MSZ-010 ZZ-GundamLike the Z-Gundam, the ZZ-Gundam was introduced part way through the series that bore its' name, Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ (often called Double Zeta) as a replacement suit for the series lead, Judau Ashta.

The name Double Zeta is fitting - whereas the Z-Gundam incorporated a transformation, the ZZ-Gundam had two plus various combining configurations.

As the lead suit from the series, several toys have been made over the years. In 1986 figures were made in both the 1/100 scale Deluxe Gundam line, and the 1/144 High Complete Model series (which I'm certainly not buying) while it's also turned up in PVC-based lines such as Mobile Suit in Action and Fix Figuration.

In 2003, Bandai added the figure to the Kado/Kahen Senshi series, released within the Chogokin line (coded GD-60). It is - to date - the last Gundam made for the range - not that I'd complain if Bandai randomly resurrected the line to make a Gundam, though.

Chogokin GD-60 MSZ-010 ZZ-GundamThe ZZ-Gundam is bloody huge. Not height-wise - it's only 6" to the head, and the GM figure from the same range comes up to its' shoulders. But it's a real hulk of a robot, with width and a massive backpack. Initially it looked too bulky and busy but it's really grown on me over time.

Chogokin GD-60 MSZ-010 ZZ-GundamThere's a lot of colour and detail on the figure, with barely half an inch passing without some moulded detail, paint application or winglet.

Despite its' bulk the ZZ-Gundam is very easy on the eye. It doesn't quite have the sleek, dangerous aspect of the Gundam, Hyaku-Shiki or v-Gundam, but it certainly looks like it means business nevertheless.

The articulation of the figure is a little mixed. Due to the decent level of diecast used, as well as the bulky backpack (which is connected by an arm mounted on the figure's waist, and thus doesn't connect to the back itself) the balance can be somewhat variable.

Chogokin GD-60 MSZ-010 ZZ-GundamThe feet don't go back very far either, meaning a lot of lovely joints go to waste as there aren't a huge number of poses the figure can actually hold without support. Thus the legs are rather limited and movement is mainly confined to the arms. However, it can still do most of the necessary poses - I always like a Gundam that can reach back and draw its' Beam Sabers.

Chogokin GD-60 MSZ-010 ZZ-GundamThe complex combination/transformation does cause a couple of problems with stability. Firstly, the upper torso doesn't connect perfectly and can just topple off with worrying ease. Secondly, the wrists are mounted on rotating panels and the plates on the inner forearm can pop open easily when you don't want them to.

The moving panels on the shins also make posing the ZZ-Gundam a lot more difficult than it might be otherwise - this is the downside to making something so stringently anime-accurate, I guess. One other irritant is the lack of storage for the Twin Beam Rifle - a little difficult to swallow considering it forms a key part of the spacecraft modes. However, overall the Chogokin ZZ-Gundam remains a great display piece in mobile suit form, while the combination from the four smaller modules is very good fun.

Chogokin GD-60 MSZ-010 ZZ-GundamThe ZZ-Gundam has four different fighter configurations available to it. The smallest is the Core Fighter, a reintroduction of the concept featured on the first Gundam . It's about an inch and a half long and very nicely detailed considering the small size. However, the undersides of the air intakes tend to pop off easily.

Chogokin GD-60 MSZ-010 ZZ-GundamThe next largest is the 4" long Core Top, made up of the ZZ-Gundam's upper torso and arms, plus the Twin Beam Rifle. It's a bit ugly - with the arms particularly obvious - and can't actually balance, tending to topple backwards. However, it can't be denied that it is an accurate take on the Core Top - it's just that the Core Top is an eyesore anyway.

Chogokin GD-60 MSZ-010 ZZ-GundamThe second-largest configuration is the Core Base. This combines the leg/backpack section of the ZZ-Gundam with the Core Fighter. The former is quite a complex piece of engineering, but it's not frustrating like the transformation of the Chogokin Z-Gundam figure - more than there's just a lot to remember and it takes time to learn. It's quite a powerful looking ship in the end, especially with the Beam Saber hilts acting as movable cannon. But still oh-so-ugly.

Chogokin GD-60 MSZ-010 ZZ-GundamAll of the components are utilised for the massive G Fortress - basically the Core Base, but with the Core Top connected on the front. It looks a bit much really, while the joint between the Core Top and Core Fighter is even more of a weak point horizontally than it is in the mobile suit form. The arms and various winglets are also a bit fiddly to line up, and it's generally a bit of a flimsy mess. Still better than the Chogokin take on the Z-Gundam Wave Rider mode though.

The ZZ-Gundam isn't quite as bristling with weaponry as some of the figures in the line, but does have a couple of bits.

Chogokin GD-60 MSZ-010 ZZ-GundamFirst up, there's the Twin Beam Rifle - everything is doubled on the ZZ-Gundam, of course. It's only the front end of the Core Top with a pair of black sticks attached sadly. Obviously this somewhat hurts the look of the thing, and on top of that it has a pretty limited range of poses relative to the ZZ-Gundam. An open hand is included for holding the Rifle - due to the aforementioned rotating wrist segments these are Hell to pop off and on, and only the closed fists can actually be left on for transformation. Oh, for a pair of versatile HCM opening fists.

Chogokin GD-60 MSZ-010 ZZ-GundamThe ZZ-Gundam also comes with a pair of Beam Sabers. These require another different pair of fists, very wide open. The hilts are mounted on the backpack, and the figure can reach back and draw them nicely, although obviously you then have to add on the energy beams to simulate igniting them. The Sabers are comically oversized (they're actually Chogokin GD-60 MSZ-010 ZZ-Gundamtaller than the GM figure), but this fits with the Gundam-on-steroids look I suppose.

Finally, the third weapon is built into the backpack - the top sections of it hinge down to reveal two batteries of missiles. They can't fire or anything but it is a neat touch, and once again fits in with the overall impression of the ZZ-Gundam as a heavyweight mobile suit - there's a mild Ideon vibe coming off the thing, even if the design opts for raw power over the graceful poise of Tomino's best concept.

The ZZ-Gundam is really good fun in summary. The various fighter combinations are a mixed bag, but on this score it's constrained by whatever drugs the anime design team were on, and is a very accurate rendition of the mecha from the show. The sequences more or less work even if the end results aren't faultless, while the robot mode has a real clumsy charm to it and isn't over-compromised by the suit's various configurations. The ZZ-Gundam has the sort of vibe that comes off Posey in The Dirty Dozen - a big, amiable, slightly dim bruiser.