Friday, 28 July 2017

Gundam Converge : Realtype Color Selection

Alright, time for a little blast from the past as far as Converge figures go. The Realtype Color selection revives five older Converge models and repackages them in some rather neat new boxes and also introduces some slight colour variations compared to the original versions. The old Realtype moniker has been hanging around with Mobile Suit Gundam for a while now, and it seems it can pretty much mean whatever Bandai needs it to. In this case, Realtype might stand for "things we didn't get right the first time" or maybe "old stuff we would like to sell to you one more time".

The Converge Realtype selection was released on May 30th 2017 as a standard retail volume. Thankfully the figures are available one by one which is helpful for more recent Converge fans who now get the opportunity to fill gaps in their collections at a reasonable price, since few of the original figures are going to be easily available for the mere ¥500 the Realtype editions go for.

Since the figures are from the era prior to the Converge reboot this means we are returning to the smaller boxes and the transparent plastic supports rather than the current standard with figures attaching on black bases.

You may also have noticed the points-collection campaign currently in effect. Along with other contemporary Converge figures each of these figures earns you 500 points towards a needed total of 3000 points. If you are in Japan you can mail those coupons to Bandai and enter a lucky draw where 150 contestants can win a promotional poster of the coming Converge White Base spaceship. Yes, paying for a leaflet designed to make you purchase a pricey model of the White Base, you read that just right.

GNT-0000 00 Qan[T] (Realtype Color) : First out is the Qan[T] with its striking mix of solid and transparent materials. This is the fourth time it appears in Converge and third time in this particular form. As far as the Realtype treatment goes here, the figure has received an Emerald type of green on the transparent components replacing turquoise and the overall tone of the reds and blues are also brighter than on previous figures. Not exactly a stellar improvement (or is it an improvement at all?); especially when the spectacular Qan[T] Full Saber version appeared as a Converge CORE figure last year.

The Celestial Being mobile suits appear to continue to be popular among the Converge collectors so I suppose this figure will join the others as a rare item before long. The Qan[T] is already the most rarely seen among the Realtype Color selection figures still available for sale, at least that has been my personal observation.

The Qan[T] mobile suit is currently available in three different versions in Converge:

GNT-0000 00 Qan[T]. The original release with darker blues and reds and turquoise transparent parts. Originally released as figure number 81 in Converge volume 14 in April 2014. This figure was reissued unchanged in the Overseas Only Operation Revive which was a Bandai Asia special boxset released in Hong Kong in August 2015 (left).

GNT-0000 00 Qan[T] (Realtype Color). This recoloured figure released in May 2017 (center).

GNT-0000/FS 00 QAN[T] Full Saber. A more detailed version of the original Qan[T] featuring its Full Saber special equipment. Released as a Bandai Premium item (CORE 005) in January 2016 (right).

RX-0 Unicorn Gundam 02 Banshee (Destroy Mode) (Realtype Color) : Next up is the venerable Banshee which is a common face in Converge although not nearly as popular as its white counterpart. Here the Realtype treatment involves yet another colour variation on this mobile suit, the overall coat is changed from the traditional dark navy blue to some strange bronze-green-blue hue I haven't encountered before. We have an entire spectrum of Unicorn mobile suits by now, and it is getting more and more tricky to remember which is which. Other than that the figure remains pretty much unchanged.

I am finding it hard to accurately capture the colour of this figure. The colour seems more blue in these photos than it appears to the naked eye. It is definitely more bronze than blue though.

Since the Unicorn 02 Banshee/Banshee Norn can exist in four different forms I have only chosen the most interesting counterparts for a comparison above. The exact figure has been released twice before in other colour variations, and I have also added one of the Banshee Norns for colour reference.

RX-0 Unicorn Gundam 02 Banshee (Destroy Mode). The original version of this figure appeared as Converge number 39 in volume 7 in May 2012. The figure has a slightly bright dark blue base coat with golden destroy mode features (far left).

RX-0 Unicorn Gundam 02 Banshee (Destroy Mode) (metallic version). This figure was released together with the Unicorn as an "Overseas Only" SP Box Set by Bandai Asia in August 2015. The coating is now shiny metallic and the golden Destroy Mode features are instead shiny green similar to the Awake Mode of the white Unicorn figure (center left).

RX-0 Unicorn Gundam 02 Banshee (Destroy Mode) (Realtype Color). Next in line is the new "Realtype Color" version which has an odd bronze-bluish tint and less bright shining Destroy Mode components (center right).

