A lighter shade of brown

So for my “Zaku Project” that I’m working on I’m building various Zaku kits- with the exception of the Super Deformed Zaku I’m building, they’re 1:144 scale. I’m going for a sort of sampling of the different (OYW) Zakus out there… The variety of different designs and kits, but all of them very much “Zakus” at heart.

Anyway, it was inevitable that there would be a Zaku Kai in this lineup. In 1:144 scale that left me two options: the first is the old kit from 1989, which is somewhat close to the mark but with enough errors to make it look generally bloated and with much of the impact of the original design lost. The second is the HGUC kit released a couple years ago. The HGUC seems to have the opposite problem. Instead of being too chunky, it’s too thin. Instead of everything being flattened out by bloat, it’s just plain flattened out. Typical of Bandai’s cowardly approach to kit design these days. On the other hand, though – what the legs lack in bulk they make up for in style. I decided to see what I could do with the HGUC: whether I could make a few simple tweaks and make the HGUC capture a little more of the spirit of the original design.

So out-of-box, the kit looks kind of like this:

I have my own ideas of how the Zaku kai should look, of course – my efforts were not focused on turning the HGUC into a scaled-down version of my 1:100 version, but rather to try and correct issues that stuck out in the hope that I could end up with something that had the feel of the Zaku Kai – but perhaps its own style. So I tried to focus on the way the shapes flowed. In particular, I wanted to get the skirts a little bit wider, so the slope of the chest block would flow into the skirts. I changed the angle of the backpack and got rid of the weird tapering of the chest block sides, replaced the shoulder armor with one from the 1989 kit, and rearranged the waist cables so they would hook to the backpack instead of the rear skirt and flex when the Zaku pivots at the waist. So I got to about this point:

At this point, I got very frustrated with the project. The skirt mods didn’t have the impact I was after, and vigorous scrubbing has so far failed to wash the ugly away. I’m pretty certain now that I can’t be satisfied with this kit. It’s just too far from what I feel the Zaku Kai should look like. So I’m ditching the HGUC build and building the 1989 one instead.

A few simple mods and Yuji Kitano made this sockmonkey kit look pretty mean. I considered following his formula verbatim – but I decided to use my design plans from the 1:100 build as a guide instead…

I find working with the old kit a lot more enjoyable than dealing with the HGUC. It has its share of problems but at its core I think it’s a lot closer to how I think the Zaku Kai should look. I feel like a lot of Bandai kits are disappointing in the same way the HGUC Zaku Kai is – they start with some beautifully funky design and release a kit version that’s watered-down garbage. I think we should expect better from them.

My previous post about this project was all about the FG Char’s Zaku – I’m trying to wrap up construction on that project now and get it ready for paint. The biggest piece of work left for me at this point is the monoeye. It was important to me to get this model to be more poseable but I didn’t want the modifications to get too complicated… Anyway, I think what I came up with for the hips will work pretty nicely:

Basically, I used a polycap in front of the hips to give the legs a way to swing forward and out of the way of the skirts… Then a Kotobukiya T-polycap for the hip joint itself, and a ball-shape joint on each leg to handle pivot and lateral extension. While I was rejointing things I also replaced the ankle joints I made before – I couldn’t get the old ones out of the feet so I had to steal feet from another FG Zaku kit…. The old joint was just a regular ball joint, it didn’t really do much because there was no clearance for the foot to move around. The new joint is similar to what’s in the MG Zaku F2, or to the various recent HG Zakus (F2, FZ, etc.) – the ankle ball joint is connected to another joint in the middle of the foot – this extra joint allows the ankle joint to swing upward out of the foot, providing more clearance for the foot to move around. Between these two mods, it’s now very easy to get the legs into various useful poses.

Been doing a few other things with the kit lately – I made a better shield for it (from a HG Zaku), I set up leg cables, and I finished mounting the thrusters in the lower legs:

2 Comment(s)

  1. Do you happen to have a scan/translation of the guide for Yuji Kitano’s FZ? I’m thinking I’ll get an NG FZ and either try to replicate Kitano’s version or try to cannibalize it with the HGUC kit.

    attemborough | 2020-02-17 | Reply

  2. I’m afraid not. I don’t really scan my books these days (I damaged some of them rather badly trying to get good scans of them) and, having the books, I haven’t felt a need to track down scans online. Before I had the book, I had seen a few pictures from Kitano’s build before, but not a complete scan.

    As far as translations go, I think most of the build is pretty self-explanatory, as the work includes some good illustrations showing the modifications that were done. (A lot of that info is included in my post already, actually…)

    The book I pictured is “Gundam Weapons 0080” – I think this is actually the first book in Hobby Japan’s “Gundam Weapons” line. (The first four books in the series predate the Master Grade line, so it’s actually kind of an interesting collection of old kit work and some scratch builds from the late 1980s and early 1990s. But I don’t think those first four Gundam Weapons titles have been reissued within the last 10 years.) So you could try to track that down. Alternately, you could buy the issue of Hobby Japan in which the build first appeared. I’m not sure at the moment which issue it was, though, or if I have that one.

    tetsujin | 2020-02-17 | Reply

Post a Comment