Saturday, 25 March 2017

Gundam Converge EX 14 : MSN-04II Nightingale

With all the special releases we see in Converge these days I was actually surprised that half a year passed already since the release of EX 13 (the Thunderbolt FA Gundam). It just goes to show how many colour variations and gimmicky releases we have these days. However, Bandai are planning to pick up the pace with EX 15 due for release already next week and EX 16 scheduled for June. We won't be getting any time to catch our breaths here.

Converge EX 14 is at least a brand new sculpt and of a pretty rare bird as well. The MSN-04II Nightingale is an alternate universe representation of everyone's favourite mobile suit the Sazabi which makes its appearance in the hopelessly named manga Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack - Beltorchika's Children where it hangs out with the RX-93-v2 Hi-Nu Gundam. Spawned from this series are also two other notable powerhouse mobile suits; the Xi Gundam and the Penelope. Considering that the latter two recently popped up in the Universal Unit figure line this leads me to speculate if we might also be seeing them down the line in Converge.

The Nightingale was released as a retail figure in the end of February 2017 with a recommended price tag of a whopping ¥ 3000 (and that is also precisely what I ended up paying for mine). When you consider that both the Dendrobium and the Neue Ziel sold for ¥ 3200 each this is quite the heft price for a figure only half their respective sizes. Obviously what we are paying for here is the complex detail work taking part under the hood, or more specifically, the cool stuff going on under the mobile suit's armored skirts.

As you can see from the parts count this is a very easy build and the included assembly guide isn't really needed here. Indeed, the figure does have a couple of features that are not covered on the leaflet which seems a bit odd but we'll get to that later. As you put the pieces together you will be very pleased to see how everything fits together really nicely.

The Nightingale is a pretty special design, there really isn't anything quite resembling it out there. I would classify it as a bit of love-it-or-hate-it, and the Converge makeover makes its odd features all the more exposed. I think the engineering work is first rate here but the esthetics leave a lot to be desired as far as I am concerned. The main issue here is that all the spectacular detail is hidden from view when you look at it from above, from that angle everything just looks like a heap of red plastic.

In spite of its gargantuan footprint my figure does have some issues with the legs not lining up properly with the front and back skirts. The latter two extend slightly further than the legs and the feet don't stand firmly on the ground which is something you might experience with your figure as well.

The basic figure comes with two closed fists and a hole in each arm where the included shield will fit. We also get a single clenched fist for the left hand and three options for the right; a clenched fist and two weapon holding hands. It is actually possible to remove the hands from the weapon handles which enables you to change the angle the weapon is held. Another feature not mentioned in the manual is that the mono eye sits on a cylinder which can be rotated to simulate the eye looking in different directions. As is often the case with Converge eyes though, the mono eye disappears in the shadow of its large brow anyway.

Considering that we can choose which arm should carry the shield, it would also have been nice to get at least one weapon holding left hand. Considering that the weapons aren't attached to the hands that would have opened up for some cool dual wielding.

Then we have the ten funnels. They are all removable which is completely glossed over in the box art and instruction leaflet. Perhaps because you can't really do anything cool with them. No effect parts are included with the THREE THOUSAND YEN figure which is a bit of a missed opportunity. Even just one or two extra pieces of a funnel shooting out on a transparent stick would have been much appreciated.

Converge Sazabi evolution: MSN-04 Sazabi from Converge SP01 (double pack with the RX-93, released August 2011), the redesigned Sazabi from Converge #01 (basic figure, released end of year 2015) and the new EX14 Nightingale. Not pictured is the metallic painted version of the original figure (Overseas Only limited edition from February 2015) and soon we will have a metallic version of the redesigned Sazabi as well. How long before a metallic colour Nightingale? :)
After reigning supreme for four years, the original Sazabi figure now has to share shelf-space with three variations and we have a fourth repaint coming soon as well. Out of all the variations I still like the original one the best, although it is nice to have some variety.

As I mentioned earlier, the Saz... uh, the Nightingale costs almost as much as the Neue Ziel mobile armor. Which one would you rather have in your collection?

One cool gimmick with the Nightingale is that it can share equipment with the new Sazabi figure if you are willing to forgive the differently coloured hands. I really like that Converge figures are becoming slightly more modular, opening up for easier conversion and a bit of parts swapping here and there.

Overall, the Nightingale is an excellent figure with a bit of a troubled appearance, which we cannot really fault the Converge for accurately depicting. At ¥3000 I can't really say that this figure is an essential item for your Converge collection. Being a retail figure though, it is possible you might find it at a reduced price in the future; we're already seeing Neue Ziels selling for as low as ¥2000.

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