By Dominic Handl - images & text © 2003
I have always admired the work of Hajime Katoki, who is one of the artists of the Gundam series (Katoki was probably the most well known because of his redesigns and new work in Gundam 0083, Gundam Wing, G Gundam, etc.). I have been watcbing gundam since the late 70's when the first one came out on TV, to the latest one. Movies and all. I did a lot of the kits from that time period.
This one is is from the ZZ Gundam series and is in the Mobile Suit Variation (MSV) line of models. It's an alternate color version of the Full Armor Double Zeta Gundam, used by what is called "Sentinels." Like Titans in the Zeta Gundam series, they are another branch of the Earth Federation Space Force (E.F.S.F.).
I was on a trip and stopped over in Tokyo for a few days. I had some time, so I went looking around the city, mainly in the Shinjuku area, the center part of Tokyo. Of course, I did some looking around in hobby shops within that area. Most of the places I went to sold out of it, but I did find a copy at Sakura-ya, located in East Shinjuku. Comparing it to the Full Armor ZZ on the same shelf, the FAZZ looked better, even if it looked like the Full Armor ZZ. I liked how it looked so I got it.The kit itself is a 1/100 scale Master Grade (MG) kit produced by Bandai. This is a level up from the High Grade (HG) kits, more complex and more detailed. I It stands about 10 inches tall when completed. The kit was very nicely detailed. There's just too many parts to count on 15 sprues of plastic and 2 sprues of polycaps for the joints. Each piece is injection molded; I guess this explains the quality of model as well as the sharp panel line detail.
First step: Checking the parts
This is an important part of making a model. First, to check if the kit is complete. It was quite a surprise to me, just opening the box, to see how nicely everything was packed. Everything was in plastic bags to prevent individual pieces from being damaged. I was able to see the amount of detail I had to work through. That presented a challenge for me. Carefully, I took each sprue out of its plastic bag, getting each one ready for assembly. I saw no flaws on the pieces and only a very little excess plastic.
TrimmingI laid out each sprue according to the proper sub-assembly. I took each piece off using a pair of scissors on my swiss army knife. Using the main blade from the knife, I scraped the excess flash off and sanded it smooth with a steel file. An Exacto knife or hobby knife works well too for getting the flash off. After each piece was trimmed and sanded, I put them in plastic bags and labeled what part is for which sub-assembly (e.g., Left arm, Right Leg, etc).
Test FitThis is other important part of making a model and the one thing I do a lot before the actual assembly. I check to see if the pieces fit properly or not. Any piece can be used to do this. Take what ever piece you have. Put them together and gently press them together. I observed the joined pieces. No seams. They came together nicely. That's done. Now for the hard part. Separation. I pulled each piece lightly apart so they open a little. Then, using the small blade of my Swiss army knife slipped between the pieces, I started turning the knife a little to get the posts "A" out of slots "B."
^ Completed Model
^ Lots of parts
^ Completed arms
Do not do this too hard or you will damage the surface of the model. A hobby knife also works good for this. Remember, when doing this, do not go straight in. The knife may slip and you can cut yourself. Go from one side and move the blade down lengthwise, while prying the pieces apart.
The Sub-assembliesI basically followed the instruction as it indicated. Starting from the legs and working my my way up to the head.
Legs- The lower legs had multi-components to them. I had to screw those together. I used the screw driver on my Swiss army knife. The screws were small so I used the small tipped Phillips head. After I completed the assembly for the lower legs, I tried out the mechanism. It folded well. Then I put it back to it's actual position. The boosters I had painted a gun metal, on the outside and a flat black on the inside. I did the touch up work with a paint marker. I put the armor on each side: Front, back, left and right sides of both legs. Then the thighs were added. Next, I put on the hip joints and the side armor. Small boosters were painted and put on. I put those aside for the next assembly.
Lower Body- This is the part the legs are connected to. It's basically the core block unit, the ball joints the front skirt armor, the back pack's pivoting mechanism, which the rear skirt armor is connected to, and the lower back armor, which houses the core block unit. I viewed the instructions seeing how small it is. Assembly was straight forward though. I checked to see whether the core block would stay on after I assembled the core block. unit. It stayed on. I took it off and set it aside. I then set the whole assembly aside for later.
Back Pack- This too was just a straight forward assembly. The center piece was done first. It was a petty big piece. It looks similar to the one used in the ZZ gundam kit, but the boosters are bigger and the tail fins were longer. The posts of one of the fins broke off while I was pressing it into place so I had to glue it on. Regular model glue worked. This didn't affect the value of the model.
