Saturday, 17 October 2015

Gundam Converge CORE 001 : GN-0000 00 Gundam + GNR-010 0 Raiser

The format of this review will have a lot in common with the recently posted review of  the CORE 002 S-Gundam, which perhaps isn't that surprising given that the two figures have some things in common, these anonymous brown boxes for example...

...and just like with the S-Gundam, the outer box is wasting a lot of space on trains, planes and automobiles as freight forwarders all over Asia stuff their vehicles full of Bandai air.

Still, the 00 Gundam box is slightly larger than that of the S-Gundam. I am honestly a bit curious if the CORE 003 set (which will feature a trio of the Gundam, Guncannon and Guntank) will manage to fill out the box entirely. My guess is no.

Alright, joking about packaging done, let's actually take a look at the figure in question. Actually, I should say figures, since CORE 001 is a repackaging of two older figures and given the Converge Re-definition make over.

This set was released in August 2015 as a Bandai web shop exclusive item with quite a hefty price tag of ¥2000, fifty percent more expensive than the CORE 002 S-Gundam but then again here you actually get two Converge figures in the box. For comparison, a regular Converge figure sells at around ¥400.

Inside the box we find two bags of parts (unsurprisingly the same type of bags as used with the original figures) as well as a little assembly instruction sheet. The latter is very handy and I can honestly not remember having got one with the original figure(s), unfortunately I am too lazy to get up and dig around in the box storage so I'll just leave it at that...

As you can see each figure is made up of about half a dozen components which are easily snapped together forming the following two figures.

GN-0000 00 Gundam

This is the base mobile suit. It is a typical Converge figure with very limited articulation found at the shoulders and the right wrist only. The figure retains the basic colour scheme from the original release, although the colours are now a bit subdued, and features two minor detail additions to the paintjob. It is hardly Earth-shattering work.

A comparison of the original 00 Gundam (left), released as figure 51 in Converge volume 9 back in December 2012 and the recent CORE upgrade (right).

GNR-010 0 Raiser

The companion 0 Raiser figure doesn't introduce anything unusual either. The blue colour is toned down to match the new 00 Gundam and we have the 00 logo and a couple of white lines added on the wings which is a nice touch although it doesn't alter the appearance that much. In fairness though, I do like the upgraded 0 Raiser quite a bit more than the 00 Gundam.

Comparison of the original 0 Raiser (left) and the upgraded CORE 001 version (right). The original figure appeared together with the 00 Gundam in Converge volume 9, as figure number 52.
GN-0000 00 Gundam + GNR-010 0 Raiser

Of course the most interesting aspect of these two figures is the fact that they combine. There have been a number of Converge figures which pair up to create alternate designs, typically Support Fighters merging with their parent Gundams. This is accomplished by picking apart the 0 Raiser figure, and then removing the two GN Drives (the white cones, that is...) from its shoulders and sticking the 0 Raiser wings in their place. The fuselage is then attached to the mobile suit's back and snapped in place.

Lastly (or should I say optionally) you remove the GN Sword from the figure's hand and place the larger sword from the 0 Raiser in its place. The result is quite striking. The logos and stripes from the respective two figures add up nicely to create a more pleasing whole. I should point out that the original figures could also do this same transformation.

Converge Celestial Being family from left to right: GNR-010 0 Raiser support craft (Converge volume 9 as mentioned before), the GN-001 Gundam Exia (this particular version with metallic paint is from the Converge Limited double pack released in 2011), the GNT-0000 00 Qan[T] from Converge volume 14 (released in April 2014), the original GN-0000 00 Gundam from volume 9 again, and lastly the GN-0000 00 Gundam + GNR-010 0 Raiser combo from CORE 001.


As readers of the CORE S-Gundam review probably remember, I was less than enthusiastic about that figure. Not because the figure in itself was bad, far from it, it is a brilliant piece of Converge just as this set, but I do retain my reservations about the price point.

If you are a MSG 00 fan, and you don't have a 00 Gundam in your collection, then this is a no-brainer. Go grab this set before it turns rare (as Converge items have a nasty habit of doing), you won't be disappointed with the figures. And it will most likely be even more difficult and expensive trying to locate the two original figures, especially as several sellers like to sell them as a pair.

If you already have the original figures the recommendation will not be so clear, just remember that if you decide to skip on these figures only to come back later to try and find them, you will most likely turn up empty-handed. Personally I like to have both pairs so that I can display them side by side as separate and combined figures.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Gundam Converge : Custom Crew

No review today but instead a little diversion. My friend Marcin has been helping me to expand the Converge roster with a few new designs. We did not bother with any actual parts conversion and just stuck with the basic figures as such. Hope you'll enjoy this look at what he created.

AMX-109 Kapool (Corin Nander Custom)

Corin Nander's bizarre red Kapool from Turn A is the first custom unit, repainted from the basic AMX-109 Capule figure. This custom unit features a darker more gritty looking colour scheme and of course does away with the gigantic rocket fist.

