Height: 10.5 cm to top of head.
Articulation: 25 total points of articulation: double-jointed neck; 6 points in each arm- double-jointed shoulders, pre-elbow swivels, double-jointed elbow, ball-jointed wrists; ball-jointed waist; 5 points in each leg- ball jointed hip, double-jointed knee, double-jointed ankle.
Accessories: Zaku Machinegun with extra ammo drum, Zaku Bazooka, Heat Hawk, Shield, Sturm Faust x2, Extra Hands x4.
Colors: Molded medium blue, dark blue, dark gray, and silver. Painted medium blue, dark blue, dark gray, copper, white, red and pink.
Release Data: Released on January 27th, 2006 at a price of 1,500 Yen. This item is still widely available as of this review (February 6th, 2007)
Gallery: 22 pictures.
Okay, I understand that the Zudah's role in MS Igloo is that of an obsolete prototype forced into the limelight by Zeon propaganda. Even so, is that any reason for the MSiA Zudah to follow suit with the best possible articulation pre-Gundam SEED Destiny MSiA had to offer?
The head is based off the standard Zeon design stylings, with a commander's antenna splitting the monoeye track, similar to the split view of the Zaku-I. Overall, the shape of the head is kind of similar to the helmet of Samus Aran, of Metroid fame. The articulation is very similar to that of the Zaku Second Version, with the head's ball-joint attached to a rounded hinged piece that fits down into the torso. The shape of the head and high collar hide this joint much better than the Zaku Second ever did, though, and it's less likely to get misaligned. Unfortunately it also limits the joint a fair amount.
The shoulders house most of the Zudah's distinctive features. A silver shaft runs down through the shoulder to the elbow, allowing the Zudah to extend its reach by about a centimeter. This shaft also forms the basis for the pre-elbow swivel. In exchange, the Zudah's shoulder joint is the long-disused double ball-joint which, while its range is respectable, is no match for any Second Version or later joint. Its closest equivalent in range is, ironically enough, the MSiA Zaku I- the Zudah's closest in-story competitor- which had about the best First Version shoulders around. The other particularly neat feature here is the shield mount, a ball-joint which slides around the shoulder on a track to allow the Zudah to use its shield in different ways. I'll cover the shield under Accessories.
Outside of the shoulder, the arm's pretty standard- double-jointed elbows that fold the arm into a tight V, and the ball-joint wrist with socket hands that has been line standard for ages now.
The very square and blocky torso continues the figure's "locked in a vault since 2004" vibe with a removable backpack very much like the Zaku Second's, though they're not interchangeable. While the inner workings would suggest a Zaku-style dual exhaust, the backpack features one large thruster cone and a tiny manuvering thruster at each corner, all ball-jointed. I really like the copper color used on the backpack, and I don't remember seeing it on an MSiA before.
The waist joint isn't as good with tilt as MSiA got from Gundam SEED Destiny onward, but can swivel 360 degrees. The skirt is standard construction for MSiAs, but seems to be made of a thicker plastic than usual, as many older skirts often were. As such, it's heavier and more prone to warping than usual, so watch out if you leave the Zudah in a kneel for too long. The rear skirt features a hinged peg for storage of the Bazooka, and there's a hardpoint for ammo drums on the left hip.
The Legs and Feet
The Zudah has pretty slim legs for a Zeon Mobile Suit, with the Gyan being the closest in proportion that I can recall. Hips are decent, with a pretty standard range of motion. In a move that would be surprising on any other figure, the Zudah only has double-jointed knees. The top joint is somewhat restricted and the thrusters sticking out of the back stop the knee at a 45-degree angle or thereabouts. The third joint might help this somewhat, but at the risk of popping the thrusters off. There are hardpoints on either side of each calf for the Zaku Machinegun and Heat Hawk.
The feet are the Second Version style, with one ankle joint and then a second joint between the top and bottom parts of the feet. The joint looks a lot better here than it does on the Zaku- the heels are well-shaped to disguise the slipper effect so common to that kind of articulation. Overall, the figure does well, but its inexplicably dated construction is puzzling.
Paint and Decoration
Paint is clean, with no errors or overlap that I can detect. As I mentioned above, I like the copper color used on the backpack and Sturm Fausts, and the two-tone blue camo scheme is executed well. One curious omission, though, is the unpainted scopes on the Zaku MG and Bazooka. They should be pink, and pink was obviously used for the monoeye, so why the omission?
