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    JeffSaylor's Avatar
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    Bandai's Robot Damashii (The Robot Spirits)

    Mecha action figures evolved...













    Bandai's Robot Spirits can be found at select online importers such as HobbyLinkJapan.com and BigBadToyStore.com, specifically:

    * Den'An Zon "Gundam F-91" HERE and HERE
    * KMF Vincent "Code Geass" HERE
    * Arios Gundam Ascalon HERE and HERE
    * GM Sniper II HERE and HERE


    When it comes to creating cool mecha collectibles, Bandai has been mastering the art for years. Take Gundam for example, a property - that much like Star Wars in America - has been a hot mainstay in Japan since its debut in 1979. It's not enough that the Mobile Suits have been produced in a dizzying array of sophisticated model kits of all shapes, sizes and assembling difficulting. Bandai has been releasing action figures as well; multiple Gundam assortments varying in construction and detail, all seemingly tailor-made for you. As seen in our review last week, there is the high-end Gundam FIX Figuration Next Generation line, featuring action figures made of quality hard material and composite parts, including die-cast metal. $95 a little out of your price range? Bandai has a series for you too: Robot Damashii, or "The Robot Spirits" as it translates in English.


    The Robot Spirits are the latest evolution of mecha action figures from Bandai; advanced 5-inch tall collectibles that won't break your wallet collecting them. Robot Spirits has been a hit in Japan for a couple years, and now thanks to Bluefin Distribution, is becoming a much talked about toyline in the U.S. The figures retail for between $25-$35, each one well worth the price of admission.


    While Gundam is prevalent in Bandai's Robot Spirits, the line actually encompasses a broader range of mecha anime, such as Code Geass and Neon Genesis Evangelion (see our review of the SDCC Exclusive EVA-01 TEST TYPE Night Combat Ver. HERE). To give you an idea of what this series has to offer, we have four recently released Robot Spirits up for review. These include three Mobile Suits from various incarnations of the Gundam anime series: GM Sniper II (Mobile Suit Gundam), Den'An Zon (Mobile Suit Gundam F91) and Arios Gundam Ascalon (Mobile Suit Gundam 00). Also represented in our review is Knight Mare Frame Vincent from the anime Code Geass.


    PACKAGING: Packaging for The Robot Spirits figures is top notch. Each figure comes enclosed in a window box with red and white "Robot Spirits" logo prominently seen running down the left side. It's immediately apparent what Bandai figure line you are getting. The window box view of the toy inside is also a nice touch, adding some high-end collectible sophistication. While much of the descriptions on the pack are in Japanese, each figure's name is clearly in English, so again you know just what you're getting.


    The back of each box features numerous photos of the figure displayed in dynamic action poses. The pretty pictures aren't just there for good looks, those are actual poses you can get with the figure inside... and inside is where you will want to go next. Housed on a slide-out plastic tray, each collectible figure is ready for play and display right out of the box. This is what really amazed me: simply tip the entire tray upside down and all the contents spill out with ease. No twisty ties. No hassle. It's like Bandai anticipated your excitement to get hands-on with the figure. The tray also makes stowing your figure away for mint in box display a snap. Just place the figure and its array of accessories back in their corresponding spots, slide the tray back in the box, and voilą! If you've been raised on a bland diet of mass market blister cards, you are in for a real treat with the packaging for The Robot Spirits.


    SCULPT: I thought Bandai's Mobile Suit In Action figures were incredible... back in 2002. Toy making technology has come a long way since then. The engineering on The Robot Spirits line is, in a word: AMAZING. Each figure is constructed of a tough plastic, almost akin to the material used on the model kits. The thing is, these are NOT model kits.


    The choice of plastic allows for a pretty solid collectible, with all the sharp, angular details of the mech design shining through. The detail on these is extremely sharp, the fine panel lines and facial layers most evident on the Arios Gundam Ascalon. I've read that these are created with the help of 3D CAD software; precise computerized sculpting that truly is needed to fully capture these incredible mech designs. Whether you're a fan of the aerodynamic Ascalon and KMF Vincent, or the more chunky appearance of the Sniper II and Den'An Zon, each mech is sculpted with minute accuracy.


