Tuesday, April 25, 2017

HGUC GEP Zeta Gundam Review



The Gunpla Evolution Project, a new idea from Bandai to increase their level of Gunpla engineering to make new kits that are more articulate, better looking, and intuitive with new innovations. I don't know what spurred Bandai to start it, and why they changed the name from Accelerate Evolution to Gunpla Evolution Project midway before release, but hey, we're getting it.

However, what they started with line with was one that I was waiting for, with Bandai deciding to launch this Project with a brand new HGUC Zeta Gundam. It seems that every Zeta kit had a flaw in their right, with the RG being overly fragile to handle, the old HGUC being really dated with missing color apps, PG having bulky proportions, and for a long time, the MG Zeta 2.0 was the definitive one to get. Thing was, the 2.0 had quite limited articulation, and it wasn't the most sturdiest Gunpla out there either, so i've held off buying a Zeta kit for a while in hopes we'd get a Revive. Instead, we get a new HGUC Zeta branded with the launch of the Gunpla Evolution Project, safe to say I was both hyped and curious to see how this kit will fare. Skip forward to today, and I have it in my hands. So what's so amazing about this kit, and was it a worthy kickoff for the Gunpla Evolution Project? Lets find out.


Box:



The boxart is very nice, you get a picture of the Zeta Gundam Slashing away with his Beam Saber in space. Behind it, you can see the Zeta in Waverider mode flying with the rifle on it's back and the Hyper Mega Launcher under it, with The O in the background. On the top right corner, you can see the label of the Gunpla Evolution Project on there.


Parts:



With this kit, you get 2 white runners that share parts...




...a black runner, a small multicolored a runner...




... as well as 2 blue runners and 2 grey runners, both that share parts.




You also get your standard polycaps and the beam saber sheet.




You also get a large sheet of stickers. The red stickers are the only ones that annoy me here, the rest are okay with me, because they'd just be missing color apps on a normal HG, so in this case i'm glad to have stickers. The red ones are horrible though, especially considering how small the red A runner was. All the red stickers go around long, wrapped areas, and not only do they look really bad when applied, but they also scratch really easy. For "evolution", I was quite disappointed that they resulted to huge stickers for the binders. It's also worthy to note the orange stickers have this weird dotted pattern, and they really don't look nice up close.


Manual:



The manual is your standard HGUC manual, you get a painted depiction of the kit as well as info on the MS.




You get the color guide for the MS.





Bits of info and specs about the MS.




As well as the beautiful parts count and color guide.



A fun thing to note is that the manual actually tells you that you can swap the head with the old HGUC Zaku II's head to replicate the Zeta Zaku from ZZ. It's funny that they point it out specifically, even though it's kinda expected that you'd be able to do so, however this does cause for concern as it might hit Bandai's not planning to make an update for the standard green grunt Zaku II anytime soon. C'mon Bandai, a GEP or Origin HG would make me ecstatic.


Completed Product:



The completed HGUC GEP Zeta Gundam looks really nice, the color separation is overall good here, and color accuracy has been 100% achieved via stickers. Proportions are great, and there is also mechanical detail to be seen in a few areas, although the v-fin is a bit loose. Despite all of this however, I still have a few flaws, mainly with the stickers. A few of the orange stickers could've been a part, those being the ones on the side of the shoulders, as well as the ones in the legs, but hey, i'll take it over no color at all. The biggest problem in terms of looks for this kit is easily the red stickers, no way to sugar coat it, they are awful. They wrap around curved surfaces, and look horrible, not to mention that they scratch really easily, with their wrap-around edges and cuts, they do not make for the best sticker choice. It's a shame because they could've easily been parts, and it's not like they didn't have enough space on the runner, the A runner is quite small, so there's plenty of space for more plastic. In the end, pretty much 95% of the red stickers on this kit are inexcusable, which is the biggest disappointing factor of this kit IMO. Otherwise save for that, the orange stickers don't look the best with their weird dot pattern, but honestly, i'm still glad they're there. Overall, the kit looks very good, if only the red stickers were parts instead, it would look a lot better.


Articulation:

On this kit, the box advertised that this kit has the "Greatest range of motion in HG history", so Bandai's definitely confident in it's poseability, lets see if it lives up to wait they claim.




The head is on a ball joint and the neck is on a huge for looking up/down movement. However the head has a lot of trouble looking to the side due to the head design constantly colliding with the yellow collar, you'll have your Zeta looking at weird angles if you're looking too much to one side.




The entire torso is where "evolution" technology is seen, the entire torso has a joint system in the arms which allow for a lot of movement. The arms are connected on a straight ball joint to the arms with no polycap, but you can pull them out as demonstrated.




This combined with a hinge in the shoulder allows for some nice upward movement, however the head gets in the way of more movement.




But at the same time, it can still go forward a healthy amount, so this is very nice!

