Sunday, 28 January 2018

Gundam Converge #08

Converge #09 just released in Japan this past week so it seems fitting that I have finally come around to paying its predecessor a little visit. Converge #08 appeared around October 10 last year so I am fairly positive that most people reading this blog entry will be fully familiarized with these figures already...

Now, unless you count the differently numbered Gundam Mk-II:s from Converge #06 (Titans 01 / 02 / 03) volume 8 is the first reboot series to increase the number of figures from six to seven. This carries on to volume 9 as well although it appears volume 10 will go back to the six figure distribution model again so we'll have to enjoy it while it lasts.

162 : RX-78-2 Gundam

Of course, one of the reasons we get seven figures in this set is that it is heavy on reissues, and the first figure of course is a clear indicator of that. Finally the ol' RX-78 emerges in the rebooted Converge line with a brand new sculpt. The new sculpt is more aggressive looking when compared to its predecessor.

Equipment-wise we get three accessories for the RX-78 in the box which is highly appreciated. In fact, the very first Converge figure was also a RX-78-2 armed with a beam rifle. It also featured a hidden "secret" version of the figure which came with a bazooka instead. Converge #08 goes one step further; not only do you get both weapons in one box, but you can also store the bazooka on the figure's back.

Back in those days, the weapons were typically fused directly onto a figure's right hand so you were stuck with whatever weapon it happened to carry. Although premiered earlier, following the reboot weapons separated from the figure's hand has become more and more common although still not a new standard. Likewise only a few figures feature open left hands which can hold weapons which is also a limiting factor still not addressed.

The bazooka handle can be detached from the weapon so that the weapon can be held in the Gundam's right hand.

While the RX-78 can comfortably hold the bazooka (while sadly not being able to store the beam rifle on the back) the fit is a bit loose and wobbly. As you can see above the bazooka rests on the shoulder only when the arm is raised and the hand tilted somewhat at the wrist.

Did you notice also the round hole on the figure's back? That's where the shield can be attached when not in use. The bazooka fits comfortably underneath it.

Joining the family. From left to right: Granddaddy Converge 01 RX-78 released November 2010, the new Converge #08 sculpt, the dual bazooka wielding Final Decisive Battle version (figure 21, released September 2011) and "packrat gundam" from SP 03 double pack released February 2013).

The refined sculpt has changed drastically from the original version (Converge 01).

Like on the recent Mk-II Gundam figure, the new bazooka is extended (compared here to Converge 21).

The new figure unfortunately cannot wield a weapon in its left hand, so packrat Gundam from SP03 still has it beat in this regard.
The new RX-78 looks the part and has a couple of nice equipment choices. I still feel a bit said that it was not deemed worthy of a translucent beam saber, seriously Bandai and FusionWorks need to come up with some accessory kits for Converge loaded with some more weapons, primarily featuring those spiffy sabers. I'd pay for such an equipment set or two in a blink and the model is already in use in some of the Gashapon series already anyway. Please make it happen Bandai!

163 : RX-0 Unicorn Gundam (Destroy Mode)

Next up another old face makes its return. After all, the last Converge Unicorn was released in May 2017 so we were way overdue the release of a new one...

This time it is the Destroy Mode Unicorn that is getting an overhaul. This figure has actually not appeared "naturally" in the basic figure selection (which is pretty odd when you think about it) but now Bandai fills that gap with a solid new design.

Just like the RX-78, the Destroy Mode Unicorn comes with three optional accessories which is really great. The mobile suit can equip either the beam rifle or the bazooka, however only the bazooka can be stored on the back. Again no dual wielding will be possible due to the somewhat disappointing closed fist on the left hand.

Notice also the hole on the figure's right wrist. This is intended for a second shield as you know we'll be seeing this figure popping up in the inevitable Awakening colours, then Full Armor configuration and so on... Perhaps we could even get a pair of Beam Tonfas for this figure this time around, that would be really neat.

Just like the RX-78 the Unicorn can also comfortably wield its secondary weapon which by the way looks really awesome. Now we just have to wait for all the cool gear for the Full Armor variant to become available, as well as a new left-hand with carrying capacity. Again, I don't understand why they don't just make the basic figures dual wielding capable straight off the bat. I assume this is done for aesthetic reasons but it is such a tiny detail that a semi-open hand isn't likely to bother anyone.

