Clover released Gundam figures at a number of different price points, and in a wide variety of materials. One of the best known is the standard diecast piece.

Clover Gundam RX-78The smaller Gundam figure actually came in two versions. The first made a fair stab at the show colours to some extent, covering the red and yellow secondary features, even if the waist, lower legs, head and fists were rendered in silver.

The second version cut down the amount of colours involved, with all the red and yellow parts being cast in white plastic, and the legs and waist now painted white. I'm guessing this was a cost-cutting measure - while plastic and paint costs the same amount in pretty much any colour, obviously cutting down to using as few a different colours as humanly possible. It also came ina new style box with painted artwork of a space combat scene, as opposed to the headshot used on the earlier release.

Ironically, if you took the head and neck of the first version and put them on the second, you'd have something that would have been moderately show accurate.

Clover Gundam RX-78Clover Gundam RX-78A complete example of these figures comes with a fair amount of accessories for such a small toy - a pair of Beam Sabers, the Gundam Shield and a firing missile launcher I'm guessing represents the Hyper Bazooka. My pair have a single Beam Saber, a shield and a launcher between them, as I bought cheaply to see whether I'd like the figures. A complete one will set you back somewhere in the region of £100.

Now at the top of this article I guessed the scale of this version at 1/144 - this is based on the figure being about the same height as the Chogokin RX-78. However, the blocky design means the actual parts largely seem to be in another scale, especially the head and the arms. This isn't to say the Clover toy is badly proportioned; it just bears only a passing resemblance to the proportions of the onscreen RX-78 is all. The proportions generally aren't actually too bad, once you put anime accuracy to one side as a lost cause; the arms hang down a little low, but this is partly due to the fists.

Clover Gundam RX-78Clover Gundam RX-78I'm not sure if it's a wear problem that's frequent enough to be on both my examples, sloppy design and/or quality control, or just plain gravity, but the fists tend to protrude a good 5mm more than they should - something made especially obvious thanks to the fists being thicker than the figure's arms. That they're silver only draws attention to this discrepancy. Still, I rather like the design, with its' squared up chest, tree-trunk legs and square arms. My only real gripe with the moulding, apart from the overlong arms, is the use of a sticker rather than moulded detail on the waist, which doesn't really come off.

It looks very solid, and thanks to an obscene amount of diecast (okay, the lower legs and torso, but the metal is very thick and there probably isn't much fresh air inside these parts) it feels very solid as well. Interestingly, while the crest on the helmet is sensibly moulded in soft plastic on the first version, it's rigid on the second - I'm guessing the budget for different strength compounds went out the window as well. Aside from that, the toy is incredibly sturdy - you could break one of these, but you'd need industrial equipment.

Clover Gundam RX-78Clover Gundam RX-78When it comes down to features, the toy has only a small amount to offer. The separation wasn't even attempted at this scale (probably for the best, as a tiny plastic Core Fighter would be easily lost, and the main figure would probably be harder to find. It's not a great feature either, is it, being able to split in half at the middle?), and about the only thing this toy can do other than stand is lie on its' back. Seriously, Clover actually put a picture of the figure doing this on the back of the box. This was intended to be a reason to buy this figure...

To be fair, they have put little castors on the back of the feet and chest to keep it level when horizontal (the crucified pose is purely optional, I'm not exactly sure why I went that way for both pictures... probably something Freudian or something). I'm guessing this is to mimic the storage of the RX-78 for transport, shown in the first episode of the series. It'd be more fun if there was a giant White Base playset for them to fit in, I suppose.

Clover Gundam RX-78Clover Gundam RX-78Articulation is fair for the time. The knees bend backwards to a degree, with the big feet and some generally good balance allowing the figure to do that classic 1970s/1980s 'mid-walk' pose, while the arms can either rotate or swing out from the body (and obviously you can spin the fists, though this might be why the springs aren't so tight...). The head also turns - something Popy never really got the hang of, although on the Gundam it doesn't have to fold away or anything, which might explain things.

Clover Gundam RX-78Other than that, we're onto accessories for features. As mentioned, I don't really have any of these, but it's pretty easy to guess at how they'd work. There are ports on either arm for the Gundam Shield, and one on the right shoulder for the Hyper Bazooka, or whatever the spring-loaded launcher might be.

One of the Beam Saber swords (which resemble more of a katana than the Light Saber-type thing seen in the show) can be holstered neatly in a sheath on the Gundam's back - this is rather nice, although obviously onscreen the RX-78 had two of these. Clover apparently based the action figures on early design sketches, and this is one of the more obvious differences bought up by this situation - there's no other logical reason for there only being one.

Disappointingly, the fists are solid and can't hold the Beam Saber - instead, the weapon slots into the spring-loaded wrists, which looks a bit silly. The second version, interestingly, has small holes drilled in the fists; I wonder if that version could 'hold' some of its' weapons? Incidentally, due to their large triggers, the wrist launchers are very easy to set off accidentally.

While the feature-packed Deluxe Combination versions get some respect, the smaller Clover Gundam is seen as a bit of a joke. In a way, it's easy to see why; it lacks the unique designs of Super Robots, and the detail of Real Robots, and when compared to more modern takes on the RX-78, it does look a little childish and clumsy. However, there's something about the thing that makes it very hard to dislike. When I got my first example (the second version) I was quite let down, but I got a bit used to him and after a while you appreciate the figure's solid build and boxy proportions. Getting the more colourful first version cemented my fondness for this loveable freak of a figure. If you're after a dynamic and/or accurate RX-78, go with the Chogokin figure or one of the myriad other RX-78 toys and models out there. If you want something that's an interesting, slightly bizarre collision between two very different styles, this figure is worth a shot.