Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Gundam Converge #07

As a fellow Gundam collector, do you also get the feeling sometimes that we are just running around in circles? Figure series come and go, and fade into nothingness as they are replaced by the latest innovation. Scales go up and down, articulation improves, super-deformity proportions are altered, and all the while we see the same old faces pop up; the RX-78, Char's Zaku II, Gouf, Dom, G-3 Gundam etc. etc. Then when series begin to step out of their UC comfort zone and get some traction they are killed off and replaced with the next brand name and the cycle repeats itself.

As if the above scenario was not bad enough, now suddenly Converge is on a trip to reinvent itself. While we add the (quickly killed off) Converge Revive concept a couple of years back, where some choice figures were brought back into production albeit with new numbers and spread out into the new volumes the Converge Reboot is bringing this practice to the next level. We've seen plenty of familiar faces getting worked over in the reboot but with Converge #07 Bandai really takes the cake; four out of the six figures are rehashed old versions of figures returning into the limelight.

Converge #07 was released in late June 2017 and consists of six retail figures selling for around ¥500 each. The set is pretty good although it features a lot of old faces which will dampen the enthusiasm of longtime collectors a bit. Collectors just starting out however are in for a real treat. Let's take a closer look at the figures of this volume.

156 : MSZ-006 Z Gundam. The Zeta is a real Converge veteran, making its first appearance as figure number 10 back in 2011. Since then it has appeared about half a dozen times in slightly different variations, and the reboot-figure takes its own spin on the design. The main feature here is the wing binder pack which has been increased in size and now also features articulated wings that sit on round pegs and therefore can rotate in their sockets. This enables the figure to strike a few more poses although nothing too taxing for the FusionWorks engineers.

Another major improvement on the new figure is the separately molded right hand and beam rifle, which follows the design philosophy of the reboot (although not every new figure accomplishes this). Unfortunately Bandai does not go the full mile here and add a beam saber as a second weapon choice, we still haven't got a Zeta with a beam saber and this is long overdue. Even the recent Senshi Forte Gashapon Zeta figure accomplishes to include both the rifle and a translucent beam saber for a mere ¥300 figure.

Talking about the appearance of the new facelifted Zeta there isn't really a whole lot to say, I think the look only differs slightly from the older versions. There isn't really any marked improvement here, and the old figures hold up well when squared against the new one. Still, as far as Converge figures go, the new Zeta is an impressive figure which should service collectors in need of one extremely well.

The Z Gundam has now been released a total of six times. The figures in the above picture are:

1. MSZ-006 Z Gundam from Converge volume 2, figure number 10, released in January 2011. This figure has also been reissued as part of the Overseas Only Operation Revive boxset which was put together by Bandai Asia and marketed primarily in Hong Kong in August 2015.

2. MSZ-006 Z Gundam with Hyper Mega Launcher released in June 2013 as figure number 63 in Converge volume 11.

3. MSZ-006 Z Gundam from the SP06 twin pack with the PMX-003 The-O figure. This figure was released in September 2015 and can be disassembled and recreated into the Wave Rider mobile armor mode.

4. MSZ-006 Z Gundam (Waverider Mode). This is the same figure as number three when parts-swapped into the mobile armor fighter mode.

5. MSZ-006 Z Gundam with Hyper Mega Launcher (Limited Color Ver.). This colour-variation of the Converge number 63 figure was released as one of three 7-Eleven limited edition figures in November 2016.

6. MSZ-006 Z Gundam as it now looks in the rebooted Converge #07 volume, released in June 2017.

157 : MSN-00100 Hyaku-Shiki. Another Converge veteran is the A.E.U.G.'s golden Hyaku-Shiki mobile suit, piloted by Zeon's legendary ace Char Aznable. The Hyaku-Shiki was one of the launch figures when Converge premiered in late 2010 and has been getting a few re-releases since then. The Converge reboot version is an evolution of these and introduces couple of welcome features.

Just like the Zeta, the revised version of the Hyaku-Shiki figure again separates hand from weapons and also introduces both beam rifle and clay bazooka as equipment choices. These were previously available in different releases so it is good to see both in the same box (although the new beam rifle lacks the red colour application present in the original release).

The new figure also introduces a weapon rack feature which (like on the Rick Dias) allows both weapons to be stored on the back when not in use. This is a neat feature but the tiny clasps used to "hang" the gear onto the figure's back aren't very secure and the pieces will fall off easily. The last major improvement is that we finally have a Converge Hyaku-Shiki figure with its insignia present on both shoulders. Overall the new figure is easily the best version available so far.

The Hyaku-Shiki has been released four times in Converge:

1. MSN-00100 Hyaku Shiki. The original figure number 6, from Converge volume 1 released in November 2010. Notice the slightly brighter blue chest area and the red detail painted on the beam rifle.

