In the year 0087 of the Universal Century, war erupted between the Earth Federation's elite Titans organization and a terrorist group known as the Anti-Earth Union Group. Anaheim Electronics, the largest civilian manufacturer of mobile suits, secretly supplied mobile suits to the AEUG. Some of the AEUG's most famous mobile suits were the results of Anaheim's Zeta Project, which culminated in the MSZ-006 Zeta Gundam. Its design combined the Gundarium Gamma alloy armor of the RMS-099 Rick Dias and the movable frame technology of the RX-178 Gundam Mk.II, along with the ability to transform into the plane-like Waverider mode, which allowed it to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere without any additional components. The Zeta Gundam's armament includes two beam sabers, head-mounted vulcan cannons, forearm-mounted grenade launchers, a beam rifle which could double as a beam saber, and the fearsome Hyper Mega Launcher--a large anti-ship beam cannon. The Zeta Gundam also featured a mysterious bio-sensor, which was said to allow its Newtype pilot to easily interface with the suit. The Zeta Gundam was delivered to the Argama where it was piloted by its co-designer, Kamille Bidan, for the duration of the Gryps War. The bio-sensor coupled with Kamille's budding Newtype potential would prove to be instrumental during Operation Maelstrom--the final battle of the war. Shortly after the Gryps War ended, the AEUG found itself immediately involved in another war with the forces of the asteroid base Axis (now renamed Neo Zeon). Its battle strength nearly completely exhausted, the Argama would entrust the Zeta Gundam to a new group of young pilots, including the young Newtype Judau Ashta.
Considering that the original Gundam has at least three separate Master Grade releases over the years (not including re-colors), it's pretty surprising that this is only the second version of the much-loved Zeta Gundam. The original Master Grade Zeta Gundam was one of the earliest Master Grade releases, which implies to me that it was a rather lousy release in comparison to the current crop of Master Grades (my old Master Grade Zaku II felt more like a High Grade release than a Master Grade). At any rate, this kit really had me drooling--the Zeta itself is arguably one of the coolest Gundam designs ever from arguably the best Gundam series ever. The box art is some of the best I've seen, and it even comes with a stand for space poses (I swear, those things should be compulsory by now). As a bonus, the stand is also compatible with the recently released Master Grade Gundam Mk.II version 2.0 (which comes with a base, but no stand). Anyway, I really enjoyed putting this one together. Since Zeta is one of the few transformable Gundams, its design is pretty unique--the chest area is mostly hollow, the legs can extend in two places and are connected to the crotch by a series of joints, the waste is collapsible. The actual transformation takes a little getting used to--took me three or four tries to get it right--but it looks great when done properly.
I was really hyped up to get this kit, but once I got it built I was a little disappointed. The model is pretty top heavy and the feet aren't very flexible, making it really hard to get it to stand up on its own. So hard that I pretty much gave up trying--it is a very good thing it comes with a stand. The shoulder joints are awful--it's just a tiny ball joint that the arm just slides right off of when posing. The shoulder armor is also a problem, it is supposed to hang onto the arm on a millimeter-thick round bit, but will fall off and hang loosely between the arm and chest at the slightest joint (fortunately, you can't usually tell by looking at it--but it feels cheap). Somebody with more skill than I could probably figure out a method to fix this, but my glue did not do the job. In addition, I made a ton of mistakes during detailing-portion of this kit (though Bandai, obviously, cannot be faulted for that--it's also important to note that you should really do your detailing beforehand, as some parts are rather hard to disassemble thanks to the transforming bits). I ruined a couple stickers and a fairly major decal and smudged panel line ink here and there. It didn't help that this kit has more stickers than any other I've made (a good thing, technically). In summary, it was an enjoyable kit to build, an aggravating kit to detail, and wound up feeling a little flimsy. Despite that, though, it really does look pretty awesome in the end.