Sunday, 3 November 2013

Gundam STANDart volume 13

Continuing down the line of STANDart the turn has come to wave thirteen, which was released in May 2012. Associated with this set is also one special version of number 48, which may have been released at the same time or some time later, I do not have any detail information regardng this at hand. The set itself is hardly revolutionizing, consisting of three Gundams and a Zaku II, though not the same one as seen in volume one. Let's dig our teeth into the set.

048 : Poster-boy for volume thirteen is easily the most striking figure in the wave, and as far as Gundams go, it is quite the looker as well. We're talking about the ZGMF-X10A Freedom Gundam from Gundam SEED. This is in my opinion one of the most successful designs from an esthetic perspective. It features a very stylish and balanced colour scheme with lots of fine details. Both the beam rifle and the shield are multi-coloured which adds even more oomph to the figure. Aticulation is typical for STANDart, you can rotate the head a bit, the arms at the shoulder and the right-hand wrist., You can also unfurl its wings fully and they will stay in position. Some back-heavy STANDart figures have a small transparent support for it to lean against but none is included with the Freedom Gundam, and on a plain surface you should have little problem balancing it as well.

049 : Checking in at slot fortynine is one of the most iconic Gundam mobile suits of all time, the notorious Zeon MS-06 Zaku II. There are so many versions and colourings of this figure, for this entry though, Bandai sticks with a common light green version, equipped with the equally iconic Zaku Machine Gun. STANDart has already featured another light green Zaku II, the MS-06J Ground Type version (released in the very first volume bacj in November 2007) which is a more sturdy looking machine than this sleek model. Its articulation is very basic, you can rotate the arms but the head has nowhere to go between the large shoulders. Overall a slightly unremarkable figure but a given for any serious STANDart collection.

050 : Rounding off the set is a pair of rehashes from STANDart volume one. We're talking another classic figure here, the white RX-178 Gundam Mk-II [A.E.U.G]. The mobile suit is armed with a huge Hyper Bazooka and a nicely sculpted shield. This is also a great and menacing looking Gundam with many nice details, including the nice colouring of its weapons. Articulation is the traditional rotating heads and arms at the shoulder. Notice that this figure is very similar to STANDart number three, which came with a beam rifle in hand and the bazooka on the back. More about that in a second.

051 : Last of the regular figures in the set is a blue version of figure number 050, the RX-178 Gundam Mk-II [Titans] which as you can see is simply a different paint job of the previous figure. The Titans version looks just as great as the A.E:U.G. one and taken on their own they are both good additions to your collection. However, once you put things in perspective and consider the previous release of these two figures in STANDart volume 1 (together with a similar looking Zaku II as well) which differ mainly in their equipment, it feels really cheap.And as if that was not enough, if the pictures of their boxes are faithful to the figures (which I do not own), it seems these newer models are also less detailed in their molds. And it goes without saying that Bandai should have done it right the first time around, and released figures which included two weapons as alternative equips.

So, as you can see I am not all too excited about STANDart volume 13. Although all the figures are great, some of them have the misfortune of correcting past mistakes. It is however a good opportunity to get yourself a STANDart RX-178 if you missed them early on, as they are now very pricey, if you can find them in the first place.

Before we conclude this overview, we'll also take a look at a limited edition figure which is associated with STANDart 13.

048 (special) : As you can see, this is a variation of the ZGMF-X10A Freedom Gundam. This particular version has received a metallic paint job and is marketed in a box with the "Limited Edition overseas only" blurb in the corner. It is not exactly clear what "overseas" actually means in the eyes of Bandai. For example, a recent overseas Unicorn made it all the way to Hong Kong where it was marketed heavily. It is also not clear just exactly how "limited" this figure is, as it is one of the more easily found on online. Regardless of which, the limited version is a stunner. It takes a beautiful model and adds some extra glamour to it. All the colours receive a metallic touch, the blues and reds looking especially good. Other than that the figure is identical to the regular version. If you are only going to own one of the two versions this is definitely the one to go for. Chances are you will find a very good deal online.

