Monday, 19 January 2015

Gundam Converge vol. 17

Gundam Converge volume seventeen hit the shelves in Japan just in time before Christmas 2014. Although several more figures have been released, with this set Converge received its hundreth numbered regular figure, an event Bandai have also seen fit to commermorate with an announced special release of two super detailed Converge figures (the Musha Gundam and Knight Gundam) which are scheduled for release in May 2015. For its part, volume 17 got some small jubilee markings on the boxes as you can see above.

Indeed, Converge has come a long way. In roughly four years time, the series have managed to see released some 175 figures (where a lot of them are variants though), and there is no sign of any slowdown. With the seventeenth set, focus again lies on After War Gundam X which received two new designs, but the big focus here is on Turn A Gundam which gets no less than four new figures. As with Converge 16, the line-up is trailed by a Revival figure, but the set deviates from the norm in that it contains two secret figures instead of the usual single one.

99 : First in the set, and a first for Converge, is the System ∀-99 Turn A Gundam from the anime with the same name. It is in all respects an alternate timeline RX-78-2 with some rounded features and a V-fin that has slipped down from the forehead and onto its mouth. It is a cool little figure with lots of detail and shiny eyes hidden deep inside. I would think Turn A fans will be very pleased with this figure and it is a nice departure from the typical angular Gundam styles we've seen over the years.

The Turn A comes with the typical Converge articulation, which means the head will rotate, as will the arms at the shoulders. The right hand will turn at the wrist, and both the rifle and shield are optional equipment, which is a nice feature.

100 : So, here he is, the much lauded hundredth figure of Gundam Converge. The honours have befallen the Concept X 6-1-2 Turn X, which has also been fetched from Turn A Gundam. An unexpected choice for a jubilee figure perhaps, but there you go. The Turn X is the natural rival of the Turn A so it seems fitting that they are released together.

In terms of figure complexity, the Turn X is an ambitious engineering project and it comes with a load of optional parts. This is quite unusual for Converge figures and shows that Bandai really wanted this figure to be a bit special. The figure features two optional right hands (a.k.a. "Destruction Manipulator"...), with its beam saber like Beam Emitter in deployed or deactivated configuration. The figure also has a large backpack (a.k.a. "Carapace Weapon Platform") featuring no less than four alternate weapons, all of which can be equipped in the figure's left hand.

The articulation follows Converge standard practice with a rotating head and shoulders, but with the backpack attached the head has nowhere to turn since it is locked in place by the pack. Overall this is an awesome piece of engineering, but the overall aesthetic design could have been much better. The Turn X figure does not look menacing or powerful at all, it more resembles a shy rabbit glancing down to the floor in silence, and the tiny little weapons end up looking very underpowered. With a better appearance this could have been one of the best figures ever released in Converge, now I find it to sit in the "meh..." category.

101 : Next in line is the GX-9901-DX Gundam Double X, which -unsurprisingly- is an improved version of the Gundam X which we saw in Converge sixteen. It is a very meaty design with lots of things going on. It is armed with a large Buster Rifle and a removable shield, and stores two Satellite Cannons on its back. Unlike the Gundam X, the Double X has its rifle molded directly onto the hand, so it is not possible to make it wield a Satellite Cannon (or two; imagine if Bandai had given the figure two open hands for that purpose). However, there are two slots in the shoulder pads, where the Satellite Cannons can be attached when deployed.

The figure has all the expected articulation points at neck, shoulders and right hand wrist. It also features the same gimmick as several other Converge Gundams that were released with support fighters; the ability to combine two figures into one. The support craft is of course the G-Falcon, as shown below.

102 : Completing the Double X Gundam is this fighter-like GS-9900 G-Falcon craft. It follows the tradition of pairing a Gundam with a support unit which it can also combine with the main mobile suit to increase its performance.

Apart from being a graceful and lively coloured fighter on its own, the G-Falcon can also work together with several Gundams. However for Converge it has been designed as a complement for the Double X figure only. According to Gundam X lore, the G-Falcon is used to power up the Gundam's two Satellite Cannons.

To transform the two pair required a bit of fiddling around and there isn't much in the way of instructions. You can see from a tiny picture on the back of the box that these two figures combine somehow, but there is no step by step guide included. Well, since there was an extra part included with the G-Falcon (which was not used in the assembly of the model) I knew it was involved somehow, but it took me some effort to figure out just what I was supposed to do. Basically, you remove the front section of the G-Falcon and then carefully split it in two. You discard the larger section with the small wings and instead attach the canopy section onto the leftover piece. Next, you carefully remove the little breastplate from the Double X Gundam -you can now attach the front of the G-Falcon onto the Gundam's chest.

The whole contraption is a bit fiddly and the G-Falcon section did not attach very well to the back of the Double X figure. Thanks to the transparent stand though, they can simply stand behind each other. Overall, I feel this is more of a gimmick than a nice display. I will certainly not grab duplicate figures because I doubt I will bother with this combo again. 

103 : At the far end of this set we have a pair of Zeon design to spice things up. Slot 103 is held by the AMX-109 Capule which originally featured in ZZ Gundam and was later carried over to Unicorn as well. It is a chunky amphibious mobile suit which is a descendant of the mighty Hy-gogg. This is one of those outlandish designs that just look even odder when compacted into the Converge mini-figure format, and I have a very soft spot for such figures...

There's not a whole lot going on with the Capule figure. Due to its special body shap the articulation is limited to arms only, and unless you want to clip its legs into the clear stand, the large and heavy claws will easily tip the Capule over unless you let at least one hand dig into the fround for support. My figure also has some slightly warped legs, which makes it less stable. For the Zeon amphibious lovers though, this is a definitive must-have.

Secret : And here we have the first of the two secret figures of Converge 17. Appearing as a simple colour variation, this particular design is actually referred to as the AMX-109 Kapool, and it has been lifted straight into the Turn A Gundam universe with this new designation. Here it instead fights for the Inglessa Militia rather than Zeon.

As you can see there are no design changes between the Capule and the Kapool, two names for the same thing. Always nice to have a second grunt type unit in the collection though, shouldn't be too hard to display this together with the typically green coloured Zeon mobile suits.

The image above compares the Capule/Kapool to its ancestors, the MSM-03 Gogg (Converge 7, May 2012) and the MSM-03C Hy-gogg (Volume 10, released April 2013).

48R : The very last figure is the revival figure of the set. Bandai here continues resurrecting old figures from the Converge line. The choice for the second figure to be released was a little surprising, considering that the MS-05B Zaku I hasn't exactly become very rare, and the Converge version was one of the blandest figures ever released in the line. Considering that the revival version of Char's custom Zaku II featured a bonus weapon I had high hopes that Bandai were going to upgrade the Zaku I figure into something awesome as well. Unfortunately, they let us all down in that regard.

Can it be clearer than in the above picture? The reissued Zaku I is exactly as bland and unexciting as the original. It is one of few Converge figures to feature no accessories, not a single weapon, not even a shield. In Gundam lore, the Zaku I has appeared with rifles, heat hawks, spiked shields and bazookas, just take a look at how the same mobile suit appears in the FW Ultimate Operation figure line:

It wouldn't have been difficult for Bandai and FW to do a Zaku I equipped with the shield and machine gun, because the original figure also came out as a secret version in the Black Tri-Star colour scheme. That particular figure had these accessories, so it was merely a fact of setting them up for a colour change. I am surprised that Bandai weren't prepared to go that extra mile; it could easily have been one of the better Zeon figures in the series.

Brothers in arms? The original Zaku I from Converge volume 8 on the left, with the reissue on the right.
This revival figure is a huge disappointment not only because it features absolutely nothing new. The colour scheme also does not have any distinguishing features from the original release, so if you mix them up you'll most likely not be able to tell them apart.

Secret : The second secret figure in Converge 17 is yet another colour variation, and it is the newly reissued Zaku I that gets the honours. At the first glance it appears to be some sort of Zeon Black Tri-Star thingy? Wrong. Just like with the Capule, this is actually a Zaku I from the alternate Turn A Gundam timeline, where it goes by the name MS-05 Borjarnon (Gavane Goonny Custom).

Well, secret figure and all; as you can see this figure isn't all that exciting either. Poor Gavanne doesn't get any weapons in the alternate universe either, it seems. Oh, and too bad for all Converge lovers who were hoping for a reissue of the very hard to find Black Tri-Star Zaku I, this reissue won't do anything for you.

Converge Zaku I line up, from left to right. The original Zaku I (Converge volume 8, October 2012) together with its secret Black Tri-Star version armed with machine gun and shield. Next came the awesome MS-05L Zaku I Sniper Type in Converge 13, released in December 2013. And lastly the two new figures from Converge 17.


Going in, I didn't have very high expectations for Converge 17, mostly because I don't feel that strongly about the designs coming out of the X and Turn A series. The individual figures though are (as always) top notch, however the two secret figures feel kind of wasted. The thing that bothered me the most though, was the lousy new version of the Zaku I, which crushed the hopes that the revival series would be upgrading the old figures.

Now, considering that volume 18 will feature not one but two reissued figures (and who knows, perhaps a secret alternate colour version or two), my expectations will be set even lower. Converge 18 is the first set I am not really looking forward to.


  1. I agree the Zaku 1 is quite disappointing, no weapons or shield, I'm quite surprised that they didn't make an effort to improve this one.

  2. Thanks for the awesome review! I was excited for this set because I'm a big fan of the Turn A Gundam design, created by legendary industrial designer Syd Mead (Blade Runner, Alien, Tron). Sucks to hear about the rest of the set though. Looks like I'll just be picking up him and the Capule. I didn't know the Black Tri-Star Zaku I in my collection was so hard to find! It's one of my favs!