2. MSN-00100 Hyaku Shiki. This version is from the Operation Revive Premium Edition boxset released as a Premium Bandai item in Japan in March 2014. This version has slightly darker navy blue colour application and gets the clay bazooka as an optional item. Note that the standard retail version of Operation revive (from February 2014) only comes with the beam rifle.

3. MSN-00100 Hyaku Shiki (with Mega Bazooka Launcher). This figure was released in the SP 04 twin pack together with the AMX-004 Qubeley in August 2013. The colour is more reddish gold and the chest area very dark.

4. MSN-00100 Hyaku-Shiki from the Converge reboot, released in June 2017.

158 : AMX-004 Qubeley. Continuing with the Zeta Gundam reissues the next Converge figure to get a facelift is the Qubeley. The original figure was released in the SP 04 twin pack together with the Hyaku-Shiki in August 2013 and this is the first time we are seeing a re-release of this figure at all. While the SP 04 box has never been particularly hard to get I am sure this is a welcome move for many Converge collectors.

The new Converge Qubeley has received a major visual update, with several prominent feature changes. Most importantly the base proportions have been altered, the head is shorter and more compact, the shoulder armor thicker and stubbier. The funnel pack on the figure's back is also shorter and pointing outwards instead of drooping to the ground.

While there are some features that I liked better on the old figure I think the facelift has been a clear improvement for the Qubeley, giving it a more compact and balanced look. The continued lack of accessories remains a letdown, ever since I got my translucent yellow beam sabers for the Assault Kingdom Qubeley I have wished for something similar for the Converge figure.

159 : AMX-004-3 Qubeley Mk-II (Ple Two Custom). Everything that was said about the Qubeley above holds true for the red Mk-II figure as well. The figure is a simple recoloration of the white Qubeley just as it was in the original release. The red Mk-II was originally released in an SP tripe pack together with the Qubeley Mk-II unit two, and a grey mass production version (the latter being a different sculpt altogether).

I find it a bit disappointing that the Converge reboot only features two of the four Qubeley variants. I would have preferred to see a single Qubeley in Converge #07 and then a new SP-pack banding together the other three. As things stand now I will most likely pick up a spare red figure and consider repainting it.

Above can be seen the updated Qubeley family as it stands after Converge #07, with two of the figures being revised. It seems unlikely we will get any further updates to this series.

XXXG-01D2 Gundam Deathscythe Hell (Endless Waltz Version). Converge has been running a little mini-series from Gundam Wing through the last three volumes and the Deathscythe probably closes this series for the forseeable future just like we only got the Exia, Dynames and the Kyrios from Mobile Suit Gundam 00. This is one of only two new mobile suits present in Converge #07 and I can't help but feel that Bandai and FusionWorks could bring some more love to unseen machines rather than just reissuing the same old figures but what else is new... :)

There is something very Batman-esque over the Deathscythe Hell, almost turning into a parody on superhero comics. The basic mobile suit design is pretty spot on though, and looks pretty good if you don't mind the over-the-top feel that much. It is a good representation of the design as it is.

Unfortunately it seems we will not be getting neither the Gundam Sandrock nor a Shenlong for a while. It would be great to see the Colony Nations set completed though sometime in the future. I guess we should be happy that we have got something other than the Wing Gundam for now.

161 : ORX-013 Gundam Mk-V. The second new mobile suit in Converge #07, the Mk-V is a face you do not encounter too often. This opportunity comes from Bandai's recent dip into the Gundam Sentinel designs; we've seen quite a few Converge figures from Sentinel this year. We've even seen a couple of series revivals of where Assault Kingdom and STANDart have been getting their own Sentinel figures long after the series disbanded.

The Converge figure is an attractive if a bit busy design. This mobile suit is larger than your average counterpart and it would have been nice to see it get some more room to spread out in say an SP or EX package, a few extra millimeters would have made it more intimidating looking. The accessories, a dull beam rifle and a shield also feel a bit on the slim side, a nice shiny beam saber would have been appreciated.

I did notice a couple of paint smudges on my Mk-V figure; you can see little bright specks of light blue in various places on my figure in the close-up images, and we got a couple of posts regarding this on the Converge page last week as well. There were also some complaints regarding loose pegs on especially the Z Gundam figure, resulting in the arms easily falling out. I can confirm that some of these figures seem to have rather loose peg holes and these will probably also deteriorate a bit over time, I imagine we are going to see more and more glued figures in the future. And speaking of glue, I am currently contemplating gluing the Mk-V's two tiny antennas into place before they disappear somewhere.


Overall the figures in Converge #07 are magnificent, with a few question marks in relation to longevity in especially the arm joints. Considering the large number of reissues it may not be the most exciting set for veteran collectors but the figures themselves are solid and highly recommended.

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