses you can get out of the figures, I am hoping we will continue to see more variations here, and of course, more variations included with each figure.

The DOM duels the RGM-79 from Assault Kingdom 7, borrowing the beautiful translucent sabers found in the Sazabi premium pack (EX 03L).

Another item that sits very high up on my AK wishlist is a weapons pack. One of the great strengths of the Assault Kingdom figure line is the modularity of the gear. Except for a few rare occurrences, any figure can pick up pretty much any weapon and use it, so a universal wepaons pack would be very useful. A couple extra bazookas, rifles, shields and most importantly a set of transparent beam sabers in different colours would really take things to the next level! Bandai's most recent Shokugan series Build Model Gundam does something similar, (although it places all weapons of the set in a separate box which is kind of silly). Here's hoping Bandai have some surprises in store for us.

Oh, and before you go; do check out Assault Kingdom 9, which has just been upped on the Bandai Shokugan page today. My heart skipped a beat...


  1. I freaked out about AK 9 as well. Two Zeta suits(one of which I missed), the G-Self, and especially the Kampfer. I've never been huge on the Kampfer, but the way it looks in AK and the amount of accessories it comes with make it look to be the best figure we've gotten from this line.
    The figures also seem to be entirely painted - notice how they have a matte appearance.
    I'm skipping AK 8, but I'm going to be all over AK 9.
    Great review, and keep it up.

    1. Uh-oh. Upon closer inspection it looks like the Kampfer is coming as two separate figures - A and B equipped. Oh well. Having an extra Kampfer never did any harm.

    2. Yep, an easy way for Bandai to double the Kämpfer sales right there. Hope this is not a new trend we are seeing. Not too thrilled about the reissue of the RX-178 either, I wish they would just reprint the original figure instead of plonking it into the next wave, but oh well, perhaps it will get a bazooka or someother new gear at least. The Hambrabi rules the skies though, hope we will get to see more Titans, the Marasai and Gabthley come to mind.

  2. For those curious the 10pc Box set comes with an extra Star Build Strike, and Master Gundam.

    Unfortunately no extra Doms. So if you want to make a Jet Stream setup be on the lookout for Doms!