Friday, February 22, 2013

HGUC Black Tri Star's Customized Zaku I Part 1

Remember when even smaller HGs had ABS runner?

Selected a rather simple HGUC Gunpla kit as the next item on my to-do list after the review of Garo Kiwami Damashii Zero. ^^

A 2006-kit, this is HGUC Black Tri Star's Customized Zaku I. It's the first variation release of the original Zaku I which came out only three months prior to it. I picked this up as part of a bargain on a few Gunplas from a local online forum members who were letting some of his collection go a few years ago. Honestly speaking, I got this kit for the really awesome deal more than anything. ^^; While I do find the simplicity and improved kit design of this Zaku I to be very interesting, the mecha design of the Zeon Mobile Suit itself doesn't look all that impressive for me to be too excited about it. While I do like Zeon mono-eye MSs, I prefer that ones that actually look fierce and intimidating. Black Tri Star's Customized Zaku I is in the "in-between" zone for me. XD The design of Zaku I is too simplistic to be fierce-looking, but the black and purple color scheme does help it to redeem a few points in my perception. If not for its color scheme, and having a spike shield on its armament list, I think I would have pass on the deal for this kit in the first place. ^^;

Designated unit number stickers are included for all three members of the Black Tri Star are included, but Gaia's unit (unit number "03") is the focus.

I think it's noteworthy that even though the mecha itself is supposedly the predecessor unit to Zaku II which is better in specs and performance. The merchandising aspect saw that sequence reversed instead because popularity issue, and because of that, Zaku I is actually better than Zaku II in terms of kit design in this HGUC line. ^^ Char's Zaku II, the first of the Zaku II releases came out in 2002, four years before the original Zaku I. Given how rapid Bandai upgrades its model kit development and design, the improvements on Zaku I as compared to Zaku II weren't just to be expected, they were inevitable as well. As a result, Zaku I as an old type MS could outshine the newer Zaku II in terms of look and articulation. ^^ I think I should feature a comparison between the old Char's Zaku II in my collection with this Zaku I when it's done in the future for some really funny and interesting observations. ^^

On a separate note, another interesting point about this kit is its ABS runner. Even though it's small featuring just a few parts, the fact that a small and simple HGUC Zaku I kit has an ABS runner is one of the points that shows the changes in Gunpla design over the years. Just focusing on HGUC releases, most kits before mid 2005 didn't feature any ABS runner because they are supposedly simple in design, articulation and gimmicks. Between 2005 and mid 2009 with the end of the "Char's Counterattack" focus, ABS was a standard, mainly due to secure the joints on kits that are transformable which came out in waves during the three years when "MS Zeta Gundam: A New Translation" trilogy was on. Non-transformable kits of mecha not from the same timeline as "MS Zeta Gundam" also benefited from this change in "standard". ^^ After mid 2009 when kits from "Gundam UC" started to be rolled out, the gradual diminishing usage of ABS parts seemed to be the new "standard", even though many of these new kits (including those which are transformable) have tons of parts to assemble, plenty of gimmicks and extensive articulation design. When newer huge releases like Byarlant Custom and Rozen Zulu feature no ABS part at all, the glorious days when ABS parts are the norm for tight joints and secure connection between important movable parts are pretty over. ^^ Working on it now, this Zaku I feels like a vestige from a lost tradition. XD

Introduction of the kit on the sides of box.

Introduction of the team and other related merchandises on the back of the box. ^^

The full Black Tri Star squadron of Zaku I is seen using the combined display base from HGUC Triple Dom set for their signature attack move of "Jet Stream Attack".

Designated unit numbers and pilot profiles of the Black Tri Star are shown. Mash's number is "02" while Ortega is "06".

Also shown are Mass Production Type Zaku II and Triple Dom set.


The instruction manual.

All runners.

A look at the runners' design:

Runner A1 - A multi-color runner that contains parts mainly for the arms and legs.

(Left) One-piece parts for the bottom of Zaku I's feet. I'm thinking of painting those thrusters even though they are not shown on the manual.
(Right) The protruding armor on the top feet parts definitely need to be painted.

(Left) Very interesting-looking spread palm. ^^
(Right) Plenty of option hand units included for this kit. ^^

Very clear runner separation hints for variation releases, which can be very intriguing (and confusing at the same time ^^;) to trace. ^^

Runner A2 - ABS runner that contains joint parts for the shoulders and elbows.

Runner B - Contains black parts mainly for the torso and legs.

(Left) Very nice seamless part separation for the head.
(Right) Even though none of the Black Tri-Star units feature a blade antenna on the head, parts for it are included nonetheless.

The entire runner looks like it was meant to be split into two with labels of "B1" and "B2". I'm not sure about the reason for that separation to be dismissed though.

Runner separation hints for variation releases.

Runner C - Contains light gray parts mainly for the weapons.

(Left) Simple molded details for the rear face of the shield.
(Right) Runner separation hints indicate that the shield and Sturm Faust are not standard weapons to be included for all Zaku I variations.

(Left) Parts for the shoulder bazooka rack, which is a new component that was added to Zaku I's mecha settings through this kit itself I think.
(Right) Tiny backpack thrusters spotted. ^^

Polycap set PC-123 and foil sticker sheet.

A sheet of clear sticker containing a large Zeon emblem for the shield, unit rank insignias and unit numberings is also included.

All removed parts are organized and stored in individual paper containers.

Will start working on the detailing and paint work in the next posting. ^^

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