RX-0[N] Unicorn Gundam 02 Banshee Norn (Destroy Mode). Included here for reference is the Banshee Norn in its Destroy Mode as it appeared in Gundam Converge CORE 006, which was a Premium Bandai figure released in January 2016. The figure is painted in a metallic bronze-brown. The new Realtype figure sort of bridges the gap between the standard colour Unicorn and the CORE variant (far right).

XXXG-00W0 Wing Gundam Zero (Endless Waltz Version) (Realtype Color) : The third figure in this set is another familiar face in Converge, the Wing Gundam has now been released five times. When you consider that there have only been a total of eight Converge figures from the Wing Gundam After Colony timeline you can see why I am starting to feel a bit tired of this mobile suit by now.

One unusual feature of this Wing Gundam figure is that it has separately molded rifles; this was highly unusual in the early days of Converge. For its Realtype makeover this figure has received brighter blue colour and a few different colour applications on the head and V-fin. The grey components are now also metallic.

In the Wing Gundam's defense though, there are three different sculpts for it making it somewhat more interesting to collect. There are a total of four different colour variations.

XXXG-00W0 Wing Gundam Zero (EW Version). The original release as Converge number 57 appeared in Converge volume 10 in April 2013. This is the same sculpt as used for the Realtype Color figure and is darker navy blue and features no metallic colour. There are also some differences in the green paint applications (far left).

XXXG-00W0 Wing Gundam Zero (EW Version). This was a reissue in the Overseas Only Operation Revive boxset by Bandai Asia, released in August 2015. It has the exact same appearance as the original figure (not pictured).

XXXG-00W0 Wing Gundam Zero (EW Version) (Real Type Color). The Realtype Color version is based on the original Wing Gundam Zero figure and introduces several colour changes (center left).

XXXG-01W Wing Gundam. This figure shows the Wing as it appeared in the original Gundam Wing television series. It appeared as Converge number 88 in volume 15, released in June 2014 (center right).

XXXG-01W Wing Gundam (EW Version). This is (currently...) the only Wing Gundam to have been released after the Converge Reboot, and comes with a black base to stand on. It was released as figure number 150 in Converge #06 which appeared in April 2017 (far right).

F91 Gundam F91 (Realtype Color) : Out of all the Realtype Color reissues this is easily my favourite. It is the only figure which in my opinion is a clear improvement over its predecessor. Add to that the fact that the F91 has never been reissued since it appeared almost four years ago and this turns into a pretty versatile figure release.

The new Gundam F91 has a very attractive dull white coat compared to the more toylike plastic white featured on the original feature. All the other colour applications are also more subdued compared to the brighter colours used on the first release. But the best feature is the way the grey components are now metallic, new detail has been painted in the face and just look closely at those menacing eyes. This is a marked improvement over the original figure.

I really wish we could get a couple of the Crossbone Vanguard mobile suits for the F91 to play with. Meanwhile we have to make do with the Vigna Ghina and a total of three versions of the F91:

F91 Gundam F91. The original figure released as number 71 in Converge volume 12. Appeared in October 2013. Notice the bright colours compared to the Realtype version (left).

F91 Gundam F91 (Realtype Color). Here the Realtype treatment has really paid off and made the figure look that much more realistic and overall menacing (center).

F91 Gundam F91 (Mass Production Type). This figure appeared as a "secret" version of the original figure, that is, it could be found in some of the boxes of the original figure, a practice Bandai have thankfully now got rid of. This blue livery is also commonly referred to as the "Harrison Martin Custom". It would have been really nice to see a Realtype version of this figure as well, it would have benefitted tremendously (right).

RMS-141 Xeku Eins (Realtype Color) : The last figure in this Realtype Color series is a real standout and oddity at that. Not only is it not a series titular mobile suit design, but a grunt type suit in use by the antagonists in the Gundam Sentinel storyline. I can't think of any other reason for this choice than the fact that Bandai and FusionWorks are currently spending a lot of energy on releasing Converge versions of other Sentinel timeline design. This could just as easily have been a revisit to the S-Gundam figure or why not the granddaddy RX-78-2 himself. I am really grateful for this choice though, as the Xeku Eins is one of my absolute favourites among mobile suit designs.

On some Realtype releases we have seen the figures getting brighter colours, on others the colours are instead more subdued. The Xeku Eins sits in the latter camp, its bright blue coat is now much darker and as such looks more in line with previous model kits and figures, I think this is a clear improvement of the original figure. The metallic paint on hands and weapons also makes the figure look much better.

The Xeku Eins has only ever been released once before.

RMS-141 Xeku Eins. The Xeku Eins figure first appeared as number 76, released in volume 13 in December 2013 (left).

