Saturday, 26 September 2015

Gundam Converge CORE 002 : MSA-0011 "S" Gundam

If you have followed the recent Bandai announcements on Converge you will no doubt have been plastered with news about the recent CORE series they've been touting. CORE, or Converge Re-definition, is a brand new concept for Converge designed to milk your mon... to present you with highly detailed and improved variations of the regular Converge figures (although the latest installment also promises some brand new design).

The first two CORE releases appeared in August 2015 and here we will take a look at one of them, the redefined Superior Gundam, which was released once before as a regular Converge figure back in December 2013.

The figure is delivered in a rather large and anonymous looking brown cardboard box. Inside it however, we find the actual packaging for this figure:

That's right... we're paying good money for a lot of air.

I'm not sure exactly what Bandai were thinking here. The ol' trick of "the bigger the box, the more we can ask our customers to pay" doesn't seem to apply here. Perhaps they are going for a standardized CORE outer protective box. Whichever the reason it feels rather silly.

Once inside things start to look familiar again. We have the bog standard Converge plastic bag containing the figure and somewhat surprisingly we also get the iconic Converge chewing gum.

I realize I have been droning a lot about the packaging rather than the figure, itself, but there is, in all earnest, not a great deal to say about it. It is a repainted bog-standard "S" Gundam, with a very basic parts count:

To make this review a bit more interesting we will toss in the original "S" Gundam figure from Converge 13 for some closer comparison. The original figure was priced at ¥400 while the redefined figure sells at ¥1400, so what exactly is it we are paying an additional 1000 yen for here?

I was under the impression that the CORE figures would be featuring some kickass paint job and/or decals, but as you can see in the following pictures, the "improvements" are subtle at best.

Yes the new colour scheme is a bit toned down and stylish, yes there are a few parts that now feature multiple colours where the original figure was less detailed (look at the shoulders and the hands for example). However, with the recent The Art of Gundam figures fresh in mind, I can't say that the CORE "S" Gundam is that impressive.

I sincerely hope the "S" Gundam is not indicative of the level of detail on the other planned CORE figures, because at this price level I would really like to see some more bang for the buck. The "S" Gundam figure itself is awesome, but at the prices it is currently going for, only the Converge die-hard fanatics need apply.

Converge "S" Gundam Family: MSA-0011 "S" Gundam from Converge vol. 13 (December 2013), the basic mode of the MSA-0011 (Bst) PLAN303E Deep Striker (Converge EX03, released June 2014) and the new redefined MSA-0011 "S" Gundam (CORE 002).

Monday, 7 September 2015

Unifive Stardust Memory Collection : 08. RGC-83 GM Cannon II

In today's entry we are going to examine something new for the blog. I stumbled across a new (well, a rather old...) figure produced by Unifive in 1999, and immediately saw its potential interest to 1/220-scale collectors. The Unifive Mobile Suit Gundam 0083 Stardust Memory 1/220 Scale Full Color Mobile Suit Collection (or Stardust Memory Collection as we will refer to it here) appears to be a short-lived prepainted figure collection released in time for the 20th Gundam franchise anniversary. Compared to other figures reviewed on the blog these are mostly similar to the FW Ultimate Operation series which appeared a couple years later in 2003.

Similar to FWUO figures, the Stardust Memory Collection figures come carded like traditional action figures. Each figure has a collector's number and the back of the card shows all figures (well... more on that later) released in its wave. To my knowledge, there has been two different waves and possibly some reissues since I've seen some cardback differences between similar figures.

As you can see, the figure I got my hands on is the RGM-83C GM Cannon II, which makes its debut in the Stardust Memory anime like most of the figures contained in this collection. Although we have seen a few Stardust Memory figures in other related figure lines, none of them come even close to the variety encountered here, which makes this a very interesting figure series if you are looking to complete your 1/220 figure line.

So what about the actual figure? Well, the cardback claim that this is a "Super detailed" figure might be a bit overenthusiastic, as all Stardust Memory figures I've seen are a bit blocky and bulky looking. In the case of the GM Cannon II though, it happens to suit this particular mobile suit very well. The material appears to be some soft ABC plastic, quite similar to the FW Ultimate Operation figure series. The articulation though, is completely different. The GM Cannon II has what could best be described as dangling arms and legs. When you lift it by the torso the extremities will swing around in their sockets. The range of movement is not overly impressive though, but it offers a few minor variations compared to the more rigid figure we normally see in this scale. The arms do a full 360 at the shoulder as well as a gentle wiggle forward and back, and the legs have a little bit of forward, backward and sideways movement, as well as rotating in their sockets.

Notice that both hands are designed to hold a weapon or other accessory. On the left wrist we can also see a rather oversized peg for attaching a shield. If you paid attention to the previous photos though you will see that no such gear is present; the figure comes with two shoulder cannons that attach to the back and that's it. I suppose the idea was to let the Stardust Memory figures be able to swap gear with each other, but this still feels a bit cheap and unimpressive. The 1/400 scale RGC-80 from Gundam Collection, for example, came with both a shield and different weapons to equip, a poor effort from Unifive. Other figures in this range appear to suffer from similar problems. The GP02 Gundam Physalis for example, comes with a beefy shield but has neither a bazooka nor a beam saber... kind of a weak effort.

The Stardust Memory figures are advertised as 1/220 scale, which places them at the same approximate size as figures in the STANDart, Ultimate Operation and Assault Kingdom ranges, offering a nice expansion of available mobile suits. The RGC-83 is flanked here by a RGM-79SC GM Sniper Custom (STANDart volume 5) and a RGM-79C GM Type C (Desert Colors) from FW Ultimate Operation vol. 1.

As far as I know, a total of twelve basic mobile suits were produced, with a number of additional variations on top. The figures appear in two waves of eight figures each, yet individual figure numbering seems to suggest there are actually a few more variations available. According to the cardbacks though, each wave is comprised of six different mobile suits plus two alternative configurations. Below is a list of all known mobile suits from the Unifive Stardust Memory set:

Wave 1 (1999)
RX-78GP01 Gundam "Zephyrantes"
RGM-79 Powered GM
MS-06F-2 Zaku II (two different variations)
RX-78GP02 Gundam "Physalis"
RGM-79N GM Custom (possibly two different variations)
RGM-79C GM Type C (two or three variations)

Wave 2 (1999)
RX-78GP01Fb Gundam "Zephyrantes Fullburnern"
RGC-83 GM Cannon II
MF-14F Gelgoog Marine
MF-14Fs Gelgoog Marine (Cima Custom)
RX-78GP03S Gundam "Dendrobium Stamen" (a clear version also exists)
AGX-04 Gerbera-Tetra
MS-09F/TROP Dom Tropen (two different variations)

If you have Unifive Stardust Memory figures and are interested in trading them you can check the For Trade page here on the blog.