It's been more than a decade since the rampaging goofball that is G Gundam was brought to America, and even longer than that since it debuted in Japan. It remains unparalleled in the history of Gundam shows, and is even getting a high-end Blu-ray release. So hey, let's dig out those of Moble Suits in Action figures and review some of the ones we skipped the first time!
You may recall that G Gundam is basically
an "Ethnic Stereotype Olympics" - every four years, mankind's orbiting colonies each send a giant robot down to the planet to fight and decide who will rule the world. Which, this year, doesn't seem like too bad a way to pick a leader.
During the 13th Gundam Fight, Dark Gundam created special Gundams to defend itself from attack: the Four Heavenly Kings. Among their number was Raven Gundam, piloted by Michelo Chariot. Yes, it's a strange-looking design, but compared to Grand Gundam and Walter Gundam, it's perfectly normal. Since it doesn't represent a specific country, it doesn't have to represent the animators' view of its national origin, the way Neo-America's Gundam Maxter (run by a pilot with pink-streaked hair and a support team of bikini girls) combines football, boxing, surfing and cowboys. God, Japan hates us. Of course, it could be worse; Neo-Greece's Zeus Gundam wears sandals and a toga. Robotic sandals and toga.
In Japan, Raven Gundam is known as "Gundam Heaven's Sword" - the name comes from the Chinese wuxia novel The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber. Why? Good question.
To an extent, Raven Gundam fits the "standard" Gundam design model: red, white and blue colorscheme, pointy chest, forehead crest, all that. Of course, the illusion is shattered by the yellow spikes on the
ankles, the massive black shoulder pads, and the gigantic towers that poke up of fthe top of the body. The MSiA figures are done in a 1/144th scale, and while the head is only about 4¾" away from the ground, those pokey bits reach the 8½" mark. Giant! The figure moves at the head, shoulders, biceps, elbows, wrists, hips, knees and ankles, which is average, but he also has balljointed thumbs, which isn't. The waist is technically a joint, but the design keeps it from turning very much at all.
To help sell the massive size of this robot, its face is smaller than usual. Tiny little beady eyes, black lines over the mouthplate, a pointy red chin spike, and an overly large yellow forehead crest. In the show, the face fluctuates between fully revealed and hidden behind some panels, but the toy always has it sticking out.
Raven Gundam gets his name (and his spot being reviewed on a Tuesday) by virtue of transforming into a giant bird. It's similar to the way Mermaid Gundam transforms into a fish, though not quite as obvious from the beginning.
The big towers on his shoulders swing down and attach to the underside of the arms, forming the wings. The legs split in half, forming the talons. Yes, that's really about all there is to it. The set includes large red and yellow "feather" pieces that make the wings more impressive, taking them out to a 19" span. The yellow claws pop off easily, but they're also very distinctive: if you find one laying on your floor, you'll know immediately what toy it belongs to.
Raven Gundam was available by himself, or in a two-pack with Dark Neros Gundam. If you got that set, you also got a connection piece that would allow you to form Grand Master Gundam, a ridiculous combo of all four Heavenly Kings, but you're really not missing out if you get the solo version.