Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Gundam Converge vol. 2

We're in the lull of November, impatiently waiting for the 100th figure anniversary of Gundam Converge. Seems like a good opportunity to fire up the wayback machine and take a closer look at one of the defining sets of the whole figure line. If Converge volume one was a promising start I can imagine there must have been quite the anticipation among the early followers. With set two Bandai fleshed out the range considerably, adding several interesting figures.

Volume two released in January 2011, a lifetime ago as far as these figures are concerned. The set tends to run very pricey nowadays, especially online. My best recommendation would be to attempt to collect the figures individually from here and there, rather than trying for complete sets that are offered for silly money. I'd actively consider going to Japan to dig around in Akihabara myself, rather than pony up the prices currently asked. As we shall see, several of these figures also exist as more recent reissues which are much better value for the casual Converge fan.

07 : Riding on the recent wave of Unicorn-mania it should come as no surprise that the RX-0 Unicorn Gundam (Unicorn Mode) got to be a set opener, and so here it is. The figure itself is nicely sculpted with a lot of detail. Of course, due to the all-white style of the RX-0 this detail gets a bit muted in the overall blandness of the paint scheme, but a couple of metallic joints and blue details save the figure from looking bit unfinished.

The Unicorn comes with a right hand which has a beam rifle molded into it, and a loose shield which can be pegged into the left arm. Articulation is limited to arms rotating at the shoulder as well as a rotating right hand wrist. The head however sits on a shaped peg and is locked into forward position only. Some of these Unicorn figures tend to lean forward on unsteady feet so unless you want to use the clear plastic support piece you may find that the beam rifle serves best as a crutch for the mobile suit to lean on. Overall the Unicorn for Converge is great looking, but not a personal favourite since I tend to attach to the colourful figures.

08 : And speaking of colourful, this brings us to the RGZ-95 ReZEL. Out of all the figures in volume 2, this is the only one not to have reappeared in a reissue (yet?). There are a couple of Converge figures that never seem to surface on the online second hand market, and this would be one of them. I actually picked this guy up in a shop in Tokyo, and it is the only time I have encountered it except when not sold in a complete set. What I am saying is: If you see it, grab it!

The ReZEL has a sort of Delta or even Hyaku-Shiki thing going for it, but in a very attractive blue and white livery. It comes with a large beam rifle, a sleek shield that attaches to the left underarm and a huge flightpack on its back. Again the figure has a shaped peg for the head so articulation is limited to the shoulders only, the right hand is molded directly onto the arm. Even though the backpack is quite large my figure has no issues standing upright unaided. I find the overall appearance of this figure excellent and if there was a STANDart version it would be really high on the wishlist.

09 : Moving on along the colour spectrum we stop at another spectacular figure, the RGM-89D Jegan (D-Type). This is a grunt-type unit not unlike the GM. Again here is a figure which -although it is mostly painted in a single colour- comes to life thanks to excellent sculpting and just the right amount of colourful details. The Jegan is armed with a stockybeam rifle and a nice two-colour shield.

Articulation wise this figure shares the very limited features of the ReZEL. The arms can rotate at the shoulders and that's it. The head again sits on one of those rectangular pegs, and the beam rifle weapon slots into the right hand which is a part of the arm. This is the only drawback I can find in the Jegan figure which is an absolute must have for the collection as far as I am concerned. Other Gundam fans appear to agree as the Jegan was one of the five figures that made it to the Operation Revive reissue-pack. The reissued figure comes in two versions; identical to this one in the standard Revive pack, and with an alternate bazooka weapon in the Revive Premium Edition pack (see a review of that set here).

10 : And here, of course, is the real looker of this set, the good ol' Zeta, or MSZ-006 Z-Gundam. There's not a whole lot I need to say about its general appearance, the pictures speak for themselves. An absolute stunner! I am still baffled that this figure didn't make it to the top five of the Operation Revive vote, especially considering who scarce it is, as well as the fact that there is only one other version of it, with a very different look to it.

While the reissued Zeta (Converge volume 11, June 2013) comes with one of those horribly named and over-the-top-weapons, the Hyper Mega Launcher, the original figure features its iconic beam rifle. Articulation (or the lack thereof) follows the spirit of Converge volume 2, head on a shaped peg, right hand molded directly onto the arm, only the shoulders rotate. Although the Zeta has unusually tiny feet the figure is well balanced and can extend the beam rifle forward without any stability issues. The only thing that bothers me slightly is that the face looks a bit like the hockey mask of Friday the 13th fame...

