Friday, July 5, 2013

[Completed] HGUC 1/144 Zaku I

This is not going to be much of a review as just a gallery.  I'm in a pinch regarding time so I won't be able to finish the kit any more than it is now.  As such I did not cover all the points I wanted to . . .

     The HGUC 1/144 Zaku I ver. Black Tri-Stars is the second kit I have ever entered in any modeling contest, and also a gift I received from a colleague about a year ago, so I mean to make it even better than my previous works.  Despite being an inexpensive 1/144 HG kit the Zaku I deceptively requires much labor to look as intricate as more current kits.  This marks my first attempt as pla-plating as well.  

kit highlights:
-first attempt doing somewhat of a camo
-first time using Pledge Future + Tamiya flat base for topcoat (it's VERY cost-effective)
-second kit entered into any contest of any sort
-some new weathering methods attempted
-attempted pla-plating mods
-resisted using the Dremel tool 
-slowly gaining confidence going full-manual on camera settings

 more after the jump

      I noticed I have the an old Gouf and Dom Tropen in the 1/144 scale--so when I received this as a gift I immediately thought they go well together . . . a Desert Theme!  I've completely painted over the stock colors (black/purple) with the one befitting humid Earth conditions.  I'm using this kit as a stepping-stone to honing techniques until I feel confident enough to tackle my holy grail: the Hildolfr!

Build Impressions--oh the seamlines

Previous WIPs: 1 || 2

 I'm not in the habit of taking many photos while I work on projects . . . I could try to do more if that'll help fellow builders. 

here's roughly what I did; feel free to ask if any questions:
-seamline treatment
-sponge + surfacer 500 for bumpy textures
-paint, masking for camo
-went over kit with 90% thinned base colors
-misc. markings
-weathering pastels

I used colored pencil for the lining and marking, just thought I'd share since I'm quite happy with how it turned out. 

Articulation--do not play with after painting

Something to note is, that if you're going to paint this kit, many of the joint areas contact the armor--you'll want to shave a bit of plastic off such areas so you don't get rubbing (i.e. scratch your paint job).  You may notice a few scratches on my kit from just playing with it . . . =P

Articulation is good; I'm thoroughly satisfied given the low cost of this kit.  But if I had to nitpick:
-shoulders only pivot forward, not up/down/back
-knee joint isn't secure, tendency for lower leg to fall off joint

Gimmicks and Weapons--good value

    This kit comes with 5 hands and all the weapons pictured (minus the sniper rifle, which I added via System Builder Part).  In terms of plastic, there is no difference between the Zaku I Black Tri-Stars and the regular one as far as I can tell.

With so many weapons I wish the kit included a 'left trigger finger' hand . . . for those interested, there's the Gundam Builder MS Part Hands which includes a lefty gun hand. 

An Aside: Gundam Builder Part System Weapon 004

     In the context of the OYW, the Zaku I is underpowered compared to it's successor the Zaku II and the Earth Federation's MS.  Adding a sniper rifle to the Zaku I is reasonable to keep it in operation.  For anyone wanting the sniper variant I would get the HGUC Yonem Kirk's Zaku I sniper since it's more cost-effective than buying the Builder Part.  (the builder part costs more than the kit!)

My particular Zaku is optimized for ranged support =) 

I modeled my rifle after Russia's Dragunov sniper rifle . . . low accuracy and semi-auto, perfect for support.

Zakus sure have a hard time seeing.

     Worth buying?  Maybe . . . it's easily the cost of a standalone HG kit.  I also dislike how they pre-applied the markings/decals since there are VERY NOTICEABLE nub marks that you'd want to paint over regardless.  Stop it, Bandai, just include a separate sheet of decals.


Closing Thoughts

What I liked:
+Poseability is good without modding
+Good amount of accessories

What could be better:
-Surface details are almost nonexistent
-No molded eye . . . but a pink sticker
-Construction (especially arms) can be frustrating if you're fixing seamlines + painting
-Part fit is very 'snug'; will scratch paintjob near joint areas

Verdict - Excels in being a great value model kit

     This is a great template to work on; it's not as expensive as the MG or RG Zaku, but it requires effort to look good.  If you want the absolute best Zaku I @ 1/144 scale I recommend the RG Zaku II . . . and just down-convert to a Zaku I.  Of course, the Real Grade would cost about 2x more.   For 1/100 scale there's no MG ver 2.0 of the Zaku I (unless you count the Zaku Cannon)--but the Zaku II ver. 2.0s are all fantastic and you can't go wrong.  

     I'm very happy to have received this from my friend when I did; it can be a very fun and practical kit for a beginner--and it can also be a challenge to more mature gunpla builders.  I can recommend this kit easily to anyone starting out and/or looking to enhance building technique.  

It's a great value depending on who it's for.  If you want something that looks great out of the box this is not for you.

With this project coming to an end I'm considering weathering all my future kits.  I think there's more beauty in a kit that looks like it has 'a history' vs. something that looks right out of the manufacturing plant.  We're talking about military here, not a showroom car.  Of course it's all to each one's own.

Other Review:


  • Construction: Evergreen models styrene sheets (pla-plate), Mr. Surfacer (500/1000)
  • Paints: Tamiya Acrylics (German Grey, NATO Brown, Desert Yellow, Clear Red, Clear Orange, Flat White, Flat Black); other colors  seen are a mix of the above
  • Finish: color pencil (white, grey), Future Floor Polish + Tamiya Flat Base, Vallejo Weathering Pigments
-$12-15 base kit
-$15 weapon system 004  
-builder parts sight lens
-<$10 misc. supplies
-existing supplies.
-2-3 hours every weekend for past 2 months (snail's pace =_=;)

     At this point I can really see the airbrush paying off because I'm getting a fairly smooth finish--vs. hand-painting--and I'm not blowing crazy amount on paying spray cans.

Until next time . . . if I can make time!