Thursday, 26 June 2014
Another interesting concept is how you get eight figures in this set. Box number 87 actually contains a little mini-set of two vehicles, something we haven't seen since Converge number 50, which sported two RB-79 Balls. It seems Bandai have entered a phase where they like to reassess the Converge formula, seeing as how set 15 for example, will contain not one but two secret figures, and how set sixteen will feature the first figure relaunches. Interesting times, but we are skidding off the track, enough about Converge in general and on to the figures contained in volume 14.
As usual, each figure comes in a compartmentalized plastic bag with a handful of pieces to snap together. The traditional chewing gum is of course also included.
81 : At least volume 14 is traditional in one regard; the set opens with a Gundam. This time around we get the elegant GNT-0000 00 Qan[T]. This is a really nice sculpt with lots of detail and a vibrant colour scheme with the transparent parts a nice bonus. Although the figure sports the typical Converge articulation pattern, which translates to a rotating head, arms rotating at the shoulder and some side to side wrist movement of the right hand, the various large components block each other's movements rather effectively. Still, a beautiful figure and a real asset in any Converge display.
82 : The other Gundam to feature in this set is the RGZ-91 Re-GZ, which was recently featured in the Assault Kingdom line as well. While waiting for this attractive figure to make its debut in STANDart we'll have to do with the Converge variant which is a nice if not terribly interesting figure. Actually, it is well made, but I guess it just fell a bit short of my expectations. My main gripe is that you will have a hard time spotting its shiny green eyes. This is not the first time we've seen a Converge Gundam that stares introvertly into the ground. A little bit of adjustment of the head sculpt could have made it more striking and memorable. The colours also came out a bit on the pale side. Now, the Re-GZ does seem to vary quite a lot in different figure lines, and I just wish that the Converge had more blue in it, as the dark navy patches seem to be on the verge of black.
83 : And here of course, is the main reason that Converge Volume 14 consists of seven named figures. No way Bandai would have gotten away with sticking one of the MSN-03 Jagd Dogas in as a secret version. So instead, we get two iconic Neo Zeon machines properly named and numbered. This first figure is the Gyunei Type, which basically means it is piloted by Gyunei Guss. I'm pretty sure I wasn't the only one waiting for the arrival of these two figures. As evident in the pictures, the Jagd Dogas are quite extravagant as far as Converge figures are concerned. Striking colour patterns and lots of detail. The Gyunei Type differens from the Quess Type in having a different visor design, and a slightly different rifle. Surprisingly, it does not feature the characteristic Beam Saber (with secondary Beam Knife attachment) but instead comes with a more generic looking Beam Assault Rifle. I really, really, really wish this had been an optional accessory. This is my only complaint though, this is easily one of the top figures of the entire Converge line, go get it... now!
84 : Figure 84 is of course a variation of the previous MSN-03 Jagd Doga. This time we're dealing with a Quess Type, named after its pilot Quess Paraya. Notice the different visor design and the Mega Gatling Gun. I think Fusion Works dropped the ball here, the Mega Gatling Gun is missing something... specifically it is missing the MEGA. I guess am just spoiled with the awesome weapon which came with the Ultimate Operation version of this figure. As for articulation, the Jagd Dogas are quite bulky which leads to somewhat limited arm movements. You can rotate the weapon hand as well, but the head is part of the torso mold. However, you can remove the figure's visor and adjust the facing of the large monoeye, which is a nice gimmick.
85 : The more we move toward the end of the set, the more outlandish the figure designs become. In slot number 85 we find the RMS-154 Barzam which is a low-end mass production design fielded by the Titans. Once I laid eyes on this figure I had to go over to the Gundam Wiki to find out what it was really supposed to look like, because this doesn't look anything like the mobile suit it is supposed to represent. Massive train wreck and once again a figure (Titans again, the other was the Asshimar) gets an oversized head decoration at the expense of the overall size of the body. The Converge figures are short as they are, there's no need to go to these excesses, people. And what is that hideous oversized, shiny red crotch doing there? Total disaster and huge disappointment. Let's just move on...
86 : Next up is one of those old, loveable and freaky Zeon amphibious designs. The MSM-10 Zock is a monstrous design with the unusual feature of having identical front and back sides. The figure is suitably bulky and almost as wide as two regular Gundam figures which makes it imposing enough. The monoeye is completely static on this figure, but the arms rotate at the shoulder. Considering that the figure is quite heavy and leaning forward, lifting even one of its arms will usually topple it forward. Time to make use of that transparent leg support piece!
In summary, Converge volume 14 is a nice lot of figures, perhaps not as amazing as I first expected but still great. The sheer diversity and variation in types is also quite commendable and will liven up your collection nicely.
