Friday, 1 August 2014

Gundam Converge vol. 15

Converge 15 is here; the largest regular set ever to be featured in the Converge figure line. Although volume 14 was the first ever set to feature a total of seven distinct figures, volume fifteen ups the game by comprising a total of eight, though two of them feature as secret variations only. This is also the first time that a Converge set has contained more than one secret figure.

This is a good time to be a Converge collector. One might almost say it feels like the Converge Golden Age. Apart from the many recent special editions and limited sets, volume fifteen released in June 2014 hot on the heels of fourteen, just two months behind it. And now Bandai aims to release its successor already in August, only weeks away, so I'd better get on with the review already.

Above you can see the respective figures as they come packaged after they have been taken out of their respective multi-compartment plastic bags. For some reason I forgot to include the traditional chewing gum on the pictures of the figure 93 variants. I don't feel anxious enough to bother correcting it, gum-lovers rest assured though that it is still there...

88 : Opening the set in style is the posterboy for the Gundam Wing series; the XXXG-01W Wing Gundam. Considering how popular Wing has been across the pond from where the Japanese live, it is always good to see Bandai doing something that will sit well with the Wing fans as well. The Wing Gundam comes with its two signature items, the Buster Rifle and the Buster Shield. The shield can be pegged into a whole on the left arm while the rifle is molded into the figure's right hand as per Converge Standard. The wings are pegged into the back and are in a fixed position.

The XXXG-00W0 Wing Gundam Zero from Endless Waltz (Converge #57) compared to the new XXXG-01W Wing Gundam.
The figure features the typical Converge articulation, the arms rotate at the shoulders and the head can rotate 360 degrees. The right hand can also be swiveled at the wrist. The colour scheme is nice and vibrant just as it should be. Compared to the previous version of the Wing Gundam (the Endless Waltz-version from Converge volume 10) this figure feels much more iconic and eye-catching at that.

89 : The Wing goodies continue with the first ever appearance of an OZ Mobile Suit, and not surprisingly one of their most cherished designs, the OZ-00MS Tallgeese. Oh, how I wish that Bandai and FW will continue releasing more figures from this line. At the moment though, we've been rewarded with a very nice depiction of the Tallgeese in its original configuration. The distinct paint applications of red and yellow capture its style perfectly and the paint job on its shield is worthy of extra praise, (and if this could be accomplished with the Tallgeese, then why were the shields of the recent Jagd Dogas in single colour only?).

Apart from the shield the Tallgeese is equipped with its massive Dober Gun projectile weapon which has a very nice touch in the separate support piece which is plugged into the gun and then into the mobile suit's shoulder. Articulation is the standard rotating shoulder and head, but unlike most figures the right hand is molded directly onto the arm (since it would not be possible to rotate the wrist without severing the link between the gun and the shoulder anyway). This is one of those spectacular little figures that belongs in every Converge collection. Now, if the Tallgeese II or III also were to appear in Converge I would get all warm and fuzzy inside.

90 : We have another heavy-hitter in this set; the menacing looking MSZ-006 Zeta Plus. Considering the many variations of this mobile suit my best guess is that this is the space combat C1 version (which would also make sense considering that Fusion Works have already made a sculpt of this figure for the STANDart series). The figure itself is very finely detailed and a real work of art. When I received I found the figure's legs to be slightly warped but the little plastic stand was very helpful in correcting this. Since it snaps around the figure's ankles it acted as a clamp around the legs and allowed the figure to align itself nicely.

Family reunion. Some of the many Gundams developed in the Zeta project. From left to right: The Zeta Gundam (Converge #63), the new Zeta Plus, the Delta Gundam (Converge #59), the Delta Plus (Converge #29) and the Hyaku-Shiki (Converge #6).
The Zeta Gundam equips a traditional beam rifle and the funky looking shield which is an integral part of its Beam Smart Gun weapon system. It would have been great if the figure featured this weapon instead, something for Bandai to consider when it is time for a limited reissue or something(!). The figure features the standard head-, shoulder- and right wrist-articulation. I am really fond of the Delta/Zeta series and hope we will continue to see them pop up in the Converge line every now and then.

91 : Halfway into the set, but we still have five figures left to cover! First of these is the real grunt-type figure available in this set, it is the venerable GM which has been upgraded to a mobile artillery piece as the RGC-80 GM Cannon. A closer inspection of this figure compared to the standard GM will reveal several mold changes on the body as well as a new headsculpt. And that's not counting the large shoulder mounted artillery piece. This figure has a really attractive colour scheme with some nice asymmetrical paintjob on the torso, and it will look great next to your other E.F.F. army units. The GM has the typical three-point articulation, the shoulder-mounted cannon is fixed in place and cannot be tilted. The mobile suit also comes armed with a shield which pegs into the left arm and a small Beam Spray Gun molded into the right hand.

91 : Stumbling upon the first secret figure of this set we find ourselves with a second RGC-80 GM Cannon. After a little bit of research it was revealed to me that this is neither a different type of mobile suit, nor any particular ace pilot paintjob, it is simply the revised livery of the GM Cannon as it appears in the Zeta Gundam anime-series (during this process I also discovered that there are several other paintjobs available for this guy, including desert paint schemes and even a unique black machine belonging to ace-pilot Lydo Wolf). Apart from the different colours the two figures have no noticeable differences but they display well together and most army-builders ought to be happy with them. Again, if Bandai want to do some more variations of this figure I'd be happy to collect them...

