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Why Gaijin?
Gaijin: A savage, barbarian, foreigner, and westerner. A derogatory term used by the Japanese for any westerner.
Now that you know what a Gaijin is, you are probably wondering why I would call a column on Japanese toys, Gaijin.

It's because I am a Gaijin.

Previous Columns

Transforming Gundams
Transforming Gundams

E-mail Column Gaijin and say "Hai-ya!" here.

Gundam RX-78 GP01: Americans once again get the better deal.

RX-78? What happened to Wing Gundam? Unless you have been living under a rock, or an underpass, a refrigerator box, or “A VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER” (sorry Chris Farley Joke); then you know that new Gundam figures are being released here in the US. These figures are based on several different series of cartoons that make up the UC (Universal Century) timeline. This is not the same timeline/universe as Gundam Wing’s AC (After Colony) timeline and as such the packaging has changed. It is easy to spot the difference as the Wing figures were carded on a predominately blue background and the UC Gundams are on a predominately red background. To get these straight just think Batman vs. Batman Beyond. “Batman” is very different in each, but the theme is the same. A “Gundam” in each timeline is a very special Mobile Suit (giant robot) piloted by young characters trying to bring peace to the war torn earth and it’s space colonies.

US vs. Japan: What’s the difference.
Just like the Wing Figures, these new Gundam figures are slightly different then their Japanese counterparts. Most notably is the reduced number of hands. No, none of them are amputees. However it is common for Japanese toys to come with several interchangeable hands. In the case of the Japanese Gundam figures they usually come with a set of fists and then a set (sometimes more) to hold weapons. The American versions come with the weapon hands only. This really isn’t a big deal to me as the hands are so small that it seems like a pain to switch them out. The other difference is that the American versions lack “panel lines”, which are black lines that are paint washed on the figure to outline each separate piece of the Gundam’s armor/body. While these look pretty neat they are rarely done well on the production figures and as such the American versions have a cleaner look. So what is the real trade off? The Japanese versions retail between 900 and 1,200 yen (about $8-$11) for the regular figures and 1,800-2,800 yen (about $17-$27) for the deluxe figures. Compare this to the Americ an versions that retail $6-$7 for the regular figures and $8-$10 for the deluxe depending on wher e you get them (Walmart is the cheapest, FYI). If the cheaper price tag doesn’t sound all that great to you, then remember that the prices above for the Japanese figures are Japanese retail, you can expect to pay $12-$15 dollars for the regular figures from an importer and $20-$40 for the Japanese Deluxe.

Best Example of "more for less"
RX-78 GP01
In Japan there are special Gundam figures called "Fix" this would roughly translate into "outfitted" or "fitted". These figures are the premium top of the line Gundam figures and as such carry a hefty price tag of 2,800 yen (about $27). Each figure is outfitted with special weapons or armor and is a special version of the Mobile suits. So far there have been three of these "Fix" figures released in Japan, 001 Full Armor Gundam, 002 Perfect Gundam and 003 RX-78 GP01. The first two consisted of standard or recolored figures with tons of extra weapons and snap on armor. The third version did not have any extra armor, but had plenty of weapons and was a figure only available in the "Fixed" line. Only available in JAPAN as part of the "Fixed" line that is. Here in the US the RX-78 GP01 was released as part of the standard Gundam line, that's right the ones that are $5.73 at Walmart and $6.99 at Toys-R-Us. So what is the big difference between the $5.73 figure and the $ 35 ($27 in Japan, but goes for about $35 here in the US from an importer or on eBay) figure. Would you believe 3 weapons (two of which are available packaged with other U.S. Gundam figures) and a set of hands! That's right folks, roughly 30 bucks for 5 small pieces of plastic. The "fixed" GP01 is packaged with a beam rifle, machine gun, dober gun (long-range), beam bazuka , two beam sabers, shield, two power packs and an extra set of hands. The US version has everything except the machine gun, dober gun (long-range), beam bazuka and extra hands. The machine gun is the same one that is packaged with the US and Japanese deluxe figure RGM-79 & Ball. The beam bazuka is the same one that is packaged with the US and Japanese figure RX-78-2. Only the Dober Gun is not available here in the U.S. You could actually buy the RX-78 GP01, RX-78-2 and RGM-79 & Ball for less then the cost of the Japanese "Fix" RX-78 GP01.

It gets better

See my article on 12" Gundam figures as US buyers will see a 12" RX-78 GP01. Also out here but not in Japan is the RX-78 GP01FB (FULL BURN) which is a version of the GP01 designed for high-speed combat in space. It is part of the Deluxe line and runs $8-$10. Buy it and the standard GP01 for less then the "fix" figure. Hell, buy all of the US Gundam figures at 14 -20 points of articulation they are really cool and much less expensive then your average Japanese toy.

Brad Walker collects American and Japanese action figures, customizes them, and "hangs out" by sitting on the hood of a car drinking Colt.45 at his local Dairy Queen parking lot. "Gai-Jin" is what he calls himself, but most folks call him "white trash". You can reach him at gaijin@zappowbang.com if he can get his PC to work, and if he's in a good mood he will reply.
You can also visit his custom action figure site here: http://members.tripod.com/~bwalk06/. For "big ass robot shampoo bottles (Shogun Warriors)" go here: http://members.tripod.com/~bwalk06/shogun/.

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