Mamerto Adan is an engineer by profession, but a writer by night. He loves toys and knives. He also has a martial arts background.
As a regular Bandai customer, I’m no stranger to their strange product releases. I mean, it’s Bandai, they have to go different, or go broke. And most of the time, it paid off well among fans, with some of their over-the-top designs becoming classic. I love the outrageous gimmicks of the Full Armor Unicorn Gundam, the heavy armaments of the Gundam Thunderbolt, and that flying GN fortress known as Gundam 00 XN Raiser. And just recently, the world was introduced to the cartoonish Gundam F-90 Mission Pack-U. One was reminded of an Acme contraption from a Looney Tune shorts upon seeing it. Nevertheless, collectors embraced the odd P-Bandai kit, being an eye catching (but strange) addition to their shelf display.
And then, there is the action figure line.
Gundam figures came a long way since the dated, but much-loved Mobile Suits in Action. Now, Tamashii Nations managed to keep fans happy, with their highly detailed and articulated works of art. Even the budget version Gundam Universe packs a lot of eye-catching qualities. And recently, they got a new line to show, but somehow it made us scratch our heads.
Gundam Infinity Figure Line
I first heard that Bandai was releasing a new line, from my folks in various Gundam and Gunpla themed groups. And days after, it became the talk of the town, for the wrong reason.
At the time I wrote this piece, information about this new action figure line seemed scarce. Compared to other releases, which include colorful virtual posters for preorders, it never included loud and appealing ads. I could be wrong though, but I’m seeing few online announcements for this line. In fact, I first learned of these action figures from jokes and memes, which I would discuss later. And the answer on why we got less announcements for these came from an online source Hero Club. Unlike figures from the Tamashii Nations, the said line known as Gundam Infinity was produced exclusively by Bandai America. It got no Japanese versions. That explained why we never got any word from sites like HLJ.
They are sold to the public as detailed and articulated, with battle ready accessories and interchangeable parts for customizations. The styling was claimed to be based from the graphics of the popular mobile video game, Gundam breaker. And it seems that it is aimed at mostly western fans, like the Gundam Universe, as the line was limited to the so called “iconic mobile suits”. You know, Gundams that many non-Japanese people were familiar, like the original Gundam, Wing Gundam, Gundam Barbatos, Red Frame Astray Gundam, and the Gundam Artemis.
Though sold to children above six years old, this line was also aimed for adult collectors.
Its name alone, Gundam Infinity will bring in mind something like the Gundam Universe. Budget friendly, but well-made collectors’ item. But again, people including myself thought it was something like a joke.
What the Hell is That?
Again, I became aware it existed after seeing an online joke. Yes, it was a meme from a social media group that introduced me to that line. And just to tell you, that meme was about some popular fast-food releasing a Gundam series line for their kid’s meal. The meme was set like a mock ad, with the brand logo of the fast-food, and the photo of the Gundam Infinity line in the background.
A part of me wished that it was real, that this fast-food chain was really releasing a Gundam based kid’s toy. And without knowing the origin of the Gundam figures in the photo, I thought whoever came up with this was a genius. The editing made it looked like the Gundam figures are in the usual toy quality of a kid’s meal.
But later I found out that it wasn’t edited images. Those toyish Gundams were not altered to look like cheap fast-food toys. They are real cheap looking toys released by Bandai, and somehow, they hoped that adult collectors will buy it.
But what the hell is Bandai thinking? As the word spread, it began to be the stuffs of some online jokes in various forums.
When I wrote this article, the Gundam Infinity line was still for preorder. Its release date is September 2021. Hence, I got no way of knowing how posable it is. But pictures alone tell us a lot why fans and collector ridicule this new figure line.
The detail and sculpting look cheap.
Compared to other figure line, like the earlier MSIA, the poor detailing work is comparable to flea market toys, or even bootlegs. Indeed, it will work well as a fast-food kid’s meal giveaways. A good example of which is its rendering of the Gundam Barbatos. The waist area is a great offense to the IBO fans. The suits of the IBO series are well known for their skeletal core. You know, the waist area is just framing and hydraulic pistons. But the Gundam Infinity line failed to give its Barbatos its skeletal waist, and just settled for the usual mobile suit core.
Some suspected that the overall sculpt was meant to mimic the Gundam Breaker graphics. With this style of workmanship, we first thought it doesn’t cost that much. The collectors are in for a shock.
Online shops like the BigbadToyStore retail the line at $16.99, or 17 dollars. And considering its sculpting and detail quality, people thought it is a bit too much. Anyone in to collecting know well that you could buy a nice- and better-looking HG kit at around the same price, even lower. A friend of mine even suggested getting the 30mm kits instead. At the same price or less, you could get a decent and customizable collectors’ item.
Then, there is the Entry Grade. Perhaps the lowest priced kit in terms of detail and color separation. I could imagine people who bought these ten-dollar wonders laughing at these Gundam Infinity figures.
Understandably, this line was often compared with earlier toy releases of Bandai. They still can’t figure it out why it was priced like that, while it is not as better looking as any MSIA releases. Far worst that Gashapon figures was the best way to describe it for some fans.
But maybe, it is too early to tell if this line is a hit or miss? Without a physical sample that reviewers could check, what we could offer now is the initial impression. But then again, I think seeing what they did to the Barbatos is enough of an impression. Just to be fair, we should give this line a chance, though the only niche these figures could fill is the beater market. These are the type of toys you would hand to a noisy kid, so he will leave your expensive kit alone. Only if they could tone down the price.
Mohammad Abu bakar Ali on May 09, 2021: