Like I said before, I wasn't initially a big fan of the Zaku. After assembling this kit, though, my opinion on at least the Zaku has taken a full 180˚ turn.
Before I get into articulation, let me explain something special about this kit. This is the Zaku II 2.0, which means that it has been upgraded from the original [1.0] kit released however long ago. The 2.0 kits all have extensive upgrades to the frame and the armor, and allow for an incredible range of movement. That being said, let's move on to the articulation.
From the top down, the head can turn and look up to some degree, and an awesome little gimmick they added is the movement of the mono-eye. As you turn the head, the eye turns along a little gear within the head, making it look more realistic. Both sides of the cockpit hatch can open, and a little lever on the lack can switch the side the cockpit is on. The waist has a ball joint and a forward-swivel thing so you can get a great range of movement with the waist. Back up to the arms, the shoulder armaments are on little arms which are pretty much free moving and can extend a bit too. The shoulders are on an amazing joint and can pretty much go fully forward. The arms can rotate at the bottom of the shoulder, and the elbow is double jointed. There are 2 points of articulation at the wrist, and the fingers have individual articulation [originally the last three fingers are molded together but I separated them].
Moving back down, the skirt armor is all ball jointed and can be moved out of the way with incredible ease, making posing much more bearable. There's also a little tab on the back skirt armor where you can attach the Zaku's bazooka. The hip joints pretty much have a full range of uninhibited movement thanks to the skirt armor not being in the way. The knees are double jointed, and the feet can do a ridiculous amount of moving despite looking so static.
What really struck me with the Zaku II was the complexity of the inner frame. It's marvelously engineered and allows for a crazy amount of posing. The Zaku II is one of the few kits I've seen that can kneel on one knee and not look awkward at all. The tubing was a serious pain in the ass to do though, as each of the small green tube pieces was molded over a polycap-esque runner [it's kind of difficult to explain]. The tubing on the legs, especially, was a real headache because it was SO HARD TO KEEP THE DAMN TUBES ON THE SPRING ARRRRGH D:< Anyway, overlooking the frustration and finger-aches caused by the Zaku II's tubing, it's really a fantastic kit.
I'm actually quite pleased at the amount of accessories the Zaku II comes with! Let's start off with the heat hawk~
The heat hawk is the Zaku's physical weapon, and I honestly can't see it doing very much damage. It's molded as one solid piece, though, and it looks pretty nice :D
You also get a little skirt clip so you can stow it on the side skirt.
Next up is the bazooka. It's honestly nothing too special, and it's kind of annoying to pose with it, so I usually leave it out.
The bazooka can only be clipped into the right hand, and a little handle can swivel out for the left hand to hold loosely. The scope can move a bit and you can flip the scope cover off, which is pretty nifty.
And like I mentioned earlier, it clips very nicely onto the back skirt.
Finally, the Zaku Machine Gun. I really think that this is the Zaku II's greatest accessory - it just looks so good with it! The stock can get in the way a bit, but how can you argue with the visual proof:
The ammo clip can be removed and stored on the Zaku's rear skirt plate under the bazooka clip, and the scope thing can move a bit too :D
I didn't want to build the shin-mounted rocket pods because, frankly, I think they're stupid, so the parts are still sitting on the runner :P
FULLY ARMED ZAKU II, READY FOR ACTION!!
I've really got nothing but praise for this kit. It was a gift from one/some of the folks over at /toy/, which I thank you again for, and its engineering is absolutely brilliant. It's got insane posability and comes with just the right amount of extra stuff, and building it is a real journey. The instructions have you build the frame, then slap the armor on for each section, which I quite like. And if you do have to buy it, it's got an incredibly attractive price tag of only $30-35, which is at the lower end of the Master Grade kit prices.
And with that said, I will see you all next Friday :D. Have a nice weekend~
**I apologize for the lack of mono-eye visibility D: