DrunkWooky’s Figure Review: Gundam Universe RX-78-2 (GU01)

I’ve been a big fan of Gundam since Gundam Wing started airing on Toonami back in the day. I saw Gundam Wing, liked the robots, hated the melodrama, and new I could find better Gundam.

Then I moved on to the 08th MS Team. The story of boots-on-ground, face in the mud soldiers was my kind of story! It might be the same thing that leads me to the opinion that Rogue One is the best Star Wars movie that has been produced to date.

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Then, as I always do, I got curious about the origin of Gundam and found Mobile Suit Gundam! The original 1979 cartoon. The galactic war between the Principality of Zeon and the Earth Federation reminded me a lot of my first love, Star Wars! I was hooked. I kept hunting down new series to watch, the weirder the better. College, dating, career, and now a kid, put me on hiatus from what was going on in the Gundam world and now I’m intrigued by this “Unicorn” Gundam I hear about. Like all good fandoms, it has remained and its here for me when I turn back.

Today, I’m reviewing the new Bandai Gundam Universe Rx-78-2 (GU-01). I’ll also be comparing it to Bandai’s Robot Spirits RX-78-2 to see the pros and cons of each. Spoiler alert: it was a tougher call between the two than I first thought it would be. I thought Robot Spirits would kick the tar out of this new lower price point line of figures. Gundam Universe is giving Robot Spirits a run for its money, though. Gundam Universe Wave 1 currently has RX-78-2, Unicorn Gundam, and Wing Gundam in its line-up, but I chose to start, well, at the beginning.

Gundam Universe Rx-78-2 can be purchased at the following retailers :

Wing Gundam and RX-0 Unicorn are also currently available from Wave 1:

Wave 2 is slated for a January 2020 release and is now available for pre-order.

Check out the Youtube video below! A full write up and gallery is below that! I tend to write in rather long form. Blame that on my history degree or my lack of editorial discretion. But, please use the fancy-dancy headings below to navigate to sections relevant to you!

The Gundam Universe Line

RX-78-2 was the first Gundam brought into the war between the Zeon Principality and the Earth Federation. It was piloted by teenager, Amuro Ray. Fittingly, RX-78-2 is designated “GU-01”, the first figure in the brand new Gundam Universe line. There have been countless model iterations of RX-78-2 in 1/144, 1/100, 1/60, 1/48 scale, and there was even a 1/1 scale articulate model in Tokyo for a time. Bandai has also been releasing action figures, with no assembly required, under the Robot Spirits line for quite some time. These figures run from $40 to $155.

My own impression of the new Gundam Universe line is that this is Bandai’s attempt to bring the greater 6 inch figure collecting community into the Gundam fandom and collecting world. While Gundam has a long tradition of model building and a vast community of model-builders, customizers, painters, and every other sub-set of model enthusiasts, the action figure collecting community might not be as involved as Bandai would like. Maybe, the action figure collecting community isn’t keen on spending at the price point Robot Spirits is available at.

Tamashiinations.com had an interesting interview some time ago with Gundam Universe’s creator Julian Oreska.

The article makes it clear that in the early 90s Gundam had a broader retail presence with action figures.

At the time, the Gundam action figure line was sold alongside a selection of Bandai’s hobby model kits, particularly the HG 1/100 and HG 1/144 scale kits, and was targeted mostly at younger fans, being a soft plastic construction that made them safe for fans of all ages. ”

Since then, the Gundam retail presence has been imported figures and model kits sold through select specialist retailers.

“With this new line, however, we hope to once again bring Gundam to a wider range of fans, both old and new—fans who may have only heard of Gundam before, or may be encountering the characters for the first time. This year, 2019, is the 40th anniversary year of Gundam in Japan, and looking forward to potentially massive future content projects, we at Tamashii Nations want to help fans reacquaint themselves with what Gundam is. Gundam Universe, therefore, is a new line that will incorporate Gundam’s core Mobile Suits across multiple generations in a format and price range that is easy to purchase and easy to play with and display.”

Julian made it clear that these figures are designed for adult collectors and that sculpt won’t be sacrificed to comply with safety regulations of younger fans:

All products produced by Tamashii Nations are made for customers ages 15 and up, meaning that the figures can have sharp points and some areas that are thinner and perhaps more delicate than on toys made for younger fans. When Mobile Suit in Action was first released in the late 90’s, they were designed for Gundam fans of all ages, and thus had to comply with certain safety regulations. These Gundam Universe figures are for adult collectors however, so the “V”-shaped crests for instance on the Gundams’ heads are made from hard plastic and have a very sharp tip on either side.”

