Wednesday, 4 July 2018

SD Gashapon Senshi Forte 04


Gashapon Senshi Forte volume 04 was released in September last year and is to date the only set to have included seven different figures instead of six. They were sold individually in Gashapon machines at a price of ¥300 each. This particular set is focused heavily on the Mobile Suit Gundam Side Story suite featuring five figures from The Blue Destiny and Pale Rider. The remaining two figures are your typical oddball SD Gundam appearances.

I have been picking up this set piece by piece over an extended period of time, purchasing a full set and then stocked up with some extras for army building purposes. Individual prices ranged from 300 yen to 5 USD depending on source of the figure.

Bandai's developers have been pointing out that the Senshi Forte figure series has run over budget but still ended up surviving due to their good sales performances. Currently they are looking into ways to standardize the figure series much like they have done with their larger Mobile Suit Ensemble cousins, which all feature standardized hands for example.


F019 : GGS-001 Phoenix Zero One

The poster figure for this set is the very rare and oddly shaped Phoenix Zero One. I don't know anything about this particular mobile suit except that it has a predecessor - GGS-000 Phoenix Zero - which appears in a computer game SD Gundam G Generation Spirits. It probably belongs to the E.F.S.F. like the Phoenix Zero which is piloted by humans as well. It still doesn't look much like something the E.F.S.F. would manufacture though.


The Zero One has a very strange body configuration that becomes even weirder in the compact super deformed shape. It has some odd wing-shaped binders (which looks like some sort of mix-up of boosters and additional weapons) attached to three sides of each shoulder. This looks a bit ridiculous and also interferes with the stubby arms and the way the figure is supposed to hold what looks like two beam guns.

As you can see there are quite a lot of tiny golden paint apps on the figure as well as nice red and green detail on the head. No doubt stuff like this is what is driving the prices of these figures up. All in all the Phoenix Zero One seems to be one of the least popular figures in this set which doesn't surprise me at all, I find it strange that it was given such high attention.

As far as I know, the Phoenix Zero One has not been released as a figure ever before, although one of its other variations, the GGF-001 Phoenix Gundam can be found in the SD Gundam Warrior NEXT figure series.


F020 : RX-79BD-1 Blue Destiny Unit 01

We're moving on to the Universal Century timeline. The Blue Destiny figures are definitely more familiar faces although they are also located on the fringes of the U.C. storyverse with the first appearances in a Sega Saturn title launched in 1996.


The Blue Destiny Unit 01 design is basically a modified Ground Type Gundam with a new head which includes what is known as an EXAM system. The EXAM system is an attempt to mimic Newtype pilot abilities and to install these directly into the mobile suit itself. Of course this was done by binding the soul of a newtype pilot into the system, Marion Whelch, which made the system difficult to control with a tendency to go berserk. Personally, I think the less that is said about Newtypes in Mobile Suit Gundam the better.

The Blue Destiny Unit 01 figure comes armed with the standard Type 37 machine gun and a shield similar to the iconic one used by the Ground Type Gundam. Like all other Senshi Forte figures, optional open and closed hands are included and here we also get two different eye pieces, a green and a red.

The red eyes simulate the EXAM System being put to use. You have to take the face of the figure apart to replace the eyes which can be rather fiddly so I preferred to purchase two figures myself to avoid having to hassle with this any further. Unit 01 is a great figure and I suppose if Bandai retires the line before a Ground Type Gundam is produced, you could use parts of this figure to custom build one.


F021 : RX-79BD-2 Blue Destiny Unit 02

Next up is Blue Destiny Unit 02. What is it with those pesky Zeon ace pilots always stealing Federation mobile suits and using them as their own? Here we get the Unit 02 figure in the colours adopted by Zeon pilot Nimbus Schterzen (I suppose you could repaint the figure into E.F.S.F. colours if you wanted to).


Unit 02 has a more Gundam-esque look with its V-Fin head and large backpack. The figure comes armed with two awesomely transparent beam sabers with opaque blue hilts. It is stuff like this that sets the Senshi Forte figures apart from the Mobile Suit Ensemble line which features dull unpainted weapons or even a completely transparent heat hawk for the Zaku II.

The second beam saber can easily be wielded by any other Senshi Forte figure that you would like to kit up with some melee capability. The beautifully painted shield which also features hollow sections is the same type as used by the GM Command Type so here is another superb part for super deformed kit bashers out there. All in all Unit 02 looks really striking. It would have been nice to get two optional shoulder pieces painted blue and with the unit 02 insignia of the E.F.S.F. on the right shoulder but at 300 yen I am not going to moan about it.


