G Gundam FIX Figuration: Hi, God. It's Me, Sailor Moon Gundam.
Back when I was 15 (a long five years ago), the Pokemon craze was at its height and networks were desperate to try almost any anime in the hopes of similar success. One such show, creeping onto Cartoon Network’s fledgling Toonami block, was Gundam Wing. I knew little about Gundam at the time, but from the exciting promos I decided to give it a shot. Ultimately I wouldn’t stick around for the full initial run, but one thing left an impression on me — the mecha designs. The mobile suits of OZ left me in awe: the Leo, Aries, Taurus and of course the Tallgeese. I soon found out the designer behind them was a man named Hajime Katoki.
I soon discovered I wasn’t alone in adoring Katoki’s designs, nor had this phenom escaped the executives at Bandai, who quickly moved to cash in with a high-end collector’s line called Gundam FIX Figuration after Katoki’s early photo collages. Today it’s one of the most popular lines of Gundam merchandise. In typical Bandai fashion the line has mostly kept to Universal Century designs, but Katoki has been trying to diversify, starting with the Wing Gundam Early Type, his personal re-design of the original Wing Gundam. A Gundam X will be released in the coming months too, but today we’re here to discuss the recent set from the very first Gundam alternate universe: God Gundam and Nobel Gundam from Mobile Fighter G Gundam.
Katoki provided some mecha designs for G Gundam, but as in Wing he was primarily tasked with designing the enemy forces, while Kunio Okawara handled the heroes. The one exception is perhaps one of G’s most infamous designs, the schoolgirl/Sailor Moon-inspired Nobel Gundam. Rumour has it that Katoki submitted this design for Neo-Japan in protest to the stereotyping in the Gundams of other countries. Whether that’s true or not remains unconfirmed, but regardless the design remains one of the series’ most memorable. Katoki has made some minor refinements to Nobel for this set. Its companion, the secondary lead mecha God Gundam, was originally designed by Okawara but has been given the “Version Katoki” treatment for this release.
Used by the lead character Domon Kasshu in the second half of the series, God Gundam is part of atried-and-true strategy that started with Zeta: Give the hero a “trainer” Gundam for the first half, then trash it and give him a fancier version in the second half. Some series treat this as routine, but G Gundam punched up the drama with gusto when the change rolled around. Domon’s original Shining Gundam went down fighting, and for various reasons Domon viewed the new God Gundam as Shining’s reincarnation, swearing to remember its legacy. I still personally prefer Shining Gundam over God Gundam, but this is still an excellent figure.
I have to admit I was worried about this set initially. Katoki is very good at realistic mecha but when called upon to rework more stylized mecha he tends to add too much mechanical detail. Thankfully, FIX God Gundam is one of his more basic redesigns, incorporating clean, crisp lines, avoiding the gangly look of the BEE-CRAFT Master Grade kit. The sculptor, Misumaru Mashii, has done an excellent job of transferring the design to 3D. The figure has joints similar to the hyper-poseable Master Grade interpretation, moveable at the neck, twice at the shoulders, elbows, forearms, wrists, waist, hips, knees and ankles. While not off-the-wall poseable like some of ToyBiz’s Marvel Legends and similar American toys, there’s more then an enough for you to pull off a decent action pose. Plus, the display stand has a moveable strut, enabling various “in-action” poses. Promotional images even claim you can use the stand to have God Gundam cradling Nobel, based on the scene from the end of episode 30, though I’ve personally yet to try this. The base of the stand identifies the design in various ways, listing its numbering in the FIX line, its name and Gundam Fight ID number, pilot and alias, nation and the number and date of the Gundam Fight it took part in. Pretty spiffy.
The figure’s no slouch when it comes to accessories. Included are 4 beam swords (2 deactivated to be placed on hips, 2 activated for wielding), 2 sets of gauntlets (1 set as normal, 1 with posed finger guards for action poses) 4 sets of hands (fists, weapon-holding, God Finger pose with technique on and off) and a backpack that transforms into a Core Lander vehicle. While all are well done, there are various minor problems that occur, mainly in comparison to the earlier “Mobile Suit in Action!!” figure. For starters, gimmicks such as inserting the Core Lander and transforming the figure to Hyper Mode require some minor part swapping (removing the cockpit to plug the Core Lander in and changing the central chest piece with a raised one). The “Action!!” figure, which is supposed to be cheaper, handled both these elements with more accuracy, with a hole in the back of the torso for the Core Lander and a hinge for the chest piece so it could open and close. It’s a minor complaint, but seeing a higher-priced collector’s figure such as this outdone by an earlier and smaller release is disappointing. And this also leaves the FIX with two more small and easily lost pieces to keep an eye on.
