Thursday, 28 August 2014

Gundam STANDart volume 21

Mission briefing.

1) Stop reading. Immediately.
2) Locate a full STANDart 21 set at your favourite dealer.
3) Purchase said set.
4) You may now continue reading, if you so desire.

The STANDart series has been around since the end of the 2007, slowly building its strength with a couple of sets per year. While the early figures came in large multi-compartment boxes and sometimes with optional gear, the series soon found its characteristic style in the smaller boxes. The many details were scaled down a little bit from the early releases but are now slowly being brought back again. STANDart 21, released in August 2014, is a mighty fine collection and if it does not manage to stir your interest, chances are this series never will.

The previous releases this year, although very nice production-wise, did feel a bit lackluster in the content area. With STANDart 21 though, we get both awesome mobile suits and excellent execution. With this set Bandai also plugs some very important holes in the mobile suit inventory, and the introduction of a damaged Gundam is both novel and superbly done.

Right... opening the boxes we discover that the Exia and the Zaku I come pretty much fully assembled, as per STANDart norm. Plug in the handle bar on the Zaku machine gun and you are good to go. The two Rick Dias suits require some more minor assembly, due to their bulky features and oversized bazookas. I was very surprised to see extra left hands for both of them; a real novelty as far as STANDart is concerned. I'll return to this later as we go through the set figure by figure.

80 : The set-opener is the magnificent GN-001RE Gundam Exia Repair. There are at least two further stages of repair, commonly referred to as Repair II and III respectively. This version is clearly the most interesting, as the beat up Exia is in a terrible mess. The left arm is gone and replaced by a cloak like camouflage sheet. This is a massive plastic piece with some slight colour variations in green and black. I was a bit skeptical about this when the figure was announced but I have to admit that it looks really great. There are many other nice features on this figure, from the cracked face and broken V-fin, to the busted GN Sword. And as you look you'll continue to find many other small pieces in need of repair. This is a really fantastic sculpt.

Celestial Beings, from left to right: GNT-0000 QAN[T] (from STANDart volume 10, July 2011), the Exia Repair and the GN-0000 00 Gundam (from STANDart 7, August 10). The 00 Gundam is decked out with the GN-Sword III additional components from the Dengeki Hobby Magazine "0 Raiser + GN-Sword III" accessory pack, released October 2010.
The Exia Repair is something really unique in the STANDart collection, and it contrasts well with all the other showy Gundams. Recently we've seen beat up Kshatriyas entering the Converge and Assault Kingdom lines, so it seems only natural that we would get a damaged figure in STANDart as well. Articulation-wise, it doesn't do much. You can rotate the head from side to side and the right arm can be rotated at the shoulder. You can also wiggle the cloak a little bit but this is a really static display piece.

81 : From the flashy Exia we dive deeply into the history of Mobile Suit development and land on the truly vintage Zaku I (Black Tri-Star Type) bad boy. The Zaku I is quite a rare bird overall, we've seen a version in the Ultimate Operation line (which I am aching to purchase since a long time by the way) but this is the first time it crops up in STANDart. Converge have been commendable in releasing no less than three types so far.

Zeon dominators: High mobility type Black Tri-Star Zaku II (STANDart volume 10, July 2011), the new Black Tri-Star Zaku I and the Rick Dom from STANDart volume 11, released October 2011. Notice the distinct lack of red-painted monoeyes in all versions.
Now, there is one thing you can do to buff up interest in a mobile suit, paint it black, purple and white in the Tri-Star colours and people will flock to it. I am hoping this will be the case for our STANDart figure too, because it really is a great collection piece. I love the asymmetric look of the Zaku I and the many small touches in the paint job is awesome. The only mystifying aspect of this figure is why Bandai have chosen not to give it a bright red monoeye. This follows the same aesthetic as the other Zakus, Goufs, DOMs and what have you, but I always wondered why. The very first STANDart Zaku II (from volume 1) even featured two heads, one with a lit up monoeye and one without, so clearly this is something that has bothered the designers a great deal.

