The Gundam franchise just can't get away from the assault! Battle Assault, Assault Kingdom, Gundam Assault Survive, maybe....maybe more.
Today we'll be breaking into two parts and taking a look at what I've managed to snag from the Assault Kingdom series of candy-box figures. So, jump into your cockpit, grab the controls, push forward, and SCREEEAAAAM!!
I want to start in a weird place, so keep in mind that the figures in the following picture are NOT Assault Kingdom figures.
I'm starting out with pre-Assault Kingdom - I have no idea what they were called or even if they were in the same series with each other (though they probably were). These are or are nearly the same scale as Assault Kingdom figures, but came in little plastic Gashapon balls (Gashapon, if you didn't know already, are similar to American quarter machines). Since I never found out what the series was called, I was only able to get these at random when I ran into them. Otherwise, this collection would be the same size as my Assault Kingdom series by now!
Some of them are right on scale, others are a tiny bit smaller. They're on-par with articulation, though some of it doesn't work as well as they do on AK figures, or others tend to pop apart on a joint or two. The paintwork tends to be a little more full, and the weapons are usually softer plastic and have a tendency to bend while wrapped up in the bubble.
Overall I prefer Assault Kingdom, but some of them are fantastic even by AK's standards, like the Gouf above. I wish I could refer you to it so you could track one down, 'cause it's awesome. I just cannot remember what these were called (or if the Gouf is even in the same series as the ones above him).
Same goes for the Gelgoog here, which also isn't in Assault Kingdom yet.
At the time, these were the only tiny Gundam figures you were going to get with full articulation, unless you went the more expensive route, with a toyline called HCM Pro.
These were a bit bigger (about G.I. Joe scale) and MUCH more fancy. They came boxed with multiple accessories and paint applications (usually some paint you wouldn't normally find on certain suits, like the Gundam above. It's hard to tell from the picture, but there's a neat sort of camo pattern in lighter blue). There were usually painted inner parts as well, like pistons 'n such. I don't think the line is going anymore, so many of them go for much more than you'd most likely want to pay for something so small. They are fantastic, though! Well worth a post in it's own right, if I had any more than the one above.
Beyond those, I couldn't get much farther in a small-scale Gundam collection...not that it was a collection I knew I wanted until I had it. Once I had heard about Assault Kingdom, I knew I had to try it out. It was just a matter of finding out how much they were SUPPOSED to be, since the early waves could only be found at scalper prices (even now, I'm still trying to get ahold of series one and two for a reasonable price). Eventually I was able to get ahold of a few at a convention, and then, thankfully, Barnes and Noble ended up stocking them regularly.
Rather than go through them in the order I got them, I'll go through them in order of series, starting with the only one I got in series 3:
The Gundam GP03 "Demtrobium Stamen", named for being the "stamen" of the larger Dendrobium "flower", so to speak. A flower of death. Supreme, missile launching, bazooka firing, beam blazing death.
The Gundam, however, is pretty much just your standard Gundam with awesome specs. I've never been a huge fan of the Stamen (I like the GP01 a bit better) but I bought him when I was in a "I NEED ASSAULT KINGDOM" frenzy at a convention.
He comes with a beam rifle, shield, and a bazooka, as well as a stand that is a piece of a larger item that goes to another suit from the Gundam SEED universe. I'm not terribly interested in the build-a-thing parts, but I DO want the red Gundam Astray from this same series...as soon as I track one down for a reasonable price (just add "for a reasonable price" to just about anything else I want from Assault Kingdom).
Not a bad figure overall, if you're a fan, but it is held back by a bit by the binders at its hips. I'd like to see a Dendrobium to go with it, someday, but that would be HUGE (not that they haven't made it before, but bigger).
YEAH! This is a dynamite series! I even managed to get the extra one, but we'll see that after these four.
First up is the Z'Gok, which is always cool. I don't believe they've done Char's red Z'Gok yet, but when they do, you know it'll be good - 'cause this one is awesome.
Even on this tiny little figure there's a slider on the back of the head, so you can control where the monoeye is looking. I LOVE THAT. They don't do it often, but when they do, it sometimes is sooo small that it's nearly useless. This is tiny and perfect. The eye slides back and forth effortlessly.
He comes with two open claws and two closed claws, for all your Jaburo-storming needs. I highly recommend this even if you're just a fan of robots in general.
OH, this too! I highly recommend this! So much!
This is the Gouf Custom, not to be confused with a regular Gouf, though they are both involved in absolutely badass fights. If you want to familiarize yourself with the majesty that is the Gouf Custom (and it's pilot, Norris Packard) then watch all of this:
If you didn't watch it (it's over ten minutes, I understand) just know that the Gouf Custom makes a mark among Mobile Suits.
It comes with the large gatling shield (but no separate shield without the gun) and the smaller three-barreled machinegun underneath. There's also the trademark heat saber, for murdering Guntanks while the pilots scream in terror.
If I could say anything against this figure, it's that the blue is a bit too light. The Gouf Custom is a lighter blue than the standard Gouf, but not quite THIS light. Otherwise, it moves well and is a blast to play with. Just like the Z'Gok: get this no matter your interests!
This next one is a personal favorite: The Re-GZ, which stands for the "Refined Gundam Zeta." That means this suit is a refined version of the Zeta Gundam...though it still ended up being too expensive for mass production, so they only made one (at the time). The transforming feature was even removed and regulated to a separate "back weapons system" that this figure doesn't come with (though an exclusive figure does).
