Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Gundam Converge EX 10 : MBF-P02 Gundam Astray Red Frame (Flight Unit)

Companion release to the recently reviewed Astray Blue Frame, the Converge Red Frame is one of those figures that you just know will be great. Everything just comes together perfectly creating a highly playable and collectible figure at the same time. If, for some reason, you haven't yet picked this adorable little Converge figure, spend no more time reading this review and go grab yourself one. Your collection requires it.

The Converge Red Frame figure was released in May 2016 through standard distribution channels, making it readily available to all collectors out there. ironically, while Bandai's suggested price at ¥2000 is four times that of a regular Converge figure, a quick look on the online market will often confirm that these guys are pretty good value in comparison. While prices for regular figures keep getting jacked up to 10-12 USD, the price for the Blue and Red Frame figures seems to hover around 25 USD. So in essence, these guys are about the same price as two standard figures, pretty good value indeed.

The Astray Red Frame comes in your typical EX box and is stuffed with parts, even more so that the Blue Frame. All the multi-coloured parts here remind us of how far Converge has come since the beginning.

This box is teeming with parts, and pretty much all of them are optional accessories. There is a lot fiddle around with here!

The "default" mode of this figure is kitted out with a beam rifle, a sheathed sword, back pack with two sabers and the flight pack. This thing is armed to the teeth. Because of the many large accessories you might experience some balance issues depending on how you configure the figure. A figure without flight unit can at times have some problems with holding out weapons in front, although the sheath counters it somewhat, and you can always discreetly point the blade or rifle downwards to act as support.

The least obvious of the equipment choices is the twin bladed head of a Z.A.F.T. BuCUE mobile armor unit, which replaces the right hand and is wielded like a dual sword. I am really amazed that Bandai decided to include this piece in the box, thanks a lot for that! The only missed opportunity here is the lack of a dual wield, the left hand is resigned to being a fist. This is of course dependant on the weapons being molded directly onto right hands, which is the traditional thing we've seen in Converge since the beginning, although lately more and more figures are receiving loose weapons and multi-purpose hands.

The centerpiece weapon choice for the Red Frame is of course its oversized katana "Gerbera Straight". Converge does it full justice with tastefully painted parts to represent it in both drawn and sheathed mode. The detachable handle for the sheathed sword is a nice touch, especially when you compare to the Assault Kingdom figure which got two different pieces for this representation (no doubt because it was cheaper to do two white parts while the Converge sword required several colours).

The large flight unit is attached to the figure's back in the spot where you would normally attach the regular backpack. Again, FusionWorks and Bandai went out of their way to address this; they gave us two backpack pieces with slightly different lengths of the beam sabers. The regular backpack is then moved down to the small of the Red Frame's back, and the flight unit goes into its former place. Very nice solution and one they could have easily decided to ignore completely, clearly a lot of love has gone into the crafting of this figure.

The current Converge SEED Cosmic Era line-up, flanked by a BuCUE and LaGOWE mobile armor from the SD figure line.
The Converge SEED revival has only just started; we still have half a dozen figures scheduled for this summer season alone. What might come after that is anyone's guess. The Cosmic Century is poised to enter all Converge brands, the Akatsuki is out already as a standard figure, and CORE and SP figures are up next. Still we're only seeing over the top Gundam models, I hope we will also be getting some love for the many awesome grunt suits out there.

If you are a Converge SEED fan however, I think the two Astrays should be your focal point of interest. These two figures just do everything so well. A definitive recommendation also for the more casual Converge fans out there.

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