STANDart volume 13 size comparison, from left to right: Zaku II (ca 7.5 cm), Gundam Mk II (about 9 cm, not including the Bazooka) and Freedom Gundam (height about 8.5 cm).

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Gundam Converge SP04 : MSN-00100 Hyaku-Shiki vs. AMX-004 Qubeley

Gundam Converge SP04 is the fifth "duel pack" released in the Converge line and hit the shelves in August 2013. It seems these sets get more and more outlandish with time as the figures tend to become more and more exotic. In the SP04 pack we meet the ol' Hyaku-Shiki with its gigantic Mega Bazooka weapon in a standoff against a garish looking Qubeley. Out of all the figures in Converge, the Qubeley is one of the largest and most crazy looking. It is quite faithful to the original design though, so I won't moan about it too much even though it is one of my least favourite figures in this line.

Parts-wise there's not a whole lot to discuss. Each figure is assembled from half a dozen components, and though each comes on sturdy feet Bandai has seen it fit to include base supports for each.

Let's begin by examining the Qubeley. With its wide stance and huge shoulder mounted binders (wasn't shoulder pads a 1980:s thing by the way...) only a few figures can match its size. It dwarves even the Hy-Gogg though the badass Zeong and Sazabi will give it a run for its money as they tower above even the Qubeley. Being compacted down to Converge size gives the Qubeley an extremely stocky appearance, and it has an enormous elongated head. The figure carriers no weapons in its hands, but has a set of ten funnel weapons mounted on the inside of its skirt.

The figure has fairly good articulation (for Converge that is), reminiscent of the Zeong. The arms rotate at the shoulder and the hands at the wrist. Although the monstrous helmet means you can't rotate the head you can unplug it from its socket and move the eyes around. It is quite gimmicky but at least gives some additional interactivity for the figure.

The Hyaku-Shiki is also pretty static in its appearance. This recent trend of posing Gundams with large weapons like in this case the oddly compact Mega Bazooka weapon means the figure can't really do much with what little articualtion it has. The figure has rotating arms at the shoulder and a rotating head. The weapon has a small hole on the backside where the hand can be attached through a peg in its palm. This at least makes the display very stable and interlocks the mobile suit with its weapon conveniently. This is the only Converge figure I have where I lift the weapon and the figure tags along rather than the opposite...

There's not a whole lot more to say about the SP04 pack. It offers very little in the form of customization, you assemble the pieces and then it just stands there. Among its redeeming factors is the chance it offers you to have the Hyaku-Shiki in your collection, as the original figure (released in the very first volume back in November 2010) is now hopelessly rare and nigh impossible to find. This however will be remedied by a re-release when the Operation Revive collection hits the shelves, currently scheduled for January 2014.

Hyaku-Shiki legacy. Two versions of the MSN-001A1 Delta Plus (from Converge volume 5 and the 2012 limited edition triple pack respectively), the MSN-001 Delta Gundam from Converge volume 10, released March 2013, and the MSN-00100 Hyaku-Shiki from SP04.
And for those who enjoy the Qubeley figure there are more good news, as Bandai has just released a triple pack called SP Qubeley which features three new variations. Comparison shots of these new models will be added to this blog entry once they find their way to my collection.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Gundam Converge vol. 12

We're taking a closer look at the latest issue of Gundam Converge figures, the twelfth series which released in October 2013. At first glance it is awfully White Gundam-intensive although there are a couple of interesting figures to mix it up a little. In terms of diversity it cannot match the beauty of volume eleven, and it seems that once volume thirteen gets going we'll see some more varied components within the release.

Anyway, enough moaning about the compilation of figures for the set, the fact is that Gundam Converge 12 is made up of several high-profile and interesting figures which do warrant a closer look.