Wednesday, 11 June 2014
Now, if there is one figure which lends itself well to a pricier and more excessive set, it is the Sazabi. A fact not lost on Bandai as they decided to capitalize on it by releasing two different versions of this totem Mobile Suit. The regular "EX 03" released in February 2014 and retailed at 1200 yen. A couple of weeks later it was followed by a Premium Edition, which was basically a souped up version of the standard version, and coming at a price of around 2100 yen.
Incidentially, this was the same sneaky pattern used with the recent Converge Revive set, which also received two versions, with the "Premium" set popping up a few weeks after the vanilla set had already been released. It is hard to see any particular reason for doing this set-up other than to maybe lure some people into buying both sets once they realize they ended up buying the wrong set. Customers who have not bothered doing particular research end up getting the short end of the stick.
Anyway, this review will be focusing solely on the pricier Premium Edition of the Sazabi. Although I don't have a vanilla version to compare it to, I will still be able to point out several differences quite easily. But first things first, let's just open up the box!
As always, the sheer number of parts can be a bit confusing at first, and with the only assembly instructions available printed on the inside walls of the box, you may be in for a bit of puzzle mania to figure out which parts go where and what their exact intended use might be. The base mobile suit itself though, will give you no headache. Find the Sazabi's left leg, snap it into the joint then pick up a pair of hands and insert them into the wrist sockets and you're done.
|The Assault Kingdom Sazabi compared to the old Ultimate Operation Sazabi, released in June 2006. What the FWUO figure lacks in articulation it makes up for with an excellent paint job and great weathering.|
We have now covered the basics of the Sazabi figure, but the Premium package doesn't stop there. Apart from the unique weapon and nicely coloured beam weapons the fun has only just started.
Indeed it does not.
Apart from extra Fin Funnels, the RX-93 can also look forward to a nice and shiny red beam saber. Of course, this weapon really should have been included with the original figure (which still came with a beam rifle, a shield and a bazooka so not that bad). Anyway, this afterthought rectifies the mistake and adds a truly excellent beam sabre. I don't understand why Bandai will not always go the extra mile and make translucent coloured beam sabres for all the figures that wield them, instead of those horrible transparent or even opaque white and green ones.
Another peculiar weapon of choice is... a red ball. I'm not up to speed on the lore here, but I guess this item is somehow featured in the anime, since Bandai saw it prudent to include two pegged hands that can hold it. One smaller RX-93 sized hand, and one larger Sazabi-size. Its purpose is unknown to me but I like the feature, and these pegged hands are also useful for holding other items in new poses. So, three new accessories for the Nu Gundam, nice!
So what does the EX 03 Premium set hold in store for the Re-GZ?
But... we're getting quite used to this business practice by now, and as long as you like to collect the AK figures you'll probably want to get your hands on this set. If you are only interested in the Sazabi figure itself however, you may just want to stick with the vanilla version and perhaps apply some customization to its beam weapons yourself.
Monday, 2 June 2014
If you happen to read this blog around the time of publishing you might know that the Gundam Unicorn saga is drawing to its close, with the seventh and last volume to be released in Japan in the coming days. Leading up to this release there has been a number of advance screenings running since mid-May. People who purchased tickets for the second round of these advance screenings were eligible for getting this little figure, a "pearl clear" version of the Unicorn Gundam in its Destroy Mode.
Anyway, that was a little backstory for the release of this particular version of the RX-0. Unless I am mistaken this marks the eighth version of the white Unicorn to appear in the Converge line (the poor old Banshee on the other hand has only managed three appearances so far). However, if you count the figures available in destroy mode, there were only two other versions available up until this point, the red and white figure from the SP01 two-pack, and the recently released green and white figure from EX02.
Both weapons are intended for use with the right hand only. The Beam Rifle has a hand molded directly onto it (similar to the Unicorn Mode RX-0 figure) while the Beam Javelin is loose and can be slotted into a gripping right hand, (the EX02 figure shares this feature as well). The shield is plugged into a socket on the left forearm, it can not be placed on the right arm.
|The UC7 "Pearl Clear" coating compared to that of the Pearl White Unicorn from the limited 2011 triple-set.|
|Destroy Mode Unicorns, from left to right: Full Armor Unicorn Gundam (Awake Mode) released as EX02 in March 2014, Episode 7 RX-0 (Pearl Clear Version) released April 2014 and Unicorn Gundam (Destroy Mode) from multipack SP02, released August 2012.|
There are a few more things to mention about the UC7 figure. Branded as a clear pearl version, the figure mainly looks translucent rather than pearly. The style of the figure comes off a bit more plain and plastic looking than what its name suggests. The pearl coated version of the RX-0 Gundam (Unicorn Mode) for example (which was released in a limited triple pack back in 2011) looks more sophisticated than this figure. The other thing to mention is that the this translucent plastic isn't sticking together as tightly as you are used to Converge figures doing. The arms and V-fin for example like to come off quite easily. However, I have encountered no problems in having the figure keep a pose, so it is not really a concern.