Last year saw the release of a brand new film in the Dragon Ball franchise: Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero. The mouthful of a title was a bit of a throwback affair. It seemed that Toei and series creator Akira Toriyama wanted to use the film to return the spotlight to Gohan and Piccolo, two characters who had been sidelined in Dragon Ball Super in favor of the two Saiyan boys, Goku and Vegeta. The film also marked the return of longtime adversary the Red Ribbon Army and with it came two new androids for the good guys to pummel: Gamma 1 and Gamma 2. I’m not sure if there was an embargo on the new characters when it came to action figures or if Bandai just wanted to give fans a chance to see the characters in action first, but two new figures of the pair were introduced via the Premium Bandai route and recently started shipping. These are made-to-order figures sold exclusively by Bandai direct to consumer. Presumably, there’s a bit of a crowd-fund element at play, similar to what we see with Super7, whereby if not enough orders came in then the project would get scrapped, but evidently that didn’t happen. Perhaps Bandai also sees softer sales with either movie characters or new ones which is why this pair went the “premium” route. The inclusion of added parts for Gohan with each figure also adds to the feeling that maybe confidence in the pair wasn’t super high. The two were at least priced in a more reasonable window at $70 a piece. While this is a lot higher than the retail releases for the film of Goku, Gohan, Vegeta, and Piccolo, they also feels like bigger releases as they come with a lot more stuff and they’re not reused molds from past figures. They do basically share all of the same parts save for the heads which is why I’m going to review them together.
The Gamma boys come in the traditional window box packaging the S.H.Figuarts line is known for. There’s product shots, or renders, combined with a gold backdrop that seems to be part of the Super Hero theming. Out of their respective boxes, Gamma 1 and 2 stand at approximately 5.75″ to the top of their heads not including their stylish fins. And those fins are the main things that distinguish the pair as Gamma 1 has one, center, fin on his head while Gamma 2 has, appropriately enough, two fins set off to the side. The only other thing that separates them is their choice in color for the cape and the number on their chest. Sculpt-wise, the bodies are entirely the same save for the head. Both characters have a dark gray skin tone with a light gray face. They have a bit of a shark thing going on with their heads and the circular ears do give them a distinctive Toriyama feel to their design. Their bodies are clothed in a soft yellow military suit which is all unpainted plastic. The only paint on these guys is reserved for the buttons on the double-breasted jacket and the cuffs of the sleeves along with the painted numeral on the chest. And that paint is not that well done. The buttons look cheap and the edgework is not the sharpest. The actual yellow portions of the suit are okay. It’s mostly matte, but the softer plastic for the bottom of the coat does have a different look to it than the harder plastic bits. The knees and elbows are a touch darker than the rest, but it probably won’t be that noticeable on a shelf. I would also argue the shade is a touch off to the source material. These guys have more of a mustard to the yellow in comparison with the film. There is the customary Red Ribbon logo on the left shoulder and that looks clean, but overall, the paint is not a strong suit here.
The rest of the aesthetics are generally good. The faces look appropriate and I like the height of the characters for the line. The boots have a very glossy appearance, but that seems intentional given their presentation in the film. The cape is hard plastic with a hinge which I think looks mostly fine. I wasn’t crazy about the segmented cape on the Proud Namekian Piccolo so I don’t mind the simpler approach here. The only thing I’m not crazy about are the shoulders as they do the Goku thing of having part of the material just pinned on. With Goku, I don’t like it, but I always understood it to a degree because he has short sleeves that extend onto his shoulder. Here, it’s a suit that just has shoulder pads and a V shape to it so I wish they just left it alone. I don’t think it would have reduced the articulation in a meaningful way and it would have looked better. I find myself fussing with these shoulder pieces more than I would like as I try to hide gaps and get them into a more natural pose.
With that in mind, lets just jump to the articulation since both figures are the same and then we’ll talk about the accessories. Both figures use a ball-hinge for the head connected with a ball-peg system at the base of the neck. I don’t know why they did it this way, but it sure is annoying. You will have to manipulate the direction the hinge is face if you want more nuance posing, but they can look down and rotate and the lower neck joint helps to add more character. It can get a little gappy though if you tilt it back too far. Doing so with the hinge in the proper orientation and in conjunction with the hinged-ball peg system of the diaphragm can get both figures into a good flying pose. That diaphragm joint also provides rotation and tilt, though you do have to be mindful of the chest buttons when crunching forward. The shoulders are hinged ball pegs so they have some play at that peg while also being able to rotate all around and lift up past a horizontal position. The shoulder pad ruffle, or whatever you want to call it, pegs in and can be pushed aside. There is a butterfly joint here as well which can bring the arms pretty much clear across the chest. It does expose some gaps in the back as butterfly joints tend to do, but it’s not as hideous as some others and the colors are consistent at least. There is a biceps swivel and the double-jointed elbows will bend all the way forward as these guys have pretty thin arms. At the wrist, the usual hinged ball peg is present that allows for plenty of rotation.
