SDX: Swordsman Zeta Gundam

A year has flown by since the we got the last SDX release (bar the Ryuusou Ryubi Gundam, which was barely a “real” SDX, as the line is originally geared towards those who love the vintage BB Senshi designs), and fans were just about ready to move on when Bandai surprised us with not only a handful of new prototypes in 2010’s Winter Tamashii Nations festival, but also hints alluding to possible future releases. The line has since re-established itself as a product available exclusively through Tamashii Web order, and will no doubt cause greater damage in the wallets of collectors who reside outside of Japan.

The history of BB Senshi (super deformed Gundams, with re-imagined designs from alternate eras/universes) dates all the way back to the 80s, and has proved to be popular model kits spawning over 300 original designs and counting. These characters were often featured in comics, video games, and trading cards with a storyline of their own that deviates from the original TV series in which the Gundams were based on.

Some of the designs, especially those from the Kishi Monogatari (Legend of the Knights) stories proved to be particularly popular and were featured more prominently than others, and the Swordsman Zeta Gundam we’re going to be looking at is exactly one of those.

I’ve actually re-bought some of my favourite model kits as a child such as the Knight Gundam and Satan Gundam before the SDX series was given the green light. But with SDX breathing new life into those characters as pre- assembled and fully painted figures with die-cast bits, it looks like the old kits can be shoved aside without second thought!

As with previous SDX releases, the figure is far more faithful to the original design compared to the old model kit. Merchandises for these characters are few and rare, so there is little to compare it to other than the odd prize catcher toys and some old Gashapon figures (which used to come moulded in just a single colour).

I’ve got nothing I could flaw with the mould, it looks excellent just like all the other SDXs, and it’s great to be able to see a childhood memory recreate itself right in front of you on your very desktop.

The Swordsman Zeta comes with 2 sets of shields and swords, and they are both beautifully painted with clear jewel pieces encrusted into the face of the dragon head engraved on the shield.

While the SDX series has proved itself to be reliable with QC and quality paint applications in the past, there have been numerous reports that this particular release performed very poorly in that aspect. Problems reported included speckles of gold paint splattered across the visor, as well as some serious paint chips in frontal view. Thankfully there were no serious flaws in the one I received, but the chest does look a little oily like when you have tried to apply too much paint in one coat.

The die-cast on the Zeta are located in its feet and chest piece.

In some of the previous releases, you have to cut the extra eye pieces off the runner yourself, but these came already cut. The other accessories included are basically parts you can swap over with its horse, which enables Zeta to mount it securely.

The sword can be slipped into the back of the shield.

A total of 4 sets of eyes with different expressions are included.

There are two different grips in which you can use to equip the weapons, giving you a greater range of poses that can be set more naturally.

The neck can be extended to allow for Zeta to look up and down quite comfortably.

I’ve always thought the horses they ride on were robotic ones, but on closer inspection, it seems that they are just regular horses wearing armour! Don’t underestimate the horse by assuming that it’s just a static piece of accessory. The articulation provided is actually quite flexible, allowing it to even stand only on its hind legs.

There is also a whole in which a peg can be inserted located on the bottom of its belly, which is compatible with the stand that comes packed with most SDX figures. Ironically, the Zeta Swordsmen is the only SDX I’ve purchased which does not come with a stand.

Unfortunately, It takes quite a bit of time to get it to mount the horse correctly.

As far as I know, this seems to be the original weapon set, whereas the green shield and larger blade is the upgraded version.

The visor can be moved down, in case it needs a bit of a afternoon snooze.

With only 2 sets of weapons included along with a horsey, the Swordsman Zeta set may seem simple. But whilst it may be simple, it actually allows for a good variety of poses you can put it in, and it simply looks grand when displayed atop its faithful stallion.

Although it is a shame that the SDX series will no longer be available as an item you can order through regular online retailers, I’m just grateful it hasn’t been scraped completely, as there are still several designs I’m longing to see recreated. Hopefully Bandai can bring the QC level back up to standard with the next release, that way collectors can at least make their pre-orders in better faith.

The Swordsman Zeta is currently being scalped for some crazy prices in the secondary market, and with a minimum price of 12,500 Y, it looks like the line still has a reasonable following when the right characters are released. Fingers crossed, here’s hoping Bandai will get the message and release a couple of the more popular characters as non-exclusive products. Just so us collectors can get a bit of a break.

It’s obviously quite ridiculous to recommend anyone to go chasing after the figure now, but I hope you’ve got to enjoy it a bit from seeing it in pictures.

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