EMIA MS-06F Zaku II
Height: 11cm (grunt head); 12cm (command antenna)
Articulation: 31 points total: Triple Jointed neck; 7 points in each arm - double jointed shoulder, upper arm swivel, double jointed elbow, forearm swivel, ball joint wrist; Ball joint torso; Ball joint waist; 6 points in each leg - ball joint hip, triple jointed knee, ball joint ankle, ball joint foot.
Colors: Painted green, dark green, dark grey, black, pink, red, olive (panel lines), purple; Molded grey, clear yellow.
Accessories: Zaku Machinegun; Zaku Bazooka plus mounting clip; Commander Head; Cracker Grenade x2 plus holder; Heat Hawk with removeable blade plus mounting clip; Missile pods x2; Extra hands x8
Release Data: Released in Japan on September 28th at a price of ¥1800. his item is no longer in production as of March 1st, 2006.
Gallery: 31 images.
While I have no researched numbers to back it up, I feel safe in believeing that the Zaku II is possibly the most revisited design in Gundam in number of direct variants and merchandise incarnations. The Gundam family may continue forever, but the Zaku is immortal.
Months before even being released, Bandai themselves began touting this figure as the "new standard" for the MSiA(!!) series - to feature a range of articulation previously unseen on any MSiA, Extended or otherwise. This assertion was intriguing; With some of the stunning advancements already made in MSiA during 2005, how exactly could Bandai further advance any figure, let alone the Zaku II?
And here lies the biggest selling point of the new Zaku figure. On the back of the head there's a small lever. When pushed to one side or the other, it causes the Zaku's monoeye to move in the same direction. Thsi feature has been the subject of many an alteration job on previous Zaku family MSiAs. So while in the case of this figure there's much less problem with eyes painted off center, the lever is difficult to manipulate because of its small size, which leads to a hard time recentering the eye when you've finished playing shifty-eye.
The neck is more or less the same as seen in the EMIA Gouf, which itself was based on the Zaku Second Version. It offers an impressive range of movement by way of the multiple stacked joints. There is, however, trouble in getting the head to sit as close to the shoulders as it seems like it should, and it seems like you're always going to have some length of visible neck. It just doesn't seem really right that way, when the Zaku seems to always be depicted as having a head sitting flat against the top of the torso.
The Arms and Torso
As is usual for EMIA, the Zaku has two ball joints in the torso. One right between the chest and abdomen, and the other in the usual place at the waist. This can allow the Zaku to bend forward about 20 degrees, with a little less to each side. The backpack really kills the backwards lean, though. The backpack itself is like the Gundam Second Version, in that the outer portion can be removed to show a fairly minimal inner structure.
The skirt pieces are well flexible, offering no blockage to posing the legs. However, since they are to be bent out of the way, the usual warped parts warning applies. There's three hardpoints on the skirt - universal on the left and right, and a special one on the backside - that can be used to equip some of the accessories.
The shoulder joints are the usual double joints, but with less forward-backward range than the Hi-Zack. In fact, all the jointing in the arms is pretty well typical. Even the forearm swivel is becoming more commonplace now. Please note, this is not a complaint and the the forearm swivel is one of my favorite joints on any given MSiA, but this is simply furthering the pretty much standard articulation present here. The shoulder coverings are also normal. The right arm shield is jointed pretty well to move around poses, but the cover on the left shoulder is a little less free. Regardless, both arms can elevate to about the same degree, which is a good touch less than paralell to your tabletop.
The Legs and Feet
One thing I find missing from something that's supposed to be the model for future articulation is a hip swivel. I will grant that I'm not sure how to effectively work such a thing into the Zaku appearance without making structural changes, but really, this is an important bit of articulation for something that's supposed to be more poseable than any previous figure in the line. The usual triple jointed knee is present, and while the leg cables don't interfere with their poseability, the shape of the leg does. Thus it's reduced to about a 130 degree bend. Not stiff by a longshot, but it's of course not making the most of the jointing present.
