There are few mecha designs as iconic as the original RX-78-2 Gundam from Mobile Suit Gundam. It has defined almost the entirety of the real robot sub-genre of mecha and its legacy as such can still be felt even today. So this new Robot Damashii RX-78-2 Gundam ver. A.N.I.M.E. is more than a bit of a big deal.
Mobile Suit Gundam is set in a far off future where humanity has mostly moved into orbiting cylindrical space colonies. After close to 80 years of this new Universal Century, the colonies want their independence from the Earth Federation. Through a series of complex events, war transpires between the new space-based nation of the Principality of Zeon and the Earth Federation.
One other major aspect to all this has to do with the discovery of the Minovsky particle. Discovered by Dr. T.Y. Minovsky, the particle interferes with electrical circuits (unless they are heavily shielded) and renders warfare a more close quarters affair, as previous technologies such as radar become mostly useless. The other upside to this is that it facilitates a new and simpler form of nuclear fusion.
The results of all this is that a new form of weapon is developed called the mobile suit. Fast and agile, it can operate in all manner of terrain and utilize the new very powerful Minovsky fusion reactors. Initially the Zeon forces create their own mobile suits that decimate the Federation forces. By the time Mobile Suit Gundam starts, the Federation finally has its own super weapon and that is the titular Gundam.
Designed by Kunio Okawara, the original Gundam is a hugely important design, as up until then mecha had been predominantly of the super robot variety. This meant they didn’t operate on strict rules and were pretty much invulnerable. The mecha were also much more the focus than the characters. Gundam changed all that because the mecha was just a fragile machine and the focus shifted to the characters that piloted them.
In that sense the Gundam itself was more a cipher for its pilot Amuro Ray and that is in part why the design has endured like it has; it represents a much-loved character rather than just as a design in its own right.
The big difference here is that Bandai has gone back to the original source material for this toy and couples that with very modern articulation. The results are genuinely impressive as a consequence.
The review will be going up shortly, so keep an eye out for that!