Monday, 9 April 2018

SD Gashapon Senshi Forte EX 03 : NZ-000 Queen Mansa

Ahhh, the good ol' Queen Mansa... If you also happen to feel a sense of Déjà vu it is most likely due to the fact that a similar figure was released in Gundam Converge in January, only a month before the Senshi Forte counterpart. This is the second EX figure pulled straight from the recent Converge line-up and it doesn't help that the MSN-04II Nightingale is planned as Senshi Forte EX04. I dare say I feel a certain lack of imagination at Bandai Gashapon HQ.

The Senshi Forte Queen Mansa is a Premium Bandai item only, released in February 2018 at a price of ¥3500 which makes it not only 1000 yen pricier than the previous EX figure, the Psyco Gundam, but it also manages to outprice the Converge Queen Mansa by 200 yen which is no small feat for a Gashapon. So let's take a closer look at this expensive little thing, with a price tag equivalent of 7 standard Converge figures or a whopping 11 regular Senshi Forte figures.

The box might be small but it is loaded to the brim with bags of components. A considerable amount of these parts are attached to sprues like model kits, so there is a little bit of assembly required but nothing too complicated. It is however a bit fiddly to assemble these tiny figures and it can be hard to apply enough force when the pieces are sometimes hard to grasp. Building several of these miniatures in a row is asking for aching fingers...

Unlike the Penelope and Psyco Gundam that preceded the Queen Mansa in the EX series this figure does not transform and so only has one straightforward build. Although it resembles a regular Senshi Forte figure at first glance it has a lot of minor anatomical differences.

The most obvious differences are the shoulder joints which are specialized to hold both the arms and the majestic wing binders. The feet are also attached on ball joints using the same type of design as you can find in the larger Mobile Suit Gundam Ensemble figure line. Bandai now has so many Gundam Gashapon and Shokugan toys under its belt that the newer figures often becomes an amalgamation of things we have seen in the past.

The design is quite advances in especially the shoulders and it and a lot of thought has clearly got into creating articulated wing binders. These were stiff on the larger Converge figure but here they allow for tilting of arms and binders more or less independently

The only optional accessories for the Queen Mansa are two pairs of hands, one open type (which has very unsightly holes all over its palms) and one clenched fist type which also serves as weapon hands for the two beam sabers that come with the figure. The saber hilts can be stored one under each wing binder when not in use.

A transparent action base shaped like a Zeonic emblem is also included with this figure which gives it some more posing options and allows it to become a bit more intimidating. The base is attached with a simple plug and does not allow for any interesting leaning movements or poses.

If you read the review of the Senshi Forte Psyco Gundam you might recall that I moaned about no action base being included with the figure, which especially hurt its Mobile Armor flying mode. While the Psyco Gundam does contain an attachment point for a base though, it is much too tiny for the larger stand that comes with the Queen Mansa. I can't believe they messed this up.

Size comparison between the Xi Gundam (a standard Senshi Forte figure), the Senshi Forte EX02 Psyco Gundam and the EX03 Queen Mansa.

The Senshi Forte Queen Mansa next to its Gundam Converge counterpart.
When comparing the Senshi Forte and Converge Queen Mansas you can clearly see that they do not have very much in common. While the Converge figure is more of a statue with focus on subdued and attractive painting and sculpting, the Senshi Forte figure focuses on articulation and playability. They are both fine figures and liven up each respective figure series. The only major drawbacks with the Senshi Forte figure are its high price and expected difficulty in finding it down the line.

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