Astro Toy Armor Girls Wing Gundam
by David Cabrera, Jun 10th 2012
Armor Girls Wing Gundam
Series: Gundam Wing
Oh, hello there. I was lounging on this fancy couch with a cigar and-- oh, I'm kidding, I was playing Virtua Fighter. It's my Diablo 3. Now who the hell is interrupting my kung-fu? An action figure, you say? I'll be right over.
If we actually timed anything at this column, I'd have timed this one for Toonami's rebirth. It's the Gundam Wing you remember, kids! Action! Intrigue! Nonsensical angst! And of course, pretty boys-- hey, wait a second!
Isn't this a standard government-issue moe-chan? What's going on?! This is a new line from Bandai called “Armor Girls”, a transparent attempt to match up the fan base for mecha-girl stuff like Strike Witches and Busou Shinki with their existing robot properties. Well, I should note that MS Girls was definitely a thing 20 years ago, but the timing of this move still calls up such comparisons. First this, eventually otaku line up in the streets for Dragonar-chans 1-3. I just want to note that outside of MS Girls, this combination has never actually worked: see also Toei Robot Girls, in which the heroines giggle for like ten seconds straight before taking on the bad guy. For what it's worth, I'm totally not counting this towards my robot quota.
Her name is Yukina Schneelein, which is sort of a Gundam 00-style name rather than Wing, don't you think? Maybe there wasn't a number moe enough to name her after. The bare figure heavily resembles a Figma and is honestly pretty dull. The paint's muddy, the articulation is stiff and awkward, the sculpt is lousy, and of course this is a generic non-character. But we're not here so much for the figure under the armor, are we? Maybe things get better!
This is how she looks when armored. It's Hajime Katoki's redesign of Wing Gundam, which appeared briefly in Endless Waltz before being replaced by the angel-winged Wing Gundam Custom. The package points out that if you have the Robot Damashii Wing Gundam Custom, you can put those wings on this figure. If you know Katoki (perhaps from previous Astro Toy columns), you know that he's all about a hyper-real futuristic, look, with sharp edges, markings and decals all over. The armor looks okay, not great, not at all in line with the comparably priced Composite Ver.Ka stuff. The plastic resembles an unpainted Gundam kit. At this point I was wondering, for the second time since I opened the box, what on earth I paid $80 for.
This figure looks a little better once you get the armor on, but actually handling it becomes much worse. The biggest problem is just how prone the armor pieces-- many of which are very slightly articulated at precarious points-- are to falling out. A lot of the pieces attach with pegs, and those pegs are extremely poorly secured into the body. If you adjust this figure at all once armored, it's very likely that the waist armor, the wings, or the forearm gauntlets will detach. Possibly all three at once. Amoring this figure was annoying, posing this figure was awful, and photographing it was Toy Hell. I eventually had to remove the gauntlets altogether because they were so insistently in the way. The armor is as cheaply put together as the figure underneath it. Imagine if the Saint Seiya Myth Cloth figures were really shoddily made, and you get this.
There are extras, if you're not exasperated by just assembling the thing. I was, but this is the job I made for myself, dammit. Here's the shield, which snaps into the forearm. This is the only part of this figure that managed to stay in place. When you get the armor on, it becomes clear that the reason the articulation is so limited on the base figure is to keep the figure from any poses that could potentially have the armor bang into itself and maybe break something.
Wing Gundam's famous Buster Rifle. I am going to level with you. I spent hours-- no joke, hours-- just trying to get the figure to hold the Buster Rifle. That's not just a matter of my being a tall guy with big hands. The forearm armor is too big for the arm, and it secures so badly that it's extremely difficult to replace hands with the armor on. Furthermore, the gun hand on my figure simply does not attach solidly to the peg on the wrist. It gets in there, it bounces right out, the forearm armor complicates things. I give up, damn it. The gun can dock to the forearms without trouble, at least, and no, the double-handed pose from the series is not possible.
...and of course the requisite Gundam beam saber. The stand you've seen throughout these photos is pretty much required for doing any posing with the figure in either mode, and despite its size it's actually really bad at holding up the figure. Also, if you adjust it at all, the wings will probably come off. Second rate, just like everything else in this box.
In the process of taking this picture, a bunch of parts flew off, yet again, and I said to myself, “You know, for the final shot I should show them the figure not as it should be, but as it actually is.” That is, with a bunch of pieces of armor having fallen off the body for the hundredth time.
It wasn't half an hour into looking at this figure that I unconsciously sighed and declared to myself, “This figure sucks.” I would say this several more times as I went on playing with it, each time a little louder. After hours wasted on fumbling with this stupid damn fall-apart piece of crap trying to get proper shots, I was completely enraged and it sounded more like “dflasjdfgjdkfjsaldFIGURE”. What a pile.
At the price point, I expected a high-end Bandai figure at their usual level of quality, but what's in the box is mediocre to poor on every single possible front. The concept could have made for a really good figure, and perhaps the Armor Girls line will improve later on with the very ambitious (very expensive) Infinite Stratos stuff, but I sure as hell wouldn't put a pre-order bet on those. Avoid, avoid, avoid.
This cost us $80 from Amiami, including EMS shipping at $25, which, given the average size of the figure, was a little strange. That is way too much for this. Bluefin will be selling it soon for $60. It's still too much. If you're going to spend that much and you like mecha-girls, buy a Busou Shinki instead. This piece of crap isn't wild beat communication at all.
When he isn't killing time on fighting games and mahjong, David Cabrera gets hype about anime, manga and gaming at Subatomic Brainfreeze. You can follow him on Twitter @sasuraiger.
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