RMS-099 Rick DiasThe Rick Dias was the 19th figure in the High Complete Model range, based on the AEUG mass-produced unit from the Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam series - well, I say mass-produced, but in truth there were only enough for named characters, the grunts still had to use GMs.

The HCM version uses the red/brown scheme used for Quattro Bajeena's relatively short-lived machine, as opposed to the black/red used by his wingmen Apolly and Roberto. Considering Captain Quattro, he is a Char, this is no great surprise. I believe the Rick Dias has the distinction of being the first mobile suit the Red Comet piloted that is actually red as well... However, the other suits were later repainted in Quattro's scheme after the man himself switched to the Hyaku-Shiki, so it can work in that way as well.

I'd been keeping an eye out for a Rick Dias for a while - partly because the suit is rather nifty in the show, and partly because the Hi-Zack rather impressed me and persuaded me some of the Zeon-based designs might be worth a look after all.

High Complete Model RMS-099 Rick DiasThe design of the Rick Dias is fabulous - few mobile suits have more impressive flares, and the bulky body and different head design moves this one far away from being another Zaku retread. It's certainly a more dynamic revamping of an old design ethos than the slightly bland Gundam Mk. II, anyway.

High Complete Model RMS-099 Rick DiasSome (in fact, most) later Zeta designs went a little too far in trying to distance themselves from the original series, but the Rick Dias gets it just about right. The colour scheme helps too - like the Shiki or the Zeta Gundam, it stands out nicely without being ridiculously gaudy, the red, brown and blue complementing each other nicely. The other thing to note about the Rick Dias is that it's satisfyingly chunky, even as a HCM - there must be pushing twice the amount of plastic used as on some of the other figures in the range.

High Complete Model RMS-099 Rick DiasUnfortunately, the amount of armour does restrict articulation a little. There are still about the same number of joints as on any other decent HCM, it's just they don't have much range. The shoulders and wrists are decent, but the elbows only have very limited hinging, while the hips and knees are hampered by the waist 'skirt' and bulk of the legs, respectively.

High Complete Model RMS-099 Rick DiasThe head can still turn, however, and the figure can manage a few respectable poses, it's just not the most dynamic of the range. In addition, the 'flight pod' wings on the back can move a little bit, which is a nice touch, while there's also limited movement at the waist.

High Complete Model RMS-099 Rick DiasThere are some neat touches elsewhere, though - the Beam Pistols and Beam Saber hilt can be easily stored on the figure's backpack, which is always good. Weapons storage is always a nice feature, but considering the series' real robot pretensions, few Gundam figures can manage it for all their weaponry.

The HCM does make a valiant stab at the mobile suit's head-mounted machine guns as well. The red part of the helmet hinges back to reveal a pair of tiny plastic pins that could just about pass as a pair of small calibre machine guns, I suppose. It might not be a perfect replica, but it's nice that they tried instead of just shrugging their shoulders and not bothering.

Compared to other figures in the range, the Rick Dias is low on accessories - technically the removable flight pods count, but seeing as the suit was never seen without them, they're more vital parts. Omitted altogether is the Clay Bazooka occasionally used - I'm guessing this one sued enough plastic as it was. The figure can actually hold the example that came with the Chogokin Hyaku-Shiki made 18 years later, though the gold trim on that throws it out a bit.

High Complete Model RMS-099 Rick DiasThe Rick Dias comes with a Beam Saber, of course - a single hilt can be attached to the middle of the figure's back. This actually has a simple, but effective way of 'igniting' - a thin transparent green tube of acrylic that just slips on the hilt. A bit crude, but a lot more effective than the plain plastic versions used on the rest of the range. Why Bandai only used this simple idea on the Rick Dias is beyond me...

High Complete Model RMS-099 Rick DiasThe other weapons are a pair of Beam Pistols. These can clip to the robot's back when not in use, where they can even pivot on their housings to cover the Rick Dias' back. They can be a little tricky to actually unhook at first, but once you've got the hang of it the plus side is the very secure weapons storage. The pistols themselves work nicely - it's great to have a Gundam firearm that can be convincingly used by just one hand, which would seem to be something of a rarity for Zeta. And it can hold the pair of them like it's a cowboy with six-shooters, which looks ace.

Overall the Rick Dias is one of the most impressive figures in the HCM range. The design is impressive to start off with, but it's rendered lovingly here. This is about the only 1/144 Rick Dias toy out there, so for scale obsessive cack-handed buffoons like myself, it's nice to know it's a good one. It might not be the most articulated toy in the range, but its' size and idiosyncrasy (a good idiosyncrasy at that, not like the horrors that would populate later episodes of the anime) means it stands out nicely on a shelf.