Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Mobile Suits Gundam Ultimate Operation : Bandai Museum Limited Edition RX-78/C.A. Gundam (Casval's Customized)

FW Ultimate Operation - the forever 1/220 underdog - is the precursor to FW Gundam STANDart. The figures in this line are sculpted in what is best described as dynamic poses. You will find very few mobile suits standing around to attention, instead they will usually lean, list, turn or bend as if caught in a moment. Extra articulation points in the arms and torso, as well as replaceable hands give them some additional opportunities too. One of these figures is the highly unusual RX-78/C.A., an alternate timeline Zeonic mobile suit featured in the Gihren's Greed video games, built to resemble and honor the good ol' RX-78-2. Yeah, it is kinda silly even for Gundam but there you go.

This particular RX-78/C.A. figure was specifically created as a promotional item for the Bandai Museum, which at the time of this figure's release would have been located in Matsudo. It was released sometime in 2003 with sales being limited to the museum shop only, in another fine example of Bandai cross-promotional strategy. This was probably a fairly sought after item back in the day although the advent of a booming online trade now also makes this figure available for the gaijin collectors.

I paid the very sizeable sum of $55.00 to obtain this figure back in 2014, showing my noob colours since I later found a second figure in Japan for the rather modest price of ¥1500. A lot of eBay sellers are simply taking the piss, so as with all things Gundam, it is buyer beware. The first figure I got thought was truly in immaculate condition, so much so in fact that I didn't want to spoil the packaging by trying to open it. Well, two years later I am finally able to do just that by grabbing a second figure...

If you are familiar with FW Ultimate Operation figures since before, you will quickly realize that this figure is simply a repaint of the bog standard RX-78-2. Of course the packaging has been modified slightly, and the metal dog tag in the package belongs to none other than Char Aznable himself. These nametags by the way probably require a post of their own since they are quite interesting, but I will leave that for another time. Suffice it to say, that the nametag in this package is not the same as the one I found in the box of my FWUO2 MS-06J Zaku II (Char's Customised) figure and there is a possibility that this tag is unique to this figure although I cannot confirm it right now.

The basic figure has a nice red colour scheme with plenty of weathering, something that adds a lot of personality to the FWUO figures. This particular figure has some issues with a bent leg, which is another fairly common thing affecting thin-legged figures of this line (you never see limping DOMs now do you?). The soft plastic would probably allow for some straightening action through heat application, but I am definitely not going to mess with it.

FWUO RX-78 line-up from left to right: RX-78-2 Gundam (FWUO volume 1, released February 2003), RX-78-2 Gundam Real-Type Colours (FWUO volume 3, September 2003), RX-78-3 G-3 Gundam (also from volume one) and the RX-78/C.A. Additional RX-78 family figures using other sculpts are also available.
When compared to its RX-78 brethren the C.A. does come across as a little Spartan in its look and feel. FWUO figures often sport nice unit insignias or unit recognition numbers, but in this particular case we find very little in the form of such detail.

I wouldn't consider Casval's Gundam a necessity in your FWUO collection, but I'm pretty sure the figure sells itself just by being red anyway. The only factor will probably be your budget versus the asking price. I doubt anyone with matching variables in that equation will be able to stay away... :)

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