The blue AMX-109 Capule belongs in the Universal Century timeline while the green rebranded AMX-109 Kapool (as well as Corin Nander's custom) hail from the Correct Century.

RX-79[G] Gundam Ground Type (Desert Colours)

The limited production Ground Type Gundam was stationed in several locations across the globe. Although the majority were used in Southeast Asia, some operated in other environments, such as this particular unit, which was stationed in the dusty steppes of Central Asia.

The signature NFHI GMCa-type.09/180mm cannon is a trusted friend for the RX-79[G].

MSA-099 Rick Dias (Delphi Squad)

The A.E.U.G. Delphi Squad operates a slightly beefed up version of the base RMS-099 Rick Dias known as the MSA-099. Its most notable feature is an extra pair of binders attached to the forearms, though this particular custom unit has not yet been refitted with those.

The Converge Rick Dias figure comes in two colours; the basic figure is red, and it also features a secret version which is black.
MS-09G Dwadge

The Dwadge is a further development and the final version of the classic MS-09B Dom. Among other upgrades, it features additional fuel tanks to power its hover jets as well as improved sand filters.

With the seemingly endless supply of interesting colour schemes and custom paint jobs, more Custom Converge figures are bound to appear on the blog in the future. :)

Friday, 9 October 2015

Bigger is better...?

Today Bandai shared some news in regard to their new Assault Kingdom releases. As mentioned earlier, the giant Psycho Gundam is scheduled to be released at the end of this year, followed by two other smaller yet still imposing EX-figures; the Qubeley and the Hyaku-Shiki complete with a DODAI and Hyper-Mega Launcher.

Today's news also introduced some of the current projects being planned/evaluated. As you can see from the published images, plans exist for another behemoth, the NZ-000 Queen Mansa, as well as a beefy Full Armor ZZ Gundam with Mega Rider.

Small wonder that we see so few regular Assault Kingdom figures when a lot of effort seems to go into this type of projects. In my opinion it somehow defeats the purpose of why we have Assault Kingdom in the first place. Are the AK figures going to start competing for attention with the regular Gunpla kits now?

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Assault Kingdom vol. 9

It has taken an unusually long time for the AK9 review to hit the blog. Volume nine appeared already in late July, but it isn't until now that I have finally managed to get my hands on a complete set. Unlike previous sets, set nine has had a very low presence online, when it showed up it was typically piecemeal or in the distribution style ten-boxes. Some sellers that did offer sets would also only include one of the two Kämpfers.

At times the waiting was coloured by a bit of anxiety. Could Bandai be changing their distribution deals, were prices going up too much for distributors to bother, could it even be the end of the line? I am still not fully convinced that the Assault Kingdom series is doing well enough to avoid being axed; with only two regular figure sets this year (this being the second) and a couple of expensive special figures, it does look a bit grim.

Anyway, here we are finally, with a set of entertaining figures to examine. My figures came from a seller in Hong Kong and as such they contain no Bandai chewing gum which seems to be par for the course for items distributed outside of Japan these days.

33 : First out is the titular mobile suit of the oddly titled anime Reconguista in G, the YG-111 G-Self. This is also the first appearance of a mobile suit from this series. As you can see from its appearance it has quite a bit of both Universal Century and Cosmic Era in its bloodlines. It is a nicely painted figure, more painted detail than I would normally expect from an Assault Kingdom figure, notice especially the pattern on its feet.

The figure comes armed with a beam rifle, a shield and one of the many backpacks it utilizes in the series, the Atmospheric Pack. Other accessories include two sets of hands and the now standardized Assault Kingdom multi part action base. Although the inventory is quite good it would have been nice to get at least one beam saber/toothpick with the figure.

The Atmospheric Pack attaches to the G-Self's back through a simple but sturdy peg. The backpack wings can be folded 90 degrees and the engines can be titled up and down for some additional posing.

Since Assault Kingdom figures with back packs tend to get rather back heavy the action base comes in very handy. I think the G-Self figure is particularly successful, though its appearance in a minor Gundam franchise will perhaps mean it gets less appreciation than it deserves. Like all slim mobile suits it articulates extremly well and you can have a lot of fun with it, trying out new poses and stealing some interesting weapons from other AK figures.

34 : I must admit I never expected such a complex design as the RX-139 Hambrabi would be making an appearance in Assault Kingdom. This wonderful oddity from Zeta Gundam is a highly unique looking transforming mobile suit which can alter its appearance into what resembles a gigantic manta ray.

Accessory-wise there isn't a whole lot going on here. Apart from the iconic Fedayeen rifle and two sets of very tiny hands, we get no other equipment. The original Hambrabi also features a beam saber and the signature Sea Serpent paralyzing weapon, two pieces of rather uncomplicated plastic that I wish would have also been included.