82 : Halfway through the set, as any STANDart veteran knows, this means we're up for the two colour variations of a single mobile suit. Fortunately, for yours truly, Bandai have picked one of my absolute favourite designs. Because barging in on spot eighty-two is the massive RMS-099 Rick Dias (Red Color). You really have to hold this figure in your hand to feel its commanding presence. This is a bulky and sturdy design with a lot of plastic weight behind it. An imposing suit armed to the teeth with a Clay Bazooka and a pair of Beam Pistols stowed on its backpack rack.

The new STANDart Rick Dias (right) compared to the old Ultimate Operation Rick Dias from FWUO Plus 1, released September 2005. Hopefully we can add an Assault Kingdom figure to this comparison shot soon.
Articulation wise, this figure has multiple joints on its arms, reminiscent of an Ultimate Operation figure. Apart from the regular rotating shoulder socket, there are plugs that can spin underneath the shoulder path, twisting the arm left and right, and the wrists are also rotatable. The large bazooka weapon however, means that you won't get that much movement out of the right arm. The head is fixed in place, being a part of the torso mould. The big novelty here is the interchangeable left hands. Apart from the closed fist there is a gripping hand, which you can leave open or attempt to place a Beam Pistol inside. This is only partially successful, because the hand sculpt really isn't made to fit the Beam Pistol. This is the only clear drawback of the figure.

83 : Continuing on to the last figure, unsurprisingly we discover the RMS-099 Rick Dias (Dark Gray Color) in the last slot of the set. I don't know from where Bandai got the idea of dark gray, the figure clearly has a navy blue tone and in the manga it seemed to be pretty much all black. Interestingly the Converge and HCM Pro figure were both blackish, while the old Ultimate Operation figure was also dark blue. And I can't wait to see what the rumoured Assault Kingdom figure will look like. Although both STANDart figures are the same except for the paint job, you can see the alternate hand with a Beam Pistol dangling from its fingers in some of the shots above. It really does not seem that the hands were designed for this purpose, which makes the optional hand even more mysterious. All things considered though, still an awesome figure and I am so please that Bandai stayed true to form and gave us both the black and red versions of the Rick Dias.

Black, blue, gray, whatever you wish to call them, they are still awesome. From left to right: The blue Rick Dias from FWUO Plus 1 (September 2005), the new STANDart Rick Dias and a mighty black Rick Dias from the HCM Pro line, also released in 2005.
So, in conclusion, if this somehow was not immediately clear from the above, STANDart 21 is an absolute corker and the best set to come out of the series since, hmm.... I'd say 17. If you have ever considered going into the STANDart series, now's the time!

Size comparison: The Exia Repair stands about 8.5 cm tall, the Zaku I comes in at about 8 cm and the Rick Dias' fins reach around 10 centimeters.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Gundam Converge : Dengeki Hobby Char's Zaku II

Tell you what; let's just get this whole red comet Zaku II thing over with. I've dug out the ol' Zaku II that came with the August 2011 issue of Dengeki Hobby Magazine. We've had a couple of Converge figures released like this over the years, apart from Char here we've also seen a couple of Unicorns. We've also featured the STANDart O Raiser accessory which was released in a box similar to these.

So, what is the deal with the Zaku II that accompanies the magazine? Is it really something you would want to have in your Converge collection or is it one of those tired re-packs?

Well, actually, when Dengeki released Char's MS-06S Commander Type Zaku II there existed no such figure in the regular Converge Line. The regular green MS-06 Zaku II had been featured in Converge volume 2 released in January the same year, so I imagine this would have been a really hot item at the time.

Apart from being repainted, this figure also introduced the Commander Type antenna into the sculpt. Now, of course, Char's red Zaku II was only months away from release in the regular figure line, but when it appeared in Converge volume 5 in November, three months after this figure, it sported a Zaku type Bazooka instead. I'd love to do a comparison but the regular figure with the bazooka is hopelessly difficult to find today, plus I am not yet inclined to pay the $40-60 that is typically requested when it does pop up.

So, that was a little back story. Taking a look at the figure itself it is, as you can see, a decidedly awesome little thing. It's two tone red paint scheme is most similar to the figure in Assault Kingdom line, but between all the various red Zaku II:s I have I'd say this one has the least difference between the two reds. The figure features the typical Converge Zaku II articulation; arms rotate at the shoulder but the head is fixed forward.

