May 25, 2011 8:00 PM | Matthew Hawkins
Konami is the master of multiple IPs across different mediums in Japan, so it was perhaps only a matter of time that they'd combine Gradius with Busou Shinki. Pretty much everyone knows about the former, so let's concentrate on the later!
Busou Shinki is a line of toys that Konami produces that mixes bishoujo (translated as "beautiful young girl") and machinery. It's a futuristic offshoot of the Mecha Musume wave that Konami also helped to popularize. But the emphasis in that case is old, World War 2-era hardware, with the most popular example being the Strike Witches anime (the only thing here Konami has nothing to do with, FYI). Which also gives the girls cat ears or other anthropomorphic characters, plus no one wears any pants, ever, just underwear. Back to Busou Shinki, the toys are mostly known for being highly posable, and various well-known doujin artists have contributed character designers over the years. It's even the basis of a PC-based MMO that was later ported to the PSP.
It also needs to be pointed out that the toys/models above are NOT based upon Otomedius, the recent Gradius offshoot that also infuses shmups with moe, but in a slightly different manner (and was primarily designed to revive interest in a series that was waning, nothing more). They can be clearly classified as Busou Shinki, again, due to the construction of the figurines. Anyhow, we get both a Vic Viper, in blue, and a slightly different fighter, which I initially assumed to be the Lord British, since it's color scheme was red as well. But Google has since reminded me that the ship from Salamander/Life Force had a single nosecone, not two.
By the way, this marks the third instance of Gradius + girls, with Otomedius being just the second. Konami was also behind an anime called Sky Girls, another futuristic Mecha Musume, that featured the Vic Viper as a piece of hardware, though it doesn't get nearly as much action as you'd like. I remember asking chiptune superstar Nullsleep (who longtime GSW readers might remember having a shmup-specific column many years ago) back in the day for details, since he was my goto person for anything shooter and anime related, and was told flat-out, "Don't bother, the show sucks." Which turned out to be the case, sadly. But for those still interested, Wikipedia has an episode guide for the show that also details every appearance of the spacecraft (which is a grand total of three if I'm not mistaken).