Monday, 22 December 2014

Gundam Converge : Selection V

Converge veterans might remember the Converge 7-11 Selection set which was an exclusive set distributed through 7-11 stores in Japan. The set released in September 2011 and contained a total of six figures, out of which two were exclusive colour variations. Three years later comes the follow up, a new set of five figures aptly referred to as "Selection V". These figures were released in October 2014 -probably as a short run- because they have quickly become scarce and they certainly were not to be found in any of the 7-11 stores I passed through on a recent trip to Osaka this December.

The five figures in Selection V are all reissues of old figures, with a few subtle retouches. I had originally convinced myself that I was not going to pick these up (especially given the nonsense prices online) but my heart melted when I found the full set in a Japanese figure store (and perhaps it was something to cover my frustration on being unable to pick up a Marasai...) where they already commanded a nasty price of almost 7000 yen.

So, in the usual fashion, let's take a look at each individual figure:

The RX-78-2 Gundam is kind of the signature figure for the entire Converge line. Going all the way back to the start of the series, this figure was released as number 01 back in November 2010. The original figure is now very scarce although not too difficult to find if you are prepared to pay the price of admission.

There are a couple of interesting new aspects of this version of the figure. First, we have some new small touches like the model designation on the right shoulder pad and the E.F.S.F. logo on the shield. The shield itself can be pegged onto the figure's left wrist, but unlike pretty much all earlier Converge released, the peg sits on the figure's wrist and not as before, on the shield. I don't know what prompted Bandai to make this switch, if you don't want to equip the shield the figure will end up looking rather silly with a random peg on its arm. Also, some earlier versions of the RX-78-2 had a hole on its backpack where the shield could be stored when not in use, this is also not possible with the Selection V version.

The most interesting feature though, is that the figure comes loaded with a choice of weapon, a beam rifle or a bazooka. Both items are still molded directly onto the right hand, so you'll have to run with either of them. This is a great improvement, as the original figure was only equipped with a beam saber. There was also a "secret" version of the figure which was equipped with the bazooka. Bandai corrects this nonsense by placing both items in the same box, huge bonus point!

Articulation follows the Converge norm, the head can turn, the arms rotate at the shoulder and the right wrist can be rotated in its socket. Although a great version of the RX-78-2, it could have benefitted from the old shield mounts (compare to the RX-78 in the SP03 pack), and why not throw in a beam saber from the most recent version of the figure from Converge 16?

The second figure in the set is also an oldtimer. The RX-77-2 Guncannon was released as figure number 02 also in the very first Converge Volume 1 from November 2010. The figure was since reissued only once, in the Operation Jaburo multipack (released December 2012), which is also not that easy to obtain, so this a fairly different item to get hold off as well.

Again, there have been some minor revisions to the figure itself, we now have a model designation written on its chest, and the Gatling cannons in its helmet have been given a metallic colour instead of the original yellow. Equipment-wise, nothing has changed; the figure retains the same beam rifle as the previous versions. The beam rifle of the Guncannon is plugged into the right hand fist, which allows you to decide if you wish to equip it or not, I wish more Converge items featured this approach. As for articulation, the head sits between the two cannons, but the arms rotate at the shoulder, as does the right hand.

And with the risk of repeating myself, much of what I said about the Guncannon figure can be restated for the RX-75 Guntank. The figure first appeared in Converge Volume 1, as figure number 03, and it has since only been reissued once, in the previously mentioned Operation Jaburo multipack. While the Jaburo version received metallic style arms, this version goes back to the plastic looking grey arms from the original version. The model designation on the figure's chest is new for this version as well.

Due to its shape and form the Guntank features little articulation. Both the torso and the head sit on shaped pegs which prevent any side movement, but the arms rotate at the shoulder.

The last two figures in the set are each components for the modular G-P.A.R.T.S. Gundam support system. The first is a ground vehicle known as the G-Bull, which is a curious mix of tank and mobile suit. You can clearly see the arms and beam rifle of the RX-78-2 Gundam in combination with tank treads and a new body, with a tank front on one side and what resembles an aircraft cockpit in the opposite end.

The G-Bull figure was originally released in Converge Volume 11 in June 2013, and although this reissue is a simple reproduction it features some touching up on the paintwork, the standout recognition feature being the cockpit glass of the aircraft module painted a vibrant blue, where the original release figure was just the same ol' yellow as the rest of the plastic component. It is such a simple touch up but the effect cannot be understated, as this gives the figure an clean face. Articulation is limited to a pair of rotating spine-mounted cannons, but the figure also has another feature up its sleeve, which is described in the entry for the G-Sky below.

The last model featured in Selection V is the G-Sky, also a G-P.A.R.T.S. modular vehicle. Intended as a support fighter for the RX-78-2 Gundam, it is also intended to combine with parts of the mobile suit, although this is not possible in Converge figure line. The G-Sky was originally released in Converge Volume 12 in October 2013. This reissue is mostly identical to the original; its main revision is that the engine exhausts are now painted a nice metallic colour, where the original figure was blue all over. It is a simple yet effective correction that makes the miniature all the more realistic looking, and a very welcome change.

Although the G-Sky has no articulation as such, some parts of it can swap or rotate to alter the appearance, and this is used to construct a third G-P.A.R.T.S. module called the G-Fighter. The G-Fighter is not released as a separate figure, instead you can reuse parts of the G-Bull and the G-Sky to construct it. This is described in more detail in this dedicated blog entry. This reissue is an excellent opportunity for collectors to grab a second pair G-P.A.R.T.S. figures so that the G-Fighter can be displayed together with the G-Bull and the G-Sky.


Since all the figures in Selection V are reissues, a couple of comparisons are in order. The good news are that each figure is easy to tell apart from the earlier edition(s).

Some of the RX-78-2 Gundam figures released so far, from left to right: RX-78-2 from SP03 double-pack with Zeong, released February 2013. Silver-coated RX-78-2 from "Converge Limited" twin-pack with Char's Zaku II, released March 2014. The "Detail Up" RX-78-2 from Converge 16 released September 2014, and the latest RX-78-2 from Selection V.
The RX-77-2 Guncannon from Selection V( right) compared to the earlier figure released in the Operation Jaburo multipack from December 2012 (left). There is also a figure released back in November 2010 in Converge Volume 1 that I do not have available for comparison.
RX-75 Guntank as released in Converge Volume 1, November 2010 (left), with metallic finish on its arms from the Operation Jaburo multipack (December 2012) and the recent Selection V figure (right).
The G-Bull and the G-Sky figures compared with their less detailed earlier counterparts. The first G-Bull appeared in Converge Volume 11 in June 2013, and the first G-Sky appeared in Converge Volume 12 in October 2013.


So is Selection V a good set to pick up? I think it depends on where you are coming from. Although I hadn't expected much from this set I was positively surprised at the small tweaks to the figures which add a couple nice touches and improve a great deal on the original figures. And while Selection V is somewhat of a costly set (which will most likely climb in price as the months go by), this is actually very good value if you want to jumpstart a new collection, as it gives you a very good distribution of E.F.S.F. figures in one go. Remember also that some of the original figures have asking prices much higher than this total set.

For those who already have the figures in their collection, it will be a question of how complete you wish your collection to be. Although there is perhaps not any great incentive to go ahead and grab this lot, I think that if you do you will find them to be reasonable upgrades. If nothing else, grabbing individual figures (if you can find them) would be a good way to fill some of the holes in collections, and for those who mainly purchase figures as complete sets, this is a good opportunity to get a couple of extra G-P.A.R.T.S. figures to build a G-Fighter for display.

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