Sunday, 19 March 2017

Banpresto DXF Mobile Suit Gundam UC Vol. 1 & 2

While this blog may be profiled against Bandai's Gundam-related Shokugan offerings -that is, candy toys- there is so much more to Gundam figure collecting that only the most stringent and disciplined collector will manage to avoid straying into new territory. Let's face it, the Shokugan fix can only take you so far.

No matter which Universal Century era or alternate timeline you are invested into you will quickly come to the conclusion that there will be serious gaps in your mobile suit line-up. And it doesn't matter how seriously the manufacturers commit, they will never come close to covering everything you want from a show even if they try their best. So, we either end up with incomplete collections or start picking stuff from different figure lines to mix and match. In the 1/220 scale this can translate to displaying figures from STANDart, Assault Kingdom, Universal Unit and Unifive Stardust Memory next to each other. But even that won't net you a simple Hizack; you'll need to go either up or down in scale. And grabbing that single 1/200 HCM Pro or 1/285 HG MS Selection Hizack will of course risk you snowballing into another figure line. I think we have all been there... : )

So, what does all this have to do with the Banpresto DXF UC figures? Well, I have a continuously expanding Gashapon MSG character collection by now, but there simply aren't any characters from the Unicorn era available (unless you don't mind deformed minis like Banpresto Gundam Series World). With the decision of either skipping on UC completely or scaling up, you of course know exactly which path I chose to walk...

The Banpresto DXF line is actually neither Gashapon nor Shokugan material, but pretty sizable prize figures. They were not sold in retail at all, but developed for the domestic gaming arcades. The boxes are adorned with both the Craneking and JAMMA (Japan Amusement Machine and Marketing Association) logotypes, indicating they are the frustrating type of toys you have to try to pick up using a fiddly toy crane, wasting money in the process. Thankfully they are also quite prevalent on the secondary market... While not terribly unusual they do seem to be in demand and tend to go out of stock quickly. Expect to pay around ¥1000 to ¥2500 (per figure) for them in Japan.

While doing research for this article I also came across this interesting website which lists other Craneking releases chronologically which can be an amusing diversion to browse.

Two waves of figures have so far been released, each consisting of two figures. Banagher Links and Full Frontal appeared in April 2013 and were followed by Marida Cruz and Suberoa Zinnerman in June of the same year. When the figures were officially announced in 2012 there were also demo figures indicating the line was supposed to be twice as big, if you search the Internet for Banpresto DXF figures you will also see that Banpresto had sculpts ready for Daguza Mackle, Riddhe Marcenas and "Audrey Burne" as well as a placeholder for an eight secret figure. As far as I know these figures never made it to market, which is a damned shame.

Lately there has also been a separate Banpresto DXF release for the Gundam EXA character Sthesia Awar, which is a pretty abysmal bikini girl for the more depraved Otakus out there.

Volume 1 - Banagher Links

Considering the flood of RX-0 Unicorn Gundam kits and figures that have inundated the marketplace it is pretty strange that its pilot is almost nowhere to be found. Apart from this prize figure I only know of one other variety, that also being a deformed mini in the aforementioned Banpresto Gundam Series World figure line, which was also a prize item line. The same actually goes for all the figures in this set, retail seems to have been a no-go. I can only assume that recent market research must have ruled out enough interest in Gundam characters. Kinda sad considering that anything that flickers past in a frame or two in a Star Wars movie will be released countless times.

The Banagher figure is the shortest of the figures in this set, standing 17 centimeters tall. Add one centimeter to that if you are pegging him onto his large and unwieldy hexagon base. He is also the only figure that comes fully assembled as one rigid piece, the other three figures are taller than the box allows and so come with separate heads or even legs.

There are no accessories included with this figure and it has exactly zero articulation. It is simply a nicely painted statue. The style of the figure means he is easy to pose without his clumsy base, as long as you have not received a slightly warped figure that is. I like it although I would have preferred a figure in flight suit; perhaps that was actually what Banpresto had in mind for their secret figure.

Volume 1 - Full Frontal

Significantly taller than Banagher our UC-era masked character Full Frontal is so imposing that Banpresto had to ship him as a three part figure or the box would have had to increase considerably (into the useless format we see for the Megahouse Excellent Model figures for example). There is something slightly amusing about a large figure like this coming in a Shokugan style plastic bag with separate compartments.

