Monday, February 5, 2007

[Review] Big Red, Part I

Yes, it is Sazabi week on Robot Loves Monster! Bet you couldn't tell that little pixelated head was the Sazabi. Bet you cared.

So, yes, this week, I am showcasing my collection of the various Sazabi figures that have been released over the years (minus the OG MSiA Sazabi, because there is no point to owning that one after the EMSiA version). Today we have the two figures on the large-end of the scale: DX MSiA Sazabi (U.S. edition) and Extended MSiA Sazabi. It's not exactly accurate to say "high-end" considering that one of the upcoming figures is both smaller and more expensive than either of these.

You think I have a lot of these, just wait until you see my Gouf collection.

The Sazabi, for the uninitiated, has the dubious distinction of being the last MS ever piloted by the almighty Char Aznarble (also known by the much more effeminate, Quattro Bajina... Octopussy? What?). Char debuted in the original 0079 Gundam series in his trademark red command-type Zaku II, later upgrading to the weirdo Zugock and Zeong. Returning in Z Gundam, he piloted the gold demon, Hyaku-shiki. Finally, he and Amuro Rei ended their little pissing contest with Char in his Sazabi and Amuro in his much-less iconic Nu Gundam. Oh, and Char died in that movie. Sorry, spoiler alert.

So I guess the Sazabi is probably number 2 on my list of favorite mobile suits (Gouf will always be my number 1). Now, as you may have mistakenly inferred from my above Char-bio, I do not like the Sazabi because I lurve that hunka-hunka Char, as does much of the male Gundam fanbase. No, no, the real reason is much more stupid.

Once upon a time, there was a game for the Playstation called Gundam Battle Assault. The premise of the game was that players could duel it out Street Fighter style in MS, which were piloted by random dudes. These were, I might add, not the pilots used in the series. Sazabi, in particular, was piloted by this Jamaican dude with a beret. And so I grew up with the misassumption that this guy was THE Sazabi pilot, until I saw Char's Counterattack. Anyway, the game. Well, the Sazabi only had two moves worth a damn. One was his funnel attack, which would pop up the back funnels and pelt the opponent with little beam fire. The second was a moving slash with his beam tomahawk- it was to the game what Chun Li's lightning kick is to Street Fighter 2. That is, really irritating. You could almost work your way through the entire game by using that attack over and over and over again. So, yes, I love the Sazabi for a cheesy attack in a long-forgotten game, and not for its rather fetching pilot with his silken golden locks and strong jawline.


Anyhow, I don't think I can do the EMSiA Sazabi justice with these photos or sing its praises enough in this review. It is, quite simply, the pinnacle of the MS design combined with three-dimensional representation in figure form. The proportions of the sculpt are just right, with the body seeming bulky and menacing without becoming sort of flabby, as the old MSiA did. The amount of detail sculpted and painted into the figure is also just unbelievable- the undersides of the feet are detailed, as are the hidden areas of the side and rear skirts. Just ridiculous attention to detail.

EMSiA Sazabi also includes every accessory imaginable for the Sazabi. Rifle and shield are included, along with two beam swords, a beam tomahawk, and the fully extended beam sword. Also included are six pairs of extra hands, six deployed funnels, and a replacement head (which I believe is supposed to represent the shot of the Sazabi in the maintenance bay with its head open). And of course, the funnel packs open up, and the toe and heel of the foot extend to create a clamp. I don't remember this last one in CCA, but I do not doubt that it happened.

Not to let this review become overly verbose, but I feel obligated to mention the awesome paint job and materials used in this figure. Bandai made the right move in choosing to construct the EMSiA Sazabi from the more rigid type of PVC used in FIX/Zeonography figures. It's a lot lighter (meaning less floppy) and keeps the form of thin pieces very well (no more droopy antennae syndrome). The paintwork is also fantastic, although I caught a few errant marks here and there.

My only complaint- only one- is that the Sazabi suffers from its own design. The super-bulky leg design of the MS almost guarantees that the legs will be difficult to pose, both because motion is restricted and because of the sheer weight of the leg pieces. Otherwise, EMSiA Sazabi is everything that I ever wanted in a mid-scale Sazabi figure (until they release the Zeonography Sazabi with Nightingale conversion parts).

And now, to double your pleasure, we have the DX MSiA Sazabi, as it was released in the U.S. in 2003 (or so).

Now, this thing isn't going to win any awards for articulation. For what it is, the articulation is rather good, and the joints are (thankfully) ratcheted. But in the end, it's just so heavy that posing it any other way than standing aggressively isn't an option. It's a beast of a toy (nearly a foot tall), made for display, and for showing everyone that you're a big baller in the Gundam game.

Especially in the comparison pic with the EMSiA (below), you'll see the differences in sculpt become quite evident. The DX tends more toward the original 80s design of the Sazabi with a larger head and wider body; while the EMSiA is more aesthetically pleasing to me, I think it's a lot more stylized and probably less true to the animation. But the DX has nothing to be ashamed of- it has detailing and nuances in spades. And it better- it weighs as much as my laptop.

It's difficult to say whether it wins or loses in the included gimmicks and accessories when compared against the EMSiA. The DX has a lot less parts, but it does have (1) funnels that actually deploy and transform and (2) a face plate that opens up, rather than simply having a replacement head. On the other hand, I hate, HATE, its beam sword. This being the U.S. edition, Bandai America cheaped out and gave us a sword in a cruddy solid yellow plastic. Japanese buyers on the other hand, received a blade cast in cool bottle-glass green. The sword really looks terrible and just sucks. Pretty much the weakest point of the toy.

Fortunately, sword aside, the DX is very well made. The body is comprised of lightweight ABS plastic with screw and ratcheting joints; despite being large and rather unposeable, it doesn't feel ungainly at all. Again, part of the poseability problem is simply due to the Sazabi's design itself, rather than any shortcoming of its toys. It's a nice durable figure that feels like it could stand a jostle or two.

All in all, the DX Sazabi isn't something you buy because it will look great on your desk. No. It's a prestige piece- more so now, due to its rarity- that screams, "Yes, you're damn straight I bought a foot-tall red robot. Now ask me how much it was." It displays well and looks impressive.

As for pricing and availability, I think the EMSiA wins. It was just released in December 2006, and should retail for around $30. On the other hand, I've only seen the DX go up for sale twice in the past year. The first time, I bought this one in an opened box for $40. The second time, it was MISB, and sold for over $150. So, impressive though it may be, I'm not sure it's worth shelling out the cash, and especially not for the U.S. version. The EMSiA definitely gets you more bang for your buck here.

And so there you have the DX and Extended MSiA Sazabis. Check in later for a review of some of their smaller brethren!

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