The figure is also missing two of God Gundam’s gimmicks: the opening shoulder-mounted machine cannons and the rear leg armor, which raises to reveal extra thrusters used in performing the God Dash attack. Though their absence isn’t a major loss, I’d have been interested to see these included.
My last complaint is more of a personal preference. Whilst the beam swords are accurate pink blades (the earlier Master Grade mistakenly made them green), the God Finger hands are cast in a translucent purple. Given the theme of the line this may just have to be chalked up to Katoki preferring them that color, but in the show they were always shown as a fiery mix of red, yellow and orange. In fact, most fans would associate the colour and technique used here with the Master Gundam’s Darkness Finger.
Piloted by Neo-Sweden’s Allenby Beardsley, the Nobel Gundam and its pilot were often seen alongside the Neo-Japanese team, for sparring or to join a tag team. This common grouping was reflected in a FIX image, which in turn was the inspiration for this set. Nobel hasn’t had much luck in merchandise, so it’s good to see she’s really here for the Fix treatment.
As mentioned earlier, Nobel is commonly referred to as “the Sailor Moon Gundam,” but for those prepared to look beyond this visual gag it becomes clear that the design is a feminised RX-78-2. With slender limbs, a length of mechanical blonde “hair” and high heels, Nobel stands out amongst the constant stream of bulky, more masculine Gundam designs. This design’s new details perhaps integrate slightly better, as Katoki has worked on it from the beginning. Both figures are also enhanced by some light lavender panel lining and various warning markings that could obviously never have appeared in the animation. This helps to give the designs just the right amount of realism.
In terms of accessories, the Nobel figure seems inspired by the earlier “Mobile Suits in Action!!” Here too there are two versions of Nobel’s beam ribbon (a short “wobbly” one to use as a weapon and a long twisting one to pose spinning around Nobel), and normal and Berzerker Mode hair pieces. The normal piece is identical to the classic design, a single piece that drapes down Nobel’s back. The Berzerker Mode hair, however, has received a redesign. Originally, the individual components of the hair stood erect to indicate the intense heat. Here, however, the components only separate a brief distance from one another, giving Nobel an appearance reminiscent of Belldandy. Each of the nine strands must be individually placed into the back of the head, but luckily the specific holes are clear and to further help each piece has a small “L” or “R” (for Left and Right) sculpted into it if you get lost. Traditionally Berzerker Mode Nobel gave off a reddish tint, which lead to a similarly coloured variant of the “Action!!” figure, but no such treatment exists for the FIX, leaving it up to fans to modify as they please.
Likewise, the two extra thrusters that emerged from the back are also missing. As I was never a fan of the demonic rampaging beast the Berserker Nobel was in the series, I cannot complaint. Rounding out the accessories are four sets of hands and two beam sabers. The sabers have the same hilt as the beam ribbon, which is identical to the RX-78-2′s beam saber hilts. Apparently Katoki has chosen to envision the beam ribbon doubling as a beam saber, though this was never seen in the series. Going along with the feminine form of the design, the hand sets are more playful. There are fists and weapon holders, but also more relaxed open hands and even a pair flashing the V-sign. Combined with the stand (identical to God Gundam’s in all areas except text), you can pull off some nice and (dare I even say it) sexy poses.
This set was my first FIX purchase, and I can’t say I’m disappointed. These are excellent figures, but they’re more intended to be posed and displayed rather than given to children to play with. These are high-end but affordable interpretations of a popular artist’s vision of popular designs. The new features add something new and exciting for fans to find, making me wonder about the possibilities: Perhaps we could see a Master Gundam/Fuunsaiki or a Shining/Rising set? Even if G Gundam isn’t your cup of tea, the FIX line is constantly expanding and should have at least one set to tempt every Gundam/mecha fan. Recommended.