Wing Gundam Proto Zero
Review by Rob
Bandai’s 1:100 scale Master Grade Wing Gundam Proto-Zero marks a personal milestone as my 50th Master Grade, and the 200th Gunpla I have built!
“The TV Version EW”
The Wing Gundam Zero (Wing Zero for short) has been a fan favorite design since its debut in the series “Mobile Report Gundam W.” By the unwritten rule of mecha anime, it replaced the titular XXXG-01W Wing Gundam half way through the series as the main character’s primary machine. Interestingly enough, the Wing Zero ultimately saw more screen time than its spiritual descendent/onscreen predecessor.
The original design of the XXXG-01W0 Wing Gundam Zero was created by master Gundam artist Kunio Okawara and was later redesigned by Hajime Katoki for the television series’ OAV conclusion “Endless Waltz.”
Katoki’s redesigned Wing Gundam Zero Custom deviated greatly from the original Wing Zero design and seemed more like an artistic upgrade to his elaborately reimagined Wing Gundam.
In his efforts to visually upgrade the design, Katoki’s version of the Gundam was a functional downgrade to the Wing Zero.
The Custom negated the original Wing Zero’s signature ability to transform into its Neo-Bird mode by removing the Suit’s pile-driver shield and replacing its two Vernier wing binders with four angelic wings that acted as a heat shield.
Although there have been numerous attempts to justify the dramatic redesign of the Wing Zero (as well as the other Gundams) in comics and manga set during the time frame between the television series and the OAV, fans of the design have remained polarized between the two versions.
For the manga retelling of the After Colony universe, “Gundam W –Endless Waltz- Glory of the Losers,” which already uses Katoki’s revamped Mobile Suit designs, the Wing Zero was reintroduced in a new form.
Called the “Wing Gundam Proto-Zero,” this new version of the legendary Gundam borrows heavily from the original Okawara model and returns the design to its awesome glory.
“The Gundam they called (PROTO) Zero.”
Developed in the year After Colony 180, the XXXG-00W0 Wing Gundam Proto-Zero was to be the collaborative creation of the five scientists who later created the XXXG-series Gundams used for “Operation Meteor.”
The Proto-Zero existed only in blue prints following the Organization of the Zodiac’s halted construction of their OZ-00MS “Tallgeese” in favor of the mass production OZ-06MS “Leo” model and the Earth Alliance’s growing oppression over the space colonies.
The theoretical Gundam was designed to combat the Alliance using a prototype combat computer called the “ZERO System.” With the function to meld with the pilot’s mind, the system processed combat data and potential outcomes of a battle in order to improve its performance over time. However it was deemed too erratic, causing mental instability in the pilot with violent hallucinations which combined with the Gundam’s overwhelming power that ultimately made the machine too powerful to exist.
Although the plans were hidden away, the Proto-Zero was finally constructed in AC 195 by Gundam pilot Quatre Winner after his XXXG-01SR Gundam Sandrock was destroyed. Thinking he was just building a new Gundam to replace his old one, Quatre unwittingly exposed himself and any other pilot who dared enter the cockpit of the Proto Zero to the effects of the ZERO System.
Over the course of its existence, the unstable Proto-Zero was passed between OZ and the Gundam Pilots until ultimately being mastered by Heero Yuy, pilot of the regularly disposed XXXG-01W Wing Gundam.
Heero’s lifetime of combat training and prior use of the ZERO System equipped OZ-13MS Gundam Epyon, made him the only suitable pilot that could successfully sync with and unlock the full potential of the Proto-Zero.
After nearly two decades, the Wing Gundam Zero has finally been given the Master Grade treatment albeit in this stylized new form.
Bandai’s 1:100 scale Wing Gundam Proto-Zero marks the 174th Master Grade model kit and the ninth entry into the “Version EW” series.
The model’s box hints at the possible future of the “Version EW” line, with the Wing Gundam Proto-Zero facing off against the OZ-13MSX1 Vayeate, and OZ-13MSX2 Mercurius prototype Mobile Suits.
Out of the box, the model is comprised of 14 runners molded in the Gundam’s primary colors of red, white, yellow, and blue plastic for its outer body with gray plastic for its inner frame.
The Wing Zero’s Twin Buster Rifle is molded in its own unique dark gray plastic and Bandai has also gone to the lengths of making the model’s clear parts in green plastic as opposed to the standard colorless material.
The model uses the same PC-205 polycap set as the other Version EW series Gundams and comes with a set of neon green colored SB-4 beam saber parts from the previous Wing Gundam (and Zero Custom) models.
