Soul of Chogokin GX-34 Gunbuster - Review

Discussion in 'The Toyark' started by mx-01 archon, Nov 22, 2006.

  1. mx-01 archon

    mx-01 archon Well-Known Member

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    I got a big box delivered from HLJ yesterday. Gunbuster was finally here! I had to work, though, so I didn't get a whole lot of time to fiddle with him yesterday. So, with more time on my hands today, I give you my review. With pictures! Without further adieu, Soul of Chogokin GX-34 Gunbuster!

    [​IMG]

    What we have here is an amazing piece of SOC engineering. Gunbuster's one of those classic giant transforming robots, created before major merchandising blitzes were the norm. Thus it transformed, it combined, but not a whole lot of though was put into just how it did so. A lot of "Getter Magic" (after Getter Robo, who transformed into three distinct forms by combining three distinct vehicles in different ways, but with neither form really showing much evidence of its component parts, with the exception of the "main" vehicle) involved in its onscreen appearance to get it to change between the space-faring Buster Machines into the form of a giant mechanical behemoth. Nevertheless, Bandai took up the challenge to produce a fully-functioning figure of the iconic robot. It's only been done once before by the independant group Studio Halfeye, known for their small and pricey, but well engineered representations of many well-loved giant robots. While SHE's version was a "Perfect Transformation" figure, it's obvious in their version that some proportions in both spaceship and robot modes had to be sacrificed in order to make that work. The SHE version's size and pricetag, as usual, are also quite off-putting (about $500 US for a 6"-ish resin figure), ensuring that it would only be bought by the most diehard of collectors. For Bandai's version, they eschewed the Perfect Transformation status in order to give us a figure that more closely represented the Gunbuster's anime appearance. This is not to say, however, that they've eschewed transformation altogether. Nosirree, this sucker's got a ton of moving parts. And with mass-produced status, Bandai's able to give us more bang for the buck. About $160 US gets you 12" (10" to the top of the head) of transforming die-cast goodness, with an absolutely ridiculous amount of accessories and extra parts.

    So first, we'll start with the big guy's individual components:

    Buster Machines:

    [​IMG]

    Buster Machine 1 (rear) is the bulkier-looking of the two ships, and forms the arms and torso of the Gunbuster. It's the lighter of the two, which means less die-cast content, but then that makes sense, given its purpose in the transformation. Less weight up top means better balance. As I said earlier, this figure is not quite Perfect Transformation, so a few removable parts are required in order to make it resemble its anime counterpart. These are two half-pipe shells that hide the robot's shoulders, as well as a flat panel to smooth out the underside of the ship. Technically, the tailfins of Buster Machine 1 are also supposed to be removed for anime-accuracy during the transformation, but I don't bother, as they're rather confusing to clip on properly (The tailfins actually form detented joints that click into proper position. Since they all look roughly the same though, it's pretty easy to mix them up and connect them wrong, so they don't click into place properly). It's just as well, though. The transformation's designed so that they can remain attached, and they don't get in the way of anything.

    Buster Machine 2 (rear) is the slimmer of the two ships, and comprises the legs and hips of the Gunbuster. Lots of die-cast content in this one, quite heavy. The non-transformable component of this one is a long beam that runs along the underside of the ship, smoothing it out, and also providing the front landing gear. Another set of landing gear flips out of the rear engine pods. Kinda bugs me though that the rear wheels aren't painted, they're just solid grey plastic. Not a big deal though, since they'll probably be folded in most of the time anyways. The top panel of Buster Machine 2 is kinda like the wings on BM1. It's designed to be a transformable element, but it's removable to allow for anime-accuracy. More on this one in a moment.

    Out of the package, the Buster Machines can be found in the large styrofoam tray. All of the option parts are disconnected from the Buster Machines, each packed in a separate little baggie (yes, one little baggie for each of BM1's tailfins), in their own little hollow. Additionally, Gunbuster's fists are not attached to Buster Machine 1. They're instead packed in the plastic trays, along, with the rest of the accessories.