I'm not sure why this one is a favorite, to be honest. The Zeta isn't my favorite design, but this one changes it up enough and has a sort of "knight" look to me, which I think is what draws me in. That, and the beam saber has a crossguard that makes for a cooler saber than most.
Not all of the Assault Kingdom figures have sabers, and when they do, they're often unpainted. This series used clear plastic for the sabers, which is neat, if kinda strange. Makes for AWESOME effects with the laser pointer, though!
The Re-GZ isn't the best of the lot, but it does everything that I would like it to do, so it'll always earn a spot in my favorites. This is one of those suits where, if I ever sit down to paint my model kits: this one will get a personal color scheme.
Next one is Amuro's final beast of a mobile suit: The Nu Gundam. This was showcased in the movie "Char's Counterattack" that has the final fight between Char Aznable and Amuro Ray.
This figure comes with a lot of the items you'd expect, but just short of some items that I really would have liked.
It's got the beam rife, and a bazooka that you can store on his back.
It also has the back mounted Fin Funnels, which are fin-shaped mind-controlled guns that can also form shields (because Amuro don't go out unless he's dressed to impress). There's a full set, and a half set, while the other figures in this series all come with a folded fin to add to the Nu Gundam with the stands they all come with.
I don't...fully understand what they wanted you to do with the stands (they attach to each other) but the stems that hold up the figures are what you'll need to attach the fins.
...like this. It's a neat feature! A little complicated, but neat. The one thing he is missing is a beam saber, though that was added to the exclusive set that also had the Re-GZ's Back Weapons System.
The exclusive set is a special Sazabi, the suit that Char wields against Amuro's Nu Gundam.
I did not get the special set, but the standard set is still WAY worth it, 'cause it comes with everything you'd want for the Sazabi, at least.
The only differences I can see between this one and the special set is extra items, and that the beam weapons are all cast in clear lime green plastic, instead of clear.
I may track it down sometime, but I honestly don't feel like I'm missing much.
This thing is a well articulated tiny BEAST, and highly recommended. Certainly the budget way to go, if you want a Sazabi (assuming he hasn't skyrocketed in the after market).
It has a beam shotgun, shield, two normal beam sabers, and the larger beam weapon in both axe form and sword form.
That kickin' sound system over his shoulders is actually a containment system for his funnels! There are two "open" containers to swap out, and six open funnels that attach to clear stalks (that then attach to his back or to the open containers).
Now Char and Amuro can face off in the standard ridiculous scale that is befitting of two near-godlike Newtypes that can stop a freakin' asteroid from hitting the Earth (granted, they didn't survive, but they still did it).
Now, these two are sized correctly to each other, but they feel a tad off compared to others - especially the Nu Gundam. I don't know why, but he feels a bit small. He looks alright compared to the Sazabi, and the Sazabi certainly looks BIG compared to everyone else...but the Nu Gundam still looks small compared to others. Not sure why. It is supposed to be fairly large - larger than most Mobile Suits (though, the suits around this timeframe are all supposed to be larger than normal). I suppose that would be my only complaint about the Nu, but the Sazabi gets FULL MARKS. I'd buy that sonuvabish.
I think that marks only the second series where I own them all. The next series I only bothered with two of them, and I doubt that'll change.
First one is a Jegan, which is also from Char's Counterattack. This is a Federation suit that sort of takes over for the GM (mass produced Gundam). It's much more powerful than a GM and - to be honest - way cooler looking. It has a great design that speaks to me on that "grunt" level, meaning: I like that it doesn't stand out. The grunts always manage to be favorites of mine.
The Jegan has everything it needs: A beam rifle, shield, and beam saber. Sadly, this is where I found out that they don't always make the sabers in that clear color - it's just green like the rest of the suit. Still, I...shined the laser pointer on it anyway. I like it. Leave me alone.
I think the Jegan turned out great, but I think it's a tad too big. It's a monster, compared to the Nu Gundam, and no grunt suit should overshadow the Nu! It's kinda embarrassing to pose them next to each other. Regardless, I can't help liking the Jegan. Just might not be "oh-man-buy-it-now" materal.
The same does not go for this guy. This is a tiny Zaku II, and you should buy it. This is the same mold as Char's Zaku II from the second series (that I missed) and it rocks.
It comes with a standard Zaku machinegun, a heat hawk (the axe it's holding), and a second head in case you want to make a commander out of it.
It would normally also come with a Zaku bazooka, but they decided to add a cooler item instead:
The Top Cannon! This is the most ridiculous item - it's a cannon from a tank called a "Magella" (it's a hilarious little tank that has a detachable plane on top). The cannon looks like it's pulled right out of the tank and fitted with handles for the Zaku to use. I love it, 'cause it looks like it was rigged up on the fly at some random outpost that was running out of weapons for the Mobile Suits to use.
It's a favorite of a friend of mine, who used the Zaku II with the Top Cannon in a game called "Mobile Suit Gundam VS Zeta Gundam" (don't let the name chase you off - it's fun!). The picture above displays his patented "jump in the air and shoot Alexx's ass with a slow cannon because Alexx is dumb" attack. Seriously: There's no reason to get hit by a top cannon other than being either dumb, or my friend is just a badass.
I'm sure he'd pick both those options.
ALRIGHT, I had way more Assault Kingdom figures than I thought (and more pictures of them than I had planned on taking) so I'm separating this in to two posts to cover them all. We'll stop here and pick back up at series 6.