Sunday, 23 August 2015

Gundam Converge : Operation Revive (Overseas Edition)

There are some busy bees there, over at Bandai Asia headquarters. No sooner was the SP Unicorn box set out the door than an even bigger box sneaks out on the market. And a new Operation Revive set no less. You'd think this is something they would like to market very aggressively, seeing as how it contains a couple of now really hard to find figures. But with this being another "overseas only" edition, it is not even hinted at on the official Bandai Shokugan website, hopefully the Japanese collectors are still on top of these news.

As some readers will remember, the original Operation Revive box set was the result of a competition on the Bandai website, were users were instructed to root for the figures they would like to see reissued. Polls were held over a couple of months as the selection shrank down to the top five most wanted figures (don't take my word for it, I haven't heard any confirmation from any OSCE spokesman on these election results...). To bait collectors who already had these figures the decision was made to plonk a brand new Hi-Nu Gundam in the box just to make sure no one shied away from purchasing the set.

So, does the original poll have any bearing on the contents of this new follow-up set? Probably not, since the Qan[T] was not released for the first time two months after the original Operation Revive set. The box art hints at some sort of voting results, perhaps there has been a related event held by Bandai Namco Asia Co., Ltd. Maybe an enlightened reader of this blog can share some more information with us.

The first Operation Revive box set which released in February 2014 was shortly followed by a "Premium Edition" (I can't remember if this was a Bandai web shop exclusive but it wouldn't surprise me) which featured the very same six figures plus an extra bag of optional gear for the five reissued figures. There are no such luxuries to be found in the "Overseas Edition" box, and I highly doubt that they will make a premium version of this package, since Bandai would have to be insane to create new parts and only distribute them outside of Japan. Of course one can speculate that there will be a Premium version of this parcel sold only in Japan, through their own shop for example. Such a nefarious agenda wouldn't surprise me in the slightest. :)

Anyway, at the core of this box is a set of Gundam reissues, six to be precise. There are several interesting figures in here, especially the very hard to find Zeta from Converge volume 2. The Hi-Nu Gundam amusingly reprises its role from the original Operation Revive release, although it has received a metallic coat this time. Upgraded paint applications are pretty much a hallmark of Bandai Overseas reissues, but in this box it is only the Hi-Nu Gundam that received this restyling. All a matter of money in the end I suppose.

Let's take a look at the mobile suits included with Operation Revive:

Right. Let's start with the exclusive figure of this package, the RX-93-v2 Hi-Nu Gundam (Pearl Color Version). Although highly reminiscent of the standard colour edition this figure was one of the two reasons that I decided to grab this set, the other reason was that the fact that I think the box art is really good. And speaking of the box art; I find it pretty surprising that nowhere on the packaging is there a photo of the actual model. On the original Revive box it covered the whole front, here it has been reduced to a line drawing on the back side, Bandai obviously must have expected their customers to be highly familiar with this figure. A very odd way of marketing.

As you can see from the parts included we get a fairly standard Converge setup here. Articulated head and shoulders, but with an optional beam rifle and booster tanks (it won't make much sense displaying the figure without the rifle though). The wings sit on shaped pegs which help keep them in place but also offer no display variations.

Here is the original Operation Revive figure (left) compared to the upgraded Pearl Color Version (right). The reissue is definitely a marked improvement although the original figure still looks good.

#1. If we are to believe the box-art, the XXXG-00W0 Wing Gundam Zero (Endless Waltz Version) was the most requested figure to be reissued this time. While it is a pretty spectacular Converge figure the whole Wing franchise rarely seems to get that much attention which perhaps explains why we haven't seen any of the other outlandish designs from that series.

The Wing Zero is one of few Converge figures to come in two plastic bags, the large soft wings being packed separately. As you can see from these images the wings are made from soft plastic which makes them durable if a bit unruly, finicky collectors will need to work the plastic into the shape they want it. Another unusual thing about this figure is that the two rifles are separated from the hands, so you can choose to display the Gundam with or without ordnance.

Here the Revive Wing Gundam (right) is posed next to the original figure #57 (left) from Converge Volume 10 (released in April 2013). As you can see they are as good as identical (the wings are bendable as mentioned before).

And a family photo. The original Endless Waltz version (Converge 57, volume 10, released April 2013) next to the XXXG-01W Wing Gundam (Converge 88, volume 15, released June 2014) and the new Converge Revive XXXG-00W0 Wing Gundam Zero (EW Version).

#2. Next up in this popularity contest is the GNT-0000 00 Qan[T]. Now this figure, in typical Celestial Being fashion, is quite spectacular with its translucent parts and striking colours. The original figure appeared in April 2014, it would seem odd for it to have become a rarity already, but it is something I am not up to date with.

The Qan[T] has the typical Converge articulation with a head and shoulders that rotate, and a wrist that also spins in its socket. The large shield is attached to the backpack using a connector piece and has a fixed placement.

The original version of the Qan[T] (left) is a perfect match with its Operation Revive successor (right). Did they even have time to take this mobile suit out of production?

