Thursday, 24 April 2014

Gundam Converge : Operation Revive (Premium Edition)

Alright, this review will probably be a bit heavy because there are so many figures with extended back histories involved here. Today we are looking at the Gundam Converge Operation Revive figure set, and specifically we are looking at the Premium Edition. That's right, if you are only going to read one sentence in this review, please make it this one:

If you are considering purchasing a copy of Operation Revive, be sure to check if the box is the Premium Edition or not.

The standard edition box of Operation Revive looks pretty much the same as the Premium Edition, with the only difference being "Premium Edition" printed just after "Operation Revive". Be extra careful if you are purchasing online, some sellers might not even be aware there are two different editions and may have used a stock photo or so.

So what is the big fuss about this Premium Edition? Well, let's just take the rest of the review from the beginning. Sometime in June 2013 Bandai announced on their Shokugan website that they were launching the "Operation Revive" event. Users registered on the Bandai website were encouraged to vote for past figures that they would like to see reissued again. Below is the initial banner used on the Bandai website at the time:

Voting was done in three rounds over a couple of months. During the first round users could vote for the entire single figure line, I can't remember exactly up until which volume, nine or ten I guess. After the first voting round, the votes where counted and the bottom half were axed from the selection, then began round two with the remaining mobile suits. After three rounds Bandai had ended up with a winning set and in September the five mobile suits with most votes where revealed as the new special set "Operation Revive". Together whith these, an enitrely new sculpt was introduced, the Hi-Nu Gundam (a nasty trick to make sure that ambitious collectors would need to get the set of course...).

When Operation Revive was first presented, there was some talk about whether the new reissues of the chosen figures would be exact resemblances of the original figures or if there would be some way to tell then apart. If you look at other Converge special packs (the Operation Jaburo being the best example) relaunched figures tended to have a slightly different colour tone for example. In the case of Operation Revive though, Bandai did not alter the look of the figures from the originals, but instead opted to give them alternative equipment. And here is where the major issue with Operation Revive creeps in, and which I will highlight again.

This is what the Premium Edition is really all about.
Gundam Converge Operation Revive is released in two versions. If you get the standard edition, you will receive a package with the new Hi-Nu Gundam and five reissues of previous figures. If, however, you buy the more pricey Premium Edition, you get the exact same things as in the standard package, but you also get a separate plastic bag with the new optional weapons for the mobile suits. The alternative equipment is not included in the standard package.

I find this a most questionable way of marketing what was supposed to be a true highlight for collectors. Was there really a need for two editions? The potential anger or frustration that this confusion will cause with some customers must be weighed against the greed of clever marketing ploys. I don't want to moan about it too much, but I have seen the messages of disappointed people who ended up with the standard package and wondering why no new weapons were included. To add a little bit of extra frustration, the standard edition first started appearing in February 2014, while the Premuim set followed a bit later in March 2014.

The full contents of the Operation Revive Premium Edition box.
Alright, that was a lot of details about the back story and the two versions, but it is rather significant for this particular set. Anyway, we're here to take a closer look at the six figures, and this we will.

Apart from the Hi-Nu Gundam, these were the five mobile suits voted most popular in the Operation Revive vote:

#1. The RX-93 Nu Gundam (originally appeared as figure 13+14 in Converge volume 3, June 2011)
#2. The MSN-00100 Hyaku-Shiki (originally figure 06 from Converge volume 1, November 2010)
#3. The GN-001 Gundam Exia (originally figure 04, also from Converge volume 1, November 2010)
#4. The RX-0 Unicorn Gundam (originally figure 07, from Converge volume 2, January 2011)
#5. The RGM-89D Jegan D-Type (originally figure 09, from Converge volume 2, January 2011)

The selection surprised me a bit. I was especially baffled that the notoriously difficult and ever popular Char's Zaku II did not make it to this list. Then of course I was a bit disappointed to see some of the figures missing from my own collection not getting elected (such as the GM and the Marasai) but that is a completely different story...

Right, the image above shows you the minor assembly required to piece together the six figures. Apart from the Hi-Nu Gundam (top left corner) the other five figures are shown with the bonus items from the Premium Edition placed a little bit to the left side of each figure. These are of course the optional weapon equips. Now, let's take a closer look at each figure.

First out is the band new figure, the RX-93-v2 Hi-Nu Gundam. As the pictures clearly tell you, this is a striking little fellow and a true delight in your Convegre collection. It feels so wrong to stick the figure exclusively in this package but if you are not interested in the reissued figures you may want to look out for a standard edition of this package to try and grab this fellow a little bit cheaper. As usualy there is not much in the way of articulation, a little bit of side to side for the head, and arms rotating at the shoulder. As you can also guess, the figure's large booster tanks give him more than enough stability.

And here is the most popular guy in the vote, the RX-93 Nu Gundam. It is not hard to see what people like in this striking figure. An excellent colour scheme and some nice .touches such as the painted beam rifle for example. The picture above shows the figure with its Premium Edition extra equipment attached, namely the right shoulder binder weapon set.

The RX-93 Gundam in Converge History, from left to right: 1) The dual binder equipped RX-93 from Revive Premium Edition. 2) The bazooka wielding RX-93 number 14 from Converge volume 2. This is followed by 3) the standard beam rifle edition as presented as figure 13, also in Converge volume 2. The last figure is the RX-93 in a blue tone as it appeared in the SP01 package where it duels the Sazabi.
As you can see in the comparison shot above, there have been a couple of versions of this figure released already. The version from the SP01 used to be the most complete though now you get to re-evaluate that point. It would have been a nice touch if Bandai had gone the extra mile on revive and given the RX-93 all the previous components, i.e. the bazooka and the shield as well.

