[Alen Yen's ToyboxDX]

  December 02, 2002

I think I just met my Toy of the Year.

And the funny thing is, it isn't even a toy.

Man, I love Bandai's Jumbo Grade series. I loved the Gundam when it came out late last year. I love this "standard" Zaku even more. Just as with its predecessor, the Zaku's an attention-getter in any room. At 20 inches tall, how could it not be?

The "Char" version of the Jumbo Grade Zaku has been out for nearly as long as Gundam, so there aren't a whole lot of surprises about the design. But I've never been a huge fan of Char's girly-girl pink color scheme. So I sat and waited. I'm glad I did. At this size, the military drab of this Zaku makes it look like an ambulatory tank. Which is, of course, befitting a manly-man collector such as myself.

Unfortunately, I don't have my Jumbo Grade Gundam handy to show you a side-by-side comparison. I don't even have a suitable backdrop for photography, so you'll have to "enjoy" these thrilling close-ups instead. As you can see, the big green guy's as beautifully airbrush-weathered as the previous releases. It's also just as "modern-looking" (as opposed to the portly yet sexy "anime" sculpt of the Kado Senshi Zaku toys.) Unlike Char's peashooter, however, the jolly green giant sports an ominous-looking bazooka that's almost as long as the robot is tall. Just as with Gundam's beam rifle, it comes as a mini do-it-yourself project, mounted on sprues. (Don't worry, though -- it's snap-fit.) There's even a nifty l'il translucent pink lens for the scope. Pinch me.

Actually, don't. Where were we, again?

Vinyl fetishism. Zaku's all vinyl, save for the hard plastic used for the (cleverly hinged!) shoulder armor parts and the bazooka. Don't let that fool ya, though. It may be hollow, but the parts are thick enough to give it a serious weight problem. Not a problem for itself, of course. For you, when you order the thing and have it shipped from Japan. Good luck, gaijin.

As with previous Jumbo Grade releases, articulation's limited to the shoulders, arms, and neck. Oh, yeah, and the legs can rotate at the thighs. But c'mon -- it's a display model, not a toy, so cut it some slack. This time, it even comes with a sticker sheet you can use to create your favorite batallion markings. (Too bad the "pinstripes" on the sheet aren't pre-cut -- have fun cutting those tiny half-millimeter thick ribbons out by eye.)

Also once again, this Jumbo Grade's relatively at home with old-school Jumbo Machinders. Or at least, it is with the only one I've got handy: Clover's Aura Battler Dunbine, which isn't really an "official" Machinder anyway. (Scale be damned! They're both "real" robots. Sort of.) Actually, it's not all that old-school-compatible, to tell the truth. I just take these photos to torture Machinder collectors. $uckaz!

Ahem. At any rate, the real Achilles heel is the price: at ¥16,000 a pop retail, I can't afford the Zaku SWAT team I so desperately want to dispatch in my home office. (Which is probably for the best, as any more than one of these in my house would pretty much guarantee my sleeping on the sofa for the short duration of the marriage.)

But who's kidding who? If you're a jumbo-robot maniac, this Zaku's the kind of item you'll happily mortgage the kids into slavery for. And when the divorce papers come, send 'em back with "it's the Zaku I've been wanting ever since I first saw a Zaku when I was twelve years old" scrawled on the bottom. Cheers!


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