I've reviewed a lot of the crazy mecha from the Ethnic Stereotype Olympics that is G Gundam, but I never had any of the main characters; my Mobile Suit in Action figure collection ran mostly to the weirder elements of the show. Not, mind you, that the five mainstays aren't just as stupid as the rest; it's just hard to compare a guy who vaguely looks like he's wearing a big coat to Fuunsaiki, the Gundam piloted by a horse.
Now I've broken the seal on the members of the Shuffle Alliance with Neo-China's Dragon Gundam. Piloted by young
Sai Saici (pronounced "sy SY-she"), Dragon Gundam is patterned after ancient Chinese armor, particulaly the large shoulder pads. Like many warrior monks, Dragon Gundam even has a long queue braid falling down his back, though his is a long metal whip that he can use to strike at his opponents.
This 4⅜" figure looks just like his 50-foot cartoon counterpart, though if you're going to build a Gundam collection, I recommend doing a small bit of customizing: in the Japanese release of these figure, all the seams are filled in with black paint - our versions are left unpainted. With a very fine-point marker, it's easy to trace the panel lines. It's a minor adjustment, but really makes a difference.
Dragon Gundam lives up to his name
at the end of each segmented arm: surrounding his hands are two yellow dragon heads. Capable of spitting fire at his enemies, the heads have the look of the long, snake-like dragons of Chinese tradition. Dragon Gundam's arms can extend to great lengths, allowing him to strike enemies from even the other side of the ring.
Each Gundam pilot has his or her own reason for wanting to win the tournament, and Sai's dream is to restore the sacred Shaolin temple. Both his father and grandfather were Gundam pilots with the same goal, so he's got a lot riding on his shoulders.
In addition to flame-spitting dragon heads, a whip-like braid and a pilot who is a master of kung-fu, Dragon Gundam has one more weapon, a large spear that can sprout a flaming banner - his Feilong Flag. Actually,
in the cartoon, he has a dozen of these flags, but the toy only comes with one that is actually removable: there are additional staves molded into his back and above his shoulders. The staff can be broken down into its separate sections, with a choice of either a plain spear tip or translucent yellow fire. The flag is molded to look as if it is flapping in the wind, which works well with the ragged firey edges.
Dragon Gundam's segmented arms are held together with small balljoints, which gives the figure a nice range of motion - the more segments you put in each arm, the more joints he has. He also moves at the neck, shoulders, wrists, waist, hips, knees and ankles. His feet look just as much like high-heeled shoes as Noble Gundam's, though I don't think Buddhist monks wore stillettos.
Dragon Gundam comes with a "core lander," which is a combo of vehicle and control pod. The cockpit of this sleek, futuristic machine folds upward and plugs into Dragon Gundam's back to create a booster pack that allows the suit to fly.
I really liked Sai Saici. I wanted him to win the Gundam Tournament, though I knew that, not being the main character, he was destined to finish in second place at best. Still, he's a cool character in a very cool Gundam.