Sunday, April 8, 2012

MG Zaku II F2 EFSF Ver. Part 1

  Going green, Round 4   Oh no, it's not green

Starting on another long overdue Gunpla after 1/100 Gundam Avalanche Exia. ^^

This is Master Grade Zaku II F2 EFSF Ver. To call it a long overdue project is quite an understatement I think, as it's now a ten-year-old MG release. ^^; It's such an old release that even its HGUC version came out some two years ago. ^^;

Then again, it's still a relatively *new* item in my collection. I actually got it from a local forum member who let it go at a discounted price. That was more than two years ago I'm pretty sure, because the HGUC version was announced not too long after I got this kit, and I remember having that somewhat depressed feeling that I might have bought something that could have been substituted by a smaller and lower priced High Grade kit, if I waited a little longer. ^^;

Then again, the feeling was gone just as soon as it came into my mind, as I was aiming for all the goodies this Master Grade offers rather than a representation of Zaku II F2 EFSF Ver. ^^ Looking at it right now, I believe I would still go for this kit even if the deal from the said forum member came after the HGUC version's announcement.

This EFSF Ver. is actually the alternate color variation of the Zeon Ver. released several months before it, but unlike their HGUC "reincarnations", the two Master Grade releases have some special parts and equipments which distinguish one from the other. The biggest varying factor, besides color which is so obvious to see, is their main weapon of choice. The Zeon Ver. uses MMP-80 90mm machine gun; while the more "traditional" Zaku weapon of MMP-78 120mm Zaku Machine Gun was given to this EFSF Ver. instead. Even the Heat Hawk is only available with the latter.

Blasphemy! XD

Maybe that's why both weapons were included for the two types in HGUC format. ^^But I figure the more plausible reason would be the absence of plan to separate the runner for different types of weapons to be included for the two types in HGUC format. ^^

The choice of main weapon was never an issue for me anyway, since I got the Zeon Ver. too. ^^

On the separate note, it's very interesting that MG Zaku II F2 (the Zeon Ver. came out in April 2002) was released in between the very first release (Char's Zaku II , out in October 1995) and Ver. 2.0 (Ground Type Zaku MS-06J, out in April 2007) in the MG line. ^^ It's certainly more superior than the first MG Zaku II, but several key inner frame and articulation issues were still there and resolved only when Ver. 2.0 came out. ^^ Then again, instead of calling it "MG Zaku II Ver. 1.5", I think "MG Zaku II Ver. Ka" would be a more fitting title, as the mecha designer for this MS is the great Hajime Katoki-sensei. ^^

MG Hi-Zack (released in August 2004), a GM disguised as Zaku II's little brother (^^;) borrowed a lot of design elements from Zaku II F2. Unfortunately for Hi-Zack, its execution was somewhat poor, (no) thanks to the conductive pipes all over its body which imposed a great deal of limitations on what the completed model can actually do, which is more of a mecha design issue.

On another separate note, another two MG kits released around the same period when Zaku II F2 Zeon Ver. came out felt like halfway checkpoints for future releases of model kits of similar types as well. ^^ Zeta Plus (out in October 2001) was what I considered "Zeta Gundam Ver. 1.5"; Gundam RX-78-2 Ver. Ka (out in December 2002) was a re-examination of how that famous MS can be re-released without having to reuse the special leg frame designed for Gundam Ver. 1.5. Somehow it seemed to me that the designers were playing around with new ideas on how to proceed with the MG line by looking into new possibilities. It's perhaps no surprise then that two of the best transformable MG kits (in my opinion) - S Gundam and then Ex-S Gundam came out around this period of time as well - S Gundam was released in October 2002, while Ex-S Gundam came out in March 2003. That was definitely a very colorful period of time for the MG series. ^^

Introduction of the kit on the box sides.

One good thing about the kit being an older release is its unconventional design for, er, pretty much everything. ^^ Its special shoulder expansion gimmick is inherited from Perfect Grade Gundam Mk. II, which is unbelievable if you think about it. ^^ There's still no full inner frame display, and in terms of securing important joints, it's still depending on ABS parts, screws and nuts. As a member of the MG Zaku II family (^^), conventional designs like collections of rings to form its many conductive pipes is still inherited (from the first Zaku II kit that is), but agile action pose of that time's standards like kneeling is now possible. How to tackle the body movement's restriction imposed by the conductive pipes that extend from the backpack to the front of the waist was unresolved at that point, so the entire torso was kept as a single component, just like the first MG Zaku II. ^^

It's fair to say that this kit has a combination of good and workable features and some weak points, with greater proportion on the positive side that is. ^^ I really love this kit, especially the Zeon Ver. (for its Zeon color scheme obviously ^^), which is why I got this EFSF Ver. even before assembling its green variation, which I got much earlier. It's pretty much the same case as MG Char's Gelgoog Ver. 2.0 for me. I got the green mass production type before assembling the former. ^^

As they say, save the good stuff for later, so the Zeon Ver. which is my favorite out of the two will get his shot much later after this one. ^^

A quick comparison with the Zeon Ver..