69 : Set opener and (I presume) star of volume twelve is the MSZ-010 ΖΖ Gundam. Although there have been quite a few "white Gundams" released already in Converge it seems Bandai and FW are kicking into high gear to bring out all these well known figures. Its base colour is not white but a pale cyan which reminds of toothpaste for some reason. The many details feature a nice set of colours though each component itself can feel a bit basic in appearance. The ZZ Gundam features the typical articulation of a Gundam figure, with a rotating head and arms that rotate at the shoulder. Due to the large head though, you won't get much turning from it.

70 : The old boy RX-79(G) Gundam Ground Type finally makes its appearance in Converge. Like a couple of other recent figures it features a large gun resting on the floor. Like most Converge figures the right hand is molded directly to the weapon so you have no choice but to equip it. Again, the head rotates but tends to get stuck on the torso but you can easily unpeg and replace the head for a suitable facing. Both arms also rotate freely at the shoulder, though it will make little sense to do so for this particular figure. The Ground Type figure has a very spartan colour scheme but many nicely moulded details which help bring it to life.

71 : Halfway through the set, and here comes yet another white boy. This time it is the Gundam F91, iconic from the movie of the same name. The F91 was supposed to be the hero of an animated series but due to creative issues among the project members it was condensed into a short and somewhat diluted movie. The F91 figure itself though, is anything but diluted and is a great looking figure (though with a somewhat ridiculous posture). It features the typical rotating heads and arms.

72 : Also appearing in the F91 movie is the enemy turned ally XM-07 Vigna Ghina. Easily the most spectacular figure of this set, and a first appearance for all the figure series featured on this blog. I was really happy to see this lesser known figute make its way into Converge and I only hope that this will stimulate Bandai to see it included in the STANDart series too. As for the figure itself, FW did a really good job here, the details is striking and the colours are superb. The roman centurion look and large gun and the cruel blue visor just makes this figure look like it means business. This is an absolute must for the Converge collection.

73 : Going from spectacular to the more mundane, figure number seventy three is a well known old friend. There are some mobile suits you can count on making an appearance in any new figure line, and this is one of them. The MSM-07 Z'Gok, here in a Zeon Remnants version has been featured in Converge before. Two versions were released in the summer of 2011, Char's red one as figure 18 in the fourth wave of figures, and the typical blue one, which has sadly become a hopelessly rare item, released as number 20 in a two figure set exclusive to 7-11. So if you haven't managed to get your hands on a Z'Gok yet the olive Zeon Remnants version will be a good addition to the collection, although the previous versions have more striking colour schemes. Other than that, the figures are identical. Due to the shape of this figure the head has no articulation but the arms move (and the claws have a tendency to fall out...).

74 : The oddity of this set is hot on the heels of the previous G-P.A.R.T.S. figure, the G-Bull, which appeared in set eleven. This time we get the G-Sky fighter, which is a compact and robust flyer as opposed to many of the more delicate fighters which have been featured earlier in Converge. The G-Sky also does not come with a stand and has to sit belly down which means it doesn't really pose that well next to the mobile suits which is a shame. The one big gimmick of the G-Sky is that it combines with the G-Bull into a new figure, the G-Armor. This is not immdiately clear to you (unless you can read Japanese) as there is only a small note in Japanese on the backside of the box, with no accompanying images or instructions on how to go about to do this. I just happened to come upon an instruction the other day (via an eBay link of all things), and will be doing a separate blog entry about the G-Armor set.

Secret : Adding some more colour to the set is the secret figure, which is a variation of the Gundam F91, sometimes referred to as the Mass Production Type. Since it doesn't have a box of its own I don't really know what Bandai would call it. Any which way this is a striking design that fits very well together with the white version (I recall this pair was also featured in STANDart a long time ago). Other than the colour variation the two figures are identical.

So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen, Gundam Converge 12. Although not as striking as some earlier sets it contains a lot of interesting and well designed models. At the time of writing, these models are still readily available, so don't wait too long if you intend to pick some of them up.