Unlike the ZZ Gundam kit, this model had no beam sabers. In place of that were beam cannons on the two sides of the back pack. After that, I built the missile pods. They were larger than the regular ones on the ZZ gundam kit. I put only the left side on. I left the one for the right side off.
Mega Beam Cannon- This is the main weapon of the Full Armor ZZ. It had many pieces and was pretty big. It looked heavy. As I assembled the gun I had to put a wire on the back part of it. Then I put the rear cover on. This is the fun part. The ammo feed is pretty much a flexible piece of wire, actually four of them together. One end goes into a hole on the side of the weapon. Then I put the ammo links one-by-one, like beads. I put the other end on. This part connects to the rear skirt armor. I assembled the pivoting joint and put it where the right missile pod was on the back pack. I installed the MBCthen put the assembly aside.
Arms- The forward section had multi components. I had to assemble the wrists first. Then I assembled the arms and joined them together. The hands are designed in a way that it can grip something. The four fingers are curved. To make a fist, for example, close the fingers and fold the thumb over the fingers. The back of the hand was a separate piece. I thought that was pretty neat. It made the hands look kind of like the Gundam's steel glove. I attached the hands to the forward section of the arm. I then assembled the shoulders; I joined the 2 parts and put the armor on. These parts were then set aside.
Main Body- This section was again, pretty much a straightforward assembly. The torso is designed to be able to transform. The cockpit that goes in the middle of the chest is where the double beam rifle connects in jet mode. I had an extra double beam rifle from a previous ZZ gundam model I had, so I used it to try out the transformation. It worked smoothly - every joint, without a single hitch. I put that part aside and assembled the double beam rifle that came with this kit. The chest armor was next. It had 2 missile racks on both sides. Neat. I put the covers on. Now for the last part.
Head- Unlike every Gundam model, this is the only one that I had to literally connect the neck to its head. Unusual, even for a Master Grade model. Two types of heads came with the kit - I used the regular ZZ Gundam type head. A sheet of foil stickers came in the bag with the clear parts, two green ones for the sensors on the head and the black and green ones for the eyes. The ones for the eyes I didn't use. Instead, I used a detail pen to color the recessed area around the eyes black. I then used a metallic green paint marker for the middle part. I put two coats on to give it a nice finish. At first I thought of painting the face guard a steel color but I changed my mind and left it grey. There are two V's on the head. The small one goes above the larger one, which goes on the forehead. I didn't like the yellow color they were molded in. It didn't match with the color of the Gundam, so I touched it up with a grey color. I let them dry and put them on the head.
Painting and Detailing
This part is optional. It can be done either during assembly or before assembling the kit. The kit itself was molded in color, so painting wasn't really necessary. Only very little touch up work was needed. If you wish to paint the model, I would recommend using an airbrush so the paint will be spread evenly to get a nice finish. I didn't paint my model but I did go over the panel lines with a micron-pen with a .0001 mm tip. You can get one at any stationery shop. The black ink was quite visible. The panel lines came out nicely, exposing the detail really well. To take the excess ink off, I just used a sheet of tissue paper. A pencil works good to, but the tip has to be sharpened and the lead a dark color. An eraser works good to get the excess lead off. It took me a good few hours to get done. I had a lot of detail to work through.
It was time to put the whole thing together. I worked from the legs upward. I connected the feet to the lower legs to let the whole lower body stand up. Everything came together very easily. I put the upper body top of the core block and locked it into place, then put the chest plate on. This connects to the forward skirt armor and must be put on together. The ends of the wires on the chest plate connect to the two holes on the rear skirt armor.
Next, I put the arms on, followed by the back pack and the head. "And, now form the head." I moved the V's on the head in the manner of that sequence. Finally, I put the grip of the beam cannon in the model's right hand, Moved the shoulders back a bit and spread the legs to shoulder width. I closed the left hand in a fist and raised it a little, giving it a menacing pose, like it was ready to fight.
I have to admit, this kit was one slick piece of engineering even though it doesn't transform. The pieces fit really well. The whole thing was made from a high quality, durable, sturdy plastic. I was very impressed with the amount of detail on this kit. I saw no flaws or any defects. I had no difficulty assembling it. Its one of the best Gundam kits I have had the pleasure of putting together. It as a good amount of articulation for any pose you choose and was a lot of fun to put together. Even thoughI don't understand all the kanji in the instructions, the diagrams were very clear.
Anyone who gets a kit like this and puts it together will not be disappointed. I would recommend to anyone who likes Gundam models.
This page copyright © 2003 Starship Modeler. Last updated on 6 February 2003.