Thursday 19 April 2018

Toybox REVIEW: Robot Damashii Gipsy Avenger

Release Date: February 2018
RRP: 2484 yen

When the original Pacific Rim film was released back in 2013, one of the biggest questions on collectors minds was "why don't Bandai Tamashii Nations have the licence to this?". Instead fans had to deal with the subpar offerings from NECA, many of which suffered easily broken joints, poor articulation and shoddy paintwork. However with the release of Pacific Rim Uprising the dream is finally being realised, with Tamashii Nations launching a double assault on wallets. For the high-end collectors there's the original film Jaegers coming in the coveted Soul of Chogokin line, while the smaller scale buyers have the new generation of mecha to look forward to as part of the Robot Damashii (aka Robot Spirits) line. But that's not all either, as Bandai aren't just launching an attack on their competitors in terms of quality - they're doing it in terms of pricing as well. All of the Uprising Robot Damashii figures sport notably lower prices than usual for the line, with Robot Damashii Gipsy Avenger leading the way at an unbelievable 2484 yen ($20 or £25 if you're buying domestically). 

The Pacific Rim Uprising figures don't just introduce a new competitive price point for Robot Damashii figures, they also bring with them a whole new style of packaging! Definitely leaning into the idea that these are targeted to the Western market just as they are Japan, Gipsy Avenger comes in a rectangular box complete with a punched flap top hang it on a retail store hook. The graphics on the box itself also feel like a big departure from the line's usually plain boxes, featuring a deep blue colourscheme covered in multiple images of the figure as well as a big schematic style profile shot in the top corner. On the back you'll also find a very brief bio about the Gipsy Avenger, as well as the promise of "over 24 points of articulation". Inside the figure and its accessories are spread across a single plastic clamshell tray.

Worth noting first is that straight out of the box you'll need to attach Gipsy's extended shoulder blade sections, which come loose in the box and simply plug into the figure via their designated ports. Once that's done you'll have your completed Gipsy Avenger figure, and boy does it look impressive. Standing at approximately 6.7" tall, Gipsy Avenger towers over most of its fellow Robot Damashii figures. Of course in many cases the frame is also a lot more streamlined, with Gipsy Avenger utilising a sleeker and more dynamic design to bulkier predecessor. Though predominantly moulded in blue and grey plastic, Gipsy is covered head to toe in all manner of mechanical detailing. From the various plates and panels to that gorgeously segmented abdomen, it's amazing just how much detail Bandai have managed to cram into the figure at that price point. Other impressive details include the various tampographs adorning the chest and shoulder pads, as well as the red lines marking the torso and head to add a little more colour variety. But immediately catching the eye are of course that piercing yellow visor and chest reactor, both of which are moulded using translucent plastic.

Sculpt isn't the only area that Gipsy Avenger excels at either, with the body also boasting an incredible level of articulation. Anyone who’s previously picked up some sort of Tamashii Nations figure (be it an S.H. Figuarts or Robot Damashii) will have a rough idea of how great these toys can be, but Gipsy really is something else. The legs aren't just connected to the hips via ball joints, they also feature rotating sections which are then attached to yet another ball joint. Then on top of all that the entire crotch section is able swing to either side, adding even more clearance to this already incredible range of movement. Similarly the double hinge-jointed elbows and knees have an extremely satisfying level of bend to them, while the ball-jointed ankles allow for a wide range of poses with ample balance to pull them off. In addition to all this you also have the ball-jointed shoulders, upper torso and head rounding off those promised 24 points of articulation. The only real shortcoming here are the shoulder pads, which don't seem to get on well with the space between the torso and the shoulder blade sections plugged into the back. This results in hindered outward movement to the shoulders as well as some notable fragility to the pieces, given that they're attached by such a tiny joint. However other that those specific areas Gipsy Avenger can really go through the motions when it comes to movement, confidently capable of not only standing on one leg but also with the other practically wrapped around the head. Rarely do you see figures this flexible, and certainly not at this price range.

As you'd probably expect for a figure of this price range Gipsy's accessory count is notably lower than your usual Robot Damashii figure, but Bandai have ensured that at the very least the most important parts are covered off. Included here are an alternate pair of open palm hands, an alternate right forearm with Chain Sword attachment and finally an alternate left forearm transformed into the Jaeger's trademark Gravity Sling. Both weapons are nicely detailed, the Gravity Sling especially impressing with the translucent blue plastic energy effect built into it. Connecting both weapons is as simple as popping the forearms off of the figure and replacing them accordingly, without any of the worry about breaking the joints you might have handling alternate pieces on similar figures. The single pair of alternate hands are also a nice touch as they add a little more posing variety - most importantly to do that signature open palm/fist pose both the Avenger and Gipsy Danger do in the respective movies. The wrists being moulded at a 90 degree angle to the hand really helps making this pose look the best it can, even if it may slightly limit any other open hand poses you may have in mind.

Bandai Tamashii Nations finally getting the Pacific Rim was a huge deal for many collectors, but I don't think any of us expected something quite like the Robot Damashii Gipsy Avenger. With this figure Bandai have absolutely blown away the competition, providing their usual top quality sculpting and articulation at a fraction of the price. Any minor flaws this figure has can quite easily be overlooked by that price tag. Combining both functionality and affordability in a way Bandai have never done before, Robot Damashii Gipsy Avenger isn't just a must have for Pacific Rim and general mecha fans alike - it's already a firm contender for the best toy of 2018. 

1 comment:

ISMOTU said...

I just got this figure and three of its fellow Jaegers and as someone who did buy a handful of the NECA Jaegers back when the first movie came out I was blown away by how much better these bots are in every way. Now I'll have to be careful not to get hooked on Robot Damashii figures in general.