Monday, 26 August 2013

Gundanium Gossip : Latest news from Bandai

Bandai has just announced that the NZ-666 Kshattriya is coming to the Converge line in December this year. The model will be sold under the same designation as used in the Assault Kingdom series, EX01, which represents the first in a series of high-end figures for Converge. The figure will apparently feature alternative and optional parts which can be used to tweak the appearance of the figure into the Kshattriya Besserung version, which is a promising turn for Converge line.

Meanwhile the online vote for the Revive mission continues into its third and last phase. Bandai webpage users have been encouraged to vote on which historical Converge figures they would like to see reissued, and now the vote has taken the list down to ten figures, out of which five will be selected. You need to be a registered user if you wish to take part in the vote.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Gundam Converge 64 : RMS-099 Rick Dias

In this post we will take a closer look at figure 64 of Converge volume 11, which is the one which got a secret makeover in this set. These figures were released in June 2013 and the secret version is a simple colour variation where the regular version of the figure is bright red, brown and gray, and the secret version black and gray. Gundam lore tells us that early units were painted black but that the A.E.U.G. later switched to a red colour scheme. Thus, the only difference between the two figures is the colouring.

Each figure comes equipped with a large clay bazooka which goes over the right shoulder, as is typical for Gundam Converge figures. What is not so common though, is that the hand is not moulded directly onto the bazooka. Instead, the bazooka has a handle which can be slid into the figure's right hand. There is no corresponding opening in the figure's left hand. Apart from the bazooka the mobile suit also has two beam pistols which are stored on the figures backpack and are not intended for use.

However, it is possible to tweak the appearance of your Rick Dias in a way not intended by Bandai. Due to the figure's bulky backpack and body, it is possible to slide in the clay bazooka under the backpack and lock it in place with one of the arms. This simulates the way several Gundams would carry their bazooka on the back when not in use. I have no idea if the Rick Dias was actually capable of this in the show, but it makes for some nice display variation.

Thanks to the fact that the hand is not molded to the bazooka you can also fit one of the beam pistols in the figure's right hand as alternative armament, something very rare for a Gundam Converge figure. If only Bandai would have prepared the left hand for weapons use as well, this would have made a dual wielding of the guns possible and attractive.

Comparing the Converge Rick Dias with the much more detailed versions from the Ultimate Operation series, released in September 2005.
The Rick Dias figure has very limited articulation. When equipped with the clay bazooka the arm cannot be raised that much as the bazooka will bump into the backpack. The head has some very limited side to side movement, 20 degrees or so in total. And with the hands molded directly into the arms they of course also not move. Still, the RMS-099 is a great army builder and a welcome break from all the Gundams, and I can recommend it to all Converge collectors.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Mobile Suits Gundam Ultimate Operation : GM III

I was always predisposed towards army building figures rather than hero units, it gets tiresome seeing all these outlandish hero units crowding in a spot. The Ultimate Operation GM III is a welcome balance for all the Gundams it has to share the collection space with. And better yet, the figure's posability makes it very useful for creating dioramas as we shall see.

Some background story first: The GM III appeared in June 2006 in the set of figures known as FW Ultimate Operation Plus 4 and is thus one of the last figures to be included before the series was taken out of production. In spite of being a regular army type unit it has not been featured much in the series we cover on the blog, it has yet to show up in Converge, and an entry in the Assault Kingdom series seesm most unlikely. However, two versions will be released in the STANDart series volume 18 this very August, though they won't look even half as cool as this one.

Taking a look at the contents of the packaging, you get the figure more or less assembled sitting in a blister with a couple of accessories, namely a battle-scarred shield and an extra left hand. The right hand is molded directly to the figure's only weapon, a standard beam rifle type. The shield has a peg that can fit onto the mobile suit's left wrist, or alternatively, by replacing the open hand with the closed fist the shield can be placed in this hand which enables the GM III to raise the shield in front of it.

As usual with FW Ultimate Operation figures the legs are molded to the lower section of the torso as one piece, and as usual for EFSF units with tiny feet, it has some issues with balance in certain poses. The tors swings at the hip and the shoulders rotate at their joint. The arms also rotate underneath the shoulder, and finally the hands and head can be turned as well. This gives a fair amount of poseability for this figure and with the optional placement of the shield the figure can parry attacks from multiple directions, which together with its overall dynamic pose makes it look pretty convincing.

The shield is the only battle damaged component of the figure. It would have been nice of Bandai to include an optional clean shield for variation. I don't know if the similar shields which come with the FWUO RX-78-2 Gundams are similar enough to be used by the GM III but that might be a possibility which would add more custoization to the figure. An optional open right hand would also have been nice, to make the figure more defenseless following an attack but I guess you can always replace the right hand with something custom.