GM family released in Converge. Top row, left to right: GM III (Converge #78), GM Custom (Converge #47), the standard GM Cannon. Bottom row, left to right: The secret GM Cannon, the GM Sniper Custom (Converge #55), the secret GM III in Desert Colours (Converge 78 again) and the good ol' GM itself (Converge 17).
The Converge GM line has been growing nicely, yet there remains much to be done. Here's hoping that Bandai and Fusion Works don't run out of steam and continue to develop this awesome little mobile suit.

92 : The funkiest figure in this set is unquestioningly the MS-12 Gigan, a Zeon take on the hot rod-concept. The original design (check the Gundam Wiki here) looks much more intimidating than this oddish bright red go-cart. It is an interesting design though I haven't yet finally decided whether I like it or not. Something of its character was lost in the transition to Converge-scale, though the figure itself is quite entertaining. Articulation is as limited as you would expect, you can rotate the arms at the shoulder, but everything else remains rigidly in place.

93 : The last figure of Converge volume 15 is the awesomely blue RX-79BD-1 Blue Destiny Unit 1. Perhaps not so well known this mobile suit is taken from the Sega Saturn console game Mobile Suit Gundam Side Story: The Blue Destiny. The RX-79BD-1 is first in a series of three mobile suits and is actually a reengineered Ground Type Gundam. This figure was also featured earlier in the STANDart series together with the white-coloured Unit 3 (hint: check my profile photo...). Apart from its unusual and in my opinion excellent colour scheme it is not that different from say the RX-97G or the Ez8. Blue Destiny Unit 1 comes equipped with a shield that fits on the left arm and a 100mm Machine Gun. Articulation is the standard head, shoulders and right-wrist.

93 : The last figure in the set is, again, the RX-79BD-1 Blue Destiny Unit 1, the second secret figure to appear in Converge volume 15. I was very surprised by this as I was pretty sure it was going to be the white-coloured Blue Destiny Unit 3 that would appear. Instead we get a variation of Unit 1 equipped with a Beam Saber. Notice also how its visor plate is now a glowing red. This is an indication that the mobile suit has activated its EXAM system, which in Gundam lore translates to a system designed to emulate Newtype-capabilities directly into the machine itself. This turns the figure even more awesome, and it matches the translucent beam saber very well.

As much as I like the two versions of the Blue Destiny Unit 1 figure I still can't help but feel that the secret figure is a bit of a letdown. In the early days of Converge this was typical; several of the first waves of figures featured a secret version which came equipped with a different weapon, say a bazooka instead of a beam rifle or so. However, as the product line matured we began to see more interesting secret figure encompassing different colour variations, mold changes and so on. It wouldn't have been too far-fetched to release the figure with an extra head and an extra weapon, which is all that differs between the two.

It is a minor nit-pick but with so many figures to collect it feels a bit redundant to end up with multiple figures of a unique mobile suit. Other than that, the Blue Destiny Unit 1 is a marvellous figure, and the secret version is (of course...) the more interesting of the two. If you are hesitant to get both, I'd advice you to go for the Beam Saber wielding one, as this is a much less common weapon loadout for a Converge figure.

In summary, Converge volume 15 is a great set. It features eight great figures (yes, even the Gigan is cool in its own peculiar way) in widespread styles and colour schemes, and I love how it dives deep into lesser known (or appreciated) Gundam series to pick up some really unusual mobile suits. Two thumbs up and let's see if Bandai can keep up this level of excellence with the soon to be released Converge 16.


  1. Ia there a way to tell the secret version from the box? does the image differ or the type?

    1. I have never found anything to indicate which figure is inside the box. There are no barcode differences, no stickers, no suspicious markings. It kind of makes sense, as it would be more expensive for Bandai to manufacture two variations of the box and that would defeat the purpose of making it a secret. Your best bet to buying secret versions is going online, where most sellers will let you know what exactly you are buying. This always puzzled me; most sellers offer complete sets including both variants, but I never saw any obvious tampering with the boxes. My best guess is they have a slick way of dissolving the glue (acetone, heat?) and then reseal the boxes after having taken a look inside. That, or Bandai do offer complete sets to resellers.

  2. Resellers can tell because Converge is sold to them by the distributor in 10-packs (the large boxes), which usually come in two flavors. Let's say we have 6 units A, B, C, D, E, F, and secret version F*. The boxes will either contain all 7 + A B C, or all 7 + D E F. If the former, the reseller can easily assemble a complete 7-set. If the latter, the position of the secret unit (relative to others in the box) is known ahead of time and decided by the distributor. The positions of the small boxes is always the same, unless someone has tampered with the configuration specified by the distributor. This also explains why the "secret" versions are more rare and sometimes cost more when bought individually. For every 2 boxes there are 3 of every unit but only 2 of the secret.

    1. Wow, that is very informative, thank you very much. This would also mean that you are pretty much guaranteed to obtain a complete set when buying a 10-box, something I have always wondered about since Japanese resellers usually put in disclaimers about this in their item descriptions.

  3. The Zeta Plus from this set is the A1 Variant for atmospheric battle. It has a different crotch piece and weapon choice compared to the C1 variant (which is represented in the EX04 release). This particular color seems similar to the one found in one of the Unicorn Gundam episodes

    1. Agreed, the recent Universal Unit kits were also a good insight into the subtle differences between the two. There are a lot of these stumbling-in-the-dark moments in the blog history. Kind of scary how quickly that has changed... :)