The helmet is removable so that you can fiddle around with the monoeye, but it really looks best staring straight ahead. As you can see in the image above I have two of these figures, and the first one which I bought loose was in a tragic deformed state. So, be careful when purchasing these things, if you are not sure you are buying it sealed in box you may want to see an actual photo of the item first. Perhaps this figure can be straightened out in hot water; I haven't yet bothered to try.

Now, if you are considering picking up this figure you should also consider the 2014 re-release. The new figure has a glossy metallic paint job but is otherwise the same. The new version was released in a "limited" double pack with a silver-coloured RX-78-2 in March 2014, check out the review of that double pack here. Basically it boils down to which style you prefer. Stay tuned also for the straight reissue of the Zaku II with the Bazooka, which will pop up in Converge volume 16 later this autumn.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Gundam Converge SP Real Type

Is imagination at Bandai HQ dipping into a seasonal low, or is this just a coincidence where multiple projects completed at the same time? Whichever the case, we've just received a second Gundam / Zaku II double pack only months after the previous "limited" set.

The SP Real Type box set is actually an item tied to a recent Gundam-related event held in Osaka during a couple of weeks in July and August 2014. The name of the exhibition is "The Art of Gundam" and ties in with the Gundam saga marking its 35th anniversary. Visitors could view among other things pre-production artwork and concept sketches and just marvel in the rich background material.

Of course, no Gundam event would be complete without some hot merchandise, and several exclusive items and snacks were being launched for the event. Among other things there were a High Grade set featuring a pair of Zaku II:s, another featuring the RX-78-2, then it ranged down to postcards and pens and somewhere in the middle us Converge fans were treated to a brand new figure set.

Perhaps "brand new" is a bit of an overstatement, but what we do find inside the box are two of the most iconic figures in a brand new paint job, the so called Real Type colour set. As you can see in the pictures, this is the most detailed markings we've seen on a Converge figure as of yet, and whether this is a onetime thing or an indication of better things to come we can only speculate at this point. I can't help but think of the "Master Marking" figures in the now somnolent HCM Pro figure line, were mobile suits reappeared with many more detailed stickers.

What is perhaps a tad bit strange is that we've now seen two sets featuring the RX-78-2 only a few months before its scheduled relaunch with improved detail. The new RX-78-2 will be featured in Converge 16 which is scheduled for September 2014 (and I can't imagine a tuned up Zaku II would be far behind). Perhaps Bandai are cleaning out the closet of old projects before bringing in the new figure, but it just seems odd that they would not want to take advantage of the new mould for these sets. Then again, the Art of Gundam exhibition will return again next year, then held in Tokyo, perhaps we will be seeing a new version of this set...

Side to side comparison of the Real Type Gundam as it appeared in the Operation Jaburo box set (released in December 2012) and the new SP Real Type set.
Anyway, the two new figures are really, really good looking. I find the Real Type Zaku II to be the best of the lot so far released, and the RX-78-2 is also pretty slick. The new toned down colour scheme gives both of them a much more "realistic" appearance than the brighter painted figures we've seen before. That doesn't mean that the Real Type figures are clearly superior, but it is a welcome change to see them in this more muted colours.

The new figure features more painted details, toned down colours and a slightly different colour scheme.
As for the figures themselves, they hold no other surprises. They feature the same old weapons and the same old articulation that we have seen on countless figures before them. The Gundam can turn its head sideways, the arms rotate at the shoulder and the right hand can be spun at the wrist. The Zaku II mimics these moves save for the head which is fixed in place.