The runner up on Bandai's list was the MSN-00100 Hyaku-Shiki. A striking design both in detail and colour. The Premium Edition adds a Clay Bazooka weapon which replaces the figure's beam rifle, a weapon that looks great from the side but conspiciously thin, almost 2D, when viewed from above. When displayed at a proper angle though, the figure looks great.

The Hyaku-Shiki as it has appeared in Gundam Converge, from left to right. First is the original edition with a beam rifle, from Converge volume 1 (though here it is my Revive figure with its "standard" weapon on display, since I do not own the first edition). Second is the Operation Revive Premium Edition figure with the Clay Bazooka, and the last version, which also has a somewhat warmer golden colour is the Hyaku-Shiki from the SP04 set, armed with a "Hyper-Mega Launcher" which it uses to duel a white Qubeley.
Above you can see available versions of the Hyaku-Shiki. As I don't have the original edition figure, I used the alternate equipment of the Revive figure to illustrate what it looks like.

EDIT (2016-12): So, I finally got my hands on the first edition Hyaku-Shiki. The basic appearance of the two editions is similar, although the blue colour seems to be slightly darker and more navy on the Revive edition.

It is also interesting to note that the original Hyaku-Shiki figure bag is rather different. The torso and legs are slotted into different compartments in the original figure, which comes apart at the waist. The Revive edition appears to have a refined mold where these components are now a single part (at least I haven't been able to separate torso and legs by some gentle pulling and I don't want to try and force it).

The third figure on the vote was the GN-001 Gundam Exia  from Converge volume 1. This is a very detailed figure with many nice colours, and I am not surprised to see it featured on this set. In the pictures above it is armed with the two Premium Edition blades ("GN Long Blade and GN Short Blade") rather than the shield and sword of the standard edition, though these are of course included in this box as well. Thanks to the roating shoulders and wrists the Exia offers a little more customization abilities in its posing than the average Converge figure, which is a nice touch. You can also choose to equip one of the blades and go with the GN Shield or the GN Sword on the other arm if you prefer.

Comparison of the various Exias as so far made available in Converge. from left to right are the original figure from Converge Volume 01, followed by the figure from the Revive Premium Edition (here equipping the alternate blade weapons) and lastly comes the limited edition overseas only figure which was sold in a dual pack together with the SVMS-01X Union Flag Custom II. The limited edition figure has been given a glossy metallic coating but is otherwise similar to the original edition.
The Exia has so far been featured in Converge in three different variations, as displayed in the figure above.

Voted fourth most popular was the RX-0 Unicorn, in the Unicorn Mode. Bandai never seems to tire of milking this guy, which has been made available in so many versions. if you add the Destroy Mode to the count you can double the amount of available versions of this little guy. Anyway, the figure as such is rather unremarkable I think. The sculpt is really nice though, I just don't get very many kicks out of an all white figure. The Revive version comes armed with a single Gatling beam rifle which replaces the standard beam rifle of the original version. The best thing about this weapon is that it can help the nose heavy figure from toppling over, which all the previous versions have been very good at doing, thanks to the forward leaning posture.

Who said Unicorns are rare? From left to right we see the RX-0 from the Revive Premium Edition armed with its gatling beam rifle. The second figure is the original release from Gundam Converge volume 2, armed with a regular beam rifle. The third figure is actually the "secret version" from the same set, as some of the packages of Cinverge volume 2 contained the bazooka armament instead of the beam rifle. The fourth and last figure is coated in pearl white, and was made available in a special "overseas only" triple-pack bundled with the MSN-001A1 Delta Plus and the RGM-96X Jesta.
Anyway, in the image above you can see the up until now available versions of the Unicorn (in its Unicorn Mode that is). The pearl white version is supposedly available in two different packages; the one I do not have being bundled with an issue of the Dengeki Hobby Magazine. As far as I understand it though, that version is similar to the pearl white version from the triple-limited pack.

The fifth and last mobile suit to come out of the vote was refreshingly not a Gundam, but the regular RGM-89D Jegan (D-Type). This is not a small feat considering it went up against several formidable Gundams such as e.g. the Z Gundam and the RX-78. Job well done, and the Premium Edition figure with its alternative bazooka armament is a really great army builder add-on. It looks exceptionally well next to the regular figure armed with a beam rifle. The figure itself is pretty detailed too, and well worthy of being brought back to life.

Apart from the Revive reissue there was only the original release in Converge volume 2, you can see the two of them compared to each other in the above image.

So, summing things up, is the Operation Revive package good value? Well, it really depends on where you are coming from. Latecomers and beginners stand a lot to gain from this package, even the standard edition will be a great start considering how most of the original figures contained in this set now sell for more than the entire Revive Package, as in one original figure is more expensive than the entire Operation Revive set.

Converge Veterans, on the other hand, will not necessarily be all that amused. Any serious collector would want the Hi-Nu Gundam in their collection, and the premium weapons are really nice optionals too. However, it is getting a bit ridiculous with all these alternative versions of the same figure appearing over and over again. I personally suffer from Unicorn overload (and that's even before I have had to face the two newly released Destroy mode variations...).

Although I have seen the occasional seller breaking this set up online, chances are you'll be hard-pressed to score a hit on loose items, still having to settle for the full box if you wish to get the Hi-Nu Gundam only. As far as I am concerned, the Revive set should have been released as separate pieces, so that buyers could fill the gaps in their collections without ending up with duplicate figures they might not be interested in. Then of course there was the debacle with the two versions of the box...

Based on its contents alone though, the Premium Edition box (especially) is great, but when you consider the state of your own collection it might feel less fantastic or necessary to purchase.

No comments:

Post a Comment