Toy Photography Advent Calendar Day 8: Gundam G Frame Zaku II F2 (Federation ver.)

And so we’re back on G Frame Gundam. If you skipped the first couple days of advent calendar, I went over some of the basic concept of what this line is, and the nature of its amazing super-poseable frame with add on armor pieces and accessories. So that might be worth your time to get up to speed. Since I did make a show of the inner frame already on day 1, I’m not going to focus on that in today’s photos at all. While the frame on its own is never not a winner, today’s Zaku is certainly a star in its own right.

This is the Zaku II F2 in Earth Federation Forces colors. It was a training machine seen in a couple episodes of Gundam 0083. And I’ll tell you, back in the Mobile Suits in Action days, there was a lot of us that would have killed for a Federation colors Zaku, even if it was just a recolor of the basic original Zaku II figure. The light khaki is a good look on the Zaku’s shapes, and it’s a novelty to have these colors in any case. The same wave has a Zeon colors Zaku II F2 as well, so this kind of came down to preference. Also that RAC was going to have an extra of the regular color Zaku that I agreed to take off his hands.

There were multiple iterations of the MSiA Zaku II. The first was one of the original assortment of Mobile Suits in Action when the line launched in Japan in 1999. And boy oh boy is it obvious it’s one of the first ones. Eventually Bandai redid it, as Zaku II Second Version which was a fully new figure with a lot of improvements. A while after that, they went back to it again and made the Extended MSiA Zaku II which theoretically should be the ultimate iteration of Zaku II. Though in practice I found I preferred the Second Version overall. The reason this is important is because this G Frame Zaku feels really close in practical application to the better end of the MSiA lineage.

I remarked when talking about the Prototype Gundam the other day how G Frame had a semi model kit feel with slightly gummy joints in places and just a not entirely solid feel. But the thing is… the Zaku doesn’t. Much of that will come down to the shape of the armor elements, which do a much better job of bracing together to strengthen the whole thing. It’s a really very pleasant thing to handle one of these Zakus, because it all pretty much works and moves just how I want it to. Add to that, it’s got more poseability than an original MSiA Zaku (by far) and even a few joints the Second Version either lacked, or received before their application was really matured for that series. It’s not the most super poseable Zaku in this loose “scale” range, but it certainly makes a case for being the best Zaku at this size I’ve handled. I haven’t messed with a Robot Damashii Zaku of any stripe yet, so I can’t really say what that would be like in comparison. But I’ve also had a rocky relationship with Robot Damashii over the years, so I don’t automatically assume it would just blow this one away.

So, what makes a Zaku F2 an F2 specifically? I dunno, ask the mechanical designer for 0083. The thing is, things that we now call names like Zaku II F2, or Zaku II FZ (from 0080) generally originated with the intent that they were just the regular Zaku that the designer added their own spin to. It was the urging of model kit sales that would usually result in retroactively declaring these separate unit types. The F2 has some differences in detailing from a regular Zaku, but as redesigns go this one is comparatively mild. And in this specific case, what makes it an F2 is more in the accessories. This comes with an MMP-78 machinegun, which is a redesign/restyle of the classic Zaku machinegun, and an MMP-80 which I can’t even remember if it used on screen in 0083, now that I think about it. I don’t think the Federation Zaku used it, at any rate. There’s also a large heathawk, and a Zaku bazooka. The Zaku bazooka doesn’t need its handle to be removable like the Gundam’s Hyper Bazooka was, since this bazooka’s grip doesn’t have a distinctively awkward shape to work around. As a bonus, you also are provided a spare MMP-78 ammo drum that can fit on a hardpoint on the skirt armor. The drum on the rifle cannot be removed, so this is just a nice extra for display.

One of my favorite bonus features with this Zaku is the option to have either a standard Zaku head, or to switch on a commander antenna. And to do so is also part of the process for the next best bonus: the moving monoeye. The top of the head easily pulls off, and while it’s off, you can move the cylinder with the eye painted on it, so the Zaku can glance off to either side. Such a simple thing, but it took MSiA years to begin to reach this technological level!

The poseability of the fully constructed Zaku is also much better than I would have expected. The left arm is a little restricted at the shoulder because of the spiked shoulder cover, which has traditionally been a challenge for Zaku figures and models to work around. Despite that, you can get a pretty respectable outward range! The right arm feels like a triumph though. The Zaku shield is double jointed to the arm, so it has some room to move around. Where it might look initially like this arm is as restricted as the left, it takes just a tiny bit of adjusting the position of the shield, and the arm can suddenly move remarkably far outward. I was seriously impressed with this! It’s nowhere near taking advantage of the full range the skeleton has to offer, but it’s far more than I was expecting.

The skirt armor is all hinged and is good at getting clear of the legs so posing there is pretty good too. A fairly wide stance is possible, plus a reasonably deep knee bend gets you some good posing options. Just watch out for the thigh armor though. I found on mine the armor was trying to push off because the knee decided to bend in such a way that the lower leg armor was starting to force it off. It’s not dangerous for the figure, but it’d suck to have a thigh plate go fly off somewhere and get lost.

Honestly I’m glad I didn’t know yet how good this Zaku was when I ran across them in store over the summer. Because I would have bought as many as I could find. This line is seriously dangerous, I’m telling you. And I can hardly wait until I can pick up the next series and have my first MSiA-size (or so) figure of the Efreet. And GM Commando. And Blue Destiny 1. I already had MSiA Blitz, but the G Frame one will probably be nice too.

I am in so much trouble.