Review: 08th MS Team Zaku II

By Loran

Over the years, I’ve built a lot of robot kits. I’ve never really stopped and counted, but the total might be somewhere in the hundreds. Now, sure, a lot have broken and been replaced, some have been traded away, and some just lost in the sands of time, but there are some kits I always go back to. We all have favorites-kits that hold a special place in our heart. Maybe it’s a design you like, or you have fond memories of building the model, or it’s just one you like playing with. And hey, maybe you’ve even built that kit more than once! And that’s what I’m gonna cover here, an old favorite of mine: The 08th MS Team Zaku II.

This kit holds a special place in my heart-I was so ecstatic when I received the Gundam [G] vs. Zaku II set for my birthday nine years ago. Along with the 1989 Zaku FZ kit I got that day, he was one of my first Zakus, and the kit is still one of my favorites. Sure, it’s primitive and doesn’t hold up to newer kits, but I just love it. It’s probably the nicest-looking take on the 1/144 Zaku, using the design the Master Grade kit introduced just a year earlier. This kit got three releases-first with the Gundam [G], second on its own with the added F-type parts, and the third “domestic” release-Char colors. All of them unique in their own special way. I’ve built seven of these over the past nine years, with an eighth that I need to work on someday.

The head for the kit is simple-two halves, monoeye piece, tubes, and two choices of “headgear”-antenna or no antenna, something most modern HG Zakus have kinda given up on. “You want both heads? Ha! Go buy this other kit.”

The torso/waist is all “one piece” essentially, with no waist swivel. I guess Zaku kits couldn’t really be engineered with those yet, because even the HGUC kit didn’t have one. The skirt armor is one piece like others at the time and the legs aren’t allotted much movement. But there is one awesome feature-the big black piece on the front of the chest is removable, showcasing the cockpit and generator inside! A really awesome touch seldom-almost never-seen on kits at this scale.

The arms are simple, again, par for the course for this era. But you do get some options! First, you get two choices of shields and forearms, provided you didn’t buy the one in the two-pack with the Gundam. You get the choice of a shield with “spikes”, like the J-type had in 08th MS Team, or the “smooth” shield, like the classic F-type Zaku. Your two forearms come in different flavors-with “cuffs” (08th J-type style) or without (classic style). Everything is fairly basic, with the shoulder armor and shield basically just tacked on without ploycaps, and you have the standard selection of hands, but with trigger fingers for both weapons.

The legs are also basic. With a bit of effort you can get them to go the full 90 degrees, but the limitations at the waist prevent decent poseability. You can choose from F-type boosters, or J-type covered boosters. Poor guy can’t pose for anything…

You get the 08th Team take on the classic Zaku weapons here-the basic Zaku Machine gun, the bazooka (with a magazine) and a heat hawk. Achieving poses with the guns isn’t easy, and the heat hawk has a peg that could be mounted on something, even though there’s nothing to mount it TO. The Zaku in the two-pack does not include the heat hawk, even though the scene that set represents had the Zaku using ONLY the heat hawk…

Boy, this review must sound pretty negative, especially for a kit that’s supposed to be one of my favorites. It’s a technologically inferior model in every which way, but I just love the look of it. It looks nice and is cheaper than the HGUC, and makes for a great army builder with lots of customizing potential. If poseability doesn’t bother you and you like messing around with stuff, grab one (or five) and have a squad of ‘em! I have three different J-types made, and one F-type. I’ll get to that other F-type… someday.

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