With a name derived from the term 雑魚(zako), meaning common, low-quality fish, the Zaku was meant to just be a disposable grunt, destroyed week after week by the Gundam. Despite this, the Zaku has become nearly as popular as its enemy. With dozens of model kits being made in every possible grade, how does the pint-sized SDCS Zaku II stand up? Contributor Marc Rivera is here to tell whether this model lives up to the legacy of its popularity, or merely the origin of its name.
Like many Gundam fans, I absolutely love the Zaku, and if you’ve read the short bio at the end of each article I write, you’ll know that the Zaku was the mobile suit that got me into Gundam and Gunpla! I’m also a huge fan of SD Gundam, the line of Super Deformed toys that made each mobile suit’s head 1/3rd of its body, transforming even the most intimidating of mecha into a cute, easy to make, and cheap model kit.
With these both in mind, I was very excited to build the SDCS Zaku II, since the SD BB Senshi Zaku II was out of stock at every store I went to. While I didn’t really care much about the Cross Silhouette gimmick, which lets you choose between the default, shorter SD Frame or the taller, more articulated Cross Silhouette Frame, I was interested in its improved color separation. This would be great, considering the sticker nightmare that was building an SDEX Gunpla.
Color and Design
Unlike the Gundam, which stands out like a sore thumb in any battlefield it enters, the Zaku is most commonly seen painted an olive drab green, helping it camouflage nicely in the forests of a colony. This Gunpla comes in the same light green, with black accents and a darker green torso, matching the Zaku’s appearance in the original Gundam.
Nearly every piece of this kit is color accurate, except the missile pods, which will need a touch of red paint to match their appearance in the show. The kit comes with 3 foil stickers: 2 for the weapons and 1 for the monoeye. Speaking of the monoeye, rather than using a single pink sticker for the eye like most other Zeon model kits, the SDCS Zaku II has a silver foil sticker underneath a pink lens, making the eye glow brighter than any other version of the Zaku (not counting LEDs)!
As a Super Deformed version of the Zaku, the SDCS Zaku II remains pretty faithful in both respects for its design. With the SD-Frame that comes in the box, it stands at less than half the height of the HGUC Zaku II, roughly matching the SDEX line in height. It has slightly more panel lines than its High Grade counterpart. As for its overall appearance, the already chunky Zaku given the SD treatments results in a palm-sized kit that emphasizes all the parts that make the Zaku special, from its distinctive head to its trademark shoulders.
As with any other SD kit, the SDCS Zaku II is very easy to make, with a build process only slightly more complicated than a Haro-Pla. Every piece (except for the body of the Zaku’s machine gun) is attached to the runner by a rounded connection. This allows even the youngest of builders to remove pieces without any sharp tools, making this a perfect kit for someone younger or for someone who’s brand new to the model making!
As for difficult points, the only part of the build process I could imagine someone struggling with is the aforementioned Zaku Machine Gun. Unlike the rest of the kit, it has very thick connections to the runner, which means this kit will require not only nippers to remove it but a considerable amount of effort to ensure the gun has no visible nub marks.
The SDCS Zaku II, like almost any other SD, is perfect for beginners, with its near-perfect color separation requiring no color-correcting stickers, and the foil stickers that do come with this kit are very easy to handle.
Out of the box, this Gunpla has very bare-bones articulation compared to other SD Gunpla lines. Unlike the SD BB Senshi or SDEX line of model kits, the SDCS has absolutely no bend at the arms, and while it includes the legs that many older SD kits lacked, they have no articulation either. Instead, if you want some articulation you’ll need to buy the SDCS Cross Silhouette Frame. While the ability to choose between frames is nice on paper, all (except one) of the SDCS Gunpla come with only the SD Frame, which makes it less a choice and more an incentive to spend extra.
Thankfully, the SDCS Zaku II hasn’t had all of its articulation locked behind an additional purchase. Each limb is attached to the body by two ball joints (one to connect the arm to the shoulder and the shoulder to the body), allowing it to point its weapons around as well as it can with its proportions. Additionally, it comes with a swivel at the waist, a ball joint at the head, and a rotating monoeye. This means that while it lacks the finer articulation to hold its gun like it does in the anime, it still has a fairly wide range of articulation.
When it comes to extras, the SDCS Zaku II has about everything you could expect:
- Zaku Machine Gun
- Zaku Bazooka
- Heat Hawk
- 2 Missile Pods
The machine gun and bazooka are each a lightly compressed version of the Zaku’s standard equipment to fit this kit’s super-deformed proportions. They come in the same shade of black as the frame components of the Zaku and have swiveling parts. Thanks to the flexibility of those swivels, the machine gun can be held in either hand while the bazooka can fold for storage on the back of the Gunpla when it isn’t being held.
The Heat Hawk is the real standout of the bunch, as it’s not just a single piece like in most other model kits! Instead, it comes with two pieces, the body of the axe and the blade. Strikingly, the blade is a clear yellow piece, which works well to replicate the look of a lit Heat Hawk, even without any painting. For those who do paint, this part separation makes it significantly easier, as before you would need a steady hand or some skilled masking. While in the anime and on the box the Heat Hawk is purple, many appearances of the weapon depict it as just black, so painting is not necessary unless you absolutely need it to be anime-accurate.
Speaking of painting, the Zaku comes with a set of missile pods, which are the only parts of the kit that need painting no matter what iteration of the Zaku II you’re looking at. You’ll need to give the little missiles a touch of red paint, just like their HG equivalent. Unlike the HG or MG Zaku missile pods, which consisted of three parts (the missiles, the body of the missile pod, and a band that wrapped around the leg), the SDCS version is a single black piece, attaching to the legs with a 3mm peg.
Overall, while the SDCS Zaku II may lack the articulation of other SD Gunpla lines, it certainly makes up for it with its superb part separation, color accuracy, and some high quality extras. While I haven’t built any other SD Zaku, I’ve built plenty of Zakus in other grades, and plenty of other SDs, and this Gunpla stands as one of the best in both groups.
In case you’re looking for this kit with a bit more… Charisma (I’m sorry), there is a color variant of this kit that comes with a commander fin and a pink/red color scheme.
Marc first got into Gunpla with the HG Zaku II, which he thought had a really cool looking box. He knew nothing about Gundam back then, but since that kit, he’s gotten very familiar with the series. You can find him occasionally posting Gunpla and games on his Twitter @official_marc_r.