So are the Real Type figures a good addition to your collection? Well, if you are not sick of RX-78-2:s and Zaku II:s at this point (face it, you will never be...) these are nice distinct variations, especially the Zaku II. Be wary of the price though. These items began popping up online shortly after the exhibition opened, and at that point it was nerve wracking not knowing if these were to be a few figures scavenged and resold, or if they were to be easily available. Before long though, the figures appeared new in box with several sellers, however the prices still didn't drop much. Expect to pay a princely sum for these figures, so if you want them I wouldn't hesitate for too long. They might be relaunched for the Art of Gundam exhibition in 2015, or they might not, we can only speculate about it at this point.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Gundam Converge Limited : Gundam vs. Zaku II

Right, this will be one of those short reviews. We'll be taking a look at yet another "limited" repaint set, with the underwhelming title "Gundam Converge Limited", a highly imaginative name that it now shares with at least two prior sets.

The set we are looking at is yet another "versus set" pitting the grandfather RX-78-2 Gundam versus the delightfully red MS-06S Zaku II piloted by everyone's favourite ace Char Aznable. It was released in March 2014 and if it was marking any special occasion it is beyond my knowledge. Before we continue, I'll just insert a little image of the two "limited (for overseas only)" sets which preceded it.

Now, I don't know just exactly how limited these sets are, but as far as "overseas only" goes, these were distributed widely in Asia, ending up with the regular sellers in Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea. One thing is certain though, none of these three sets were featured in the Gundam Converge Complete Book, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that there were driven domestic sellers who managed to secure stocks to distribute domestically as well.

Be that as it may, let's take a closer look at the set at hand. Unless you are very new to Gundam Converge you will quickly recognize the two figures included in the set, each has had countless appearances over the history of Converge. The selling point this time is that they are painted in a shiny metallic finish.

As for equipment, there is nothing new here, this is familiar territory from older figures. However, while there have been several Gundams with the Beam Rifle and Shield configuration before, it is worth pointing out that this is the second only appearance of Char's red Zaku II holding the iconic Zaku Machine Gun. The only other time this was featured was on the special limited figure that came with the Dengeki Hobby Magazine back in August 2011.

The figures come in two plastic bags of the same type you would expect to find in the boxes for the single figures. If you have snapped together a Converge figure before this will be completed in a jiffy.

The new silvery-coating of the RX-78-2 Gundam is a really nice variation on the theme, though I wouldn't recommend it over one in the classic white finish, there's a little bit too much Saturday Night Fever about this guy. They look great together though, and can be seen as a bit of collection filler. The Gundam retains the typical articulation of rotating head, shoulders and right hand. The shield can be pegged into a hole on the left wrist only. I've noticed that recent Converge figures become more and more deformed. You can see my Gundam tilting its head and torso slightly to the left, this type of imperfection seems to be more common in the recent figures, perhaps the plastic used has been altered a bit.

Looking at the MS-06S Zaku II, in my opinion it stands to benefit more from this upgrade. The previous Machine Gun version seemed more pink than red, here the metallic touch makes the figure look more like a machine and less like a toy. The figure has very limited articulation, you can rotate the arms at the shoulders, and the right hand can be spun around at the wrist. Converge Zaku II figures sometimes tend to have problems standing upright, I've had a couple which lean forward or had a deformed leg. This particular figure though performed well beyond the call of duty, although you can still see a slight lean of the head, this time to the right.

RX-78 Gundam evolution. from left to right: The classic RX-78-2, here represented by the figure from set SP03, the G3 Gundam from Converge volume 4 (actually the secret version of figure number 21), the Real Type-colour Gundam from the Operation Jaburo box set (a revised Real Type was just reissued, review is coming), the white/violet G3 Gundam included with the Gundam Converge Complete Book, and finally the new RX-78-2 as released in the 2014 limited set.
Alternate versions of figures are always the most fun when you compare them to each other, so here are a couple of family shots of the two.