Selected Celestial Being family members from left to right. GN-001 Gundam Exia (this has since been reissued twice) from the very first volume of Converge (figure 04, released in November 2010), the GN-0000 00 Gundam from Converge volume 9 (figure 51, released December 2012), the GNT-0000 00 Qan[T] from Converge volume 14 (figure 81, released April 2014) and the GNR-010 0 Raiser support craft which also appeared in Converge volume 9 (and can be combined with the 00 Gundam figure).

#3. I would have expected the MSZ-006 Z-Gundam to be one of the most sought after Converge figures. It is a very rare sight, and was released such a long time ago that it is definitely ripe for a reissue. If people miss one of the figures in this set, i would expect it to be this one.

Parts-wise there is not a whole lot going on with the Zeta. It is interesting that it offers an optional rifle, which was rarely the case with those early designs. It is also a fact that this is the figure that gives Jason Voorhees a cameo in Gundam Converge...

The Zeta has been given a faithful reissue virtually identical to the original edition (left) from Converge volume 2, released all the way back in January 2011.

Converge Zeta line-up. Apart from the original volume 2 Zeta (left) and the Operation Revive reissue (right) we also have the figure from Converge volume 11 (center), armed with the impossibly named "Hyper Mega Launcher", which appeared in June 2013. Yet another Zeta is bound to hit the shelves any day now, coming in a twin pack with the The-O, this picture will eventually be updated to reflect this release as well.

#4. Moving on down the line, we get an appearance by the RX-0[N] Unicorn Gundam 02 Banshee Norn (Unicorn Mode). I find the Banshee and the Banshee Norns much more interesting than the Unicorn, but it seems to be only moderately embraced by the toymakers.

The Banshee Norn features the typical late Converge articulation, a head and shoulders that rotate, and a right hand with a weapon molded onto it, which can spin in its socket. The only major design flaw with this figure is that the shield is only able to attach to the back pack. Why we couldn't get a socket on the right arm I cannot really understand. Enterprising owners might want to try drilling a hole themselves... maybe something I can do to tell the figure apart from its ancestor...

Again the Operation Revive version (right) is identical to the original release (left) which appeared in Converge volume 10 in April 2013 (together with the Wing reviewed above).
And here is the Banshee line-up to date. The first Unicorn Mode RX-0 Banshee appeared as a promo item with the Dengeki Hobby Magazine in the July 2012 issue. The Destroy Mode Banshee was just released two months earlier as part of Converge volume 7 (figure 39, released May 2012). Next up was the original release of the Banshee Norn in Converge volume 10 (figure 58, released April 2013). Then come this summer's two "Overseas" edition figures; the Banshee Norn from this Operation Revive package and last the Awake Mode Banshee from the SP Unicorn box set. Both "Overseas" editions appeared in August 2015.

#5. Ah yes, a Converge review apparently cannot be complete without at least one Unicorn in it. Luckily, the last figure in this set is the RX-0 Unicorn Gundam (Unicorn Mode), probably one of the most heavily produced Converge minis ever. I find it very unlikely that a panel would have voted for more Unicorns but here we stand again, face to face.

If you were hoping for anything exciting in this figure, look again. The same old boring parts, the same tricky to insert horn, although this time the figure is only leaning forward moderately so that it manages to stay on its feet rather nicely (a quirk which is otherwise quite common in this figure, there's a reason I point the beam rifle into the ground when posing it...). The beam rifle appears to be a much darker tone than in previous releases which may serve as a point of identification.

Unicorn Mode RX-0s from left to right: Basic figure from converge volume 2 (released January 2011), secret bazooka-wielding version from the same set, a pearl coated Unicorn (the best version of this figure) which came as a bonus item with the Dengeki Hobby Magazine in December 2011 (a promo item for the UC3 movie), another pearl coated Unicorn (with less painted details than the UC3 version) from the "Converge Limited" Overseas Only Triple Pack (released in 2012), a Unicorn armed with a gatling cannon from the original Operation Revive Premium Edition (released in March 2014) and lastly the beam rifle equipped Unicorn from the Operation Revive Overseas edition.
Not counting the Destroy Mode versions (of which there are currently four), we now have a total of six Unicorn Mode RX-0s released in Converge (seven if you count the original two Operation Revive boxes as separate) and this is the fourth time we get the beam rifle version (fifth if you didn't get the Premium Edition of Operation Revive) and I'm really running out of steam in going over this figure one more time. Suffice it to say it is as faithfully modelled as it is uninteresting to look at.


So, is this Operation Revive box set a good investment? For the seasoned collector; probably not. If you are just new to Converge you will find a lot of good figures in this set to help build your collection, but I would assume most people looking at this set already own most of the figures in some version or other. Apparently some sellers are seeing things the same way, and are splitting up the boxes and selling the mobile suits separately. This would probably be a good way to fill up holes in more complete collections, seeing as the Operation Revive figures are almost identical to the first batch (only the Unicorn Gundam appears to have a slightly differently coloured beam rifle).

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