Toy Photography Advent Calendar Day 16: Robot Spirits Side MS PF-78-1 Perfect Gundam

So yes, generally Robot Spirits are too expensive for me to justify. But every once in a while it’s possible to get around that. For instance, I paid but a mere $26 for this Perfect Gundam set. Sometime in the early part of the year, RAC either directly pointed me to a low price on the Perfect Gundam on Amazon, or else talked about a deal he caught there, and thereby brought it to my attention. Though either way the result is the same: This is all Rob’s fault. Again.

I took a mildly different route than he did, catching sight of an Amazon Warehouse copy. Warehouse can be a gamble, but I’ve found there are common clues you can learn to identify to get a sense of the state of what you’re considering. In this case, the wording strongly implied that despite the label of “Used”, it had probably never had a previous owner, and was marked down because of packaging damage. And sure enough, I ended up with a sealed, but slightly damaged box with all the contents intact and undisturbed. Subtract a healthy serving of Amazon account credit, and that price just dropped like a rock!

The Perfect Gundam is a pretty solid deal in general. It’s often listed on Amazon for about $70, and while I’d be unlikely to pick it up for that in general, this does a good job selling a sticker price like that. Essentially it’s a rerun of the R-192 RX-78-2 Gundam – the very first “Ver. A.N.I.M.E.” figure, with almost all of the original parts, a tiny bit of retooling, and a whole bunch of add-on armor to change that base model Gundam to be the Perfect Gundam.

Genuinely, the ability to have a standard Gundam out of this was a deciding factor for me in buying it. The Perfect Gundam is a nice novelty, but it’s never been a design I was particularly fond of. I’m not even sure why it’s “Perfect” Gundam apart from that “Perfect” seemed to be the buzzword for the media it originally appeared in – at least judging by it and its counterpart, the Perfect Zeong. That one at least makes sense since it’s a Zeong with legs and all of its armor covering. Side note: Somebody send me the Premium Bandai Robot Spirits Perfect Zeong, please. Anyway, the appeal of the set went up knowing I could have a fully equipped standard Gundam and choose to ignore the Perfect parts if I wanted.

To handle this, you can believe it’s the first of its kind. I can only use yesterday’s Gelgoog as a point of comparison, but there is a mildly more primitive feel to some of the extended articulation. And some things that are just plain absent. The feet for instance are remarkably ordinary and comparatively static next to the Gelgoog’s. But I felt like it showed most in the shoulders. There’s not really any clever hidden joints or anything, but rather a simple upward hinge action. One that typically leaves the ball joint of the shoulder exposed, in fact. The shoulder joints offers no forward pivot. This took something of a different approach, where the torso is split in halves down the middle and slides in to bring the arm forward. It’s reasonably clever, and in use it’s not very obvious. On this copy I find that the torso loses some stability with this construction, as well as ends up with pretty visible panel gaps from the moving parts. Credit for trying something interesting, though.

Based on photos I’ve seen of 192 and the Perfect Gundam version figures side by side, it looks like the main face was resculpted to be closer to (certain frames of) the animated appearance. It’s actually quite a good job, as this is closer at its relative scale than I can really remember seeing achieved with older figures. Though I recall the MSiA Gundam Second Version as having a good face sculpt. I wonder if that’s just the fuzziness of old memory…?

The retooling also introduces some slots here and there, which are needed to install the armor parts. The most obvious are on the yellow blocks on the skirt plates. Much of the armor tries to utilize either existing connection points, or works by slipping around a whole existing part. But a few of the pieces don’t have that luxury and so there’s not really any choice but to have the cut outs on the base model Gundam.

As the Perfect Gundam, the figure retains a surprising degree of its mobility. The main loss is at the waist, and that’s caused by flexible-but-stiff plastic “cables” running between part of the torso armor, and connection points on the side skirts. If those weren’t involved, I think this would have hardly any meaningful loss of articulation. Fairly impressive with a major armor package like this. The shoulder armor – the next most likely place to impede movement – even actively works around this by having movable panels to permit the arms to raise out to the sides. Theoretically the panels should return to their original position when the arm is lowered, but that is less certain.

Installing the armor is mostly straightforward, though the backpack poses a mild problem if you go with the sequence in the instructions. The backpack tabs on to the Gundam’s existing backpack, but using a very shallow tab. The grip is not good on its own. The outer chest armor is meant to attach to the backpack, which holds both pieces in place well. But the instructions don’t immediately tell you to add the chest parts, so you’re left juggling that for another step or two while also trying to add other pieces. Knowing that in advance, you can change up the approach to avoid that happening, but it’s not all that fun the first time through. Overall though, the gear up is easy enough and everything stays put once it’s on.

Well, almost. There is a problem with the beam cannon over the shoulder. You can’t really bring it down lower than 45-ish degrees because of the Gundam’s V-fin. There is not room for both to peacefully coexist. Thus, they go to war with each other, and the V-fin loses every time. I had several occasions of the violent ejection of the V-fin from the head because if its unintended proximity to the cannon barrel. One such launch followed a course that came uncomfortably close to my left eye, in fact. Anyway, I would say to be careful with that. They do give you a second V-fin in the package in case of damage or loss, but I’d just as soon not give either a chance to happen.

The Gundam comes with its original accessories, like the Hyper Bazooka, beam rifle, and I think all of the hands. It has a shield that is very similar to the original release, but is a new mold. The original had fixtures on the inner surface to mount the beam rifle, while the Perfect Gundam’s shield has beam saber racks and grenades on the inside. I’d like to have the rifle hanger in there for greatest utility, but functionally speaking this would work just fine for the regular Gundam. Well, the eyeslit is painted yellow instead of white, so if you’re a big detail stickler, that might be a problem.

There’s various effect parts, of course. The saber blades (regular and one extended, curved blade for a sweeping slash pose) and beam rifle shot part, plus a second copy of that part now so that the buckler cannons can both be set up as firing. Those are shot parts, but the shape of them reminds me of the shape of the MSiA Alex’s beam saber blades, so I am basically considering them all interchangeable. And only now do I realize I should have put the arcing beam effect in the rifle for a curved shot photo, just for randomness. On the other hand I’m posting almost 70 shots of this as is (remember: goal for this month is about 20), so maybe I did enough already…

The original Gundam had two rocket exhaust effects, Perfect Gundam has four. They’re the same deal as I observed with the Gelgoog, with the angled attachment pegs which I still don’t get why you’d want. The Perfect Gundam has many compatible thruster cones and such to place the effects on, and the Gundam in its base form has the foot and backpack rockets to use. One effect part from the original not reproduced here is a separate V-fin with muzzle flash to simulate the vulcans firing. I didn’t know how much I missed that until I learned it existed.

What I have learned with this and the Gelgoog is that Ver. A.N.I.M.E. Robot Spirits are extremely dangerous. The Gundam doesn’t feel as good as the Gelgoog, but that makes sense since it was designed like 60 figures earlier than that Gelgoog. And even so it’s still quite good and makes me think that I in fact actually do like The Robot Spirits. I never wanted to have this knowledge! I can’t afford to like Robot Spirits! This is a disaster!