At the waist, we get another hinged ball peg so these guys can rotate and tilt. The floating belt does get in the way so you don’t get maximum crunch, but working in tandem with the diaphragm joint should give you enough forward and back. The bottom of the jacket is done with multiple, soft, pieces of plastic so it doesn’t impede the legs from kicking forward way past horizontal or stop the figure from doing splits. They also lack a true posterior so they can kick all the way back. There is a thigh swivel which is conveniently hidden by the coat and the double-jointed knees bend well past 90 degrees. The ankles are on ball joints so you get plenty of range going back, some forward, and rocker, but it’s not the prettiest sight as it tends to make the figures look like their feet are separate from their shin. It’s probably not as noticeable on the shelf as it is in hand, but it is what it is. There’s also a toe hinge, if that’s something you like and it seems like it’s fairly tight so it actually has some worth. There’s also the hinge in the cape so you can raise it out behind the figure for a more windswept look. It does make them slightly harder to stand, but not impossible. It just pegs in so you do get a little side-to-side pivot as well, but not a whole lot. It’s mostly going to lay relatively flat or blow out behind the figure.
All in all, I would say the Gamma brothers move quite well. There are some sacrifices taken with the aesthetic to achieve that, but I think most will be content with the tradeoff. The only thing I don’t love are the shoulders, the rest I’m fine with. And that articulation will come in handy as both figures come with a variety of hands and heads to add some life to a display. For Gamma 1, we get a neutral portrait, one with a crooked mouth indicating displeasure, one with his teeth showing in a bit of a grin, a yelling portrait, and a yelling portrait where one eye is larger than the other indicating some distress. They are all separate heads, so no faceplates with these guys. For hands, Gamma 1 has fist hands, open hands, chop hands, and a set of trigger finger hands. Those work with his little blaster sidearm of which he has two. One to wield, and one with a peg in the front so it can be holstered. The gun is painted reasonably well, but I wish it had a blast effect or at least a peg hole for one to be added. Gamma 1 also comes with a set of crossed arms which peg in at the biceps swivel. It’s a bit of a pain to get on and get both sides inserted. My pictures will illustrate how successful I was there. Gamma 2’s accessories are mostly similar, but also a little different. He gets one less head as he has a neutral head, yelling head, teeth-showing grin, and a side-eyed smirk. He has all of the same hands and the two blasters as Gamma 1, plus a set of “devil horn” hands. He does not have the crossed-arm piece.
Both figures also come with stuff for the Super Hero Gohan figure released earlier last year. With Gamma 1, we get a Super Saiyan head for Gohan. It has a very pale, yellow, color for the hair that has no shading or paint whatsoever. It’s a bit odd looking as a result. It looks like a nice base for Super Saiyan hair, but I definitely would prefer it to have some shading to bring it to life. There are three faceplates included for it: neutral, yelling, and a teeth-gritting expression. They look nice, though Gohan does have the issue of a lack of bangs with his Super Saiyan look so the sideburns had to be painted onto the faces. It doesn’t match the yellow plastic of the hair and there’s a bit of an ugly seem line unfortunately where the face meets the head that usually we can’t see. With Gamma 2, we get another Gohan head, but this one has his hair blowing all over the place like he’s powering up and he’s also wearing his glasses. They lack lenses, but otherwise look pretty nice. To complete the look and scene this was pulled from, he also has his cape and shoulder pads. They’re done differently than what we saw with Piccolo as the plastic is very soft for the shoulder pads and the cape is in one piece. There’s a hinge for the cape, but unfortunately it’s too weak to support the weight of the cape so there’s not much that can be done with it. It also doesn’t like to sit flush on Gohan’s shoulders which gets annoying. I should also add, the hair on both Gohan heads is very stiff and spiky which helps make it look as good as it can be, but it sure can hurt too to swap!
If you watched Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero and came away from that experience wanting action figures of Gamma 1 and Gamma 2 then I think you’ll be happy with what Bandai released here. Once again, the whole “premium” concept when it comes to Premium Bandai isn’t really evident in the quality versus what we’re getting at regular retail, but rather reflects the more limited nature of the characters. With better paint, these two figures would be stellar, but as they are they’re still quite good and among the better Dragon Ball releases that I have. They move well, look nice enough, and come with a boatload of accessories. It seems like the whole tack on some extra stuff for other figures approach only began with these two as other figures from Premium Bandai are being sold with more parts for Gohan, in particular. It’s a fun approach for those who are all-in, but it sucks for someone who wants a Super Saiyan Gohan, but isn’t interested in getting Gamma 1. And those parts of the release are just okay. I think the Super Saiyan look is fine and with some shading would be potentially great. The glasses and cape look is more niche and less successful. It’s fun, but am I going to choose to display Gohan like this instead of the other looks? That’s a harder sell. I suppose he’ll pair nicely with Piccolo in the same sort of attire.
As mentioned previously, these guys retailed for $70 and were P-Bandai exclusives. Other retailers were free to order them just like anybody else, but that also means they were paying 70 bucks as well so they have to charge more than that in order to make any money on the sale. If you missed out on the original purchasing window then prepare to pay over $100 now for each figure. At $70 a piece, I think they’re worth it and I’m even tempted to get another Gohan (but I probably won’t) to make use of the extra parts. At over $100 each they’re a harder sell. If you only want the Gohan parts, maybe try eBay? It seems unlikely that someone interested in Gamma 1 or 2 would have no interest in Super Saiyan Gohan, but maybe there are some folks out there just looking to offset some of the cost of getting the new characters. More likely, you’ll be able to find people looking to offload Gamma 1 and 2 without the Gohan parts so maybe there will be some opportunities to score a set for closer to their original MSRP under certain conditions. I think they’re good enough on their own without the Gohan accessories, but those do help sweeten the pot. If you’re out on the hunt then I wish you good luck!
Need a primer on Gamma 1 and 2 or want to see more of those Gohan and Piccolo figures? Look no further:
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