UPDATE: Now that the Gundam STANDart volume 18 has been released there are two new GM III models available for comparison. Just as the initial suspicions indicated, the STANDart versions of the GM III are nicely detailed but a bit spartan and generally bland when paired with the Ultimate Operation figure. The UO figure features more coloured details and add-on equipment and a really chunky look which mostly makes the STANDart figure look like a half-dressed mannequin.

So, in conclusion; if you are looking for a nice GM to go with the collection the old GM III is an excellent addition to any Ultimate Operation collection.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Gundam STANDart vol. 7

If recent eBay trends are anything to go by, the early STANDart models seem to have become ridiculously rare. This is as far down the history I have been able to complete a set, the seventh wave, dating back to August 2010. As we near the beginning of the series the prices seem to race exponentially toward the sky, so don't expect to see any earlier sets here any time soon... :)

Right... wave seven. Three "white gundams" might not exactly tickle my fancy but then again I came here simply for a Zaku-fix. And oh-boy, STANDart 7 delivers here, with the hopelessly unusual custom Zaku III monster. Having said that, the rest of the figures are really nice too, especially the GP04, but I am getting ahead of myself...

The figures of wave seven come in the early large boxes where each accessory or part has a separate slot in a large plastic blister. This was later done away with as the boxes became smaller and the loose parts found their place into the main blister, or inside a taped-on multi-compartment plastic bag similar to the ones used in the Converge line.

Personally I think the move to smaller boxes was an excellent move. The STANDart figures rarely have more than a few additional pieces to assembly, the plastic bag system works alright and the smaller boxes are a real blessing when it comes to saving storage space.

025 : First out is the oddly named GN-0000 00 Gundam of Mobile Suits Gundam 00 fame. It looks a bit like a souped up Exia and has an attractive blue and white colour scheme with some nice looking details and features in other lively yellows, reds and greens. The figure is armed with a GN Sword type II, in its rifle mode. There is no optional mode for the weapon, and since it is molded directly into the figure's only right hand this is what it is going to use. The figure has fully rotating arms and waist, the shoulder armor being fitted to a backpack. The head can also be tilted sideways but due to the shape of its chest armour movement is rather restricted. Overall a nice looking figure, which is good, considering there are two of them...

025 (special) : Yep, the set also contains a colour variation of the GN-0000 known as the 00 Gundam (Trans-Am). This is not a separate machine or paint-job, but an effect of the use of the mobile suit's Trans-Am System, which generates increased power output and causes the unit to pulsate in a purplish tone. In model terminology, this means that the white colour has been replaced with a faint pink, and the blue parts with dark purple. Although attractive it doesn't really look convincing as a glowing effect. Note that this figure is not a special limited version even though it has a "special" suffix to its catalogue number. It can be somewhat confusing since most of the time, the STANDart "specials" appear next to a set of four figures, and not inside the set.

026 : Now here is the main attraction of this set, the AMX-011S Zaku III Custom, a two-tone green behemoth which looks a bit like a cross-breed between a Zaku II, a Dom and the Sinanju Stein. Although a mass production unit, the S-version is kitted out by ace pilot Mashymre Cello. The figure is massive in all aspects, with beefy legs and body, large armour and a huge skirt which covers the entire legs. On its back sits a compact backpack with two external propulsion tanks. Even the beam rifle looks meaty. As can be expected, articulation suffers a bit from it, the head is stuck in place but the arms rotate freely (the shoulder armour moves independently) and the figure can swing a bit at the waist as well. A really great looking figure which I hope we will see more of in the other product lines as well.

027 : Last figure is the awesome looking RX-78GP04G Gundam GP04G, or "Gerbera" as it is also known. Being a prototype unit it was later developed into the bright red AGX-04 Gerbera-Tetra but the GP04G itself is also a looker even without such unorthodox colour application. Everything about this figure just comes together very nicely. It has attractive colours, lots of interesting and good looking details such as massive fins, a nice shield, lots of colourful vents, thrusters, decals and a mean looking face. It comes armed with an impressive looking long beam rifle which is again molded directly into the hand. The figure has a rotating head, shoulders and waist. If it weren't for the fact that I am a Zaku-lover (and as such biased toward the Zaku III) this figure would easily be the best of this set.

In conclusion, I feel that STANDart set seven has a couple of really outstanding and unusual models worth seeking out, if you come across a good deal remember that you might not get that many chances on this set and go for it!

Comparative size between the three types of figures in STANDart seven. From left to right, 00 Gundam (ca 8 cm), Gundam Gerbera (about 10 cm) and Zaku III Custom (ca 9 cm).