Monday, 15 August 2016

Gundam Converge EX 13 : FA-78 Full Armor Gundam

The Converge EX series has now virtually doubled in size since the turn of the year, if this trend continues we'll see more exclusive figures than standard ones. With the similarly recent onslaught in Assault Kingdom I am beginning to feel a bit of a burnout when it comes to these things. I suppose I should be glad that a lot of money has been invested in the furthering of this figure series but I cannot help but feel that some of its innocence and entertainment factor has been lost in the process. I am starting to get a similar vibe even from the SD super deformed Gashapon figures that keep evolve and become more and more complicated with each passing release. The Gundam generation has apparently grown up, as far as marketing people are concerned.

The latest Converge EX figure to join the fray is another of those "ret-con" types of figures that are inserted into various segments of the Universal Century timeline. Here we see the FA-78 Full Armor Gundam, which hails from the recently conceptualized MSG Thunderbolt setting. Although I have yet to be exposed to this section of the U.C. mythos and now as much that we're dealing with a subset of the E.F.S.F. and Zeonic One Year War taking place in "Thunderbolt Sector", far away from Char and Amuro's iconic battlegrounds. However a new prototype Gundam design ended up in such backwaters I'll never know...

Figurewise we're dealing with something of a mix of new and classic Converge. The figure itself feels like an updated old design, although the improved detail, many parts and overall flexibility screams Converge reboot.

Although first impressions might deceive, what we are looking at here is really nothing more than your bog standard RX-78 with some extra flair in the form of colouring and a bit more accessories than usual.

The basic figure comes with a peculiar looking righthand. The hand is can accommodate the heavy twin beam rifle (which bears more than a passing resemblance to the classic FA-78-1 gear) and a shield to cover it. On the left wrist is provision for a multi-tube missile launcher and again a shield to protect it. If you want you can skip these weapon systems and attach the shields directly to arms, or even leave the figure bare bones.

On the back the figure has an extra large flight unit and weapon rack which is so heavy it is in no way possible to allow the figure to stand upright without use of the large transparent support piece. Here is a figure that really would have benefitted from the new black bases with peg for the figure's foot to help it stay upright. I guess the FA-78 Converge model was developed in the era before the new action bases had been devised.

There are three preconfigured display variants for the FA-displayed in step by step detail on the included paper sheet. Honestly, these three are really only minor variations on a theme. Above you can see the first type, which makes use of only two shields and instead features some sort of protective shields sticking out from the backpack and protecting the sides of the head.

The second variant removes these head protectors and instead places the remaining two shields on long flexible arms that give flank protection. I think the first variant looks tighter but it is difficult to avoid playing with the full amount of shields provided in the box...

The third variation just takes the flexible arms and repositions them to cover forward instead of the flanks. The figure looks more striking when viewed from the front although a lot more of the details is obscured by the shields. You can play around with whatever mode you like the most, it is not as it matters a great deal after all.

To place the FA-78 Full Armor Gundam in context here it is with some of its closest kin from the Converge line up. The two old MSV FA-78-1 Full Armor Gundam designs look very primitive when compared to the new figure, which looks decidedly more hardcore. This is not only a product of Converge evolution but of mobile suit design evolution in general. The "new" FA-78 looks less like a toy and more like it means business. To the right we can also see the ol' RX-78-2 in two "Real Type" colour variations. I suppose I could have put the RX-78-1 Prototype Gundam in the picture also.

Overall the FA-78 is a really nice Converge figure, although it doesn't really strike me as a must have in any way. There is something lazy about an updated "FA-78" replacing the existing "FA-78-1", just like the RX-78-02 Gundam from The Origin feels like a boring variation on the RX-78-2 Gundam theme. At the relatively high price of ¥2200 this equals four standard Converge figures. Unless more Thunderbolt era figures are made available this strikes me as a completist figure only.


  1. I love this figure. If you have time, I recommend watching the Thunderbolt OVA series just for the great animation scenes. They are very short, totaling in 1 hour playtime.

    The parts on the sides of his head is actually the mechanical arms for the shield. When they do not have any shield to hold, they are folded to that compact shape.

    I managed to make my figure stand without the base by angling the backpack slightly lower so the rear tanks touch the ground (using hot water to reshape the pegs slightly)

  2. Slightly harsh calling it a "completist" figure, no? The Full Armor "reboot" from Thunderbolt is a great design, and masterfully executed in this Converge. Complements the other RX-78 variants very well. The price tag, however, is a huge let-down. I really don't see how they justify pricing these EX's as 4~5 standard figures. Besides, I think Bandai missed a great SP opportunity here -- Full Armor Gundam vs. Psycho Zaku? That would've been an epic SP set. Imagine all those bazookas on the Psycho Zaku!

    1. The price point is exactly why I think it is going to be a dud among the casual collectors. Its appeal would maybe be bigger if there were more Thunderbolt designs available. Personally I'm a bit bored with these one-off figures like the Blue Destiny Unit 1 and other loners like the Victory Gundams. The way they handled the Barbatos and the two Grazes for example, seems like a better way to stir up some interest.

    2. Sonce both the FA Gundam and Psycho Zaku are big enough to be a separate EX unit each, I won't be surprised if they treat it similar to the Dendrobium / Neue Ziel

      Maybe even with an option set as well? (can't believe I'm giving them ideas for more overpriced P-Bandai stuff..) The psycho zaku can have even more guns or bazookas from the option set, for example. Don't know what they can add for the FA Gundam though, since it is already completely decked out. Maybe a separate body parts for the purged armor version or extra parts to make the missile hatches open up? One can only wish

    3. Fair enough but I suppose the Gundam ecosystem is simply too big to be covered by releasing a few figures once every few months. Perhaps what Bandai should do is simply write-off some of the less popular series. The loner Victory Gundams, as you point out, could well have been omitted, if they had no intention to follow-up with a bunch of signature Zanscare suits, a la Zolo/Zoloat/Zollidia/Tomliat. The few suits from F91 could also have been skipped in favor of, say, beefing up the Titans line-up even more. (Palace Athene, anyone?)