Being the only figure of this set to actually do something else than just standing around, Frontal's dynamic pose is pretty excellent and intimidating. It is also perfect for creating interesting displays (more on that later). An excellent figure hampered only by its size and shelf-space consumption. : )

Incidentally this figure reminds me of all the missing characters in the SEED and SEED Destiny figure lines. Pretty much anything female has been modelled multiple times (even Aisha has multiple kits available for crying out loud) but epic characters like Raw Le Creuset and Mu La Flaga get absolutely no love. I wonder if it would be possible to use this DXF Frontal as a basis for a Raw Le Creuset conversion. For now though, I keep looking for Bandai's tiny 1/20 figure...

Volume 2 - Marida Cruz

Interestingly, Marida Cruz is the only female figure in the DXF UC series, which is highly unusual; it is typically the other way around for collectible figures. Marida herself is also available in many variations in other figure lines and resin kits. Banpresto have for example made a flight suit version as an Ichiban Kuji lottery prize figure which we'll take a look at later on the blog as well.

While all the DXF figures are very sturdy the Marida figure feels quite lightweight in comparison. The pony tail looks like it can easily be bent out of shape or broken if handled or stored carelessly. The pose with feet tightly together also means it will be tricky to have her stand up without the use of the base.

I think that of all the UC figures Marida easily gets the best looking outfits. Both of her flight suits are superb and this Neo Zeon uniform is not really reaching quite the same level I think.

Volume 2 - Suberoa Zinnerman

I was really amazed that Suberoa Zinnerman, the Captain of the Garencieres was included in such a small figure set. I really love less obvious characters like this getting to be included in the line up. And the figure itself is really great. Unlike the diminutive Marida figure this is a bulky and heavy figure with an amazing presence. It is also the only figure to include an "accessory" if you will.

The pistol carried by Suberoa comes wrapped in protective cardboard (much like a V-fin on a Converge figure) and can be inserted into the right hand where it sits relatively stable. It feels a little bit out of place having him armed when you compare this figure with the others in the set and I would really have preferred him to be unarmed, or alternatively coming with an optional empty hand.

Both the Marida and the Suberoa figure have separately molded heads, but they also come with shaped pegs, which means it is impossible to move the head in any direction lest you start modifying the pieces.

Size comparison

Selected Gundam character figure sizes: Mr. Bushido (Bandai Desktop Mini), Marida Cruz (Banpresto UC DXF), Quattro Bajeena (EF Emotive Figure Collection), Wang Liu Mei (Banpresto DX Ichiban Kuji: MSG 00), Natarle Badgiruel (Bandai MSG SEED Heroines) and Cagalli Yula Athha (Megahouse Excellent Model RAH.DX Gundam Archives).
The Banpresto DXF figures are very large when compared to regular Gashapon character figures and only slightly smaller than other high quality figures in the Banpresto DX and Megahouse RAH.DX series. All figure series are slightly off scale too so you need to make use of 3D effects if you want to pose figures from different product lines together, which is a bit unfortunate.


I really enjoy the Banpresto DXF figures (or maybe they should be called statuettes) and it is unfortunate that the series seems to have ended halfway through what was originally planned. Remember, we have to work with what we have after all.

Compared to regular Gashapon figures they are of course a bit pricey although they don't quite reach the astronomical levels as some of the Megahouse and Ichiban Kuji characters do. The figures are still relatively easy to find on the secondhand market although you may want to shop around since prices can vary quite a lot. If you really like them I think your main concern right now is that they will consume a lot of shelf-space, especially if you plan on using their included bases. And that gets even worse when we come to the Ichiban Kuji UC characters up next... : )

Extended Gallery

Although the DXF figures are quite large you can still pose them with Mobile Suits of considerably smaller scale if you fiddle around a bit with the display. I had a lot of fun arranging these set-ups.

Banagher Links with the STANDart RX-0 Unicorn (Destroy Mode).
Char... ahem Full Frontal, with the STANDart MS-06S Sinanju.
Suberoa in front of the Cosmo Fleet Collection Garencieres and its Kshatriya escort.
Marida with the Kshatriya from the Digital Grade UC collection.
The Rewloola from Cosmo Fleet Special; for when you need to dress to impress!

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