Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Gundam Converge CORE 004 / CORE 005 / CORE 006

Converge CORE is a quaint series of figure redesigns, originally appearing in August 2015. Figures have been released in three separate waves. The first wave contained CORE 001 and CORE 002 as separate items, these were sold exclusively as premium items through the Bandai web shop. Then just in time for Christmas we saw CORE 003 which was distributed through normal retail channels and containing three different figures sold together as a set. These figures were also much cheaper than the first two. Finally the last(?) wave appeared in January in 2016, again featuring three distinct and separate figures sold one by one. It is these three figures we are going to look closer at today. For convenience, these figures are reviewed together.

Converge CORE wave three: 004. FA-93HWS Nu Gundam, 005. GNT-0000/FS 00 QAN[T] and 006. RX-0[N] Unicorn Gundam 02 Banshee Norn.
Since the start, Converge CORE quickly distinguished itself as being something very pricey. Although there are more pricey Converge EX figures around, when you consider the fact that you are basically getting basic Converge figures here (albeit with more bells and whistles) the asking prices seem quite steep. Bandai themselves priced these items at ¥2000, ¥1800 and ¥1600 respectively (a regular figure is priced at ¥500), but on the online market the prices are hiked to around $30-$50 dollars per head which borders on the laughable.

I know that my moaning about the CORE packaging is old hat by now, but it is also such an irresistible topic, especially when you have three figures that would easily fit within one of the boxes...

Alright, with that out of the way, let's open up the actual boxes, shall we?

As you can see from the pictures above, we are really dealing with very basic Converge figures here.

CORE 004 : FA-93HWS Nu Gundam Heavy Weapon System. The first figure in this wave is the first CORE figure to actually feature a brand new mobile suit model. Where all previous CORE figures are mainly repainted old designs, this figure contains several new components and body parts. The figure is clearly developed together with the recently released RX-93 Nu Gundam (Converge #01) as it shares many of its parts including the base plate which features the same part number on the underside.

We have seen several Nu Gundams in Converge already, so I was quite excited by the HWS model to be released. Out of all the three figures in this set it held my interest in a league of its own. The basic figure design is very slick, and its many interchangeable accessories are a joy to fiddle around with. The multi-coloured beam saber and bazooka deserve special mention here, whereas the beam rifle looks a bit bland in comparison.

Alternate armament options for the HWS. The bazooka can be carried on the back or in hand, however the bulk of the shoulder equipment makes it difficult to rest it on the figures shoulder, leading to the figure's head being slightly tilted to the other side.

The basic Nu Gundam figure is compatible with the HWS which allows for interesting armament options for each figure. I went as far as to replace the right arm on the HWS with the one from the RX-93, which lets it hold the bazooka in a more relaxed fashion.

CORE 004 FA-93 HWS (left) compared to the RX-93 from Converge #01 (right).
Overall the HWS is a really great Converge figure and I find it rather strange that it has been relegated to being an exclusive item, especially when it seems to have so much in common with the ordinary RX-93.

CORE 005 : GNT-0000/FS 00 QAN[T] Full Saber. The next mobile suit in this wave is also a redesign of a face we've seen in Converge before. The basic QAN[T] figure was striking on its own, but with the new components designed for its Full Saber variation even the Exia + O-Raiser combo figure seems unimpressive by comparison.

The QAN[T] Full Saber figure is bristling not only with transparent green parts, but a boatload of very small and highly detailed insignias and symbols. Just look at these below close-up shots.

The Full Saber figure comes from the older generation of Converge figures without black base plates, and with the weapon molded directly into the figure's right hand. It also has no optional equipment but instead goes straight for dazzling you with all its stylish and colourful detail (definitely succeeding in this regard as well). I wasn't that convinced when I first saw the previews, but after holding this figure in my hand it feels almost mandatory in the collection.

Converge Celestial Being line-up, from left to right: GN-001 Gundam Exia (this particular version form the Limited double pack released in 2011), the original GNT-0000 00 Qan[T] from Converge Vol. 14 (released April 2014), the GNR-010 0 Raiser from Converge Vol. 9 (December 2012), the GN-0000 00 Gundam + GNR-010 0 Raiser combination figure (CORE 001, August 2015) and finally the new GNT-0000/FS 00 QAN[T] Full Saber.
The Celestial Being armory has been growing nicely as of late, still there is much to be done here.

CORE 006 : RX-0[N] Unicorn Gundam 02 Banshee Norn (Destroy Mode). Considering the multitude of Unicorn figures we've seen storming through Converge ever since the start, the last figure in this wave may also have seen the least exciting. But just like with the QAN[T] Full Saber figure, once I saw it up close that impression was whisked away in an instant. The CORE Banshee Norn is easily the most impressive version of Unicorn number two. The basic figure is familiar, but the backpack and the shield now come in their full Destroy Mode glory. The entire figure has also been given a very sleek bronze-greenish coat which simply looks fabulous.

The basic Banshee figure is interesting in that it offers a lot of articulation normally not seen in Converge. Where the basic Converge figure will feature a head that can -at best- rotate, arms that rotate at the shoulders, and a weapon that swivels in the righthand wrist (simply because the hand is molded onto the weapon rather than the arm), the Banshees also feature articulated waists and underarms. This is nice although it doesn't really compensate for the lack of weapon options available. Not that I expected anything special here, but it would have been awesome to get alternate parts for the Unicorn Mode or why not a nice shiny beam saber?

Converge Unicorn 02 family, left to right: RX-0 Unicorn Gundam 02 Banshee (Unicorn Mode) released as a Dengeki Hobby Magazine promo item (July 2012), the RX-0 Unicorn Gundam 02 Banshee (Destroy Mode) from Converge vol. 7 (May 2012), the RX-0[N] Unicorn Gundam 02 Banshee Norn (Unicorn Mode) from Converge vol. 10 (April 2013), the recently released Unicorn Gundam 02 Banshee (Destroy Mode) (Metallic version) from a limited "SP Overseas Only" double pack (August 2015) and the new Banshee Norn (Destroy Mode) figure from CORE.
Nevertheless, the Banshee Norn will not disappoint, and it makes all the previous versions pale in comparison to its might.


If you have the funds to spare, and the iron stomach for the purchase, you'll find that the most recent set of CORE figures are really superb. I hadn't expected much from this lot to be honest, but I am very happy that I did decide to pick up all of them, since they really surprised me with their great attention to detail. I just hope now that this will be the last part of the overpriced CORE fad and that we continue to see more basic figures down the line, which seem to be in such rare supply today.

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