    PAINT: Color on The Robot Spirits is mostly accomplished by using colored plastics. If used improperly, say on a cheap mass market toy, the result appears, well, cheap. On The Robot Spirits the use of pre-molded colored plastics equals a very sharp looking mech with zero bleeding or slop, something that would be quite unsightly on such an intricate machine.


    Paint does appear to be used on some spots, such as their glowing eyes and exhaust ports, but it is so clean you would never know it. The most striking mech is the KMF Vincent which dons a brilliant gold, red and grey color scheme. I'm not a huge fan of flamboyantly colored robots, but I have to admit that the glossy finish on the Vincent is gorgeous.


    ARTICULATION: One of the main selling points of The Robot Spirits is their extreme articulation. I'm talking ball-joints out the wazoo. Every conceivable point is hyper-articulated for a full range of movement: heads, arms, legs, waist, feet, wrists.


    On top of that, practically each piece of armor plating - shoulder and knee pads, visors, thrusters - all move as well. In fact, about the only thing that is not articulated on these figures are their fingers. This is no doubt due to their small size. However, Bandai has a solution for that as well...


    ACCESSORIES: Each Robot Spirit includes AT LEAST one pair of interchangable hands that attach via a firm ball joint. Some, like the Sniper II and KMF Vincent, pack FOUR sets. This allows for some serious costumization, whether it be gripping twin beam sabers, clutching a sniper rifle, or with fists balled up to put the beat down on an enemy mech. The amount of other accessories depends on the robot in question.


    The more advanced (and pricier) models, like the KMF Vincent, pack an incredible wealth of extras. This figure includes a double-bladed staff that can be broken down, removable panel armor, attachable grappling hooks and an "X-Wing" like jet pack that allows you to convert him to full flight mode. In the case of the Arios Gundam Ascalon, two GN rifles and beam saber are included, HUGE bladed jet pack, and get this: the entire figure can transform into a spaceship WITHOUT the need for bit-swapping. Even less advanced mechs like the Sniper II and Den'An Zon don't short-change you. The Sniper II packs some heat with a cool sniper rifle, two beam sabers and detachable shield. The beam saber hilts even stow away on its back when not in use. The Den'An Zon includes an extendable lance-like rifle and translucent laser shield.


    OVERALL IMPRESSION: Where to begin? The Robot Spirits have really opened my eyes up to what an action figure can be. Sure, these are not cheap in terms of a $15 mass market toy, but for the $25-$35 they retail for - imported collectibles no less - these simply ooze value. About my only minor complaint is the plastic they are constructed of. While more resilient than a model kit, they don't carry that heft or "won't ever break" durability of say, a Gears of War figure. Of course if it's die-cast content I wanted, Bandai DOES have a line tailor-made just for me... for a few dollars more. Personally The Robot Spirits is where it's at for my money: Hyper detailed, articulated and accessoried mecha without the burden of having to build them yourself. Just dump that plastic tray and let the mecha battles begin...


    To get your hands on The Robot Spirits above, check out the links below:


    Bandai's Robot Spirits can be found at select online importers such as HobbyLinkJapan.com and BigBadToyStore.com, specifically:

    * Den'An Zon "Gundam F-91" HERE and HERE
    * KMF Vincent "Code Geass" HERE
    * Arios Gundam Ascalon HERE and HERE
    * GM Sniper II HERE and HERE




    Review and Photos by Jeff Saylor

    Review Samples Courtesy of Bluefin


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    Bandai's Robot Damashii (The Robot Spirits)-1mechtransformascalon.jpg   Bandai's Robot Damashii (The Robot Spirits)-1spiritsgear.jpg   Bandai's Robot Damashii (The Robot Spirits)-1goldmechfull11.jpg   Bandai's Robot Damashii (The Robot Spirits)-1spiritsmove.jpg   Bandai's Robot Damashii (The Robot Spirits)-1pinkcolor.jpg  


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