Thursday, January 24, 2013

[Completed?] MG Zeta Plus A1

*EDIT* 2015 - Kit has been sold, hope new owner makes better of the kit than I did!

     I build extra slow, granted we are passing through winter here and temperatures have been less-than-ideal for painting [outdoors].  Here, 3 or so months later, I’ve finally gotten around to the Zeta A1.  I enjoyed re-building this kit and I really can see why I bought it in the first place—though I would not recommend it as a purchase for the inexperienced.  Not because it’s hard to build or anything but because Bandai wasn’t particularly smart with their execution of this transformable mobile suit.

     I don’t have a build log of this kit because I first built it years ago.  This is going to be a trend for my future reviews—I’m mostly ‘re-building’ my kits.  But if I feel that people are interested in looking at build logs I will consider photographing more.  In general I recommend visiting because the author shows how the kit is built straight out of the box with little modification.  I’ll try to link to other modelers’ reviews as they will likely cover areas I don’t. 

An Aside

    The Krylon Acrylic Clear Coats works really well; I find them a bit ‘thinner’ in texture compared to Mr. Top Coat—but for the price they cannot be beat.  I will continue to use Krylon Clear Coat Matte/Gloss for future kits because I can’t afford the Japanese brand.

EDIT: it has come to my attention that Krylon Acrylic crystal clear 'Flat' is superior to 'Matte' in that it is more scratch-resistant (?)  This is according to browsing some gunpla discussions, however, so I must test this for myself before saying much more.  I have a feeling this relates to why I found the Matte coat being so 'thin' in comparison to the top coats I've used before (Mr. Topcoat, Testors Dullcoat).

EDIT2: Krylon clear acrylic Flat is rather difficult to find; I'll stick with Matte and use a Japanese-brand on occasion. 


    The Zeta Gundam A1 has never appeared in any animations, merely in the novel Gundam Sentinel, rumor has it that it was piloted by the legendary Amuro Ray.  I’m suspicious of that ‘A’ insignia also present on the RX-93 Nu Gundam stands for ‘Amuro Ray’ or simply “Anaheim Electronics”—but they have a separate “AE” to denote that.
    This mass-produced successor to the original Zeta Gundam is specifically designed for atmospheric combat.  Later designed into the Zeta C1 (also available 1/100 MG) for high-orbit/space combat.  I’m in love with the tangerine/off-white color scheme and that’s precisely why I purchased this over the C1 version (mostly black). 

Build Impressions

front view

rear view

    Right to the point: the kit suffers from floppy articulation points, especially those related to its transformation gimmick.  Otherwise the rest of the joints are overly stiff—heck, Bandai used metal screws for connecting joint behind the knees.

Screws in the leg joint

terrible hip joint

The most serious offender of the floppy relates to the transformation of the hip.  There is a tendency for this section to split in half as the plastic holding the hips together is very loose.  I've attempted to remedy this via glue or cement but have found little success.  Using a hip-mounted display stand like Bandai's 1/100 display stand works pretty well since the fork pinches the hip area.

a big win for Bandai's 1/100 display stand

To make it clear—floppy, not fragile . . . but I wouldn’t tempt playing with it much because it’s a model kit afterall =P 

    It’s also a bit back-heavy, no thanks to the stabilizer fin and the center-of-gravity of the feet.


    Starting from the top, the neck has limited movement due to a single ball connection.
    The shoulders are really limited in motion; notably there is a lack of front and back pivoting that you may find with many current kits (both MG and HG).   This is partly due to its transformation gimmick. 

    There is no waist movement aside from it ‘collapsing in’ via transforming.  I cemented much of the body together because I found much of the snap-together loose.

    Having no front skirt armor means it can do these poses quite easily.
Well actually if you count the waist-mounted guns there is a bit of armor that go in front of the thighs.  That doesn’t stop it from being able to do some kneeling and other dynamic poses.
I removed the rear skirt armor because, honestly, I think it’s ugly—adding a bit of unnecessary bulk to what is supposed to be a very aerodynamic frame.  Also it’s a single-piece armor that has no real range of motion. 



