Friday, 12 June 2015

Gundam Converge EX05 / EX06 : Musha Gundam / Full Armor Knight Gundam

When Converge recently hit the 100 mark with the Turn X Gundam (released as part of Converge wave 17 back in December 2014) Bandai saw it fit to do a little celebration. Two special figures were introduced under a "100" logo and finally materialized as the EX05 and EX06 respectively. Released in May 2015 the jubilee might seem a bit stale half a year later, but the figures promise to make up for it. While the two figures are sold separately, we'll be covering both of them in this review.

Up to this point, the mobile suits presented in the Converge EX series seem to have been growing in size (and price) continuously, outsizing each other as they go along. With the Musha and Knight Gundam however, the figures have shrunk back to standard Converge size and the boxes are now even smaller than your typical Converge SP package. However, with a suggested retail price at ¥1400 they are still more than three times as pricey as your ordinary Converge figure.

You know the drill by now; a figure in a multi-compartment bag (in this case two bags per figure due to the unusually large count of accessories), and if your figure is sold in a market where Shokugan candy toys are the thing, bundled with the traditional Converge chewing gum.

Unlike the larger EX figures there are no assembly instructions included with these two, and there are also no instructions printed on the inside of the box, something we have seen with for e.g. the Assault Kingdom figures.

EX05 : Anyway, the first figure is the outlandish Musha Gundam, which is a fair representation of your average Giant Robot/Samurai crossbreed, leaving behind the seriousness of One Year Wars and Collateral Damage running into millions of innocent civilians. The Musha was built for a good fight, and that's exactly what it gets to do in the 1980:s manga Playmo-Kyoshiro, a comic centered on fights between custom-built plastic models, a concept very similar in tone to the Gundam Build Fighters show of more recent years. As such it has no allegiances or armies to back it up, in fact not even a pilot.

As the above illustration shows, the Musha Gundam is a fairly standard piece of Converge. If you've snapped one together before you will find no surprises here. It shines of course in the superb paint applications given to it. The great attention to detail reaches a level far beyond you average Converge figure, and this may well be the best painted figure of them all, rivaling even the Art of Gundam realtypes. As for articulation there are no surprises. You've got your basic Converge moving parts where you expect them, however the large armour quickly gets in the way if you try to wiggle the head or the arms more than just a little. The separately molded left hand is a nice touch, something more Converge figures really should have.

It is also highly unusual to see optional gear on a Converge figure. Rather, the trend is usually one accessory per figure. There are several examples where you end up having to buy two figures to get e.g. both the beam rifle and the beam saber. Good for sales volumes I'm sure, but I prefer somewhat pricier figures instead. The Musha however, is loaded with gear. We get a shiny katana (available both in sheath and brandished with an empty sheath), a crescent blade spear, a vintage looking Tanegashima gun and a large multi part shield.

Just like the weapons, the shield can be held in either hand, but it may also be attached to the figure's back. Clipped into place, you can then stow the spear and the rifle on the shield, using the small adapter pieces included with the figure. I would really have liked a little instruction on their intended uses, as I fumbled with these for quite some time and I'm still not sure I am using them as intended by the designers...

A more novel thing about the shield is the way in which it transforms, splitting in half and spreading what looks like wings. I presume this is some sort of support fighter thingy, but it really looks silly and there is no good way to display it anyway, so after snapping a photo I decided to forget about its gimmicky existence. Overall though, the Musha Gundam is an impressive eyecatcher which will liven up any collection.

EX06 : The second jubilee figure has a lot in common with the Musha. Also inspired by historical armor, the Full Armor Knight Gundam is another outrageous design based on medieval European warfare. It typically does so in the odd SD Gundam universe, which is home to tiny and extremely short super-deformed figures that make the Converge models appear tall.

The Knight Gundam feels even more like a regular Converge figure, with just one extra accessory to show for its EX status. That, and the superb paint applications of course, which are even more detailed than on the Musha.

The Knight Gundam features the same type of articulation as the Musha Gundam, giving you some flexibility in which weapon to wield, the fire sword or the knight's lance and shield. The lance can also be stored on the figure's back when not in use. As garish as the design is, with its angel-like wings and shiny equipment it still makes a reasonably interesting figure, fun for its outlandishness, but not really up to the style displayed by its samurai cousin.

The Musha and the Knight are pretty unique figures in the Converge line (although they will soon be joined by more novelties from the Gundam Build Fighters line), and as such probably do not appeal to all types of collectors. If you like whole concept of armored knights duking it out mobile suit style, these figures will probably be of interest to you. If not, well then these figures, as detailed as they are, are unlikely to sway your opinion either.

Personally I would rather have given these spots to a pair of super detailed Jagd Dogas, they would have been just the thing for a set like this. We also have the first two Converge CORE figures to look forward to, which are souped up reissues of traditional Gundams. First out are the 00 and the S Gundam later this summer, let's hope they pave the way for more lavish Converge figures at the detail level seen in the Knight and the Musha.

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