Even though the model comes with a clasp for mounting it to Bandai’s Action Base 1, it comes with the display base taken from the Wing Zero Custom with two unique cradles for holding it in its regular form and Neo-Bird mode.
Since it is a part of the “Version EW” series, Proto Zero is a relatively easy model to assemble and since the parts are molded in their correct colors, there is very little need to dramatically add paint.
With very crisp and clean panel lines, the model looks great after it has been detailed using a Gundammarker or Rapidoliner, however I did find some places that would look better painted.
Building this Gundam, I painted over the areas where two different colored parts met such as the space on the Gundam’s torso between the blue plastic of the chest and white collar around the neck with Testors Model Master Acryl “Gunship Gray” paint.
Using this color I also covered the pegs from the outer armor that pass through the inner frame and I also painted the panels and seams on the exposed undersides of the armor.
Other areas I painted were the mask around the Gundam’s eyes and the insides of the Gundam’s vernier nozzles which I coated with traditional Flat Black paint.
Despite being such a minor point, I coated the pistons inside the Proto-Zero’s shield using some silver enamel that I also used for the areas behind the clear green plastic of the Search Eye and the sensor on the shield.
The 1:100 scale figures of the pilot, Heero Yuy came molded in white plastic that I painted entirely.
Even though it is a snap-together model kit, I did find areas that hold better with glue such as the gray vents on the shoulder armor while the rest of the model holds itself together nicely unaided.
Like the Master Grade Wing Gundam and Gundam Epyon kits, the Proto-Zero does not recycle the “XXXG” frame runners from the previous “Version EW” models because of its ability to transform.
The Proto-Zero features its own unique inner frame that is modeled in the same style as the other kits of the series and its construction remains just as simple.
Since the frame is mostly for structural purposes, there are very few points that can be stripped back down once the model is completed.
The frame possesses an excellent range of articulation which carries over into the fully armored Gundam.
The model features a ball and socket connection in the midsection that gives the torso more flexibility.
Once it is completed, there is no mistaking that this is the Wing Gundam Zero fans of the design have been waiting for!
The finished look of the Gundam is a subtle combination of Katoki’s Custom and Okawara’s TV version. Its body is a squared and sleek reimagining of the original Gundam’s design.
Katoki takes some creative liberties with the design of the Proto-Zero’s wing binders and shield to better blend it with the other Gundams of the Endless Waltz/After Colony universe.
He adds even more of his more creative touches with folds to the armor that better reflect his more recent work from “Gundam UC” and the impressive RX-93 Nu Gundam Version Ka model kit.
Standing next to the Master Grade Wing Gundam(s) and the Wing Zero Custom, the Proto-Zero not only looks and feels heavier, but actually stands slightly taller than the older models at 6 and ¾ inches tall from heel to v-crest.
There are several points from the original design that shine through this model.
The Gundam’s shoulder armor is designed to open to move its directional Vernier nozzles in the middle section and the beam saber storage racks are accessible on the top.
The Wing Zero’s shoulder mounted Gatling Guns feature opening covers to expose them. Compared to the original Katoki Customs, the Gundam’s head does not get in their way.
Bandai’s design for skirt armor has come a long way in Master Grades, and the Proto-Zero benefits greatly from the progress.
The armor mounts on ball and socket connections at the waist, and the parts are hinged so they can move more fluidly against the legs.
The legs feature sliding knee armor much like the other Gundams of the “Version EW” series, but the Proto-Zero’s shift backwards and forwards with the knee movement and remain in line with the lower legs.
There are new features such as the moving stabilizer fins in the Proto-Zero’s binders and hip skirts that give it a more aerodynamic feel.
The Proto-Zero’s wing binders have the artistic illusion of jagged bird’s feathers, a striking contrast to the Wing Zero Custom’s infamous angel wings and the original Wing Zero’s fuselage-like design.
The binders are mounted to the Gundam’s back on multi-jointed arms that articulate in the same way as a real bird’s arm would and the motion of the binder’s plates mimic the wing feather movement.
Closed, the binders share the same profile as a bird’s with its arms and feathers are tucked in.
The wing binders open using a scissor joint connecting both wing panels. Articulating one side will guide the other side open.
With the arms fully extended, the wings keep from colliding with each other when they are opened.
When the binders are closed, they are very compact and are limited in their range of movement to the joints closest to the Gundam’s back.
Although a lateral hinge at the base of the wing binders would improve this, the completed assemblies are far from being an inanimate hindrance to the Proto-Zero’s overall mobility.
