We are in the middle of HG week on Gaijin Gunpla and after looking at the F91 and Gouf R35 we’re going to look at the HG MS-05 Zaku I (Gundam Thunderbolt Ver.) I’m a little reluctant to admit this but this is my first Zaku I.
Overall Look: 10/10
Love it! Being the predecessor of the Zaku II there is a lot on the Zaku I that I like but if it were just a normal looking Zaku I wouldn’t be as fond of it as I am. This guy is eye-catching and a lot of that has to do with all the stickers you’re given to put on.
They go on the front,
Okay, everywhere! And the best ones are those used around the skirt.
I really like the skirt look. Back when I was doing a lot of modding I contemplated how to do the black/yellow caution stripes but never seriously attempted it. The Zaku I TB does it for me!
Just take your time to get the alignment correct and you’re golden.
I was even worried that many of these stickers wouldn’t be visible once the kit was assembled and the backpack put on but that isn’t the case.
Some areas involve some extra attention when putting on the foils and that is most evident in the shoulder and kneecaps.
You can see here I’ve actually left off the stickers that cover the spike stumps (for lack of better descriptor).
After putting them on the knee, which look passable, I decided to skip the shoulders.
Oh my god, I love orange! But like anything else when there’s too much of a good thing the results can be negative. With the Zaku I TV the orange is mostly on the legs, feet, and arms leaving the sand colour to break it up. Actually the sand colour reminds me a lot of one of my favourite Zaku II, the Zaku Cannon.
This might just be my favourite Zaku colour scheme of them all.
Getting the Zaku axe, machine gun, and bazooka is cool enough but TB gets an extra bazooka all his own. These can mount onto the backpack.
He almost has too many things to carry!
Unlike many kits I’ve built/reviewed lately the Zaku I TB actually seems to be more articulate in the shoulders/arms than the hips/legs. This is because of some neat joint designs for the shoulders.
There is, of course, good movement in the hips but the lower legs, being very large don’t allow the ankle to move laterally very much so you’ll have him unable to put both feet down if you spread the legs out too much.
The backpack is no problem as well (when empty).
Build Design: 9/10
Expecting something pretty similar to the other HG Zaku’s I’ve assembled it was nice to see some changes, for example, that shoulder armour. Usually it’s a peg in a poly-cap connection which leads to the shoulder moving maybe more than you want it to but on the Zaku I TB the poly-cap is rectangular.
This then fits onto the tab molded into the shoulder frame part.
This means that shoulder isn’t going anywhere on its own. It will move appropriately when the upper arm is moved.
The excellent shoulder design has already been mentioned but I’ll just add that the way the hip joints and upper legs connect, which is the same as the shoulder joint/upper arms combo, works really well and doesn’t look odd which can be the case in some of the older HG designs.
Once you’re done assembling the Zaku I itself you then proceed to the backpack and weapons so in a way you’re only half done when you get the MS assembled.
Fun Factor: 10/10
I’m probably pretty harsh on HG kits simply because they don’t offer the build complexity I love from the Master Grade and Real Grade lines, but that doesn’t mean that they’re boring. (Well, some of them are). The Zaku I Thunderbolt definitely isn’t. Some might think that it was enjoyable just because it is a Thunderbolt kit and those come loaded but this guy is pretty tame compared to those TB kits that came before. Even so, this guy is my favourite Thunderbolt Version kit so far.
Bandai includes a lot of stuff in this box and it’s tough to figure out what to do with it all. That’s what we have manuals for. The good quality marking stickers are there, of course.
But you’ve got other extras like this arm.
This actually replaces the folded up arm that is found under the backpack.
When in place you can mount the machine gun there.
You’ve also got this, um, thing. Well, two of, um, these things.
These go together and can be mounted to the side skirt using a little adaptor.
The same goes for the Axe.
It’s worth noting that the Axe really only mounts to the right side due to the connector fitting only one way on the axe. Also, if you’ve got these mounted this way you’ll likely have problems with the Machine Gun arm. Oh, and they fall off really easily. Realllllly easily.
You also get extra parts to replace something on the bottom of the foot.
Though these can only really be used when this guy is on an action base of some kind.
The Zaku I Thunderbolt Version looks great, performs well, and is loaded. It’s kits like these that make me rethink my idea to not focus so much on HG. That said, if they were to release and MG of this guy, I’d be in heaven.