The Hambrabi is the first truly transforming mobile suit in the Assault Kingdom line. This is accomplished by bending the legs backwards across its back so that the feed extend from its shoulders. A two jointed tail can be extended to resemble the manta's tail and with that you are pretty much done. Simple but efficient, and the result is quite convincing. The large fins and tail are made from soft, durable plastic, the best armor a small figure can get.

Although the overall articulation comes across a bit lacking due to the odd design of the mobile suit itself, the Hambrabi is still a tough as nails design and a successful figure. Here's hoping that it will pave the way for more Titans mobile suits in Assault Kingdom.

37 : Before we continue with the two Kämpfer figures let's get the RX-178 Gundam Mk-II out of the way. The reason I neglect this very fine A.E.U.G. mobile suit is that I am beginning to be a bit fed up with seeing it in Assault Kingdom.

Pretty much a clone of the original RX-178 figure that appeared in set 2, the most recent incarnation features the exact same loadout, a beam rifle and s shield. Come one Bandai, isn't it time you guys developed a bazooka for it by now? At least we are getting a useable action base with this one, as opposed to the odd parts that were used as bases for the early AK sets.

On the photos above you can see the two incarnations of the RX-178 in A.E.U.G. colours. To the left is the original figure from Assault Kingdom vol. 2, and to the right the new reissue. Notice that the newer figure has a more toned down colour scheme and is more bulky. It also adds an attachment point on the back, and loses the nice colour on the backside of the shield.

And here they are with the Titans coloured RX-178 which appeared in AK volume 6 in September last year. Three Mk-IIs featured in nine sets, pretty good, that beats even the ol' RX-78-2 which has only managed two appearances this far. Of course, the RX-178 cannot compete with the Unicorn which is up to five variations by now.

35 : Last in this set I wish to focus on the two MS-18E Kämpfer figures, this being Version A. This is another novelty in Assault Kingdom, a dual release of two variations of the same mobile suit. Before the set appeared I was very curious how they were going to do this, I had my suspicions they might have gone down the "secret character" route, but luckily two distinct figures and boxes were created for them which is very nice.

The Kämpfer A figure has the more exotic weapons, and I would have expected this gear to be the B version rather than A but there you have it. The Kämpfer A comes armed with one shotgun, two Sturmfaust RPG-style weapons and a multi-segmented Chain Mine assembly. The figure also features the typical open/closed hands as well as a standardized action base.

36 : The MS-18E Kämpfer (Version B) on the other hand is perhaps the more iconic of the two. The base figure is exactly the same as the one found in the Kämpfer A box, the only difference being the accessories included.

The Kämpfer B figure comes armed with the same shotgun as the first figure, but then instead features a reasonably good looking beam saber and a pair of giant bazookas. Both the bazookas and the shotguns feature little holes which allow both types of weapons to be stored on the two hardpoints on the figure's back.

Let's face it; Assault Kingdom 9 belongs to the Kämpfer, so let's play around with them some more. The total anime-authentic armory consists of no less than eight different weapons to fiddle around with; this is the aspect of Assault Kingdom that I always like best. Finding new combinations and poses for the various weapons adds a lot of character to the figures.

Although it has some bulky components the Kämpfer figure has surprisingly good articulation. It feels a bit light on its feet though, with a penchant for falling over on its back, but the action base helps with that issue. Again the painting of the figure is surprisingly good, with some tiny details like the white line on the antenna and both grey and metallic areas where previous AK-figures would have just have remained in the base color. This is a welcome change.

The many weapons of the Kämpfers also aren't just for show, they actually display well in many different poses. The bulky arms sometimes get in the way when messing with the shotguns in particular, but there is usually a way around it. Sometimes it helps to use the open hands instead of the closed fists for example.

"Always wanted me a Fedayeen rifle..."

Mikhail Kaminsky is coming for you...

The Kämpfer has been released in other 1/220 scale figure lines as well. Here we see the Assault Kingdom figure (center) flanked by the STANDart Kämpfer (from volume 3, released in September 2008) and the FW Ultimate Operation variant which was released in FWUO volume 8 in December 2004.


Although we didn't see that much of Assault Kingdom in 2015, what we have seen has been very good. AK9 adds to this trend with five top tier AK-figures. I can easily recommended all of them (with the possible exception of the new RX-178 if you already have the original version) as they will add a great deal of variation to your collection.

Bandai still haven't announced a wave 10, which could mean that they plan something special for it, or that they simply wait and see. Meanwhile there are three large figures coming up next, the extra large Psyco Gundam which will be tall like a 1/100 scale figure (and which I will probably pass on, if I wanted large figures I wouldn't collect Assault Kingdom) followed by another two Zeta-era profiles; the Qubeley and the Hyaku-Shiki. The Psyco Gundam will be released around Christmas, and the other two will follow in early 2016.