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.

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