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The Ten: Updated Wednesdays-Fridays-Sundays

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Review- Real Grade Char's Zaku

Kit Review: RG MS-06S Zaku II
Well, here he is, folks. Surprisingly, Bandai has churned this guy out pretty quickly, adding to the RG ranks only a few months after the release of the RG RX-78. Does this guy live up to the expectations laid down by his successor? Read on and find out.
Well, first and foremost, let me say that the detail on this kit is just as impressive as the first Real Grade, with Char's Zaku sporting five different shades of red alone, and two shades of gray. Everything is well placed here, breaking up the limbs into segmented pieces of armor very nicely.
Putting this guy together is a lot of fun, and mimics the same process as the first Real Grade kit. However, there's a great deal of remolding in the skeletal frame here, to the point where not a lot looks the same as the RX. Even the fingers are molded to be a little bit rounder. Pieces acting as anchors to the frame pop out and end up becoming shoulder pieces, which is pretty impressive. I especially like the new shoulder articulation used by this kit, and the shoulder armor is far better put together. Each piece of the body is well-constructed and a lot of fun, with some minor niggles here and there.
What do I mean, you ask? Well, there's some pieces that are too damn small to be working with at this level. For example, the RX used pre-constructed skirt pieces, but Bandai made it a little difficult this time around by having the front skirt armor a piece of a normal frame, and the balljoints are VERY hard to cut off because they're so small. One of mine broke, unfortunately.
Also, there are pieces used in the constructed for the front torso armor that are very hard to pop in, and the cockpit gimmick, while interesting and well detailed, is difficult to close completely. There are a pair of wrist pieces that are extremely loose and are supposed to peg in, but have no place to do so. However, those are only small complaints in an otherwise smooth building process.
I commend Bandai for making the tube segments EXTREMELY easy to work with, as they don't even require clippers to get off. There are two springs in this kit, and there are two different sizes of tube pieces. Even the smallest pieces, used in the head, are easy to push on and keep in place. Bandai has made sure that no glaring spaces appear in between these pieces either, which is very nice. Let's take a look at the Zaku next to his predecessor, the RG RX-78.
First things first- while the majority of the joints in both RG kits are very solid and work well, there's one thing that Bandai NEEDS to work on- the pelvic joints. While most kits either have a bar with two balljoints on each end or two separate pelvic joints that plug in tightly and rarely budge, both RGs have short pegs that plug into their pelvis, and because of the softer plastic used in the inner frame, frequent popping out occurs. This is not something fixed with the Zaku, and it is perhaps even worse, considering its legs have a rounder, more bulbous look to them.
Now, here to help out with going over the features of the RG Zaku is a close relative to him- the Master Grade Zaku! These two kits, unsurprisingly, have a lot in common with one another!
Side by side. You can really see how much more detail is implemented in the RG version. They're even doing the same pose, how cute! I found that the tubes were a lot easier to put on the RG version myself, and look better overall. These two have a lot of the same panel lines, but the different colors on the RG make them stand out more. Now, on to articulation...
Check it out! The RG can replicate the same pose with a little bit more stretch in his limbs. Something to note, however, is the side-skirts are not quite as articulated as you would expect, so the MG beats out the RG in that is can raise its leg a little bit higher and out to the sides more. Like the RX before it, the RG Zaku has the shifting armor on the back of his upper arms and on this thighs, though frankly, it feels a little more awkward this time around.
From the side. You can see how the RG's knee and elbow joints curl a little bit more than his older brother, but the pelvic joint isn't as high. Still, the pelvic joints are designed to get a ninety degree turn out of them. The RG's feet also move in two different places. However, the RG loses the torso joint because of the way it is constructed. The shoulder joints are relatively the same in their range, however the RG might also have a bit more forward movement. Impressively, the RG retains the head turning, eye moving gimmick, which looks very cool and is implemented the same way. Only one side of the cockpit opens though, and it doesn't have the side changing gimmick like the MG, though I'm not sure how they would have been able to do that on such a small figure.
The backs. Char's Zaku has the additional leg and jetpack details, just like his MG version, but unlike the normal Zaku.
Let's check out the accessories- the Zaku comes with the trademark machine gun, bazooka, heat hawk, and a peg to put on his body so the heat hawk can be stored. He also comes with a tiiiiiiiiny 1/144th version of Char Aznable himself, not pictured. I haven't removed him from the frame in fear of what happened with the Amuro figure on my first RG- his legs snapped off and held on to the frame.
The machine gun can be held with both hands, and the ammo round can be detached and placed on the side or rear skirts. Pretty impressive, and the peg for the machine gun seems a lot tighter and hold a lot better than the RG's beam rifle. I love the fact that I can press the butt of the gun into the upper arm or the chest and the gun doesn't fall out of its peg.
The heat hawk also pegs in very well and can be stored on the side or rear skirts. The unfortunate consequence of having a peg on the heat hawk rather than the hands is that there's only one- and so, the heat hawk can only be held regularly in the right hand. Yes, there are two shades of gray used in the heat hawk, on on the handle and another on the edge of the blade.
The bazooka can be held very well, and I think it looks best slung under the waist. Again, this bazooka just stays in place much better than the Hyper Bazooka with the RX. Maybe it's the design.
Much like the RX, the Zaku can carry everything on his body at once, in dual wielding mode or...
By mounting the bazooka on the back holster. This gimmick works very well, but the back holster can be hard to flip out on such a small figure. The figure looks great with the bazooka on his back, though.
I originally enjoyed the RX RG so much because of the building process coupled with the playability of the figure. With the Zaku, the build, once again, was an absolute joy, but the playability of the figure seems to be lacking a little bit. I believe it's because the sacrifices made in making sure the figure was accurate take away from the articulation, like in the torso and the side skirts. Also, the pelvic connections seem worse with this figure, and while I could overlook them on the RX, they're hard to see past on the Zaku. The RX may have been missing the beam prong and the gundam hammer, but it still managed to have a good deal of accessories, so I wonder why the Zaku doesn't have more. They could have at least given use the legs missiles that come with the MG Zaku, for starters, or perhaps another heat hawk with a peg on the other side. The figure is still very articulate and very impressive, though. I love how they designed the shoulder armor and the other recurring mechanics of the Zaku frame, and I think that, in this short time, they have improved on certain areas of the RG design. But I think they've made a few small errors that knock off a few points. Still, these two figures look great posed together.
So while he's not quite as good as the RG RX, he's still a very well-crafted piece of work. If you can figure out your own modifications to improve the leg skirts, he's probably just as good. Keep in mind, the Zaku is a little less humanoid in structure and proportion than the RX is, so the similarities in the design of the inner frame may have been a little hindering in that aspect. It is still extremely well-designed, don't get me wrong, it's just not as good as the RX. Look forward to the next RG review, the Gundam SEED Strike Gundam!

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