Ben's cousin finally gets her due...
For a great selection of film, comic and TV action figures and collectibles, check out BigBadToyStore.com, BriansToys.com, ToyWiz.com, PastGenerationToys.com, Urban-Collector.com, MonkeyDepot.com, HobbyLinkJapan.com, and Sekaido.com.
To insure your action figure collection, get in touch with our sponsor Collectibles Insurance.
Long time readers of my reviews will know that I've got a soft spot for Ben 10 in all its forms (regular flavor, Alien Force, and now Ultimate Alien). The cartoon is really enjoyable, with great writing and lots of interesting alien and technological designs. Of course, the show is aimed primarily at kids, and so Bandai's toy line is squarely in the "youth" category. Regardless, the figures are sturdy, colorful, and plenty of fun even for those of us who might be "older" collectors. As the toy line continues successfully, Bandai is able to include more and more fan-requested figures and characters, often finding interesting ways of bringing to the toy aisles what we're all looking for the most. And come through they did with this new set...
Since the very first episode of Ben 10, the main hero's sidekick and ally has been his cousin, Gwen Tennyson. And while she started out the series as a normal, albeit brilliant, human being, she later acquired first magical and then extraterrestrial powers! Sadly, toys of Gwen have been few and far between. Late in the initial toy series was a Gwen in her Magic Girl costume, a good start. Recently in Alien Force Bandai included a powered up Anodite Gwen in her alien look, which was very cool but still left fans wanting more. Those days are over as there is now a modern Gwen Tennyson figure with no mask and no alien energy form as part of the Ben 10 Gwen Ultimate Alien Vehicle Set!
There are three "UAV" sets, and all of them share the same basic package design. Squarish window boxes, these packages show off the contents inside and provide lots of bright and colorful graphics. The front panel has the Ben 10 Ultimate Alien logo in the top left corner, and is vividly colored in blues, greens, and yellows. Surrounding the window are photos showing the toy in action and how it combines with the others in the series. The back of the box follows suit, entirely focusing on the combination aspect to create the Rustbucket III.
I'll get to the UAV in a minute, but first let's look at Gwen. For a long time toy companies have been afraid to release female figures, and while this trend is changing I wouldn't say it's been put to rest. Most of the big toy lines include girls/women like Star Wars, Marvel Universe, DC Universe, and G.I. Joe, but the smaller lines still shy away from girls, especially when they're first starting out. While it may be true that boys aren't looking for toys of girls, collectors are a different story. We want figures of the main characters, whether they’re male or female! It's especially interesting then to see Gwen appear where she does.
The other two UAV sets each come with a repackaged figure: Ben Tennyson and Kevin Levin from the Alien Force series. Now, repacking those figures is a no-brainer, as they're the main characters and kids want them. Even if they already have one or both they’re still great toys and worth getting doubles to complete the Rustbucket III set. Gwen, though, is different. This is her first release (though I'm sure we'll see this sculpt reused - probably single carded AND in multipacks). Is Bandai banking on people buying her only to complete the set? Or is this is a test to see if she sells well so they'll make more female figures? I don’t know, but I'm happy to have her.
Gwen stands nearly 3 ¾ inches tall, putting her more in scale with Ben than Kevin. She follows the general cartoon design of the figures, which nicely matches the animation without being too kiddy-looking. Gwen is a no-nonsense girl, and she dresses that way. Outfitted in her usual V-neck top and skirt, she has a very good sculpt that distinguishes the different clothing layers and adds some hems and creases to boot. Her head sculpt is nice, if a bit youthful for the current Ultimate Alien series. The figure's paint scheme and application do it a lot of justice. There are plenty of colors from the red and white shirt to her dark blue skirt and shoes, gray leggings and flesh tones. Gwen's face adds bright green on her eyes and pink lips, and of course you can't forget her bright red hair.
Since the line is generally for younger fans, the Ben 10 action figures aren't big on articulation. Gwen has joints at the neck, shoulders, and hips. It's not stellar, but she looks good in static poses and can sit in her vehicle or make grand gestures.
Gwen's UAV is an interesting vehicle that skirts the line between functional on its own and a part of a greater whole. By itself, it's sort of an ultra light helicopter consisting of an open cockpit pod slung under large rotor blades. There's a sculpted seat that fits the figure snugly, and the extra parts combine to form a combination control station/weapon system that sits in front of her, complete with firing spring-loaded projectile and translucent display screens. The "handlebars" are too large for Gwen to hold, but you can pose her in such a way that it isn't obvious. The rotors can be rotated by hand, but look best perpendicular to the main fuselage.
There's a nice bonus detail in the Ultimate Alien Omnitrix symbol sculpted into the top of the left rotor. The UAV, like the entire Rustbucket III, is bright "Ben 10" green, with accents in lighter green and black. Gwen's seat is flat black, while the bar that holds the controls is gray.
If you've got all three UAV sets, you can combine them to form the Rustbucket III. Gwen's section transforms very easily. Basically, pack in the seat and bar, then fold the rotors together and back to form the tail of the jet. I don't have the other sets yet, but the 'bucket looks pretty cool on the package graphics.
If you are (or if you have a young friend/family member who is) a fan of Ben 10, then this set is highly recommended. Honestly, I'd recommend it for the Gwen figure alone! Her vehicle isn't too bad on its own, and it's certainly better than Ben's unsightly glider thing. If you don't have the Ben and Kevin figures, then this series is a great way to collect them AND build a pretty cool jet. These are popping up in big box stores right now, averaging just under $20; I found mine in the Times Square Toys"R"Us!
Review and Photos by Scott Rubin