Gundam Converge #01 is the fifth anniversary relaunch of Gundam Converge. It has no doubt been keenly anticipated in more corners of the globe than just our headquarters. To send it off on the right foot it features, of course, a very high profile line-up in an attempt to stir interest to the max. The set was released just before the very end of year of 2015 and remained shrouded in an unusual amount of confusion and speculation on my part. Were the Fusion Works engineers running out of ideas or was consumer interest waning once all the usual suspects had been released? Was this to be a complete relaunch with upgraded versions of all the old figures? And what was the deal with the dark silhouettes that featured on some images, were there going to be multiple versions or secret figures galore? These questions appeared only to be answerable by obtaining a set.
On the Bandai teaser images I kept seeing the RX-93 and Sazabi wielding different weapons, and sometimes the RX-93 was seen standing on a black plastic base. I wondered how all this stuff could fit in a single Converge box or, as mentioned above, if there were going to be secret versions of them with alternative gear? This is after all how the Converge line has operated since its launch.
Well, a big part of the puzzle fell into place when I held the first of the boxes in my hand, as you can see in the comparison above not only has the price been upped from ¥400 to ¥500, but the size of the container has grown as well.
The new support piece in place is a plastic base of standardized size featuring a little peg which is designed to insert into one of the mobile suit's two feet (there is only a hole in one of the feet unlike e.g. the 1/400 collection figures which have holes in each sole). Each figure has its own plate though, since the peg can vary in placement and size depending on the foot it is designed for. It would have been handy to have the name of the figure printed under each plate, instead you have to make do with its number, so underneath the Sazabi base the number #02 is printed and under the two Zaku Workers you will find #05 #06 since they share the same part.
Other less apparent changes you will notice are the improved detail and multi-colouration of each figure, as well as more finicky and fragile components. By fragile I mean, less likely to stay in place. You can't just lift these figures any way you like it, as they will come apart if handled too roughly.
Before we begin looking at each figure I also need to touch on the individual figure numbering. With the relaunch of Converge I had expected the figure numbering to reset to 01 again, but interestingly enough Bandai have kept the old series. So the Converge #01 figures are now numbered 120 to 125. This seems to clash with the numbers underneath the bases, perhaps the molds were already completed and a last minute change saw the existing numbering kept anyway.
The superior paint applications should be readily apparent when you compare it to an older figure. There are more detail paint apps, just compare the wing binder with the older versions (see comparison picture further down).
As you can see, the weapons are now completely separated from the mobile suit's hand, a refinement that has become more and more common on Converge figures over times. This lets you choose which weapon for the figure to wield and the Bazooka can also be attached (if a bit loosely) to the figure's back when not in use.
Another novelty for the RX-93 is the plastic sprue with eight tiny, tiny pieces to be slotted into specially shaped holes on the figures shoulders and legs. I am not entirely sure what this adds to the figure, on the legs it seems to simplify manufacture of multi-coloured areas but the use seems less apparent for the shoulders. The (appreciated) little paper leaflet which explains how to attach these pieces doesn't give any answer in this regard.
Talking about adjustable eyes; I am not sure whether the Sazabi and the Zaku Worker models can also be tweaked in this regard. These figures are clearly made up of several parts, but I can't really figure out if they are glued in place or supposed to be opened up on those figures, and I am not really in the mood to try to open them up for fear of breaking something.
There's not a whole lot to say about this figure without repeating myself, it is one of the more interesting Converge figures as of late, there's not a single dud in this set so let's just continue to wrap things up (and you go out and grab a set while there is still time...).
As I hope this review has made firmly clear, Converge #01 should be a true joy to behold for any Converge collector, regardless of your affiliation or favourite period. As a relaunch of the whole Converge brand it succeeds in doing so, without unnecessarily disconnecting itself from its history. These figures will display well next to the old figures and not feel out of style. I am very excited about Converge #02 (because it contains the Gaplant) and it will be interesting to see how Bandai will continue to develop this figure line.