    Transformation:

    Starting with Buster Machine 2, remove the bottom panel with the landing gear, and set it aside. Then detach the top panel (the same shape as the bottom panel) from the front of the spaceship, and fold it over along the hinge, then swing it back. Take the engine pods and turn them around until they click into place, and then swing the wings back, so they're closer together. Take the nosecone and split it in half. Move the two pods on the sides of the cylinders outwards, so that you can open the panels freely. On the inside of each cylinder, press together the two small spring buttons near the nosecone ends of the sliding tracks, and then pull on the nosecone piece, extending the cylinders and forming the legs. Then close the panels up again, and swing the pod up to the top position, near the robot's knees. Now come the feet. Either you can continue transforming the nosecones, or switch them out with the anime-accurate set. To swap the parts, there's a release button at the back of each ankle. Push it, and the foot slides off easily, to be replaced with another part. If you're using the transforming feet, pull on the tip of the nosecone, which should separate it from the rest of it by a few millimetres. Tuck the very tip of the nosecone back into the preceding segment, and then swing the whole unit around towards the back of the assembly. Rotate the toe part into place, and then fold the assembly 90 degrees, so the sole of the foot will be against the ground. Clip the nosecone tip to the back of the foot, forming the heel. Perform the same steps for the other leg (as a note, most of the pictures use the transformable feet, for two reasons: one, because I like the look of them better. The anime feet look too simplistic, and almost slipper-like. Two, they're more stable for posing, because they're longer, and provide more of a heel. They do have their downsides, though, not being as solid, and they tend to push out the leg panels a bit in more extreme poses). The final step in Buster Machine 2's transformation is to slide the two silver engines together.

    Onto Buster Machine 1's transformation, start by removing the underside cover and the two shoulder covers. Swing the bottom two tailfins upwards until they click, and then the top tailfins down slightly. Separate the arms from the engine unit. Split the nosecone halves, and maneuver them apart, forming the shoulderpads. Separate the spikes at the bottoms of the shoulderpads slightly. Swing the shoulder joints up into place. Open up the cylinder covers, and pull the fists out (they extend on two segments, make sure it looks into place both times), then close the covers again. Pull the plate that was on top of the ship (with the two rubbery antennae) forward as much as possible, extending the die-cast straps. Now, the back plate of the ship folds up almost accordion-style, and the gray core piece that it's connected to rotates 180 degrees. As a result, the back plate should wind up tucked inside the torso, with the engines pointing up near the base of the neck, with the winglets protruding from the shoulder blades. Now fold the plate with the antennae back, to create the robot's back. Fold out the robot's horns and cheek-guards.

    Now the final step is to plug Buster Machine 2's engines into the newly revealed ports at the bottom of Buster Machine 1. Gunbuster is complete!

    Earlier, I mentioned Buster Machine 2's removable top cover. Well, it winds up on Gunbuster's back. It kinda clutters it up even more though, so it can be removed. So whether you leave it on or not is up to you. Although leaving it on makes it a bit more difficult to separate Gunbuster's two halves, as it covers the release switch on Buster Machine 1 that disconnects it from BM2's engines. It's possible to get a finger in there, just trickier.

    Poseability:

    SOC's just wouldn't be as attractive as they are without the poseability. Sure, diecast metal is great and all, and transformation is fun, but without the poseability, there's not much to claim against the diecast robots of the 60's and so forth. And as we would have it, Gunbuster has it in spades. Here's the rundown:

    - Balljointed ankles (the joint is diecast, for durability)
    - Hinge knees with about 80 degrees of motion (ratcheted)
    - Rotational swivel above the knee (ratcheted)
    - Universal hip joint, with about 80 degrees of motion forward or back, and about 70-75 degrees to the side (ratcheted in all directions of motion)
    - Rotating waist (ratcheted)
    - Forward torso crunch (transforming joint, non-ratcheted)
    - Universal shoulders, about 90 degrees of motion outwards, and up to 110 forward and back, only restricted by the shoulder pads (softer ratchets)
    - Forward shoulder curls (mainly for the crossed-arm pose, but useful for others as well. Diecast, non-ratcheted)
    - Rotational bicep swivel (non-ratcheted)
    - Hinged elbows with 90 degrees of motion (non-ratcheted)
    - Balljointed wrists (range of motion depends on which hands are being used, ball is diecast)
    - Articulated hands have four points of articulation, at the base of each finger. Thumb is static.
    - Balljointed neck (ball is diecast)
    - Multi-joint in shoulderpads (can tip back and forward about 20 degrees on a ratcheted joint, and can tip inwards and out on transformation joints, non-ratcheted)