11 : You can't have a Gundam figure range and not put at least one MS-06 Zaku II in it. This very figure was the first in a line of green and red Zaku II:s, and the figure mold retained its features throughout the various reissues and variations (there is actually a whole slew of recent reviews on this guy for the intrepid reader...). All the Zaku II:s that appeared in Converge look great although this is (so far) the only one to feature this really light green colour. Articulation is limited to arms rotating at the shoulder, and a right hand which can be placed into the wrist socket at a preferred angle. The figure also has a cool feature where you can remove the helmet and adjust the facing of the monoeye by spinning a cylinder hidden under the helmet.

One thing that has still not been remedied is the fact that the Zaku II figure often suffers from slight deformation, typically giving it a bit of a slouching appearance. The figure often also tends to lean forward and it is not unusual that the legs are a bit warped so that the figure balances on very unsteady feet. You can see a hint of this phenomenon in the photos above, which is why I was even forced to dig out the support base and clip the legs into it, or otherwise the outstretched arm post would result in a nice faceplant. Still, of course, the Zaku II is irresistible to any Gundam collection, and that goes for Converge as well.

12 : The last of the regular figures in volume two is another stunner, and another icon of early Gundam. The menacing looking Zeon MS-07B Gouf. The figure shares several of its features with the Zaku II and also sports the removable helmet which allows for re-positioning of the monoeye. He is a also more steady on his feet than the Zaku II and I haven't seen any hints at the shortcomings in the Zaku mold here. This Gouf has been reissued once in a slightly different blue tone in the Operation Jaburo pack from December 2012.

Again, here is a figure that just looks amazing. There are so many nice touches to the mold and the two blue tones of the body armor bring forward more of the great details. Again we are back to the simple shoulders-only articulation, but the base pose is quite menacing, and the figure has no problems extending its blade forward without losing its balance. Another "must have" for the serious Converge collection. The Gouf Custom figures from Converge volume 9 are a worthy alternative if you find this figure difficult to obtain.

Secret : RX-0 Unicorn Gundam (Unicorn Mode) (Bazooka version). The secret versions of the first Converge sets aren't terribly interesting items and the secret Unicorn is no exception. You get the basic Unicorn figure with a new weapon hand, and that's it. Considering complex figures like the ReZEL and the Zaku I can't imagine it would have been that difficult to make the Unicorn's bazooka an optional part included with the standard figure.

There's not a whole lot to say about this figure other than the fact that it is exceptionally difficult to have it standing straight without toppling over the second the Bazooka is aimed anywhere than straight into the ground. Probably my least favourite secret version figure so far, absolutely not necessary unless you are a completist or the world's biggest Unicorn Bazooka fan.


Below you can see some of the figures from this set compared to more recent reissues. You may find those to be suitable replacements if the volume two figures prove difficult to source.

Both the Zaku II and the Gouf were reissued in the Operation Jaburo multipack which contained a total of eight figures. As you can clearly see in the image above, both were retouched with alternative colour variations, the Jaburo versions standing to the right of each Converge volume two figure. Other than that, the figures are identical in equipment and appearance.

The Zeta Gundam as it appears in Converge volume 2 (left) and in Converge volume 11 (right). The latter has some minor paintjob differences and also a head that can now rotate freely. The Jegan figure was reissued in the two Operation Revive packs (released February 2014). The standard version of the Revive box features a figure to all intents exactly the same as the original figure, whereas the Premium Edition of Operation Revive added the bazooka as an additional optional weapon.

Ahh, the Unicorn, spammed by Bandai like no other. The image above shows the standard Converge volume 2 figure with a beam rifle and the secret version with the bazooka. Number three is a slightly shiny pearl-coated version which was released in 2012 in a limited "Overseas Only" three-pack with the Jesta and the Delta Plus. The last figure comes from the Operation Revive Premium Edition pack, and is here armed with the optional Gatling Cannon (the original beam rifle is also included with this figure). The Operation Revive packs are a good source for the Unicorn figure if the original figure proves hard to find.

So, to summarize Converge volume 2, I must say this is a really fine set. A lot of both iconic and attractive figures are included here, the only drawback of course being the relative scarcity of some of these figures. Keep both eyes open and be ready to pounce like a puma when you discover them.