Thursday, 3 May 2018

Gundam Converge CORE : Mobile Suit Gundam 00 10th Anniversary

I finally got my hands on the latest Converge CORE offering (just in time for another two to be released this month...), the Mobile Suit Gundam 00 anniversary set, which  features updated versions of the Celestial Being mobile suits that have been released after the Converge Reboot in early 2016. I had expected this set to become a real challenge but I have seen it a few times on Mandarake although they sell out really quickly.

Like most other CORE releases this is a Premium Bandai item and it was released in February 2018 at a price of nearly 6000 yen. And sure enough, I had to pay ¥8000 to grab it on the secondhand market one month later. I have a feeling this is the type of item that will quickly become scarce in the marketplace, even the regular Celestial Being figures seem to fly off the shelves.

All of the figures in this set have been previously releases, well save for the Virtue which was released more or less in tandem with this box which feels a bit silly (especially since it was more pricy than the figure included here).

The box is tiny but it is really loaded with components and of course your blue little Shokugan-style chewing gum.

Here I have opened up the exterior bags to easier showcase the new accessory bags for three of the retail figures (the Virtue doesn't come with any additional parts). We'll now study each mobile suit a bit closer.

GN-001 Gundam Exia

The Converge Gundam Exia figure was already the most involved design and here we get a figure with several new accessories in addition to the old ones. Just look at that equipment selection. Here we have everything from the mighty GN Sword to a pair of shiny beam sabers and a new set of swords that can be both wielded or stowed on the figure's hips.

The Gundam Exia from the Converge reboot was already a fantastic figure and the CORE box version does add some additional paint applications to enhance it even further. As you can see though these new markings are mainly white and blue lines on the shoulders and shield, all in all these are pretty trivial additions though, which hardly justify the release of a new figure in my opinion.

Above you can see the stock retail Gundam Exia from Converge #01 next to the CORE redesign. Apart from the new (questionable) detail markings there are also some minor colour changes; the blue is slightly darker, the translucent green is somewhat lighter, and the yellow parts are now golden metallic. All in all the changes are pretty discrete. The major difference is otherwise the clear action base. I don't like this concept at all, since it stands out like a sore thumb from the other Converge figures.

Here we see the new sword accessories in their stowed or handheld position. There is a little disc on the figure's hip which can be removed and then allow the swords to be attached to the figure. We also get a pair of new holding hands with two swords which is really superb, it is not every day we get such complicated parts swapping in Converge.

The new beam sabers are similar to the old ones except that the hilts are now painted in white. At first I was really curious about how to use them, as there were no loose hands included with the figure. That was until I realized that the hands holding the two swords can actually hold the beam sabers as well...

The beam sabers are really beautiful and I absolutely love them. With so many distinct weapons though I tend to let the Exia pose with the large GN Sword, and I guess I will let the CORE Exia wield its new swords, leaving the beam sabers unused. Fortunately they are great accessories for other Converge figures - I have even purchases some spare retail Exia figures to stock up on a few extra sabers... The Gundam Exia is easily the best figure in this box set and looks good no matter what you choose to pose it with.

GN-002 Gundam Dynames

The Dynames figure feels really Spartan when compared to the previous Exia figure. Here we only get two new accessories, a pair of GN Pistols and new holding hands. I suppose you could steal a beam saber or two from the Exia if you wanted to though.

Looking pretty good. The new Dynnames has a couple of white stripes on its shoulder armour and gives an overall brighter impression than the retail figure.

Side by side the two figures feature distinctly different colour schemes; the retail figure has a very dark green colour compared to the shiny bright green on the CORE figure. And once again the yellows are replaced with golden metallic.

Here the Dynames poses with its two GN Pistols, something that it wouldn't do so effortlessly. I really wish that there was a storage feature for the sniper rifle; it would have looked really good to have it hanging on the right shoulder.

Sadly, I had severe issues with the GN Pistols. For some reason the pegs on the hands are tinier than on the regular Dynames hands, especially on the right side. My figure simply cannot hold a gun in its right hand (except for in a few poses where the hand is simply leaning out of the arm ready to fall at a moment's notice). I have seen a review on youtube where the reviewer appeared to have no issues with this so it seems to be a(nother) quality assurance issue. Very disturbing as Converge has been a solid figure line for most of its life.

Right now I am debating whether or not I should simply glue the right hand GN Pistol to the figure's wrist but until I decide to do such a drastic measure it will be posing with the rifle in one hand and a pistol in the other...

GN-003 Gundam Kyrios

Next up we have the Kyrios, the last of the three figures introduced in the regular Converge line (Virtue was clearly added as an afterthought). The new Kyrios figure has a bit in common with the Dynames in that it comes with only one new accessory which happens to be a pair of GN Missile Launchers.

Looking pretty striking there, friend. I think the Kyrios is the best looking of the Converge Celestial Being bunch. I find its three colour pattern very effective and eyecatching.

The Converge Gundam Kyrios was already a smart looking figure and the new version cranks it up another notch with its refined paint applications of especially the gold metallic detail. The added stripes and text on the CORE figure again feel like the same type of afterthought like we have seen on the other figures in this set.

Luckily I had no issues with the fitting of the missile launchers here; the extra hand sits safely in place. The standard beam submachine gun however doesn't fit very well in the right hand, the grip is very loose. I am also a bit disappointed by the curious idea (no doubt for cost-cutting reasons) to mold the left hand directly onto one of the launchers. Why couldn't we get a simple open left hand and two identical launchers? This would have made it possible to mix and match gear and possibly exchange weapons with other figures. Clearly, Converge could benefit from a bit more standardization work.

GN-005 Gundam Virtue

I didn't bother with a parts display for Virtue since this figure comes with no extras for the CORE anniversary set. Out of all the figures in this box it is the one that most closely mimics the original version, so much so in fact that owning both seems highly superfluous. Notice also those horribly warped legs on my figure.

As you can see there are only a few markings that differ between the two, even the base is the same for the standalone Virtue (which is something I did not fancy about it).

There's even less to say about the Virtue than the other figures. It has the ability to tilt its shoulder launchers but otherwise handles like the standard figure does.

Celestial Being teams from the standard figure line (above) and the CORE box set (below).

Regular weapons loadout vs. new options found in the 00 set (minus one of the GN Pistols which the Dynames can't hold...).

All in all, I am not a big fan by this figure set and it feels like a hugely missed opportunity. And I mean that from a toy perspective of course; no doubt this set has sold well due to the popularity of the Celestial Being mobile suits. While the extra weapons are nice they cannot really compensate for the obvious QA shortcomings, the uninspired box art and an outrageous price tag - this set is for the completists only. Casual collectors would do well to seek out the (three) standard figures instead which command prices of about 800-1000 yen per unit at the moment.

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