    More than enough articulation to get tons of extreme and dynamic poses, and make the most of the plethora of accessories included. Additionally, the gantry tower base has a couple of mounting pegs at the top, allowing for some limited aerial poses (although with the pegs being small little plastic things, I'm not sure I'd trust them to support the toy for a long period of time without breaking. They seem sturdy enough, but who knows?). The only real limitations you'll face is balance. The ratchets are strong enough to support most poses, short of a ridiculous spread in the legs. As I mentioned earlier, you'll have an easier time getting it to balance using the transforming feet, rather than the dainty anime feet.

    Diecast Content:

    Of course, Soul of Chogokin wouldn't be Chogokin without the metal, and Gunbuster's pretty hefty. I'd estimate between 2-3 lbs, probably closer to 3 (using a 5 lb weight as reference, since I didn't stick him on a scale. I could be off, though. I'm notoriously bad at estimating these sorts of things). Diecast is found in the pelvis, thighs, the ankles and the bottom part of the cores of the shins, the sides and cores of the transforming feet, the side pods on the legs (interior is plastic, but the outer shell is metal), and most of the anime feet, the chest (not the chestplate, but the internals), neck joint, shoulder joints, shoulderpad joints, shoulder "straps", the biceps, and in the wrists, as well as the front landing gear of Buster Machine 2. Not as much, percentage-wise, as say the Evangelions or practically any of the smaller, non-transforming SOCs, but that's almost a given, considering the size and nature of the robot.

    Accessories:

    [​IMG]

    Oh my god, if you're an accessory lover, prepare to drool. Not including the option parts, we've got the huge black plastic gantry tower display stand (you probably can't read it, but the name plate spells it "Soul of Chougoukin". So much for consistency...), a pair of closed fists, a pair of outstretched hands, a pair of hands for its iconic crossed-arms pose (you'll see here that you have to remove some of the arm covers to perform the pose though. One of those physical impossibilities of the design that can only be done in animation), a pair of "Buster Missile" hands with extending missile fingertips, and a "Landing Beacon" hand for re-enacting a scene from Gunbuster's first appearance, holding a friend (at this point, I must confess to not having actually seen the Gunbuster OVA series, so if that's not actually a landing beacon, I wouldn't know). BTW, that's not a guy in a spacesuit. It's the RX-7, a mech in and of itself, so that should give you an idea of just how huge Gunbuster is supposed to be. And we haven't even gotten to the weapons yet. We have the "Buster Home-Run" baseball bat, the twin "Buster Tomahawk" axes with a shaft to combine them into a double-ended poleaxe (and as a note, the connector shaft is actually made of diecast, so no worries about snapping the little pegs that connect to the axes), the gatling barrel weapon whose name escapes me at the moment (the silver spines on the inside of the covers are actually supposed to be removed for that one, but again, it's only for anime accuracy. It's too much hassle to remove them and replace them for one pose), and it's last-ditch effort weapon, its own nuclear(?) reactor. Like most SOCs, Gunbuster has parts storage as well. All the extra hands, as well as the reactor and cable, fit into the back of the gantry tower. Open up the base, and you've got places to stick all the extra accessories, including all the option parts from the Buster Machines. Very neat and tidy. No need to worry about losing all the extra parts if they're all in one handy place. Now if only the base lid would actually clip in place, rather than just close up loosely...