RMS-141 Xeku Eins (Realtype Color). The new Realtype Color version has a toned down paint scheme which gives it a much more realistic appearance (center).

RMS-141 Xeku Eins (Titans use). Just for fun I've added a custom painted version of the Xeku Eins, pressed into use by the Titans (right).

Historically, we have seen another three Gundam Converge figures bearing the Realtype/Real Type modifier in one way or another. Those figures are perhaps more familiar as the actual Realtype designs from the Mobile Suit Gundam MSV-R suite:

Then we had the recent 7-Eleven Selection set which apart from a Gundam painted in 7-Eleven colours(!) featured a Z Gundam and a Nu Gundam in what was first rumoured to be Realtype colors. In the actual release though, there were branded as Limited Color Versions although in principle they share properties with some of the new Realtype figures in that their colours are somewhat changed or subdued:

Apart from the RX-78 and the Zaku II I have never seen any of the other selected mobile suits in any "Realtype" configuration outside of Converge. I would consider this a mere marketing term much like the Converge Redefinition (CORE) series which it actually resembles to some extent. It seems it can be used to do pretty much anything and I have a feeling we haven't seen the last of the term either.


Overall the Realtype Color selection is a solid set of figures. Although they don't offer that much for veteran collectors they are perfect additions to new collectors who are yet to stumble on the original releases and right now very affordable. Take this opportunity to fill gaps of missing mobile suits in your collection because you are getting a lot for your money in this regard. Seasoned collectors can most likely pass on all of these except for perhaps the F91 and the Xeku Eins.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Gundam Converge EX 16 : AMA-X7 Shamblo

2017 has seen a steady stream of Converge EX-releases. The Shamblo is the third to appear in roughly four months (fourth if you count the CORE reissue of the Deep Striker) and after a quick summer break EX 17 and EX 18 sit on cue for release in September and October. Either Bandai and FusionWorks are upping the game or they are just clearing out all the planned high profile releases like they did with Assault Kingdom last year.

The Shamblo mobile armor is a pretty risky business proposition for an EX figure. Mobile Armors in general don't seem to attract as much interest as mobile suits, and the Shamblo is a pretty odd bird at that as well. It seems someone is hell-bent on getting out as many high-priced figures out of the Unicorn series as possible, you'd think there would be more money in all the remaining mobile suits though.

On top of that, the Shamblo figure is a standard retail release as well, meaning it should be expected to sell more units than its pricier P-Bandai cousins, a feat you got to wonder if it will be able to achieve. With a Bandai suggested retail price tag of ¥3200 the Shamblo definitely has an uphill struggle in front of it. I picked mine up from Mandarake just a few days after its release, at a price of ¥2500. I hope Bandai has a huge margin on these things otherwise it probably stands to be a disappointing performer. Still, I hear Japanese business practice is based on quantifying everything so someone must have made a calculation that it will be a profitable product.

The Shamblo figure is primarily made from the same type of hard plastic as was used on the recent Neo Zeong figure. It allows for crisp detail but turns a sturdy candy toy into a somewhat brittle statue in the process. I can't say I am a huge fan of this concept; I much prefer the soft plastic used on the average Converge figure myself.

The Shamblo is a rather straightforward build, there aren't that many parts involved and an instruction leaflet has also been provided. Just like on the Neo Zeong there are many nice paint applications that go mostly unseen once the figure has been completely assembled.

I have never really got my head around the Shamblo mobile armor design and pictures of it normally don't help either, so for me it was very informative to put this figure together to finally realize just exactly what its actual shape is like.

The overall concept design of the Shamblo mobile armor poses some challenges for the toy designers at FusionWorks and as a result the end result is rather rigid, there is not much articulation to speak of here. Basically the only moving parts are a neck which can move from left to right and a pair of gripping claws that can open and close. I have to say it is a bit disappointing that the arms cannot move in any direction at all.

It looks like it is possible to open up the head and adjust the facing of the monoeye, but I haven't bothered to try as I prefer not to mess with parts too much.

The figure also includes several transparent stands to help prop up the arms and the head which is a good thing for preserving the shape of the figure if you intend to display it for longer periods of time. I will most likely partially dismantle the Shamblo and keep it in its box since it is quite demanding of space.

The main gimmick and accessory of the Shamblo is the gigantic Mega Particle Diffusion Gun which sits concealed within the figures massive head. To expose the gun you actually dismantle the head and replace the centerpiece that attaches to the neck, and then reattach the armor pieces. It is a quick conversion but it would of course have been cooler if the figure could actually transform.

