Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Gundam Converge #09

Well... better late than never. Converge volume 09 has been out now for almost three months and I only managed to get hold of a set in March myself. The Wing and the R-Jarja were the first ones to begin popping up online as people were getting rid of their duplicates (no doubt from having to purchase full boxes as well). However the full volume 09 set has been very rare to surface on the secondary market, I have only seen it two or three times on Mandarake for example and then it was gone pretty much immediately.

In the end I somewhat reluctantly picked up a box in Bangkok last March paying 2000 baht for the pleasure. Of course the box contents are just as disappointing as one would expect:

Yes, multiples of everything except the Zaku II:s of course. I wonder if all the boxes are now loaded in this fashion, effectively making the dual colour figures just as rare as the old secret items used to be. Definitely not impressed. If this is the way things are it would also effectively kill off the secondary trading market as everyone who bought a box would be sitting with the same duplicates. If your box had a different loadout I'd be curious to know...

Anyway, let's drill down to the individual figures. As you can see from the contents above, my export version of the box features no Shokugan chewing gum which is par for the course.

169 : MSZ-010S Enhanced ΖΖ Gundam

The Enhanced ZZ Gundam (or Amprified as the box unintentionally humorously puts it) is a further development of the base ZZ Gundam but it sticks pretty close to the original look. The figure itself however has been given a brand new sculpt following the Converge reboot.


What is up with the listing? Notice how my figure's torso is leaning over to the right, the issue of bendy legs and feet seems to be growing more and more common in Converge as of late.

Not much going on in the accessory department, but that is to be expected of the ZZ Gundam, which always seems to be short on goodies.

Converge ZZ Gundam family: MSZ-010 ZZ Gundam (Converge volume 12, October 2013), MSZ-010S Enhanced ZZ Gundam (Converge #09, January 2018) and the FA-010S Full Armor ZZ Gundam (EX 21, released February 2018).
The new figure is a massive improvement over the look of the old ZZ Gundam figure which now looks really dated in comparison. Still you can tell that the improvements of the enhanced ZZ sit mainly on the inside.

170 : XXXG-00W0 Wing Gundam Zero (TV Version)

Hoh boy, is it really time for the Wing Gundam again? I feel like I just reviewed it, probably because of the reissue that popped up in the December Converge Selection last year. This time however we at least have a brand new sculpt to show for it.


Looking pretty slick there I must say. The sculpt and colour applications are really quite impressive and this is easily the best looking Converge Wing Gundam thus far as far as I am concerned.

When I first laid eyes on the large shield I half expected this figure to feature some half-baked Neo Bird form transformation gimmick which it thankfully does not. I guess it is never too late to introduce this in a future CORE reissue though. And stay tuned for Converge #11 when we get a new version of the EW Wing Gundam Zero as well... Alright, let's see if we can bring some order in the Converge Wing Gundam figure history...

Close kinship: XXXG-01W Wing Gundam (TV version, Converge vol. 15, June 2014), XXXG-01W Wing Gundam (Endless Waltz version) released April 2017 and the new TV-version XXXG-00W0 Wing Gundam Zero.

Same line-up as before but with the Limited Color reissue of the TV version XXXG-01W Wing Gundam (Converge Selection, December 2017).

And here we add the Endless Waltz version XXXG-00W0 Wing Gundam Zero in original colours (Converge vol. 10, April 2013) and Real Type Color (Converge Selection, May 2017). This particular figure has also been reissued is the first version colours in the Operation Revive (Overseas Edition) but it looks identical to the far left figure so I have not added it here.
There sure are a lot of Wing Gundams out there and the thought of having to do this comparison one more time makes me grind my teeth a bit though as I am running out of space. Still, I am really happy that the Wing Gundam mobile suit line is getting some love from Bandai with a handful of new mobile suits to look forward to as well in the next two sets. Question is though; will we even get the Leo?

171 : MS-06S Zaku II (Char's Custom)

We're continuing with reissues and here comes a really classic if not legendary one. Char's red coloured Zaku II has popped up several times in Converge before but this is the first time the entire figure has been resculpted.


The new mold is much smoother and rounded in its lines, although it also feels a bit small when standing next to other Converge figures. The old Zaku II was a bit non-Zaku II looking (that can't be good, right) and the new sculpt has a much better likeness. I can't really shake the feeling that it looks a bit like a balding old man though.

The new Zaku figure comes with two optional weapon choices, the classic Zaku Machine Gun or the equally classic Zaku Bazooka. Sadly each weapon has a hand molded directly on to it, so that it is not possible to unequip either choice or to store the spare weapon on the figures back, kind of a letdown.

The new figure could also have benefitted from the Heat Hawk axe. I can't help but think about how FusionWorks spent a lot of energy (and resources) on getting the Geara Doga geared up with all sorts of crazy accessories. With the Zaku II being one of the most numerously produced mobile suits in all of Gundam lore this figure is a staple for modding so it could have done with as many extras as possible. Here's hoping we will get a couple more MSV designs out of it with some additional gear as well.

The resculpted Zaku II retains a movable monoeye gimmick. The head opens up in half and then the monoeye sits on a round disc that can be spun around from left to right to give the impression of the eye looking in another direction.