    A sparse loadout, but does it need more?  Let’s not forget this is Amuro Ray we’re talking about here—he’s known for shooting more things down with his Vulcans than anything else =P.  I can’t imagine this kit using the Hyper Mega Launcher the Zeta had originally, I mean we have to consider it’s for Earth combat.

Beam Rifle

    Two piece snap-together with flip-out grip.  There are two flip-out tabs—one for mounting on backpack and the other for mounting in wave-rider form.  Speaking of the wave-rider form--I didn't manage to get any pics of the transformation =<
   Unfortunately this kit was released before Bandai heard of tabs on the gun or hands to hold weapons securely . . .  while the kit has no issue gripping the rifle I can't say the same for the beam sabers.

 The tab on the top allows mounting to the wing binders, while the tab on the bottom is for wave-rider mode.  Conversely, you can use that to mount to the arm the same way the shield does.


    Nothing special here.  Arm mounted only and the round end can be oriented however you like; the attache to the arm allows for 360* rotation demonstrated by upcoming photo(s).


Hip-mounted Beam Guns

    It’s nice that these don’t interfere with the articulation of the kit.

   I wonder how accurate they are in actual use.

Beam Sabers
     Guns can get boring rather quickly--one can come up with many more interesting poses when wielding a melee weapon!

    Whoa they’re blue—definitely a good change of pace from the usual green.  The handles are stored in the hip-mounted guns.  While the Zeta’s hands are very stiff I really wish Bandai had designed some way of holding them better.

shoulders are very stiff

Closing Thoughts

this is how I would leap from a dropship

Things I liked:

+Default color scheme is pleasing (off-white, neutral orange)
+Articulation good for its time (the year 2001?)

What could have been better:

-Loose hip area due to transformation gimmick; needs added security
-No extra, pre-molded, hands?
-No ‘tabs’ on weapons for better grip


    I like the Zeta A1 very much, but cannot recommend it being an older model kit.

"Target Confirmed - Commencing first phase as planned"

Worth Buying?

    Because of the floppiness of the hip connections I cannot recommend the MG Zeta Plus A1 to newcomers.  It has difficulty standing on its own because of the transformation gimmick—the hips tend to ‘slide’ apart under the kit’s weight.  A solution I’ve found is to use Bandai’s display base crotch-connection to hold the hips together; another option is to cement the damn things together, but you’ll lose the ability to transform the kit.  I really wish the back skirt armor had some design feature that kept the hips pinched together but it doesn’t.  A paperclip or similar would help too.  In short, Bandai’s display base solves the hip splitting issue but the joints are nonetheless floppy at best. 

    If you can overlook this problem as being one of Bandai’s worst hip designs in history, the Zeta A1 is a very satisfying kit for me aesthetically.  Because it’s an older kit one will have to put in a good amount of work to make it look great. 

    You can get this for roughly $30 USD right now and I think that’s a great value for this kit; just a fair warning that it is missing many of the gimmicks that current MG kits in the $40+ range have.  I only recommend this kit to someone who likes this particular iteration of the Zeta Gundam; for others please consider the MG Zeta Ver. 2.0 of the same scale.

TL;DR - not a must-have because better equipped and newer kits available (i.e. Zeta 2.0, RG Zeta, Delta).  This kit was first released back in 2001!  But hey if you like the design what's stopping you?

Other Review:


Dalong's Review

Gunpla Inochi's Review

Play Evolution's epic Zeta C1 repaint


Price paid:  $30 via, purchased before 2007 + $6 easy-model brand waterslide decals

Finishing Tools:
Dremel 300 rotary tool for minor wear/tear effects
Paint - Tamiya flat Orange, German Grey, Gundam Marker Metallic Green, Fluorescent Green
Vallejo Weathering Pigments
Krylon Matte acrylic Clear Coat

Thanks for Reading, time for me to get busy on my next kit!  I'm also debating some sort of numeric rating system, but most of my kits are super old--most people would have the sense to buy newer kits for only a bit more.