Friday, 20 March 2015

Gundam STANDart : RX-93 Nu Gundam vs. MSN-04 Sazabi

STANDart 12 and 13 are somewhat of an anomaly. They are the only numbered STANDart figures to have been released outside of a regular wave. In STANDart history, they are sandwiched in-between volume 3 (figures 8-11) and volume 4 (14-17). I don't know if there was any special occasion surrounding this release, or if it was an attempt to push the STANDart range in a new direction. What I do know is that these two figures are quite unique in what they are, and that they came out in the beginning of 2009.

This particular review will also be a bit different in that I haven't managed to complete the full set. There are actually four figures in total, two versions each of the RX-93 and the Sazabi, numbered 012, 012 special, 013 and 013 special respectively. I suspect it would take me quite some time to find the missing figures at a price which wouldn't include an arm and a leg. Even in Japan these figures are unusual to come across, but they do surface on the secondhand market, prices I have seen are currently around ¥4000-5000.

STANDart 12 and 13 come in extra large boxes, here as seen compared to an early STANDart box (volume 1-7 utilized this type) and the currently used, tiny looking variation used on every set since volume 8.
The figures I do have in my possession are the 012 special, which is a metallic colour version of the Nu Gundam, and 013, which is a standard colour Sazabi. I might revisit this review to add more images in case I manage to trip over any of the missing figures in the future. Anyway, let's inspect the two I do have in more detail!

012 special : RX-93 Nu Gundam (Metallic Version)

Ah, yes, the mighty RX-93 with its large funnel type-weapon system attached to both its shoulders. This thing is HUGE. Apart from the Fin Funnels, it also comes armed with its iconic Beam Rifle a Hyper Bazooka and Shield.

Sorry for the blurry component shots; they were taken during the height of the dark season with a distinct lack of daylight.
Each accessory has its intended place. The shield goes on the left arm, the beam rifle in the right hand (the hand is actually molded onto the rifle, as is the norm for STANDart) and the bazooka has a peg which enables it to be stowed on the mobile suit's back. It is not possible for the figure to wield the bazooka instead of the rifle, which is a pity since it would have looked nice to display the two next to each other.

I did notice that the figure has a tendency to fall apart if you pick it up and handle it. What I mean by that is that the pegs don't seem to fit and stick as well as with other regular STANDart figures. I'm not sure if it is the material starting to show its age, or if it is simply a case of the sculpting and choice of paint, as I've seen similar loose limbs on other specially coated figures (Converge Pearl-coated Unicorn comes to mind). However, the parts do not move about or begin to droop if you leave the figure alone.

STANDart 012 (far right) towers over its younger cousins. Although the base mobile suit is pretty much the same size as the later reissues, the fin funnels were scaled back drastically on later figures. From left to right: RX-93 released in Assault Kingdom vol. 4 (January 2014) and the two STANDart RX-93s that came out in STANDart volume 14 (July 2012). Notice that the reissued figure came with its accessories split over two models, which also feature different insignias on the left shoulder.

Speaking about the paint job, the metallic style paint job gives the figure a more greyish tone as opposed to normal painted figures which are typically snow white. I can imagine some collectors might be put off by this but for me personally it doesn't bother me in the slightest. The paintjob is excellent. I'll just stop talking here and let the pictures speak for themselves:

013 : MSN-04 Sazabi (Standard Colours)

Unlike the Nu Gundam, the STANDart Sazabi has never been reissued. No doubt this helps to explain is relative scarcity. You have a far better chance of finding the RX-93 than the MSN-04. More than once I had located one in a secondhand online shop, only for it to disappear straight away. But here it is, finally, ready to serve.

I'll say it straight away: After the forceful display of the RX-93, screaming with excess of power, the immediate impression of the Sazabi is a decided lack of oomph. Although the STANDart Sazabi is a fairly large figure it feels quite tiny when placed next to the RX-93. A couple of extra centimeters might have made the tables turn drastically.

The other thing you will notice straight out of the box is the very pale red tone used on the Sazabi. Although it doesn't show up that easily in the pictures here, the comparison shot should give you a fair idea of the stark contrast between STANDart, FWUO and Assault Kingdom. But even for the STANDart figure, the colour of the figure is much more pale than on the box cover and related collector card. I have a feeling that this figure will probably look considerably meaner in its metallic version.

The STANDart Sazabi (center) as compared to its cousins from FW Ultimate Operation Plus 4 (left), released in June 2006, and the Assault Kingdom EX03, released in February 2014.

Accessory-wise, the Sazabi behaves a little bit differently from the token STANDart figure, in that its beam rifle is not molded onto its right hand. Instead the right hand has a hole where the weapon can be pegged into it, giving you some minor tweaking ability as you can choose to pose the mobile suit without both rifle and shield if you so desire. Other than that you have the traditional arms rotating at the shoulder thing going on, as far as articulation is concerned. I assume the head can turn as well, but it sits so tightly on my figure that I do not want to try and force it to do so.

Overall, I am really pleased with these two figures, impressing themselves into the already good looking team of the STANDart crew. I will probably also end up grabbing their respective colour variation if I were to stumble over them. Now that I think about it, it seems odd that the Sazabi was never reissued. It seems a perfect candidate for those limited edition figures Bandai have been coming out with lately. Meanwhile, if you like STANDart, keep your eyes and ears peeled for these ultimate crowd pleasers.

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