Thursday, 28 September 2017

G-Frame - The Bane of Universal Unit?

Hi kids! Do you remember Universal Unit? Bandai's current 1/220 size Mobile Suit Gundam candy toys? They replaced Assault Kingdom in August 2016 after the AK brand had been quietly disappearing from the limelight, much like Gundam STANDart disappeared before it. Universal Unit expanded very quickly and by May 2017 the series had produced four waves of regular figures as well as seven larger figures, all in all 34 different designs in about 8-9 months time. It was pretty impressive. Well, since Universal Unit 4, things have been really quiet on the 1/220 scene since then. Bandai's most recent candy toy reveal may have had some part to play in this turn of events.

Fast forward to September 28 2017 and behold... a brand new highly articulated candy toy figure series! With Mobile Suit Gundam G-Frame Bandai continues to blur the line between what is a candy toy and what is a model kit. In our recent reviews of the Senshi Forte super deformed figures we discussed how even the tiny Gashapon figures are becoming more elaborate in their designs,featuring more and more complex joints and points of articulation. And with G-Frame the Shokugan size figures are taking a new leap away from the multi-part complex Universal Unit figures into creating figures composed of armor parts being attached to an inner frame, that is a skeletal structure responsible for all the articulation to which parts are than attached. However each figure appears to be given two different frames, one more or less static (like a coat hanger) and one flexible and posable.

If you have seen the Universal Unit reviews here on the blog you'll have seen constant moaning about "Who is this figure series for? Aren't people getting more value for their money by buying Bandai's own model kits instead?". The G-Frame concept warrants this question even more.

What is even more perplexing is the concept Bandai have in mind for selling the figures. The first volume is supposed to contain the Sazabi, the Nu Gundam and a Unicorn Gundam in Destroy Mode. However, the figure set is supposed to be sold not in three but six different packages. The presentation is a bit unclear to me here but it appears that you will find the "Armor Parts", i.e. the bulky painted components in one box together with a simple straight inner frame. The fully articulated inner frame, the weapons and some additional stands and display pieces for the figure are then found in a separate box. Universal Unit had a similar lame concept that the mobile suit's different accessories were scattered into an A and a B version, but at least each box contained a complete figure. Here it seems a single box will contain only half a figure...

These questionable antics are probably a sneaky way of lowering the price of each box. Still, half a figure will cost ¥500, meaning you'll have to shell out ¥1000 to get the complete figure (providing you can find both boxes at the point of sale of course). This seems a bit steep for candy toy pricing. At the time of writing, Mandarake is for example selling Bandai's 1:144 scale Sazabi kit for ¥1800.

The G-Frame figures are touted to be about 11 centimeters high which should be a bit taller than the typical 1/220 scale figures we have seen from Bandai's Shokugan ranges before. However all the mobile suits in this volume are also quite tall so it is possible they will still scale decently with previous figures.

G-Frame is scheduled for release in February 2018 and the line-up is supposed to be as follows:

1. RX-93 Nu Gundam Armor Set (Armor Parts / Movable Hanger Parts)
2. RX-93 Nu Gundam Frame Set (Bust / Weapon Set / Movable Frame)
3. MSN-04 Sazabi Armor Set (Armor Parts / Movable Hanger Parts)
4. MSN-04 Sazabi Frame Set (Bust / Weapon Set / Movable Frame)
5. RX-0 Unicorn Gundam (Destroy Mode) Armor Set (Armor Parts / Movable Hanger Parts)
6. RX-0 Unicorn Gundam (Destroy Mode) Frame Set (Bust / Weapon Set / Movable Frame)

Link to the official Bandai page here.

7 comments:

  1. Yeesh! What was wrong with Assault Kingdom? Man, I want those back. They were so simple! Just a toy in a box. Universal Unit was cute, but I got out of the model scene a long time ago, and I just want to buy a toy. This somehow sounds even more complicated than just building a model.

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    1. I heard the reason for the stopping of Assault Kingdom had to do with the fact they were action figures and thus not produced directly by Bandai's factories. Apparently action figure prices in general have been rising due to changes within China's factories. Seems like Bandai switched them to a model kit format so they had more control over the product and it's pricing.

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    2. That is an interesting theory and could also help explain why Converge figures are getting so pricey lately. Perhaps there is not much money to be had in the basic figures so the line is geared for more expensive concepts. Still, the Gashapon figures are catching up in quality pretty quickly and are still dirt cheap, perhaps the volumes are also much larger. It would be interesting to get some insights into the commercial aspects of the figure market and what forces Bandai to reinvent the same designs so often.

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    3. Yeah, a good number of various toy collector groups are getting frustrated with the rising costs and lowering of accessory count. You can see how bandai's robot spirits and figuarts action figure lines are steadily rising in costs, yet their model kits do not see as great a rise in price.

      I just hope whatever path they take for 1/220 that the results will be able to be worth the demise of the assault kingdom line. Universal unit was great but we were spoiled by the accessories we got with AK.

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  2. If I can find the Nu for a good price I'll get it.
    For me it's really about how many seams it has and how good the paint apps are, cause for those prices if I'm looking at the final product and thinking "I should fix this up" then there's a problem.

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  3. G Frame is basically Gundam Minipla.

    The straight build version just look unappealing and definitely need some paint Job to look good

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    1. I cannot get my head around who thought this product line would be a good idea when there are already so many model kits floating around out there. Universal Unit was already stretching it and it seems that didn't go down very well. I might have got into Gframe if it was a continuation of the 1/220 scale just to add some exotic designs like the Mudrock but when it doesn't even have the scale in common I suspect Gframe will be dead in the water after the third set is out.

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