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Friday, May 29, 2009

SD (Super Deform) Gundam Toy

While regular Gundam model lines strive for realism by introducing High Grade, Master Grade, and Perfect Grade models, SD Gundam models are designed for (and sometimes by) the customization crowd. Many SD Gundam models are designed such that variations of the stock models, as seen by SD Gundam comics, can be made by using parts from other SD Gundam kits. Modifying SD models is very popular in Japan, more so than the full-sized counterparts. In addition to made-up robots contributed to SD Gundam comics, Bandai also held monthly contests for custom Gundam (usually Musha-based) models.

The model kit series is called "SD Gundam BB Senshi". 2007 saw the release of the 300th kit in the series. Forming the bulk of the series are Musha Gundam kits; the Musha kits have standard gimmicks like detachable armour and others, such as combination and compatibility of parts between kits. In recent years the G Generation kits have introduced a new proportion and enhanced poseability.

Scale is often inconsistent, especially in older kits where many characters from the same storyline are out of scale with one another. However, as the line continued these issues have mostly been addressed and sometimes been intentional. Dai-Shogun characters have often seen their final form released as a much larger figure (in some cases, this is included in the storyline by the character growing to giant size to combat an equally large foe).

Another model kit series called Ganso SD Gundam, though discontinued in the 1990s, covered all the SD Gundam series but mainly focus on Knight Gundam kits. These kits are made from more durable plastic and are bigger than the BB Senshi kits. They can be found at auction sites, usually with high prices.

Century number releases (100, 200, 300, etc) are often marked as special occasions. 2007 saw the release of the 300th BB Senshi kit in official numbering. However, the previous kit had been BB 295. Bandai retroactively filled in the missing five kits alongside releases of kits with the 300+ numbering. These retroactive kits were of units from Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny, many being recolours of existing kits. Additionally, popular SD Gundam kits have been re-released in waves at around the same time as new kits. These re-releases are broken down by series (Musha, Knight, Command, G-Generation). The popularity of these older kits is such that many have been included in later re-release waves.

A limited subline titled Chi-Bi Senshi (a pun on the mainline's 'BB' and 'chibi', meaning small) consisted of thirteen kits based on Super G-Arms, Knight Gundam, Gundlaner and Musha. The kits were smaller and less complex than full BB Senshi, built on a five point skeleton block which allowed for parts swapping between the kits. This gimmick was also utilised with some of the Knight kits to allow them to combine with larger BB Senshi versions of the 'Kihei' mobile weapons they piloted. Additionally, nine of the Chi-Bi Senshi were released in three triple boxsets, depicting them in widly different transparent colours. The Comic World chapters included with these sets referred to these 'Crystal' versions as dopplegangers made from sentient alien crystals who had chosen to copy the real Gundams.

A related line of merchandise has included the designs from SD Gundam works presented as 'real type' versions, lacking the deformed proportions. This concept has seen a resurgence in recent years, with Bandai issuing a Master Grade model kit of Hajime Katoki's Shin Musha Gundam (appearing in Dynasty Warriors: Gundam) and Banpresto releasing toys and mini-statues based on 'real type' versions of Musha and Knight characters.


Starting in 2008, the SDX line is a collector aimed series of action figures based on SD Gundam characters. The first figure released, Knight Gundam, was based on a scratchbuilt model of the character made by Hobby Japan for his appearance in Musha Retsuden Zero. Following this was a release of 'Full Armor Knight Gundam' (depicting the character's upgraded form), with figures of Satan Gundam and Command Gundam announced for later in 2009. Being a collector aimed line, the series focuss on high detail, option parts and updating popular SD Gundam characters who are only otherwise represented by decades old model kits and toys. For example, Knight Gundam was released with a display base, alternate facial expressions and armour pieces produced from metal.

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