The mega particle gun part has been painted in a nice black finish with some silvery detail which gives it a very convincing metallic and somewhat rugged look. The spooky blue glow from the gun is also beautiful but a bit hard to see when hidden under the figure's head. It helps that the "real" Shamblo is 32 meters tall; it is much easier to see from your diminutive and helpless vantage point beneath it,

While the particle gun is definitely a cool component I think that the figure looks better with the head covering it up, the sleek shape of the mobile armor's face is definitely its best looking feature.


The Shamblo figure is surprisingly small for what it is supposed to depict. The mobile armor has a listed height of 31.8 meters, which is roughly equivalent to one and a half times the height of a standard mobile suit.

The Shamblo looks rather small when compare to your average Converge figure.
On one hand I think it is good that FusionWorks kept the dimensions of the Shamblo in a smaller and more manageable size, but its imposing effect is kind of lost in the process. When standing next to an average Gundam Converge figure it doesn't look very threatening at all. Then compare this to the massive Neo Zeong figure and the effect becomes very clear.

The Shamblo next to its recent EX cousins the Nightingale (EX 14), the Neo Zeong (EX 15) and a regular size Unicorn (here the CORE 009 version).
One way to make the Shamblo look a bit more threatening is to do like any short president would do; wear high heels and stand on a podium when addressing the masses. Still I do wish that the Shamblo would have been a bit larger and thus more menacing.

The 1/400 Unicorn from Gundam Collection is almost scared of the Converge Shamblo...


As I mentioned earlier in this review I would be very surprised if the Shamblo performs well in the retail market. It is a large and pricey figure and with a pretty niche appeal in what is already a niche market I think it has a tough career in front of it as a shelf warmer. I could easily recommend it to Neo Zeon or Mobile Armor aficionados like myself though - the Shamblo is a very rare design that has as far as I know only ever made this appearance as a collectable figure (there is an even smaller one available in the Mini Kit Collection range as well).

However, when you consider what you get for your money, 2500 yen will currently get you either a Shamblo or a Neo Zeong the competition will remain tough within the Converge figure range as well.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

We're going super-deformed!

Although the Gundanium Gateway website is primarily focused on Shokugan Gundam candy toys it hasn't stopped us from acquiring and also reviewing the odd Gashapon figure here and there. You know how it is, one or two finds their way inadvertently into your collection, maybe as filler in a lot you called in on eBay (or maybe an unscrupulous seller passed on unsellable freebees with your order, seeding their own future market). Before you know it you sit with half a dozen cute little figures that end up on your desk. In the beginning I sold off such items but with all the hassle of peddling a few random figures for virtually no money I decided I might as well keep them around...

Since we have had a couple of SD-themed reviews on the site as of late (and no doubt more will follow) I wanted to have a place to hang the reviews for easy reference, so the new check list page was born. While far from complete we'll be adding more data to it piecemeal to make it serve as a suitable reference guide.

You can find the new check list among the other tabs here on the blog.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Universal Unit : MSZ-006C1[Bst] Zeta Plus C1 Hummingbird

Today's feature is something of an oddity among mobile suit designs. With its legless configuration the Hummingbird reminds more of some Zeonic mobile armor than a Federal Forces piece of hardware. It seems to be more popular than its Zeonig counterparts though, I guess its more manageable size makes it a good choice for an EX figure. Being of Gundam Sentinel pedigree also seems to help even though if I understand correctly, it actually was never even built.

The Universal Unit Hummingbird however is a real and tangible thing. Not only that, Bandai loves it so much that they offer the figure in two different colourations - the standard blue Hummingbird and a spiffy red variant intended for Karaba Air Force, matching Amuro Ray's Zeta Plus A1.

The standard blue colour variant of the Hummingbird is a retail product and was released at the end of February 2017. Bandai's suggested retail price of ¥3800 seemed a bit steep though, and appears to have collapsed more or less right away. I picked up my Hummingbird(s) for ¥2500 which while still high feels a bit more reasonable.

With the Hummingbird kit though, you really are getting a lot of fun in one small box. The Hummingbird kit offers no less than three separate modes in which to build the figure and we will go through them one by one.

MSZ-006A1 Zeta Plus A1 / MSZ-006C1 Zeta Plus C1

Although not really advertised on the box, the Hummingbird kit allows you to build the Zeta Plus as a common mobile suit in either the A1 or C1 configuration. This is not exactly earth shattering information considering that the foundation of this kit is the exact same as used for the regular Zeta Plus figures that appeared in Universal Unit 2 last year (reviewed here).