    Additionally, it's got a few extra tricks built in. It's left shoulder hatch opens up to reveal condensed versions of the Buster Homerun and Buster Tomahawk weapons (again, one of those things that only really works in animation, or, on a much larger scale). They're actually removable, but I didn't bother to take a picture of that. The right pod opens up to reveal the Buster Shield, its weapon-deflecting cape. This one does actually fit in there, although it's kinda tricky. It's essentially a square of what feels like umbrella fabric, with a little plastic tab at one corner that clips into the shoulder (again, not pictured). It won't fit in if you just stuff it in. You have to fold it in half I think 5 times (the instructions only show it being folded three times, but the last picture has a three next to it, plus some other indecipherable Japanese gibberish), and then it should be compressed enough to fit in the hatch and give the door enough clearance to shut properly.
    There's also a set of spiked rubber treads that clip to the soles of its feet for delivering nasty flying kicks. The transformable feet have a set of one-piece treads each. Bandai neglected to paint the two spikes that are pointing towards each other, the only other paint issue I have with the toy (along with BM2's landing gear). The non-transforming feet have spring-retractable treads built in that can be fitted with their own spiked versions. The springs are soft enough that they don't cause the spiked ones to pop off. And in the anime, the Gunbuster possesses what is known as the Inertial Canceller, allowing it to effectively stop any moving object dead in its tracks, usually following it up with a devastating blast of super-high voltage from its Buster Collider attack.

    Unfortunately though, Bandai didn't see it fit to include any representations of Gunbuster's energy attacks like the Studio Halfeye version did (check the gallery linked way up top). This would have added the forehead laser (with some Japanese characters scrawled in lightning), an energy lasso, an energy disk, and what I assume are hip-mounted rocket anchors. Ah well, you can't have everything. The package is already loaded as-is.

    Complaints:

    Of course, not everything is perfect, and some things could have been done better or differently. However, this list is going to be very short, and very nitpicky :p .

    - Head clearance. I think the figure just needed a slightly longer neck. The cheek guards don't clear the shoulder straps, and instead just fold inward when the head is turned to the side more than 10 degrees. It can't really look up or down much at all, and most attempts will probably end with you pulling the head clean off (it pops back on just fine, though)
    - Leg joints, particularly the hips, could stand to be a little bit tighter. As I said earlier, most poses are more than fine, but the more resistance to buckling, the better. There are much lighter Transformers with tighter leg joints than Gunbuster here. Anything to allow you to better take advantage of the poseability.
    - As mentioned earlier, the lid of the base/storage doesn't actually lock down. It just slides over the bottom rack. Would be nicer if it sealed tight, to prevent parts spillage.
    - The little white mech really doesn't want to stand up. There are little sockets in the tower base for it to watch Gunbuster take off or something, but like hell I can actually get it to stay put. It just keeps falling over backwards. On the other hand, who gives a damn about the tiny little, 1cm tall dork?

    Conclusion:

    In short, SoC Gunbuster is nothing short of pure awesome. It's big and heavy for you diecast junkies, is super poseable and has accessories out the wazoo for you display guys, and is solidly built with lots of neat little gimmicks for those who just want to play. At $160 or so it's a bit pricey for a casual purchase, but anybody into Japanese collectibles knows what they're in for, and considering just how much stuff is in this package, it's much more bang for you buck than any of say, Yamato's offerings, whose Valkyries and other robots retail for about the same price. It's fun, it's solid, and it's very, very playable. Of any of the transforming figures I own, it's very quickly become a favourite of mine, easily topping the Yamato VF-0S for value alone, and MP Prime and Starscream for playability. A phenomenal 97/100
     
  2. LigerPrime

    LigerPrime Well-Known Member

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    Congrats on your haul and your review is very comprehensive! From your review it seems that Gunbuster's playability is even higher than Dancougar. Guess I have to seriously consider him this month. Of course, your pictures of the Gunbuster isn't making things easier for me! :D 
     
  3. megatroptimus

    megatroptimus Translatorminator

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    Totally and fully jealous.
     
  4. XJunky

    XJunky Howdy Ho Veteran TFW2005 Supporter

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    Dayam, that things looks hot. You make it tough to stick to buying only transformers.

