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Gundam Converge
by yo go re

If this review went any further back to the roots, it would be spending all its former credibility making Jimmy Fallon look hip.

We've reviewed plenty of Gundams over the years, but all of them have come from a single property: G Gundam. G Gundam may clearly be the best Gundam, but it's not the only Gundam. And it's definitely not the first - that honor falls to 1979's Mobile Suit Gundam, and its star mecha, the RX-78-2.

In-universe, the mecha is the second in a series of eight prototype mobile suits, falling (predictably) between the RX-78-1 and the RX-78-3; you'll never believe what the other five were called! Out of universe, the mecha was originally going to be called a "Gunboy," but that was first changed to "Gundom," a portmanteu of "gun" and "freedom" (one of the major themes of the initial series) before later being changed to the familiar "Gundam," suggesting a firearm powerful enough to hold back enemies like a levee.

This little guy is part of the Gundam Converge line, which sort of splits the difference between toys and model kits: it's molded from separate pieces that need to be put together, but just a few: head, chest, arms, and legs. They're all PVC, rather than ABS, and no glue or anything is required - you just slip them together. The assembled toy is a chibi-fied design (though not superdeformed, because that's something else), standing only about 2¼" tall, with a large head and thick, stumpy limbs. The details are all here, like the squarey shoulders and the shapes on the chest, they're just squished down.

Creator Tomino Yoshiyuki intended for the Gunboy armor to be colored like a jetplane or other mundane piece of equipment - ie, white and light gray, which is why enemies keep referring to the RX-78-2 as "the White Devil" - but the animation company insisted on brighter colors to draw attention; that's why the chest is red, blue, and yellow, and there's red on his feet and face.

The articulation on the Gundam Converge toys is very slight: RX-78-2 swivels at the neck, shoulders, and right wrist. The join at the waist is a rectangular block, which is why that doesn't turn. The wrist only exists because the accessories are permanently molded as part of the hands, so having that be swappable is the only way to trade between his gun and his beam sword. The large red shield plugs into either forearm or his backpack, and the right beam sword hilt can be removed from the shoulder so it looks proper when he's holding the sword. There's also a clear block to help keep the figure standing.

RX-78-2 is the ur Gundam, the Platonic ideal toward which all others strive - there's a reason Shining Gundam looks the way it does and not, say, Sumo Gundam or Sushi Gundam or something else ridiculous. If not for Toys Я Us carrying these little Converge kits, I wouldn't have such a foundational character in my collection.

-- 02/26/19

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