A older MG kit it is, the very nostalgic cardboard cover inside the box is still included. ^^

Comparison of the cardboard cover with that from the Zeon Ver..

Some images of the instruction manual.

All runners of this kit.

A look at the different runners:

Runner A - Multicolor runner containing parts mainly for the conductive pipes, skirt armors and clear scope.
Despite having the same color, the conductive pipes and chest pieces are actually molded in different materials.

(Left) There are altogether six conductive pipes, which is the typical setting for Zaku II. ^^
(Right) Clear parts for the weapons' scopes and goggle.

Simple molded details can be found on the rear face of all the skirt armor parts.

Runner B1 - Containing all gray parts mainly for the legs' inner frame and weapon.

(Left) Simple molded details on the inner frame parts.
(Right) Base parts for the movable type hand units are also on this runner.

Definitely not for the bazooka's tube, but the front grip's part separation design helps to minimize visible seam lines on this component.

Runner B2 - Containing all gray parts mainly for the body's and legs' inner frame and backpack.

As mentioned earlier on, the torso design still follows the first MG Zaku II in having inseparable body and waist, ^^; but the details seem pretty extensive.

Nice details on the thigh's and backpack's inner frame parts.

Runner C - Containing all light brown parts mainly for the shoulder and leg armors.

The shoulder and leg armors have some details molded on their rear face.

No details for the thigh armors though. ^^;

Three small armor pieces included to form the helmet's applique armor, which requires plastic cement for assembly. ^^;

Runner D - Containing all black parts mainly for the head, feet and chest.

(Left) Black interior parts for the head.
(Right) Simple molded details of vents and thrusters on the sole.

Runner F - ABS runner containing joint parts and weapons' mount racks.

(Left) Shoulder joint parts.
(Right) An extra set of parts for some of this EFSF Ver.'s new weapons.

Runner F - 2 pieces. Containing mainly rings for the conductive pipes and several inner frame parts for the leg.

The rings come in different shapes and sizes, so extra caution is required to not mess them up when removing them from the runner.

Runner G - 2 pieces. Containing light brown armor parts for the arms and legs.

One-piece part design that covers the front section and the entire "bell-bottom" is very amazing to see, even though the kit is already 10 years old. ^^

Simple molded details behind the part.

Runner I - Containing mainly weapon parts.
This runner is unique to this version of Zaku II F2.

(Left) Good detailing on the machine gun parts.
(Right) One-piece part for the Heat Hawk is a common practice for Zaku II model kits since forever. ^^

(Left) Hand armor which requires heavy paint work to realize its light brown intended color.
(Right) One closed fist and one right trigger type are special hand units of this MG Zaku II F2 variation.

Runner MP2 - A generic soft plastic runner that contains a movable thumb and index finger for each hand plus a pair of spread palms.
Kampfer was the first MG to feature this runner I think.

Polycap set PC125

Screws and nuts for the joints, foil sticker for the mono-eye camera, dry transfer decal and clear sticker sheet.

The dry transfer decal and clear sticker sheet.

Runner I is unique to this particular MG Zaku II F2 variation, and since Zaku Machine Gun and Heat Hawk are on this runner, you can bet that they aren't included for the Zeon Ver.. ^^; For that version, its unique runner is labeled 'H', which featured parts for the leg-mounted 3-tube rocket launcher and MMP-80 90mm machine gun. All other runners are repeated for both versions, some which has minor changes here and there. As a result of that, both versions' standard armament list includes 280mm Zaku Bazooka, Sturm Faust and hand grenades.

Under gate design detected on the forearm armor part.

The conductive pipes' rings are removed and tied together using strings, making them look like necklaces. ^^ The rings' placement is of course according to their order as shown in the manual.

Leftover rings on Runner F.

As usual, all removed parts are organized and stored in individual paper containers.

Will be starting on painting some of the parts next. ^^

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