From left to right: Machine Gun wielding Zaku (Dengeki Hobby Magazine supplement, September 2011), Bazooka Zaku (Converge vol. 5, November 2011), Overseas Only limited metallic paint ("Converge Limited" twin-pack, March 2014), Converge Revive version from vol. 16 with extra Heat Hawk (September 2014), Gundam Front Tokyo clear colour version (Converge Ver. GFT, April 2016) and the new sculpt from Converge #09 (January 2018).
We sure have a lot of Char's Custom Zaku II in Converge by now. Add to the line-up above also the three Origin version MS-06S figures and the count gets even higher.

172 : MS-06F Zaku II

I can't believe how long we have had to wait for a Zaku II reissue. The original figure appeared in January 2011 and apart from a couple of really rare box set variations this is the first time we get our hands on a mass production type Zaku II again.



Due to the odd manufacturing and packaging choices that Bandai and FusionWorks do, the mass production type Zaku II, produced in thousands during the UC 0079 war appears to be the rarest figure of this bunch. If you were hoping to pick up a couple extras for repurposing or army-building you can expect to be disappointed, this is one rare figure already.


While 95% of the two Zakus in this set are identical the primary difference is that the F-type Zaku comes with a clean head devoid of a commander antenna. Kind of a missed opportunity I think, it would have been great to get an optional head sculpt with the antenna as well. As I mentioned earlier a lot of effort was spent on doing four different Geara Doga headsculpts so I can't see why a little time and energy couldn't have been invested here.


The mass production type Zaku II can of course also wield the Zaku Bazooka just like the Char figure. At least we got two weapon choices to improve on our little desktop armies. I'd pose two different figures if I could, but the green Zaku II is nigh on impossible to source at the moment.

Converge mass-production Zaku II history: MS-06 Zaku II (Converge vol. 2, January 2011), MS-06 in alternate colours (Operation Jaburo multipack, December 2012), Real Type Color Zaku II (SP Realtype twin-pack, July 2014) and the new sculpt from Converge #09 (January 2018).

While the old Zaku II figure is a cool model it doesn't really capture the feel of the Zaku II design that well. The new sculpt does a much better job I think.

173 : AMX-104 R-Jarja

Although we've been looking at several new sculpts in volume nine so far here we finally get the first of two new mobile suit types. And it is a pretty impressive piece at that. The R-Jarja is a Neo Zeon commander type mobile suit featured in the ZZ Gundam series which makes it a bit obscure so I am really happy that it got a chance to be included in Converge.




The suit supposedly draws its inspiration from the old YMS-15 Gyan, although superficially it reminds mainly of the Bawoo. It is really a very unique beast all in itself. I think that the Converge figure is a true masterpiece with many interesting sculpt details which makes it really stand out.



Although the figure comes with both a heavy rifle and a large beam saber the latter is stuck in its sheath. It is interesting that we got a weapon separated from the hand here, but not for the Zaku II which really needed it. These kinds of design choices really make me scratch my head sometimes.

Sticking a custom saber in the R-Jarja's open hand is a perfect fit. Here it poses together with the Gyan and a Bawoo.

Easy to miss: The menacing monoeye is hidden well under the R-Jarja's brow.
While I wish that the R-Jarja would have been given some extra accessories to enable it unsheathing and wielding its blade this is still a really eye-catching figure. The beam saber that comes with the Converge #01 Exia is a perfect fit in the hand, too bad the colour isn't yellow. It shouldn't really be that hard to cut up the R-Jarja's own saber hilt and attach to a beam saber from another figure, a project I will consider for the future.

174 : GF13-001NHII Master Gundam

The second and last new mobile suit featured in this volume is a fighter from the G Gundam arena; the Master Gundam of Neo Hong Kong fame.


The Master Gundam has a really unique look, with its black and red colours. The Converge figure feels more navy blue than black though, which isn't a bad colour choice at all.


Accessory-wise there isn't a whole lot going on here. The Assault Kingdom figure featured both an optional red hand and that weird beam towel thing; here we have to make do with the variable wing binders. At least we don't have to deal with Master Asia's horrible white robot horse, the Fuunsaiki either...


The wings can be move up and down to create some different poses. Also notice the unusual shape of the figure's hands (well, unusual for Converge figures that normally clench their fists when not holding a weapon of some sort). I guess if you want to you could purchase a second figure and repaint a hand in purplish red, still I think it would have been a fair accessory to include here.


The line-up for G Gundam will be completed with the God Gundam's predecessor, the Shining Gundam (which is actually already out at the time of this review). I have a feeling we won't be seeing much in the shape of G Gundam in Converge after that.

175 : GF13-001NHII Master Gundam (Hyper Mode)

The last figure in this set is again a colour swap, this time for the Master Gundam. It is simply an all gold "Hyper Mode" version of the figure.



Strictly speaking it isn't all gold but I have a hard time working up any excitement over this thing. At least they didn't make it a horribly overpriced P-Bandai item like the Hyper Mode God Gundam.


Again, not a whole lot going on in the shape of accessories here. Just a couple of variable wings again...

While it is fun to play around with the figure's wings for a couple of seconds there isn't all that much exciting going on with the Hyper Mode figure. I wish they would have spent this recolouring budget in the Zaku II instead.

Conclusion

Converge volume 9 delivers another really strong line-up of mobile suits which in its entirety will be of interest primarily to newer collectors. Although the four resculpted figures are really great I feel like there are a bit too many resissues going on for the more experienced Converge collectors these days. And considering the trouble I had locating these figures I imagine it will be quite hard to cherry pick the ones that you would really want without having to spend for an entire box.


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