RX-178 Gundam Mk. IIThe Hi-Zack was a grunt unit in the early stages of the Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam anime.

As the name suggests, the design was based on the Zeon Zaku from the original Gundam series. The design was reworked to provide a standard mobile suit for both the Titans (in green) and Earth Federation (sort of lavender). The type mainly served to show how good the AEUG aces were and was then basically phased out as the Titans roped in a series of ugly, vaguely implausible transforming types, destroying the quasi-realistic ethos of the early episodes and paving the way for all that crap about Newtypes.

Like a number of 'standard size' units featured in Zeta, the Hi-Zack was selected for Bandai's High Complete Model line in 1985, in both Titans (which is the version I have) and EFF schemes. I've never been mad about the Zeon-derived suits, but picked up this one up for four quid to test how well it worked in the plastic as it were, and also because my AEUG figures need something to kick the crap out of when they're on the shelf.

High Complete Model RMS-106 Hi-ZackMuch like the Mark II Gundam's reltion to its' predecessor, the Zaku roots of the Hi-Zack are plain to see. Indeed, to the layman's eyes there aren't many differences at all, especially with the green Titans scheme - there's the same one-eyed, aqua-lung sporting head, the same rough curved body shape (right down to the shoulders, with one square and one sporting a spiked shoulder pad). The differences are mainly that the Hi-Zack isn't as chubby as the Zaku, but at the same time the legs are bulked up, almost flared in fact.

High Complete Model RMS-106 Hi-ZackThe end result is quite a good design... I've never been mad about the Zaku and its' derivatives, and to be honest this thing doesn't change my view particularly... The design ethic is just ugly. However, this is probably part of the intent - this was largely something designed as a functional weapon, and the stripped down style is in marked contrast to the smooth, streamlined Gundams.

High Complete Model RMS-106 Hi-ZackAs seems to be par for the HCM range, the figure has fairly decent articulation, with good joints at the shoulder, elbow, wrist and hip. There's also limited movement at the knees, ankles and neck. The bottom half of the figure is quite restrictive by comparison to the other HCMs I have, but this is partly due to the chunky calves. The Hi-Zack can pull off a few decent, if unspectacular poses.

High Complete Model RMS-106 Hi-ZackThere are a few bits and bobs to fiddle with as well. The Hi-Zack comes with a large backpack with moveable wings - this gives the design a more complete shape compared to the original Zaku, and fits the slightly straighter lines. The cockpit in the chest can also just about open, though the yellow piping that connects the bottom of the hatch has a habit of pulling it closed again.

My example is missing a couple of parts - a complete example would also include a Heat Hawk axe, and a second shield. Mine just has the machine gun and the 'fixed' shield. The former is nicely done, with a removable scope and magazine, plus a little handle. The fixed shield actually connects by a ball joint, and doesn't get in the way. Like the Hi-Zack itself, the additions are functional, if lacking in flair.

That sums up the Hi-Zack, really. It's not pretty, but it gets the job done. Well, it doesn't, named characters blow dozens of the things up and it gets replaced by multicoloured eyesores piloted by hawt anime chicks with serious personality disorders, but there we go. The figure isn't much to look at, but is well made and faithful to the cartoon. It works best as a sparring partner for something like the Mark II or Hyaku-Shiki, lacking much punch on its' own.