Zaku II chronology (still missing Char's original figure from volume 5, gaaahhh...) from left to right: The standard MS-06 Zaku II (figure 11 from volume 2), Garma's Custom MS-06SF (which is the secret version of figure 31, the original Char's Zaku II from volume 5), Char's Zaku II as limited companion to the Dengeki Hobby magazine August 2011 issue, a darker colour green Zaku II from the Operation Jaburo set and finally the recent Zaku II from the limited set.
If you are thinking about getting this set it is worth pointing out that there is a brand new mould for the RX-78-2 heading our way. In fact, the figure will be relaunched in higher detail in Converge volume 16 which is set for release this autumn. Not only that, but Char's Zaku II will also be re-issued in the same set. His Zaku II will not be upgraded though, it will simply be a revival of a figure which has been unavailable for a long time now. Char's Bazooka-armed Zaku II was originally released in Converge volume 5 back in November 2011. If you don't want multiple versions of these figures you may want to consider going for the new figures once they are released.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Mobile Suits Gundam Ultimate Operation 8

Alright, it is time to set the time machine for December 2004, we are about to take a look on the eighth set of the FW Ultimate Operation series. It took me quite some time to finally locate the missing figure and I'm really glad I did, as this set is one of the more awesome ones, in my humble opinion of course.

With just five figures, like many of the later sets, volume 8 stands a good chance of being completed. Especially so when compared to the early sets which can feature twice as many figures. However, I've noticed a distinct scarcity of pretty much all of the figures in the volume. Perhaps not surprising, given how iconic most of them are. The Kämpfer can prove to be a tough nut to crack, as can the Z'Goks. The Gundam and the Gouf aren't particularly easy finds either. However, once they do pop up, they don't seem to command any exceptionally high prices but tend to follow the average. This usually means somewhere between $10 and $25 depending on seller. Patience can be a virtue when it comes to finding FWUO figures.

Anyhow, as you can see, FWUO 8 is very heavy on the Zeon side, and how! Four out of five figures and each and every figure in the set clearly stands out from the others. All of these figures are a true feast for the eye. Let's take a closer look at each one of them.

RX-78NT-1 Alex : The only non-Zeonic figure in this set is the Gundam Alex. Compared to many other Gundams this figure has a sort of clean and simple design that I find quite attractive. It looks utilitarian in the extreme. With a simple BOWA beam rifle, weathered paint application and many decals really make it look like a proper line unit almost like an air force unit. Beautiful detail overall, and a striking paint scheme, though nitpickers will worry about paint bleed in areas such as the left wrist (made you look) and a few other places. Somewhat surprisingly, the signature Gatling guns are not customizable on this figure; you will get it with the left arm-gun extended and the right arm-gun stowed. Articulation features are the typical rotating head, spinning waist and arms rotating both at the shoulder and underneath it. As usual I do not recommend fiddling with the articulation too much, as the joints on FWUO figures tend to get loose quickly.

MS-18E Kämpfer : It is hard to elect a favourite in this set but the Kämpfer sure comes close. Awesome paintjob and sculpt, and the way all its little thrusters are lit up is just excellent. There is so much going on in this sculpt, the true dynamism that only FWUO stands for. Like all Ultimate Operation figures though, the Kämpfer is a bit lacking in the weapons department, carrying only a single shotgun. The articulation in the arms, head and waist follow the basic FWUO standard and in this case does a reasonable job of allowing the mobile suit to grip its shotgun with both hands. You will probably experience some balancing issues with this figure though, as its feet are very small. It won't take much to topple the Kämpfer and this is something I wish Fusion Works would have addressed before releasing this otherwise awesome mobile suit.

MSM-07S Z'Gok (Char's Customized) : The Z'Gok is one of those figures you just know will be featured whenever they invent a new figure line. A true mainstay it is somewhat surprising that it took FW one and a half years to finally include it in the UO line. Here we have it now, in two versions. The first one is the epitome red commander type Z'Gok used by ace pilot Char Aznable. Next to the white RX-78-2 and a green Zaku II this seems to be the third most likely figure to pop up. The figure comes with a total of three claws, two closed and one open. In this case I chose to leave the two closed claws in place as I don't want to fiddle around with the joints too much. Apart from the paint job it shares all other features with the camouflaged version so keep reading below.

MSM-07 Z'Gok (Camouflage) :This mobile suit is a good example of the novelties about the Ultimate Operation line that I miss in the other figure lines we review here on the blog. This striking paint job just oozes character. Bandai released three aquatic units in this colour scheme (the Hy-Gogg and the Gogg being the other two) and I can't wait to find the third to be able to display them together. Just like Char's Z'Gok you get three claws with this figure. An interesting twist is how they chose to display the figures differently in the packaging, look again at the pictures of the packages below, notice how this figure is displayed with the open claw, a nice if somewhat unnecessary touch. Both Z'Goks come with a rotating waist and the arms spin at the shoulder. The eye is painted in place though, which will limit the amount of poses you can get out of these figures.