The new Destroy Mode Unicorn compared to the original figure (released in the SP 02 dual pack with a Sinanju in August 2012).

Destroy Mode Unicorn line-up: RX-0 from SP02 dual pack (August 2012), promotional UC7 movie pearl clear version (April 2014) and the new GC #08 sculpt.

If you are still short on Destroy Mode Unicorn Gundams, the new figure is a really great opportunity to add this popular mobile suit to your collection for a fraction of the price that the old ones command.

164 : MS-14S Gelgoog (Char's Custom)

The retrospective saga continues, here is another old face way overdue for a re-release. We haven't seen a single Gelgoog in Converge since 2012 so it was about time this figure became available again.

And right out of the box, this figure triggers me. Here we have a figure that has enjoyed a considerable mold update, and still Bandai and FusionWorks do us the disservice of not adding the Beam Naginata weapon choice. Really? Apparently the Gelgoog is not considered worthy enough of the additional cost of an extra accessory which kind of saddens me.

The new sculpt is really sharp and mean looking. One new feature on the figure is the peg on the back for the shield. This is exactly the type of update that we welcome (but it is still no excuse for not including the Beam Naginata...).

Notice that the peg on the shield is rectangular shaped so that you can place it in the "correct" angle. I much prefer round pegs myself as this limits compatibility of accessories and just basically nukes your options to play around with cool or weird gear.

Both the old and the new figure are looking pretty sharp, but the new design is clearly improved. Having said that the old figure is a closer match to the look of the Gelgoog in the original anime. Still, I definitely don't mind the updated and more realistic look of the new figure. I suspect that both the old and the new figures can have their heads opened up to allow for repositioning of the monoeye, but the fit is really tight so I decided I don't want to risk damaging either figure by prying too hard.

Here you can see a design idea I am toying with at the moment. This mobile suit is wielding a Beam Naginata stolen from Char's Gelgoog figure released in the Strategy of Gundam Ex IV Gashapon series (scale 1/300). While the weapon size is a nice fit for Converge the hand it is attached to is still too small. I'll need to find a suitable Converge right hand that can be used to complete this transformation. I was hoping that the new Zaku II figure could solve this problem but it looks like it will be stuck to a machine gun as well.

165 : MS-14A Gelgoog

Four figures in and we are still looking at resculpts. Here comes, as little surprise, the mass production type Gelgoog A-type figure which is very welcome indeed. This mobile suit is a pure army-builder and also suitable for customization, the highlight in this set as far as I am concerned.

Save for the commander antenna, this is a simple repaint of Char's red figure. No additional or optional gear included. I'm going to moan some more about the missing Beam Naginata because it would have been an elegant solution for Bandai and FusionWorks to mold this weapon and then put the Naginata with Char's Gelgoog and the Beam Rifle with the mass production type figure. An acceptable compromise if they thought it too expensive to include two weapons with an army builder figure... but I digress.

Notice the bent beam rifle straight out of the box. The reboot figures can be a bit hit and miss in the quality department and this is one such annoying incident. Other than that the figure looks absolutely great.

The shield goes on the back here as well, and once again the custom S.O.G. Beam Naginata looks great in its hand too...

Here the new Gelgoog figure poses with the old Mass Production Type, figure 49 from Converge volume 8, released in October 2012.

The Gelgoog is a formidable mobile suit, and there are also many custom colour choices floating around in the MSV series. I'm looking forward to transforming some Gelgoog figures into custom designs in the future. Perhaps Bandai will even surprise us with a High Mobility Gelgoog in the future.

166 : MSZ-006A1 Zeta Plus A1

The resculpts continue, next up is the popular Zeta Plus in its original A1 configuration. Based on the Z Gundam family this machine is also known to come in a spiffy red and white livery as piloted by Amuro Ray during his time as a Karaba pilot. A pity we didn't get to see it here in Converge, but you can always pick up one extra figure and repaint it (or pray for a CORE variation costing an arm and a leg).

