Asides from pioneering sci-fi anime in general, the original Mobile Suit Gundam established the two design philosophies that the franchise would carry to this day. There is the Zeon aesthetic, which is characterized by bulkier shapes and the iconic mono-eye. Its counterpart â€“ the Earth Federation aesthetic â€“ is characterized by a slimmer shape and visor-like head camera. While the Zeon designs branched into all sorts of creative designs over the years. The Federation designs have been a mixed bag. Sure, the Gundam designs are the focus of every entry of the franchise, but the same cannot be said for the mass-produced grunts.
While many of the grunts look pretty spiffy, there is a serious want of variety when it comes to the Federationâ€™s arsenalâ€¦ That is, until Gundam Unicorn.
Enter Katoki Hajime in a headband and war paint, crashing through the glass roof of Federation grunt MS designs clenching a giant bowie knife between his teeth. After doing a 360 degree flip in the air, he proceeds to karate kick the old GM philosophy with an unlikely inspiration: the Methuss from Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, which was known for its role as a mobile battery pack over anything else. Nevertheless, the result of this violent combination is the RGZ-95 ReZEL, the successor of the failed ReGZ. Itâ€™s big, itâ€™s mean, and it finally managed to prevent the Zeonic grunt designs from completely stealing the show. An HGUC model was inevitable, and given how excited I was over the ReZEL, my purchase of the kit was a forgone conclusion. So, how does the Federationâ€™s new poster boy fare in model kit form? Pretty well, Iâ€™d say!
The ReZEL has come a long way since the days of its spiritual ancestor the Methuss. While its predecessor features rounded shapes and a bright yellow colour scheme, the ReZEL trades that away for a darker, more angular look. Along with the bright white and shiny red highlights scattered about the design, the ReZEL looks very intimidating.
Zeta-style chunky calves make a helps to give the suit a heavier overall feel than traditional skinny-legged GM designs. One big eyebrow-raiser is the ReZELâ€™s crotch. During an IM conversation I had with a friend, I referred to it as the â€œterrible hooked dongâ€. Unfortunately, I sent that particular message in the wrong message window, which prompted some awkward explanationsâ€¦ the hooked dong does have a function other than to cause embarrassment, though, as Iâ€™ll explain in during the transformation section.
In terms of accuracy, the HGUC ReZEL is very close to OVAâ€™s design with the exception of the backpack. The side thrusters are a little larger and higher than the portrayals of the ReZEL in the OVA. Whereas they are barely visible from the front in the official lineart, the side thrusters of the model are readily visible. Minor discrepancy, yes, but one that might catch the eyes of pickier fans.
The backpack is also the subject of the modelâ€™s biggest colour inaccuracy. The surface behind the nozzles of the side thrusters on the backside of the ReZEL are supposed to be light blue like the waist of, but in practice, not separate part is moulded for that surface. Neither are foil stickers included to remedy the problem. Once again, itâ€™s one of those colour discrepancies that you donâ€™t notice until itâ€™s too late. Mind, the ReZEL looks fine without that shade of blue painted on the back, but if you are a more meticulous modeller, Iâ€™d suggest having paint ready.
Being a MS design near the time of Charâ€™s counterattack, the ReZEL is bigâ€”very big. Not counting the backpack, the ReZEL is taller than the Unicorn Gundam while in unicorn mode and is just as tall as the destroy mode. Of course, the backpack and its overall width make it feel even larger. In other words, thereâ€™s a lot of ReZEL to go around.
First, letâ€™s take a look at the rest of the spots that require stickers or paint:
First up are the cherry coloured details that are littered across the ReZELâ€™s upper half. All of them can be accounted for with foil stickers. The vulcans on either side of the face also need gray to complete the picture.
Next up are the hips. There is a gray portion on the center of the frontal crotch piece that needs paint, as well as the inner corners of the frontal skirt armour. The vents on the front skirts will need a touch of white to look accurate as well. As usual, the signature â€œcock-finâ€ of federation-style MS designs will need yellow paint, though a foil sticker is included. At last, the vents on the ReZELâ€™s backside will need some white paint for the flaps (I got lazy and just painted the edges white).
The center portion of the backpack will need a touch of gray on the base of the white plating. The center of the paint nozzles are supposed to be painted yellow, but I didnâ€™t want to risk having bright paint stuck in hard-to-reach places by accident, so I skipped on that little detail.
Finally, the various vents on the ReZELâ€™s legs and shoulders will need some black paint. I just went nuts with a black gundam marker and sanded away the excess with a straight file at the end. Precision is not the strong suit of my shaky grandma hands.
Donâ€™t let these various observations mislead you, though â€“ I am actually very impressed with how accurate the ReZEL is overall. If you snap it together right out of the box, the model will look fine. Iâ€™m especially impressed with the inclusion of white parts for the various verniers on the shoulders and legs, as they prevent the suit from looking too monotonously blue. In that sense, these white parts serve a similar role as the yellow parts on the Titans colour Gundam Mk.II.
