Monday, 13 November 2017

Mobile Suit Imagination

One of the oddities in this year's MSG Shokugan line-up is the (presumably one-shot?) Mobile Suit Imagination figure set which was released on August 29 with a Bandai recommended price of ¥500 plus tax per figure. The set consists of five smashed up mobile suits in part or whole, something I believe we have never ever seen in the Shokugan range before.

Trashed up mobile suits as toys or figures are actually quite rare. The Mobile Suit In Action 1/144-scale battle-scarred action figures come to mind, as well as a couple of random entries in certain Gashapon figure sets from the past.

More junk, from left to right: Trashed GM from Gashapon HG MS vol. 26, a Mass Production Guntank owned by Norris, Athrun's disintegrated GAT-X303 Aegis from Sunrise Imagination series 2 and Zaku and GM hulls from the 1/350 Gsight collection.
The name Mobile Suit Imagination rings very close to the old Bandai Sunrise Imagination figure Gashapon series which typically displayed a character in small size or as a bust, with parts of their iconic mobile suits in the background. Perhaps this is not a coincidence.

The new Mobile Suit Imagination line comes in cardboard boxes with common artwork for all five figures. There are no known secret or hidden figures or colour variations.

Thankfully each figure can be easily recognized from a label on the top of the box cover. Bandai finally took this route with the Universal Unit line and possibly also with the up and coming G-Frame line, perhaps people are getting bored of blind box buys in Japan? Especially for more expensive Shokugan candy toys I can imagine.

Each package contains a single bag with one or two figure pieces inside. No assembly is required; everything is ready for display right out of the box.

There isn't really a whole lot to say about these figurines but let's dive in for a closer look anyway.

01 : RX-93 Nu Gundam

Now here's a really shot up Nu Gundam slumping slightly forwards while sitting on its knees. Right from the gate you can see the high amount of weathering, chipped and torn armor and overall dirty wash applied on an otherwise muted palette. I think it is a striking appearance.

I am not entirely convinced by the pose which seems a bit unnatural, but it will probably look better if you bury part of its knees in sand or other material. The manufacturer's stamp on the back of its waist is quite annoying though, you'd think they were past this type of cattle branding modern toys in such an obvious way. I wouldn't have minded a broken up figure with two or three pieces instead, as well as a broken funnel set or maybe a weapon too.

The trashed Nu Gundam is somewhere around the 1/300 scale, on the picture above you can see it posing with a non-scale Gashapon HG MS RX-93 (this line is said to be around 1/285) and one of the 1/220 STANDart Nu:s. I don't have the Strategy of Gundam 1/300 Nu Gundam to compare it to.

02 : MS-06F Zaku II

Next up is the venerable ol' Zaku II, or more specifically, a really busted up head of one. This head is absolutely huge in comparison to the other figures and it weighs a lot more. You can easily tell which box contains the Zaku Head without reading on them.

The detail on this thing is really spectacular. I think the images speak for themselves. Bonus points also for just being the head plain and simple without any other diorama components, so that you are free to place it in whatever environment you prefer.

Due to its large head this miniature will not be that well suited for wargaming dioramas but could perhaps work in a diorama set with maybe a character or smaller vehicle.

03 : RX-78-2 Gundam

The grand-daddy Gundam isn't getting a whole lot of appreciation here. Just a leg and a half and a blasted piece of torso. I think it is great. This leaves a lot of opportunity to create customized dioramas and I suppose you could have the parts stand in as a GM if you really want to.

Bonus points for not doing the last shooting pose or something tired like that. The imagination part of the series name is really well deserved.

The Gundam body parts are roughly in size with the 1/220-line of figures and should be quite useful to serve as diorama components next to your favourite Principality of Zeon figure. Here placed next to the Universal Unit RX-78-2.

04 :  MS-06FZ Zaku II Kai

Next up we have a really tired looking Zaku II Kai. It appears to have been worked on by another mobile suit holding using a melee weapon of sorts, since there are lots of slash marks and beat up panels.

The pose is clearly inspired by the look of Bernard Wiseman's Zaku Kai which crashed during the assault at Libot Colony.

The Zaku Kai premiered in the short series 0080 War in the Pocket where it was placed in an iconic battle with the RX-78NT-1 "Alex". This figure looks like it may have come straight out of such a battle.

Size-wise I'd place the Mobile Suit Imagination Zaku Kai somewhere in the HG MS scale. It seems a bit larger than the 1/300 Strategy of Gundam Zaku II Kai and Alex (see above) but way smaller than the 1/220 Universal Unit Alex (far left in the above picture). I do have a 1/285 HG MS Zaku II Kai figure somewhere but couldn't remember where I put it, I might upload another picture when its location is discovered...

05 : MSM-07 Z'Gok

This set has been pretty great so far but here is the miniature that when I first saw it convinced me on the spot that I needed it for my collection. Just look at this messed up Z'Gok.

This is such an awesome figure that does everything right. It looks fit to go straight into a high-class diorama or as an objective marker in a miniatures wargame. If I weren't so lazy I would have placed it in a little water and sand mock-up shot just to see what the effect would be.

The scale of the Mobile Suit Imagination figures is all over the place. The sunken Z'Gok seems to be too large for the 1/220 Shokugan figures and is probably more around 1/200 (think HCM Pro). In the above picture it poses with two Gashapon HG MS Z'Goks (light blue) and a darker 1/220 scale Z'Gok from FW's Ultimate Operation line.


Overall I am very pleased with the Mobile Suit Imagination figures. They perform their assigned roles really well and although the varying scale means it is difficult to make use of all of them in a common setting they can contribute towards dioramas of many different sizes instead. I bought my set n Japan for ¥2000 and I will probably go on picking up one or two extra figures of my favourites. I can imagine that this is a set where people prefer cherry picking figures for the scale that is suitable in their own collections though.

The Future?

So, is there any hope for a Mobile Suit Imagination volume 2? I would say the chance is very, very slim unless of course the first set was somehow a huge success. I think the fact that nothing more has been written about them on the Bandai Shokugan portal speaks enough. The next set of "desktop toys" will probably be something completely different. However, if Bandai ever decides to do a second set, my vote would be for the severed head of the Aegis, which would look so awesome. What is your favourite mobile suit disaster that you would like to see realized in 3D?

1 comment:

  1. I don't think there will be any more of these coming, they were a total failure, at least on the HK retail market. Recently I've seen sellers dumping them for as low as ~$12 USD, with lackluster interest. I'd get the Zaku head if it were available standalone but they only seem to be available as complete sets.

    Kind of interesting how various Shokugan and Gashapon can be really "hit or miss". The Exceed Model Zaku Head series for example, were a massive hit when first released in Feb, quickly being driven to astronomical prices on the secondary market. So much so that Bandai quickly restarted the factory lines for a re-release in May, and following up quickly with Parts 2 and 3 (identical heads, just different colors). Interestingly, the re-release of Part 1 received lukewarm reception, and Parts 2 and 3 don't seem to be going anywhere.