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How to Build Gundam:
A Pictorial Guide To Building
The HGUC MS-06F Zaku II
By Neal “Realtype Gundaman” Izumi

Bandai HGUC Zaku II in H/144scale

Kit Data:
Scale: 1/144
Manufacturer: Bandai
Product Number: 0122240
Materials: Injection molded styrene
MSRP: 800 Yen
Available from: Hobby Link Japan
www.hlj.com

Check Out Club Meeting: May 2010 Meeting

Featured In: May 2010 Newsletter

The Zaku is the Principality of Zeon’s standard mass production mobile suit from the first Gundam TV show. I developed an instant fondness for the gun fodder mech, even before I knew what the show was about. Bandai released their first 1/144 scale Zaku kit back in 1980, but this kit is from their newer High Grade Universal Century (HGUC) series, and is a far cry from the original. The concept of the HGUC series was to emphasize good proportions while keeping construction simple. Although some of the later kits have become quite involved, the Zaku perfectly illustrates Bandai’s intent.

HEAD

Bandai HGUC Zaku II in H/144scale
Bandai HGUC Zaku II in H/144scale
Bandai HGUC Zaku II in H/144scale

I wanted to eliminate the seams around the mono-eye slots, but that meant the head had to be assembled prior to painting. Therefore, the bottom of the head was carefully cut away to allow the mono-eye guard to be inserted after the filling and sanding process.

Bandai HGUC Zaku II in H/144scale

The mono-eye is represented as a sticker and looks very toy-like. I wanted to improve its appearance, so a hole was drilled into where the eye was to go, and a bit of clear sprue was CA glued in. A piece of aluminum foil placed over thinned Tamiya acrylic transparent red from the backside of the sprue gave the illusion of a lit pink monoeye. The outer surface of the mono-eye shield was sanded with 400 to 1500 grit wet-n-dry sandpaper, then polished with Tamiya coarse and fine polishing compounds applied with a damp Kleenex. The bare plastic of the mono-eye guard polished up really well, and looked like glass when done.

BODY

The body components assembled well and required no modifications. The shoulder joints have a swing forward mechanism to allow the arms to move closer together, an important feature when toting a two-handed weapon.

My only addition was a pair of Wave brand aftermarket rocket engine nozzles to the blank back pack.

Bandai HGUC Zaku II in H/144scale Bandai HGUC Zaku II in H/144scale
Bandai HGUC Zaku II in H/144scale

The most onerous part of constructing this kit was the cleaning up of the power conduits. I used thin strips of 400 and 600 grit sand paper to “floss” the recessed joints to eliminate the mold parting lines. This took several evenings. The body power conduits needed to be carefully bent to shape, but both of mine broke. Perhaps using a heat gun or soaking in hot water would have prevented this.

Bandai HGUC Zaku II in H/144scale

Remember to floss after every meal. Thin strips of 400 and 600 grit wetn- dry sandpaper were used to clean up the mold parting lines in the recesses of the power conduits. It was a pain in the aft thrusters, but the results improve the look of the model.

ARMS

The lower arms did not fit perfectly and there were gaps between the parts. Removing the snap fit pins will improve the fit. I replaced the blocky hands with Bandai’s own house brand aftermarket B-Club resin manipulators. They were fussy to clean up, but their fingers and joints were much better defined than the kit’s. The resin hands had ball connectors molded on, but they fit loosely into the kit’s poly capped wrist joints. I cut the ball joints off the kit’s plastic hands and transplanted them to the resin replacements

Bandai HGUC Zaku II in H/144scale

I removed the snap fit pins in the lower arm on this second kit, and the gaps disappeared when the parts were assembled.

Bandai HGUC Zaku II in H/144scale

Lookit the size of that whammer! The kit’s plastic hands are oversized and have concessions in detail due to molding limitations. The resin hands have fine detail, but at a cost over twice the kit!

Bandai HGUC Zaku II in H/144scale

Bandai’s High Detail Manipulator resin replacement hands that are specifically for the Zaku. Compare the 1,800 Yen price tag with the kit’s 800.

LEGS

Bandai HGUC Zaku II in H/144scale

The upper and lower legs needed some filling to correct some mismatched joints. The feet go together without any problems though.

WEAPONS

Bandai HGUC Zaku II in H/144scale

Bandai HGUC Zaku II in H/144scale

Bandai HGUC Zaku II in H/144scale

Bandai HGUC Zaku II in H/144scale

Cleaning up the mold parting lines of the weapons was really fun, kind of like pulling teeth. There were a lot of intricate areas which needed to be cleaned up. I added some Kotobukiya “minus molds” to fill in the depressions on the end of the stock assembly. I added a clear lens to the machine gun scope and treated it similarly to the mono-eye. The round ammunition magazine was hollow, so it was filled in with Mori-Mori polyester putty. The kit comes with a machine gun, bazooka, heat hawk (hatchet), and a pair of leg mounted rocket pods. I finished only the machine gun and rocket pods, saving the rest for another day.

PAINTING

Bandai HGUC Zaku II in H/144scale

The parts were spray primed with Gunze Sangyo’s Mr Surfacer 1200, checked for flaws, pre shaded with Model Master (MM) enamel flat black, then painted with MM enamels using a Badger 200 single action airbrush. The insides of all the parts were painted flat black to enhance the shadow effect and to prevent unpainted plastic from being visible. After painting was completed, the parts were blasted with Gunze Mr. Super Clear (gloss) to prepare for decals. I used a dark brown/grey enamel paint mix thinned with Testor’s MM airbrush thinner to pin wash the entire model. Hardware store paint thinner was used to clean up the excess wash.

I used a combination of Satellite white stencil decals and Bandai’s HGUC Zeon decal sheet to give the model a “busy” feel. Both decals worked okay, but the Bandai set tended to silver easily. After the decals dried, the model was wiped with a damp cloth, de-linted, then given one more coat of Mr. Super Clear to seal the decals. An airbrushed coat of Testors Dullcote finished off the model.

These are the aftermarket decals I used for the build. The sheet on the upper left was actually for a 1/100 scale mobile suit of a different type, but the stenciled numbers were useful for this project. I used the white Satellite stencil decal sheet, but have shown the black one for photographic purposes.

CONCLUSION

Bandai’s HGUC Zaku II looks great out of the box and builds relatively easily, with the exception of cleaning those damned power conduits. I thought the omission of rocket nozzles on the back pack was a little odd, but to be fair that is what the original TV version looked like. The monoeye modification was simple and went better than I expected and added a lot to the finished kit. The resin hands are a pretty expensive upgrade, but are worth it in my opinion. I highly recommend this kit to beginner and experts alike. Sieg Zeon!

  • Zaku-Front View-1
  • Zaku-Front View-2
  • Zaku-Rear View-2
  • Zaku-Rear View-1
  • IMG 1543CROP
 

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