The cockpit is positioned right behind the ‘Search Eye,’ the jewel sensor on the Gundam’s chest. Its assembly for the model has a sliding action to open it and reveal the 1:100 scale pilot figure seated inside.
On the subject of the Search Eye, the model came with a silver foil decal to go on the main post behind the lens intended to make the assembly shine in the light.
Originally I had painted it silver but once I saw how the Search Eye looked right out of the box, I opted to strip it back down and use a “Hi-Q Parts” mono-eye decal instead.
The end result adds more depth to the finished look of the Search Eye, making it look even more like a camera lens.
The Proto-Zero continues the “Alternate Universe” Master Grade formula of using swappable hand parts instead of articulated fingers. The model has the common closed fist and open palm parts, but it also comes with finger parts molded for both hands to hold the Gundam’s weapons.
There are two types, one set for holding the Gundam’s rifles and another pair for holding its beam sabers. These parts use tabs that connect with the weapon grips before attaching to the hands.
The Proto-Zero’s powerful twin buster rifle remains visually unchanged from its original design and the model’s parts assemble together fluidly.
The Buster rifle retains its famous ability to split into two rifles.
The rifles link together with locking tabs that fold away when they are separated, and there is a second set of tabs that unfold from the rifles’ stocks for docking them to the shield.
When combined into its twin barreled, single rifle form, the Gundam’s arms have no problems holding the combined weight.
Stored inside the Gundam’s shoulder armor are its two beam sabers, which are cast as single pieces of plastic.
The beam saber blades are molded in sharp neon green plastic that even better when sanded down with an ultra-fine grit sanding film.
The sabers are molded with an accented curve, improving the model’s dynamic posture when using them.
The Proto-Zero’s shield has been given a Katoki upgrade with a more aeroelastic curve to better improve its function as the nosecone for the Neo-Bird mode.
The shield pegs into the side of the Proto-Zero’s forearm and although there are some clearance issues between it and the shoulder armor, there is enough space between the arm and the shield for the Gundam to hold its rifle without any problems.
Its pile-driver function gives the Proto-Zero an added melee combat ability despite the fact it was only used ONCE during the entire television series in its debut episode titled, “The Gundam They Called Zero.”
The pile-driver tip is one of the few disappointing features of the model.
As the piston action has no springing mechanism unlike the Master Grade Tallgeese model which features a spring-loaded Dobber Gun, the Proto-Zero’s shield is dependent upon the friction holding the parts together.
Secondly, the illusion of a functional look to the pile-driver is lost when holding the shield upside down to reveal… nothing.
Regardless, the shield looks good and really complements the model nicely.
One of the two additions to the shield are the moveable stabilizer fins that are gear linked together to pull them out from the sides.
The second of the shield’s upgrades is a folding cover piece that comes over the Gundam’s head when it is transformed into the Neo-Bird mode.
According to its design, the Proto-Zero‘s ‘Neo-Bird’ mode is a throwback to the Wave Rider mode from the MSZ-006 “Zeta Gundam” from “Gundam Z,” giving the Mobile Suit the ability to transform into a flight mode capable of high speed mobility in space and Earth’s atmosphere.
Unlike the Zeta, the Wing Gundam Proto-Zero is not a complex Transformer-wannabe and merely shifts sections of its body into their flight mode.
The head and waist rotate 180 degrees and the shoulder armor folds down against the arms. This is one of the moments where the compartmentalized shoulder armor and the rotating vernier nozzle inside really shine.
The legs fold forward at the knee, and the feet need to be realigned inside the lower legs.
This shifting turns the Vernier nozzles on the Gundam’s feet into its main thrusters.
The Gundam’s shield simply connects with the Gundam’s back, and the rifles attach to its sides using the locking tabs that fold out of the stock.
Fully transformed, the Neo-Bird mode is an impressive display measuring over 11 inches in length.
Even in Neo-Bird mode, the Proto-Zero retains some flexibility to its body that feels natural to its alternate mode.
Using the display base cradle, the body balances itself out smoothly and none of the parts feel loose of weak.
The Wing Gundam Proto-Zero has been a long awaited Master Grade of one of the most powerful Gundams of all time!
Overall, I have to say without any surprise, that I am pleased with this model’s execution.
I’m sure that with some minor retooling and remolded parts, Bandai could easily turn the Version EW Wing Gundam Zero into its television series equivalent, but the model more than makes up for its absence.
The Master Grade Wing Gundam Proto-Zero “Version EW” is truly a Mission Accomplished.
|Posted 8 December, 2013 - 13:18 by Rob|