Monday, July 30, 2007

PLAMO Review 21: HGUC Zudah

"A sad pedestrian in the One Year War"

That's my conclusion of EMS-10 Zudah. If you watched MS IgLoo, I'm sure Zudah is no stranger to you. It made its debut in Episode 3 of the 3D animation series, and became the only unique MS available in the whole anime, as the rest of the test Zeon mecha we get to see are Mobile Armors.

Zudah is not a newly developed MS for the war actually. Before One Year War, Zudah, initially assigned EMS-04, was developed by a company called Zimmad to compete with MS-05B Zaku I developed by Zeonic to be the mainstream MS of the Zeon army. Zudah was much more superior to Zaku I in both its generator output rate (1,150kw versus 899kw) and thruster propulsion performance (58,700kg versus 39,000kg). However, Zudah lost the competition because of its fatal design flaw: its inability to control its speed limit. As a result, the machine would break apart after surpassing its speed limit, which would kill the pilot as well. After that, its developer, Zimmad abandoned the concept of Zudah, and started developing MS-09 Dom as their next triumph card instead.

As the story turns out, the Zeon started losing their grip in their campaign on Earth, and the Earth Federation utilized the advantage and started developing their MS forces as well. At the turn of the tide, Zudah was resurrected with a newly designated model code EMS-10. The upgrades implemented on this "new" MS were very superficial, and as the testing from the 603rd Test Team found out, its major design flaw was never corrected. However, the Zeon propagated Zudah as their next generation MS to yield some desperate psychological effects on EFSF. Such efforts failed of course, as the war returned to space and the Zeon was forced to a defensive stance. Zudah remained as test machines on the carrier Jotunheim as backup MSs, and only saw limited action in rescuing Zeon escape pods as they retreated from Earth (which marked the end of Zeon’s Earth campaign), and securing an escape route after the Zeon lost their space fortress A Boa Qu (which marked the end of One Year War). Although Zudah was seemingly more superior to Zaku II, it was never involved in any combat that could make any impact towards the outcome of the UC history. That’s why I call it a pedestrian, and a sad one as well.

The four views of the model

Although Zudah has some similarities with the other Zeon mecha, most notably the mono eye camera and the shoulder shield, its design is much slimmer, with many nifty "built-in" features. For examples, its backpack and legs has a total of eight smaller thrusters for better movement control, the shield is mounted on the left instead of the right shoulder as seen on Zaku II, and can rotate in a 180-degree arc. Prior to MG Zaku II Ver. 2.0, I used to think that Zaku II's shoulder shield is just a piece of metal plate hanging from its right shoulder, but Zudah's design is definitely better than that. The shoulder shield of Zudah is also fitted with a double-spiked fork that comes in quite handy during melee combat. The design of the arm is also quite unique. It can be stretched for a short distance at the elbow, probably for a quick punch at the enemy whenever possible.

Sneaky :)

The HGUC version of Zudah depicts all the mecha designs of Zudah quite closely, which makes the finished model stand out a lot from its Zeon brethrens. While most other HGUC Zeon mecha tends to be more and more simplistic in their designs (HGUC Char’s Zaku II, Gelgoog, and Dom/Rick-Dom for example), Zudah has many details all over its body that require a lot of panel lining and painting to make the whole model look good. So, by my reckoning, this is not really a good choice to pick if you want to start Gunpla-ing.

As compared to HGUC Char’s Zaku II, Zudah stands a little taller, but a lot thinner

The model comes with a lot of clear stickers to be applied to the entire body. The work however, is a nightmare. Those stickers are just so small, and been in white, it's just plain hard to cut them out from their sheet. In the end, I just put on what's obvious, like the marking on the shield, the shoulders and the front skirt armor. Of all the stickers given, I think I only applied 20 percent of them.

You need a sharp knife and eyesight for this work :)

Remember the white panel lining I mentioned some time ago? Here's how I did it: the tools you need is a white Gundam marker, and a bit of Methanol. I suppose I don't have to tell you that Methanol is poisonous, and is flammable as well. So please handle it with care.

Just paint the lines with the white marker and the paint will flow into the little "drains" :)

After they dried up a bit, use a cotton swap coated with Methanol to rub off the extra paint. The paint dried up pretty quickly, and when it does, it's really painful to rub it off. So, I suggest paint-and-clean four parts at a time, not one-off.

The hardest part is the chest armor. I had to paint and clean it many times before finally getting it right.

All the parts that need white panel lining for Zudah. Using design knife to mark the lines help to keep the paint in them, quite helpful if you keep on rubbing off the intended white lines all the time for some of the parts.

Some paint job is needed as well. The paint job I did is as below:

Silver for the buttons and stripes on both shoulders, and a bit on the shield’s fork, black for the armpits, and silver plus yellow for the Heat Hawk. Since it’s yellow on black part for the Heat Hawk, several layer of painting is needed to hide the original color beneath it.

What I didn’t paint is the dark blue of the model's "stomach" (the cockpit I believe). The overall paint scheme is for Unit 4, or the backup unit, since Unit 1, 2 and 3 are in camouflage color that is impossible to accomplish without airbrushing. However, I'm quite pleased that the orange parts for the backpack thruster and the head of the Sturm Faust are given, and the color seems sort of metallic as well, which is really cool~

Apart from the details, the articulation of the model is very well designed as well. The elbow has limited movement to compensate for the arm stretching function, but the shoulder joint is unbelievably good. Not only it can be turned to the front (for action like holding the machinegun with two hands), it can be flipped backward and upward as well. The knee also allows greater action than all other Zeon models I have. The mono eye camera can be moved to the left and right as well, and together with the different headpieces given to represent Unit 1 to 4, there’s plenty of fun for the head alone.

In terms of its armaments, the 120mm Zaku Machine Gun and the Heat Hawk are very much from Zaku II. Along with the Sturm Faust, these weapons can be mounted on the legs of Zudah. Another weapon used by Zudah, the 280mm Bazooka is not given, but it can be borrowed from HGUC Char's Zaku II, and it's perfectly compatible.

But the best stuff is the 135mm Anti-ship Rifle.

It's just plain wicked! I have to admit that one of the reasons I bought the model in the first place is this "monster-gun". Zudah can hold it with just one hand, but it's definitely better with both.

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Of course it's compatible for other Zeon mecha as well

Something off topic: the rifle really reminds me of the one used by Eva Unit 1 in its anime. Unfortunately Zudah can't lie down to hold the rifle in the same cool sniper position.

I'm thinking something like this

You can view more of the photos taken in Zudah's Gallery.

As conclusion, apart from the complicated "make-ups", this model really rocks! A huge bargain for a 1400 Yen (around RM49) model.