I must say it is a bit bewildering that Bandai would release a Gashapon and a Shokugan figure line so similar to each other pretty much simultaneously - mobile suit overlap is bound to happen sooner rather than later. Fortunately they are cheap enough that I can stay in the game for now although pricey EX figures have already been announced...
Being classic Gashapon figures these minis are sold in vending machines commanding a price of 300 yen each. Flip the handle and you receive a figure in a plastic bubble. Pray that you get the one you wanted and if not, insert another 300 yen and try again. Hate it or love it, you know the drill. :)
video review by Reise Serina which I stumbled on on Youtube. Notice how two of the figures are big enough to warrant larger bubbles, those would be the Hi-Nu and Banshee by the looks of it.
As I mentioned previously, Senshi Forte is a refinement of an earlier generation of SD miniatures. The figures come with what you could almost call an inner frame of sorts, so far all the twelve figures seen in Volume 1 and 2 share the very same skeleton and build principles, illustrated below by the Galbaldy Beta from volume 2 (stay tuned for a review of those guys too).
|Super Deformed figure history, from left to right: SD Full Color, SD Full Color Custom, SD Warrior NEXT, SD Warrior DASH, Gashapon Senshi Forte and FW SD Gundam Neo.|
|The Senshi Forte Hi-Nu Gundam compared to its recent Gundam Converge counterpart.|
|The Senshi Forte RX-0[N] Banshee Norn flanked by the RX-0 Banshee from SD Warrior DASH 08 (left) and the Converge RX-0[N] Destroy Mode from Converge.|
|Unicorn anatomic comparison between SD Warrior NEXT (Full Armor Gundam), SD Warrior DASH (Unicorn Destroy Mode), the Senshi Forte Unicorn 02 and the Unicorn Destroy Mode from FW SD Gundam Neo.|
A lot of the Barbatos pieces for some reason come in pairs still attached to runners. The figure seems a little bit less complex than the first two figures in the set. Again we only have one accessory here and it doesn't really help that the cricket ba... sword-mace is a bit bent.
Fortunately for Geara Doga lovers, Bandai is giving the Senshi Forte version a lot of love. Apart from two types of hands and a head with a moving monoeye it also goes into battle with a beam machine gun, a heat axe and four Sturmfaust rocket launchers. Two of the Sturmfaust rockets can be attached to the shield and the other two go on the sides of the backpack.
Senshi Forte is currently placing one such original SD character in each set and this is a trend that has been brought over from both SD Gundam Warrior NEXT and DASH respectively. As far as I know, this is the first appearance of this particular design which is an offshoot of the more well known Musha Gundam which has red, gold and black colours. I suppose here that Musha Mk-II does not refer to the RX-178 Gundam Mk-II but simply as mark two of the original SD Musha Gundam design.
|The Musha Mk-II flanked by the original Musha Gundam from Converge (left) and a Musha Nu Gundam featured in Senshi Forte volume 2.|
Overall I am very pleased with this figue set. If dare say that if you liked any of the earlier SD Gashapon figure sets you are going to be all over Senshi Forte. The figures out so far are all very varied with vibrant colours and a lot of attention to detail. The common "inner frame" structure opens up for customization and equipment sharing across the board. While it is not possible to say how long this series will survive (new Gundam figure series seems to be getting shorter and shorter runs these days) but I will enjoy it while it lasts.