MS-07H-8 Gouf Flight Type : The last figure in this set was also the last one for me to find. And it is a really cool mobile suit at that. Just look at that awesome paintjob with the smooth weathering and red standout detail. Excellent! The pose is captured as if in mid-flight, but the Gouf still stands up well without any balance issues. You can display the figure with or without the Gatling shield. You remove the right hand and snap the shield into place on the wrist and in the wrist socket (a hand is molded directly onto it). Without the shield you still have the triple barrel wrist gun in place. Articulation is found in a rotating head and waist, as well as arms rotating at the shoulder as well as underneath.


Although I don't have all the relevant figures for a full set of comparisons, we can still take a quick look at some of them here:

Starting with the Z-Gok, there were a total of three of them released in the Ultimate Operation line. Apart from the two figures in this set this figure reappeared with a new colour scheme in the special set known as Mobile Suits Operation Plus - U.C. 0079, one of the last sets ever in the line. It featured reissues of an RX-78-2 and five iconic Zeon units, in this case the Z'Gok in the traditional blue livery that we are so used to seeing in other sets.

Since we are on the topic of Z'Goks, let's just do a quick comparison between the lines. Above you can see one of the two highly detailed Z'Goks from STANDart (volume 9, released March 2011), the FWUO-style variant and lastly the fully articulated Z'Gok from Assault Kingdom (volume 4, released January 2014). Each figure clearly brings its own pros and cons.

Let's also take a look at the three types of Gouf units that were released in FW Ultimate Operation. From left to right are the Gouf Custom from Ultimate Operation volume 2 (released June 2003) and the sword-wielding Gouf from U.C.0079 (which in turn was a reissue of a figure from volume 5, so the figure first appeared in April 2004). Both two early versions featured some colour variations while the Flight Type only ever was released in set 8.

I would have loved to compare the Kämpfer to the one released in the STANDart series, but I suspect it will be quite some time before I (if ever) manage to lay my hands on that elusive figure.

In conclusion, Mobile Suits Gundam volume 8 is a tremendous set; well worth seeking out for all FWUO aficionados. Also remember that these figures display very well together with STANDart and Assault Kingdom and can spice up any such collection.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Gundam Converge EX 02 : Full Armor Unicorn Gundam (Awake Mode)

We are going to remain in the Converge line a little while longer, since the backlog is starting to really add up by now. I had originally planned to do more "old" reviews in between the new sets coming out but I really need to catch up with the recent releases first. So... we'll be taking a closer look at yet one of the recent Unicorn-related figures that have been booming as of late, and a fully equipped one at that.

Converge EX 02 is the second in a new line of more exclusive models in the EX line. This version of the Unicorn was released in March 2014 and retailed at 1800 yen. It is worth noting that EX 01, the Kshatriya, sold at ¥1500, and that the EX 03, the Deep Striker, which followed in June sold at a whopping ¥2400. I'm not sure I appreciate this trend...

Anyway, opening up this sucker you will find that traditional multi-compartment plastic bags filled with accessories, a quick assembly instruction as well as the traditional chewing gum.

As you can see the figure itself is already pretty much assembled, plug in the V-fin and the backpack and you are done. Next you are left with a number of optionals with which to fiddle around to construct one of two suggested displays (or anything else you feel you can come up with, for that matter). Unlike with the Kshatriya I did not feel any urge to buy two kits so that I could display one of each version, since the two variants didn't feel interesting enough to warrant simultaneous display.

Configuration 1 : Docked

The first display option involves the RX-0 Unicorn parked in its dock. The base figure is stripped from all weapons and back pack and is standing in front of its dock. You assemble the docking stand from the four grey parts and this then acts as equipment-storage with several pegs where you will place all the remaining accessories.

