Monday, 15 June 2015

Gundam STANDart volume 3

In this latest visit to the Gundam multiverse we are going to do some moderate time travel back to the glory days of early STANDart. I try not to think about the fact that apart from a pricey Sinanju that appeared in time for Christmas, there hasn't been a single set released since August last year. I fear that the STANDart series is about to go extinct but hope that it isn't so, since the figures in this collection are truly beyond awesome.

Today we are taking a look at STANDart volume three, released a surprisingly long time ago, back in September 2008. The set features the very first RX-78-2 to grace the product line, coupled with a pair of iconic Cyclops Corps mobile suits form the ever scheming Zeon Republic.

As the component photo show, these figures come in the early oversize boxes where each part has a carefully designated slot in the inlay, and all figures contain a nice looking information card. This set contains no optional parts though; you simply grab the handful of items and pop them into the corresponding sockets on the respective figure. The early STANDart figures have a tendency to fall apart when you handle them, feet, armor panels and other small pieces don't always attach very securely, but once the figure is left alone this will not be a problem.

008 : Enter the RX-78-2 Gundam. It was pretty brave of STANDart to open up without any of the classic Universal Century mobile suits (well, there was a ground type Zaku II in the first set, but still). Unsurprisingly though, it would not be long until the granddaddy of them all would make its debut. This first version of the RX-78-2 comes armed with a beam rifle, a bazooka and two shields. Each accessory goes into one designated slot, so there will be no customizing the weapons loadout. The figure is a bit of a mixed bag. While it looks a bit plain at first sight it still features many nice details, especially in the shoulder and ankle areas, but the lack of logos and insignias makes it feel a bit vanilla.

STANDart progression; the boxes have been getting smaller, but the figures are getting taller...
The RX-78-2 would be released again in volume eleven, equipping the Hyper Bazooka this time, and finally appeared in volume nineteen (January 2014) in an "open hatch" version which pretty much blows the early versions out of the water in terms of appearance and detail. Overall the version released in STANDart 03 is serviceable, but probably not worth seeking out when the new version is so superior.

The STANDart RX-78-2 with a pair of sample counterparts from Assault Kingdom (left) and FW Ultimate Operation (right).
Articulation-wise there is never a whole lot going on with STANDart figures and this certainly is no exception. The head will twist from side to side and the arms rotate at the shoulder. You can also tweak the angle of the right hand a little since it is a separate part, but that's pretty much it. In general I would also advice from fiddling around too much with the moving parts on STANDart figures as the joints tend to get worn easily.

009 : The RX-78-3 G3 Gundam is of course the token colour variation figure of this set. As you can see from the images this is a very simple colour conversion of the RX-78-2, but the effect is rather striking. The G3 certainly looks the part and has some lovely detail going on, giving it a very metal kind of feel. Between this and the RX-78-2 model, this would be the figure to grab first.

Now that I think of it, it seems pretty strange that the G3 is yet to make an appearance in the Assault Kingdom figureline, it must be such an easy conversion for Bandai to make. Here it is displayed next to the G3 Gundam from FW Ultimate Operation (center) and the companion Cold District Type GM (right), both released in Ultimate Operation Volume 1 back in June 2003.

010 : Things get very interesting at the tail end of this set, where the two Cyclops Corps mobile suits hang around. The first of these is the now very hard to find MS-18E Kämpfer which I was finally able to pick-up without having to pay an arm and a leg (and still it didn't come cheap). Together with the Hygogg and the Gouf, this is one of the trickier Zeonic STANDart figures to locate. I guess not many owners want to give them up, and I can understand them very well, this figure is such an awesome realization of the nimble Kämpfer, full of vibrant colours and detail. The mobile suit comes armed with a shotgun (attached directly to its right hand) and two optional bazookas that can be mounted on a rack on the suit's back. The unit I photographed here has a disfigured helmet antenna due to a lazy packaging job, but the plastic is soft and probably be straightened out with some hot water treatment without too much trouble.

Articulation follows the STANDart norm, the head can turn from side to side, and the arms can be rotated at the shoulders. You can also do some fine adjustment of the right hand. On the above picture it is displayed together with its cousin from the old Ultimate Operation Volume 8 set (released December 2014), but it is also about to be released in the next wave of Assault Kingdom (currently scheduled for July this year), so there will be a good opportunity to update this comparison shot at that time.

011 : When it comes to curious mobile suit design, the MSM-03C Hygogg is a lovely example of when both quirky and awesome come together. There's just nothing out there that looks even remotely similar, the Hygogg will stand out wherever it goes. And the STANDart version, with its amazing attention to detail will impress even more.

Although it doesn't do much in the articulation department -forget about moving the head, and flipping the arms around won't make much sense- it still just has that commanding presence. I love this one to bits. Sadly, the STANDart Hygogg figure is now rather rare and won't show up very often, it pays to keep tabs on your usual dealers and strike fast if you wish to pick it up.

Hygogg figures always seem to differ in the colour department; the manufacturers seem to have many different ideas about the proper base colour. This is clearly seen when the STANDart figure is paired with the Ultimate Operation version (from set ten, which released back in June 2005). What is a little bit surprising perhaps, is that the STANDart figure does not feature the orange Hand Missile Unit. Since the Hygogg's hands are not detachable parts but molded onto its arms this was probably a cost cutting decision (the Ultimate Operation figures do come with optional HMU:s by the way).

The RX-78-2 (and the G3) stand about 8 cm tall (tip of Beam Sabers), the Kämpfer is also about 8 cm tall at the shoulder (10,5 if you measure the tip of the bazookas) and the tips of the Hygogg shoulders binders are about 7 cm from the floor.
In conclusion, I will say this much; STANDart volume 03 is one of the better STANDart sets to be released (I have a feeling I say this about most of them...) with some really iconic mobile suits with vivid colours that make your collection come alive. I'd pass maybe on the RX-78-2 since there are better versions now, but the other three are highly recommended for your STANDart shelf. Keep your eyes and ears firmly open and remain vigilant.

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