The Zeta Plus comes armed with a sturdy beam rifle and a shield as well as a multi-part flight pack for use in the Earth's atmosphere. The fins on its back feature four small holes intended for the space type booster tanks present on the C1 figure. A pity they couldn't go the extra mile and create a separate variant of this part. You can always green stuff it yourself if it bugs you I suppose...

Again we see a figure with only the right hand able to hold a weapon. I really wish FW would take the step and just drop those useless clenched left hand fists and bring the entire figure line into ambidextrous territory.

The comparisons continue; here the new Zeta Plus A1 poses with the original Zeta Plus figure (figure 90, released in June 2014)

The old Zeta Plus figure, with its hodge-podge of A1 and C1 details still give the new figure a run for its money. I find the old sculpt very attractive still, and it certainly looks ready for business. The most obvious changes apart from some colour applications are that the old figure features the space-use boosters from the C1 on its back, and that its shield is attached on the outside of the left arm. On the new figure the shield is attached to the back of the arm.

167 : MSZ-006C1 Zeta Plus C1

Six figures in and finally something new. Perhaps not super-edgy since it is only a minor variation of the Zeta Plus A1 figure but at least here is some more gear to play around with.

The Space Combat version of the Zeta Plus comes loaded with extra boosters, fuel tanks and a ridiculously large Beam Smart Gun. It also has a few minor sculpt changes, the one most notable being the different crotch armor piece.

I found it kind of interesting that the booster pack is already attached to the figure's back. Since this component is not present on the A1 figure I would have expected it to be supplied loose in a separate compartment in the plastic bag. It would be interesting to learn more about the production process of these little figures.

The A1 and the C1 Zetas side by side. When not viewed from front the eyesore empty holes on the A1's fins are quite visible.

The Beam Smart Gun uses the same attachment point type as the shield on the A1, so you can move it around to the left side or even equip two.

Using the gear from the A1 and the C1 figure you can mix and match according to preference.

Arming the Zeta C1 with both weapons on the same arm, Sentinel Hummingbird style.
I like that you have some room to play around with gear choices for the two Zeta figures. While not perfect (you know, those left hands I have been moaning about throughout the review) it certainly is a step up in playability and customization and that is always very welcome.

168 : GF13-017NJII God Gundam

The only real new mobile suit released in Converge #08 is the God Gundam arena fighter unit from G Gundam fame (or as it is also known across the pond; the Burning Gundam).

Not much gear for this guy, eh? Now, I know that the mobile fighters tend to be a bit light on interesting weapons and gear in the G Gundam universe, but this figure just seems so... basic. There's a reason the God Gundam cannot be the posterboy for a new wave of figures like any of the high profile suits like the Zeta, ZZ or 00 and that reason spells f-l-a-i-r.

Another interesting aspect of the Converge God Gundam figure is that not only does it come without any accessories. But how would you describe this mobile suit to someone not familiar with it? Most likely you'd start by detailing its rather unique profile with the six large emitters on its back, used when the mobile suit enters its hyper mode. In fact, any other version of this figure I can think of will show the emitters in deployed position, such as this FusionWorks STANDart God Gundam for example.

The Converge figure instead comes with its emitters tucked neatly away. Of course the reason for this spells Converge Redefintion Premium Bandai only accessory coming our way... You can purchase the God Gundam Hyper Mode figure in its shiny golden appearance for only ¥2000 and you'll get the missing parts for this figure thrown in as well. Good ol' Bandai. In fact I just managed to purchase a set a few days ago, ending up paying ¥4500 for the package. Either this thing sells like hot cake or the quantity is very limited. Either way, we'll be revisiting the God Gundam figure later. For now, though, the basic figure is kind of lame but promises more to come.


Overall, Converge #08 is a very competent set, featuring several gorgeous figures of very fine pedigree. Still, your enthusiasm will no doubt depend on your mileage with Converge. This set is a bit of a godsend for beginning collectors; those who only get one and a half new mobile suits here will be less impressed of course although there is a lot to like here even for them.

The updated sculpts work well across the board. You can (and I do) always lament what could have been and I do think that the lack of extras hurts some of the figures in this set. I guess that some mobile suits pay for the excesses of others. Any which way, I feel this set should be a guaranteed hit and help draw new crowds to Converge which can never be a bad thing.

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