Articulation gets 7/10
Sculpt and Deco get 7/10
A pretty basic accessory, issued countless times with countless MSiA. Only this is an entirely new mold, the fourth if you don't count the UC Arms version. This new version is shorter than even the original MSiA version, and has a smaller handgrip. It does, however, upgrade the weapon with the modern amenities of a removable ammo drum and hinged secondary handgrip. An extra removable ammo drum is included, and it mounts securely to a hardpoint on the left hip. It also has a peg on the side to allow you to stow it on the calf-hardpoints, though it's hard to do so without knocking the ammo drum off.
But old styling brings old problems: even with a smaller weapon and an extending arm, the Zudah can't hold the Zaku MG two-handed very well. You can place the stock against the shoulder, but then you don't get a very good angle on the other grip when you extend the left arm. Alternately, you can shove the stock under the arm, but then the scope gets pushed up against the torso and gets bent out of shape. In short, all the problems you ever had with your Zaku Second or Hi-Zack, except the ammo drum is a wee bit more secure.
Now we're getting somewhere. Once again a newer, shorter mold, though it is thicker than the original MSiA Zaku Bazooka, and it has the rotating scope and secondary grip brought in from the Second Version onward. The Zudah can use this one without any trouble, getting a good two-handed grip without mashing the scope against its chest. It mounts to the peg on the rear skirt firmly, and won't become dislodged unless you're really trying.
The Heat Hawk is the most dramatically shrunken weapon of the set. Small but otherwise identical in shape to the standard version, the Zudah's Heat Hawk is also a more subdued set of colors with a gunmetal shaft and silver blade. It's made of soft plastic- unusual for hand weapons these days, but that was the only choice pre-Destiny. More to the point, it's also probably necessary due to the tight fit in the Zudah's tiny hands.
This is pretty much my favorite part of the figure. Attaching to the sliding ball on either shoulder, the Zudah's shield can slide to the front to deflect attack, to the back to get out of the way, or to the side to convert into a clawed weapon similar to the Zeon "Puncher Shield" issued with the Zaku-I MSiA. For Puncher Mode, the handgrip and claws fold out. These are actually hard plastic, the only indication anywhere on the figure that it may have been designed and engineered later than summer 2004. Like many other aspects of the Zudah, it seems a bit fragile for practical use- the prongs are pretty thin, and it's hard to imagine them really doing any damage to an enemy Mobile Suit. The shield also has a set of brackets for the Zudah's Sturm Fausts- chronologically speaking, it now has the earliest missile-launching shield in the Universal Century.
These are also made of soft plastic, probably again because they'd be very fragile if molded in ABS since they're pretty small. The copper paint on the heads looks pretty nice, but the Zudah can't actually hold them very well because of how thin they are. It seems to be the shield mount or nothing.
The MSiA Six: hands for the firearms, hands for the melee weapon, and fists. All hold to the arm just fine and grip their weapons well, with the exception of the Sturm Fausts as mentioned above. They're definitely smaller than most modern MSiA hands, and they're stiff enough that getting the weapons held in the first place can be tough. Once they're in, though, they're not going anywhere.
The Zudah confuses me terribly. There's not terribly much wrong with it- the shoulders are the best they could possibly be given the extending arm gimmick, and the Zaku MG has some of the usual Zaku MG issues, and that's pretty much it. It looks good, it's well-made, and there's very little on it that couldn't have been done this way in 2003-2004. Surely this was intentional, but even though the machine is supposed to be behind the times, isn't this a little bit of an odd way to get the point across? With the current-standard lack of panel inking and the numerous markings on the shoulders and shield, it feels like a really excellent US-release figure more than anything.
When the site was first preparing to open in early 2005, I rated the Zaku II Second Version as Excellent, because it was, and is. Particularly for the time in which it was produced, when Second Version jointing was not a given. Articulation has become much more standardized since then, with the only exceptions being the weird transforming Suits. So by current standards I'd call the Zudah somewhere in-between Good and Very Good, whereas prior to the Destiny revolution it would easily have been Very Good to Excellent. I can only hope that the figure's jointing is an anomaly- we've gained far too much to turn back now.
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