Since the ReZEL has a pretty straightforward appearance, thereâ€™s not much in the way of hidden little details. There are a couple of things worth mentioning, though: the forearm grenade launchers are present on both arms, but the hatches cannot be opened. Also, there is a pair of tubes running down the back of each of ReZELâ€™s legs. Cool bit of mechanical detail, I thought.
As if the TERRIBLE HOOKED DONG wasnâ€™t enough, the ReZEL also carries around a very, very long beam rifle. In fact, the beam rifle is so long that it gets in the way of some grounded poses. But hey, who am I to get between a MS and its sense of self-confidence? The white tube on the top of the rifle needs to be painted if you donâ€™t want an all-gray weapon, by the way.
The ReZEL also comes with a pair of beam saber handles and one pink blade. The blade also happens to be really, really longâ€¦. Okay, Iâ€™m starting to notice a pattern here. Curiously, there are no places on the model to store the beam saber handles, which makes me wonder where they are supposed to go.
The design of the shield is long and narrow with a sturdy feel to it. It is also equipped with a beam gun at the end that is capable of ejaculating beam darts. Did I say ejaculate? I meant shoot.
Asides from a pair of fists and a rifle-gripping hand, no extra hand is included. You may have noticed the presence of an open-palmed hand in some of these photos, but I am sorry to inform you that no such hand is included in the package â€“ it is in fact the hand of the HGUC Unicorn Gundam (unicorn mode) with the blue hand plating fitted onto it. Considering how engorged large the beam rifle is, Iâ€™m a little disappointed that no open hands are included to reproduced to two-handed rifle stance.
Like the HGUC Zeta Gundam that came before it, the ReZEL relies on part-swapping to transform into its waverider mode. The head, torso (minus the frontal chest armour), hip joints, and arms are replaced by a central block onto which all other pieces are attached.
The frontal chest plate and the shield/rifle combo are attached first (the grip of the beam rifle is foldable). They are followed by the hips, which slide into the back. It is here that we see the explanation behind the terrible blue dong: itâ€™s there to secure the beam rifle! Neat-o, huh?
After that, the side thrusters and the side skirt armour are attached the legs of via pair of clips. The neither the leg nor the feet have any difficulty managing the big bends.
After that, itâ€™s only a matter of attaching these pieces to the central block along with the central back thruster! To display your newly formed rocked-powered brick, simply plug in the Action Base 1 into the backside of the ReZEL. Note that for the waverider mode, the Action base 1 (normally for 1/100 scale models) is your only choice.
The ReZELâ€™s transformed state feels very compact. With the many thrusters of the suit all pointed backwards, the ReZEL really looks like itâ€™s capable of going ZOOM. Compared to the anime, however, the central thruster of the waverider looks considerably smaller in the model. Again, this is not a big complaint from me, but it does make the waverider look less streamlined and more like big blue brick.
Oh, before I forget â€“ there are two little handles on the back of the waverider that can be flipped up to accommodate a hitch-hiker. Wheee~
Because of the transformation gimmick, the knees and feet of the ReZEL have very wide ranges of movement. However, there are a couple small articulation flaws on other parts of the model.
The first problem has to do with the shoulders. The ability to swing the shoulders forward is curiously absent as the shoulders are secured via simple ball joints. The shoulder joints are pretty important in various action poses, so Iâ€™m a little disappointed to see the ReZEL fall short of the current standard among HG kits.
The second problem concerns the waist joint. While the ball-joint design is standard enough, the ReZELâ€™s waist armour extends below the waistline and inevitably bumps into frame of the hips when you try to rotate the waist. As a result, the torso can only rotate about 10 degrees to either side.
On a positive note, the legs are connected to the hips via two single-axis joints rather than a single ball joint, much like the HG 00 Gundam. Combined with the fact that the side skirt armour is connected to the base of the leg rather than the hips, the ReZELâ€™s leg articulation is practically unlimited. I am very glad that 00â€™s hip joint system is being adapted into newer models â€“ hopefully this will be the eventual standard for HG releases.
Retailing at 2,000 yen, the ReZEL on the higher end of the HGUC price spectrum, settling above unicorn mode (1,500 yen) and destroy mode (1,800 yen). But for that money, you get the biggest and baddest Federation grunt out there. Sure it may have some articulation quirks and minor proportion issues, but at the end of the day, the HGUC ReZEL continues the tradition of high quality and clever engineering of recent HGUC kits. Honestly, if this doesnâ€™t get you excited about Federation grunt designs, Iâ€™m pretty sure nothing willâ€¦ Well, maybe except for the RGM-96X Jestaâ€¦ OH GOD HGUC WHEN?!
Sharp, angular designs with an intimidating colour scheme
Small white leg verniers are faithfully reproduced
Superb leg articulation
Minor proportion issues regarding the backpack
Lack of frontal shoulder articulation
Highly limited waist movement