Thursday 28 February 2013

Toybox REVIEW: Super Robot Chogokin Gunbuster

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As anyone who bought it can attest to, the Revoltech Gunbuster figure than came out a few years ago wasn’t very good. While it was nice to finally have a modern cheap alternative to Bandai’s epic Soul of Chogokin version, it was spoilt by cumbersome revolver joints and a needless transformation gimmick. Fast-forward to 2013, and Bandai have returned to the world of Aim for the Top! to conquer small-scale Gunbuster figures too. Hot on the heels of their Gurren Lagann release, Gunbuster is the next entry in the Super Robot Chogokin line. Like his Gainax cohort he features Bandai’s new “crossover joint” feature and is compatible with the “Drill Set of Manliness” accessory set. Here is the review:

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Packaging is one of those things that can get boring to talk about after a while, but Bandai never fail to do a good job of it. Sporting a slightly larger box than the standard SRC, the front art features the figure performing Gunbuster’s trademark “Inazuma kick” pose. The left spine features the usual bookend style picture, and the back Gunbuster in some more poses. Open him up and you’ll find the accessories split onto two trays – a standard sized one with the figure and then a smaller one with the hands and chest pieces.

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Much like Gurren Lagann, Bandai have taken a few liberties with Gunbuster’s design. It’s not so much a matter of change, more elongation. I assume that by giving Gunbuster a leaner sculpt, it allows for a wider range of articulation – which is what this figure is all about. In all honesty I think it’s not as bigger deal as some people are making it out to be, though it's true that the blueish-tint grey colourscheme might not be to everyone's taste.

Considering it’s a mecha design with giant spaceship pieces jutting out of the shoulders, you might think that some areas of the articulation are hindered. Thankfully this isn’t the case, and Gunbuster displays that usual fantastic range Bandai put into this line. Double jointed elbows and knees, ball jointed head, shoulders, waist and hips – it’s all there. Even the shoulder pieces have limited articulation!

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Though Gunbuster didn’t actually appear all that much in Aim For the Top!, each appearance was full of accessory potential, pretty much all of which has been incorporated into the SRC. Included are 9 swappable hands, alternate “Buster Collider” forearm and leg panels, two “Buster Home Run” baseball bats, “Inazuma kick” foot spikes and skeletal chest/degeneracy reactor parts. That’s pretty much everything seen in the OVA plus something only used in the radio dramas.

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The chest piece is relatively simple to switch out, but connecting the foot spikes is a little more frustrating. The pieces seem to be wider than the indents in the foot, resulting in them popping out more often than not and a lot of unnecessary strain. The “Buster Collider” pieces are also straightforward – the arms involve switching out the entire forearm, but the legs make use of clip-on panels instead. Removing the standard leg panels reveals some really nice detailing in the lower legs (which also happens to be the only diecast content in the figure).

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The crossover joint capability allows Gunbuster to connect with Gurren Lagann’s wingpack or Shin Mazinger’s God Scrander, as well as swapping the arms around. The miniature drills from Gurren Lagann accessory set can be placed on the end of the “Buster Collider” guns, and the giant drill can also be plugged into the foot via a connector included. With the spinning effect part put over the top, this creates a more elaborate Inazuma kick effect. Just don’t expect to pose him like this without a Tamashii stand.

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Though he is compatible with Gurren Lagann’s drill parts, Gunbuster will also be receiving his own personal accessory pack later this year. This pack features a cloak, two axes and blast effect parts for the guns included in the main release. It comes with a pretty hefty price tag of 3990 yen (plus middleman fees) but thankfully it doesn’t include anything essential to a perfect Gunbuster display.

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Bandai have truly been spoiling Super Robot Chogokin buyers lately. Mid-last year saw the release of the excellent Daizyujin, and then last month Gurren Lagann. Gunbuster not only continues this trend, but somehow also manages to exceed both figures. What it lacks in hefty diecast content, it makes up for in a leaner sculpt, fantastic poseability and a superb amount of accessories. This is certainly a must-have purchase for mecha and Gainax fans alike, and those who own the Revoltech Gunbuster too can breathe a sigh of relief, transform it into the ship modes, pose it alongside the SRC and then never look back.

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