Sunday, 21 June 2015

Gundam STANDart volume 8

Continuing the trip down memory lane, having recently obtained the missing Mobile Suit to complete the quartet, we now turn our eyes to STANDart volume 8, a four figure set released in December 2010. The set contains, as I have a habit of saying, four absolutely amazing looking mobile suits. Seriously, there are so many good looking STANDarts out there that it would be impossible to try and put together even a top 20 list.

Since I have now given away my thoughts on these figures at the start, I will instead try to explain just why they are so great. And for that job I won't need many words, the pictures will hopefully speak for themselves.

The figures in STANDart volume 8 are the first to come in the downsized boxes which have been in use ever since (save for a few special figures of course). All the previous seven sets came in rather large oversize boxes where each part had a slot assigned to it in the plastic insert. Very nice at a glance, but rather ineffective from a logistical point of view. No doubt eager to slash costs Bandai and FW premiered these smaller boxes which are much more compact in size, the insert now barely fitting the figure itself (would they have been able to release the Hygogg in this format for example?). All additional pieces such as weapons and wing binders are placed in multi-compartment-style plastic boxes common to many other figure lines.

028 : Towering (literally) above the other mobile suits in this set is the mighty MSA-0011 S-Gundam. Developed from a fine line of titular mobile suits the S Gundam (a.k.a. Superior Gundam, a.k.a. Supreme Gundam, a.k.a. Iota Gundam) is a champion of the Gundam Sentinel novel (which featured several other interesting designs by the way) and one of the largest figures to see release in STANDart.

Figure-wise, there is of course not a whole lot going on. Once you have snapped together the half-dozen or so parts it will pretty much just stand there. The figure has the traditional STANDart articulation which means you can turn the head, rotate the arms at the shoulder. The very large Beam Smart Gun is molded directly onto the figure's right hand and is a required part of the display. A small support is included which can add some foundation to this thin and top-heavy figure. Although my figure is not in need of one, I wouldn't be surprised if some figures may have slight imperfections such as a slightly bent foot or so, which would make the support a cruical accessory.

S-Gundam lineage, harking back to the good ol' days of Zeta Gundam. From left to right: RX-178 Gundam Mk-II (bazooka version from STANDart volume 13, released May 2012), MSZ-006 Z Gundam (with the Zeta logo from STANDart vol. 4, March 2009), the FA-010S Full Armor ZZ Gundam from volume 9 (released March 2011) and finally the S-Gundam.
There aren't any S Gundams from Assault Kingdom or Ultimate Operation to compare this bad boy to, so I am very happy that FusionWorks pulled this one off. In fact, the Zeta and Delta designs have always been well represented in the STANDart line. There is also an exclusive limited figure of the MSA-0011[Ext] Ex-S Gundam available which I would like to place next to this one (as soon as I can find one that I can afford that is...).

029 : And on the topic of the Zeta Project, here we have the next representative of this awesome Gundam line; the MSN-001A1 Delta Plus. As some may have figured out I am not that much into the actual Gundam units themselves, but the Zeta-era designs never seem to disappoint, and the Delta Plus is no exception. Just look at all those intricate parts opening up to display the inner frame. No surprise we haven't seen this mobile suit in the Assault Kingdom line, it must be a modelling nightmare.

The Delta Plus shares its history with the well known MSN-00100 Hyaku Shiki, in that they are both developments of the MSN-001 Delta Gundam. The Delta Plus continues to morph into some other awesome designs that we are unlikely to ever see Shokugan models of, such as the MSN-001X Gundam Delta Kai for example.

The Delta Plus (center right) with some of its extended family. Immediately to its left stands the MSN-001 Delta Gundam (STANDart vol. 14, released July 2012), which parented both the Delta Plus and the MSN-00100 Hyaku Shiki (far left, from STANDart volume 2, which appeared in April 2008). Also in this combination shot is the MSZ-006C1 Zeta Plus C1, which is an offspring from the Z Gundam (figure is from STANDart vol. 10 and released in July 2011).
The Delta Plus has very tiny feet, but my figure has no balance issues at all, which is good, since no support is included with this figure. It features the basic STANDart articulated head, shoulders and right hand molded directly onto the beam rifle. Again a really inspired design that I wish was better represented in the other figure lines.

030 : Halfway through the set and we now turn our eyes to the principality of Zeon. STANDart is about to receive an injection from the One Year War, a design that I doubt anyone would fail to recognize. Char's oddly pinkish red Commander Type MS-14S Gelgoog is a very nice representation of the suit, although you will immediately notice the lack of a monoeye. We saw this also in the STANDart Rick Dom figure, it seems an odd design choice though no doubt there is a carefully considered decision behind at all. I can see before me a conference room full of engineers and project leaders tearing their hair out over this issue.

The STANDart representation of Char's Gelgoog (right) teamed up with the two representations from the Ultimate Operation figure series. On the left is the naginata wielding version from FWUO volume 6 (released in June 2004) and centered is the beam rifle (sans shield) figure from the Ultimate Operation Plus U.C. 0079 set, one of the last releases in FWUO which appeared in time for Christmas 2006.

Nevertheless, apart from being blind the Gelgoog figure has many striking details, I guess it is the shield that deserves the most mention, it is simply awesomely sculpted and painted. The mobile suit comes armed with the classic beam rifle and has a stowed beam naginata stored on its back. Typical for STANDart, the right hand is molded directly onto the beam rifle which means there are no optional displays available. This figure would have really shined if they had included an optional piece with a right hand wielding the naginata. A missed opportunity although we've come to expect no such frills from the STANDart figure line.

031 : Fourth and last mobile suit in this set is also the one I had to look for the longest. None of the volume eight figures are easy to source but the MS-14A Gelgoog (Gato's Custom) really surprised me with its tenacity in successfully staying hidden. In fact, now that I think about it this figure has no representative in either Assault Kingdom or Ultimate Operation, strangely enough, not even in Converge. This seems a rather strange omission due to the popularity of Gelgoogs in some of those lines.

Sadly, there is not much to compare Gato's Gelgoog to, here it is next to the basic FW Ultimate Operation MS-14A Gelgoog, which appeared in volume seven back in September 2004.

The figure itself is a basic colour variation from Char's red Gelgoog, painted in the blue and green of Zeon ace pilot Anavel Gato. There are some subtle differences; the commander antenna is stripped from the helmet, and the beam rifle is replaced by the extra large prototype rifle which he wielded during the events in the Stardust Memory storyline. His mobile suit otherwise comes with the same beam naginata and oval shield as used on the Char version.

As mentioned in the previous figure description, the beam naginata cannot be wielded by either mobile suit. The naginata and shield both share the same peg size though, so you can customize the Gelgoog appearance a little by getting rid of the naginata and storing the shield on the figure's back. This turns out really well and remains in line with the actual anime.

Sizes fluctuate more than usual in this set. The S Gundam stands some 10 cm tall (tip of smart gun at nearly 12 centimeters), the Delta Plus comes in at about 9 centimeters and the Gelgoogs are about 8 cm tall.
Overall, I am really impressed by STANDart volume 8. It features a selection of excellent mobile suits, several of which are rarely made available, and each of which adds a lot of character to any display. The only downside is that you will have to hunt high and low to find them, three of the four I managed to located in second hand shops in Japan, which I think will be the your best chance to actually discover them.

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