F022 : RX-79BD-3 Blue Destiny Unit 03

Coming up last is the final evolution of the Blue Destiny line; Unit 03. Pressed into service its colour scheme never got updated from white and it resembles a Ground Type Gundam in this aspect.


Unit 03 comes armed with a Beam Rifle of the type you would see on a Ground Type Gundam as well as with a nicely sculpted and painted Gundam-type shield.

Apart from the hand choices there are no other optional accessories for the Unit 03 figure. Still there are many nice paint applications and the unit insignias on the shoulders look great.

The three Blue Destiny machines lined up together look really neat. A real highlight in the Senshi Forte catalogue thus far.


F023 : MS-08TX(EXAM) Efreet Custom

We still have one more figure from the Blue Destiny story to cover; the EXAM System equipped Efreet Custom. It is a pretty obscure mobile suit, intended as a replacement of the Gouf it quickly got surpassed by the MS-09 Dom. There are a total of four different Efreet designs, most of them appearing in obscure titles and games except the Efreet Schenid which was lucky to be featured in Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn.


The Efreet Custom however is also member of the Blue Destiny line-up. Its colours are similar to those of the Blue Destiny Unit 02 figure so it should come as no surprise that it belonged to the same pilot, Nimbus. Armed with wrist rockets, leg missile pods and two gigantic heat swords this thing is ready for combat.

The Efreet Custom comes with two swords as its main accessories and again you could easily salvage one for use with another mobile suit. The leg missile launchers are also optional although there will be ugly holes in the legs unless you attach them. While the Efreet looks good in its standard paint it is missing the attractive white trims on the lower legs. This would probably be a bit of a pain to paint however.

Here you can see Nimbus' two mobile suits net to each other. They are definitely geared for combat up close and personal.


F024 : RX-80PR Pale Rider

The last U.C. figure in this set is also my definitive favourite of the bunch, the Pale Rider. It is an advanced mobile suit design and a further development on the EXAM System, using its own HADES System. HADES interlinks with the pilots brain and enhances the capability of the pilot however it also comes with unwanted side effects such as gradual memory loss and a tendency to override the pilot input when threats are detected.


The Senshi Forte Pale Rider is also armed to the teeth. We get a Bullpup Machine Gun and shield as well as the large 180 mm cannon which can be either hand-held or stowed on the figure's backpack. There is however no support for the machine gun to be stowed in this fashion.

Just like the Blue Destiny Unit 01 figure, the Pale Rider features an optional red-tinted visor to indicate when the HADES system is activated. Again you need to pull the face apart to stick the optional visor in so I just prefer to grab multiple figures to avoid this chore as well as minimizing stress and wear on the parts.

According to the Side Story Missing Link lore only four Pale Rider units were constructed. I really like this mobile suit a lot though, so I went with six... There are already so many gear options included with it but as you can see I have also stolen a beam saber from the Converge Exia which fits nicely into the figure's hands. I recommend picking up one or two extra Converge Exias if you can, since these beam sabers are very useful for many different figures.


F025 : Knight Gundam

Trailing at the end of the set is a warrior style SD Gundam character, just like in the other volumes released to date. Here the Musha Mk-II, Musha Nu Gundam and Musha Psyco Mk-II get the company of the Knight Gundam. The next two sets we will see the Musha ZZ Gundam and the original Musha Gundam itself.


The Knight Gundam figure has clearly got a large chunk of the figure budget because it looks really solid. The detailed sculpt including a complex visor design also features some striking paint apps on for example the sword and shield as well as on the back of its cape. Notice also the metallic paint applications on its hands.

The Knight Gundam comes equipped with a large sword and an even larger lance as well as a shield. The lance can be wielded just as the sword or stowed on the figures back.

Here we see the Senshi Forte Knight Gundam together with a couple of its predecessor figures; the Knight Gundam from SD Gundam Impact volume 02 (released in November 2008) and the Knight Unicorn Gundam from Gashapon Warrior NEXT volume 19 (April 2014).

Conclusion

I have been a great fan of Senshi Forte ever since its introduction and volume 04 finds the series still in great shape. The series has so far featured several rarely seen mobile suit choices and with this volume things have been taken to the extreme. In fact volumes 05 and 06 wander back towards the more commonly seen faces mostly from Zeta and Double Zeta. If you like Senshi Forte or other super-deformed figure series I can heartily recommend this crowd as they still remain fairly easy to find.


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