The ankles are heavily restricted by the shape of the lower legs (bell bottoms, man...), but the separately articulated soles of the feet can compensate for this pretty well. Working far, far better than the Second Version Zaku, these might even beat their counterparts in the EMIA Gouf for effective range of movement. The detailing on the bottom of each foot has been redesigned once again, as is common with these updates. And despite the restrictions present on all the joints, the Zaku can still pull off a very convincing kneel. Just best not to leave it that way for more than a couple minutes, of course.
The Figure gets 7/10
Paint and Deco
As usual, the paint work is outstanding. The color is a little more seafoamy than I'd ideally look for in a Zaku, but it definitely doesn't kill it. The panel lining is done very well, as are the weathering effects. EMIAs have really beautiful paint work, and the Zaku is no exception.
Paint and Deco get 9/10
The big draw to this figure for me is the inclusion of a head with command antenna, making it the first MS-06F MSiA that can be displayed as a commander's machine without consumer level alterations needed. The head features the same moveable eye as the regular head, so please refer to that section for details on the mechanism. Swapping the heads is a little tricky because of the compound neck, but it can be done without stressing your fingers.
Yet another version of the highly 70's looking weapon, different from the EMIA Gouf's, which was actually just the Zaku Second Version's gun. Anyway, the forward grip can hinge to either side, and the ammo drum is removeable. In fact, the ammo drum can even be attached to a space on the right shoulder shield or the back of the skirt. ...except that there's only one ammo drum per figure, so it'll look a bit silly to have the ammo drum on there while the Zaku is carrying the machinegun.
Once again, a new version. This is a little smaller diameter than the Second Version, which bugs me some since I appreciated the really big looking bazooka. The targeting sensor and forward grip can be rotated around the barrel independantly to suit your whims. It also comes with a special clip to connect the bazooka to the hardpoint on the back of the skirt. It holes the bazooka very well. But since the clip only attaches by a round peg and hole connection, it's easy to make the bazooka crooked without even noticing you've touched it.
This is probably about the same size as the heat hawk that came with the first Zaku figure, and it's about as flimsy feeling. Its special characteristic is that it has a removeable clear yellow blade, to simulate the glowing effect sometimes seen in Mobile Suit Gundam. This also comes with a special clip to attach to the skirt, rather than having a permanent peg to fit into the skirt. This might have been a good idea, but the plastic used for the heat hawk is so soft, that you almost bend the thing in half to get it in, and almost rip it in half to get it out again. Does the phrase "poor planning" mean anything to you, Bandai? The clip holds snugly in the skirt, though unless youre careful with where the heat hawk is going, it could easily become warped under the torso cables.
The regular six block compound grenades. These come with a holder that fits to one of the side skirt hardpoints. The grenades stay in the holder just fine, and the holder fits in the skirt at least as well.
I think these may in fact be the same as what came with the Second Version. Either way, they fit around the ankles and are really difficult to get on. So much so that you'll want to never remove them after you finally succeed...
Four pair. Besides the Typical Six (fists, gun, and grasping), there's one special right hand, and one special left. The special right hand is a fist with the thumb and index finger extended to the pointing. This is done to go with the commander's head and recreate a scene from the end of Mobile Suit Gundam of a commander's Zaku at A Baoa Qu pointing into the distance just before being blown up. Right. The left hand is more generic, just open and spread fingers, similar in style to hands included with the Dom Second Version and Asshimar. The hands hold securely on the wrists and swap very easily. Perfect balance.
Accessories get 8/10
Perhaps I've misinterpreted Bandai's remark about the Zaku's articulation. Perhaps they didn't intend this Zaku to feature new and amazing levels of poseability, but just to establish this jointing as an official standard to be followed. Something that no figure should ever have less than. In which case, this is fine, since I feel that the articulation is the minimum level any figure from this point forward should employ. We've reached a point in mechanics with MSiA that makes anything less simply unacceptable.
However, if Bandai did in fact mean this was supposed to represent poseability above and beyond its contemporaries, I can only say that their reach exceeded their grasp. This is a fine figure using a proven articulation model, but whether it lives up to the corporate hype is something you'll have to decide for yourself.
It's still, though, easily an Excellent figure.
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