Thursday, 26 September 2013

Gundam Converge : SP03 - RX-78-2 Gundam vs. MSN-02 Zeong

Aside from the regular figure sets that appear in the Gundam Converge line there are also a couple of boxed sets containing more than one figure. Bandai has to my knowledge never re-packaged a figure into a set without tweaking it (even if only slightly), to give the collectors an incentive to give in. After the early limited set featuring the Exia and the Union Flag Custom in 2011 a new category appeared in the Converge line featuring several larger never before seen figures. These boxes are labelled SP:s. The sets contain both previously released (but modified) figures as well as completely brand new figures. Up until this point there have been four such sets made, depicting a pair of duelling combatants from some of the many Gundam storylines (in the near future though, the SP line will forgo the "duel" theme with a trio of Qubeley figures, but more on that set once it hits the store shelves...).

Today we will be taking a look on set number three, or SP03, which depicts the classic antagonists at the end of the very first war with Zeon. They are the classic RX-78-2 Gundam, armed with bazookas for the end battle with the half-finished Zeon experimental and massive MSN-02 Zeong suit. SP03 was released in February 2013. I have to admit that when I first laid eyes on this set I wasn't exactly thrilled. The Zeong has received an unusually cuddly look (even for a Converge figure), which didn't really convince me as it is supposed to be the most dangerous opponent in the entire Zeon force. However, I have since warmed to it for various reasons, let's begin by taking a closer look at the two figures.

As you can see in the picture above, this set allows for quite a bit of customization, something we are not spoiled with in the Converge line. While the Zeong doesn't come with any equipment (the weapons are installed in the figure's hands) it does feature a nifty stand with a ball joint, which allows for enough flexibility in posing the figure. The fact that this also suspends the Zeong in mid-air, floating on its thruster output is a really nice touch. I am not entirely convinced by the huge deer-like antennas which in my opinion could have been scaled down a little. Other than that the figure benefits from rotating shoulders, hands and head, which allow for a couple of interesting poses.

Looking at the ol' RX-78-2 Gundam, here's where things get really interesting. The Gundam comes armed to the teeth with not only a pair of bazookas, but also a shield and a beam rifle. Best of all is that you are given several choices in how to make best use of this equipment. Bandai have really gone out of their way here. As you can see below it is easy to design your own personal load out according to preference.

What takes the figure even further is the fact that it has two small holes on the back, where you can attach and store the shield and beam rifle when not in use. And here's where the novelty kicks in. The beam rifle which comes delivered attached to the hand is in fact not molded into it. This enables you to mount a clean beam rifle to the figure's back, and you can even choose to go with a figure with nothing but two empty fists. Although not designed for this, with a bit of fiddling you will also be able to balance a bazooka on the figure's back, much like they are stored by several other mobile suits in the larger figure lines.

After Freedom Gundam, Wing Gundam and Buster Gundam, say hello to Packrat Gundam...
This customizability might seems nothing special for those who collect the bigger figures in the HCM Pro or MSIA lines, but for these small figures it is nothing short of a revolution. Of course this is the standard that all Converge figures really should have upheld in the first place...

It is worth noting that the RX-78-2 from the SP03 pack is very similar to the now hopelessly hard to find RX-78-2 that was released in the original figure line back in November 2010. That RX-78-2 debuted as Converge item number 01 (which came in two versions, with a standard beam rifle and as a secret version replacing the rifle with a bazooka) and also appeared again in a "Final Decisive Battle version" (volume 4, figure no. 21). The latter is of course depicting the very same battle as the figure in SP03. That figure also came with two bazookas but had no beam rifle or shield, so you can identify it by inspecting its left arm which does not have a hole for a shield like this SP03 version has.

I don't know how to identify the the original figure 01 from the one in the SP03 set, but I would imagine the original figure has no hole for a shield on its back, but that is just a guess. Finally, there is also an RX-78-2 in the Operation Jaburo multi-pack, but that figure has a green and white colour scheme so they are easy to tell apart.

"Hey man... did you see those two guys? That's the RX-78-2 from STANDart volume eleven, he was released in October 2011. That old grandpa Zeong over there is from the old Ultimate Operation 10 set, which came out already back in June 2005."
In summary, although I was a bit sceptical about the SP03 set at first it proved me dead wrong. It is a very nice addition to the Converge collection, not only because of its theme but because Bandai managed to pull off these two figures really nicely. This might even contend for my favourite SP-set so far.

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