This one was a big one for Bandai’s budding SRC line since when the line started up everyone was hoping we’d been seeing The King of Braves making an appearance since such an iconic mecha had so little in terms of easily attainable quality figures. As an added bonus those of us who ordered the figure right out of the gate were treated to a little bonus goody- an overload effect that is really reminiscent of the wave of energy that GaoGaiGar generates when it goes through Final Fusion. To make things even better they’ve released 3 expansion packs to date though one of them is an exclusive and generally not all that worth it (set 3- the dimensional pliers). Both regular release expansion sets are excellent additions though and well worth the extra money. Bandai has re-released GaoGaiGar with a slight update in regards to it’s leg problem and unifying the white on the figure. However, my GGG is the original release and as such has a quirk that I’ll cover in a moment.
The base figure and Key to Victory set 1 have a neat little combining thing going on here but this wasn’t carried over to set 2 for whatever reason which is too bad. In any case we’ll start with base figure which by all means comes with a boatload of goodies in terms of extras and your standard fare GaoGaiGar effect parts.
First off articulation here is rock solid with a ton of diecast in the legs to make sure the figure stays firmly planted however you pose it. The shoulders are on a balljoint but the part where the ball fits in to the socket also swings forward to give the arm more range to move around. As an added bonus (and for not much reason) Ghaleon’s mouth opens and closes. There is slight frustration when posing the figure since the arms can sometimes have a tendency to pop off along with Ghaleon’s ‘mane’ parts occasionally being a bit on the precarious side and bumping them with the arms can make them fall off. All minor gripes though and the figure is generally damn solid once it’s posed.
However, the first release of this figure has an issue with the leg that Bandai has fixed in it’s re-release. You can see here how the part where the balljoint connects to the socket isn’t closed all the way and that means that its grip on the part isn’t as strong as it needs to be and thusly the leg will always sag if the figure is posed on a stand. It’s possible that you can fix it with superglue (put a drip in the socket, move it around the ball and then take it off and let it dry) but I’m not about to take such a risk with my own figure. Generally though I imagine most of us will be posing the figure on the ground anyway. Add that to the fact that the issue has been resolved in the re-release and this gripe is effectively moot and it just sucks for me and other people who bought the figure as soon as it came out.
All of the parts for GaoGaiGar’s signature moves are included with the base figure (but you’ll have to provide your own hotblooded yelling) which was an excellent move by Bandai. The Broken Magnum spinning arm part splits in two and goes over the right arm with the top cap part fitting over where the fist goes and the Protect Shade part should be fairly easy to figure out. Again, recreating most of GaoGaiGar’s famous poses is remarkably easy with this figure.
“HELL! ANDO! HEAVEN!”
“Gemu giru gan go gufo…”
The Hell and Heaven ‘hands’ are actually one part and to use it you need to switch the mane parts from the full ones to the set that has a section removed so they don’t get in the way of the arms. Thankfully due to the position of the arms it looks just fine the way it is. Another nice extra little bonus is the Zonder core. I didn’t take a good picture of it because it’s hard enough to see in person but at the right angle you can even see the little ‘Z’ on the core.
The Key to Victory set 1 is the Gutsy Geoid Guard’s solution to Hell and Heaven taking too much of a toll on Guy’s body- the Goldeion Hammer. The way the hammer works in the context of the show is great; it contains it’s own artificial gravity well inside of it that generates a shockwave that turns what it connects with in to photons. Yeah. However when used by GaoGaiGar directly the weapon caused too much damage to the super mechanoid which prompted them to integrate the hammer with their mechanoid Goldymarg and use the Marg Hand to control the hammer’s power. But enough pseudoscience.
“HIKARI NI NAAAAAAAAAAAARE!!!”
The hammer is kind of a bastard to pose. Due to the fact the head of the hammer is obviously huge this creates weight issues and posing the hammer doing much else aside from standing upright or sitting on the ground in a post-swing position.
The extra huge hand is great for shenanigans with other figures though, especially other robots that are piloted by whiny kids. There’s not a lot else to say about the first expansion set. It gives the figure a second excellent weapon and a few more hands to handle the nails that come with it and it’s definitely a great addition to the figure since after a certain point in the series it becomes Guy’s main method for disposing of enemies.
The second expansion set is the StealthGao II and Gatling Driver. As an added bonus they gave you a stand to put the StealthGao or GaoGaiGar on but if you’re like me and have the original release you’re really not going to get much mileage out of putting the actual figure up on the stand since his leg doesn’t stay posed in the air at all. In addition to the standard blacktips on the bottom of the StealthGao II’s wings there are also green tips that attach by popping the four protruding bits off and then swapping the caps before reattaching the bits. But first, take some time to note the extra fancy detail Bandai put in the bottom of the StealthGao II’s wings.
Star GaoGaiGar looks great though and gets a whole hell of a lot of extra mass on it. With the whole leg problem though it can make posing a little more difficult if your surface isn’t exactly steady. Luckily if you’ve bought the Key to Victory set one, the Goldeion Hammer does an excellent job offsetting the weight of the StealthGao II. The Galting Driver looks great though just like the Dividing Driver, doesn’t really do much. At least the tines on this one move around! The barrel also spins but it’s not like that’s something you can show off in pictures.
At the end of the day even just the base figure for GaoGaiGar is an excellent purchase and the playability of the figure is outstanding and only gets even better if you get the expansion sets. Since this is the only recent figure (and by far the best as long as you aren’t looking for a figure that transforms) of GaoGaiGar and on top of that Bandai has fixed the one glaring flaw with it buying it is definitely a no-brainer.