All the pieces in the box will be used to create this diorama although I personally opted to remove the backpack from the figure which seemed to make more sense:

The docked Unicorn is a very simple and elegant way to display the mobile suit. The equipment acts as a nice backdrop and the figure itself remains clean and balances well with the background. Of the two suggested ways to display the figure this is by far my favourite.

Configuration 2 - Fully equipped

The second preconfigured display is to load up the Unicorn with all the equipment you can muster. Again, you can use all but one of the pieces to complete this display (hats off to the Bandai and Fusion Works engineering teams) though it made more sense to also leave off the beam rifle from this display, as it got very cramped to place it next to the Beam Gatling Shield. Come on; you have four Beam Gatling Cannons, surely you can skip the Beam Rifle... So, this is the way I chose to present it below.

Basically the figure consists of three parts. The loaded up figure itself, the extended backpack which now stores booster tanks, a couple of bazookas and a third shield with two more Beam Gatling Cannons. The grey pieces which made up the dock in configuration one now instead act as a base for the figure to stand on.

Then you simply plug the extended backpack into a hole in the figure's back and place it to rest on top of the action base.

The end result is a truly massive figure completely dwarfed by its equipment. While ingeniously constructed I still feel that this method of display is a bit underwhelming. It feels very busy and not exactly dynamic.

However, it is worth pointing out that you don't have to use the action base to display this version of the Unicorn. The large booster packs on its back of course make it too heavy to be able to stand on its own, but... if you happen to have another version of the Unicorn in your collection, specifically the one from the SP02 box (a double pack featuring the Destroy Mode Gundam and the Sinanju), then you can use this stand to display the figure really nicely like so:

In my opinion this makes the figure display much better and it would have been great to have this basic clear stand included in the package.

Freeform display

The most fun to be had from the EX02 Unicorn though, is to fiddle around with all its options. The base figure can use all of the accessories as normal hand held weapons, with no need for the flight pack or the stand. You can simply display the RX-0 with your favourite weapons without standing out too much from the other figures in your Converge collection.

This is the absolute highlight of the EX 02 figure; there is just so much you can do with it. A truly definitive version of the RX-0 (and there have been quite a few by now).

Some of the major variations of the RX-0 Unicorn Gundam as it has appeared in Converge over the years. Several more variations exist. From left to right: The basic RX-0 Unicorn in Unicorn Mode, armed with a Beam Magnum rifle (Converge #7), armed with a Bazooka (secret version of Converge #7), armed with a single Beam Gatling cannon (from the Operation Revive Premium Set), the Destroy Mode Unicorn (from multipack SP 02) and lastly the new Awake Mode Unicorn (EX 02).
I should also point out a few of the differences between the Awake Mode Unicorn as compared to the previous Destroy Mode Unicorn, since there is a bit more than first meets the eye. My initial reaction was that this would be a simple repaint of the Destroy Mode Unicorn but there are a couple of notable differences in the mold.

The new Awake Mode Unicorn (EX 02) compared to its older counterpart the Destroy Mode Unicorn (from multipack SP 02, released August 2012).
While the new Awake Mode Unicorn comes with "empty hands" that can accept either the Beam Magnum Rifle or the giant Hyper Beam Javelin in either. The Destroy Mode Unicorn however features the traditional Converge hands, meaning the right hand is molded directly onto the Beam Magnum rifle, and the left hand is a closed fist. Thus you will not be able to equip any of the weapons from the EX 02 set with this figure. Similarly, the Destroy Mode Unicorn only has a hole on its left arm for the placement of a Gatling Shield. The Awake Mode Unicorn has holes in both of its arms which allow you to customize shield placement. Neither figure can place a shield on its backpack.

Now, the most troublesome thing is the fact that the hands of the Awake Mode Unicorn are not separate parts and molded directly onto the arms. Almost all the Converge figures have at least a removable right hand, so I figured I could replace the right hand of the older figure with the one from the new figure, so that it could equip other weapon types. Bad move. I nearly tore off the figure's hand before I realized it was not possible. Exercise caution.

All in all though, the EX 02 is a successful figure. It is a bit expensive, and although most of its action base will probably remain in the box the basic figure will always find a good spot in my display.