Gundam Converge EX 11 : MBF-P03 Gundam Astray Blue Frame (Full Weapon)
The Cosmic Century designs of Gundam SEED and its various spin-offs have been largely absent from Gundam Converge. This is a bit surprising considering the many extravagant Gundam designs known from these shows, you can hardly set a foot in space without stumbling on some wing-sprawling giant gun-toting monstrosity. Even better, these designs tend to evolve as the story goes along, lending itself well to multiple toys with minor production variations. A fact not lost on Bandai who have recently unveiled no less than eight new Converge figures from this era to be released during spring and summer 2016.
The first two designs to storm out of the gate are of course the two Astray figures from the EX-line, but we can also expect SEED to infiltrate the SP-line, CORE and even the regular figure sets. This seems to be a good year for SEED aficionados. I silently hope to see some Z.A.F.T. grunt units trailing the Gundams, who wouldn't want a GuAIZ or GINN on the line-up?
Converge EX 11 was released in May 2016 together with its red counterpart, the Astray Red Frame, featuring as EX 10. Both figures being of the EX-type have a suggested retail price of ¥2000, slightly cheaper than the Superior Dragon but more pricey than the recent CORE trio, making these some of the more expensive figures of the Converge line. On the plus side though, they are distributed through the regular Converge retail line, so you should have no trouble finding one at your favourite dealer.
One reason the Blue Frame is so expensive is that it is jam-packed with accessories. All the components also feature nice paintwork, including some shiny metallic blue sections which look just awesome. Also notice the little Serpent Tail logo on the figure's shoulder which looks excellent. The only detail which comes out as a bit lacking is the shield which normally has an iconic appearance in black and red. If you are skilled at painting you might want to try fixing this yourself as it would make this beautiful figure look even better.
There is a lot of engineering going on with this figure. In the picture sequence above I try to illustrate how the figure is dressed up into its full weapon mode. You start out with your basic Converge-style figure and then add some hip-loaded missile launchers, a shield for the left arm and then the massive weapons rack mounting an 8-pack missile launcher and a large recoilless rifle.
My Blue Frame had some balance issues when not wearing its full combat gear, making it a bit front heavy. This can of course be solved by using the transparent stand which clips to its ankles or better yet, point the beam rifle into the ground as a cane. When fully geared up however it had no such issues.
As you can see from the equipment detail shots above this figure has a lot going on. It is very rare to see Converge figures with so much configuration options and it of course makes the Blue Frame very play and diorama friendly. It should be noted though that as with many recent Converge figures, these components tend to wear down quickly, so I wouldn't fiddle around with the various hands and weapons too much. I wonder if in the future a whole lot of us will end up gluing Converge figures to keep them together.
The two Converge Astray figures are really just the same figure with different accessories. This is highlighted in the Blue Frame by the inclusion of a drilled hole on the left hip, which of course is where the sword sheath is going for the Red Frame figure. Unlike with the RX-93, Bandai and FusionWorks did not include any filler piece for that whole this time, but i guess you could always fill it up with some green stuff or similar if it bothers you.
Stay tuned for the Red Frame review.
Overall the Blue Frame is a Converge smash hit and pretty much a must buy as far as I am concerned. Even if you are not particularly interested in the SEED Cosmic Era timeline, this figure just has so much interesting detail and playability, not to mention outstanding paint scheme, that it seems a given in any collection. You'll have to put some money aside though, they seem to sell for around 20 to 30 USD online which is quite a lot for what is supposed to be a candy toy.