Astro Toy
Super Robot Chogokin Gunbuster

by David Cabrera,

Super Robot Chogokin Gunbuster
Series: Aim for the Top! Gunbuster
Price: $60-70

I won't pretend to know much about the sales trends of anime figures for grown-up geeks, but I find that releases tend to be slowest around the middle of the year. Like riiight about now. We're booked on preorders all the way through the summer, but right now I'm picking 'em off the rack. And when certain major releases that many of you have on preorder have been delayed for two months, well, I'm not above using this column to just pick up something I had an eye on for my shelf. You guys should know that by now.

So today it's one of my all-time favorites, Gunbuster! A while back we bought a beautiful Noriko figure, and what would look better next to her than a figure of her robot? There was a Revoltech a while back, but I took it off my to-buy list when I found out it couldn't cross its arms. Screw that. The earlier Chogokin Gunbuster release was a super-deluxe, combining piece in the Soul of Chogokin line. It's long out of production, fetching $400+ on Ebay these days. It can't cross its arms either! One of my big regrets from my toy robot collecting days is that I never got SoC Gunbuster... so I'm righting that wrong a little bit.

I love the SRC boxes, all lightning and grandeur. I want all toys to come in boxes like these. The silver-printed text is one of Coach's monologues from the anime: “You and Amano, alone, are mere flames. Together, you are an inferno. Gunbuster as an inferno is invincible!!” Aw jeez, they got me right in the heart!

Note that there's a crossover gimmick between this, the Gurren Lagann release, and the Mazingers. All the figures can exchange limbs and accessories, so you can put the Gurren Wing on this figure or the God Scrander on Gurren Lagann. Also, the separate Drill of Manliness Set for Gurren Lagann is compatible with this figure. We didn't buy the extra stuff for this: I try not to buy figures of the same character twice, and those drills cost thirty bucks! Get outta here! I just wanted you to know that this is possible, exists, and it looks like it'd be pretty cool.

Anyway, let's take it out. Did you know that the Gunbuster robot is one of Koichi Ohata's designs? Man, isn't MD Geist just the coolest? I think it's one of the greats: it's ridiculous, colossal, impractical-- as a super robot ought to be all three of these-- but at the same time it has a simple and distinctive shape. The sculpt gets it all right, as is expected, but surprisingly for this line the paint application is sloppy, with noticeable smudges around the lower body and arms. Mine even has a chip in the red paint at the shoulders.

And what the hell is with the huge black spots inside the forearms? They look like what happens when you don't properly clean the pieces of a Gundam plastic kit after you clip them off the sprue. I Googled up images of other people's copies of this figure, and this doesn't seem to be a freak occurrence. This is a fairly expensive figure (we paid $60), and blemishes like this straight out of the box aren't acceptable.

As usually is the case with Chogokin robots, the joints are of the strong, ratcheted variety. You will hear them click, and be pleased. Movement is great, construction is sturdy, and it will hold the pose you have in mind. There is definitely diecast metal in the lower body (you can open up the lower leg armor and see, similar to DX Mazinger!), but the  figure feels lighter than any of my other Super Robot Chogokins, so I suspect they cut down. Unfortunate.

And the figure can indeed cross its arms to some extent: I don't need to explain the significance of this gesture to those familiar with the series. What makes this possible is some extra articulation in the elbows, and the fact that the robot's forearms have been made significantly thinner than they were in the anime. (Note the line art and the previous figures of the same robot.) On the other figures, Gunbuster's big ol' arms just get in the way of the pose, and you can only get one arm kind of over the other.

However, there's no proper “arms-crossed” set of hands supplied for this pose, which seems like a major oversight when the mechanical design was specifically changed to accommodate it! Not one of the supplied sets of hands actually looks right in this pose, so I'm just using the default fists. To add insult to injury, the box actually has a background photo of the robot in the signature pose... but they made sure you can't see the hands. Dirty trick, Bandai!

On the bright side, the figure comes with most of Gunbuster's totally sweet weapons, even Buster Home Run, which never actually appeared in the anime. Not one, but two baseball bats are supplied. This looks like it won't fit in the hand, but just push a little.

Spikes can be attached to the bottom of the feet to properly display the armada-destroying Super Inazuma Kick, as seen in, I dunno, maybe the best robot anime scene of all time? The pieces are tiny and spiky and therefore extremely annoying to attach or remove. Refer to the instructions or you could break something. Keep in mind that as usual for Bandai lines, this figure doesn't come with a stand; however the figure includes a specific attachment for a Tamashii Stand. My last Tamashii Stand works alright with this, but it definitely buckles under the weight of the figure. If you have that Drill of Manliness set, you can attach the giant drill to the leg. Which would be pretty sweet.

The final weapon is the Buster Collider. This part they didn't mess around with at all. In the anime this weapon pops out of the body: for the figure the arms and leg armor are removed and replaced to replicate the effect. This is easier to set up than it looks! Again, if you have the drill set, and you're into overkill, you can tip every spoke with a drill.

And I really appreciate the last gimmick: to replicate yet another climactic scene from the anime, the chestplate detaches and Gunbuster can “pull out” its degeneration reactor. The skeletal inner chest is a replacement piece, and the reactor is a plastic bit with flexible “wires” that attach to the skeleton.

So yeah, it's a good figure, I love Gunbuster, it's going straight to my shelf. I wish it were a little heavier, I'd like a better paint job, and man, I know it's hard as hell to get an action figure to cross its arms, but this is Gunbuster, let's make it happen. I guess I'll just have to get rich and buy the SoC Gunbuster after all... even though it can't cross its arms very well either.

We got the figure for $60 shipped from Amiami, which appears to be the low price. The low yen has made it so that importing from Japan is actually cheaper than buying the US version from Bluefin by a fair margin. Kinda awkward, huh? Give it a few months...

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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