Word of reference though, the plastic for these joints are not super strong, and overworking them on them will stress and potentially break them. This is not good because this torso has very tight tolerances, especially on the ball joint connecting the arms. I nearly tore off the arm of my Zeta trying to move up the arm on the ball joint, I fixed the joint stress by dumping the part into a cup of boiling water, but to make sure this doesn't happen again, I sanded the ball joints down. Don't do it too much though, as the tight tolerances do serve a purpose which I will get to later.




Arms swivel at the bicep and have a beautiful perfect 180˚ bend.




Torso shares the design of the HG GM Ground Type with the polycap position, and can go forward well.




Due to the same joint, it goes side to side well too, however it does pop out if you're not careful.




Kit also swivels at the torso on a ball joint on the waist.




Manual actually tells you to separate the side skirts, so that's cool. Leg kicks up well, and a weird thing is that the backskirt actually moves unlike most HG's. Normally, this would be considered awesome, but the binders of the kit restrict movement anyways, rendering the moving backskirt kinda pointless, it's a shame really, it would've been really nice.




Leg swivels at the thigh and knee bends about 130˚s. Funny thing is the knee bend is actually less than what the old HG did, which was more about 140˚s, which is really confusing. Isn't this supposed to be newer and therefore more articulate? C'mon Bandai, this was disappointing to see.




Legs could do a full split, however ankle articulation is slightly limited in most directions.

Overall, I can only say that the torso and arms have amazing movement, the rest of the kit has some surprising limitations in certain areas. Sure, it's overall got very good articulation, and the limitations can be attributed to Zeta's design and the fact it transforms. However, the fact still stands that this kit is easily not the most articulate an HG has gotten, go to GM Ground Type or RX-78-2 Revive for that. It's pretty much what you'd expect from a modern HGUC Zeta, and for what Bandai had been advertising with their "evolution engineering", as well as their claim of this being the most articulate HG out there, it disappoints in that regard. It's definitely not got bad articulation, in fact, the torso is an area of the kit i'd say is amazing, and definitely shows "evolution", it's just that the rest of the kit just doesn't really show anything that amazing or innovative past that, and for all the advertising Bandai did for it, I can't help but feel let down with that context.


Accessories:



He comes with quite a lot of plastic for accessories, however not all are exactly weapons.




First is the shield that Zeta Gundam should always have bite me. It looks okay, however there is this big red sticker on it that doesn't look good at all, nor is it fun to apply. It could've easily been a part, but wasn't, and it's honestly disappointing, it also wasn't an ideal choice for a sticker due to another reason, but i'll get to that later. Otherwise, the adaptor is at angle and flat peg, so it's not amazingly versatile, but it does the job.




He has a pair of beam saber handles, as well as effect parts to use with them. They don't store in the side skirts though for obvious reasons.




He holds them well enough, but they are a bit loose in the hand.




He also has a rifle, it looks good and stickers are used for complete color accuracy, the handle is on a hinge and doesn't lock anywhere nor look natural, but it does the job.




If you wanted to, you could actually put one of the beam saber blades inside, it's a perfect fit. Doesn't tell you that you can but it works.




Finally we have his biggest weapon, the Hyper Mega Launcher. It's big, blue, and doesn't look super detailed, but it's large and does the job.




You can also extend it if that's what you please.




You can flip down this cover at the bottom.




Under that, there is a handle you can flip out from a tab.




There are also panels some from the side.




Handles flip out under those as well.




Remember how this kit had really stiff shoulders? Well they're partially needed to hold up this monstrosity of a weapon, the simplicity and lightness also helps. It might be a bit difficult to get it in a pose, but once you do, it's got presence. The Beam Saber effect part is useable for this too, and in canon, this thing can work like a big beam saber. So you can use it as a shooting effect part as well as a saber effect part, which is really cool.




It's also got grenade cartridges that are attached to the arms.




You plug them in where the shield would go like so.




The final few accessories are used with the Zeta for it's Waverider Mode. Yes this kit is a partsformer, and a heavy one at that. I honestly don't mind it, because we get a sturdy, articulate Zeta in turn for it. In the end I think transformations are really just there for playing, and since I don't play with model kits, i'm just displaying them anyways. Honestly, as long as we get a waverider, i'm satsified, I also find it funny that Bandai said it was done to accommodate "proportional accuracy" though.


Transformation:



First, you want to tear the kit apart into the parts you see here.




This husk of a main body is completely excluded from the Waverider, store it where it will be safe.




After that, fold in the bit in the shoulders as demonstrated by the right one. It's worthy to note that the shoulder folding mechanism here isn't secure, and it really just flops around.




After that, attach the arms to the transformation block like so.



Next, you attach a grey extender piece as demonstrated...




...and put the spare crotch there. Yes, you get 2 crotches with this kit and they are both useable, a thoughtful inclusion to make it so we have less partsforming and spares.




After that, attach the cockpit bit...




...before attaching the chest armor...




...and the back armor.




After that, attach the skirt skirts and backskirts as shown.




Next, remove the grey frame part from the back of the leg.




When that's done, you fold up the leg by bending the knee backwards, and you put the small grey part in a different area to lock it in position.




After that, you fold up the feet, and push them in to reveal a thruster on the calf.




Repeat with the other leg.




When those are done, attach both legs to the block.




You then take the tail fin...




...and unflip it.




Now you can plug it onto the block as well.




You then take the red piece off the shield with the shitty sticker...




...and put it on extended.




After that, take off the adaptor for the shield.




Now you plug it onto the underside of the block.




Now you take one of the two binders.




Flip out the fin...




...and extend the rest of the wing out.




Repeat with other binder.




Now you attach both to the underside of the block...




...and badabing! We have Zeta in it's Waverider Mode!




You also have this adaptor to plug it into an Action Base 2.




You simply plug it into the rear of the Waverider like so.




I don't have an Action Base 2 myself, so I had to improvise using my Bael's Action Base, It works? :P




You can also equip the rifle with it.




You first collapse the rifle, flip in the handle, and flip out a tab from the end.




Plug the tab into the end of the tailfin, and it's there.




You also get these pieces of landing gear, you use this with the Hyper Mega Launcher, which you can use to display the Waverider on.




You put these pieces of landing gear on either side of the Hyper Mega Launcher upside down.




Then you put the smaller one on the bottom.




After that, you put the Hyper Mega Launcher at the bottom of the shield. This is where I mention that doing this scratches the shield sticker, which is another, and very valid reason that I think the shield should've of used a sticker there. It really doesn't look good, and it could even scratch paint off too, which is just bad design.




Although after that, we have the Zeta in Waverider fully equipped and now able to stand on it's own.


Gimmicks:



There are actually little flaps on the forearms of the Zeta.




They actually open up to reveal grenades, as his arm is a grenade launcher!




These can be used with the grenade cartridges for displays. In canon, the cartridges give more ammo to the launchers to use.


Size Comparison:



As you can see, Zeta's a little big compared to your standard MS, and the design is also a little bulky compared to the standard RX.




Waverider Mode on the other hand is a lot more low to the ground.




But he's still large when you look at him from above. 


Verdict:

So does this kit live up to the advertising of the Gunpla Evolution Project? Is it really amazingly innovative and brings revolutionary technology to the HG line? Honestly? I can't say that it does. The only area that is really innovative and articulate like Bandai advertised, everything else is what you'd expect from a modern HGUC Zeta, and nothing really breaks the mold of an HGUC kit here. It honestly doesn't do anything more than what;'s known from an HGUC kit, and that's disappointing for all the "evolution" advertising that Bandai was doing for this kit. This is not the most articulate HG out there, kits like the GM Ground Type and RX-78-2 Revive have it beat in that regard, and while parts separation is good, the red areas that could've easily been parts were resulted to sticker use instead, which is honestly the most disappointing aspect of this kit IMO. The red stickers don't look good, aren't easy to apply, scratch easily, and could've easily been parts, which is huge shame that they weren't. So far from the Gunpla Evolution Project, this honestly isn't the strongest start i've seen, I still have hope for the idea, and hope future kits will be amazing, but for this one, it just doesn't reach the extra innovation that Bandai had advertised.

Despite all of what i've said though, this is definitely not a bad kit, far from it. A lot of this has to attribute to all the Bandai advertising as an "evolved" HGUC kit from the Gunpla Evolution Project, and with the hype going up and expectations being set high, this kit just didn't reach them. Remove that context, and what do we have? Well, we have a sturdy Zeta Gundam kit that is very easy to handle, is quite poseable, and can partsform to Waverider Mode with ease. As a Zeta kit, this kit is pretty much a hands down win, and if you can look at it as such, you'll have a nice time. I'm both happy and proud to have this kit, as each Zeta kit that preceded it has some sort of issue that turned me off, this one only has the stickers, and if you can get past that, you have one hell of an awesome Zeta kit. So if you like the Zeta Gundam, and want one to pose around, or simply want a good, sturdy Zeta kit, this is easily the one to go for. In the end, despite the stickers, I do recommend that you pick the HGUC GEP Zeta Gundam up in the end.

Pros:

- Poseability is pretty good overall, downright amazing in the torso and arms. (!)
- Very sturdy and stiff. 
- Stiff joints allow the Hyper Mega Launcher to be held with ease.
- Beam Saber effect parts can be used as shooting effect parts with both guns. 

Cons:

- Red stickers are horrible, they look bad scratch easily and aren't easy to apply at all. (!)
- Design of the Zeta itself gets in the way of a lot of things, hindering possible movements.
- Minor gripes like the loose v-fin and the folding shoulders could get annoying in posing.

Neutral:

- Tolerances are tight in some areas, handle carefully so you don't break stuff, sanding arm ball joint a little is recommended. (!)
- Small stickers are included to fill in what would typically be missing color apps. 
- Doesn't quite reach the high expectations that Bandai advertised this kit with.
- Partsformation was for "proportional accuracy" and sturdiness for both modes.