Thursday, 26 June 2014

Gundam Converge vol. 14

Gundam Converge appears to have entered some kind of golden age. That, or Bandai are ramping up the pressure to make way for other projects, but whatever the case, the product line is booming right now. Converge volume 14 released in April 2014 after a five month gap since the previous set, but it is already being tailed by volume 15 which released in June and volume sixteen is scheduled for August. Add to that the Revive package which was out in February and the usual scattering of limited and extra figures and it has been a busy first half of 2014. These are good times to be a Converge addict although at the moment it is hard to keep up.

Converge 14 is also interesting in that it is the first regular set where Bandai have chosen to do away with the traditional 6 + 1 limited figure and instead opting for a full seven figure set. This is definitely a welcome change as far as I am concerned, it is more fun to get seven different boxes. If volume 14 followed the typical pattern, one of the Jagd Dogas would have been a secret version, and that would just have frustrated people to no end. Job well done in this regard.

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!

87 : Opening the last box of this set we find the two Zeon support vehicles. Crammed in together are a DFA-03 Dopp atmospheric fighter and a HT-01B Mazella Attack tank (also commonly spelled as Magella). The Dopp fighter has quite the oversized cockpit and diminutive wings and fins, giving it a rather odd appearance. The brightly coloured tail fins are made from soft plastic with a propensity for bending, the same can be seen on the Mazella tank. Not sure if this can be corrected by immersing in hot water, I guess it beats the risk of having these parts breaking easily. Size-wise, the Dopp fighter is a little bit larger than the RB-79 Ball, and the tank is almost up to size with the G-Bull. The Dopp sits on the very same action base that was included with the RB-79 Ball, which explains why there are two arms on the base. Surprisingly, due to it being front heavy, the fighter doesn't really sit that well on the base and is prone to toppling. The tank's turret can also be removed from its chassis and placed as a fighter next to the Dopp on the action base. Overall, I'm not entirely convinced by these two models but they are a fun anomaly in the Converge line.

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.

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