Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Gundam Converge EX 07 : RX78GP03 Dendrobium

The Dendrobium, one of the huge and quirky looking weapon platforms featured in the Stardust Memory storyline is the largest monstrosity we have yet seen in Converge. Released as a premium style figure in November 2015 with a suggested price tag of ¥3200, it narrowly beats the older six figure Operation Revive premium set by 200 yen, making it the priciest figure in the line to date. And although we have seen some rather large EX-series figures before, nothing compares to this behemoth.

The Dendrobium also stands out from its Converge brethren in that the almost all platform parts are made of traditional rigid and hard plastic of the non-bendable type that you normally see in model kits, unlike your common Converge figure which has a softer almost oily feel to it.

Even the box itself is quite large and is seriously moving out of the zone with which you typically associate candy toys. And speaking of candy, there was no chewing gum in this package. This is something we've seen before on export versions of Converge. This particular box hails from Hong Kong and was distributed by the local Bandai Namco Asia company there.

In the box we find four plastic bags and a decent (Japanese only of course) assembly instruction.

Before we assemble the Orchis, the huge weapons platform, we will start by taking a closer look at the attached mobile suit figure.

RX-78GP03S Gundam GP-03 "Stamen" : The Gundam GP03, a.k.a. Stamen sits at the heart of the Dendrobium weapons platform system, surrounded by the large unmanned Orchis unit. Related to the GP01 and GP02, the Stamen is easily identified by its large hip-mounted wing binders, which allow for extra thrust and maneuverability.

The GP03 comes with a respectable equipment selection for a Converge figure. We are getting a basic beam rifle as well as two folding bazookas and a shield. Best of all is how all weapons are modular and can be attached to the suits hands at will. This is something I would have liked to have seen on the pricy Converge CORE figures as well. Notice also the two gray rings that function as the mobile suit's neck. When attached to the Orchis mobile armor the alternate neck piece is used to allow for the figure to fit in better.

The Gundam GP03 as it appeared in Converge Volume 13 (left), and with improved features in EX 07 (right).
We have actually encountered the Stamen in Converge once before. It originally appeared as a basic figure in Converge Volume 13 as number 77. The figure included with the EX 07 is vastly improved, not only by the addition of extra accessories, but the figure also has a more toned down white body colour and some nice decals on its shoulders (and if Bandai had made a CORE figure out of the GP03, you can be sure we would have gotten the colour changes and decals, but not the extra weapons...).

Dendrobium Stamen Configurations

The EX 07 figure has two optional display choices for the full mobile armor. They are really only minor variations on the same theme, but are entertaining to play around with none the less.

The first mode sees the GP03 Gundam being partially concealed wihtin the main fuselage of the Orchis weapons platform which locks the figure neatly in place.

As you can clearly see, the Dendrobium is huuuge. Still, I must confess it looks and feels much better than I had expected. The material used for the mobile armor is very easy to assemble, without any of the convoluted parts manipulation required for some of the more recent extra large Converge figures. Still, there is also something of the Converge soul lost in the process.

While the two large doors covering the multi-compartment weapon bays don't move, they can be attached in either fully opened or closed mode. In addition, two of the weapon systems (a three tube missile launcher and a micro missile array) can be extended from their compartments, which would be a really nice touch if the damned things would stay in place. Unless there is some gimmicky way of locking these pieces in place that I have yet to discover, these two weapons will just fall straight out of their sockets. Incidentally, that is also why they are drooping toward the ground in the photos. I do hope this is a massive oversight on my part, because otherwise you'd need to modify them somehow. Not exactly something we are used to with Bandai and FW precision models.

Another two optional weapons are included in the set. One is a weird wire-like thingamy (sorry, not up to speed on that one) which extends from one of two optional sockets on the Orchis frame, and the other a really nice translucent beam saber. The saber has a peg which lets it attach steadily into either of the two claw-like manipulators. These claws can open and close, and can also swivel a little, which is a nice touch.

The optional display mode for the Dendrobium Stamen is to have the GP03 Gundam crawl out of its innards and pose menacingly on top of the hull. To do this we first transform the actual mobile suit mini back to regular Converge configuration and then attach the clear leg locking piece to the spine of the Orchis.

This mechanic is a simple and effective solution which allows you to clip the mobile suit steadily to the Orchis without having to worry about it falling off at the slightest vibration, which would have been the case otherwise. It also allows for more aggressive poses with arms extended forward without toppling the mobile suit.

Overall I must say I am quite impressed with the Dendrobium package. The model is a reasonable compromise of size, price and functionality, and the new GP03 Gundam figure is a marked improvement over the existing one. In the end though, due to its size and general non-Converge style, I have a feeling the Orchis weapons platform will be disassembled and stored back into its box, while the GP03 figure will be the one going on actual display (just like some of the previous EX figure before it).

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