Toy Photography Advent Calendar Day 9: Gundam G Frame Super Gundam

Years ago when the Zeta Gundam compilation movies happened, a lot of Zeta Gundam figures came with in the form of Mobile Suits in Action, including a couple of releases of the AEUG Gundam Mk.II in the Extended MSiA line. But somehow during this whole process, they never produced the Super Gundam. A Super Gundam would have been part of the North American Gundam figure lineup, had it not been canceled because Cartoon Network backed out of airing the series somewhat late in the overall process. But I could never figure out why Bandai Japan never did anything with it. Whatever the reason, I was left wanting for a figure of the upgraded Mk.II. I even went as far as buying an HCM-Pro release, which was at a completely different, incompatible scale with MSiA just because it had a G-Defenser and did the whole Super Gundam thing.

Years went by, until one day this past year RAC mentioned to me that in the G Frame series there was an “EX” release in Japan of the Gundam Mk.II with the G Defenser. And then, as if he hadn’t done enough to me at that point, he even gave me the Amazon Japan link to order it. And that’s how this whole thing, my new interest in G Frame came to be. And it’s all his fault. And he’s continuing to enable me even now as he has I think three more spares from sets he’s bought put aside for me.

Being sold in this EX format, the Super Gundam is a little different. There’s no display frame this time, with all the parts instead already built on to the poseable frame. So in that way it’s much more like buying a complete action figure, rather than something pretending to also be a “kit”. Unfortunately, the Mk.II is a pretty bad case for looking complete or finished. There’s a lot of details left unpainted, and while the end user could perhaps fix that for themselves, right out of the box it looks and feels only half-done. Another absence would be the lack of even a single beam saber. Not that the beam sabers in G Frame are impressive at all, but it is one of the most basic pieces of equipment. And it’s not like there’s a “regular” release AEUG Mk.II to borrow from. Only the Titans colors was released individually. And it looks like that didn’t include a beam saber either? What a bizarre choice to make.

What you do get besides the G-Defenser is the shield, beam rifle, bazooka, and the vulcan pod attachment. That at least seems to be a unique accessory to this release, so that’s nice. The rifle and bazooka pose well, and besides the rifle being on the thin side, both look good. The vulcan pod is made of multiple pieces, and in my experience is a little difficult to keep attached to the head and together as one unit. Generally glue does not seem to be necessary for G Frame, but I feel like a tiny bit to permanently hold the vulcan pod pieces together would probably be of benefit. Its detail level is a little limited too, which is a shame.

The Mk.II is itself a little more stable feeling overall than the assembled Prototype Gundam, but definitely falls more to that side of things than the rock-solid sturdiness of the Zaku. The armor fortunately does not cause a great deal of restriction to the poseability, with the torso pieces doing the most to limit the frame’s mobility, as is probably typical. It can easily reach for its backpack to grab the beam saber that isn’t removable and also doesn’t exist as an accessory, for instance, but it can’t get the arm across the chest particularly much.

But the main show here is really the G-Defenser and Super Gundam configuration. Once put together, the G-Defenser is in fact a very sturdy unit. The pontoons are the only part that can move much in the G-Defenser form, and even that’s just pitching down from leverage if you handle it wrong. They’re kept from going off-angle to the left or right very effectively, and there’s not anything else that can move to start with. Those parts house a set of missile racks, so you can open the covers over those. There’s also “feet” that flip around on the bottom to make it able to sit more stably on a flat surface.

That’s a somewhat necessary touch, as the G-Defenser doesn’t have any connection points for something like a Tamashii Stage. That’s a surprising oversight, since being able to put a flying vehicle on a flight stand seems like the most obvious thing. There’s places where you can fit the clips of a stand and have it mostly work, but whatever approach you’d choose to take, you’re on your own for getting it mounted. The core fighter is removable, which is required for the correct Super Gundam formation (so naturally I forgot and left it on in one of the photos…), and it has fins that rotate above and below the main body when it’s in flight on its own. The core fighter can attach to a stand, since it connects to the G-Defenser with a roughly 3mm peg just like Tamashii Stages use.

The G-Defenser attaches to the Mk.II with one big square plug that goes in the Gundam’s backpack. Note that you’ll want to hold the backpack firmly in place when you later want to disengage the G-Defenser, or else it’ll easily take the backpack with it. But that just means the connection is very secure, which is good since it’s the only one keeping the whole thing together. You also have to do some repositioning of parts between modes. The “pontoons” which form the movable armor for the Super Gundam peg in one or the other of two sets of holes, each specific for a particular mode.

The balance of the Super Gundam is surprisingly good. I would expect bolting a space fighter to the backpack would make it want to topple, but it holds up without any problems. Well, almost. The added weight can be a slight struggle for the ankles, but that would be easy enough to strengthen if it really became a problem. What is a problem of a different sort is the Super Gundam’s main weapon. Because that long rifle is extremely long. It also has nowhere to store in this mode, because the hardpoint on the G-Defenser it would attach to is blocked off.

Handling is… well, it can be handled, but because of the length of it, and how much stock there is behind the grip, the ways the figure can carry it are limited. And in any case it’s terrible for display because there’s many inches of barrel sticking out in front or to one side and it’s really asking for trouble. Storing it on the hardpoint wouldn’t be great, but I’d rather have it pointing straight up that out to one side where it might get snagged or something and pull the whole figure down.

The G-Defenser doesn’t really inhibit poseability meaningfully, though you will definitely not be using some of the accessories with the Super Gundam. The shield is not great to work around the regular shoulder armor, and there simply isn’t practical space for it on the Super Gundam. Likewise the bazooka, I think. It’s just a little too bulky. The beam rifle would be fine, provided you drop the long rifle to the side or something. But still, it’s impressive that the figure stays as stable and functional as it does considering what’s been done to it.

The Super Gundam is technically a transformable mobile suit, too. Sort of. While video games like the PS2’s Mobile Suit Gundam vs Zeta Gundam are happy to depict this as a capable fighting mobile armor for game mechanics purposes, this function was almost entirely absent from Zeta Gundam proper, and comes down to the G-Defenser’s armor being wrapped around the Mk.II while the Gundam hangs underneath the fuselage. It’s a utility transportation form more than it is anything else. But you can basically recreate it with this set anyway!

Clearly this isn’t the perfect expression of the Super Gundam at roughly MSiA scale (in fact it’s a little bit on the big side for that anyway), but it is about the only thing out there at this sort of size. It’s also not as cost effective as the Bluefin-imported regular figures have been, even before figuring in the overseas shipping. The main thing I think this needs is some more paint work, as better detailing would make a huge difference. It’s got the sculpt for it, you just need to be able to see what’s already there. I’ll still be waiting for my ideal representation of the Super Gundam, but as surprisingly capable as this is, it’s certainly good enough in the meantime.

Now, I just have to hope it’s a long time before they get to Gundam Wing figures, and especially all of the OZ suits that don’t have figures outside of the very expensive Robot Damashiis. The last thing I need is to be compelled to go all-in on these things.

Dammit, Rob.