A "custom" Zeta Plus C1 flanked by the proper A1 and C1 versions of the original Zeta Plus figures.
I didn't go through the paces of building a separate Zeta Plus A1 and C1 figure, but you have the detailed assembly instructions inside the box if you want to do so. Instead I decided to beef mine up now that there are so many awesome accessories in the box. So the figure you will see in these images is basically the C1 version borrowing some additional equipment.

I really like the basic mobile suit form of this figure a lot, mainly because it is not so static as the mobile armor forms of the kit. I can only really fault it for two things; there is still not an open right hand included with the kit and there is no action base support even though the figure actually comes with a stand.

A proper action base is sorely lacking for the Mobile Suit mode - par for the course in Universal Unit.
Just like all the common Universal Unit figures the Zeta Plus mobile suit form has impressive articulation on par with any regular Assault Kingdom figure. Without action base support though it has little means of actually making use of it. I will never understand why Bandai chose to handicap these kits so greatly. I have considered drilling holes in the soles of Universal Unit figures before and now that I have some spare feet available I might just give it a try.

MSZ-006C1[Bst] Zeta Plus C1 Hummingbird

This is the main mode of the Hummingbird kit and also the one that makes use of the most parts included in the box. It is basically the mobile suit form with a completely replaced set of limbs

The Hummingbird form is a really a formidable and menacing design. And with its attractive blue and white pattern it really has a unique look going for it as well. The articulation is of course hampered by the bulky booster units on the arms and there is not much action going on below the waist.

The Hummingbird sits tightly on its stand which has a special connector piece that can be tilted in a few different angles, but I think it makes little sense not to use the default level mode. This makes the Hummingbird figure feel a bit static since you cannot even do the simplest of attitude correction. The stand is completely static and the peg connection prevents even the slightest pitch or yaw movement, the figure will just sit firmly looking straight ahead. This could have been better. Hell, even the 1970's Matchbox model kits I used to build in my childhood featured simple stands where the connector was on a type of ball joint.

Still, a clear stand is better than no stand at all, or the eyesore which was included with the Gundam Converge version of the Hummingbird. Perhaps when Bandai reinvents the 1/220 figure line the next time (give them a year) we might see even better action bases for our figures.

MSZ-006C1[Bst] Zeta Plus C1 Hummingbird (Waverider Mode)

The last of the main features of this kit is the Hummingbird in its Waverider mode. Similar to the Zeta Gundam the Zeta Plus has a Waverider mode of its own. This type of transformation is so complex however, that the Universal Unit figure cannot even begin to perform it. Instead we get a completely new centerpiece for its body which the booster modules latch on to in a very specific way. In fact the Waverider modeis the simplest mode of the Hummingbird kit and will result in a rather respectable pile of leftover parts.

I really like the look of the Waverider mode, it is so sleek and beautiful, especially compared to the bulkiness of the mobile armor mode. The figure feels like a traditional airplane kit though, you are giving up the articulation here and going for another very basic design.

Again the connection to the action base is through use of a peg, although it is a different one this time. Sadly this is also of the rigid type which means you can forget any wild banking or rolling poses for the Hummingbird and that's a real shame. The whole arrangement feels very matter-of-factly as if it was an office use miniature intended for a bookshelf in some conference room.

Since the Waverider sits on the same stand as the mobile armor it ends up floating quite high above the ground. This gives it a nice freefloating look although it ends up a bit high up if you want to pose it next to standard Universal Unit figures.

We have of course seen the Hummingbird Waverider mode in Gundam Converge as well. I used to think that was a pretty nice looking thing but it cannot really compete for looks with the Universal Unit figure. In fact it might actually be fairly convincing to pose the UN Waverider with Converge figures. I will try that out some time.

Whichever mode you do end up choosing for your Hummingbird figure I would advice against repeated pulling apart of this figure as the joints will probably quickly loosen up.

The Hummingbird kit is a great source of spare parts for customizing other Universal Unit figures you may have lying around, especially the Zeta Plus figures. Considering the large number of leftover components I had hoped I might be able to build a basic Zeta Plus mobile suit from the spare parts from the two Hummingbird modes and it would indeed be possible, but a few signature pieces would be missing, specifically the flightpack and the hip guns. Still it might be something to consider if you ended up with a spare Zeta Plus from the Universal Unit volume 2 box.


Overall I think that the Universal Unit Hummingbird kit is a really nice product. I had originally just planned to grab one blue and one red, but after building my first one in Waverider mode I did not want to take it apart and was still curious to see what the other forms would look like (and not one of them disappoints). Now that the price has come down since its release I can easily recommend it to any Universal Unit fans out there. The figure still seems to be in reasonable supply (unlike the red variant) so grab it while it is still easily available.