    ~X
     
  5. dlatkow

    dlatkow Well-Known Member

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    Wow, it's amazing.... and next on my list! Just need to pay off the last 2 robots I purchased.
     
  6. mx-01 archon

    mx-01 archon Well-Known Member

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    Minor amendment: The wrists do indeed lock into place at full extension. I just had to pull a little harder. Scratch one point off my complaints list, and the score goes up a point to boot.
     
  7. Valkysas

    Valkysas Attack Buffalo

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    Great review.

    Just to let you know, the buster collider attack has nothing to do with firepower. those rods are used to send a massive electric charge into anything they touch.

    and...

    that "1cm tall dork" mecha is piloted by Kazumi Amano, whom Noriko idolizes. She's also the pilot of Buster Machine 2. So a lot of people give a damn about her. :p 

    and damn, reading this and seeing your photos really make me want it.
     
  8. mx-01 archon

    mx-01 archon Well-Known Member

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    Well, thanks for the corrections. I knew not seeing the anime'd bite me in the ass at some point.
     
  9. Draven

    Draven Banned

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    Damn. that thing is love. And Gunbuster ruled. HARD WORK AND COURAGE!
     
  10. Subotnik

    Subotnik Please Stand By.

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    I got mine a couple of days ago and agree completely.

    However, unlike yours my hip joints are fine. The ankles could do with being a bit sturdier, but that's a tall order for a toy with detachable feet.

    It's got my vote for TOTY.
     
  11. Gears

    Gears buh-buh-body ya Veteran

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    That's so cool!
     
  12. Vangelus

    Vangelus Long Live the New Flesh Moderator Content Contributor

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    Guaah, I adored this toy on sight when first pics surfaced, and all it took was finding a clip of SUPAAAAH INAZUMAAAA KIIIIIICK on youtube to get me wanting it. *drool*

    Great review, thanks very much for giving some hands-on opinions. :D 
     
  13. megatroptimus

    megatroptimus Translatorminator

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    Got mine today...

    [​IMG]

    Another fantastic SOC offering... Heavy in die-cast, lots of accessories, very intricate transformation and detailing... Hard to ask for more!
     
  14. mx-01 archon

    mx-01 archon Well-Known Member

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    Congrats. It's still probably my favourite toy I own. It's just got so much stuff.

    I'm not sure, but it doesn't look like you've got the wrists extended all the way in that pic there (looks like there's still a bit of space on the track). They should lock in place solidly, so that they don't slide in during normal handling (while replacing hands, though, that's another story).

    And take those shoulder covers off. They really just get in the way in robot mode.
     
  15. QuinJester

    QuinJester T. Bison

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    Eheh. I love my Gunbuster. His finish, while being mostly plastic, is still amazing. And the way all of his accessories stow away in the base is a major :thumb 

    Yeah, I'd recommend popping those covers off the upper arms though. They're supposed to be part of the Buster Machine Ships optional parts to make them look more solid, not really for the Gunbuster mode.

    Of all the accessories he has, my favorite is definitely the bat. In a genre filled with giant, planet destroying cannons, it's almost more ridiculous for such a robot to have a simple baseball bat.
     
  16. megatroptimus

    megatroptimus Translatorminator

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    Nah. I hate extra parts lying around. Upper arm covers will stay right where they are, they look like added armor. Thanks for the tip (arms) though. :) 
     
  17. QuinJester

    QuinJester T. Bison

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    But.... that's what the space in the base is for :p 
     
  18. megatroptimus

    megatroptimus Translatorminator

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    It's just that I want to minimize the number of parts to reach for in the base when I transform it. :) 
     
  19. Rodr-Evil

    Rodr-Evil Lucifer's children TFW2005 Supporter

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    SOC Gunbuster is awesome, Ideon is very cool too.
     
  20. DON

    DON Well-Known Member

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    yeah, Gunbuster's a great toy, possibly my third favorite after Voltes V and Dancouga, IdeOn is awesome too, he's freakin huge and heavy but the design and color's a bit boring, still fun to play with though.

    I can't wait for Irongear
     

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