Monday, 20 January 2014

Gundam Converge Complete Book

And now for something completely different; a book review. Or... perhaps not. In what must surely be one of the worst and most deceptive marketing ploys to ever hit the Gundam Shokugan universe, Bandai have joined forces with the Dengeki Hobby Magazine to publish a tome by the name of "Gundam Converge: Complete Book". The publication was brought to the world in December 2013 through the Kadokawa publishing corporation just in time for Christmas. With such a bold title we can expect a truly grand work full of interesting facts about the Converge figure line, and most of all a careful look into the past, present and future of the Converge brand. The name also carried a slightly menacing touch, does this mean we're about to reach the end of the Converge line? Many questions, all which could hopefully be answered by opening the book.

Guess again, suckers.

Let's play Captain Obvious for a second. The Gundam Converge: Complete Book is a glossy product catalogue. It contains pictures of mobile suits produced as well as a daring peek into the future. To make sure we want to buy it, Bandai tossed in a pair of alternate colour versions of previously released figures.

That's it? Really? Honto? Well... pretty much.

The first thing you notice when you remove the plastic wrapping is that the "book" falls out of the bottom of the package, and you are left holding a cardboard frame with a little hole in the middle to store the figures. It is kind of like those fake books with guns inside them that you can read about in crappy spy novels. Or, for those of you who build Real Grade and Master Grade and whatever model kits, you open the box, move the instruction manual away to look at later only to realize that the flimsy paper thingy is in fact the book itself.

Wrapped in bags at the heart of the box are -fittingly- the meat of the package: The two exclusive figures. These are the reason I wanted to get this "book". I didn't really expect anything from the book but still, let's inspect it closer and see what knowledge can be obtained from this Gundam Converge tome, a one of a kind.

The "book" has a total of 48 pages, which are mostly filled to the brim with glossy product photos. The absolute majority of the pages list the Gundam Converge release sets one full spread at a time. Each figure is presented with the same old picture you've seen on all the boxes and press sheets before, plus a couple of useless close-ups and a small wireframe drawing. Many are the times I wished I could read Japanese, but considering the absolute minimum of text presentation each figure gets, you need not fret about it here. If you were hoping for some background data on the figures, behind the scenes details or anything like that you are out of luck. The information on the ordinary figure boxes seems more thorough and complete.

Once you've walked down the path of the (currently) thirteen volumes of figures you get a preview of the fourteenth set (which has been up on the Bandai page for quite a while already). After that the figures in the special sets and limited editions are presented, all the SP:s, EX01, the 7-11 set, Operation Jaburo, Operation Revive as well as the figures made in cooperation with various hobby magazines.

Not feeling the love from Bandai...
What is not included in the book is the recently announced EX02 figure (so much for "complete") or any of the overseas limited edition sets. Now, with this publication obviously targeting the Japanese market; it does seem rather sly not to mention the overseas packs to the Japanese collectors. I would guess that they are already aware however, but still, a poor effort whichever way you choose to look at it.

The last few pages contain the best part of the book, separate interviews with two designers. Now here's something I wish I would have been able to read. At the last spread of the book is also two designs that you can cut out to create Converge-style boxes for the two models included in this set. A cool idea but considering the quality of the paper as well as trying to convince someone to tear out a page of the interviews just to create boxes that won't be able to contain the figures anyway you have to wonder what they were thinking. It would have been a greater service to these figures to be included in a future Converge set.

Ah, yes, the figures... The two little repaints. Well, with the miserable book experience out of the way, you'll be pleased to learn that the two mobile suits are everything you had hoped them to be. Obviously it would have been hard for Bandai to screw up at this point, after all there are already half a dozen or so variants of each by now.

D2 : The RX-78-3 G-3 Gundam has been a long time coming in Converge. Or, actually, it was already featured as the secret figure in Converge volume 4, which was released in September 2011 (you can cross reference in the "book"...). That time around the G-3 came in a dark two-tone grey pattern wielding double bazookas. The one that comes with the book instead has a very light grey base colour and violet detail. Kind of like a Spa version of the G-3. And this time around it gets a beam rifle and shield instead of bazookas. Definitely a nice version of the RX-78-2.

D3 : The highlight of the box is the MS-09RS Rick Dom (Char's Custom), an inevitable figure that I knew just had to come at some point in the series. Back when the two Rick Doms of Converge volume ten were released I was quite surprised that they didn't make one of the versions red, but I guess that was a good thing, considering how rare anything Char-painted seems to become these days (case in point; Char's Zaku II from Converge volume 5; the secret "Garma's Custom" version is easy to find while the regular figure borders on the impossible). Char's Rick Dom comes in a red/brown/gray livery similar to the STANDart version, and is armed with the same giant bazooka as the secret version of the original Rick Dom figure. An absolute stunner and easily one of my favourite figures in the entire Converge line.

DOM-ination: Line-up of the versions of the Dom and Rick Dom mobile suits released in Converge so far.

Hold the Line: The new G-3 Gundam takes it place among the RX-78:s of the Converge line.
So, what is the final verdict on Gundam Complete Book?

Well... if you are a Converge collector, you really want these two figures, you practically need them unless you don't mind a rather serious gap in your set. If you are a casual Gundam fan, chances are you still want them, especially Char's Rick Dom. The only question, really, is if you are willing to pay the 2100 yen to get them.
And as far as the marketing brochu... the "book" is concerned; well, it should have been a downloadable pdf on the Bandai Shokugan website. A pdf regularily updated as new figures are released. Because complete, this "book" is not...

1 comment:

  1. I did purchase this book, but haven't opened it yet, I am disappointed to hear that the book is incomplete, hopefully they will release a full printed version in the future that can provide more details on the sculpts and pre-production models.
    Great review as always!