Toy Photography Advent Calendar Day 15: Robot Spirits Side MS MS-14JG Gelgoog Jaeger

You know, I don’t like Gundam 0080, and I don’t like most of the mechanical design that was done for it. But here I am with a figure of the Gelgoog Jaeger, from 0080, as a Robot Spirits – a line that I always say I don’t really like that much. But I really like this figure.

Robot Spirits has come a long way since it started. As far as I can tell it pretty much remade itself with the Ver. A.N.I.M.E. branding for its Gundam figures. I had a number of the early figures from back when the line was covering the suits from Gundam 00’s second season. They were alright, but they never struck me as all that special, and in fact I eventually sold that small collection off. But after handling Master Gundam last year, and understanding that things supposedly only continued getting better from there? Well, this was inevitable.

And wow, this Gelgoog does not disappoint. I shot 50 photos of it when my target range for any single subject this month is about 20. There’s a lot to this. The articulation design is pretty great, albeit with one or two small exceptions. But the arms, for instance, are kind of brilliant. The shoulders have complex multi-jointing letting them get lots of range of movement. Up, forward, out, all around, it can do it, and better than it ever would look like it should. It’s not intrusive on the design either. The extraneous joints collapse and hide away inside the body when not needed. The elbows are double jointed, and the hinge itself is made to avoid the appearance of joint gaps at full extension. Plus there’s a collapsible panel in the forearm so you get maximum range without a chunk being missing from the armor when at rest.

The forearms too are well-considered, with a swivel joint as part of the elbow structure you can use to rotate the forearm independently, while the wrist still acts as usual on its ball joint. It’s a small-sounding thing, but this kind of detail can be really beneficial for posing, and when you’re dealing with a big rifle with a stock that juts out the back to a not-small degree, you’ll need these helpers.

Even the neck gets a surprising amount of attention given to it. The head can rest flush down on the body, as it should, but it has a fairly long neck piece that can be extended, letting the Gelgoog look upward, or forward if you’re going for a flight pose. You’ll never know it’s there if you don’t actively try to find it, but having the option is just so good. In the same area, part of the head can be removed to access the monoeye track, so with some difficulty you can reposition the eye to the left or right. It’s only even difficult because it’s a small bit of plastic to manipulate, with only a shallow flange to press against. But you can totally do it.

The legs are not quite as good, but largely for simply lacking a thigh swivel. Or else, I can’t identify it if it’s there. The hips are in general kind of limited. I feel like this decision was made in order to keep the armor parts of the legs as intact as possible, but the somewhat deeply-set ball joint hips are I would say the most throwbacky element of the design. The hip joints are themselves on sliding joints to help with forward movement around the skirt armor. One side is kind of loose on my copy, though, which is a bit of a pain.

The knees can’t get super deep bending range just because of the shape of everything, while the ankles again feature multiple joints and can move in various ways to support more poses than the hips are probably even capable of. Even the tip of the toe is hinged, just in case having that will help make that one special pose work. I never imagined “sneaking Gelgoog” would be a thing on my photographic record, but, it is now.

With all the things this can do, if I were just reading this and had no first-hand experience with the figure, I’d be worried the figure would be a mildly flimsy mess. Cause I’ve gone through that before. But if not for the looseness of that one hip extension joint, which unfortunately I think might be age-related wear, other than that this would be incredibly solid. It’s a remarkable victory of a super poseable mobile suit figure, especially one that can’t rely on being composed of soft plastics to maintain joint tension. I was just astonished with it. And overjoyed. Even Master Gundam had so many joints packed in small volumes that basic stability could be a real problem, but this is an entirely different kind of experience.

Which isn’t to say there are not things that I don’t like. The backpack is supposed to have a communication antenna installed. They actually give you two of them, and the instruction sheet included calls it out as a delicate part, implying it could break. And it well might break, but for one fact: it’ll fall out of the damn backpack long before it could endure any force nearly strong enough to snap it. I resorted to keeping a flashlight near at hand, because the antenna jumped ship to the similarly dark carpet enough times that I lost count. I found it again each time, but it takes almost no pressure to make it fall out. Having two is great, but it’s not delicate and breakable; you’re just going to lose the damn thing. The command antenna on the head also has a duplicate in the package, but while I did accidentally knock it out once, it went right back in and stayed put the rest of the time. I’m not nearly as worried about that. Not to mention it’s pink and so will be easier to spot on dark carpet.

I think what lets me down the most here is the accessory count. It comes with the beam machinegun or beam sniper rifle or whatever they’re calling this – I’ve heard both over the years. MSiA Char’s Gelgoog actually included a rifle based on the same design. I don’t know if they were trying to suggest that figure might be a stand-in for the Jaeger; aside from colors they don’t have much in common. Anyway, the rifle is a nicely sculpted piece, and thanks to the extensive articulation in the arms, posing with it is no problem. There’s an effect part meant for the rifle, which is clearly supposed to be some kind of beam or muzzle flash, but it’s a pretty odd shape. It pegs in the end of the barrel, giving me flashbacks of some later-era MSiAs where the beam saber blades could be fitted to the rifle barrels.

There’s a batch of hands, which for reasons I can’t fathom includes two pairs of trigger finger hands that are nearly identical to each other? Meanwhile what it doesn’t have are closed fists, so I’m rather confused at the logic going on here. You get the previously mentioned communication antenna and its spare, plus the extra command antenna. The Gelgoog’s external fuel tanks are included, and peg in securely to the back. The plugs are mildly articulated, so they can move around to suit your preference.

All that’s left after that is the thruster effect parts. These come as two pairs, and can be plugged in nearly any thruster nozzle on the figure, from the main bells under the skirt or on the feet, to the RCS nozzles on the backpack (which are themselves movable!), to even the apogee motors on the body. About the only obvious place that’s not able to receive them are the apogee motor nozzles on the shoulders. These are neat to have, but I don’t like that they’re quite as big as they are, and their mounting pegs are on an angle, so it’s hard to get them to look quite right no matter where you fit them. I’d have loved to see the connectors be articulated like the fuel tanks, so you can vary the angle of the exhaust as suits the pose you have in mind. But no such luck.

The major thing I find myself looking for is melee weapons. It seems to be left out from this figure because in the animated appearance, it’s not shown using a saber or anything. I get the logic, being, you know, “Ver. A.N.I.M.E.” and all, but it’s kind of conspicuous in its absence. I’d also have liked to see a specific blast effect for the forearm guns. You can plug the rifle effect in there, but that is absurdly big for the location and type of the weapon, which I’m pretty sure is supposed to be a regular machinegun. In any case, it’s not like a lot is “missing”, but what’s not here is really noticeable to me.

This Gelgoog was much better and more fun to handle than I ever expected it to be, and I almost hate that I like this so much. At least with G Frame, being taken with the line is only a $15 expense here and there. Robot Spirits is a lot more expensive per figure. Much more than I can justify basically ever. Master Gundam and this Gelgoog came to me second hand for rather less than retail, and deal like that are about the only way I can get in a price range I’m happy with. But this Gelgoog makes me want to go looking for figures of designs I actually like. And that is a ruinous urge.