It has been several years since any Gundam action figures were officially
Bandai has invariably done an amazing job with these toys. Although they would probably prefer to emphasize the various model kits that they make under the Gundam banner, I have to say that their action figures are absolutely incredible. While best-known in the United States for Power Rangers, their work on Gundam easily supercedes the Rangers. It's a genuine shame that the line didn't catch on in the States better than it did. Gundam Mobile Suits, regardless of which Gundam concept they appear in, all have similar core characteristics. They are large robots, generally humanoid (although there have been exceptions), and they have human pilots. In the various animated series, and based on official measurements listed in a variety of official books and such, the average Gundam is about the size of a five-story building, although a certain artistic license has to be considered at times.
The newest addition to my collection is the EMS-10 ZUDAH, which is from an OVA (Original Video Animation) series with the rather odd-sounding name of MS GUNDAM IGLOO. And no, it doesn't have anything to do with Eskimos. What one has to quickly understand when it comes to Gundam is that some of the names get translated -- rather strangely, and that one certainly qualifies. In the series: MS Igloo was released as the latest animated entry to the Gundam Universal Century timeline. Like many of the of the short OVAs released, MS Igloo was set during the One Year War, and followed the exploits of the Zeon 603rd Technical Evaluation Unit. The 603rd would test several bizarre weapons in actual combat, and take part in several major battles of the war.
The main character is a young technical officer named Oliver May, who evaluates each new weapon, but interestingly enough, tends to leave the piloting to actual test pilots. The story is also unusual in that it features no actual Gundam type suits, sans a very short cameo on video screen of the original RX-78-2 Gundam. This stands as odd, where most Gundam shows tend to have several Gundam type suits, leaving this as one of the few without it. The series is also unique in that it is completely done in CGI. The animation of the weapons and characters is well done and very detailed, with some of the best rendered battles in all in any Gundam series.
So, this series does take place during the original Gundam series, which remains the most popular for most fans, despite some very impressive spinoff series that were not directly connected to the storyline of the original.
Regarding the EMS-10 Zudah, it was developed as a competitor in the Zeon forces to the MS-05 Zaku I one in a design competition for Zeon's first combat ready mobile suit.The Zudah turned out to be a high performance Mobile Suit, but suffered from a fatal design. This flaw was the Zudah lacking a limiter, which allowed it to go beyond reasonable performance limits and thus break apart when pushed past its limits. The Zaku I was chosen and Zudah was nearly forgotten.
The Zeon forces were losing badly with their war against the Federation
and thus the Zudah was resurrected. The Zeon gave the Zudah a new model
number, EMS-10, and hyped it in their propaganda as a new super weapon,
when in reality it was still the same failed design from before.
Looking at the Zudah from a toy standpoint, it's hard to visualize this as an essentially failed model. There is a certain resemblance to the Zaku, especially with regard to the single pink "eye" in the center of the head, but honestly, the Zudah looks more advanced. The figure stands a little over 4" in height. It has a mostly steel blue color to it, with some areas of a darker blue that almost look like camouflage, although how one would be expected to hide something this big in real life is anybody's guess. Markings are fairly limited, and include the Zeon symbol on the upper right arm, and the number 603, representing the 603rd Technical Evaluation Unit, on the upper left arm. There is a small symbol on the "skirt", as well.
Articulation, as one would expect, is nothing short of incredible. If there's one thing that Gundam action figures have always been known for, it's articulation beyond, well, really, any other action figure line. The Zudah is poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivels, double-jointed elbows, wrists, waist, legs, double-jointed knees, and ankles, all with an amazing range of motion.
The Zudah has some additional articulation and accessory features. There are two "buttons" at the top of each arm. Press these, and the upper arm swivel separates and the arms extend a short distance. This could be useful in battle when just a little extra reach is needed. There are also two pegs at the top of each arm, that are mounted on two small tracks. The Zudah comes with a shield that can be attached to either of these pegs, and moved along the track. The shield has the Zeon symbol on it, as well as the number 603, but it also has the word "Jotunheim" in rather Germanic-looking lettering.
There are four tiny jets, two on the back of each leg, that are maneuverable. The Zudah also comes with a backpack of sorts, really a set of additional jets, that snaps to its back. There are four small jets and one large one. All are maneuverable. Honestly, given the number of jets on this thing, it could probably parallel-park anywhere it wanted to. Throw in some weapons, one of which looks like a large rifle, another which looks like a bazooka and is almost as tall as the Zudah, a "small" axe which if the Zudah existed in real life would probably still have a six-foot-long blade, as well as something that looks like a landmine, and four extra hands in various poses, and the end result is one extremely versatile action figure. Bottom line -- this is a cool toy. I really wish we were still getting these in the States. They beat the heck out of 90% of the stuff that's on the shelves these days in almost every aspect of comparison. If you acquire a Zudah, don't be too quick to throw away the packaging. Behind the backdrop on the inside of the box is a "Collection Data Sheet" with background information on the Zudah. Granted, it's in Japanese, but it still has a cool illustration on it.
So, what's my final word? If you're any sort of Gundam fan, or even just like cool little robot type toys, then you seriously need to consider adding the EMS-10 ZUDAH to your collection. It's an immensely impressive addition to the Gundam line of Mobile Suit in Action figures, and it's one very impressive action figure just on its own. The MSiA series may trickle through an eyedropper at times, it seems, but at least Bandai is still making them, and making them extremely well. Heck, they recently made one out of platinum with diamond eyes for a jewelry show in Europe. That one's worth $250,000. Clearly Bandai is interested in maintaining Gundam, and hopefully this line of toys, as well.
Fortunately, the Zudah is a lot more affordable, and it definitely
has my highest and most enthusiastic recommendation!