Saturday, May 12, 2012

Review: Kabaya Gaia Guardian


As promised, here is my review of the Transformers Kabaya Gaia Guardian. This set is composed of six individual kits, plus Hot Spot from wave 5 can be combined with these as well. In this review I will cover the individual kits together plus all the various combinations.



Vehicle modes

I can't see anyone buying less than a full set of these, so I'm not going to waste time reviewing them individually. Much of what I have to say applies to all the kits. They are very small, even by Kabaya standards. Unlike the normal Kabaya kits, these kits feature perfect transformations. Why Kabaya is able to have perfect transformations on these tiny kits but not their larger kits is a mystery. Also unlike the larger kits, these are made of a soft plastic rather than ABS. At first you might think this is a bad thing, but that added flexibility actually makes these more durable than the regular Kabaya kits. For the most part the plastic actually does feel pretty solid. Unfortunately the pink/orange plastic is extremely rubbery and feels terrible. Parts in this color are very difficult to fit together during assembly, and may even warp. Still, I'd rather have parts warp than snap in half. Between the perfect transformations and soft plastic these kits feel like a throwback to the kits Kabaya made in the 80s.

The new guys

These two are worth talking about because they are original designs by Kabaya, and they are also the worst and best kits in the set. The jet is made largely of that pink/orange plastic, and thus is a gooey block of failure. The drill tank on the other hand is an awesome kit by any standard. The white and black plastics are very solid. This feels like a completed toy, rather than a fragile model. It's so good that it makes me wonder why we don't see many drill tanks anymore. Drill tanks used to be all the rage. Combattler V, Voltes V, various Diaclones, Generation 1 Transformers, and even a few Braves has drill tanks. Why don't we see these anymore?

Not pictured: the dozen times the jet nosecone fell off while taking this picture

The tank bot remains awesome in robot mode. it's solid, stands well, and holds the gun very well unlike many larger kits. This guy deserves to be legitimized as an actual Transformer. The jet bot remains a failure in this mode. The gun barely fits in it's hand, but it's pointless anyway because the kit can't raise its arms to aim forward.

The Protectobots in vehicle modes

The real reason you're here is for the Protectobots. Here they are with their team leader Hot Spot from wave 5. They look pretty good together, although Groove looks as ridiculous as ever as a giant motorcycle.

"Repair bay" mode

I didn't cover this mode when I reviewed Hot Spot individually, as I feel it's better to talk about it here. Fans of the old "Scramble City" combiners of 1986 will be pleased to know that Hot Spot's repair bay mode is intact. It looks a little silly since the repair bay arms lack joints, but I'm glad they're included. Truth be told, I always liked the base modes of combiner team leaders, silly as they are. I really wish combiners like this would make a comeback.

Robot modes

Here's the whole team in robot mode. These kits look great next to their team leader. I never gave the Protectobots much thought before, but they've really grown on me after handling these kits. The only problem is that Streetwise has loose shoulders which make aiming his gun difficult. Other than that these guys are great.

The whole team together
My vision is impaired! I cannot see!! 
And here is the combined form of Gaia Guardian. For the most part, the combination is very well designed. There are a few problems though. The thighs are way too skinny, and the head is small and hard to see. All the individual weapons peg together like the Combaticons' weapons have been able to since the molds were retooled, but the resulting weapon is gooey and unstable.

That nosecone has fallen off 30 times now

Gaia Guardian is good, but not great. But that's okay, you're just here for Defensor right?

Defensor

I'm pleased to say that Defensor looks great, and is very stable. It might be even a little too stable. Be careful not to peg the legs in too far. The fit is very tight. Disappointingly, his colors do not match. His feet are the correct black, but his chest and waist are red, while his hands are pink/orange. All of these pieces should be black. It's understandable given Kabaya's limitations, but purists are bound to be annoyed. less understandably, Defensor cannot hold the guns that come with hot Spot!

Fail

As you can see, there's no way that handle can fit in the hand. This is very disappointing, as it means Defensor is stuck holding Gaia Guardian's gooey mess of a weapon. Still, all is not lost as Defensor has two other tricks.

Scramble powah!

Kabaya hasn't advertised this feature, but the limb kits do retain the ability to form either an arm or a leg. Kabaya didn't cut any corners here. This is awesome.

Beware: that peg is about as small as a Lego stud

You do have to move the pegs on the feet to make this work though. The good news is that this solves a problem G1 combiners usually had, which was uneven feet. One would stick out too far or be too far to the side and such. Kabaya made sure that wouldn't be the case here.


I think he needs another gun

Finally, Defensor can combine with the two leftover kits. I've left this picture big so you can see it in all its glory. This is the way you'll want to display these kits, as it hides Defensor's main flaws. The pink/orange hands are hidden under a shield and a mass of weapons, and the red chest/waist plates are obscured by the drill bot. Even Hot Spot's repair bay arms can attach in this mode, though I leave them off as they get in the way. In theory though, you can fit everything together in this mode with no leftover pieces. Kabaya did an amazing job making this all work, especially given the size.

Surprisingly the nosecone stayed on this time

Make no mistake, the combined mode is still very small, but its sheer bulk makes it very impressive next to other Kabaya kits. Note that Victory Saber was once the tallest of the Kabaya kits. On a shelf of tiny Transformers, Defensor will stand out a lot. I highly recommend these kits, and am increasing my recommendation of Wave 5 as well. In my review of wave 5 I expressed concern over Hot Spot's fragile chestplate, but it has proved itself by withstanding multiple combinations. It's still worrisome and should be handled very carefully, but it's not a disaster waiting to happen. I am now as optimistic as ever for the future of the Kabaya series. I can't wait to see how Fortress Maximus turns out.

6 comments:

  1. Amazing review. You take great pictures!

    I'm going to find these and buy them all. Kabaya should pay you for the great reviews.

    What's next?

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  2. Thanks. I always appreciate feedback.

    The next wave of Kabaya kits will be a fortress Maximus mad of 3 kits. I'm really looking forward to it. I imagine it will be at least as big as Defensor, and possibly bigger. I'm not sure when that's coming out, but you can be sure I'll recview it as soon as it's out.

    In the meantime, I'm planning to do video reviews of these kits to demonstrate the transformations and combinations, and to show you guys what I mean about the orange/pink plastic. I have a lot of older stuff to review as well, including some stuff I don't think anyone has reviewed before. Stay tuned.

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  3. I just wanted to let everyone know, I awoke this morning to find that Defensor had taken a shelf dive during the night. This is the second time the kit has fallen off this same shelf. Fortunately nothing appears to be damaged. Hooray for soft plastic.

    If you are going to display the kits in their combined mode, please be careful as it is very front heavy.

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    Replies
    1. Glad to know that Defensor can't be hurt by a little fall. Combaticons maybe, but not a fall!

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    2. It seems that Kabaya's aim here was to create a durable toy rather than a model. This soft plastic handles stress far better than ABS. I'd like to see them use this more often.

      I'd love to see them do Combaticons, but it will be tricky if Kabaya continues to use only 3 plastic colors per wave. The Aerialbots would be a perfect fit for this line though, as would the Constructicons and the Predacons. I'm excited to see what Kabaya does next.

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  4. there will be 3 parts fort max on the way

    ReplyDelete