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Packaging:

The packaging is bright and vibrant. It gives you a clear designation of the mobile suit model you’re buying with some great artwork of the suit in action to go along with it. It’s collector friendly with one piece of tape to cut or peel, then you’re into a plastic tray without ties or tape. No additional damage required if you are a figure opener! If you like displaying your boxes, the side panels will also sit nicely on a bookshelf. You can either display the side with the suit designation or the side with the artwork depicting the suit.

My one nitpick is that Bandai is hiding all the accessories with the choice of that tine plastic window! Anybody looking on the back for a list of accessories would also have a hard time. It was only after I opened the box that I could confirm the figure actually came with a beam rifle and beam sabers. They should make the window more shoppable.

From view of Gundam Universe Packaging. Tiny Window.


Back Panel without any clear listing of accessories

Accessories

Robot Spirits clearly wins in the accessory department. It comes with translucent beam saber blades, with one action effect version. A specially fitted beam rifle muzzle blast. It comes with head cannon blast effect, bazooka, rocket boost effect pieces, and a bevy of hands you’ll never find all the combinations for. It also comes with a rack for those hands. I guess losing them is a big concern?

Gundam Universe RX-78 comes with the bear essentials. Two beam saber blades that are opaque, not translucent, a shield, a beam rifle, two extra hands, and a Stage Act stand adapter. No Stage Act stand included, by the way.

Robot Spirits on the left/ Gundam Universe on the right.

Having said that, Gundam Universe RX-78-2 comes with just enough to make it fun and fully satisfactory. Being a full inch taller and with more “realistic” and less cartoony styling, the accessories get a passing grade. In sum, Gundam Unvierse RX-78 makes up for a lack of accessories in all other areas.

On the left, the more “cartoony” sculpt of the Robot Spirits shield/ more “realistic” sculpt on Gundam Universe on the right

Articulation

Here’s another place where Robot Spirits technically has more boxes checked off, but not enough to beat the size and lower price point of Gundam Universe. Robot Spirits has bisected biceps and thighs, a pectoral flex, articulated rocket boosters on the back, toe articulation, and possibly some other stuff I missed.

Gundam Universe has plenty of articulation, too, though. This is all the articulation a collector of the Black Series, Marvel Legends, and Dragon Stars line will be used to.

You see, Robot Spirits has more articulation, but I’m not sure it’s articulation I would necessarily need. I’ve owned the figure for about a year and only yesterday found the pectoral flex. I suppose I could put RX-78-2 into a two-handed saber pose, but why? He’s a robot and I think his movement should be fittingly restricted.

Sculpt

Robot Spirits may have some translucent accessories which add to the overall effect of the figure, but the rest of the sculpt feels cartoony. This may come down to a point of preference. This also may have been an intentional choice ont he part of Bandai to make it reminiscent of the 1979 cartoon and the fluid liberties it took with how a robot would move.

RX-78-2 from the 1979 Anime
RX-78-2 from the 1979 Anime

But, I prefer the more rugged, realistic styling of Gundam Universe. Every panel has more detail on it than Robot Spirits.

Paint Application

Neither figure has much of any paint to be spoken of. Just about everything is cast int he color plastic intended or painted one block color (hello, Mondrian?!). There are small details on the head cannons of Robot Spirits which may be painted. The eyes and head crest are metallic stickers on Gundam Universe. Overall, this is a wash between the two. No points awarded!

Gallery

Conclusion

All in all, I think Gundam Universe beats out Robot Spirits as a better overall figure. You lose accessories and small points of articulation, but you save $20-30 on the price point. You also get a more impressive scale and more realistic sculpting. With all the unique designs that will be coming from this line in the future, if they keep this up, Bandai might have a real 6 inch Gundam competitor in the greater Western retail market.

Gundam Universe Rx-78-2 can be purchased at the following retailers (prices current as of publication):

Wing Gundam and RX-0 Unicorn are also currently available from Wave 1:

Wave 2 is slated for a January 2020 release and is now available for pre-order.

I’ll probably pick up more from this line to take a look at. It’s good reliving my Gundam Geek days.

More later! DrunkWooky out!

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