Saturday, 21 January 2017

Gundam Converge 7-Eleven Limited

From time to time the thought crosses my mind. What drives a well known pop-cultural icon like the 7-Eleven franchise into the domain of Gunpla? Sure, they are not alone in this endeavour; ANA transferred their sky blue colours onto the RX-78, Toyota painted up a special edition of the Auris bright red and there's even an atrocious Visa Gundam out there. Lord knows how many red things are associated with Char Aznable and so on, but still I find 7-Eleven to be pretty consistent in what they do.

As far as marketing tie ins go, there seems to be an endless supply of Mobile Suit Gundam model kits, toys and other assorted paraphernalia with the 7-Eleven logo and red/white/green colours. I am really curious when and how this partnership started and what is the real driving force behind it. Is it just a cynical marketing move or is there perhaps also some heart involved? I find it an interesting topic and can only hope that the whole operation isn't as shallow as the one Aila JyrkiƤinen found while crushing opponents during the Gundam Build Fighters world tournament.

Whatever the reason, this is the third time we see a cooperation between Gundam Converge and 7-Eleven. Once again the little mobile suits have been infiltrating the shelves of the franchise's Japanese stores. Arriving in November 2016 they are probably long gone by now, but they are still readily available on the online market.

The number of figures in each 7-Eleven wave keeps decreasing. In the first wave we saw six figures, the second featured five and now they are down to three. Each figure was supposedly sold separately in 7-Eleven stores at a slight mark-up from the average ¥ 500 figure.


RX-78-2 Gundam (7-Eleven Color)

Although there have been two Converge figure waves associated with 7-Eleven before, this is the first time a figure is actually flying their brand colours. As many readers are no doubt familiar, there are virtually hordes of Mobile Suit Gundam figures and model kits in this franchise's colours. And unless you count the special colour Beargguys of last year this figure has the dubious honour of being the first Converge figure that has its origin somewhere else than in any of the various Gundam timelines.

As you can see from the photos this is a repainted standard RX-78-2 Gundam based on the original 2010 sculpt. It still has the same old head that sits on a shaped peg (so it won't turn sideways) but the right hand is separated from the beam rifle which I don't believe was the case with the original figure.

There's not really a whole lot to say about the figure apart from the fact that it is now a promo item for a convenience store chain. It is not too outrageous though, and I like the box art too. Notice also the new type of Shokugan candy in the box; gone is the "classic" blue Converge chewing gum. I've seen these white gums pop up in the Universal Unit boxes too; it appears to be a generation change. Yes, hot topic, I know...

There are a couple of detailed paint applications and tiny prints on the 7-Eleven RX-78 which you would normally associate with a Converge CORE level figure. Apparently Bandai and 7-Eleven do not shy away from such costs here even though the figure only costs ¥ 550. Then again, I guess a figure such as this would appeal both to Converge collectors and 7-Eleven promo item collectors.

RX-93 Nu Gundam (Limited Color Ver.)

The other two figures in this 7-Eleven promo set are an entirely different breed. The two accompanying mobile suits, the evergreens RX-93 and MSZ-006, have not been given the 7-Eleven make-over (did they look that bad?). Instead they sport darkened colours and are marketed as "Limited Color" versions.

Well, I don't know about you, but that looks like a pretty typical Converge Nu Gundam to me. The whites are supposedly toned down a little as is the black, but the yellow highlights feel brighter than the more orange detail on the original figure.

Again you can see that Bandai went with the old RX-93 sculpt even though it was recently rebooted as the very first figure in the Converge #01 set from January 2016. I can think of two reasons for this; either the collaboration project started before the Converge Reboot was executed or maybe the production costs are simply lower on the old figures?

Can you tell which figure is the classic RX-93 and which is the "Limited Color" version? Hint: Look at the logo on the left shoulder.
Although I am less than moderately excited for another RX-93 rehash I have no doubt it has performed well on the shelves, the demand for this machine never seems to dry up. It remains a perfect entry level figure to attract new Converge fans and possible customers/collectors/obsessed nuts too.

Converge RX-93 from left to right: Converge 13 with beam rifle and 14 with bazooka (both from Converge Vol. 3, released June 2011), the "Fully Equipped version" which is a slightly recoloured amalgamation of the previous two (Converge SP 01, August 2011), a dual fin funnel version from Operation Converge Premium Edition set (February 2014), another fully decked out metallic colour variation of the SP 01 (released as "Overseas Only" SP 01, February 2015), the rebooted RX-93 from Converge #01 (End of Year 2015) and our new 7-Eleven "Limited Colour" version.
Notice also that unlike the RX-78 figure we get no improved paint detail or markings on this version of the RX-93. I guess all the juice was spent on the RX-78-2 and I cannot really fault that strategy either.


MSZ-006 Z Gundam (Limited Color Ver.)

The third figure in this wave is the ol' Zeta, here posing with its Hyper Mega Launcher. Again this figure is a simple toned down repaint of the original version although at least here it is easier to notice. An interesting detail is that on the original figure the launcher weapon is darker than the blue on the mobile suit, in the 7-Eleven edition it is the other way around.

There aren't that many Converge figures with this type of very static pose. The launcher rifle clips to the right hand to stay firmly in the figure's grip, you can still rotate the arm but there's not a whole lot of posing to do with it.

Not a whole lot to say about this figure either. If you are familiar with the original figure this one holds no extra secrets. In my opinion I am a bit surprised that they went with this version of the Zeta; the really classic version with a beam rifle seems like a more obvious choice. Perhaps they just wanted to spice up this set a little.

Unlike the RX-93 there is no difficulty telling the darker 7-Eleven version of this figure apart from his brightly painted ancestor, which appeared in Converge vol. 11.

The Zeta line is growing more slowly than the RX-78 and the RX-93. The original Zeta figure from wave 2 (far left, released in January 2011) was alone for more than two years before figure 63 (with the Mega Launcher) appeared in volume 11 in June 2013. We then saw the transformable Z Gundam in a twin pack together with the The-O (Converge SP 06, released in September 2015) and one year later we now have the 7-Eleven version as well. Not pictured is the "Operation Revive Overseas Edition" reissue which is a reissue lookalike of the original figure, released in August 2015.


Conclusion

There's not really a whole lot to say about this set. All the figures should be usual suspects in people's collections by now. The 7-Eleven coloured RX-78 is a unique thing of course, but I wonder if it will ever become a rarity. These figures all feel like collection filler material and as such pretty much low priority. New collectors will probably find more to like here, since it is a good opportunity to snag a couple of famous faces on the cheap.

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